Because they are make-believe, mock drafts tend to go wild. Lots of projected trades. Runs on specific positions. A surprise pick or two.
For this year’s selection process, there is an evident trend – one that should stun nobody. It’s all about the quarterbacks, with potentially the first four spots being occupied by-passers.
Here’s one look, barring trades, at what might happen Thursday night in Cleveland, one year after the NFL successfully pulled off a virtual draft because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just like in 2020 with Joe Burrow, this one is a slam dunk as new coach Urban Meyer gets his signal-caller.
TREVOR LAWRENCE, QB, CLEMSON
2. New York Jets
Perhaps the Jets will have more luck behind center with this pick than they did with the oft-injured and disappointing Sam Darnold, now in Carolina.
ZACH WILSON, QB, BYU
3. San Francisco (from Miami via Houston)
Clearly, GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan had someone targeted to be their future quarterback when they made this deal. That target is …
MAC JONES, QB, ALABAMA
If Julio Jones can stay healthy and Calvin Ridley keeps soaring, the Falcons could have one of the league’s most dangerous offenses by adding …
KYLE PITTS, TE, FLORIDA
Thanks to the early concentration on QBs, the Bengals were sitting pretty here, knowing they would get either Pitts or …
PENEI SEWELL, OT, OREGON
6. Miami (from Philadelphia)
Hey, Tua, remember how LSU outscored ‘Bama in 2019? One of the reasons for that is now your teammate.
JA’MARR CHASE, WR, LSU
If the Lions remain here, they will add a big-time threat for new passer Jared Goff. The question is, do they go for Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith or teammate Jaylen Waddle?
DEVONTA SMITH, WR, ALABAMA
There is no more obvious example of how offense matters most in the NFL these days as the Panthers make it eight straight players from that side of the ball.
RASHAWN SLATER, OT, NORTHWESTERN
We feel the Broncos are not sold on Drew Lock as their long-term quarterback, and Denver grabs one with two prime prospects remaining.
JUSTIN FIELDS, QB, OHIO STATE
Finally, a defensive player and the Cowboys have their pick of the litter. Do they go pass rusher, linebacker, or help for the secondary?
PATRICK SURTAIN II, CB, ALABAMA
11. New York Giants
Selecting 11th often is a tricky spot because so much potentially elite talent is gone. Not this year as the Giants debate taking a playmaker on offense or defense.
JAYCEE HORN, CB, SOUTH CAROLINA
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami via San Francisco)
Philly wanted Horn to bolster its worrisome secondary, but the division rival grabbed him. So the Eagles add to their receiving group.
JAYLEN WADDLE, WR, ALABAMA
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Having solved any quarterbacking issues with Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert, it’s time to grab a protector for him.
CHRISTIAN DARRISAW, OT, Virginia Tech
Here come the pass rushers, and the Vikings luck out by getting the top guy. Yes, it is remarkable that a potential sack master lasted this long. Blame the QBs.
KITTY PAYE, EDGE, MICHIGAN
15. New England
Do the Patriots honestly believe Cam Newton can get them back to prominence now that Tom Brady is winning titles in Tampa Bay? We don’t buy it.
TREY LANCE, QB, NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Running back is necessary, but this is too soon with so much talent at other positions still on the board. How about one of the top two linebackers?
MICAH PARSONS, LB, PENN STATE
17. Las Vegas
Coach Jon Gruden loves speed. So far, in his return to coaching, the fast lane has not worked out well, partly because of injuries to Raiders’ prospects. Here goes the other best linebacker.
ZAVEN COLLINS, LB, TULSA
Having Chase on hand to invigorate the offense, Miami could use some disruptive skills outside the D-line. Staying local …
JAELAN PHILLIPS, EDGE, MIAMI, FLA.
Ron Rivera, as usual, has built a solid defense. The offense is a bit muddled upfront, so bringing in a blocker makes sense.
ALIJAH VERA-TUCKER, OT-G, USC
Fans around Grant Park will be screaming for some offensive talent. But the best players still on the board play defense.
GREG NEWSOME II, CB, NORTHWESTERN
One of the better drafting teams in the league in recent years, the Colts need a tackle with the retirement of Anthony Castonzo. That might not be the best value here, though, so look for a pass rusher.
CARLOS BASHAM, EDGE, WAKE FOREST
Can’t see the Titans addressing anything but their struggling defense, which needs a pass rusher, a linebacker, and a cover cornerback. Despite some back issues, go for the CB …
CALEB FARLEY, CB, VIRGINIA TECH
23. New York Jets (from Seattle)
With the pick acquired in the Jamal Adams trade, the Jets would like a cornerback, but the best are gone. They have so many needs that an offensive lineman, pass rusher, or receiver is an option. Possibly even a running back.
AZEEZ OJULARI, EDGE, GEORGIA
The Steelers could use some help in the trenches, particularly at the center. They can address that with their next pick, though. A tackle seems more likely.
TEVEN JENKINS, OT, OKLAHOMA STATE
25. Jacksonville (from Los Angeles Rams)
Some believe Meyer will add to his Clemson collection with running back Travis Etienne. We think he goes defense for the top safety in this class.
TREVON MOEHRIG, S, TCU
A team seemingly on the rise, though the hysteria along Lake Erie ignores that the Browns aren’t one player away. Defense is the right choice to fill a keyhole, mainly if Jadeveon Clowney flops again.
JAYSON OWEH, EDGE, PENN STATE
There are still many wideouts available at this draft’s deepest position, so does Baltimore dive in here or wait and take a defender?
ELIJAH MOORE, WR, MISSISSIPPI
28. New Orleans
With Drew Brees retired, there’s a belief the Saints are in transition. Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis don’t see it that way.
TYSON CAMPBELL, CB, GEORGIA
29. Green Bay
KADARIUS TONEY, WR, FLORIDA
30. Buffalo Bills
The Bills seem uncertain about their linebacking group, particularly after the Matt Milano saga. One of the rising players on draft boards goes here …
JAMIN DAVIS, LB, KENTUCKY
31. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore got this spot in a swap with the Chiefs, who desperately need offensive line help, and acquired Orlando Brown Jr. in the deal. So, the Ravens, having bolstered their receiving group, need an O-lineman.
SAM COSMI, OT, TEXAS
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs did an intense job in free agency as they kept their gang together for another Super Bowl run. They’ll close out the opening round with the best remaining overall prospect.
GREGORY ROUSSEAU, EDGE, MIAMI, FLA.
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