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:
➜ The reward for losing 15 consecutive games after a Week 1 win against the Colts? A generational talent.
➜ Wins in Week 15 and Week 16 meant the Jets lost the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Bad move? We’ll see.
➜ Was the Jones to 49ers talk a smokescreen? No. Kyle Shanahan gets his way, picking Jones over Trey Lance.
➜ Atlanta chooses to build around Matt Ryan (and his restructured contract) instead of drafting his successor.
➜ Reuniting Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow wouldn’t be a bad option. But protecting QB fresh off offseason knee surgery takes precedence.
➜ This offense should hum with Chase, DeVante Parker and Will Fuller in it. Tua Tagovailoa, the ball’s in your court.
➜ Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones skipped town. WR pick just makes too much sense here. Even with questions surrounding Jared Goff.
CB, South Carolina
➜ Carolina could easily shop this pick, and still get a skilled corner anywhere in top 15.
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.
Patrick Surtain II
➜ (Checks last season’s stats.) The Cowboys allowed 27 touchdowns to wide receivers in 2020. A cornerback it is.
➜ 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.
➜ Eagles trade back from No. 6 and No. 12 and still get one of the top wideouts in a deep draft class.
OL, Virginia Tech
➜ Could start right away at offensive tackle and, more importantly, help keep franchise QB Justin Herbert upright.
OL, Southern Cal
➜ Run on offensive linemen continues with Vikings also in need of help at both lines of scrimmage.
QB, Ohio State
➜ This represents the absolute dream scenario for Bill Belichick. Fields falls right into their laps.
CB, Virginia Tech
➜ In division full of talented receivers, Cardinals roll dice on press-man specialist.
LB, Penn State
➜ Value pick. Raiders land top-10 talent at position of need within Gus Bradley’s defense.
➜ Paye is the first true edge-rusher off the board as this year’s class lacks an elite player at that position.
LB, Notre Dame
➜ Versatile defender is good fit at weak-side linebacker in team’s base 4-3 front.
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?
➜ Chris Ballard opts to upgrade the team’s pass rush over getting younger at corner.
➜ Losing Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith via free agency makes adding an impact playmaker a top priority.
Greg Newsome II
➜ First-year coach Robert Saleh adds Newsome to what is already a young Jets secondary that is in desperate need of an upgrade.
➜ 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.
➜ Collins was the only FBS player last season to have at least four sacks and four interceptions. That’ll play.
➜ A 2020 opt-out, Rousseau put up monster numbers as a redshirt freshman for the Hurricanes (151/2 sacks).
➜ Injury history notwithstanding, pairing Toney with Marquise Brown would create matchup nightmares.
DE/OLB, Penn State
➜ Salary-cap restraints have really hamstring the Saints. Still, Oweh is a build-for-the-future-type pick.
➜ 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
➜ Etienne would give Buffalo a game-changing playmaker at a position where the Bills lacked one in 2020.
➜ Sending Orlando Brown to the Chiefs means Baltimore must find a replacement at offensive tackle.
➜ Barmore would allow the defending champs to get younger in the interior, as a possible long-term replacement for Ndamukong Suh.