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A full first round 2021 NFL mock draft

What will the Denver Broncos do if QBs go 1-2-3-4?

The NFL Draft is upon us. There’s little secret about the first two picks, but the last couple of months have made it painfully clear how uncertain the rest of the picks between the 49ers and Broncos will go. Could George Paton grab a quarterback? Perhaps, but the one he likes has to be available.

What follows is my best guess at tonight’s draft selections if Atlanta decides to take the heir to Matt Ryan. If you’ve kept up with my work, you’ll know this is not my favorite scenario.

1.1 Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence - QB - Clemson

This pick has been etched in stone since the Jets won their way out of the first overall pick.

1.2 New York Jets - Zach Wilson - QB - BYU

There remains a slim possibility Joe Douglas shocks the world here, but ever since Ian Rapoport deleted his tweet following the 49ers trade with Miami I’ve been convinced this will be Wilson.

T.1.3 San Francisco 49ers - Trey Lance - QB - NDSU

I suspect we’ll hear about how Mac Jones is a possibility until seconds before the Niners make the pick, because this is Draft season, and the networks would be concerned about their ratings if they didn’t have some sort of compelling QB drama near the top of the draft.

1.4 Atlanta Falcons - Justin Fields - QB - Ohio State

Near the beginning of the month ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Falcons’ decision makers did not agree about the plan at four.

What I’m hearing is that [Terry] Fontenot is more focused on quarterback, and Arthur Smith believes that Matt Ryan does have two or more years left. He has no real medical history, he hasn’t missed many games in his career and there hasn’t been a big drop off in his play.

Since then, we’ve heard how they’ve come together and everyone is on the same page. Most have assumed that means Arthur Smith won out and there’s reason to believe that could be the case. Before Arthur Blank hired Terry Fontenot, he did say he hopes Ryan sticks around going forward, but he also mentioned that it wouldn’t be his decision.

“One of the leading quarterbacks in the last 13 years in the NFL. So I hope he’s gonna be part of our plans going forward. But that will be a decision that I won’t make.”

So it remains possible that the Falcons’ take a long look at the cap situation, the roster, and the competition in the NFC South and decide to pivot toward a long-term plan at four. The fact they’re listening to calls for Julio Jones suggests it’s a possibility.

1.5 Cincinnati Bengals - Ja’Marr Chase - WR - LSU

Bengals fans have been arguing about tackle vs. receiver for what feels like a lifetime now, and there’s no doubt a large chunk will be disappointed here. At the end of the day, Mike Brown is only trying to please one person - his franchise quarterback. I think Burrow has been a steady force pushing for a reunion with his favorite pass catcher.

T.1.6 Miami Dolphins - DeVonta Smith - WR - Alabama

Chris Grier has played the draft about as well as anyone to this point, but the Phish find themselves in a bind here. They’re pretty confident the apple of their eye would be available after Detroit and Carolina, but the Broncos aren’t offering a future first. With the Giants lurking further down the board, Miami takes Smith here to ensure Tua Tagovailoa gets the perfect target to complement his game.

1.7 Detroit Lions - Kyle Pitts - TE? - Florida

Another team that wants to slide back and pick up 2022 ammo, the Lions are left high and dry by the Falcons’ trade. Rather than take a sorry offer to slide back, Brad Holmes grabs who he sees as the best player available. Some mock the pick because Bob Quinn took a first round tight end two years ago, but T.J. Hockenson is not a unicorn.

1.8 Carolina Panthers - Rashawn Slater - OT - Northwestern

Matt Rhule gets “his guy” for left tackle to replace Greg Little, who’s had a disappointing start to his career. Slater gives the Panthers a quick footed technician who will thrive in space and make Sam Darnold’s life easier.

1.9 Denver Broncos - Penei Sewell - OT - Oregon

It’s an open secret the Pats want to go up and get a signal caller, and the Broncos want to move down if their guy isn’t there. Unfortunately, the calls stop coming in when Atlanta makes their pick and Paton finds himself stuck at nine. Without an enticing trade offer, the Broncos select the best tackle prospect in the 2021 class.

1.10 Dallas Cowboys - Patrick Surtain II - CB - Alabama

There’s never been a year where the first defensive player goes so late in the common draft era, but Jerry Jones is all too happy to make history. Surtain gives Dan Quinn immediate help as well as a scheme fit who can lock down CB1 duties going forward.

1.11 New York Giants - Micah Parsons - LB - Penn State

Dave Gettleman turns down a couple trade offers before taking who he believes is a Hall of Fame talent. Parsons will slide in beside Blake Martinez on base downs and factor into the Giants’ pass defense with his ability to blitz.

1.12 Philadelphia Eagles -Jaycee Horn - CB - South Carolina

In the weeks since Howie Roseman slid back to 12, there’s been constant chatter about an effort to jump back into the top 10. While the focus has been on a quarterback, I suspect Philly wants to get ahead of Dallas to select Surtain II. With that out the window, they settle for the next best thing. Horn gives them an alpha dog who can play inside/outside and physically own his assignment from a press alignment.

1.13 Los Angeles Chargers - Christian Darrisaw - OT - Virginia Tech

Trey Pipkins was a feel good story that shouldn’t be protecting Justin Herbert’s blindside, so Tom Telesco ignores a couple phones calls to select the best remaining tackle. Darrisaw will need to refine his raw talent and answer questions about consistent effort, but he’s got the tools to chase Pro Bowl votes.

T.1.14 Tennessee Titans - Jaylen Waddle - WR - Alabama

The Vikings love collecting draft capital and they’re all too happy to give Jon Robinson’s Titans a way to provide Ryan Tannehill some help. Jaylen Waddle’s explosive athleticism complements A.J. Brown and should help to dictate box counts, which only helps Derrick Henry.

1.15 New England Patriots - Zaven Collins - LB - Tulsa

Without Fields or Lance, Belichick instead swings on a supersized heir to groom behind Dont’a Hightower. The hope is the 260-pound backer will become a do-it-all threat with the ability to rush the passer, stonewall blockers, and own the second level.

T.1.16 Chicago Bears - Mac Jones - QB - Alabama

When their trade attempts for Jaylen Waddle fall through, the Cards pivot to plan B and collect assets. Ryan Pace tries to solve his QB-conundrum by throwing picks, money, and the kitchen sink at it. He figures if nothing else, maybe another signal caller can buy him time.

1.17 Las Vegas Raiders - Teven Jenkins - OT - Oklahoma State

After gutting their offensive line, the Raiders acquire a physical presence who can set the tone for Josh Jacobs and the running game. Jenkins’ length will be problematic for some GMs around the league, but Chucky figures he can scheme around it.

1.18 Miami Dolphins - Jaelan Phillips - ED - Miami

Phillips’ injury history holds him out of the top 10, but Grier uses his second first to take a swing on upside. The former Hurricane gives Brian Flores a versatile edge who can win with power, quickness, and comfortably drop into space.

T.1.19 Pittsburgh Steelers - Najee Harris - RB - Alabama

Kevin Colbert isn’t afraid to give away assets to get his guy and the Steelers’ love for Harris may just be the worst kept secret in the Draft. With the Cards and Jets looming, Pittsburgh doesn’t take any chance to ensure Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement tour goes off as smoothly as possible.

T.1.20 Arizona Cardinals - Kwity Paye - ED - Miami

Bringing in J.J. Watt cost the Cards Haason Reddick and while Markus Golden’s return is a nice story, counting on him as more than a complementary piece is foolish. Kwity Paye gives Vance Joseph a freaky athlete who is still figuring out how to win with his hands.

1.21 Indianapolis Colts - Liam Eichenberg - OT - Notre Dame

I don’t care what Chris Ballard says, it’s hard to imagine the Colts willingly leave Carson Wentz’ fate in the hands of Sam Tevi or Julie’n Davenport. Eichenberg’s grip strength, savvy, and balance pair nicely with Quenton Nelson going forward.

T.1.22 Minnesota Vikings - Alijah Vera-Tucker - OL - USC

Last year the Vikes took Ezra Cleveland, a toolsy tackle from Boise State who settled in at guard during his rookie season. With questions hanging over Cleveland’s future home, Vera-Tucker gives Mike Zimmer a scheme fit who can potentially play inside or out.

1.23 New York Jets - Caleb Farley - CB - Virginia Tech

With all the attention on Zach Wilson, it’s been easy to overlook the fact Robert Saleh has no proven contributors in his secondary. The status of Farley’s back makes his immediate role uncertain, but he has the talent and makeup to blossom into the best corner in this class if health luck shines on him.

T.1.24 Washington Football Team - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - LB - Notre Dame

Washington’s tackle situation is pretty dire, but rather than reach in a loaded class Martin Mayhew took a trade and still wound up with the player he’d take at 19. J.O.K. gives Jack Del Rio a rangy second level defender who can clean up behind a very talented defensive front.

1.25 Jacksonville Jaguars - Elijah Moore - WR - Mississippi State

Urban Meyer gets his Percy Harvin and provides Trevor Lawrence with a game-breaking slot receiver who can make the most of the looks his way.

1.26 Cleveland Browns - Joe Tryon - Edge - Washington

While Jadeveon Clowney gives Joe Woods and the Browns a joker who can move around and take advantage of mismatches on third down, he isn’t a true difference maker rushing the passer, which means a hole remains on the roster. Tryon didn’t play in 2020 after opting out, but he offers the kind of physical tools to blossom into the perfect complement to Myles Garrett in time.

1.27 - Baltimore Ravens - Christian Barmore - DL - Alabama

The Ravens’ defensive line is pretty long in the tooth, but talented enough to give Barmore time to put the pieces together early in his career.

1.28 New Orleans Saints - Tyson Campbell - CB - Georgia

Patrick Robinson is 34 years old and certainly isn’t a part of the long-term plans, while Marshon Lattimore’s looming contract status hangs over the cap strapped Saints. With questionable depth in the secondary, Mickey Loomis takes a chance on the former Bulldog who has the long speed and length to survive against the Mike Evans’ of the league as well as the inside/outside versatility to contribute immediately.

1.29 Green Bay Packers - Alex Leatherwood - OT - Alabama

David Bakhtiari’s injury helped to expose the Packers’ lack of depth at tackle in 2020. With Billy Turner quickly approaching the void years on his contract, Green Bay selects a tackle/guard prospect to groom and eventually replace him.

1.30 Buffalo Bills - Travis Etienne - RB - Clemson

Rather than address their issues up front or invest in depth on defense, Brandon Beane falls into the same trap Andy Reid and the Chiefs did a season ago - the idea that their roster doesn’t have any needs. The old school film grinders in Bills Mafia respond by spending Draft night laughing at all the nerds who criticize the move.

T1.31 Baltimore Ravens - Trevon Moehrig - S - TCU

With Alex Leatherwood a Packer, Eric DeCosta and the Ravens swing back toward the defense and add a rangy chess piece to the third level.

1.32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jayson Oweh - ED - Penn State

Zero sacks in 2020. It will be the first thing you hear when his name is called. 4.37 will be the second. That’s his 40 time. He gives the Buccaneers depth behind Jason Pierre Paul and Shaq Barrett and has the tools to develop into a standout.

Your Broncos’ News

Broncos trade a sixth round pick for QB Teddy Bridgewater - Mile High Report

This could change everything.

Stats show Teddy Bridgewater is an upgrade over Drew Lock - Mile High Report

Here’s a comparative look at their stats and ranks from 2020 to show why we should all be happy right now

George Paton: Teddy Bridgewater adds competition and experience - ProFootballTalk

“Acquiring Teddy Bridgewater adds competition, experience and a strong veteran presence to our quarterback room,” Paton said. “He’s a talented player and leader who’s had success in this league in a number of different situations. Being familiar with Teddy from Minnesota, he’s going to compete and do everything he can to help us win.”

Carolina Panthers trade QB Teddy Bridgewater to Denver Broncos

The financial concessions by the Panthers for the 2021 season were key to the deal. The Broncos largely sat out the quarterback derby during free agency, with Paton saying he didn’t want to “force it and bring a guy in or overpay a guy to come in and he’s not as good as the guy we have and maybe he’s not good enough to compete.’’

Denver Broncos 2021 First Round NFL Draft Board - Mile High Report

Who should George Paton consider in the first round?

Denver Broncos 2021 Second Round NFL Draft Board - Mile High Report

Who should George Paton consider in the second round?

Denver Broncos 2021 Third Round NFL Draft Board - Mile High Report

Who should George Paton consider in the third round?

Broncos draft predictions: Who public thinks Denver will pick first in 2021 NFL Draft - DraftKings Nation

Who will the Denver Broncos first pick be in the 2021 NFL Draft? We examine the betting splits over at DraftKings Sportsbook.

If the Broncos stay at 9, it would be tough to pass on Micah Parsons - Mile High Report

Both Rick Lewis and Steve Atwater would be in favor of getting a tough linebacker in the first round.

The ‘No Bull’ Pre-draft Denver Broncos Roster Status - Mile High Report

Looking at the Denver Broncos roster as it stands to see where needs are for the draft that may influence draft day decisions.

The ‘No Bull’ 2021 NFL Draft Preview - Mile High Report

Getting Armchair GM thoughts on what the Denver Broncos 2021 draft may look like

PFF ranks Denver Broncos roster sixth best in NFL ahead of NFL Draft - Mile High Report

The people are Pro Football Focus would have ranked the Denver Broncos roster even higher if not for Drew Lock.

Denver Broncos: George Paton “really happy” with Broncos’ draft preparation - Mile High Report

April 29 is here, and George Paton says they’re excited.

The end of 2021 NFL Draft season is a welcome sight in Broncos Country - Mile High Report

Finally, we will all know what the outcome will be for the Broncos

NFL News

Report: Patriots talked to Falcons about trading up to No. 4, likely to draft Justin Fields - ProFootballTalk

Any team trading up that high would be doing it for a quarterback, and in this case it appears that the quarterback the Patriots love is Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Most projections have Fields still available at No. 4, with Trevor Lawrence going first, Mac Jones going second and either Mac Jones or Trey Lance going third.

Seahawks never had “active negotiations” with any team for Russell Wilson - ProFootballTalk

“You know there was a number of teams that called after that media blitz that happened,” Schneider said. “But, no, I never actively negotiated with anybody, and with any team now. Did people call? Absolutely. I’m not going to get into specific teams. “But no, there was never, ever a conversation you know people think that trade talks happen, you know like, hey, you just start negotiating right away. There’s a lot of calls that are very, very periphery calls, and unless you know you’re dealing with, like, trading a seventh-round pick for a player that may be getting cut or something like that, those happen very quickly. But, no, there was no active negotiations going on.”

Pete Carroll: We plan on Russell Wilson being here for a good while - ProFootballTalk

“Russ has been our quarterback for a good while,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a long contract with him. And when all of the conversation went about trades and all that — I knew what the truth was: We weren’t trading Russell. So we plan on him being here for a good while. I don’t know how many years it is now, but we’re in great shape and a long future ahead of us is shared. Russ knows that. I know that. We’re very clear about it. That’s why it was really obvious that we just had to sit back and kind of let the media take its course with the topic. So we did. So we’re in good shape and both very clear about that.”

DeVonta Smith plans to wear No. 6 in NFL - ProFootballTalk

He added that, if 6 isn’t available, he’ll choose No. 3. The issue of retired numbers won’t matter as to No. 6. However, the team for which he plays may already have issued No. 6 to someone else. Number 3 has been retired by the Bears, Packers, and Chiefs.

Rams hope to keep Darious Williams on long-term deal - ProFootballTalk

“I think it’s obvious that Darious is somebody who you’d love to have be around for a long time,” Rams General Manager Les Snead said, via Jourdan Rodrigue of TheAthletic.com. “We’ll definitely begin having those discussions internally. We’re a little bit tougher now based on the variables you mentioned (about planning for what the cap will do in 2022).

Giants exercise Saquon Barkley’s fifth-year option - ProFootballTalk

Barkley, who was the second overall pick of the 2018 draft, is recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in the second game of the 2020 season. He only mustered 34 yards on 19 carries last season, but had 478 carries for 2,310 yards and 17 touchdowns during his first two seasons.