There’s 61 days until the opening round of the NFL Draft, which makes this the perfect opportunity to take a way-too-early stab at how it will go. Keep in mind that a lot can change between now and then. With free agency standing between us and the big night along with a couple trades that could drastically shift the plans, this is bound to be wrong somewhere.
Who are we kidding though, you just want to see who your team will pick.
1.1 Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence - QB - Clemson
Urban Meyer came out of retirement to coach him, leaving a cushy job at ESPN behind. We know who’s going first overall, which is just one reason why the arguments about Zach Wilson vs. Trevor Lawrence is mostly posturing.
1.2 New York Jets - Zach Wilson - QB - BYU
The Jets have a couple of interesting options in front of them with this pick. The Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak has raised concerns about Wilson’s fit in the type of offense New York looks set to run, but I don’t think that will stop this pick. Wilson resets the contract clock at QB and Joe Douglas can look to move Sam Darnold for an additional pick.
T.1.3 Houston Texans - Justin Fields - QB - Ohio State
The move doesn’t happen until New York selects Wilson because the Texans’ front office is dead set on Fields. The Miami Dolphins give Houston their original first round pick back in order to secure the services of Deshaun Watson.
T.1.4 New England Patriots - Trey Lance - QB - NDSU
The Falcons are currently $20 million over what the cap could potentially land on in one worse case scenario. Even if the ceiling is significantly higher than than Over the Cap currently projects, they need to find a way to shed money and add talent. With Lance, Pitts, and Sewell on the board, they find a way to move the pick and collect extra ammo. Bill Belichick moves up to get “a younger version of Cam Newton” to learn behind the original.
1.5 Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell - OT - Oregon
While the Bengals selected Jonah Williams out of Alabama in 2019, they don’t hesitate to add what many draft analysts have called a generational tackle prospect. Sewell isn’t perfect, but he gives Zac Taylor a valuable chip in building better protection for Joe Burrow.
1.6 Philadelphia Eagles - Kyle Pitts - TE - Florida
Philly has one of the worst cap situations in the league and will probably have needs across the roster by Draft day. Rather than chase a quarterback, Howie Roseman elects to give Jalen Hurts a chance. Pitts is the kind of hybrid tight end who should develop into a blue chip player and foundational part of Nick Sirianni’s offense.
1.7 Detroit Lions - Ja’Marr Chase - WR - LSU
Lost amid the noise about how the Lions picked up extra picks for Jared Goff is the fact it behooves them to evaluate him in 2021. The best way for Detroit’s new regime to do so is to franchise Kenny Golladay and provide their new quarterback with weapons.
1.8 Carolina Panthers - Caleb Farley - CB - Virginia Tech
After months sweating out Deshaun Watson and floating Teddy Bridgewater as a trade chip, the Panthers are left with broken dreams. Rather than panic and trade for Tua Tagovailoa, Matt Rhule leans on his job security and adds what he hopes is a future CB1 to his secondary. Carolina showed a willingness to gamble on tools last year with the belief that their coaching staff can develop them. Farley has elite athletic gifts.
1.9 Denver Broncos - Micah Parsons - LB - Penn State
George Paton and the Denver Broncos are left in a bit of a pickle without Trey Lance to leverage in a “trade down” situation or Caleb Farley to fit into the Fangio defense. Left without a dance partner, the Broncos go with the best player on their board. Micah Parsons enters camp as an immediate upgrade over Josey Jewell and a potential replacement for Alexander Johnson in pressure packages down the road.
1.10 Dallas Cowboys - Patrick Surtain II - CB - Alabama
With Dak Prescott’s franchise tag forcing Jerry Jones to cut costs across the roster, he’s relieved when his CB1 falls to Big D. With a litany of issues across the defense, the hope is that Surtain can once again pair with Trevon Diggs in order to become an elite eraser.
1.11 New York Giants - Rawshawn Slater - OL - Northwestern
Dave Gettleman has never traded down in the NFL Draft and he doesn’t plan to start in 2021. Instead, the Giants add to the trenches to help both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. Slater enters camp set to learn behind and push Cameron Fleming, as well as potentially replace Nate Solder in 2022.
1.12 San Francisco 49ers - Jaycee Horn - CB - South Carolina
With Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, and Ahkello Witherspoon set to depart, there’s a dire need for John Lynch to address the boundary corner. With DeMeco Ryans scheduled to take over for Robert Saleh, there’s reason to believe the Gamecock would be a hand-in-glove scheme fit and could eventually grow into a top tier CB1.
1.13 Los Angeles Chargers - Alijah Vera-Tucker - OL - USC
After signing a couple former Rams to provide immediate help to the defense, Brandon Staley looks to save his young quarterback. One of the unsung parts about Justin Herbert’s success as a rookie was how good he looked under duress. Odds are this isn’t a sustainable thing and in order for him to continue his ascent to the top of the QB pecking order he’ll need better protection. Joe Lombardi’s return to coordinating comes after years with a Saints franchise that does not undervalue interior protection. Vera-Tucker played left tackle at a very high level for the Trojans and could also serve as an immediate upgrade at guard.
T.1.14 Pittsburgh Steelers - Mac Jones - QB - Alabama
The Vikings leverage Mac Jones into a way down the board. With their backs against the cap, Rick Spielman once again moves to acquire more rookie contracts. On the other side of the phone, Kevin Colbert shoots his shot to get ahead of a second wave of QB-needy times to secure his long-term replacement for Ben Roethlisberger.
T.1.15 Atlanta Falcons - Kwity Paye - Edge - Michigan
Outside of Grady Jarrett, the Falcons mostly struggled to create pressure a season ago and Dante Fowler is likely gone in 2022. While there’s concerns over Paye’s ability to beat tackles consistently in the league, Dean Peas has made hay with less talented pass rushers. The freaky Wolverine becomes an inside/outside threat in Atlanta’s scheme.
1.16 Arizona Cardinals - Teven Jenkins - OT - Oklahoma State
Two years ago, Kliff Kingsbury joined the NFL as an offensive savant and enters his third season needing to prove it. With the 31-year-old Kelvin Beachum a free agent and limited cap space to retain or replace him, Arizona likely sets its sights on the draft. Jenkins gives them a powerful right tackle who has the mobility to get to the second level and wreck smaller defenders on screens.
1.17 Las Vegas Raiders - Jaylen Waddle - WR - Alabama
Like many general managers on this list, Mike Mayock is at the mercy of the cap ceiling if he wants to address any immediate needs on his roster. Vegas has gaps across their defense and could simply go “best defender available” here, but I suspect if the board falls as it has, Jon Gruden would grab a pass catcher from Nick Sabana’s receiver factory. Waddle’s medicals will need to check out but he’d give Carr a Nelson Agholor replacement.
1.18 Miami Dolphins - Devonta Smith - WR - Alabama
Much like they did with cornerback in 2020, Chris Grier’s strategy to attack receiver in free agency as well as the draft pays off when his WR1 slides down the board. Smith syncs with Allen Robinson, DeVante Parker, and Mike Gesicki to give Watson a dangerous supporting cast made to shred defenses with.
1.19 Washington - Samuel Cosmi - OT - Texas
Without a viable rookie passer, Martin Mayhew works to erect a wall for Taylor Heinicke. The football team has taken a couple of swings at tackle prospects in recent years and remain set to count on the ageless Morgan Moses in 2021. Cosmi should quickly compete with Geron Christian to start.
T.1.20 Houston Texans - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - LB - Notre Dame
By the time Ryan Pace picks, there are multiple reports that he didn’t so much as call about a trade up for one of the five rookie quarterbacks. It isn’t until Rodger Goodell announces there has been a trade that Adam Schefter reports Tua Tagovailoa will start for the 2021 Chicago Bears. With his second first round pick Jack Easterby swings on a Will for Lovie.
1.21 Indianapolis Colts - Liam Eichenberg - OT - Notre Dame
With Anthony Castanzo’s retirement after 10 seasons, Chris Ballard has a pressing need at left tackle and only a couple of great options to replace him in free agency. After losing the battle for Trent Williams, he elects to take a road grading Golden Domer to play beside Quenton Nelson.
1.22 Tennessee Titans - Gregory Rousseau - Edge - Miami
The Titans have painfully little wiggle room against the current cap projections and look set to lose a slew of veterans. While it didn’t pan out, the gamble on Jadeveon Clowney made a lot more sense than over drafting Isaiah Wilson, but both moves lead to the same problem in 2021: the Titans are capped out and bleeding talent. Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel take another swing on upside to give the pass rush more punch.
1.23 New York Jets - Travis Etienne - RB - Clemson
One thing that makes the Jets so hard to predict is that they have more cap space than everyone but Jacksonville right now. With an off-season out from under the cloud of Adam Gase, Joe Douglas has the ability to really put his stamp on the roster by playing into the depth of the market at defensive back and receiver. The former Tiger adds an explosive element the 100-year-old Frank Gore can’t.
T.1.24 Minnesota Vikings - Christian Darrisaw - OT - Virginia Tech
After sliding down the board, Spielman watches as the replacement for Riley Reiff falls right into his lap. The defensive line will have to wait until the day two. Minny’s general manager hasn’t held this job since 2012 because he reaches on immediate needs, right?
1.25 Jacksonville Jaguars - Christian Barmore - DL - Alabama
Jacksonville is another team that could go in a million directions because they won’t be hamstrung by their cap situation. With Joe Cullen calling the shots on defense, it looks like one of the spots the Jags may have trouble patching on the market is along the defensive line. Barmore’s played up and down the line for the Crimson Tide and could become a disruptive pass rusher as he adds to his repertoire.
1.26 Cleveland Browns - Azeez Ojulari - Edge - Georgia
If Von Miller hits the open market or J.J. Watt signs in Cleveland, this pick could look stupid, but I don’t expect either future Hall of Famer to move to Ohio. Rather than overpay for a Yannick Ngakoue, Andrew Berry picks up a versatile Bulldog who can give Joe Woods more flexibility with his front.
1.27 - Baltimore Ravens - Jaelen Phillips - Edge - Miami
With the flexibility set to go a number of directions in free agency, Eric Decosta chooses to provide Lamar Jackson a proven security blanket and underrated perimeter blocker in Corey Davis over paying out the nose for one of his free agent edge rushers. Left with a rather pressing need along the edge, Baltimore trusts its medical staff and takes a gamble on who some consider the most talented pass rusher in this class.
1.28 New Orleans Saints - Trevon Moehrig - S - TCU
The Saints roster is going to look very different once Mickey Loomis is done trimming fat and manipulating contracts to comply with the 2021 cap. Brees’ departure means a trial year for Taysom Hill unless Jameis Winston returns for cheap. With the kind of job security to invest in the long-term payout, Sean Payton brings in a versatile Horned Frog who can develop into a Swiss Army knife in time.
1.29 Green Bay Packers - Zaven Collins - LB - Tulsa
The clock is ticking on Aaron Rodgers’ time in Title Town and Brian Gutekunst has to balance his payroll with a championship window this off-season. The Pack’s new defensive coordinator has experience in a variety of systems over his career but was hired because of Matt LaFleur’s affinity for the Brandon Staley/Vic Fangio defense. He will need more from his off ball linebackers and Collins is a freakish athlete who can play in space, blitz, and blow up an opposing rushing attack.
1.30 Buffalo Bills - Jalen Mayfield - OT - Michigan
The Daryl Williams gamble was widely panned last season, only to look like another brilliant decision by Brandon Beane. Unfortunately, Williams played so well that he should have suitors on the market who will overlook his injury history. Rather than overpay, the Bills bring back Ty Nsekhe to play if a rookie needs time.
1.31 Kansas City Chiefs - Terrace Marshall Jr. - WR - LSU
Brett Leach has to be among those who pray the NFL’s new TV deal can bail his team out of jail. If the cap lands around the OTC estimate, Kansas City is looking at a painful situation in which they need to shed $20 million. With Sammy Watkins set to depart and potentially tough decisions ahead for Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Fisher, the Chiefs could go a number of ways here. Andy Reid heads back to the LSU well and grabs a weapon for Patrick Mahomes.
1.32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Najee Harris - RB - Alabama
The Bucs are going to have a heck of a time keeping their core together after winning the Super Bowl. Odds are Jason Licht is forced to prioritize and it’ll leave holes that lead to some angry fans when the dust settles on a 230 lb. bowling ball in pewter and grey. Harris is the kind of workhorse that can also serve as a reliable check down target for Tom Brady.
Your Broncos’ News
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The current story from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal includes the NFL’s quote calling the report “incorrect.” However, Ourand maintains that a “broad agreement” has been reached between the league and Disney on a new deal for Monday Night Football. Ourand adds that the “[c]ontracts have not been signed,” but that a deal is close.
The deal has not been signed yet, but it is expected to come with a price tag between $2.4 and $2.6 billion per year. The earlier report indicated the league was looking for as much as $3.5 billion and the previous deal called for Disney to pay $2 billion a year for media rights.
“I was kind of caught off guard myself. But looking back at it, Russ isn’t going anywhere,” Wright said Friday on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “As long as I’m going to be in Seattle, Russ is going to be the quarterback. He means too much to us. He means way too much to this organization. He means way too much to the city. Usually people want to come to Seattle, not leave Seattle. And so I’m sure that he and the organization will get things figured out. He’s somebody that I admire and love playing with. So I expect Russ to be a Seahawk for a very long time.”
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Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot’s front-office staff must find a way to add players to the 39 on their current roster and trim $20 million from salaries.