The Draft Academy: Mock Draft 4.0 Watson to the Panthers
In this mock, I decided to change things up a little by performing some trades and some picks that are unlikely to happen but you never know. I start with the most realistic trade of Watson going to the Panthers in exchange for a boatload of picks and players. With the Russell Wilson trade news coming out we should be in for a very interesting offseason.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence QB, Clemson
I think this pick has become self-explanatory at this point. Lawrence is going to be in a Jaguars uniform this season.
2. New York Jets
Zach Wilson QB, BYU
Many people believe Sam Darnold can still make it as a quarterback in the NFL and I am one of those people, but I don't think it can be with the Jets. Wilson brings a lot to the table as both a thrower and runner and can help lead the turnaround for New York.
3. Denver Broncos
Justin Fields QB, Ohio State
TRADE: MIA receives 2021 pick #9, 3rd round
2022 1st round, 3rd round
:DEN receives 2021 pick #3
The Denver Broncos aren't very likely to trade up for a quarterback and they seem to want to give Drew Lock another chance with a fully healthy roster but why not go get a quarterback who is extremely talented and has a much higher ceiling than Drew Lock. They also can move on from an aging Von Miller. Justin Fields in an offense with Jerry Jeudy, Cortland Sutton, KJ Hamler, Melvin Gordon, and Phillip Lindsay would be electric and Fields adds the factor of an extremely mobile quarterback.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Caleb Farley CB, Virginia Tech
With the top 3 quarterbacks off the board, the Falcons decided to take the super athletic cornerback in Caleb Farley. He recently posted a video of him running a sub 4.3 40 yard dash and with his size, he could instantly become an elite lockdown corner. After taking AJ Terrell in the 1st round last year the Falcons can create a fantastic 1-2 punch at cornerback. With Matt Ryan under a hefty contract with a massive salary cap hit I think they'll give him a few more years before finding his replacement.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Penei Sewell OT, Oregon
If Sewell is here this is just as much of a lock of a pick as Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars. Unless someone offers them a great package of picks to trade up for a quarterback the Bengals are going to draft Sewell if he is still there.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
Kyle Pitts TE, Florida
The Eagles have been spoiled at the tight end position with Zach Ertz but it's looking more and more likely that he is on his way out via trade. Kyle Pitts is arguably the best non-quarterback prospect in this draft and he is extremely versatile. He will instantly become Jalen Hurts number one target (if Hurts is the day 1 starter).
7. Detroit Lions
Devonta Smith WR, Alabama
The Lions are looking to extend Kenny Golladay and will most likely franchise tag him if they cannot reach a deal. Ja'Marr Chase is my number 1 wide receiver but he is too similar to Kenny Golladay and the fit of Devonta Smith is a much better fit in my opinion. Smith is a smooth route runner who can consistently create separation at all levels of the field. He will have to adjust to the bigger, more physical corners who are very good at the line of scrimmage but with some added weight I think he will adjust well.
8. Houston Texans
Trey Lance QB, NDSU
TRADE: CAR receives Deshaun Watson
: HOU receives 2021 pick #8
2022 1st round, 2nd round
2023 1st round, 3rd round
The Panthers are giving up a lot in this trade but if I'm the Texans I'm asking for at least this much for a quarterback like Deshaun Watson. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and the Panthers immediately become a contender with him leading the team. The Texans no are in a full rebuild and can use Bridgewater as a bridge quarterback while Trey Lance can develop. Lance's ceiling is just as high as Fields and Wilson and with the right time and development, he can become great.
9. Miami Dolphins
Jaylen Waddle WR, Alabama
TRADE: :DEN receives 2021 pick #3
:MIA receives 2021 pick #9, 3rd round
2022 1st round, 3rd round
The Dolphins were able to trade back, add draft assets, add an elite pass rusher in Von Miller, and still draft the best-fit prospect in Jaylen Waddle. Waddle gets to team up with former Alabama teammate in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Waddle has Tyreek Hill's potential as a deep threat and could easily become as dangerous of a player in the open field.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Patrick Surtain Jr. CB, Alabama
I've matched the Cowboys with a corner in almost every mock I've posted. In many of the mocks I've read, people are giving the Cowboys a corner and it makes sense. They need help in the backend of their defense and Surtain and team up with former teammate Trevon Diggs to sure up the back end as much as possible. With how explosive the offense is they need as much help as they can get on the defensive side of the ball.
11. New York Giants
Ja'Marr Chase WR, LSU
I would be shocked if Chase fell this far in the draft but this is why I'm doing this mock because anything is possible, especially in a draft like this with no combine, a shortened season, and many top prospects opting out. Chase is an alpha wide receiver. He is the type of receiver who needs to be targeted as often as possible because he is just that good. He can win to all levels of the field and plays as though he is 6'4, 225lbs.
12. San Francisco 49ers
Rashawn Slater OT, Northwestern
The 49ers miss out on the top quarterbacks in this draft as well as the top corners. So instead I have them taking the second-best lineman in this class. With how run-dependent this offense is, the line is arguably the most important position. With the weapons, they have on the outside and in the backfield, I could see them trying to build the best offensive line possible. Slater can play either tackle position and even bounce inside to guard if he needs to so his versatility is very good.
13. Los Angelas Chargers
Christian Darrisaw OT, Virginia Tech
This is another reoccurring theme in my mocks. The Chargers drafting an offensive lineman. They need to protect Justin Herbert at all costs. It's as simple as that.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Christian Barmore IDL, Alabama
The Vikings need offensive and defensive front. On defense, the interior is a need as well as the edge opposite Hunter. Adding Barmore, who is a three-down player with the ability to rush the passer, would benefit the defense as a whole. As a run defender, he can help open lanes for second and third-level defenders and as a pass rusher, he can help take attention away from Hunter.
15. New England Patriots
Rashod Batemon WR, Minnesota
The Patriots need a lot on offense. Batemon is one of the most underrated receivers in this class in my opinion and I believe he can take over as a number one option in the NFL. He has good size and is a very good route runner. He reminds me a lot of Keenan Allen, he isn't the best athlete out there but he just knows how the get open. He can be exactly what the Patriots hoped there were getting in N'Keal Harry.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Travis Etienne RB, Clemson
Kenyan Drake is currently a free agent and instead of overpaying to keep Drake, they upgrade by drafting Etienne and paying a lot less for him. Just imagine Etienne on an offense with Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and Christian Kirk... big plays would happen often and defenses would have a fit trying to consistently defend the Cardinals.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Kwity Paye EDGE, Michigan
The Raiders are still looking to replace Khalil Mack. Kwity Paye is a freak athlete and my number one rated edge rusher. With Clelin Ferrell yet to make a big impact he is slowly starting to look more and more like a bust. With Maxx Crosby being a steal and the Raiders' only consistent pass rusher, Paye can take over the opposite side and hopefully become the pass rusher they have been looking for.
18. Miami Dolphins
Micah Parsons LB, Penn State
If the Dolphins can walk away from this draft with Jaylen Waddle, Micah Parsons, Von Miller, and additional draft picks they will have the best draft of anybody this year. Parsons is arguably the best defensive player in this class and getting him at 18 could be a steal. He is a 3 down player who needs to improve in pass coverage but makes up for it with his ability to blitz and rush the passer.
19. Washington Football Team
Alijah Vera-Tuckers OL, USC
The Washington Football team is looking to move on from Alex Smith and already dropped Dwayne Haskins. I believe they should try to build up the team around the quarterback before going all-in on the quarterback they want. By adding one of the better offensive linemen in the draft they can build up the protection in front of the quarterback before grabbing their future stud. In the meantime, Taylor Heinicke deserves a chance to be a regular-season starter after the way he performed in his first playoff game.
20. Chicago Bears
Samuel Cosmi OT, Texas
The Bears are in a similar position to the Football Team. They have a fantastic defense, some playmakers on offense, but lack a great offensive line and quarterback. By adding Samuel Cosmi they can improve their offensive line which could potentially help out current quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Jaylen Mayfield OT, Michigan
The Colts just lost franchise tackle Anthony Castonzo to retirement and it leaves a massive hole on a very talented offensive line. Jaylen Mayfield can come in and take over that spot. With newly traded for quarterback Carson Wentz under center, the Colts can look to add talent around him and hopefully turn his career back around and remain a playoff contender.
22. Tennessee Titans
Terrace Marshall Jr. WR, LSU
The Titans could potentially lose both Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith in free agency. Terrace Marshall Jr. is a big-bodied receiver who can take over Davis' role in this offense. Marshall has good straight-line speed to work down the field and he very good hands to bring in the ball consistently. He would be a perfect fit in this offense and if Davis leaves in free agency he would fill a need.
23. New York Jets
Najee Harris RB, Alabama
Najee Harris had a fantastic senior season and for many people is the best running back in this class. He is a big, upright, violent runner, who not only looks for contact but is elusive enough to make defenders miss in the open field. His athleticism is elite as seen by his ability to hurdle defenders with ease. The Jets need talent and adding Harris into the backfield next to Zach Wilson would be electric.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Liam Eichenburg OT, Notre Dame
The Steelers' offensive line has been a strength of theirs for a long time and by adding Eichenburg they not only get younger but add an NFL-ready tackle to their offense. With Villanueva getting older, Eichenburg can take over the left tackle position when Villanueva is ready to retire. He will also have the opportunity to develop into the franchise left tackle for the next quarterback after Big Ben.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Kadarius Toney WR, Florida
My player comparison for Kadarius Toney is Percy Harvin. Percy Harvin's college head coach is now the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and with Trevor Lawrence taking over under center, the Jaguars offense could become very fun to watch with DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Kadarius Toney, and James Robinson. If Urban Meyer can transition to the NFL the Jaguars could turn into an up-and-coming franchise.
26. Cleveland Browns
Gregory Rousseau EDGE, Miami
After losing out on the JJ Watt sweepstakes, the Browns need a pass rusher opposite of Myles Garrett. Gregory Rousseau is a raw prospect with elite size and length. If he can sit opposite Garrett while also learning the details and techniques it takes to become an elite pass rusher then the Browns may get the steal of the draft. Rousseau's upside is arguably the highest of any edge rusher in this class and the Browns are desperate for some pass rush production outside of Garrett.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Wyatt Davis OL, Ohio State
The Ravens should go after one of the top receivers in free agency because they are not in the range of the top 3-4 receivers in this draft class. They are in the range of some of the better offensive linemen in this draft. Wyatt Davis could take over on the interior of this offensive line, replacing the retired Marshal Yanda who the Ravens missed this past season. The run game is what this offense is built on and their interior line was disappointing last season.
28. New Orleans Saints
Jaycee Horn CB, South Carolina
The Saints are a wild card in this draft. I honestly have no clue where they are going to go with this pick so I'm giving them the best player available. With how the cap situation is looking the Saints may need to trade or release some very good players and Marshon Lattimore might be one of those players. By drafting Jaycee Horn they are giving themselves an insurance policy if they do have to go down that road.
29. New England Patriots
Mac Jones QB, Alabama
TRADE: Packers receive Stephon Gilmore
2021 3rd round pick
: Patriots receive 2021 pick #29
The Packers have had the last 2 seasons ended in the NFC championship. This year Kevin King was at the center of this loss, consistently getting torched by the Buccaneers wideouts. By adding Gilmore they instantly have the best cornerback duo in the league. The Patriots can trade up to draft their future quarterback in Mac Jones. They were already able to add a number 1 receiver in Batemon earlier in the draft and hopefully, the 2 can grow together.
30. Buffalo Bills
Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah LB, Notre Dame
This is the best player available pick. I highly doubt Koramoah will be here for the Bills to draft but if he is they will take him. He is a hybrid player who can play all 3 downs and is just as good against the pass as he is the run. Defending Patrick Mahomes is going to haunt the Bills for a long time and Koramoah can be a big part in stopping him.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Zaven Collins LB, Tulsa
Zaven Collins is a beast and can play any linebacker position and is also a 3 down player. The Chiefs should add depth to their offensive line and defense and by adding Collins they can fill a need on top of getting an extremely talented player.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Azeez Ojulari EDGE, Georgia
The Buccanneers are coming off of a Super Bowl win and have a lot of key free agents on defense. From Lavonte David to JPP to Shaq Barrett, they aren't going to be able to resign them all. By drafting Ojulari they can replace a potential free-agent loss. Ajulari is an athletic backer who can rush the passer as well as drop back into pass coverage.