The Torch’s Mock 2021 NFL Draft: the Dolphins will get a pass-catcher with the number six pick, but which one?

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The biggest question of the 2021 NFL draft is where Florida’s tight end Kyle Pitts, considered by many to be the best athlete in the draft, will end up. He could go as high as #4 to the Atlanta Falcons or possibly fall out of the top 10.

We are now officially less than one week away from the 2021 NFL draft which begins on Thursday, April 29, and the spirit and excitement of draft day are heating up. Before selection night is upon us, though, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the prospects and what each team may be in the market for. And what better way to do both at the same time than with a mock draft. So, without further ado, here is The Torch’s prediction for what we expect to see come next Thursday night.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson): Trevor Lawrence had been a lock to be the #1 overall pick from the moment he stepped on the field in Death Valley at Clemson. The Jaguars won the “Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes” by going 1-15 in the 2020 season, and the National Championship-winning quarterback has been firm in their grasp ever since. Even though they weren’t super aggressive in free agency, the Jags have three more picks in the top 45, so don’t be surprised to see an offensive weapon or two added to Urban Meyer’s refurbished squad.

2. New York Jets – QB Zach Wilson (BYU): The Sam Darnold era is over in New York. The Jets traded the quarterback to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a sixth round pick this year and second and fourth round picks next year. Darnold will get a fresh start with the Panthers and a chance to prove his doubters wrong, and the Jets are now clear to select their next quarterback of the future with the number two pick in this draft. All signs point to that lucky prospect being Brigham Young University’s Zach Wilson. Wilson showed big improvements this past season, specifically in certain aspects of the game such as making plays under pressure and patience in the pocket. After not being on many draft analysts’ radars, he burst onto the scene turning his BYU Cougars into a top-15 team in the country. Jets general manager Joe Douglas has been doing all he can to make life comfortable for Wilson, adding wide receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole Sr. in free agency, but don’t expect him to stop there. The Jets have nine total picks in this year’s draft, so it would not be surprising at all to see Gang Green snag another weapon or two for their new face of the franchise.

3. San Francisco 49ers (From MIA via HOU) – QB Justin Fields (Ohio State): Since the 49ers traded up nine picks in the draft, it’s clear their primary target is Jimmy Garoppolo’s successor. There’s been hype on Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, but The Torch doesn’t think either of those guys are worth trading up into the top three to grab. Justin Fields, however, is. The Torch views Fields as the second best quarterback in this class, and it isn’t particularly close. The only real problem with Fields that could hamper him at the pro-level is his inability to read the field. He likes to get the ball out of his hands quickly, and he’ll often force the ball to the first receiver he looks at rather than scanning for someone who might be more open. It’s a problem Kyle Shanahan can easily solve, especially if Fields takes a seat behind Garoppolo in year one.

4. Atlanta Falcons – TE Kyle Pitts (Florida): The Falcons are the first team in this year’s draft that the general public really has no idea what they’re going to do. The Torch has them picking Florida’s Kyle Pitts, although the option to select quarterback Matt Ryan’s successor is a tempting one. Trading down is an option as well; however, a pick in the top five is rather expensive, and The Torch doesn’t see Atlanta finding a suitable partner with enough assets to jump the line. So here they add the highly-touted Pitts to the already high-powered air attack, and give another toy to new head coach Arthur Smith to play with. Pitts is  6 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 245 pounds, runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, and is the epitome of a matchup nightmare. Pitts is being called “the best skill position player in the draft” this year by many, and after Hayden Hurst’s underwhelming 2020 campaign, Pitts could (and probably should) come in as a day-one starter. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Penei Sewell (Oregon): Another potential trade-down candidate, the Bengals are in a position to do whatever they want with the fifth pick. The smart thing to do would be to take the best offensive lineman in the draft, in this case that’s Oregon’s Penei Sewell. After Joe Burrow tore his ACL last season, protecting him should be the only thing on general manager Mike Brown’s mind coming into this draft. You never want to see your franchise quarterback go down, especially not after throwing a pass from the pocket. But weapons are fun, right? There have been talks of a Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase reunion in Cincinnati, or perhaps if the physical freak Kyle Pitts is still on the board, the Bengals find him simply too good to pass up. Chase has chemistry and rapport with Burrow, and Pitts fills a position of need at tight end, but the smartest pick here is Sewell. Surely the Bengals can’t mess that up, but then, again, anything can happen on draft night.

6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI) – WR Ja’Marr Chase (LSU): The Miami Dolphins might be in the best position of any team in this year’s draft. A borderline playoff team with a bright future and five picks in the first three rounds. The Dolphins traded back to #12 in the draft, acquiring a huge load of draft capital from the San Francisco 49ers, and then gave up one of those 49ers picks to move back up to #6, trading with the Philadelphia Eagles, who now sit at #12. So, in summation, the Dolphins added some extra picks and are almost guaranteed to get the guy they want anyway. It’ll either be Chase, Sewell, or Pitts for Miami, and since The Torch has Pitts and Sewell going 4th and 5th respectively, then Miami will add to it’s developmental receiving corps with the consensus #1 ranked wide receiver in this year’s class.

 7. TRADE: New England Patriots (via DET) – QB Mac Jones (Alabama): Finally, we have a trade! The Lions ship their seventh overall pick to New England in exchange for the 15th overall pick, and they’ll probably have to throw in some extra day two picks as well. The Patriots and Lions have had good relations with each other for the three years former Patriots assistant coach Matt Patricia was at the helm for Detroit. Patricia was fired by the Lions at the end of last season and is now back as an assistant with New England. Also, the Patriots have been aggressive all offseason, and it’s clear that Cam Newton is not a long term answer for them at quarterback. Combine all that with a quarterback class strong enough that we could see five quarterbacks go in the top 10, and it seems like the perfect recipe to cook up a draft-day trade. Mac Jones seems like the best quarterback fit for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: “a pocket passer with tremendous accuracy,” in the words of ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. Remind you of any other recent Patriots quarterback?

8. Carolina Panthers – OT Rashawn Slater (Northwestern): The Panthers’ recent trade for quarterback Sam Darnold doesn’t leave them with many options sitting at #8. Their biggest need is at tight end, but Kyle Pitts will likely be long gone before then. Defense is always an option, but they selected defensive tackle Derrick Brown last year with the #7 pick, so this time, they should try to make life as easy as possible for their new quarterback. The offensive line has been a work in progress all offseason for Carolina. They used their franchise tag on right tackle Taylor Moton and signed guard Pat Elflein and center Matt Paradis in free agency. Slater can start at left tackle opposite Moton, or slide inside and play guard until next year when Moton’s franchise tag expires.

9. Denver Broncos – QB Trey Lance (North Dakota State): LB Micah Parsons would probably be the pick here if Lance doesn’t make it to the ninth overall pick, but the Broncos are being described among NFL media as a “sneaky quarterback-hungry team,” which should come as no surprise. Drew Lock hasn’t looked great in his young career, and new general manager George Paton has said that even though he likes Lock, quarterback is not out of the question with the 9th pick. Quarterback has been the Broncos’ biggest need since Peyton Manning retired. Ironically, it’s the one position former Broncos general manager John Elway couldn’t get right. So, if the right guy is there for the Broncos at #9, then of course they’re going to take him and Trey Lance feels like the right guy. He has arguably the most rushing upside of any quarterback in this class, a cannon for an arm, and a good pocket presence. Being only 20 and going to North Dakota State, he may not be a day-one starter like some other quarterbacks in this class, but his ceiling is as high as the rest of them.

10. Dallas Cowboys – CB Patrick Surtain II (Alabama): It’s very possible that the Cowboys could do something crazy with this pick that would hurt the Giants and/or Eagles in some way. We saw them do it to the Eagles just last year when they picked CeeDee Lamb, a prospect Philadelphia wanted and needed badly. The smart pick is Surtain II though, as he is the consensus #1 ranked cornerback in this year’s draft – a position at which America’s team is desperate for help – and a former teammate of fellow Cowboy defensive back Trevon Diggs.

11. New York Giants – EDGE Kwity Paye (Michigan): For some reason, many experts see the G-Men taking a receiver with #11, but after giving free-agent wideout Kenny Golladay a deal worth up to $76 million to be their #1 receiver, why would they continue to invest in that position? It doesn’t seem like their best option, especially when they have gaping holes on the offensive line and at defensive end. Daniel Jones has enough weapons to succeed as a quarterback, so The Torch thinks the Giants will continue investing in their defense which was a major bright spot for them down the stretch last season.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (From MIA via SF) – WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama): The Eagles need a wide receiver. Plain and Simple. They’ve needed a wide receiver for a while and just haven’t been able to get it right. Even with Devonta Smith on the board here, Waddle’s a good fit because he’s a better deep threat than Smith, something the Eagles drool over. Remember DeSean Jackson? Not to mention Waddle is elite with the ball in his hands and can help out quarterback Jalen Hurts in more ways than one. 

13. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Christian Darrisaw (Virginia Tech): Similar to the Eagles, the Chargers need offensive linemen. Last year, the Bolts had the third-highest pressure rate per dropback and the fourth most quarterback hits. They’ve done a good job already this offseason adding protection for Justin Herbert and Darrisaw might be the icing on the cake at left tackle.

14. Minnesota Vikings –  OL Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC): All positions on the Vikings offensive line could be improved, which is what makes Vera-Tucker such a good fit here. He’s arguably the most versatile offensive lineman in the draft, likely to start either at left guard or left tackle in year one.

15. TRADE: Detroit Lions (via NE) – WR Devonta Smith (Alabama): The Lions’ potential trade with the Patriots gives them a lot of options with the 15th pick, but if Devonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle are available, it should be a no-brainer for them. The Lions lost both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. in free agency, so any of the top-three wide receivers in this class should be priority number one. Newly acquired quarterback Jared Goff is going to need weapons to succeed in the motor city. 

16. Arizona Cardinals – CB Jaycee Horn (South Carolina): The Cardinals lost cornerback Patrick Peterson in the offseason, and now both of their outside corners are on one-year deals. The Cardinals are going to need a lockdown corner to compete with the elite receiver talent in the NFC West, and Jaycee Horn is as lockdown and quick as they come.

17. Las Vegas Raiders – OT Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State): The Raiders tore down what was a very good offensive line this offseason, so quarterback Derek Carr should be begging and pleading for protection with this pick. Teven Jenkins started six of the seven games he played last season at right tackle before opting out, so he’ll probably take over for Trent Brown there.

18. Miami Dolphins – LB Micah Parsons (Penn State): Offensive line is a position that needs to be addressed, but with Micah Parsons sitting at #18, he might be too good to pass up. Parsons is a gifted athlete with solid pass rush moves, and the Dolphins blitzed the quarterback at the second-highest rate in the NFL last season. Head coach Brian Flores is apparently a huge fan of Parsons, so this feels like a perfect fit.

19. Washington Football Team – LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame): Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, or JOK, is one of, if not the best, coverage linebacker in this year’s draft class. Similar to the Carolina Panthers’ Jeremy Chinn, he’s a versatile athlete who can also line up at slot corner when needed, and he’s one of the draft’s biggest hitters as well. Washington already has one of the best defensive fronts in the league, so JOK’s rather weak physicality isn’t much of a concern for them.

20. Chicago Bears – CB Caleb Farley (Virginia): Chicago might be in the worst position of any team in this year’s draft being as bad as they are and just barely having a pick in the top 20. Unless an unforeseen trade up happens, Chicago’s unlikely to snag one of the draft’s top-five quarterbacks, and after Teven Jenkins, there aren’t any offensive tackles worth taking at 20. Enter Caleb Farley, a former wide receiver with incredible ball skills and major upside. His injury history does pose a bit of a risk, but the Bears lost corner Kyle Fuller in the offseason and have Desmond Trufant on a one year deal. If Farley can stay healthy and play to his full potential, he and Jaylon Johnson can be a force to be reckoned with for NFC North wide receivers for years to come.

21. Indianapolis Colts – EDGE Jaelan Phillips (Miami-FL): The Colts’ biggest need is a pass rusher, and Phillips is the best one on the board here. Like Farley, his injury history makes him a high-risk, high-reward bet, but it’s one the Colts should be willing to take after losing defensive tackle Denico Autry and defensive end Justin Houston to free agency.

22. Tennessee Titans – WR Elijah Moore (Ole Miss): Elijah Moore is another speed-demon type wide receiver with vacuum-like hands and a small frame, but being former teammates with current Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown gives him a foot in the door with the Titans organization. The Titans need a wide receiver to play opposite Brown after losing Corey Davis in free agency, and Brown and his teammates have been vouching for Moore for a long time now. For team chemistry purposes and positional need, this is the right pick for Tennessee.

23. New York Jets (via SEA) – CB Greg Newsome II (Northwestern): New Jets head coach Robert Saleh is a former defensive coordinator, so of course his primary objective after getting his franchise quarterback will be to bolster the other side of the ball. The Jets’ cornerback group is among the worst in the league, so Newsome II will likely be CB1 on day one.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – RB Najee Harris (Alabama): Ex-Steelers running back James Conner recently signed a deal with the Arizona Cardinals. According to Gerry Dulac, a writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it’s all a part of Pittsburgh’s plan. He wrote in an article on April 16, three days after the Conner signing, “They want a more dynamic feature back, a player who can put back in the offense a dimension that has been missing since the departure of Le’Veon Bell. They will do that in the draft, most likely in the first round, no later than the second.” It’s been generally accepted around the NFL world that Alabama’s Najee Harris is the best running back in the class, and the only running back deserving to be taken in the first round. While the Steelers do have a need on the offensive line after losing key pieces this offseason, this is likely quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final season before retirement, so it’s not a horrible idea to take pressure off him by improving the run game.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR) – S Trevon Moehrig (TCU): The Jaguars have a number of things to improve on, but safety is the biggest need. It’s another weak safety class this year, but Texas Christian University’s Trevon Moehrig is many people’s top-ranked safety and is worthy of a late-first round selection. He won the Thorpe award for best defensive back in the country this past season, and will likely slot in as the day-one starter at free safety for the Jags.

26. Cleveland Browns – LB Jamin Davis (Kentucky): The Browns’ biggest need is pass rusher, even after the Clowney signing, so watch out for Azeez Ojulari or Greg Rousseau here, but Jamin Davis was spectacular this season as a starter for Kentucky rounding up 96 tackles, three interceptions, and a sack. He’s a bonafide first-round talent, and moving up many experts’ draft boards and would be a good scheme fit for the Browns’ 4-3 defense.

27. Baltimore Ravens – WR Rashod Bateman (Minnesota): Matthew Judon is gone, Yannick Ngakoue is gone, and Calais Campbell will be 35 by the time the season rolls around. The likelihood that general manager Eric DeCosta finds another late-first round defensive gem like Patrick Queen last year is higher than people will care to admit. However, the Ravens are in really desperate need of a starting caliber outside wide receiver for Lamar Jackson and Bateman sitting there at #27 might be an underrated steal. Terrace Marshall Jr. from LSU is another wide receiver that many experts are mocking to the Ravens and it’s become a rather heavy debate, but Bateman is the more complete pass catcher. He was the 2019 Big-10 wide receiver of the year recording 1200 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. He ran a cool 4.39 40-yard dash which silenced a lot of doubters. After his pro-day, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said “Bateman seems like the hot guy right now between [him and Marshall Jr.]” Ultimately, it’s hard to go wrong with either of the two wide receivers or an edge rusher, but Bateman on the Ravens would be the most exciting option.

28. New Orleans Saints – LB Zaven Collins (Tulsa): The Saints finished with one of the more impressive offseasons considering where they started, nearly $100 million over the salary cap. They somehow managed to clear $111 million without giving up many of their core superstar players. However, they did lose Kwon Alexander, leaving a hole at outside linebacker which Tula’s Zaven Collins can fill rather easily. Collins wasn’t asked to do much pass rushing at Tulsa, but still recorded four sacks and despite sporting a 6 feet five inches, 259-pound frame, his physicality is underwhelming. However, he excels in coverage, snagging four interceptions in 2020, two of them returned for touchdowns, and he’s good at reading the quarterback, allowing him to invade passing lanes and create turnovers. While the Saints still have needs on the offensive side of the ball, particularly at wide receiver alongside Michael Thomas, Collins could start at outside linebacker for them on day one, and New Orleans is going to need a slam dunk pick to keep their NFC Championship hopes alive in the post-Drew Brees era.

29. Green Bay Packers – WR Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU): If it wasn’t abundantly clear last year that Devante Adams needs a running mate, then it has to be obvious this year. Adams led the team with nearly 1,400 yards receiving in 2020. The next closest receiver had just 690. Get this man some help. It appears that last year’s first round selection of Jordan Love may be a waste after quarterback Aaron Rodgers won the NFL Most Valuable Player award at age 37. After last year, especially, if the Packers don’t pick a wide receiver their fan base will go ballistic. This team is on the cusp of winning the NFC championship, and perhaps not having to rely so much on Devante Adams in the passing game can get them to the Super Bowl. Adding another go-up-and-get-it-type wideout like Marshall, Jr. would make Aaron Rodgers’ life much easier.

30. Buffalo Bills – EDGE Jayson Oweh (Penn State): Running back is a huge position of need for Buffalo, but with Najee Harris going to Pittsburgh, there isn’t another running back on the board worth picking in the first round. Their two starting defensive ends, Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are 32 and 33 years old respectively, so some youth on the defensive line would be a breath of fresh air. Jayson Oweh would wreak havoc on opposing offenses’ rushing attacks. He’s a freakishly strong athlete who can run through tight ends and interior offensive lineman alike. He does a great job of always keeping his eyes in the backfield as well, creating 6.5 tackles for loss out of his 38 total tackles in 2020. Oweh isn’t a very polished pass rusher, he didn’t record a single sack in 2020, but his explosiveness at the line of scrimmage alone makes him worth a late first round selection, and could bring drastic improvements to Buffalo’s 20th ranked run defense.

31. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Sam Cosmi (Texas): Offensive line should be general manager Brett Veach’s top priority after watching Patrick Mahomes quite literally run for his life in the Super Bowl back in February. They signed Joe Thuney and Kyle Long in free agency, but they lost Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, both starting offensive tackles. Honestly, there are a number of offensive tackles the Chiefs could take here: Texas’ Sam Cosmi, Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg, Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield, and North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz are all good options, but the bottom line is Patrick Mahomes needs some protection, and he needs it ASAP.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DT Christian Barmore (Alabama): The Bucs are without a doubt the most complete team going into 2021, bringing back basically an exact copy of their Super Bowl-winning roster. The thought process behind picking Barmore here is the idea that he could take over on the interior defensive line after 34-year-old Ndamukong Suh retires. Tampa Bay really can’t go wrong regardless of who they pick here because after resigning almost all of their free agents, their chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions skyrocketed.

 

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