The NFL Draft, for the first time ever, will be conducted without any centralized physical location. League Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce picks from his home, and teams will make their selections from their headquarters. Basically, it will be the first online only NFL Draft, as everything will be conducted virtually.
Obviously, the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic calls for such measures, but it’s not a totally unprecedented format. After all, day three of the NFL Draft, for the past few years, has had no actual location. Anyone who watches it closely notices all the picks being announced remotely. Now they’re simply doing that for the whole thing.
How different will it be?
This interview with Kevin Hardy is pretty enlightening. The second overall pick in the 1996 draft, who announced the Jacksonville Jaguars pick live in person last year, tells it like it is.
And the 2021 NFL mock draft is at this link.
1. Cincinnati, Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Heisman Trophy winner is odds on favorite to become the #1 overall NFL Draft pick. Only six players, all QBs, have done it since the turn of the millennium.
The list consists of Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford and Carson Palmer.
2. Washington, Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State
Young is just the most dominant player, all around, period. Forget about that NCAA suspension non-sense. It was all meaningless b.s. that will not affect his draft stock one bit. Young deserves both the Heisman and #1 pick status, but he’ll get neither simply because quarterback is the most important individual position in all of sports.
3. Detroit, Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The best cornerback on the board, as OSU continues to be the farm system for the NFL that Kentucky is for the NBA. Right now, we have back to back OSU picks in the top three.
4. NY Giants,Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa
Hawkeyes continue to remain among the elite in developing O-linemen, D-linemen and tight ends for the NFL. It flies under the radar, and it doesn’t get much media coverage, but the coaching staff in Iowa City really knows what they’re doing in this regard.
5. Miami, Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
The time is now here for the Chargers to draft and develop Phillip Rivers’ replacement. Tua was the #1 overall on many a draft board and in many a 2020 NFL mock draft up until the hip injury.
6. L.A. Chargers, Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert really should have come out last year, as this season has done nothing but provided scouts and GMs with more material to pick apart his game. Then again he will be among the top three signal callers taken, and that gets you that long dough, so it all works out in the end.
7. Carolina, Isaiah Simmons, S, Clemson
Versatility gives him a wide range of places that he could slot in, and he was definitely one of the combine’s biggest winners. Simmons led all linebackers with a 4.39-second 40. His 39-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump impressed too.
He’s also the first player since at least 2003 to record a 38-plus-inch vertical jump, broad jump of 11 feet or more and a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at the combine while weighing 230-plus pounds, per NFL Research.
8. Arizona, Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Has all the tools to develop into a disruptive force. We did have him much higher initially, but there really seems to be a lot of volatility in his stock price right now. Still, no matter who you are, I don’t see why you would pass on him if you’re in the top 15 in this draft.
9. Jacksonville, CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Jaguars find the replacement for Jalen Ramsey and continue their youthful rebuild.
10. Cleveland, Jedrick Willis, OT, Alabama
Lots of big road graders, space eaters will go very high in this draft. Browns must upgrade both tackle positions.
11. NY Jets, Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
6-7, 364, Becton exactly what this team needs, especially considerint he moves with the agility and athleticism of a man 100 pounds lighter. He’s got the whole package, for a team that’s badly in need of help up front.
12. Las Vegas, CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Has a combination of size, athleticism, explosiveness and body control that makes him a legit potential NFL WR1. AWESOME name too. Would go higher, but top tier pass catchers don’t have the same value as elite passers, pass rushers, pass defenders and pass blockers in the NFL draft.
13. San Francisco via Indianapolis, Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Jeudy is the whole package, a blue chip prospect in the truest sense.
14. Tampa Bay, Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Given the importance of quarterback, there is of course also a major premium on protecting the QB. That’s where Thomas comes in, as big boys beefing up the signal caller’s blind side will always be in high demand, and thus command the big bucks.
15. Denver, Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Deserves to go higher, but this is a loaded class at receiver.
16. Atlanta, Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
One of the most interesting prospects in the draft. Obviously, there are plenty of other ways the Falcons can go with this pick, but we have often seen Kinlaw mocked to the Falcons.
17. Dallas, Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Cowboys need to beef up the secondary, but if they don’t go that route, they could address their needs for adding depth at edge. The pick will likely be DE or DB.
18. Miami via Pittsburgh, A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
I like the Dolphins to work on filling out their secondary with their second pick in the first round of this draft.
19. Las Vegas via Chicago, Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Meets both team need and provides a tremendous value here.
20. JAX via LA Rams, K’Lavion Chaisson, Edge, LSU
Has shown the ability to be an every down player as he’s effective against both the run and the pass.
21. Philadelphia, Grant Delpit, DB, LSU
LSU continues to be DBU; rinse and repeat. May not even last this long, but if he does perfect for Philly’s team needs. Of course, this is such a deep class of WRs, they may wait until round two for that.
WILD CARD ROUND LOSERS
22. Minesota via Buffalo, A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
Epenesa (6-foot-6, 280-pounds) is a native of Glen Carbon, Illinois, (Edwardsville High School) and a tour de force when it comes to opposing backfield penetration. He’s a dangerous every down player.
23. New England, Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State
For his career, Gross-Matos has 36.0 TFL and 18.0 sacks as part of his 110 tackles. He was the team’s Reid-Robinson Award winner as the most outstanding lineman in 2018 and was an honorable-mention All-Freshman Team selection.
24. New Orleans, Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
Saints might go for beefing up depth behind Michael Thomas. Johnson had a monster year in what a historical season in Minneapolis.
DIVISIONAL ROUND LOSERS
25. Minnesota, Austin Jackson, OL, USC
Upgrading the o-line is a key, top priority for the Vikes. They might consider Houston’s Josh Jones in this spot too.
26. Miami via Houston, Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise St.
Fins need a lot of help in rushing the passer, and this is definitley a prospect that could provide that.
27. Seattle, Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State
A big hitter who is effective against both the run and the pass.
28. Baltimore, Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
He’s a lot more than just the next special Badgers back, or even Big Ten back. He’s a very special prospect, who could be an elite feature back at the next level.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP LOSERS
29. Tennessee, Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Under the radar name to watch this fall, and the Titans need wide outs.
30. Green Bay, K.J. Hamler WR, Penn State
Pack probably goes best WR available at this point, and we can debate who that might be. OT has to be at the top of the needs list as well.
SUPER BOWL TEAMS
31. San Francisco, Julian Okwara, DE, Notre Dame
There was a ton of next level talent on Notre Dame this year, not a lot of first round potential, or top ten pick kind of guys, but plenty of good, solid pro prospects. Okwara is definitely the most dominant and pro ready guy on this year’s team. Go to this link for more on this versatile, talented, disruptive end.
32. Kansas City, De’Andre Swift, RB Georgia
Running backs just don’t have the same value that they used to in the NFL Draft these days.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.Follow paulmbanks