Welcome to Dueling Mocks with Nick Wilson (@NickWilsonSays) and Will Palaszczuk (@WilliePStyle). With the 2021 NFL Draft fast approaching, we will be unveiling a different mock draft each week.
This week we’re analyzing the Top 10 picks after the gigantic Miami-Philadelphia-San Francisco trade and how it will likely impact the Carolina Panthers.
Away we go…
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Nick: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: I’ve become uncomfortable with how little this pick has been questioned but I understand why. Trevor Lawrence was the best quarterback in college the moment he stepped on the field and checked every physical box you could want for a quarterback. Urban Meyer has no choice but to take him.
Will: Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson: This one is an obvious slam dunk. As someone who has done this for a little bit, but not forever, Lawrence has the best raw talent I’ve ever seen coming out of college. He can make every throw imaginable on the field, and the only question mark surrounding him is whether or not the Jaguars can build enough talent around him. Urban Meyer would never get a job anywhere else in football if he goes in a different direction.
RELATED: Jaguars favor Trevor Lawrence as top pick, Meyer says
2. New York Jets
Will: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU: The only QB who has been ignored more by his incumbent franchise more than Teddy Bridgewater is Sam Darnold. Because the Jets have told everyone and their brother how much they love Zach Wilson. The Brigham Young product made a meteoric rise to the top of the quarterback crop by having the physical attributes (outside of height) that QB evaluators love. Even though this organization is where quarterbacks go to die, the Jets feel like they have their answer with the former Cougar.
Nick: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU: New York has tried to make this a guessing game but their lust for Wilson was evident at his pro day. He’s a bit undersized but has an absolute cannon for an arm and the mental intangibles that helped a similar player, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, ascend to the top of the draft 3 years ago.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Nick: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: If it were me picking, this would be Justin Fields but alas…I am not John Lynch. (Please see my bank account for verification.) Jones’ numbers were as eye-popping at ‘Bama this year as Joe Burrow’s were at LSU in 2020. He also fits the mold of quarterback’s that Niners’ HC Kyle Shanahan has had previous success with. This will be the definitive swing for a quarterback in Shanahan’s San Fran career.
Will: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: I’m not buying the smokescreen that surrounds John Lynch and Mac Jones at this point. On the one hand Chris Simms talks about how well he knows Kyle Shanahan, yet Shanny says he hasn’t talked with him since he took over the Niners. Jones is a bad-bodied QB with little-to-no athleticism, while Fields brings you more of the quarterback of “today” while holding onto the insurance policy of Jimmy Garappolo. Fields comes out of college as a one-read thrower, but helping him through his progressions through a full offseason can turn him into the team’s starter by the end of the 2021 season.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Will: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State: I’ve been pigeonholed into this “Will doesn’t like Trey Lance” camp, and it’s been completely misunderstood. I’ve only said I don’t see where Trey Lance’s development timeline meshes with the Panthers timeline. Lance needs to go somewhere where he can sit behind a mentoring veteran, and the Falcons QB situation fits him like a glove. A new offensive-minded coach and a player in Matt Ryan who the Falcons have to keep for at least the next 1-2 seasons because of his dead cap number. Lance will flourish provided they improve the offensive line, get him a running back, as well as the successor to Julio Jones in the next couple of drafts.
Nick: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State: A lot of folks are pointing to a trade down here (which likely wouldn’t include Carolina) but I’m not sold on that yet. Matt Ryan will be 36 years old in May but could have upwards of 4-6 years left in the NFL. Atlanta pushed the financial ball down the road again with him this offseason, so I think it makes sense to build the best team around him. Parsons and Foye Oluokon would form a formidable linebacking group that could one day rival Tampa’s twins Lavonte David & Devin White.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Nick: Penei Sewell, T, Oregon: Joe Burrow got beaten to hell and back in his rookie season. Some Bengals fans will point to the presence of Jonah Williams to explain why they shouldn’t take Sewell. I say move Williams to left guard and have the left side of your line secured for the next decade. Sewell is the best player in this draft. (Please see: Myles Garrett twice a year).
Will: Penei Sewell, T, Oregon: NFL talent evaluators tell me that Penei Sewell is the best offensive line prospect in a generation, and this pick fits a critical need for a rebuilding franchise. If Joe Burrow played a full season, he was on pace to be sacked 51 times in 2021, which would have led the league. The teams that see the greatest development of their young QBs build a fortress around their signal-caller, and that should be the Bengals’ next goal.
6. Miami Dolphins
Will: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: General Manager Chris Grier is playing 3-D chess with the draft process after maneuvering in and out of the Top 10 on Friday with their pair of trades with Philadelphia & San Francisco. The moves still put them in position to make the pick they would have made at three, which gives Tua Tagovailoa his running mate.
Nick: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: Dolphins moved from 3 to 12 then back to 6. They did it to give themselves a shot at the best offensive playmaker in the draft. In Ja’Marr Chase, they get it.
7. Detroit Lions
Nick: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama: I don’t see kneecap-biting Dan Campbell content with a tank year, so I see Detroit building around Jared Goff for now. Kyle Pitts would be a great fit here but top ten tight end hysteria is real and the Lions just lost Kenny Golladay for nothing in free agency. If nothing else this pick will make divisional foe Aaron Rodgers very jelly.
Will: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama: The Detroit Lions come into this offseason as one of the teams furthest away from contention, and their biggest offensive playmaker is a race between D’Andre Swift & Breshad Perriman (a race Swift should win easily, but that’s not the point). Detroit needs someone who can get 15-20 touches per game in the open field including on punts & kickoffs. Waddle could make newly-traded QB Jared Goff’s stats look prettier than they might have been this season.
8. Carolina Panthers
Will: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern: With all of the consensus top four quarterbacks off the board, Carolina goes its next biggest need, a franchise-changing offensive lineman. Slater brings in the flexibility that Scott Fitterer & Matt Rhule seem to crave in their first offseason working together and finally gives the Panthers some stability with their biggest question mark entering the offseason. While this pick could very well be Mac Jones, I’m a believer in Joe Person of The Athletic’s latest report which states the Panthers’ lack of infatuation with the QB talent beyond Lawrence & Wilson.
Nick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: This may be wishful thinking but unless a trade up happens ahead of Carolina, I think there is a decent chance Trey Lance, Justin Fields or both are there at 8. BEST POSSIBLE SCENARIO. The over-analysis on Justin Fields around the NFL has reached embarrassing levels. He checks every physical box you want and has some Cam Newton to his game.
9. Denver Broncos
Nick: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State: Part of me wonders if new GM George Paton pushes the quarterback decision to next year but bringing back Drew Lock for year 3 isn’t going to cut it with Broncos fans, whether Paton drafted him or not. Lance’s lack of experience and year away from the game will scare some folks but watch that North Dakota State tape again. Tremendous physical talent, you just need patience and the right plan with him.
Will: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech: While Mac Jones would be a tantalizing swing for George Paton to make in his first draft calling the shots, it was a whiff at quarterback that led to predecessor John Elway’s demise. Even though the Broncos scooped up Kyle Fuller in free agency, putting Farley on his opposite side beefs up a pretty stout defense at a position that still has needs for Denver. I wouldn’t rule out a trade down here for Denver if they feel like they can get Jones & additional 2021 draft capital and take a corner that way.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Will: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: Cornerback remains the biggest need for the Cowboys heading into the draft, and as the saying goes, “the board fell” to them with this pick of Surtain. If Jerry or Stephen Jones can still run, they should sprint to turn in this draft card. If this team can figure out how to generate a pass rush & handle his contract situation better than they did with Dak Prescott, Surtain should have multiple Pro Bowls when it comes time to lock him up for good in Big D.
Nick: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: Dallas gets a top 5 player in Surtain II with the tenth pick. Caleb Farley & Jaycee Horn run faster but Surtain II is the better football player. Big, physical and he has NFL bloodlines that teams love too. Dallas has spent the offseason building a hodgepodge defensive backfield but Surtain can be a piece of their defensive core for the next decade.
What to look for in 2.0: Nick & Will revise & expand their mocks to include the entire first round of the draft.
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