Dave Birkett’s NFL mock draft 2.0: Four QBs gone, but Detroit Lions still target offense

Detroit Free Press

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With the first wave of free agency in the books, it’s time to update my mock draft.

I still am not projecting trades for now. That will come in Mock Draft 3.0. But a month out, we have a pretty good sense of the draft’s top prospects and teams’ top needs.

Trevor Lawrence was, is and will remain the No. 1 pick, but there’s enough movement in the top 10 that I have the Detroit Lions taking someone new.

Here is my full mock draft:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Lawrence, the best quarterback prospect since at least Andrew Luck, is a lock to go No. 1.

2. New York Jets

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

The Jets’ decision comes down to taking a quarterback, having him on a rookie contract for five years and getting whatever compensation they can for Sam Darnold, or exercising a guaranteed fifth-year option on Darnold and trying to build around an expensive quarterback. I like Darnold better than Wilson, but money matters in the NFL.

3. Miami Dolphins (from Houston Texans)

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

There is a very high likelihood the Dolphins trade this pick to a quarterback-needy team like the Falcons or Panthers. For now, though, this pick is staying in Miami and Chase is the best help the Dolphins can get for young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Maybe Justin Fields goes here. Either way, Matt Ryan turns 36 in May, and with a new coach and new GM the Falcons can look towards the future.

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5. Cincinnati Bengals

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

The Bengals have to protect Joe Burrow, and Sewell is the best tackle in the draft.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The Eagles have indicated they won’t draft a quarterback, but Jalen Hurts is not the long-term answer at the position. 

7. Detroit Lions

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Oh, boy. Another tight end. Only Pitts is not your normal tight end. He is a mismatch player who can attach to the line of scrimmage or split wide. New Lions coach Dan Campbell is a former tight end who loves mismatches, so as odd as it seems, this is a good fit for the Lions.

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8. Carolina Panthers

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

The Panthers want a quarterback, badly. But they can’t trade for Deshaun Watson with legal trouble potentially hanging over his head and they can’t trade up for one of the draft’s top four QBs in this mock.

9. Denver Broncos

Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama

The Broncos got a coup by signing ex-Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller in free agency. Pairing Surtain with Fuller and safety Justin Simmons brings their secondary to life.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

The Cowboys were at their best when they had a dominant offensive line. That’s fallen off in recent years, but Slater can help bring it back.

11. New York Giants

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Adding Kenny Golladay on offense means the Giants can take the best defensive player on the board.

12. San Francisco 49ers

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jimmy Garoppolo is back for one more season — and one season only — with Kyle Shanahan.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

If one of the draft’s elite receivers falls to the teens, the Chargers should pounce on him to help Justin Herbert.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

The draft’s best coverage linebacker would be a nice addition to the Vikings’ aging defense.

15. New England Patriots

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Back injuries are a concern, and teams cannot bring prospects to town for their own physicals due to COVID. But as a pure talent, Farley is the best cornerback in the draft.

16. Arizona Cardinals

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

This may be a tad high for Harris, but the Cardinals need a running game to take some of heat of Kyler Murray and Harris has workhorse potential.

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Christian Darrisaw, OL, Virginia Tech

With Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson out, a young offensive lineman makes sense in Vegas.

18. Miami Dolphins

Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

Pass rushers get pushed up in the draft, so Paye might not last till 18. If he does, he’d give the Dolphins a pass rusher to pair with 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins.

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19. Washington

Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern

Martin Mayhew never took a cornerback as GM of the Lions, but as a former defensive back he should have major appreciation for Newsome’s game.

20. Chicago Bears

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

This is not a deep cornerback draft, so teams that need one, like the Bears, better take one early.

21. Indianapolis Colts

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

I don’t know if he can play left tackle in the NFL, but he should be a long-time starter somewhere on the offensive line.

22. Tennessee Titans

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Ryan Tannehill needs someone besides A.J. Brown to throw the ball to.

23. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)

Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (Fla.)

If Robert Saleh gets his hands on the best pass rusher in the draft, Rousseau will develop into a star.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia

Bud Dupree left for the Tennessee Titans in free agency, so Kevin Colbert adroitly finds his replacement.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams)

Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama

This pick is more about the future than it is about a need at center right now. Dickerson has injury concerns, but the Jaguars have to do everything in their power to protect Lawrence.

26. Cleveland Browns

Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

Daniel Jeremiah compared Davis to the Indianapolis Colts’ Darius Leonard, which is enough to convince me he belongs in Round 1.

27. Baltimore Ravens

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

They missed out on Kenny Golladay and Juju Smith-Schuster in free agency, so the Ravens will have to fill their receiver need in the draft.

28. New Orleans Saints

Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

Maybe the Saints are comfortable with Zack Baun taking on a bigger role at linebacker. If not, Collins would be a Day 1 starter.

29. Green Bay Packers

Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

Aaron Rodgers wants a receiver, but the Packers are better off making sure they keep Rodgers protected.

30. Buffalo Bills

Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami (Fla.)

I’m not sure where to slot Phillips given his injury concerns, but the Bills are a complete enough team they have the luxury of drafting best player available.

31. Kansas City Chiefs

Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

Mike Remmers is not the answer at right tackle, at least not if they want to keep Patrick Mahomes healthy.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

The defending champs get another young, versatile piece for their secondary.

In: Newsome, Davis, Bateman, Jenkins.

Out: Shaun Wade, Ohio State; Rondale Moore, Purdue; Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State; Christian Barmore, Alabama.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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