It is finally draft week, and I cannot wait to hear commissioner Goodell announce that first pick. I believe this year’s draft will give us more trades, drama, and excitement than any other year due to so much uncertainty during this year’s pre-draft process. Here is my final shot at how things will shake out.
This pick has been written in ink since Urban Meyer took over the helm in Jacksonville. With an impressive free agency, and a host of young playmakers on offense, all they need is a franchise signal-caller to get them back on track to make the playoffs.
When Joe Douglas dealt Sam Darnold to Carolina, it was almost a guarantee that the former BYU Cougar would be dawning the Jets green this fall. A flashy playmaker with a knack to produce plays off-script will have a chance to captivate New York with the new head coach, Robert Saleh.
With the first two picks basically written in stone, the draft drama starts at pick number three. Mac Jones has been bandied about as the favorite for this pick, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch want to buy into the new wave of athletic QBs, and give themselves a shot to get further than the basic pocket passing QBs of yesteryear. That being said, they can allow Jimmy Garrapolo to start this year while Lance gets the seasoning he needs.
After the 49ers snipe their choice of QBs in Lance, the Falcons I am sure will weigh a ton of trade offers, only to realize that they cannot pass up a chance to add such a unique and dynamic playmaker to the offensive mix, especially for a coach like Arthur Smith that loves to utilize his TEs.
The Bengals are in an envious position, as both of their top targets are on the board at #5, Ja’Marr Chase and Penei Sewell. Even though the mandate I am sure has been passed down to keep their young franchise signal-caller upright, Zac Taylor and company simply cannot pull themselves away from teaming Chase back up with his QB for the next decade.
Trade Details: Chargers get: 1st Round #6
Dolphins get: 1st Round #13, 2nd Round #47, and 3rd Round Pick (2022)
The Dolphins are the beneficiaries of all the high-end talent falling due to QBs rising to the top of the draft. The Chargers beat out a few other QB-needy teams to jump up to the sixth spot to secure Justin Herbert’s blindside for the next decade with his former teammate at Oregon.
Trade Details: Patriots get: 1st Round #7
Lions get: 1st Round #15, 2nd Round #46, 4th Round #139
With the Lions in somewhat of a rebuilding stage, they decide the best course of action is to get more picks to streamline their efforts. They find a trade partner in the New England Patriots as they look to get their next starting QB for the next decade, while also having the flexibility to stay competitive with Cam Newton while Fields adjusts to life in the NFL.
Trade Details: Cardinals get: 1st Round #8, 3rd Round #73
Panthers get: 1st Round #16, 2nd Round #49, and 2nd Round Pick (2022)
Three straight trades in the top ten, it would not be surprising to see this year’s draft beat the record for most trades with all the uncertainty of this past year’s scouting season. The Cardinals have been hyper-aggressive with their moves this offseason, as it appears the pressure is on Kliff Kingsbury to produce a playoff win this season. Waddle would add a dynamic playmaking ability for Kyler Murray to complement DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green in this spread offense attack.
The Broncos have been reserved with regard to draft chatter this offseason, outside of the fact that they have made it known they are not sold on Drew Lock’s ability to be their starter for the next decade. They get a shot to add what could arguably be the most pro-ready QB in the draft to an offense full of talent, including his former teammate at Alabama, Jerry Jeudy, and a stout defense that could put them straight back into playoff contention.
The Cowboys defense was at times unbearable to watch last season, especially when it came to slow down the passing game. They do have one building block in Trevon Diggs to play at CB, but they pass up an opportunity to supplement an aging offensive line to select Horn, who is the son of former NFL WR, Joe Horn. Horn plays with swagger and confidence that will immediately help buoy the deficiencies of this defense.
Joe Judge has a long history with Alabama and highly values their players when it comes draft time due to their development and football acumen. Even after bringing in Adoree Jackson this offseason, the Giants cannot pass up this value once their division rival chose Horn.
Trade Details: Vikings get: 1st Round #12
Eagles get: 1st Round #14, 5th Round #157
The Vikings have been working the phone lines endlessly in the lead up to the draft, as they seek to try and secure some reinforcements along the offensive line. They swing a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, who are searching to add young players while trying to get out of salary cap purgatory. They select Slater, who by all accounts a case could be made, is an equal talent to Sewell, who can step in day one as a starter either at tackle or guard.
The Dolphins read their board correctly and come out smelling like roses as they decide to trade down and acquire more picks, all the while they secure one of their top targets in Smith at a reduced rate. Smith is a technically savvy and dynamic playmaker who has a noted synergy with Tua Tagovialoa, even if he isn’t the biggest guy on the field.
Another team who represents a wise move by trading down merely a few spots while recouping needed resources for a roster that needs an injection of youth. The Eagles snag one of their original targets at 12 in Vera Tucker, who played well at LT last year for USC, but will likely transition back to this natural LG position beside either Andre Dillard or Jordan Mailata in an effort to keep Jalen Hurts upright.
The Lions wind up being able to secure one of their top targets in Parsons due to some harsh off-the-field issues knocking his draft stock. What you cannot argue about him though is his dynamite athleticism and playmaking ability when on the field. His intensity will be much appreciated by the new head coach, Dan Campbell.
Once Carolina could bring in Sam Darnold as their starting QB, their next item to check off the to-do list was an offensive tackle, and with this pick, they can check that one off as well. Darrisaw will be a dominant LT for them as he moves with ease to the second level in the running game, while also showing the foot quickness to mirror rushers in his pass sets.
Trade Details: Steelers get: 1st Round #17
Raiders get: 1st Round #24, 4th Round #140, and 3rd Round Pick (2022)
The Raiders have overhauled their offensive line this offseason and will continue to hunt for more reinforcements. But they pick up the phone when a team they have done business with the last two offseasons calls, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are worried the Miami Dolphins will snipe their number one target in Najee Harris, so they decide it is worth jumping ahead of them to secure their bell-cow runner for the final Super Bowl run with Big Ben.
After witnessing one of their primary targets in Harris selected right before them, the Dolphins regroup to select by what many will call the surprise pick of the first round in Boogie Basham Jr. Basham is a player valued quite a bit by NFL decision-makers, and his stock is a lot higher than what the media have been talking about. His fit on the Dolphins is ideal, as he has a unique build and advanced understanding to rush the passer, while also having the versatility to flow up and down the defensive formation.
Ron Rivera-led teams must have dynamic linebackers, at least that has what it seems like. Last season, the Washington Football Team’s insufficient athleticism at the LB position was exposed. They decided to bring in this year’s version of Isaiah Simmons in Owusu-Koramhoah. He was a dynamic playmaker who will be a difference-maker in sub-package situations.
The Bears had to make some painful decisions cap-wise this offseason, which included releasing high-quality starting CB, Kyle Fuller. They had Jaylon Johnson breakout last season in his rookie campaign, but need a quality bookend to him, and that is what they are getting in Newsome. He is an aggressive and lanky cover corner who doesn’t give up significant separation.
With the retirement of Phillip Rivers, the Colts were in a predicament where they needed a new starting QB. Well, they went out and traded for former Frank Reich pupil, Carson Wentz. Now they have a huge void at left tackle where stalwart Anthony Castonzo retired. Insert Jenkins in at left tackle where he can use his nasty temperament and athleticism in conjunction with perennial All-Pro Quenton Nelson to open highways for Jonathan Taylor, all the while keeping Wentz upright in obvious passing situations.
The Titans may be gun shy to selecting another SEC offensive tackle after the whole Isaiah Wilson ordeal. They have been heavily linked to Teven Jenkins, but unfortunately, he was scooped up just prior to their pick. They decide to pick up Leatherwood, who may get knocked for having some stiffness, but he is a strong, lengthy, and versatile offensive lineman who should step in and contribute immediately.
After selecting Wilson with pick number two, Saleh and Co. decided to pair him up with a pivot man to grow with for the next decade. The communication up the middle of an offense is vital, and Humphrey has all the traits you look for in a perennial pro bowler with a veteran, like understanding of technique and excellent pre-snap communication skills.
The Raiders took an opportunity to drop down and acquire more picks, but they also were able to still target a player they covet. Dickerson is one of the most polarizing players in this year’s class due to his power and tenacity, but also because he has sustained a host of injuries during his college career. He has a gregarious personality and is an impressive leader. He also has experience playing guard in addition to center and would give the coaching staff a host of options along a rebuilt offensive line.
The Jaguars secured their future franchise QB with the first overall pick. Now it is time to add some juice along the defensive line. Barmore is one of the few defensive linemen in a weak class that has a deadly combination of power, explosion, and hand usage when motivated to take over games. He simply needs more consistency to be a truly dominant three-down contributor.
The Browns scored a flashy signing by bringing in Jadaveon Clowney to bookend Myles Garrett, but Clowney hasn’t been as dominant in the sack department as he has as a run defender. He also may be asked to slide inside more often due to the fact that the team had to release Sheldon Richardson in a corresponding move after his signing. With that being said, Ojulari would give the coaching staff more options to rush from various formations due to him having experience standing up or with his hand in the dirt.
John Harbaugh takes the advice of his brother, Jim, and brings Paye to Baltimore. They have witnessed legit pass rushers like Judon and Ngakoue leave for greener pastures, but Paye has the explosive athleticism and power to come in and contribute immediately. He has experience playing at a host of different techniques and could flourish in a role similar to how Terrell Suggs was utilized for years.
Farley is an elite athlete that hasn’t stepped onto a football field in nearly two years due to bad luck with injuries, and then opting out of the 2020 season. He has all the traits you look for in a lockdown #1 CB who can shut down the opponent’s best target, and with Marshon Lattimore set to be an unrestricted free agent next season, he is a high-value pick if healthy.
With insufficient depth at the interior defensive line position this year, it would not surprise me if a team snaps up one of the few high-end prospects at the end of the first round. Onwuzurike has flashed huge potential while at Washington with black belt-Esque hand usage and quickness that is tough for interior offensive linemen to contain. The Packers have lacked a quality running mate for Kenny Clark inside but get a chance to take a quality one here.
Rousseau is a raw defensive lineman because he originally came to campus as a safety/wide receiver recruit. What he does have is rare length, athleticism, and upside even if he had a rough pro day. The Hurricanes used him all across the formation, and Buffalo could anticipate using him in the same manner, but he would get a chance to redshirt under the tutelage of a quality group of veterans.
The Chiefs let Sammy Watkins go this offseason, and outside of Demarcus Robinson, they lack a wideout with quality size and ability to produce big plays. Bateman is a savvy route runner with terrific body control and high-pointing ability that would be a fun mesh with the playmaking ability of Patrick Mahomes.
The Buccaneers are in the envious position of picking at spot number thirty-two, and after resigning the core and a host of role players from last year’s Super Bowl-winning team, there probably won’t be many roster spots up for the taking. Jason Licht takes a chance on Phillips, who has the upside and athleticism to become the best pass rusher out of this class but has a long and checkered past with injuries that actually led him to retire for a scant amount of time. He could find a role as a situational pass rusher behind Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul.
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