By Owen Turner.
Buzz. It’s the sound a bee makes. It’s a feed you go to for garbage news and quizzes. It’s an animated space ranger from Disney. But most importantly, buzz is those juicy nuggets of information that leak out before the great NFL Draft. It’s information you’re not sure you can trust but is still more accurate than your opinion. It can make you mad, it can make you excited and it can make you want pack it up and follow Tom Brady to Tompa. But buzz is best for one thing: hours and hours worth of time-consuming, inaccurate and ultimately futile mock drafts. I have taken this burden upon myself and sifted through all the buzz (yes, every single page of the internet). I’ve cut crap and present you, the good listeners of the First Down Podcast, with the most precise and insightful mock draft ever produced. It’s certain to get at least 5 pick right this year…
This draft is shaping up to be a classic. We’ve got record breaking quarterbacks, cannon-armed quarterbacks and brittle-boned but oh so exciting quarterbacks. We have athletic freaks on the defensive side of the ball and a plethora of fierce offensive lineman to resist them. We don’t have tight ends though. We never have tight ends. We’re so void of tight ends the Lions though T.J. Hockenson was worth a top 10 pick… Tampa Bay, Denver, Atlanta and more could be on the way up. Arizona, Jacksonville and anyone picking after 20 are looking to go down. For God’s sake we even have a top 5 talent so damaged the most revered Dr David J. Chao said he’d need a hip replacement by the time he’s 35! And to top it all off, the entire draft could be shut out if the WiFi cuts out… Even Coronavirus cannot beat the NFL Draft for drama.
Lets just get to it before another anonymous GM can tells us the media couldn’t be any ‘wronger’ again (nice to know you don’t need to speak no English good to work in the NFL).
First thigs first, we need to know who’s reporting what. It matters a lot. It could be the commissioner himself or Fergus Head on the other side of that twitter handle. Here’s a quick outline below so you know which people to put your trust in.
Gospel Tier: Adam Schefter (ESPN), Ian Rapoport (NFL Network)
True Believer Tier: Matt Miller (Bleacher Report), Albert Breer (Sports Illustrated), Peter King (NBC Sports)
Take It with a Grain of Salt Tier: Regional Journalists and Radio Hosts
Smoke Screen Tier: Team Officials, Anonymous General Managers
The Sh*t Producing Smoke which isn’t even Smoke it’s Steam Tier: Anyone Announcing the Browns are about to Trade Odell Beckham Jr.
We’re almost ready. Just so you know when the buzz lets us down, because some teams know how to keep secrets, we’re turning to your podcast host Reece Mowlem’s rankings. Check them out here: http://www.firstdown.co/draft. Again, these aren’t the picks the First Downers would make, they’re purely off rumours (don’t hate me Tua fans)... OK you’re ready, so let’s get to it. The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock.
(Oh, and if you want to enter our Mock Draft Competition, Click Here.)
1. Cincinnati Bengals
This is as close as an NFL Draft pick has come to a certainty since Andrew Luck in 2012. Ian Rapoport reported that LSU’s Joe Burrow to the Bengals is ‘biggest slam dunk we have seen in a very long time.’ In 2019 Burrow recorded the single greatest statistical season ever by a collegiate quarterback, throwing for a record 60 touchdowns on route to taking home both the National Championship and the Heisman. The Bengals haven’t tried to hide their interest. Per Albert Breer they have ‘maxed out’ their conversation time with Burrow (three one-hour sessions a week) and all signs point to them wanting him at No.1.
But if you’re still holding out for some draft day intrigue at No. 1 then I offer you a brief glimmer of hope. Rumours circulate at the Combine that the Ohio native isn’t as sold on the Bengals as they are on him. This isn’t to say he would pull an Elway or an Eli and attempt to force a trade if selected, but it does beg the question that if Burrow didn’t want to play in Cincinnati what it would take to prise away the No. 1 pick. The only team with the capital to pull of such a move would be the Miami Dolphins, with three first round picks and six in the top one hundred. According to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN the Dolphins like Burrow ‘a lot’ but the trade remains unlikely. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has denied the team is willing to trade the pick but Matt Miller believes they will at least field calls. Also factoring into a potential deal is that the Bengals are ‘true believers’ in Oregon’s Justin Herbert per Peter King. Could the Bengals trade down from No.1 to pick Herbert at No.5? For it to happen the Dolphins would have to give up at least what the Redskins did to move up from No.6 to No.2 in 2012 to pick Robert Griffen III (three 1strounders and a 2nd). Still even if the Bengals do pull a shock and move the top pick you can be confident Burrow will still be the 1st player taken.
The Pick: Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
2. Washington Redskins
It’s just as concrete at No.2 I’m afraid. Redskins fans may dream of seeing Tua Tagovailoa swap Alabama crimson Washington burgundy but with 2019 1stround quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the building it seems unlikely. Selecting Tua would be especially cruel as Haskins is hosting the Redskins virtual draft party (yes, apparently draft parties can be virtual now). Instead it is widely believed the Redskins will select the No.1 player on many people’s boards in Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young. The Redskins have another 2019 1stround pick in Montez Sweat at defensive end as well as veteran Ryan Kerrigan. Young however is considered a generational talent that new head coach Ron Rivera could not possibly pass up. Peter King has not heard of anyone within ‘his sphere’ that thinks the Redskins won’t pick Young at No.2. A trade down could be possible but it would be cheaper for teams looking to jump the Dolphins for a quarterback to target the Lion’s No.3 pick or the Giants at No.4. Go ahead and write this pick in ink on your mock drafts.
The Pick: Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State)
3. Detroit Lions
The excitement begins at No.3. The Lions would likely acquire a premium defensive player such as Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons or Auburn’s Derrick Brown with this pick, but analysts are almost unanimous that the Lion’s should trade down with either the quarterback-needy Dolphins or Chargers. Rapoport and Breer have both reported this is what Detroit are looking to do. Unless Detroit is in love with one particular player or Washington passes on Chase Young, a trade down to acquire extra draft capital would be in their best interest. Regardless, we are not projecting trades in this mock. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the Lions have done their due diligence interviewing Tua and Herbert, but with Matthew Stafford returning from injury this is likely nothing more than smoke to entice potential bidders. The consensus among insiders is that if the Lions stay put they will replace the departed Darius Slay and select the best corner on their board.
The Pick: Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
Don’t Be Surprised: Isaiah Simmons (LB/S, Clemson), Derrick Brown (DI, Auburn)
4. New York Giants
If Detroit stays put the Giants should look to move their pick, even if it means only moving down one spot. The 49ers did this with the Bears in 2017, acquiring an extra two thirds and a fourth rounder whilst still picking they player they’d have taken at their slot. If the Giants could pull of a similar move with the pick-heavy Dolphins it would be as good as stealing. Unfortunately for Giant’s fans general manager Dave Gettleman is notorious for many things on draft day, one of them being a reluctance to trade down (he has never moved down from any pick in any round as a GM).
Gettleman is also famous for his desire to draft the largest human being available. Because of this a large part of me truly believes that it will be Louisville’s 6’7”, 364 lbs offensive tackle Mekhi Becton pulling on a Big Blue cap on draft day. But this mock is based purely on buzz. In most mock drafts you will find linebacker Isaiah Simmons taken here, but Gettleman’s belief of building through the lines and the recent signing of former Green Bay tackling machine Blake Martinez makes this seem unlikely. Reports out of New York indicate offensive tackle will be the pick. Matt Miller heard that Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas could be the surprise first tackle taken, but ESPN’s Jordan Raanan and Rich Cimini both believe that the pick here will be Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills. Two reports beat one.
The Pick: Jedrick Wills Jr. (OT, Alabama)
Don’t Be Surprised: Isaiah Simmons (LB/S, Clemson), Mekhi Becton (OT, Louisville), Tristan Wirfs (OT/OG, Iowa), Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia)
5. Miami Dolphins
Here comes the draft day drama we all love. The fans and analysts will all be calling for Tua here but Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has been told by team staff members with ‘no horse in the race’ that without a physical examination Tua is too risky in the top 10. Couple this report with another from the Athletic’s Bob McGinn that Tua is totally off three team’s draft boards and the concern of a Aaron Rodgers-esque draft day slide is very real. Cameron Wolfe of ESPN states the Dolphins are yet to decide which quarterback they will take (and with which pick). Matt Miller and many other insiders believe the fans will be disappointed and the Dolphins will pass on Tua. There are whispers that Utah State’s Jordan Love may be in play here as well, but the majority believe the pick will be the quarterback out of Oregon.
The Pick: Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
Don’t Be Surprised: Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
6. Los Angeles Chargers
As is the case most years, there is almost no buzz coming out of Los Angeles (that still feels weird to say but not as weird as Las Vegas…). Early reports indicated the Chargers were happy to stay put and select whichever quarterback the Dolphins didn’t, but head coach Anthony Lynn has since reaffirmed the team’s confidence in journeyman Tyrod Taylor. If Lynn is to be believed (and that is a very big if) and if the Tua’s injuries are as worrying as reported, an impact defender or offensive lineman is likely the pick. Adding athletic freak Isaiah Simmons to an already stacked defensive unit would keep offensive coordinators up at night, although this pick feels like a luxury. Reinforcing the offensive tackle positions after trading Russell Okung to Carolina would seem a greater priority. Jordan Love’s name has also been floated here, but it is believed by Ian Rapoport that the Chargers are instead looking at Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts at the top of the second round. With little information to go on we turn to Mowlem’s big board for the first deciding vote.
The Pick: Tristan Wirfs (OT/OG, Iowa)
Don’t Be Surprised: Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama), Isaiah Simmons (LB/S, Clemson), Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia), Mekhi Becton (OT, Louisville)
7. Carolina Panthers
Here is the first time this mock moves away from the buzz. Most reports from Carolina have the Panthers selecting Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown in this spot. Albert Breer would be ‘surprised’ if Brown made it past this spot. Brown would be the pick here in most drafts, however in this mock Isaiah Simmons somewhat surprisingly remains on the board. Both defensive tackle and linebacker can be considered needs for the Panthers, with the latter becoming so as a direct result of Luke Kuechly’s retirement at age 29. Whilst Brown is undoubtably an elite prospect in this draft, the value of a nose tackle cannot match up against a generational athlete capable of destroying offensive game plans on any given Sunday. It is unlikely the Panthers would pass up the opportunity to replace one All-Pro linebacker with another.
The Pick: Isaiah Simmons (LB/S, Clemson)
Don’t Be Surprised: Derrick Brown (DI, Auburn)
8. Arizona Cardinals
Arizona’s pick is the first of the second group of prime trade-down spots. Teams looking to jump the inevitable wide receiver run could look to make a move here, as could a team needing an offensive tackle. Assuming Arizona stays put, the Cardinals will likely pick the player the Panthers passed on with their previous pick. Derrick Brown or one of the offensive tackles have been the names on most reports from Arizona, but the tie breaker here comes down to Fox and NFL Network analyst Peter Schrager. Schrager is known to have a close working relationship with Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and was the first to suggest Kyler Murray as the No.1 pick last season. It’s worth pointing out that general manager Steve Keim has not ruled out a wide receiver here, but this is most likely smoke following the heist of DeAndre Hopkins. Schrager, among the many others, are predicting Arizona to select the big guy out of Auburn here.
The Pick: Derrick Brown (DI, Auburn)
Don’t Be Surprised: Mekhi Becton (OT, Louisville), Tristan Wirfs (OT/OG, Iowa)
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville have burned the whole thing down. Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Telvin Smith and Calais Campbell; the stars of Sacksonville during their run to the AFC Championship game in 2018 are all no longer with the team. Yannick Ngakoue and Leonard Fournette may not be far behind. Per Albert Breer, the Jags will likely trade down from this spot and look to acquire more picks for their rebuild if defensive tackle Derrick Brown is off the board. Again, as with Arizona, teams looking to jump up for a wide receiver or an offensive tackle could look to make a deal. Peter King and Ian Rapoport both think this pick is unlikely to be a quarterback, but general manager Dave Caldwell has surprised them all before with his pick of Blake Bortles in 2014. If the team is to pick here, The Athletic’s Ben Standig believes corner C.J. Henderson from Florida would be the choice. Henderson has shot up draft boards recently and almost seems a sure-fire top 10 pick. One anonymous general manager (very very smoky) told King 40% of teams actually have Henderson over Ohio State corner Jeff Okudah. Fans of the Jaguars may be hoping for one of the big three receivers here to help the Jaguar King himself Gardner Minshew, but there has been little belief this will happen.
The Pick: C.J. Henderson (CB, Florida)
Don’t Be Surprised: Tristan Wirfs (OT/OG, Iowa), Javon Kinlaw (DI, South Carolina)
10. Cleveland Browns
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Odell Beckham Jr. is unlikely to be traded. A wild report from Marc Malusis of WFAN Moose (remember what we said about source reliability…) believed the Vikings were imminently trading two picks in 2021 for the wide out. This has since been shot down by none other than the greatest insider of them all Adam Schefter. Schefter and his colleagues are almost unanimous that the Browns will take a left tackle here. General manager Andrew Berry did warn Cleveland.com not to ‘assume what Cleveland is going to do’, but really what else would he say? Per Ian Rapoport, the shocking name linked to the Browns is Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland. It’s safe to assume the front office will make their decision on more on just a player’s name, but would anyone really be surprised if Cleveland (the team) didn’t? Cleveland (the player) being picked here would be a tremendous reach on Mowlem’s (101) and many other’s boards, and if he is their guy the Browns would likely trade down to make this pick. Michael Lombardi of the Athletic believes Denver is a likely trade partner. Even if the Browns do love Cleveland, if the pick is made here it will likely be for one of the more established offensive tackles. There is no buzz as to whether this would be Georgia’s Andrew Thomas or Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, so I’ll leave the tie breaker to Mowlem’s Big Board.
The Pick: Andrew Thomas (OT, Georgia)
Don’t Be Surprised: Ezra Cleveland (OT, Boise State), Mekhi Becton (OT, Louisville)
11. New York Jets
Lots of intrigue here. The Jets two biggest needs are at wide receiver and offensive tackle. Matt Miller believes tackle will be the pick, whilst SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano believes the team are high on Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. Vacchiano also reports that ‘several sources’ believe the Jets like Georgia’s Andrew Thomas more than Louisville’s Mekhi Becton at tackle. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman also reports the team have interest in Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. Overall, most of the buzz here points to offensive tackle. That being the case, and with the rest of the top four off the board, this pick makes itself.
The Pick: Mekhi Becton (OT, Louisville)
Don’t Be Surprised: Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama), CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma), Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
12. Las Vegas Raiders
Moving to Sin City, needing a face for the franchise and a coach who loves to collect his quarterbacks. Sounds like a match made in heaven right? Unfortunately not, and Tua Tagovailoa sees his slide continue. There is a LOT coming out of Oakland, which is surprising given the teams secrecy a year ago (the Raiders sent all of their scouts home before the draft last year). General manager and hero of the podcast Mike Mayock said that the Raiders are happy at QB and are looking to ‘rebuild’ Marcus Mariota. This presumedly rules out selecting Tua. Most believe this is pick will be a wide receiver. Henry Ruggs III’s and his 4.2 speed have Raider written all over him but Adam Caplan of SirusXM Radio reports head coach Jon Gruden is looking for a ‘true X’ with great speed. Seeing Tyreek Hill twice a year will do that to you. Peter King believes Mayock ‘loves’ Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. Lamb fits the mould of a traditional X receiver but lacks Rugg’s game breaking speed. South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw has also been mentioned here. My gut says to give the Raiders the flashy speed guy, but the mock is on buzz, so the Raiders go with the safer guy and the higher player on Mowlem’s board.
The Pick: CeeDee Lamb
Don’t Be Surprised: Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama), Javon Kinlaw (DI, South Carolina), Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
13. San Francisco 49ers (from Colts)
Per Adam Schefter, the 49ers are another team looking to trade down. If they stay, most assume it will be for an elite wide receiver. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III both remain on the board. Albert Breer reports head coach Kyle Shanahan wants speed, and Matt Miller believes this pick will be a corner or a wide out. Strangely though, with a pick acquired from trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts, Peter King and NBC colleague Matt Maiocco believe the 49ers are ‘desperate’ for a replacement tackle in South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw. Picking Kinlaw (who has an incredible backstory you should read about) would present a cheaper, younger version of Buckner to reinforce an already stacked defensive line. One final thought: general manager John Lynch released a video of himself on twitter watching Kentucky vs Louisville (with Louisville on offense). The only player on the board worth pick No.13 is Mekhi Becton. Perhaps this means the 49ers are looking at offensive tackle, although I struggle to believe any general manager is dumb enough to share something like that on twitter without it being smoke. If the 49ers stay put logic says receiver here but the evidence says otherwise.
The Pick: Javon Kinlaw (DI, South Carolina)
Don’t Be Surprised: Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama), Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama)
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the easiest teams to predict this year are the Buccaneers. The Bucs signed some older dude named Brandy or something to play quarterback for them this year and he apparently requires extra protection per Albert Breer. Tampa may look to trade up for one of the top four tackles, but with them off the board Matt Miller believes the pick will be USC’s Austin Jackson or Houston’s Josh Jones. Again, the decision goes in favour of the top guy on Mowlem’s and most other analyst’s boards.
The Pick: Joshua Jones (OT, Houston)
Don’t Be Surprised: Austin Jackson (OT, USC)
15. Denver Broncos
There are a multitude of reports stating Denver are looking to move up in this draft. Albert Breer believes it is for an offensive tackle but most other insiders believe it will be for a wide receiver. Rather unusually the run on receivers has not happened in this mock, but if trades were possible teams like the Broncos, Eagles and Vikings would all jump in and snap them up. Both Alabama receivers being on the board would be a dream for general manager John Elway and quarterback Drew Lock. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network also notes the team are high on Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims, although no one is expecting the Broncos to take him over Jeudy or Ruggs. Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette believes the team wants Jeudy and will do whatever it takes to secure him. Him falling into their lao is too good to pass up.
The Pick: Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
Don’t Be Surprised: Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama)
16. Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta are the other team with the most buzz surrounding a potential trade up. Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL scouting legend Gil Brandt both believe this would be for Florida corner C.J. Henderson. This would make sense given the general struggles of their secondary and the loss of Desmond Trufant. Henderson is long gone by now though, so Atlanta are left looking at the rest of the corner market. LSU’s Kristian Fulton, Clemson’s AJ Terell, Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs and TCU’s Jeff Gladney make up a solid second tier for the Falcons to choose from. LSU pass rusher K’Lavon Chaisson may be in the conversation here too, but the signing of Dante Fowler to an inflated contract to play opposite Tak McKinley makes this pick a luxury. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure reports corner is the pick here, but with little information as to who it may be with Henderson off the board I defer once more to Mowlem’s rankings.
The Pick: Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
Don’t Be Surprised: K’Lavon Chaisson (EDGE, LSU), Any Other Corner
17. Dallas Cowboys
Imagine the scene if Tua’s slide finally ended in Dallas. One of the many consequences would be Dak Prescott walking after playing this year under the franchise tag. Of course, this is unlikely and again not the pick (sorry Tua, for the record I’d have drafted you at No.5…). YGM’s Calvin Watkins and Michael Gehlken report Dallas interviewed pass rushers K’Lavon Chaisson and Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, both of whom would be logical after Robert Quinn left for Chicago in free agency. I doubt the Cowboys will be pleased relying on the oft suspended Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith to generate pressure opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys also spoke with corner C.J. Henderson. Henry Ruggs III could be another option but this may not be the case after the Boys gave Amari Cooper a $200 million-dollar extension. Peter King has heard that the Cowboys ‘love’ Michigan centre Cesar Ruiz. Cowboys fans will likely be less than satisfied if the team passes on big attractions like Tua and Ruggs, but the team history does suggest an offensive lineman is a possibility. The team surprised everyone in 2013 selecting recently retired centre Travis Fredrick, and also picked up Notre Dame guard Zack Martin in 2014 and LSU’s La’el Collins in 2015. Dallas’ recent success has been built on the ‘Great Wall of Dallas’ and it is believable that Jerry Jones would fall back on what has worked.
The Pick: Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
Don’t Be Surprised: K’Lavon Chaisson (EDGE, LSU), Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama), Yetur Gross-Matos (EDGE, Penn State)
18. Miami Dolphins (from Steelers)
Miami has a lot of roster holes so there are a lot of ways they could go with this pick. Protecting new franchise quarterback Justin Herbert should be a priority. A shiny new toy in Henry Ruggs III would be an attractive option as well. Despite having the NFL’s highest paid corner duo, Barry Jackson or the Miami Herald believes they are exploring adding another. This isn’t totally nonsensical. Head coach Brain Flores comes from the ‘Belichickian’ school where defences are built back to front. Lots of analysts are also reporting buzz that the Dolphins would like to add an edge rusher, although I cannot actually find a reliable source for that rumour. Alabama safety Xavier McKinney would also represent value and fill a need. This is a very difficult one to predict as almost all Miami coverage is dominated by Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. There seems to be one player trending more in the right direction than others though.
The Pick: K’Lavon Chaisson (EDGE, LSU)
Don’t Be Surprised: Almost Anyone
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Bears)
Is Tua too tempting here? I would not be in the least surprised if the answer was yes but as reported at pick No.12 the Raiders are not looking at a quarterback. With a receiver added, corner becomes Vegas’ biggest need. Defensive tackle is another but the value is not there. The name generating the most buzz approaching the draft is Clemson corner AJ Terrell. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler reports several teams believe Terrell is going in the top 16. Mayock and co. shocked everyone last year selecting Terrell’s former teammate Clelin Ferrell at No.4, citing his character and leadership as leading factors in the decision. Terrell is another high character guy from a school Mayock greatly respects and all signs point to him being the pick here.
The Pick: AJ Terrell (CB, Clemson
Don’t Be Surprised: Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama), Any Other Corner
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams)
Poor Henry Ruggs III is still on the board. He seems to have been second choice to every pick since the Jets at No. 11. On the night I expect him to be off the board in the mid-teens by the latest, but somehow he has slipped all the way to the twenties based on the buzz (including getting past the Raiders twice!). Tua is still sliding as well, but Vegas is a more likely landing spot at the pick before than this. A trade down is again a possibility for a team looking to jump the Eagles and take Ruggs. If Jacksonville stays put corner is another possibility, but the team already selected C.J. Henderson at No.9. Edge rusher is another need if Ngakoue is traded, but with little to no buzz coming from Jacksonville the best player available is the pick, even if it isn’t the Jags who end up picking him.
The Pick: Henry Ruggs III (WR, Alabama)
Don’t Be Surprised: Yeutr Gross-Matos (EDGE, Penn State), A.J. Epenesa (EDGE/DI, Iowa), Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama)
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Reece would be in a fit of rage seeing Ruggs taken just out of his Eagles reach. He’ll be even more incensed by the consolation. Per Matt Miller, the initial consensus on this pick has been LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson for a long time. Many believe that in last year’s draft Jefferson would’ve been the first receiver taken. Joe Tordy of Penn Athletics believes the Eagles are ‘aggressively pursuing’ a trade up to select Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and will trade back if the top four receivers (including Jefferson) are off the board. The Eagles also like Baylor wideout Denzel Mims, although that is according to Mims himself. 6ABC’s Jeff Skversky also reports the Eagles are interested in Michigan centre Cesar Ruiz, taken in this mock by Dallas at No.17. Linebackers such as Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen are other possibilities. But the consensus remains the same, and by one pick Mowlem has seen his No.12 overall player be replaced by No. 32 overall (WR9!)
The Pick: Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU)
Don’t Be Surprised: Patrick Queen (LB, LSU), Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma), Any Other Receiver
22. Minnesota Vikings (from Bills)
Hopefully you’ve forgotten the OBJ hype since the Browns’ pick. Unfortunately for those wanting the Vikings to swiftly replace the departed Stefon Diggs, Matt Miller reports the Vikings will not add a receiver in round one as they believe the value is better later on in this deep wide out class. That leaves defensive end and corner as the two most likely positions. A range of second tier corners including Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs and TCU’s Jeff Gladney remain available, as does Penn State edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa who could both potentially fill the cleats of long-time end Everson Griffen. Buzz gets more elusive the further down the draft you go as fan interest dwindles, so by now we are really clutching at straws. So again, the pick comes down to needs, scheme fit and Mowlem’s rankings.
The Pick: A.J. Epenesa (EDGE/DI, Iowa)
Don’t Be Surprised: Jaylon Johnson (CB, Utah), Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama), Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU), Yetur Gross-Matos (EDGE, Penn State)
23. New England Patriots
Could it happen? Has the next great quarterback fallen into the lap of the Patriots? Will two decades of dominance continue without interruption? Sadly, even as a Patriots fan, I must say no (though wouldn’t it be the most Patriots ever to have a franchise quarterback fall into their lap thanks to a virus. Prepare for the Belichick did it rumours to start…). ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Ian Rapoport and others believe the Patriots will add a quarterback during the draft but likely not in the first round. Peter King was also told by a rival general manager that the Patriots love Justin Herbert (this has smoke written all over it!). All of the Patriots draft coverage is rightly surrounding quarterbacks after the GOAT left for the sandy beaches of pirate bay, but actual information leaking from within 1 Patriot Place is as usual scarce.
You may be surprised to know the Patriots share an unceremonious record with none other than the team drafting first overall; the Cincinnati Bengals. They hold the longest streak without drafting a Pro-Bowler (six years!). As a result, this is one of the least talented Patriots teams since the Belichick era began, regardless of Brady’s departure. LSU linebacker Patrick Queen and Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray could add some sorely need dynamism to the defence, and Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos could aid a pass rush still looking to replace Trey Flowers (and even Chandler Jones). In truth, every position except corner is a need, which is why the Patriots likely trade this pick. The team doesn’t have a second rounder after the inexplicable trade for Mohammed Sanu (who they valued the same as NFC champion franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo) and draft capital is badly needed. It’s safe to say Belichick the coach is saving Belichick the general managers job. The pick goes to the player who most suits the Patriot way with his character and intangibles.
The Pick: Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)
Don’t Be Surprised: Patrick Queen (LB, LSU), Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama)
24. New Orleans Saints
The Saints have the most complete roster in the NFL. Have a brief scan over their depth chart and you will see almost no holes. Linebacker may be the only question mark with an aging DeMario Davis leading the group. LSU’s Patrick Queen would be a nice fit staying in Louisiana. Unfortunately, there are very little reports to confirm this. The only reports coming out of New Orleans concern the quarterback position. So, does that mean the slide is over? Well… YES IT DOES! ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports the team have done a lot of work on Utah State’s Jordan Love and Larry Holder of the Athletic believes the Saints would trade up to select Tua if he fell. In this draft he has fallen to their laps all the way at No.24. Drew Brees is signed to broadcast for NBC next season and it is notable how long the team retained starting calibre backup Teddy Bridgewater. In Tagovailoa the Saints get a more talented heir with the chance to sit and learn from Brees for a year. The pick makes too much sense and lines up perfectly with the buzz.
The Pick: Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
Don’t Be Surprised: Patrick Queen (LB, LSU), Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
25. Minnesota Vikings
Just a brief note on the Vikings. The need for a pass rusher opposite Danielle Hunter was filled at No.22 so its time to fill their other need at corner. Head coach Mike Zimmer has a long history of drafting corners in the first round and he now has his pick of Utah’s Jaylon Johnson, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs and TCU’s Jeff Gladney. They could go any way here, so I’ll leave the decision to Mowlem’s rankings.
The Pick: Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama) -- yes, his brother is Stefon! --
Don’t Be Surprised: Jaylon Johnson (CB, Utah), Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU)
26. Miami Dolphins (from Texans)
Final pick in the first round for the Dolphins. Tackle still hasn’t been addressed and is perhaps their biggest need but the value here is likely the same as it will be at their pick at the top of the second round. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the team love a player at a position not yet selected: Georgia running back DeAndre Swift. Jackson also reports the Dolphins want to come away with a top running back and the top prospect will not be available when they next pick. The Dolphins still have needs everywhere but selecting the best player available is usually the best approach.
The Pick: DeAndre Swift (RB, Georgia)
Don’t Be Surprised: Almost Anyone
27. Seattle Seahawks
How to mock draft for the Seahawks in the first round:
The Pick: Jeremy Chinn (S/LB, Southern Illinois)
Don’t Surprised: Anyone. Literally Anyone.
28. Baltimore Ravens
This pick seems like another no-brainer. Matt Miller reports that most of his sources believe the Ravens will draft a linebacker in the first round and look to add a receiver later in the draft. Wisconsin’s Zach Baun is good value towards the end of the first, but LSU linebacker Patrick Queen is one of the best player available and fills the biggest need on the roster. Comments from general manager Eric DeCosta indicate they may address offense and attempt to fill the hole left by retired All-Pro guard Marshall Yanda. They may do this later in the draft, but the chance to grab a valuable player to fill C.J. Mosely’s cleats is too good to pass up.
The Pick: Patrick Queen (LB, LSU)
Don’t Be Surprised: Zach Baun (LB/EDGE, Wisconsin)
29. Tennessee Titans
Another trade down candidate according to PFN’s Tony Pauline. Matt Miller believes that offensive tackle, corner and receiver are the positions the Titans will look to address here. TCU’s Jeff Gladney and Utah’s Jaylon Johnson are good value by this point, but Miller has heard the Titans will most likely address tackle in the first round to replace the departed Jack Conklin. Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson is solid right tackle prospect, whilst USC’s Austin Jackson is raw but more athletically gifted. Conklin being a right tackle means the Titans will more likely target the specialist on that side with the higher floor.
The Pick: Isaiah Wilson (OT, Georgia)
Don’t Be Surprised: Austin Jackson (OT, USC), Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU), Jaylon Johnson (CB, Utah)
30. Green Bay Packers
Every casual fan will tell you the Packers need another weapon for Aaron Rodgers. It seems to be the narrative that has surrounded his entire career, even when he played with Jordy Nelson, a young Randall Cobb and Davante Adams all at once. Rodgers doesn’t need more weapons; he has a proven No.1 receiver already which is more than most other teams have alone. A tight end or wide out in the second round may be a smart investment though. In the first round all the buzz revolves around Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. Rodgers was picked as a rookie to sit behind Packers legend Brett Favre to begin his career and history may repeat itself. Matt Miller, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah all believe Love to the Packers is a real possibility. Linebackers like Wisconsin’s Zach Baun and Alabama’s Terrell Lewis could be in play as well per Peter King.
The Pick: Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
Don’t Be Surprised: Zach Baun (LB/EDGE, Wisconsin), Terrell Lewis (EDGE, Alabama), Any Wide Receiver
31. San Francisco 49ers
Multiple sources including the great Adam Schefter believe this pick is going to be dealt. Teams often look to trade back into the end of the first round to secure a player with a fifth-year option in their contract (think Baltimore Ravens with Lamar Jackson in 2018 and Minnesota with Teddy Bridgewater in 2014). If the 49ers stay put Matt Barrows of the Athletic believes the team will pursue a corner or an offensive tackle. Albert Breer believe the 49ers will look for a left tackle to learn from stalwart Joe Stately before taking over. If they go corner, Utah’s Jaylon Johnson and TCU’s Jeff Gladney are still on the board, but the consensus here is tackle, and one raw left sided prospect fits their need exactly.
The Pick: Austin Jackson (OT, USC)
Don’t Be Surprised: Jaylon Johnson (CB, Utah), Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU), Ezra Cleveland (OT, Boise State)
32. Kansas City Chiefs
The late round selections seem to be following a theme and the final pick is no different. The Superbowl champions are widely believed to be looking to trade down from this spot, but if they stay put Matt Miller believes they will take a running back or a corner. Head coach Andy Reid has never taken a running back in the first round, so we will look to corner. It’s between the two names it feels like have been mentioned at every pick since the Falcons took Fulton at 16; Utah’s Jaylon Johnson and TCU’s Jeff Gladney. A wild rumour did surface on Monday per Peter King that the Chiefs were potentially planning to trade up in none other than Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III began to slip. Ruggs in an offense with Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill feels like an overkill. If Ruggs falls like he did in this mock that may be a possibility. If the Chiefs are looking to add another offensive weapon, TCU’s Jalen Reagor and Colorado’s Lavishka Shenault Jr. fit their profile. The final pick of this mock will be a corner though and without any information it seems fitting to turn to Mowlem’s rankings one final time.
The Pick: Jaylon Johnson (CB, Utah)
Don’t Be Surprised: Jeff Gladney (CB, TCU), Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU), Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, Colorado)
And there we have it! Sorry again Tua fans but I fear your guy may be in for a long night. Keep your eyes peeled on your favourite news sites but remember to check the sources. News is going to filter out until the commissioner calls the first pick. The Browns leaked they were picking Baker Mayfield 3 hours before the start of the 2018 draft and everyone lost their minds! Or ignore everything, sit back and enjoy the constant desire for your team to trade up knowing deep down inside they won’t.
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Mowlem is a young sports writer from Reading, United Kingdom. All articles are written by Reece Mowlem (unless stated otherwise).