Sun-Times Mock Draft 1.0: Four QBs go in the top 8

In a normal year, NFL teams would depart for the NFL Scouting Combine next week, officially turning the page to the 2021 draft season while they formulate their plans for March free agency.

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CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence throws against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff Semifinal game on Jan. 1.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In a normal year, NFL teams would depart for the NFL Scouting Combine next week, officially turning the page to the 2021 draft season while they formulate their plans for March free agency.

The combine is canceled this year because of the coronavirus, with colleges instead holding pro days to showcase their players. But it’s still the right time to start talking about the draft.

A few caveats: the Sun-Times’ Mock Draft 1.0 does not feature trades. And because free agency is about a month away, the mock draft is meant to simply be an exercise to show where team needs stand now. Those priorities will change. Prospects can rise, or fall, based on interviews and pro day workouts.

Here’s the Sun-Times’ Mock Draft 1.0:

  1. Jaguars — Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. The easiest call since Andrew Luck
  2. Jets — Ohio State QB Justin Fields. Is he better than BYU’s Zach Wilson? Well, he threw six touchdowns against Clemson.
  3. Dolphins (from Texans) — Alabama WR DeVonta Smith. If the Dolphins are indeed building around Tua Tagovailoa and not trading the pick, the best thing they can do for their quarterback is give him a weapon with Smith’s dynamism.
  4. Falcons — BYU QB Zach Wilson. The Falcons could trade veteran quarterback Matt Ryan after June 1, or just let Wilson sit for a year behind him.
  5. Bengals — Oregon OT Penei Sewell. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow spent all season running for his life. This will help.
  6. Eagles — LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase. Like Sewell, Chase sat out 2020 because of coronavirus concerns. But he could be a star.
  7. Lions — Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle. If the rebuilding Lions let Kenny Golladay leave via free agency, they’d have to replace him with a high-upside receiver.
  8. Panthers — North Dakota State QB Trey Lance. The Panthers’ owner made it clear during the season that he doesn’t see Teddy Bridgewater as the team’s long-term answer. Enter Lance, the small-college quarterback has intriguing traits but only played one game this year.
  9. Broncos — Penn State LB Micah Parsons. Vic Fangio can’t pass on an explosive inside linebacker who also has pass-rush skills, can he?
  10. Cowboys — Florida TE Kyle Pitts. An SEC player who became a household name this year just feels like a Jerry Jones pick.
  11. Giants — Florida WR Kadarius Toney. The Giants need to booster their receiving corps; if they don’t sign a big-name free agent, they’ll have to reach in the draft.
  12. 49ers — Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II. Long and strong, Surtain could replace Richard Sherman, who is a free agent, or pair with him in a physical defensive backfield.
  13. Chargers — Miami DE Gregory Rousseau. New head coach Brandon Staley starts building his pass-rush with Rousseau, who opted out in 2020.
  14. Vikings — Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw. You can almost cut-and-paste from one year’s mock draft to the next: the Vikings need offensive line help. 
  15. Patriots — Alabama QB Mac Jones. Bill Belichick gets the last of the five first-round quarterbacks by conferring with buddy Nick Saban and drawing from the Crimson Tide well. 
  16. Cardinals — USC OG Alijah Vera-Tucker. Protect Kyler Murray at all costs.
  17. Raiders — Miami Edge Rusher Jaelan Phillips. He’s only played in 20 college games and posted all eight of his sacks last year in his final seven games. Still, his upside screams Raiders.
  18. Dolphins — Alabama RB Najee Harris. Drafting a running back this high might seem foolish, but did you see the Dolphins rushers last year? Harris, Smith and Tagovailoa will build Alabama East.
  19. Washington — LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr. Marshall can be a dangerous complement to Terry McLaurin. 
  20. Bears — Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater. The Bears’ biggest need, as of today, is quarterback. By draft day, it will be clear whether they plan to move up in the draft to pick or whether they’ll rely on a veteran to start in 2021. Presuming they chose the second route, the Bears would likely be thrilled to see the Wildcats’ 2019 left tackle — he opted out in 2020 — fall this far. He could slot in at right tackle immediately, with a possible move left whenever Charles Leno departs.
  21. Colts — Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins. With left tackle Anthony Castonzo retired, the Colts need help on their line. They’re even debating moving all-world guard Quentin Nelson outside to tackle.
  22. Titans — Michigan DE Twity Paye. Only the Jaguars and Bengals had fewer sacks than the Titans’ 18 last year.
  23. Jets (from Seahawks) — Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley. New head coach Robert Saleh liked big cornerbacks as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator.
  24. Steelers — Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield. He played only two games last season and 15 in college, but the Steelers can use the help in a revamped O-line. 
  25. Jaguars (from Rams) — Washington DT Levi Onwuzurike. The Jaguars take the draft’s best interior defensive lineman to try to fix a defense that allowed the third-most rushing yards per game last year.
  26. Browns — Missouri LB Nick Bolton. The aggressive Bolton could replace free agent B.J. Goodson.
  27. Ravens — Purdue WR Rondale Moore. He’s played only seven games in two years, but Moore can help the Ravens in their never-ending search for receivers.
  28. Saints — Tulsa LB Zaven Collins. Winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award, Collins is the most accomplished defensive player in the draft. 
  29. Packers — Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman. The Packers finally draft a receiver in the first round. All it took was quarterback Aaron Rodgers flirting publicly with the idea of trying to force his way out.
  30. Bills — Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II. The Wildcats haven’t had someone drafted in the first round since Luis Castillo in 2005. This year, they’ll get two. 
  31. Chiefs — Ohio State OL Wyatt Davis. The Chiefs need to make sure the pressure put on Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl wasn’t the start of a trend.
  32. Buccaneers — Clemson RB Travis Etienne. Leonard Fournette is a free agent and Ronald Jones has one year left on his deal.
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