NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Final Projections and Surprises

One of the most highly anticipated NFL Drafts in recent memory is finally here. After months of Pro Days and speculation, we officially made it to Draft Week! Of course, there are still plenty of trades sure to go down on Draft Night and throughout the weekend in general, as this is considered to be one of the best offensive Draft classes in history. The biggest question remains what the San Francisco 49ers will do with the 3rd overall pick and if the Atlanta Falcons will stay put at 4th overall or trade down. In my final mock, I make my ultimate projections, along with some surprises after the top 3 picks that could shock you on Draft Night. And yes, I will obviously be including trades in the following analysis.


1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence - QB, Clemson

This selection has been a lock since December and, for the record, Lawrence's recent comments about his commitment towards Football were taken drastically out of context by the media. I feel like pretty much every year, the eventual No. 1 overall pick does an interview before the Draft and his remarks are often misinterpreted just to stir the pot. Lawrence will be a great QB in this league and perform at a high level very quickly under Urban Meyer.


2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson - QB, BYU

This pick has essentially been a lock since March, when Wilson absolutely shined during his Pro Day. It's hard to ignore the unbelievable arm strength and athleticism displayed during his spectacular 2020 season at BYU. The lack of competition he faced in the FBS during the COVID-19 pandemic does give me some concern about how fast he can make an impact at the next level, however. Nonetheless, he'll be entering a much better situation with the Jets than his predecessor Sam Darnold did under new Head Coach Robert Saleh.


3) San Francisco 49ers (Via MIA): Mac Jones - QB, Alabama

The Draft finally starts here at No. 3 with the 49ers. Mac Jones has been the consensus pick at this spot for the past couple weeks, as recent reports state that "98% of the league believes Jones will be the pick here." And as we get closer to Draft Night, Jones' odds are shifting towards him being the overwhelming favorite to be the Niners' pick. Shanahan will ultimately be making this selection on Draft Night and Jones is a better scheme fit in his offense. I don't agree with the pick, but it's becoming more and more likely each day.


4) Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts - TE, Florida

Recent reports have hinted at Atlanta either trading down from this spot or staying put to select Kyle Pitts. Denver my be okay with taking the best QB left for them at pick No. 9, while the Patriots (selecting at No. 15) won't want to trade two future 1st rounders; Washington (No. 19) and Chicago (No. 20), meanwhile, would probably have to trade their entire Drafts to get to this spot. Atlanta is probably okay running it back with Matt Ryan for 2-3 years because of their horrendous cap space situation, so selecting the best available player here in Kyle Pitts is probably their best route. New Head Coach Arthur Smith ran the most two TE sets at Tennessee and Pitts is a generational prospect who's too good for Atlanta to pass on here.


5) Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase - WR, LSU

The signs are pointing towards Cincinnati selecting Chase here over Sewell. Cincinnati's logic with this pick is likely that the OL class is deeper than the WR class, so they should still be able to get a solid OL early in the 2nd round. Personally? I'm not a fan of this pick, as I think you absolutely have to protect Joe Burrow upfront, but Chase is a once every 5 year WR prospect who may be too good to pass up on. It's also a plus that he and Burrow were former teammates at LSU and dominated College Football during their Championship run in 2019.


6) Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle - WR, Alabama

I wouldn't rule out Miami possibly trading down on Draft Night, as has been rumored. I also wouldn't discount them going OL with Penei Sewell here. However, I believe that they traded back into the top 10 with the intent of getting Tua one of the Draft's top receivers. From a scheme perspective, Waddle makes the most sense here. He plays all over the field, both in the slot and also outside the numbers; his speed had absolutely terrorized SEC defenses before he suffered an ankle fracture last season. Waddle fits the current wave of receivers in today's NFL and has the most upside in this class after Ja'Marr Chase.


7) Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell - OT, Oregon

If Sewell does end up dropping to 7 on Draft Night, Detroit won't have to think twice about this pick. If he isn't available, then they could probably end up selecting Jaylen Waddle. However, in this scenario, Sewell falls and is a great pick because Detroit will be rebuilding (seems like we've been saying that forever) and look at this pick as the start of a 2-3 year window. They could draft a QB next year and have a franchise Tackle with Sewell, who's only 20 years old and has unlimited upside to be the best OL coming out of College in the past several years.


8) New England Patriots (Via CAR): Trey Lance - QB, NDSU

I'm quite surprised to see New England reportedly this dialed in when it comes to trading up. Could this be a smokescreen? Absolutely. However, they've apparently laid the groundwork for a deal here with Carolina. It's not like Bill Belichick to trade up 7 spots to move into the top 10, but times are changing. The AFC East is getting younger at QB with Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa and now (likely) Zach Wilson. I'll keep speaking this pick into existence and hope that it's ultimately what New England does on Draft Night. Lance will benefit from sitting behind Cam Newton for a season and learning a complex offensive scheme.


9) Washington Football Team (Via DEN): Justin Fields - QB, Ohio State

Denver just traded for Teddy Bridgewater, which likely takes them out of consideration for taking a Quarterback here. Reportedly, Washington is trying to trade up and make a move for either Lance or Fields. I have no idea where Fields ends up right now, but I think this spot makes sense. Denver can get an extra 1st rounder and if either Bridgewater or Drew Lock don't work out this season, they can select a QB in next year's Draft. Washington gets its QB of the future here to pair with a very young, up and coming defense and good coach.


10) Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II - CB, Alabama

I've had Surtain as a lock here ever since the Dak re-signing and I don't think anything has happened to change my mind since then. Big name Cornerback from a big time school and the son of Patrick Surtain? The pick just makes too much sense here and is a total Jerry Jones move. Dallas will probably take a close look at Rashawn Slater here, but ultimately they need to begin fixing their poor defense first and focus on their OL on Day 2.


11) New York Giants: DeVonta Smith - WR, Alabama

Peter King reported earlier this week that Joe Judge loves DeVonta Smith, while Dave Gettleman loves Micah Parsons. If this is in fact true, I think Gettleman will get the final call here and Parsons would be the pick. However, if the Giants front office wants Daniel Jones to succeed, they should load up on offense again and see if Jones is truly their guy. Despite his weight concerns, you can't go wrong with adding the Heisman Trophy winner here, who was dominating the SEC last season and 1st half of the National Championship last January.


12) Philadelphia Eagles (Via MIA): Jaycee Horn - CB, South Carolina

DeVonta Smith is still on the board here, so there's a great chance Philly winds up landing him, depending on trades and how the top 10 of the Draft goes. However, my gut tells me that Philly could very well go with Jaycee Horn here, especially if Smith goes earlier. Personally, I think he's the best CB in this Draft and fills a serious need for a team that plays in a division where the offenses are becoming a major focal point. Who knows: maybe he's the most competitive rock, paper, scissors player in Head Coach Nick Sirianni's mind.


13) Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater - OT, Northwestern

Slater falling to 13 is a bit of a shocker when you take into consideration that he's arguably a top 10 pick on most boards. However, Carolina traded down in this scenario; I think if that indeed happens on Draft Night, Slater could fall out of the top 10. Either way, Los Angeles would be getting an absolute stud, as Slater can play both interior OL and Tackle. He'd probably slide in at Tackle, which is where I think he fits best. This would be a home run pick, as Los Angeles has put a lot of emphasis on OL help to protect Justin Herbert this offseason.


14) Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker - OT, USC

Minnesota is one of many teams still looking to fill the many holes they have on their OL. Their interior line is in desperate need of an upgrade after losing Riley Reiff to the Bengals. Vera-Tucker has solidified himself as a top 15 pick after a great run at USC, playing at both Tackle and Guard. He's a perfect fit for what Minnesota designs their offense around, which is zone blocking for Dalvin Cook and extra protection for Kirk Cousins. This makes too much sense.


15) Carolina Panthers (Via NE): Christian Darrisaw - OT, Virginia Tech

Carolina hasn't had a franchise LT in quite some time now. Their OL is a little bit of a mess at the moment and they need to find a way to protect the newly-acquired Sam Darnold. He never had a great OL in New York and it's going to be crucial in order for him to succeed. Darrisaw played LT at Virginia Tech as a True Freshman and never missed a game. He's a consistent blocker and an all-around athlete that Carolina needs to improve its OL.


16) Denver Broncos (Via ARI): Micah Parsons - LB, Penn State

Lots of movement for Denver, as I have them trading back up 3 spots from the 19th pick they got from Washington for moving down from No. 9; I think this is a great spot for both teams to make a deal. Denver just got extra picks from Washington, so they wouldn't have to give up that much to get to this spot and draft Micah Parsons. Arizona needs a corner and there should still be able to draft one at 19. Parsons is a perfect future replacement for Von Miller, as he's a true 3 down Linebacker with blazing speed and crazy athleticism that absolutely changed the dynamic of Penn State's defense during his time there.

17) Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - LB, Notre Dame

Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to the Raiders and the Draft. Mayock and Gruden either sell high on prospects, select players with character concerns but also a lot of potential upside or opt for speedy athletes. Owusu-Koramoah sort of fits into that very fast, dynamic element that Gruden and Mayock would fall head over heels for. He's a do-it-all type Linebacker with 3 down ability and was a monster playmaker for the Notre Dame defense.


18) Miami Dolphins: Kwity Paye - EDGE, Michigan

New reports are saying that Miami will look to draft an EDGE rusher here at No. 18. Kwity Paye makes the most sense, since he's the top rated pass rusher in this class and there's great value taking him after all the skill position players have come off the board. I really like Paye's game and think he made great strides during his Senior year at Michigan. He gives Brian Flores a lot of exciting options, as he could line up on either side of the Defensive Line.


19) Arizona Cardinals (Via DEN): Greg Newsome II - CB, Northwestern

Arizona will probably get an extra 3rd or 4th round pick by trading down three spots and are still able to get their guy here in Newsome. The Cardinals have a big hole to fill at CB after their longtime cornerstone CB Patrick Peterson went to Minnesota in Free Agency. Newsome has great length and the athleticism to line up as a starting Cornerback right away for Arizona as they look to continue to improve their secondary.


20) Chicago Bears: Rashod Bateman - WR, Minnesota

I'm not sure what Chicago's draft plans are. They want to trade up for a Quarterback, but will have to pay a King's ransom in order to do so. Their backup plan is to draft an Offensive Lineman, but the top 5 Linemen are off the board here. The next team need I can think of is at Wide Receiver, so drafting Bateman could be the way to go here. Allen Robinson is playing on the franchise tag and Anthony Miller's name has been brought up in trade conversations. I guess you just try to give Andy Dalton as much as you can and hope for a QB next year?


21) Indianapolis Colts: Samuel Cosmi - OT, Texas

It might seem like a stretch to take Cosmi here at No. 21, but the Colts are usually great at drafting and developing players in the first round. Cosmi is an elite, athletic LT and was a Team Captain at Texas, which is saying a lot coming from a big-time program. He's got the skills to replace longtime LT Anthony Castonzo and help protect Carson Wentz's blind side.


22) Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley - CB, Virginia Tech

I know Farley's stock has slipped since he had microdiscectomy surgery, but if he falls to No. 22, you almost have to take him. Tennessee had one of the worst secondaries in the league last season and lost Adoree' Jackson, Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler all within the past year. Farley should be healthy by Week 1 and would've been taken much higher if it weren't for his recent medical procedure. Great value here for Tennessee.


23) New York Jets (Via SEA): Azeez Ojulari - EDGE, Georgia

It's almost a given that Robert Saleh, a former Defensive Coordinator, is going to take a defensive player with this pick. There's still so much talent still on the board on the defensive side of the ball, too much to ignore. Ojulari would be a great fit for the Jets, as he's a difference maker who can line up as both a 3 down LB and an explosive EDGE rusher. Saleh has to be excited to see that he's still here and how creative he can get in using his talents.


24) Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris - RB, Alabama

This pick almost seems like a lock when you consider how much Harris and Mike Tomlin have talked about how great their meetings went. Harris has been on TV lately saying how happy he would be to play for the Steelers. It makes sense, given his ground and pound style of running with some pass-catching ability added to his game. Big Ben can't be throwing the ball 608 times again, given his age; remember he had a dead arm by the end of last season.


25) Jacksonville Jaguars (Via LAR): Tevin Jenkins - OT, Oklahoma State

Jacksonville will have to prioritize protecting Trevor Lawrence at some point and there's still good talent out here to do that with this pick. Jenkins is a bit of a wild card and I think he's best suited to play at Right Tackle. Again, this pick will only happen if Jenkins himself is still available, because I think Jacksonville will want to address their defense as early as they can.


26) Cleveland Browns: Zaven Collins - LB, Tulsa

From top to bottom, Cleveland might have one of the most complete rosters in all of Football. Linebacker is a little thin for them and they would be getting an absolute stud in Zaven Collins here late in the first round. His ceiling may be even higher in the Draft, but nonetheless, he would be a great fit for Cleveland, which already has a defense filled with studs up front. He can play Linebacker or line up on the EDGE; there's so much Cleveland can do with Collins.


27) Baltimore Ravens: Jaelan Phillips - EDGE, Miami

There's a good chance that Baltimore either trades this pick or the recently-acquired 31st selection for more picks on Days 2 or 3. I'll take a stab here and guess that the Ravens take on a player like Phillips, who has proven more than Rousseau to this point. Phillips played well in Rousseau's absence, but there are definitely still some injury and durability concerns with him long term. I still think, despite the warts, he's a projected late 1st rounder because of his high upside. He is, after all, ranked as a top 3 EDGE rusher in this class.


28) New Orleans Saints: Asante Samuel, Jr. - CB, Florida State

The Saints have some question marks surrounding their secondary with Marshon Lattimore's contract set to expire soon and not a whole lot of depth beyond him at the position. Sean Payton himself has said it's a position of need and that the team could get aggressive to land one of the top CB's if he falls outside of the top 20. Samuel Jr. is a solid pick here, as he's an aggressive Corner who tracks the ball well and could play alongside Lattimore on day one.


29) Green Bay Packers: Jamin Davis - LB, Kentucky

This pick may seem like a stretch, as the Packers have other positions of need and might trade down at this point in the Draft to acquire more capital. However, Davis is a tackling machine and would provide a much needed energy boost for the Packers defense right away. Davis' game has grown on me recently; I think he has the potential to be a Draft Night steal, it's just a matter of how Green Bay feels about taking him at 29, as opposed to later.


30) Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau - EDGE, Miami

I love this pick by Buffalo here for a couple reasons. First of all, getting Rousseau this late in the first round is a steal. Secondly, the Bills have a great defensive scheme and culture that he can thrive in. Yes, Rousseau is going to be a project, because he last played in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season. He's still a raw EDGE rusher, but he'll give Buffalo's interior defense some youth and explosiveness as they push for a Super Bowl run this season.


31) Baltimore Ravens (Via KC): Trevon Moehrig-Woodard - S, TCU

Lamar Jackson desperately needs help on offense, especially when it comes to weapons. Maybe the Ravens see more value in the 2nd round with Elijah Moore or Kadarius Toney; I think they trade down with this pick, but they may fall in love with a prospect like Moehrig. He's a hybrid Safety who sees the middle of the field very well and fits what the Ravens want on defense. It's a position of need and I think he's either going to Jacksonville or Baltimore.


32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Travis Etienne - RB, Clemson

There's a lot of recent evidence that tells me Tampa Bay winds up selecting Etienne here. They wanted to get James White in Free Agency, but he ultimately re-signed in New England. Leonard Fournette is only on a one-year deal and is more of a ground and pound style runner; the same can be said for Ronald Jones. Etienne is an all-around RB, but his pass catching is what stands out to me about him the most. I'm sure Tom Brady would love to get a player like Etienne, who could very well be the Clyde Edwards-Helaire of this year's Draft.


- Corey (@celticshive)

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