Updated: Jan 14, 2022
The NFL Draft is only one week away, with the first round scheduled for April 29. We saw a lot of players change teams as teams navigated their way around a salary cap reduction. We have even seen multiple teams make moves up and down the draft round in order to, most likely, draft one of the promising young quarterbacks in this draft. Some quarterbacks have demanded trades. Some, like Sam Darnold and Carson Wentz, have already been traded to new situations. In this mock we will look at all these factors and more and as we decide who we believe each team will take in this coming NFL draft. Here’s how we project the first round:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson. Lawrence is the best player in the draft and could be the best prospect of this generation. Jacksonville will draft him and Urban Meyer will begin his tenure as their coach with a franchise quarterback in place. Now, he must find out how to surround Lawrence with more talent.
2. New York Jets
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU. The Jets created some clarity at the top of the draft when they traded away starting quarterback, Sam Darnold, to the Panthers. We know they are going after a new QB with this pick. Reports surrounding the team suggest that they like Wilson. If you watch this team closely, quarterback is not the issue. Much like Urban Meyer and the Jags, the key for new coach Robert Salah will be surrounding his QB with more talent.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Dolphins via Texans)
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama. San Francisco traded away first round picks for the next two years to move up in this draft. The 49ers say they are committed to Jimmy Garoppolo but we don’t buy that. This team is drafting a quarterback and Jones is the best pocket passer left on the board.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida. Atlanta holds what looks to be the first pivotal pick in the draft. The Falcons could go with a quarterback to sit and learn behind Matt Ryan or they trade this highly coveted pick for a host of picks. We won’t make up our own trades in this mock, so we have the Falcons doing their best to win now. It makes sense, with the team working to keep this offensive together despite salary cap issues.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Penei Sewell, OL, Oregon. Cincinnati seems to have struck gold in last year’s draft when they took quarterback Joe Burrow. What the Bengals need now is an offensive line that is good enough to keep him healthy and on the field. There’s some talk about the Bengals taking a wide receiver, but the smartest thing for them to do would be to protect their best asset.
6. Miami Dolphins (from Eagles)
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama. Good for the Dolphins. They trade back and still get a guy they were targeting in this draft. Smith is only the third wide receiver to ever win the Heisman Trophy. He would be an immediate weapon for Tua, much like when they played together at Alabama.
7. Detroit Lions
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU. Chase set SEC records in 2019 when he has Joe Burrow as his quarterback. He could be the best WR in this draft class and would fill a major whole for the Lions, after both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. left in free agency this offseason. The Goff Era is underway in Detroit and now he will have his new top pass catcher.
8. Carolina Panthers
Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern. After trading multiple draft picks away for new franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, the Panthers would be keen to get some protection for him with this pick. Slater could be a franchise Left Tackle, protecting Darnold’s blindside for years to come.
9. Denver Broncos
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State. Denver knows that Drew Lock is not the answer at quarterback. In a division with Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, and now Justin Herbert, the Broncos are likely to take another stab at finding their guy here. It’s either Fields or Lance. We give the edge to Fields, the bigger prospect.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama. The Cowboys desperately need help in their secondary and will take a cornerback with this pick. It could be a few guys, but we like Surtain as the best corner in the class. He is a true shutdown corner.
11. New York Giants
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama. No excuses for Dan Jones this year. That’s the story in New York right now. The Giants have spent their offseason bringing in veteran pass catchers Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph, now they complete their WR core with another high end talent. We would really prefer that the Giants took an offensive lineman though.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins via 49ers)
Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina. After missing out on a much needed wide receiver, the Eagles will settle for a potential top corner in Horn. Horn, the son of Joe Horn, comes to the league with elite athleticism and an NFL pedigree.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Christian Darrisaw, OL, Virginia Tech. After nailing last year’s draft by picking Justin Herbert, who looks like a franchise quarterback, the Chargers end up in a perfect position to get him some much needed protection.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Jaelen Phillips, DL, Miami. Minnesota get the best edge rusher in the draft. Phillips would probably go even higher in this draft if not for some durability concerns.
15. New England Patriots
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State. Bill Belichik knows he needs to start winning games fast, because Tampa Tom winning Super Bowls is not a good look up north. We think Lance falls to the Pats, or maybe they move up to take him, and Bill gets a new young quarterback to fill the glaring hole left created Tom Brady’s departure.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC. Arizona knows that Murray is a smaller QB and Kliff Kingsbury knows his future with the team could be tied to the QB’s success this season. Vera-Tucker would be a perfect fit for the Cardinals, as a versatile lineman who could help out at both guard and tackle.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State. On paper, Parsons looks like a guy the Raiders would draft. He is a versatile linebacker who can play inside while also providing a pass rush, but most importantly in this draft room, he is fast. Parsons ran a 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at his pro day.
18. Miami Dolphins
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama. The Dolphins already got themselves a new WR for Tua in the draft, now they get a new running back and another one of Tua’s former teammates at Alabama. An every down back would take a of pressure off the young QB.
19. Washington Football Team
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU. Last year, Washington drafted the best edge rusher inthat draft, Chase Young. Now they improve their secondary with versatile defensive back Moehrig. Moehrig is talented and grabbing him this late would not be the worst thing for Ron Rivera after missing out on a top QB prospect.
20. Chicago Bears
Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida. The Bears need more wide receivers, especially if they are not able to reach a long term deal with Allen Robinson. Toney would slot in well behind Robinson and could potentially be a WR1 in the future. New quarterback Andy Dalton will need as much talent around him as the Bears can acquire.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern. The Colts got a franchise quarterback in the offseason and it’s time to bolster the defense. Newsome is a solid, smart cornerback who will compliment a strong pass rush up front.
22. Tennessee Titans
Teven Jekins, OL, Penn State. Jenkins is a versatile offensive lineman, who has experience at both tackle positions. He can immediately impact Vrabel’s offense on both passing and rushing downs.
23. New York Jets (from Seahawks)
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech. There is a chance that the Jets get a wide receiver or a running back here, but we like new coach Saleh to get himself an impact player on defense. Farley was projected as a top 10 pick before injuring his back and undergoing surgery. Without further setbacks, Farley can shine in the NFL with his combination of size and speed.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama. With Maurkice Pouncey and his twin brother, Mike, jointly announcing their retirements from the NFL, the Steelers will look to immediately replace their longtime center in the draft. Dickerson is a talent that slips in this draft because of an ACL tear in the SEC Championship, but he is a perfect fit in Pittsburgh.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams)
Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan. The Jaguars had the second fewest sacks in the NFL last season. It will be an area of immediate concern for new coach Urban Meyer. Paye is the most explosive pass rusher in the entire draft. He could be a steal if he slips this late to the Jags.
26. Cleveland Browns
Azeez Ojulari, DE, Georgia. The Browns have developed a strong defensive unit and after, seemingly, just missing out on free agent J.J. Watt, we like them to go get an edge rusher here. Olujari is a playmaker who dominated for Georgia in the Peach Bowl with three sacks, two forced fumbles, and a safety.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State. We already know that the Ravens are not going after any wide receivers. On the defensive side of things, Baltimore already has a talented set of defensive backs, but could use some help on the front seven. Oweh is an athletic pass rusher who ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day. That’s unheard of at his size.
28. New Orleans Saints
Davis Mills, QB, Stanford. There is considerable noise around the league that Mills is first round prospect, especially with the extra option year a first round provides on a rookie deal. With Drew Brees officially retired, coach Sean Payton might just take a chance on his next QB here.
29. Green Bay Packers
Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa. Collins is a 3-4 OLB who has the size to play with his hand in the dirt. Packers new defensive coordinator Joe Barry is known for developing linebackers and Collins makes sense, even if Aaron Rodgers won’t be happy. Collins would also be Tulsa’s only first round pick in the common draft era (since 1967).
30. Buffalo Bills
Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State. Samuel is another versatile defensive back who also comes with an NFL pedigree. His father played CB in the NFL for 11 seasons and won two Super Bowls with Tom Brady for the Patriots. Samuel Jr. is a playmaker who ran a 4.45 at his pro day.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami. Rousseau opted out of playing in 2020, but in 2019 he finished second in the nation in sacks, only behind Chase Young. Rousseau is a raw talent, but with his explosive first step and the ability to play all over the defensive line, he will prove valuable on coach Andy Reid’s defense.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri. Bolton does not have elite athleticism, but he makes up for it with his leadership and decision-making. The Bucs are fortunate to not have many holes and they can spend this pick developing a defensive leader who can learn from one of the game’s best in Lavonte David.