We here at Buccaneers.com got a late start to Mock Draft Season thanks to a boat parade and whatever it was that made that necessary, but we're picking up steam now! This is our Version 3.0, and my second effort. Staff Writer Carmen Vitali and I are alternating mock drafts this year so that we can bring you one a week, and this week is my turn.
Each of us did our first mock draft without considering trades, but deals are on the table now and I have a total of four of them in this effort. I'm sure Carmen will swing some trades next week as well.
That's enough preamble, let's get to Mock Draft 3.0!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, BYU
I'm sticking with the concept that a new head coach is going to want to start over with a new quarterback, and the fact that Sam Darnold was not drafted by current GM Joe Douglas helps, too.
3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston): WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
I've changed my mind here after going with Penei Sewell last time. I'm now thinking that a playmaker is the Dolphins' top priority, and I also don't buy that they'll take DeVonta Smith just because he used to be teammates with Tua Tagovailoa. I believe as we get closer to the draft Chase will become the consensus top receiver.
4. TRADE ALERT - Carolina Panthers (via Atlanta): QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Carolina trades their 2021 second round pick (#39) and their first and third-round picks in 2022 to move up four spots and ensure they land their preferred quarterback. It's a huge overpay by either draft value chart but that's the cost of doing business when potential franchise quarterbacks are involved. And I don't believe Atlanta would refuse to trade with, and possibly help, a division rival because this helps the Falcons even more.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: T Penei Sewell, Oregon
I've basically swapped priorities and picks between the Bengals and Dolphins, as I gave Cincinnati Chase last time. I've since looked deeper into the critical state of the Bengals' offensive line, which needs several upgrades after allowing 48 sacks last season. It was not a sack but a hit at the point of release that knocked rookie quarterback Joe Burrow out with a torn ACL, but you get the point. Pair Sewell with 2019 first-rounder Jonah Williams and you've got a good start to fixing this problem.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
I toyed with the idea of a trade here, with San Francisco, Washington or Chicago moving up for a quarterback, but it's too far for the Bears and the Football Team to go and the 49ers are already down a third-rounder this year. They'd probably have to give up their 2021 first and something else juicy to get it done. The Eagles have a lot of needs and would probably jump at a chance to trade down but I can't make it work so I'll give them a potential lock-down corner to pair with…uh, 30-year-old Darius slay, I guess? The corner position is nearly barren in Philly.
7. Detroit Lions: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
No change here from my last mock. Unless Detroit suddenly re-signs at least two of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola, I'm sticking with the best available receiver. The Lions' top returning receiver at this moment is Quintez Cephus, so yeah.
8. TRADE ALERT - Atlanta Falcons (via Carolina): TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
The Falcons could trade back and still take a quarterback, but I wouldn't have made this deal if I thought that was their plan. Cornerback and safety (depending upon the future of Keanu Neal) are probably bigger needs and Hayden Hurst was okay last year, but Pitts could be special and it's too early for a running back.
9. TRADE ALERT - San Francisco 49ers (via Denver): QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Okay, now I'm pulling the trigger on that 49ers deal because I think they can get it done with this year's second-round pick (#43) and a second-rounder in 2022. Otherwise I'm staying with the idea that San Francisco will give Lance time to develop behind Jimmy Garoppolo, or accelerate the timetable if Garoppolo continues to get hit by the injury bug.
10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
No change here. The Cowboys need help up front on defense even more, but the value is better here in the secondary.
11. New York Giants: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
I had them going with Pitts last time but he's already off the board. I had resisted the thought of GM Dave Gettleman taking a receiver this high, but have since reminded myself that he was the Carolina GM when they drafted Kelvin Benjamin at number 14 in 2014.
12. TRADE ALERT - Denver Broncos (via San Francisco): LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
This is a good outcome for Denver, at least if I'm the general manager, because I traded down and still got the player I took in Version 1.0. (Note: I am not the Broncos' general manager.) I think they would have taken a long look at Surtain or Farley if they were available but Parsons gives them a middle-of-the-field playmaker and maybe even some pass-rushing juice off the edge.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: T Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
I went defense here last time but Slater was already off the board. This is just too good to pass up for a team that always seems to be in need of offensive line help. (It's possible that has something to do with the Chargers only drafting one O-Lineman in the first round in the past 25 years. Just maybe.) And I'll be the one millionth mock drafter to say, "If you have a young franchise quarterback, you'd better prioritize his protection."
14. TRADE ALERT - Washington Football Team (via Minnesota): QB Mac Jones, Alabama
Just like the 49ers, Washington has to move up this time to get the quarterback they want, as they are a bit worried about the Patriots at number 15. On the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, the difference between picks 14 and 19 is equivalent to the 73rd pick in the draft and Washington happens to own pick number 74 in the third round. The closest comparison I could find to this deal in the last 20 drafts was a 2007 swap of picks 17 and 21 that cost Denver a third and a sixth. Washington doesn't have a sixth but they do have two sevenths, so we'll make it a third and a seventh to make this move and give some clear direction to their muddled QB situation.
15. New England Patriots: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
This feels much more like a Patriots mid-first round pick than Jaylen Waddle, my guess for them in Version 1.0. Dont'a Hightower returns in 2021 after an opt-out season but the Patriots still need help at the off-ball linebacker with young players like Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings being no sure things. Owusu-Koramoah is great in coverage and can do a little bit of everything. I could also see the Patriots trading well back in the round and targeting one of the defensive tackles.
16. Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Gregory Rousseau, Miami
I had Arizona going with Michigan's Kwity Paye last time, but Rousseau had been snatched by Minnesota two picks earlier. The situation has changed but for now I'll stick with Rousseau as the first edge rusher off the board even after he took last season off.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
I didn't want to change my pick from Version 1.0 but the Patriots ruined those plans. Fortunately the Raiders need playmakers all over their defense and Collins fits the bill as a player who can cover but also rush the passer.
18. Miami Dolphins: EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
I think the Dolphins are mad they just missed out on Owusu-Koramoah by a few picks. But three trades is probably enough for this one mock draft. (Editor's note: It's now four!) Instead Miami gets some edge help and waits until Day Two to work on its offensive line.
19. TRADE ALERT - Minnesota Vikings (via Washington): EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan
Minnesota's once-fierce pass rush has cratered, to the point that the Vikings only recorded 23 sacks last year and were 28th in sacks per pass attempt. There aren't any Bosa-type pass rushers in this year's draft but Paye can at least deepen the Vikings' rotation up front.
20. Chicago Bears: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
I'm sticking with this pick from Version 1.0, too. The Bears might like to grab a receiver and there are some interesting ones left, but the offensive line is a bigger need and Vera-Tucker's versatility means the Bears can find his best fit and have an upgrade wherever he lands.
21. Indianapolis Colts: T Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
I've certainly seen Darrisaw go higher than this in a number of mock drafts but this is the way mine fell and that's a good thing for the Colts, who need a ready-made replacement for the retired Anthony Castonzo.
22. Tennessee Titans: EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
The Titans are one of the easiest teams to call in this draft, at least in terms of a targeted position. (Which, of course, means they'll go in a completely different direction in the real draft.) Tennessee needs edge rush help more than any other team in the league, and while we're clearly in the middle of a run at the position they are fortunate that Phillips is still on the board.
23. New York Jets (via Seattle): CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
I gave the Jets running back Travis Etienne last time but that's starting to feel like a luxury pick they can't afford with the help they desperately need at cornerback. Rookies Bryce Hall (fifth-round pick) and Lamar Jackson (undrafted free agent) got serious playing time last season and the Jets' pass defense ranked 28th. Plus, Brian Poole is a pending free agent. If New York can land a big-time veteran corner in free agency, then they might go for Etienne or a receiver at this spot.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
I gave Pittsburgh a corner last time but Horn is gone this time around. The Steelers have a sudden need at center but can probably address that on Day Two. Instead, let's assume that James Conner is gone and help the Steelers rejuvenate a rushing attack that was dead last in the league in 2020. I'm sure Ben would appreciate that.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via L.A. Rams): S Travon Moehrig, TCU
This pick didn't change. Nobody on Jacksonville's safety depth chart jumps out at you and Moehrig is the type of versatile talent that can be moved all over the field. It comes down to whether Jacksonville wants the top safety or the fourth or fifth-best cornerback, and they took a corner in the first round last year.
26. Cleveland Browns: EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
Two in a row that hold their spots, as the Browns still need a bookend for Myles Garrett with Olivier Vernon possibly on the way out and now in his 30s. The 6-5, 262-pound Tryon rushes with power and is a good fit in Cleveland's 4-3 front.
27. Baltimore Ravens: WR Terrace Marshall, LSU
I'm switching from defense to offense for Baltimore this time around. Kadarius Toney is interesting but the Ravens already have a small, speedy wideout in Marquise Brown. The 6-4, 200-pound Marshall brings a different sort of target for Lamar Jackson.
28. New Orleans Saints: LB Nick Bolton, Missouri
The Saints could probably use an edge rusher more, with the likelihood that Trey Hendrickson will be too expensive to fit under their upside-down cap. However, there's been quite a run on that position in the second half of this round and unless you're really high on Joseph Ossai I think Bolton is the better value here. Besides, the Saints may part ways with Kwon Alexander and will need the kind of speed and range the Mizzou linebacker can add.
29. Green Bay Packers: DL Christian Barmore, Alabama
With Baltimore passing on Barmore this time around and robbing us of that awesome alliteration, Green Bay takes him instead of Washington's Levi Onwuzurike. Either way, they get help for Kenny Clark up front and once again pass on the receivers.
30. Buffalo Bills: T Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
I'll stick with my pick from last time under the assumption that the Bills prioritize linebacker Matt Milano over right tackle Darryl Williams on their free agent list. Mayfield takes over for Williams and the Bills keep Milano. They still need a running back, though.
31. TRADE ALERT - Miami Dolphins (via Kansas City): RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
Your honor, I swear that I did not engineer this trade just so that I wouldn't have to consider Etienne for the Bucs at the next pick. That would not be an honest way to conduct a mock draft. This is just the Dolphins getting bold with their wealth of early picks. They still need a center but also have another pick in the second round and one in the third. Here, the Dolphins trade up five spots from 36 to 31, which is the exact trade the Buccaneers made in 2012 to get Doug Martin. All it cost Tampa Bay then was a swap of fourth-round picks that moved Denver up 25 slots in that round. On the other hand, San Francisco moved up from 34 to 31 four years ago and the cost was a fourth-rounder. According to the Johnson chart, the difference between picks 31 and 36 is equivalent to pick number 117 in the fourth round. The Dolphins happen to own pick number 114 (it will change a bit when compensatory picks are added). So let's do it. Picks 36 and 114 for pick 31 and the Dolphins' offense suddenly looks a lot better around Tagovailoa.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
So I pretty much stuck to my guns here in my second mock draft, though it's not the exact same player. The domino effect that bumped Barmore down to Green Bay has now dropped Onwuzurike to the Buccaneers. It's really impossible to know right now if IDL, ILB, EDGE or WR is going to be a more pressing need for Tampa Bay come draft time, or if any of them will be. So for now I'll stay with the notion that the Bucs have three defensive linemen headed towards free agency so they'll probably need some reinforcements there. And Tampa Bay has had some pretty good recent success with Washington defensive linemen.