Every year, along with several of my friends from Wheaton Football, we give our best guess as to how the first-round of the NFL Draft unfolds. It’s always a very optimistic time, especially for a fan like myself, cheering on a miserable franchise like the Detroit Lions. But on Draft Day, hope and optimism abound. This next pick very well could be the superstar that the Lions have been missing, the one who will change the course of our franchise. Yet more often than not, that missing messiah often ends up being a big old bust, a player who fails to live up to their lofty draft status.
Yet, the excitement is always there, and Danny Freed is our defending champion, so I must destroy him and reclaim the crown. Here is my best guess on the first-round of the NFL Draft.
1.) Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Lawrence has been billed as the first-overall pick of this draft class since he led Clemson to a national championship as a true freshman.
2.) New York Jets – QB Zach Wilson, BYU
Wilson was an unknown prospect before 2020, but after leading the Cougars to an 11-1 season, he’ll land here as the new franchise QB of the Jets.
3.) San Francisco 49ers (via MIA) – QB Mac Jones, Alabama
After sending two future first-round picks to the Dolphins, the 49ers add a decisive and accurate QB out of Tuscaloosa.
4.) Atlanta Falcons – TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
The Falcons almost certainly would prefer to trade out of this pick, but it does not seem like they will be able to. Pitts was a dominant tight end for the Gators and is widely considered the best non-quarterback in this draft class.
5.) Cincinnati Bengals – WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
The Bengals reunite QB Joe Burrow with his favorite pass-catcher from their 2019 National Championship run at LSU. They also need OL, but they can get one in the second.
6.) Miami Dolphins (via PHI) – WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Another team reuniting a dynamic college duo as the Dolphins give QB Tua Tagovailoa a very explosive slot wide receiver to pair with WR Will Fuller in their passing attack.
7.) TRADE! Los Angeles Chargers (via DET) – OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
The Chargers are a historically aggressive team in the NFL Draft, and so here they move up with the Detroit Lions to add an elite offensive tackle to help protect QB Justin Herbert.
8.) TRADE! New England Patriots (via CAR) – QB Justin Fields
After watching Tom Brady hoist a Super Bowl in Tampa this past season, the Patriots decide to get aggressive and move up for their new franchise passer. Fields is a very talented deep passer with excellent athleticism as well.
9.) TRADE! Philadelphia Eagles (via DEN) – CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
Embracing their rebuild a bit, the Eagles add the best player left on the board. Surtain II has an excellent NFL pedigree and elite athleticism to be a lockdown cornerback for them. They hop in front of divisional rivals here.
10.) Dallas Cowboys – CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Horn quickly rose up NFL Draft boards after an impressive season for the Gamecocks. He’s a long cornerback with excellent ability in man coverage.
11.) TRADE! Chicago Bears (via NYG) – QB Trey Lance, NDSU
Lance is a very talented quarterback, but did not get a ton of experience with the FCS Bison after their 2020 fall season was reduced to a single game. The Bears desperately need a QB however, and move up to make it happen.
12.) Denver Broncos (via PHI) – OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Denver’s a tough one to project, especially after acquiring QB Teddy Bridgewater, as they could take any number of players. Ultimately an elite right tackle to protect QB Drew Lock or Bridgewater should help them most in 2021.
13.) Detroit Lions (via LAC) – LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
Detroit adds a big, fast linebacker to help turn around their defense, which was actually the worst in the league in 2020. Parsons is freak at the second-level.
14.) Minnesota Vikings – OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
The Vikings always seem to need a couple of new starters on their offensive line, and Vera-Tucker has the versatility to fill one either at tackle or guard, both at an excellent level.
15.) Carolina Panthers (via NE) – OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
The Panthers moved back with New England, but still add a starting caliber left tackle to help protect their new QB, Sam Darnold, who was recently acquired from the Jets.
16.) Arizona Cardinals – WR Devonta Smith, Alabama
Smith won the Heisman Trophy after a dominant season for Alabama last year, but his small frame brings some durability concerns. Either way, he fits really well alongside QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins.
17.) Las Vegas Raiders – LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
A speedy linebacker who can cover tight ends and running backs and slot wide receivers, Owusu-Koramoah helps fill a couple of different roles for the Raiders defense.
18.) Miami Dolphins – OLB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Whether playing off-ball alongside Benardrick McKinney, or rotating down onto the line of scrimmage, Collins is a very good linebacker who fits Brian Flores’ defensive scheme.
19.) Washington Football Team – LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky
A third linebacker in a row, as this is an excellent class to need one. Davis is also a massive linebacker with great speed and instincts.
20.) New York Giants (via CHI) – EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan
The Ann Arbor product lands with the Giants, as they need a pass rusher, and Paye’s burst, power, and agility make him a very exciting one to develop.
21.) TRADE! New Orleans Saints (via IND) – CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
The Saints are another team who have always been aggressive in moving up for top players. Farley was considered the top cornerback in this class before a back injury dropped him down. No worries, though, as the Saints still very much need him in the secondary.
22.) Tennessee Titans – FS Trevon Moehrig, TCU
The Titans cut S Kevin Byard, and now could use a reliable option on the back end of their defense. Moehrig is the consensus top safety in this draft class and would be an immediate starter for Mike Vrabel and company.
23.) New York Jets (via SEA) – OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
The Jets have another first-round pick after trading SS Jamal Adams to the Seahawks, and they use it on a punishing run blocker at right tackle.
24.) Pittsburgh Steelers – RB Najee Harris, Alabama
The Steelers could not run the ball at all in 2020, and so adding a powerful, dynamic running back here in the late first-round should help them do exactly that.
25.) Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR) – TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
Urban Meyer will be looking to add a reliable pass-catcher for new QB Trevor Lawrence, and Freiermuth would certain fit the bill there. This is their second first-round pick after trading CB Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams.
26.) Cleveland Browns – EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
Phillips is arguably the best pass rusher in this class, but like Farley, some injury concerns drop him down a ways. The Browns have an excellent roster already and can afford to take the risk.
27.) Baltimore Ravens – WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
With QB Lamar Jackson needing some additional weapons to throw to, the Ravens use the first of their two first-round picks on a steady-handed wide receiver from Minnesota.
28.) Indianapolis Colts (via NO) – EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
The Colts are rumored to be very interested in Ojulari, who brings a lot of burst and athleticism off the edge. If he’s available after trading back, it’s a major win for Chris Ballard.
29.) Green Bay Packers – WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
The Packers have largely ignored spending early picks on wide receivers, but after some frustrations from QB Aaron Rodgers over that, thet a good one this year.
30.) Buffalo Bills – RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
Much like the Steelers, the Bills offense was largely built around their passing game, and so they look to make sure they can move the ball more efficiently on the ground in 2021 with Etienne.
31.) Baltimore Ravens (via KC) – EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
Tryon is a hard-charging 3-4 OLB with a lot of potential and upside going forward, making him an excellent fit for the Ravens’ defense.
32.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
The defending Super Bowl champs add the best left on the board. Barmore is a talented interior pass rusher, but a bit inconsistent at times. This is a good landing spot for him.