With March Madness now in the rearview mirror and Baseball’s Opening Day since passed, the Master’s and the NFL Draft are the next 2 big sporting events coming your way. Seeing as I have about as much chance of playing at Augusta National as I do predicting it, I will stick to what I know, the NFL.
With Sam Darnold the latest QB on the move, and the chance of Deshaun Watson being moved now almost nil, let’s take a look at how this may shake-up the draft and see who goes where to start their NFL career.
1st Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson … In the only move that even a blind man could see, Urban Meyer will hitch his wagon to the Clemson product. There may be no more sure thing in this draft than Lawrence. He has a cannon for an arm, with fantastic accuracy and wheels that can get him out of trouble. Lawrence is the perfect player for the Jags to build around.
2nd Pick: New York Jets – Zack Wilson, QB, BYU … This is where things start to get interesting. After dealing away their 1st round pick from 3 years ago in Sam Darnold, the Jets need a new leader. Enter Wilson. I am not totally sold on the BYU product, and think that Justin Fields is the better option here.
But the Jets brass fell in love with Wilson, and his availability is one reason they felt comfortable dealing Darnold. Wilson’s 2020 season was spectacular, with a PFF (Pro Football Focus) grade of 95.4 (leading all QB’s) and his arm talent and ability to extend a play is what impressed the Jets brass.
3rd Pick: San Francisco 49ers – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama … This is where the draft really takes a left turn. The Niners made a deal with the Dolphins to specifically get to this spot to take Jone, who I firmly believe would have still been there with the 12th pick (their original selection). The Niners really like Jones because he is a proven winner, and while he will be backing up Jimmy G this season, if Garapoolo’s injury history is our guide, Jones will be able to slip right in and keep the Niners on track for the post-season. Especially when you consider that Jones is probably the most NFL ready QB in the draft.
4th Pick: Denver Broncos (dealt from Falcons) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State … Realizing that Drew Lock is NOT the answer, the Broncos will quickly jump all over the Falcons fourth pick here. Giving up their 9th pick, and a 3rd rounder, the Broncos will add the Falcons 6th rounder as well. Fields to me may be the best QB on the board not named Trevor Lawrence. The Big 10 opponents he faced are the most like the competition he will face on Sundays and with a solid receiving corps that includes Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton with the improving Noah Fant at TE and a defense that is downright scary, the Broncos are just a QB away from making the AFC West one of the sports best divisions.
5th Pick: Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’marr Chase, WR, LSU – Although the need for an OT is huge to protect Joe Burrow, the chance to pair Burrow up with his former Bayou Bengal wideout is an opportunity that they cannot miss. Chase was a beast with Burrow under center, and you pair him with Tee Higgins (who looked phenomenal in his rookie season) and the Bengals may be building an offensive juggernaut that will be so tough to stop.
6th Pick: Miami Dolphins (From Eagles) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama – Another QB teaming up with a former player, this time it’s Tua and Waddle hooking up again. Anything that will help Tua feel more comfortable has to be a plus. Waddle is an electric playmaker and can add a jolt of energy into a Dolphins offense that could use some zip.
7th Pick: Detroit Lions: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama – So the Crimson Tide’s passing game will all be taken by the 7th pick in the draft, which is very impressive, especially when you consider that Bama is known more by its defense than its offense. Smith will give the Lions an X receiver they have been sorely lacking. His ability to create separation and come down with any pass in his vicinity makes it much easier to overlook his lack of size and stature. Considering the Lions lost all 3 of their top receivers in Free Agency, Smith will be a welcome addition.
8th Pick: Carolina Panthers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida – The Panthers may be the luckiest team in the NFL. First they are able to get Sam Darnold from the Jets for next to nothing. While Darnold wasn’t great in New York, he still has a ton of untapped talent, and he now is surrounded by DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and Christian McCaffery and now throw in Pitts. He is a WR in a tight end’s body, and will be so tough to stop or bring down.
With Teddy Bridgewater now on the block, the Panthers look like they will be able to add yet another body AND make some noise in an NFC South that has totally soft the last few years.
9th Pick: Atlanta Falcons (from Denver Broncos): Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama – The Falcons biggest need right now is on defense, and since no defensive player was worth a Top 5 pick in this draft, this deal makes a ton of sense. Surtain brings 3 years of of high level production from the SEC into the Falcons secondary and teaming him with AJ Terrell will give Atlanta a secondary they can look forward to heading into the 2021 season with.
10th Pick: Dallas Cowboys: Penei Sewell, LT, Oregon – With all the QB’s being drafted early, someone was going to have to fall, and Sewell is that guy. But his dropping means great things for the Cowboys. After Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome injury last season, protecting him will be job #1 for Dallas, and Sewell is the best O-lineman in this draft. It could not have fallen any better for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys after investing a ton of money on Prescott this off-season.
11th Pick: New York Giants: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern – The Giants need someone who can open large holes for Saquon Barkley, all the while also protecting Daniel Jones and allowing him the time to look downfield amd find new addition Kenny Golladay. Slater, like Sewell before him is that guy. Both have the talent to be Top 5 picks, but because of other various needs, both fell and the Cowboys and Giants both get steals this late into the first round.
12th Pick: Philadelphia Eagles: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina – Horn is a physical, athletic playmaking corner who can step in right away for the Eagles. The son of former all-pro wideout Joe Horn, he has the pedigree and the ability to make a huge impact for a team who struggled on both sides of the ball last year.
13th Pick: LA Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OL, Virginia Tech – With needs up and down the Offensive line, Darrisaw is the perfect fit in LA. Solid at both blocking for the run and pass, Darrisaw is exactly what the Chargers need to keep stud QB Justin Herbert upright with time to throw the ball downfield.
14th Pick: Minnesota Vikings: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech – Farley has the talent to be a Top 5 pick, no doubt, but after undergoing a back procedure that kept him from working out on Va Tech pro day, he has slipped down most draft boards, which is great news for the Vikings. In a division with Aaron Rodgers, you need all the secondary help you can get, and to land a player with Farley’s upside this late is a gift for the Vikings.
15th Pick: New England Patriots: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State – Cam Newton is back for another year after an awful 2020 campaign. But already in his 30’s and showing serious signs of decline, the Patriots need to land the QB of the future, and Lance is that guy. An unfinished product after red-shirting in 2019, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2020 Division 1 Championship Game. He is a mobile QB, with a top tier arm but his lack of big game experience caused him to fall all the way to #15. At least under the tutelage of Bill Belichick, Lance has a chance to be the next big thing.
16th Pick: Arizona Cardinals: Elijah Moore WR Ole Miss – The loss of Larry Fitzgerald to retirement is one the Cards cannot just let go of, and the addition of AJ Green will not be enough to replace Fitz, especially if you saw Green play last season. Enter Elijah Moore. He may be small of stature at 5’9”, but he had a ridiculous cone time of 6.66 seconds at the pro day, and his 4.3 speed was fantastic as well. Lining up opposite Deandre Hopkins means that he will see single coverage and a chance to show his explosivness.
17th Pick: Las Vegas Raiders: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma St – The Raiders are in need of a solid right tackle in the draft to allow Nick Martin to slide back into his role as a reserve along the line. Protecting Derek Carr, and opening holes for Josh Jacobs has to be a priority for this team. Carr has proven with the right protection, he can play at an elite level. When you have 2 games against the beast of a line in Denver, and have to face one of the Bosa brothers twice a year, protection is paramount, and Jenkins fits that bill nicely.
18th Pick: Miami Dolphins: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State – Taking care of the offense with their first first-round selection, the Dolphins can address their D with this pick. Playing at Linebacker U, Parsons could be a steal this late in the draft. He is not only an excellent pass rusher, but he also can be the QB of the defense, and that is a spot the Dolphins have been lacking of late.
19th Pick: Washington Football Team: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota – With Ryan Fitzpatrick as the new signal caller, the WFT needed a wideout to play opposite Terry McLaurin, and Bateman is just that guy. Although he came in a little smaller than most thought, he was also much faster and has some of the best hands in this draft. His all around game will make him a viable weapon on this squad.
20th Pick: Chicago Bears: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC – With all the skill players drafted early in this draft, Vera-Tucker was able to slip all the way down to Number 20 and the Bears, which is not bad for a Top 15 talent. With Andy Daulton now installed as the Bears QB, his mobility is limited, which means he is going to need time to be able to hit Allen Robinson on the skinny post, that’s where Vera-Tucker comes in. Playing at USC, you know he has learned from the best, and should be able to protect Dalton as needed.
21st Pick: Indianapolis Colts: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan – With Carson Wentz now under center and one of the best O-Lines in the game, the Colts defense needed some work, especially off the edge, and Paye is the most explosive EDGE in the draft. Putting him in the midst of the defense means Frank Reich will have, in my opinion, the best squad in the AFC South.
22nd Pick: Bills (trade with Titans, give up pick 30, a 3rd and 6th for a 4th a and number 22): Najee Harris, RB, Alabama – The Bills trade up in front of the Seahawks here to make sure they get the best RB in the draft. Travis Ettiene and Javonte Williams are also stud backs, but none have the upside of Harris. Now while Tide RB’s like Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy may give you pause about selecting an Alabama runner, Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs should put that negativity to bed.
The Bills biggest need offensively was a bell cow runner, something that Devin Singletary and Zack Moss just couldn’t provide. Harris can run through tackles, has terrific hands and rarely seen lateral movement for a back his size. Harris is an absolute stud that will make the Bills offense that much better and scarier.
23rd Pick: New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) Kadarius Tony, WR, Florida – Typical Florida speed burner, scored 10 TDs this year and is the perfect compliment to new QB Zack Wilson who will need all the weapons he can accumulate
24th Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame – With a history of great linebacking play, Owusu-Koramoah will easily be able to continue that tradition. With his speed, athleticism and coverability he should fit right into the “Steel Curtain” defense and make the Steelers D something to feared once again.
25th Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars – Greg Newsome CB, Northwestern – Since dealing away Jalen Ramsey a couple of years ago, the Jags have needed a special cover corner, and Newsome fits that bill perfectly. He is a plug-and-play corner who will be able to start from Day one and fit right in with an NFL defense.
26th Pick: Cleveland Browns – Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn St – With Myles Garrett on one side, the addition of Oweh on the other will make this Browns team downright scary. The pass rush will be feared throughout the league, as Oweh showed freakish athleticism on Penn State’s Pro Day and has proved to be a disruptive force on defense.
27th Pick: Baltimore Ravens – Greg Rousseau, EDGE, Miami – With Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue both leaving the Ravens this off-season, the pass rush for this team looked like it was going to be lacking. But with Rousseau slipping into the 20’s, the Ravens have got their man. His combination of size, length and production teamed with his ridiculous 10-yard split time and Rousseau should make Ravens fans remember Terrell Suggs fondly.
28th Pick: New Orleans Saints – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU – He may not be the fastest or the hardest hitter in the defensive backfield, but there may not be a more complete Safety coming out of school this year, making him a perfect fit for this Saints D, and a guy who will start right away.
29th Pick: Green Bay Packers – Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama – Dickerson is the best pure interior Offensive Lineman in the available. There were some who thought he would fall out of the first round after his ACL injury, but his recovery is going very well and he should step right in following the departure of Corey Linsley.
30th Pick: Tennessee Titans (from Bills) – Terrance Marshall, WR, LSU – The Titans had Marshall pegged at Number 22, so being able to drop 8 spots, add a 2 picks and still land the guy they wanted is a huge win for the Titans. With Corey Davis leaving in Free Agency, wideout becomes a position of need for the Titans. At 6’3” and 205, he is a big target that has speed to burn as well, running a 4.38 40. He is much more comfortable on the outside than in the slot and he’s a natural ball tracker,
31st Pick: Kansas City Chiefs – Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama – The Chiefs are looking for another quality inside rusher, and Barmore is that guy. Playing his career at Alabama, you know Nick Saban has him prepared to play at the next level, and playing for a winning program in college will allow him to slot right in to the winning ways of the Chiefs.
32nd Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue – Moore made a name for himself 2 years ago by single-handedly destroying Ohio State and CB Shaun Wade for 194 total yards and 2 scores. His 2020 season started off the same way with 348 yards receiving in the first 2 weeks of the season, but then the injury bug hit him and he was shutdown for the rest of the season. If you believe his 2019 tape, the Buccaneers are getting a steal here. But with the wideouts they already have, it is a risk Tampa can afford to take.