The big board: Offense dominates Day 1 of NFL draft – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette


He’s studied the game tape (OK, maybe not). But he’s read just about every

NFL mock draft out there (somewhat true). Now, News-Gazette sports copy editor

Joe Vozzelli Jr. offers his own mock draft ahead of Thursday’s first round in Cleveland:

1. Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence

QB, Clemson

➜ The reward for losing 15 consecutive games after a Week 1 win against the Colts? A generational talent.

2. Jets

Zach Wilson


➜ Wins in Week 15 and Week 16 meant the Jets lost the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Bad move? We’ll see.

3. 49ers

Mac Jones

QB, Alabama

➜ Was the Jones to 49ers talk a smokescreen? No. Kyle Shanahan gets his way, picking Jones over Trey Lance.

4. Falcons

Kyle Pitts

TE, Florida

➜ Atlanta chooses to build around Matt Ryan (and his restructured contract) instead of drafting his successor.

5. Bengals

Penei Sewell

OL, Oregon

➜ Reuniting Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow wouldn’t be a bad option. But protecting QB fresh off offseason knee surgery takes precedence.

6. Dolphins

Ja’Marr Chase


➜ This offense should hum with Chase, DeVante Parker and Will Fuller in it. Tua Tagovailoa, the ball’s in your court.

7. Lions

Devonta Smith

WR, Alabama

➜ Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones skipped town. WR pick just makes too much sense here. Even with questions surrounding Jared Goff.

8. Panthers

Jaycee Horn

CB, South Carolina

➜ Carolina could easily shop this pick, and still get a skilled corner anywhere in top 15.

9. Broncos

Trey Lance

QB, North Dakota State

➜ The search for a franchise quarterback continues, even with Teddy Bridgewater in the fold. Lance is the definition of high-risk, high-reward pick.

10. Cowboys

Patrick Surtain II

CB, Alabama

➜ (Checks last season’s stats.) The Cowboys allowed 27 touchdowns to wide receivers in 2020. A cornerback it is.

11. Giants

Rashawn Slater

OL, Northwestern

➜ One of the most versatile offensive linemen in the draft, he can play every position on the line. Slater’s main task: Protecting Daniel Jones.

12. Eagles

Jaylen Waddle

WR, Alabama

➜ Eagles trade back from No. 6 and No. 12 and still get one of the top wideouts in a deep draft class.

13. Chargers

Christian Darrisaw

OL, Virginia Tech

➜ Could start right away at offensive tackle and, more importantly, help keep franchise QB Justin Herbert upright.

14. Vikings

Alijah Vera-Tucker

OL, Southern Cal

➜ Run on offensive linemen continues with Vikings also in need of help at both lines of scrimmage.

15. Patriots

Justin Fields

QB, Ohio State

➜ This represents the absolute dream scenario for Bill Belichick. Fields falls right into their laps.

16. Cardinals

Caleb Farley

CB, Virginia Tech

➜ In division full of talented receivers, Cardinals roll dice on press-man specialist.

17. Raiders

Micah Parsons

LB, Penn State

➜ Value pick. Raiders land top-10 talent at position of need within Gus Bradley’s defense.

18. Dolphins

Kwity Paye

DE, Michigan

➜ Paye is the first true edge-rusher off the board as this year’s class lacks an elite player at that position.

19. Washington

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

LB, Notre Dame

➜ Versatile defender is good fit at weak-side linebacker in team’s base 4-3 front.

20. Bears

Teven Jenkins

OL, Oklahoma State

➜ A glaring need at right tackle makes this a no-brainer for Ryan Pace. One item is sure: he has to get this draft pick right. Right?

21. Colts

Jaelan Phillips

DE, Miami

➜ Chris Ballard opts to upgrade the team’s pass rush over getting younger at corner.

22. Titans

Elijah Moore

WR, Mississippi

➜ Losing Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith via free agency makes adding an impact playmaker a top priority.

23. Jets

Greg Newsome II

CB, Northwestern

➜ First-year coach Robert Saleh adds Newsome to what is already a young Jets secondary that is in desperate need of an upgrade.

24. Steelers

Najee Harris

RB, Alabama

➜ A better fit for Pittsburgh’s offense than Travis Etienne, Harris has ability to grind teams down, as well as catch passes out of backfield.

25. Jaguars

Zaven Collins

DE/OLB, Tulsa

➜ Collins was the only FBS player last season to have at least four sacks and four interceptions. That’ll play.

26. Browns

Gregory Rousseau

DE, Miami

➜ A 2020 opt-out, Rousseau put up monster numbers as a redshirt freshman for the Hurricanes (151/2 sacks).

27. Ravens

Kadarius Toney

WR, Florida

➜ Injury history notwithstanding, pairing Toney with Marquise Brown would create matchup nightmares.

28. Saints

Jayson Oweh

DE/OLB, Penn State

➜ Salary-cap restraints have really hamstring the Saints. Still, Oweh is a build-for-the-future-type pick.

29. Packers

Rashod Bateman

WR, Minnesota

➜ Bateman can play on the outside and in the slot. He has big-play ability, averaging 20.3 yards per catch in 2019.

30. Bills Travis


RB, Clemson

➜ Etienne would give Buffalo a game-changing playmaker at a position where the Bills lacked one in 2020.

31. Ravens

Alex Leatherwood

OL, Alabama

➜ Sending Orlando Brown to the Chiefs means Baltimore must find a replacement at offensive tackle.

32. Buccaneers

Christian Barmore

DT, Alabama

➜ Barmore would allow the defending champs to get younger in the interior, as a possible long-term replacement for Ndamukong Suh.

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