Dueling Mocks Version 2.0 drops with just over three weeks of this year’s NFL Draft. This week we had planned to focus on a different area of the draft but the Panthers threw us a curve ball by trading for Jets starting quarterback Sam Darnold.
So this week’s Dueling Mock will feature Nick & Will’s revised Top 10 selections in reaction to that move.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Will: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: It would be the shock of the century if Lawrence isn’t the pick here. Urban Meyer didn’t even bother to go to Zach Wilson’s pro day, so it seems like this selection is well-telegraphed. Lawrence’s resume speaks for itself, a national champion at Clemson, twice to the title game & only two losses in his collegiate career. Combine that with all the measurables and you have the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck left Stanford, maybe even since Elway left the same place.
Nick: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: There is absolutely no suspense with the number one pick and that’s been the case since before the draft order was decided. In Lawrence, Jacksonville has something they’ve never had: A once-in-a-generation type prospect, as close to can’t miss as it gets and a bonafide superstar level talent whose name alone will put asses in the seats. Now for the hard part for Urban Meyer & co…..don’t eff it up!
2. New York Jets
Nick: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU: Another poorly kept secret. The Jets hand was tipped the second the 49ers traded to three with Miami. Any remaining suspicion was squelched with the Darnold trade. Wilson isn’t as big as Lawrence or Fields or as athletic as Fields or Lance…but what he is is Mormon…and teams have fallen in love with his improvisational skills and arm talent. The comparisons to Aaron Rodgers & Pat Mahomes are over the top but those are the expectations he’ll be saddled with in New York as the second pick.
Will: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU: Jets tipped their hand after Wilson’s pro day shutting down any possibility that a QB-needy team wanting to trade up would have any chance of getting them to budge. The Darnold trade secures a changing of the guard at signal-caller and clean slate for new Head Coach Robert Saleh & Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Will: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: While this still makes no sense to me, it would be the world’s largest smokescreen if in fact Jones is not the pick here. Anyone who has ever had any connection to Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers believes they will go for the bad-bodied defending National Champion. Despite claims of dissension in the room with General Manager John Lynch potentially wanting Justin Fields instead, the final call rests with Shanny. He gets his guy Mac at three.
Nick: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: Who am I to break up a love affair? That’s exactly what the Kyle Shanahan-Mac Jones reports feel like. Justin Fields & Trey Lance have much higher physical upsides but Jones’ mental processor is what Shanahan is allegedly attracted to. There is a chance Fields or Lance is the play but Shanahan has telegraphed this pick with little reason to lie with the top 2 picks already set in stone.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Nick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida: Reports say Atlanta is fielding offers for the pick but I wonder if Carolina moving on to Darnold eases the market for the fourth pick a bit. Denver makes sense to move up but New England & Washington are much bigger falls for the Falcons. Unless they are blown away with a Godfather offer, Atlanta is in the perfect position to take whomever they deem the best position player available. Considering the contractual situation with Matt Ryan, Pitts would give new Falcons HC Arthur Smith another weapon to extract the best possible iteration of Matt Ryan from.
Will: Justin Fields, QB, OSU: Despite claims from new GM Terry Fontenot that the Falcons are “open for business” and they are going to be a “best player available” team, the Fields pick fits Atlanta like a glove. Fields is an easily marketable talent with his connection to the state and comes without the pressure of having to perform right away. While a trade down to get more capital or the desire to use this pick for an immediate every down contributor is very much a factor, the Falcons don’t envision to be this high in the draft anywhere in the near future. They need to address the quarterback question now.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Will: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: Whether or not the Bengals are trying to provide false hope to teams below them remains to be seen, but a team largely thought to be in on a lineman instead gets the first big home-grown weapon for QB Joe Burrow with his old college teammate. Burrow may in fact lobby for Chase outwardly to make this move happen, and it gives him the best opportunity to take a #1 target in this draft.
Nick: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: Last week I went with Penei Sewell but this week I went with another weapon for Joe Burrow. Chase would pair very nicely with former Clemson stud Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon. The name doesn’t matter to me, the idea needs to be to upgrade the surroundings of Joe Burrow.
6. Miami Dolphins
Nick: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama: Miami is another team that’s in a perfect spot. The run on quarterbacks pushes the best position players down the board. This pick should be between Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Smith, the two biggest offensive needs for Miami. Smith is once again paired with Tua Tagavailoa and can give the young quarterback another outstanding option in what will be a make-or-break year for Tua.
Will: Kyle Pitts, TE, Georgia: Panthers fans who hope for Pitts to fall them see their dreams die with Miami at #6, who gets a steal of a selection after trading down from #3. Pitts has been seen by many as the #2 overall player in this draft regardless of position, and the skill position player who has the highest upside. Look for Pitts to be not only a security blanket for Tua Tagovailoa, but also a deep threat down the seam.
7. Detroit Lions
Will: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama: In the last draft I had Jaylen Waddle in this position, but you can’t just pass up a Heisman trophy winner when he falls into your lap. Smith becomes the primary option for new QB Jared Goff and can be used in a variety of scenarios running and catching the ball. Whether or not Goff will be the ultimate beneficiary remains to be seen, but whoever plays QB for the Lions will definitely have a guy who can make his way open.
Nick: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State: In an ideal world, Detroit would see one of the primary offensive playmakers fall to them at 7. Losing Kenny Golladay in free agency is a blow to Jared Goff’s chances of sticking long-term. In Parsons, Detroit still lucks out. Parsons is an off-ball linebacker who immediately helps boost the middle of the Lions defense. Parsons can have the impact in Detroit that Luke Kuechley had year one in Carolina.
8. Carolina Panthers
Nick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: Carolina finds themselves in the best possible position at 8 with Penei Sewell on the board and Ohio State’s Justin Fields too. If Fields and/or Lance is here, I wouldn’t be shocked at a trade down for Carolina. If they stay…the presence of Darnold can’t stop them from taking the second best quarterback in this draft. This situation mirrors Seattle signing Matt Flynn in 2012 and then drafting Russell Wilson. If Carolina finds themselves a franchise quarterback, no one will quibble over the price 5 years from now.
Will: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon: I don’t understand the desire to go QB here, especially when you paid three picks of draft capital to get Darnold. I understand people aren’t sold on him the way a lot of people are, but he’s the QB of the present. His biggest problem in New York was a lack of an offensive line. Penei Sewell has been called the best offensive line prospect in at least a generation. He’s a steal for the Panthers at 8.
9. Denver Broncos
Will: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State: While I wouldn’t rule out a trade up for Denver to #4 to get him, I believe Trey Lance falls to Denver at #9. He does not satisfy the need of an immediate starter at the position, which is why I believe a trade for Teddy Bridgewater will ultimately get done so the team can jettison Drew Lock elsewhere. Lance needs a situation where he does not need to play right away, and Bridgewater provides a better model to learn from than Lock.
Nick: Penei Sewell, T, Oregon: A first year GM shouldn’t feel the pressure to get the quarterback yet, so with Fields going a pick before…George Paton gets a phenomenal prospect who has suffered from the same paralysis-by-over-analysis as Fields. Sewell steps in as Denver’s left tackle of the next decade starting day one. Parsons would make a lot of sense if he falls too.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Nick: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater would be a great pick here after Dallas’ offensive line injury issues and if Kyle Pitts fell, Jerry Jones would fall all over himself to give Dak Prescott the absolute best weapons in the NFL. Yet Dallas lands the best corner in the NFL draft and someone that can allow Dallas’ defense to resemble something close to an actual NFL defense in 2021.
Will: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: The best cornerback in the draft will go to the team with cornerback as its biggest need. Jerry Jones likes flash, and Surtain brings them a guy who can cover smartly as well as bring the wood. The Cowboys will like the pedigree that stems from his father playing in the league, a trait that’s also seen fellow second-generation corner Jaycee Horn also shoot up draft boards. Cowboys get their first crack at a defensive back, and Surtain is as close to a can’t-miss at the position.
What to look for in 3.0: Nick & Will factor trades into their mocks for the first time.
Dueling Mocks 2.0: How does Darnold Shake Up The Draft? was originally published on wfnz.com