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If you are a fan of the NFL, the draft is a special time of the year, especially those who are root for the basement dwellers of the league. Unfortunately, here in New Jersey, the Jets and Giants fall into that category. Every year, teams hope to find their franchise savior, a diamond in the rough, the 199th pick in the draft that miraculously turns into the greatest quarterback of all time, though, it usually doesn’t turn out that way. It’s an unpredictable process, evaluating college players for the NFL, there’s just some make or break variables that are undetectable in watching tape and sitting a guy down for an interview.
JaMarcus Russell selected #1 overall by the Oakland Raiders, quarterback out of LSU, thought out to be a potential top 5 quarterback during his career: an absolutely flop in the NFL. His talent was there, he has the athletic, 6’5″ frame with a cannon for an arm, but he lacked the work ethic and love for the game that the true elite players of the game possess.
“JaMarcus Russell is going to immediately energize that Raider nation. That fanbase, that football team, on the practice field, in that locker room.” A quote from ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr, talking about the same guy who refused to show up to training camp and sign his rookie contract until days before Week 1.
As said before, it’s unpredictable, there’s no way the Raiders could’ve known that Russell would end up the way he did and no team this year will be able to 100% know that their guy will pan out, but as a fan and NFL draft junkie, that’s the fun of it.
This class is said to be one of, if not the greatest draft class of all time on paper, with a potential 5 quarterbacks selected in the top 10 picks of the draft, on top of generational talents in the recieving core, with franchise offensive linemen, it’s true that this class is as good as it gets, and it’s not top heavy. Guys who fall to the second round are basically first round selections in any “normal” draft, so for teams like the Jets and the Eagles who hold a massive amount of selections, now is the time to start building up a core with this class. With that being said, let’s get into the picks.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The consensus #1 pick, this selection has been made for months now, Trevor Lawrence goes to South Florida to become their next QB1 for the next decade.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
This one also seems to be a lock for Gang Green. GM Joe Douglas has expressed some love for the gunslinger and will take over the new Saleh regime in New York.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from MIA): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Formally, I had Justin Fields here, but it seems that he’s not even in the conversation for San Francisco. As wild as it is, the Niners give up three firsts to go get Mac Jones, the perfect duo for head coach, Kyle Sahanahan.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This is an extremely interesting spot in the draft, it’s reported that the Falcons would consider drafting a quarterback if a “specific” guy is there. Well, if that guy is Justin Fields, then that’s certainly a cause for controversy, same if it’s quarterback Trey Lance, but then there’s tight end Kyle Pitts – who might be the best player in the draft. It’s a tough selection to make, and I formerly had the Broncos trading up to this spot, but I think the Falcons block out the noise and go with the best weapon the draft in Kyle Pitts.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The sexy pick would be Ja’Marr Chase, teaming him back up with Joe Burrow in Cincy, but the Bengals can’t afford to pass up on protection for their franchise QB, coming off of a torn ACL, keeping Burrow healthy should be A1 on Cincinnati’s checklist.
6. Miami Dolphins (from PHI): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
I’ve mocked Waddle to Miami in every single mock that I’ve done, published and unpublished, I think Waddle is a better fit than Chase is to Miami, BUT mock drafts are what I think will happen, not what I would do, Chase is seen as WR1, Miami gets Tua a big time player.
7. New England Patriots (predicted trade from DET): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
I had Ja’Marr Chase here to Detroit before my decision to give into the Mac Jones to San Fran hype, but now with Fields sliding, Belichick and the Patriots make a huge trade to go get their QB1, Justin Fields.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (predicted trade from CAR): Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Panthers are a team that have been taking calls about the 8th pick for a while now, and it’s rumored that they aren’t as high on Slater as some teams are. The Chargers take advantage, move up, and get their franchise tackle to protect Herbert.
9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
This is probably the most ideal situation for Denver, they stay put at 9 and still get their QB of the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if Denver makes a trade all the way up to #4 if they don’t believe one of their guys will fall, but in this situation, it shuffles out perfectly for them.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Dallas might’ve had the worst defense in the league last season, with the addition of Surtain, Dallas’ defense can put some pressure off Dak Prescott and give them more of a chance to compete on both sides of the ball, not to mention, the first defensive player off the board at #10? Jerry Jones will be thrilled.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
If Jaylen Waddle is there at 11, Gettleman can’t mess the pick up, getting Danny Dimes another weapon provides a no excuses situation for the quarterback. The Giants get a speedy deep threat who can change an offense at 11.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Horn could be snatched up by Dallas at #10 if they like him more than Surtain, but personally, I doubt that and the Eagles get a physical CB1 to lock down the outside. I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith is the pick here as well.
13. Carolina Panthers (Predicted trade from LAC): Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Getting a bit out of the conformity with this selection, Carolina lost Curtis Samuel in the offseason to WFT, and with the Heisman winner still on the board, they take the opportunity to get Sammy D another weapon, something the Jets could never provide him.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Phillips has some concerns after being forced to medically retire at UCLA before transferring to Miami, but there’s no question he’s the most talented pass rusher in the draft. Mike Zimmer is a defensive coach and he gets a great player in Phillips.
15. Detroit Lions (predicted trade from NE): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Parsons was someone who was mocked to Detroit at pick #7, getting him at #15 would be a steal for the Lions, along with the assets provided with the trade from New England, maybe Stephon Gilmore?
16. New York Jets (Predicted trade with ARI): Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
Arizona is a team that doesn’t possess a couple of mid round selections this year, and the Jets are a team with a lot of mid round picks this year. It makes perfect sense for the Jets to move up here with the attempt to maximize the success rate of Zach Wilson by providing him with a capable, versatile guard in AVT.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
JOK fits Jon Gruden’s prospect taste to a T, an athletic monster from one of the college football’s premier teams. Owusu-Koramoah could be a draft day riser, but too much offensive fire power will force him to fall into the lap of Las Vegas.
18. Miami Dolphins: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Kwity Paye is a great story out of the University of Michigan, born in Guinea in a refugee camp, there’s no one more interesting than Kwity Paye. From a football aspect, Paye’s talent could make him go higher, but I think he falls in Miami’s lap at 18.
19. Washington Football Team: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Darrisaw is another player who could go higher if the Chargers choose to not move up for Slater, but due to that trade, Darrisaw slides a little bit, and WFT gets a new tackle for their new look offense.
20. Chicago Bears: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
The Bears released Kyle Fuller this offseason due to a cap space situation, and they are likely going to need a replacement. Newsome can be that guy for Chicago, IF they don’t trade up for a quarterback.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Although they do need pass rush help, the Colts are going to need to protect Carson Wentz if they want their trade to work out. With Anthony Castonzo retiring, the Colts need a tackle, and Teven Jenkins is that guy.
22. Tennessee Titans: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
The Titans lost a lot of weapons this offseason due to free agency, Elijah Moore is a quick slot reciever who could be a nice dynamic across from A.J. Brown. I formally had Rashod Bateman here, but the trend of Moore seems to have him move up the board a little bit.
23. Arizona Cardinals (Predicted trade with NYJ: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Farley takes a tumble all the way down to 23 because of his recent surgery raising some concerns. Arizona could make their pick of Farley all the way up at 16, but they choose to collect some capital from the Jets and take a chance on a Patrick Peterson replacement in Farley.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Right now the Steelers running back room contains of Benny Snell Jr, Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage, and Jaylen Samuels – Najee Harris would bolster this backfield and give Pittsburgh a whole new dimension on offense.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR): Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
A great value selection here for the Jags, some much needed pass rush help falls to Jacksonville at 25. Azeez potentially could fly up the draft board, but an overwhelming amount of talent shuffles Olujari to Jacksonville.
26. Cleveland Browns: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
Davis has climbed up the rankings late in the draft season and there’s good reason why. 6’4″ with 4.3-4.4 speed, Davis is an athletic specimen who likely will be more of a project player for Cleveland, but could provide a new level of athleticism for their defense.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
I don’t know why Bateman is taking such a big hit late into the draft season, but Baltimore gets a steal here at 27, finally giving Lamar Jackson a true receiving talent.
28. New Orleans Saints: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
After digging themselves out of some serious cap complications with the release of multiple starters, a potential fill in for Kwon Alexander, the Saints get an all around linebacker in Zaven Collins. Collins is also someone who could go much higher on draft night.
29. Green Bay Packers: Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
Dickerson is a bit on the older side, but until Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay, or retires from the game, the Packers are a win now team. Dickerson will fill in instantly with the loss of Corey Linsley in free agency.
30. Buffalo Bills: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
There’s nobody more exciting than the Buffalo Bills, Etienne is a luxury that will provide the Bills with another mismatch on offense to go along with Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.
31. Baltimore Ravens (from KC): Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Gregory Rousseau is purely a potential oriented pick for the Ravens here, he possess a huge frame at 6’7″ and just turned 21 this April. Rousseau’s ceiling could get him picked much higher, maybe at 11 to NYG, but potential gets you fired, so he falls to the contending Ravens at 31.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
This is a more future oriented pick for Tampa Bay, as the Super Bowl champs were able to bring back every starter last season, minus Antonio Brown. Oweh is an insanely fast athlete who virtually has no ceiling. 100% won’t be a starter right away for Tampa, but certainly could get some work situationally, and in the future.
April 29th kicks off the first round of the NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Browns. This one should be exciting and produce some serious talent on the NFL Stage.