Froton’s First Round NFL Mock Draft

1 – Jacksonville | Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

The Golden Boy reportedly already has the Jacksonville playbook in hand after luring Urban Meyer out of retirement. Done deal.

2 – New York Jets | Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

The second worst-kept secret in this year’s NFL Draft cycle is Wilson to the Jets. They told former first-rounder Sam Darnold to hit the bricks, clearing the way for the BYU signal caller to take the starting reins.

3 – San Francisco | Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

The draft begins at number 3. I find it hard to believe that San Francisco parted ways with a king’s ransom to move up nine spots in order to select a middling athlete like Mac Jones. Though Lance is the underdog, his athletic profile and arm talent override concerns about his level of competition.

4 – Atlanta | Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

With rumors swirling that the new regime in Atlanta are willing to move Julio Jones, the Falcons opt to stay the course and select arguably the best pass catching tight-end prospect in history. Pitts can line up anywhere in the offensive formation and presents natural matchup problems for smaller corners.

5 – Cincinnati | J’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

It was a tough call between setting Joe Burrow up with his blindside protector for the next decade or reuniting him with his creative muse back at LSU. Putting myself in Cincinnati’s shoes, and assuming that Joe Football is probably singing Chase’s praises behind the scenes, i’m choosing to reunite the former teammates who have already displayed an incredible chemistry.

6 – Miami | Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Miami gets to pair Austin Jackson with Sewell at the tackle spots while RT Robert Hunt kicks inside, addressing two needs with one pick. The Dolphins have two picks in each of the first two rounds, so they are well positioned to solidify multiple pain points heading into the 2021 season.

7 – Denver (Trade with Detroit) | Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The Drew Lock experiment has been even less successful than Denver’s previous Tim Tebow gambit. Though it will likely sting to admit defeat on their ill-fated first-round QB, the Broncos will not survive in an AFC West ecosystem that will be dominated by Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes for the foreseeable future unless they can find a similarly talented passer.

8 – Carolina | Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Though the Panthers could certainly use a starting outside cornerback, the team used their entire 2020 draft to bolster their defense. With former Jets QB in town on a trial basis for a reasonable acquisition cost, they can now fully stock their quarterback cupboard and move onto address their other needs in round 2.

9 – Detroit | Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

With Kenny Golladay hitting the road and a brand new staff in place, the perennially disappointing Lions traded down to acquire more draft capital and address the many holes in their current roster. First up – finding a dependable WR1 for Jared Goff and his noodle arm, as Detroit gets the player they wanted all along while stacking extra picks.

10 – Dallas | Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama

This is possibly the easiest call in the top-10, as Dallas is renowned for using their first-round picks (CeeDee Lamb not withstanding) to address needs as opposed to taking the best player on the board. Anyone who had the dis-pleasure of watching the Dallas secondary set ablaze on a routine basis last year knows the secondary will need to be addressed. Surtain is a sure-thing and brings a NFL family legacy with him.

11- New York Giants | Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami

The Giants need a havoc creator off the edge in a big way, as their most effective pass rusher, Kyler Fackrell, departed in free agency leaving a collection of journeymen on the roster. Phillips carries some medical risks but he is the most complete edge defender in the class. He blends a prototypical frame with eye-popping production and an elite testing profile, which is exactly what the NYG are looking for.

12 – Philadelphia | Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

For three years the college football community has been hearing rumblings out of Alabama that Jaylen Waddle is the most explosive player in their wide receiver corps. That group included Devonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, but defensive players raved about Waddle’s fast twitch explosiveness. Real knows real, and Waddle made quite an impression by recording four consecutive 100-yard performances to start the 2021 season before getting injured. He would make a fine running mate with Jalen Reagor.

13 – LA Chargers | Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

The Chargers have longed for a franchise left tackle dating back to the early Phillip Rivers era, and now with a gem of a quarterback in town they want to avoid losing Justin Herbert to a similar fate as Joe Burrow last year. Slater provides positional flexibility and a polished ready-to-play skill set while fulfilling a desperate need for the Bolts. He stonewalled Chase Young in 2019 and should be able to hold down the LT spot for years to come.

14 – Minnesota | Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Minnesota fans have lamented the need for offensive line help all offseason, as immobile QB Kirk Cousins was under siege and star RB Dalvin Cook had few clean running lanes to exploit last season. With this Ben Cleveland slides to guard to replace Dakota Dozier who walked in free agency, upgrading both positions.

15 – New England | Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Speculation has New England possibly trading up to select the eventual replacement from Cam Newton, but that would be off-brand for the trade-down happy organization. With Dont’a Hightower 31 years old and in the final year of his contract, Bill Belichick would salivate over the opportunity to deploy Parsons as a sideline-t0-sideline field general.

16 – Arizona | Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

With Patrick Peterson hitting the road in free agency, Arizona needs a physical, press corner who can hold up against D.K. Metcalf twice a year. They would be thrilled if the brash, man-to-man corner who plays with an aggressive mentality in coverage, similar to his NFL-star WR father, Joe Horn. Some draftniks actually like Horn more than Surtain, so getting him at 16 would be a coup for the Cardinals.

17 – Las Vegas | Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa, LB, Notre Dame

Owusu-Koramoa would give HC Jon Gruden a middle-of-the-field prowler who can help alleviate some of SS Johnathan Abram’s mistakes. He is small for a linebacker and fits more of the hybrid safety role we’ve seen utilized more and more in recent years. Owusu-Koramoa has the physicality to play in the box and fluidity to drop into coverage, which would fit nicely into the Raiders’ plans.

18 – Miami | Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

A freakish-athlete who is this class’ best edge-setting run-stopper, Paye possesses incredible strength, high football character and a tireless motor. He would immediately be a force in the Dolphins front seven and could develop into a double-digit sack producer with improved technique.

19 – Washington | Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

In need of a compliment to Terry McLaurin, the Washintonians select the dynamic wide receiver from Minnesota who proved adept at stacking Big Ten corners on the outside in 2019 before moving to slot in 2020. Obviously the organization would love to acquire a quarterback here, but with a dearth of suitable options, they choose to upgrade their receiver corps instead.

20 – Chicago | Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Farley was in the conversation for CB1 before undergoing microdiscecture surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. He was given a clean bill of health at the Medical Combine and should be good to go, but back injuries can be finicky as former Dallas QB Tony Romo can attest. He could be an immense value at this spot for the Bears.

21 – Indianapolis | Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/G, USC

Anthony Castonzo retired in the offseason, so Indianapolis could use a long term plan in place for the left tackle position. There are questions about Vera-Tucker’s long term viability at LT, but he’s considered the top interior lineman in the class regardless and would be a solid addition to any offensive line.

22 – Tennessee | Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern

Tennessee will trot out aging cornerback Janoris Jenkins and one-year stopgap Kevin Johnson on the outside this season. Needing a long term solution to the problem, the Titans would be thrilled to see Newsome available in this spot. This pick is a no brainer.

23 – New York Jets | Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

I strongly considered giving the Jets a RB, since it would fill a need and the Jets have traditionally not smothered themselves in glory with their early-round draft decisions. However with mauling RT Teven Jenkins on the board and having the ability to address RB at pick 34, the Jets shore up the right side of their line instead.

24 – Pittsburgh | Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

With James Conner exiting via free agency and Benny Snell better suited for backup duty, the fit between Pittsburgh and Alabama star tailback Najee Harris is obvious. The Steelers could opt for an interior lineman with C Maurkice Pouncey retiring, but they can address that need further down the board.

25 – Jacksonville | Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

With the Jaguars selecting Trevor Lawrence at Number one, they might as well set their sights on giving him the weapons he needs to succeed. Elijah Moore is a rare talent who can take short throws and turn them into huge gains, while also being able to stretch the field down the seam. He is a perfect security blanket for their new franchise QB.

26 – Cleveland | Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama

The Browns have stated they are set on taking the most talented player on the board. Barmore would give them a young defensive tackle who can also be a force at the three-tech spot. With their current starting defensive linemen on one-year deals, it makes a lot of sense for Cleveland to have a succession plan in place.

27 – Baltimore | Azeez Ojulari, OLB, Georgia

Perhaps the best pure pass rusher in the draft, Ojulari has excellent flexibility and bend while also having plenty of pop in his hands to jar opposing tackles. Baltimore also could use a taller wideout to help take the heat off Hollywood Brown, but since they have two picks in the first round, they can afford to wait on wideout.

28 – New Orleans | Asante Samuel, CB, Florida State

New Orleans is perilously thin at CB and are assuredly going to take a corner within the first two rounds. Some reports have the Saints exploring a trade up in order to secure one of the top four corners, but if no such trades are made, Samuel is the most polished corner left on the board. His only drawback is lack of size (5’10/180), but the rest of his game is NFL ready.

29 – Green Bay | Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

The Packers want to keep Aaron Rodgers happy, and with Davante Adams lacking a true secondary option to keep defenses from keying on him, Green Bay is looking for an offensive playmaker. Toney would give them a speed merchant who can test opposing defenses with his explosiveness.

30 – Buffalo | Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State

Buffalo could also opt for a running back here, as that is their big, glaring weakness that was exposed in the playoffs last year. However with a legitimate physical specimen available like Oweh, it’s going to be hard to pass up on the Penn State edge rusher. A.J. Epenesa wasn’t an impact player last season, so lining up Oweh on the other side will help make up for some of Epenesa’s athletic limitations.

31 – Baltimore | Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU

The Ravens address another need by taking LSU touchdown machine Terrace Marshall to hold down the outside WR role. His stock has been sliding in recent days due to reports of injury concerns, as Marshall missed several games with a foot injury in 2019 and also had torn an ACL previously. Those concerns allow the talented wideout to fall to number 31, which is exactly what the Ravens are hoping for.

32 – Tampa Bay | Javonte Williams, RB, UNC

I have Javonte Williams slotted as the best running back in the class, as the dynamic Tar Heels tailback posted the highest broken tackle rate since PFF started charting that advanced metric. With Tampa Bay having relatively few glaring holes, they take a dynamic RB who can help push Tampa Bay over the finish line for a second straight season.

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