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See the staff’s picks in the first round

The NFL Wire Network is a collection of 34 blogs (32 team sites, Touchdown Wire and Draft Wire) covering the NFL in a fan-centric manner. Our team of editors and contributors works hard to measure the pulse of the fan and provide timely and thorough content on a 24/7/365 basis.

In a collaborative effort, we made picks for each team in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft (April 29-May 1). Take a look and see who we sent where.

Jacksonville Jaguars — QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After years of watching horrendous football, there may not be a fan base that deserves to watch Lawrence play at their home stadium more than Jacksonville’s. With Darrell Bevell getting the nod to be offensive coordinator, the Jags have an assistant that worked with Russell Wilson as a rookie (and beyond) and had great success. Add in the skill weapons the Jags have in Laviska Shenault, DJ Chark and James Robinson, and it appears Lawrence has a decent chance to be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year like Justin Herbert was in 2020. Jay Johnson, Jaguars Wire

New York Jets — QB Zach Wilson, BYU

(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Just as Lawrence to the Jags has been all but a foregone conclusion for months, the same has felt true of the Jets and Wilson, and for good reason. The BYU star is a perfect fit in Mike LaFleur’s offense, which should look a lot like San Francisco’s. With Wilson locked up here, the Jets will have to find their new franchise quarterback some help with their remaining picks, something they never truly did for Sam Darnold. — Gary Phillips, Jets Wire

San Francisco 49ers — QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

(AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

It’s easy to see why a team would be wary of Lance’s experience. He played only 17 college games at the FCS level and threw just 318 passes. However, the 49ers have the talent to absorb that inexperience and allow him to develop into the elite signal-caller they’ve lacked since Steve Young retired. For Lance, the experience is quality over quantity. At 19 years old, he was handed the keys to the offense of an FCS powerhouse that went on to go undefeated and win a championship. Along the way he was responsible for changing plays at the line, shifting protections, turning his back to the defense on play-action, and a ton of other intangibles that make his pro success easier to project. His physical traits are among the best in this class, and his exceptionally high football IQ makes him a player 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan can help lift into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Atlanta Falcons — TE Kyle Pitts, Florida


Tight ends are not typically selected this early in the draft, but Pitts has game-breaking speed, rare body control and a lengthy, athletic frame that’s drawing comparisons to Hall of Fame WR Calvin Johnson. Quarterback was a possibility here with Georgia native Justin Fields available and Matt Ryan turning 36 this season. With Lance off the board, though, the Falcons instead take the top non-QB prospect and try to maximize on the team’s rapidly closing window. Matt Urben, Falcons Wire

Cincinnati Bengals — WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Bengals can’t afford to pass up a player like Chase this early in the draft. This is a deep, deep offensive line class, so they can add to it later; there isn’t anything close to Chase in the class. He put up 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns on a 21.2 yards-per-catch average with Joe Burrow in 2019. Reuniting the two in an offense that already has a ton of LSU concepts makes too much sense. The Bengals haven’t touched the wideout spot in free agency and need to find a replacement for A.J. Green’s 104 ineffective targets from last year. Like the Ohio kid coming home to Cincinnati last year, this one just writes itself. Chris Roling, Bengals Wire

Miami Dolphins — WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama


The Dolphins’ No. 1 objective this offseason is creating more explosive plays. The team took a step in the right direction with the free-agent signing of wide receiver Will Fuller, but second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is going to need more than one free agent signing to ensure he’s got the support he needs to make a leap in his second year. With Waddle, Miami adds the more explosive of the two Alabama receivers and secures a target who has pre-existing chemistry with Tagovailoa. Waddle’s average distance on 17 career receiving touchdowns? Approximately 45 yards. Now that’s explosive. — Kyle Crabbs, Dolphins Wire

Detroit Lions — OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit is starting over with a new GM, new head coach and new approach. There is pressure for a new regime to nail its first-ever pick, and that means going after the player on the board with the highest ceiling. That’s Sewell, a potentially dominant bookend tackle to pair with Taylor Decker and solve that critical position for years. Sewell is a true “kneecap biter” of a physical presence to appease gung-ho rookie coach Dan Campbell. Having said that, it’s very hard to bypass Justin Fields here. — Jeff Risdon, Lions Wire Check out Ducks Wire

Carolina Panthers — WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina’s biggest loss this offseason was wide receiver Curtis Samuel, who signed with Washington. The Panthers can make up for that here and give Sam Darnold the best possible receiving corps by picking Smith. Concerns about his size seem overblown given Smith’s ridiculous production at the college level. He totaled almost 4,000 receiving yards and 46 touchdowns. — Tim Weaver, Panthers Wire

Denver Broncos — QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

There has been speculation that Denver could trade up for a quarterback, so staying put at No. 9 and still landing Fields is a big win for the Broncos in this mock draft. It’s hard to imagine Fields actually falling that far, but it was also hard to believe Jerry Jeudy could fall to No. 15 last year. Some pundits — including Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling — have Fields ranked as the second-best QB in this year’s class, making this an easy pick for Denver. — Jon Heath, Broncos Wire

Dallas Cowboys — CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys would’ve had no problem grabbing one of the draft’s best offensive weapons if Pitts, Chase or even Waddle were still on the board. Rashawn Slater was a serious consideration as well, but the allure of pairing Surtain with collegiate teammate Trevon Diggs was too strong. Dallas has myriad holes and here, BPAPN (best player available at position of need) fits both the positional need and the best player available parts of the edict to a T. K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

New York Giants — OL Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This pick is really about who wasn’t there. Alabama wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, fellow Crimson Tide cornerback Patrick Surtain II, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts (obviously) and Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell were all taken. The Giants could go edge rusher here, but that lacks value at No. 11. Without a trade down, Slater makes the most sense for a “hog molly”-needy team. He can come in on day one and start at right tackle, adding to the overall depth at the position (Nate Solder, Matt Peart). If the Giants prefer to play him at guard, they could also move him inside, replacing Kevin Zeitler, who was waived in a cap-saving move. — Dan Benton, Giants Wire

Philadelphia Eagles — CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The son of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn has all the production and measurables, but he’s in a system that’s a year removed from being a true fit. With former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and his aggressive scheme, Horn would have likely flourished immediately. He’ll need to improve at playing in space under DC Jonathan Gannon, but there’s no doubt he’s the best defender available for a secondary needing a reboot. Per Pro Football Focus, Horn allowed eight total catches in 239 coverage snaps last season, so he’s outstanding in coverage and his resume against SEC competition makes it hard for Philadelphia to pass on. — Glenn Erby, Eagles Wire

Los Angeles Chargers — OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers could go a variety of ways, but their best bet is to get quarterback Justin Herbert’s long-term blindside blocker. With Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater off the board, Los Angeles goes with the next best tackle available. Darrisaw needs to become a better finisher and play more alert on a consistent basis, but he has excellent ability in pass protection, physicality and mobility in the run game, as well as great size, length and overall experience at the position, projecting as a potential Pro Bowler. — Gavino Borquez, Chargers Wire

Minnesota Vikings — DE Kwity Paye, Michigan

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have some needs to fill in the trenches. At this stage in the draft, Paye is a good mixture of filling a need and being the best player available. He’s explosive and could come in and start right away. With Danielle Hunter presumably returning, Minnesota’s pass rush should improve. However, it’s not a given that Hunter will produce on the level he did in 2018 and 2019, especially if there is not a good edge rusher playing opposite him. Paye could be that edge rusher. Besides Hunter, the best options at defensive end currently on Minnesota’s roster are D.J. Wonnum and Stephen Weatherly. The Vikings should make an upgrade at this position, and the first round is a good time to do so. — Jack White, Vikings Wire

New England Patriots — QB Mac Jones, Alabama

[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

I don’t know what else to do here. If the NFL Wire team is going to tee up Jones for me, I guess I will swing at him. But it’s everyone else’s loss. Have you seen what the anonymous scouts and general managers have been saying? Jones is the smartest player to play the position since Einstein. His character is so strong, Marvel considered casting him for Captain America. He has that Apple computer processing power. His pocket presence resembles that of spare change.” Sorry, dad jokes are done. Anonymous scouts are known to be hyperbolic, so let’s be serious for a quick second. Jones is a Saban product. It’s likely he will thrive in New England’s work-intensive culture, though he does have a blemish on his record with a DUI. Jones, a quick passer and processor, could also thrive in the Patriots’ system (as could all of the quarterbacks who have already gone). And finally, Bill Belichick likes to zig when the NFL zags. If groupthinkers are telling Belichick he must draft a mobile quarterback, then perhaps he’ll exploit a market inefficiency and take one of the best pure pocket-passing prospects in recent memory. Henry McKenna, Patriots Wire

Arizona Cardinals — CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals find themselves without any of their best-case picks. Cornerbacks Parick Surtain and Jaycee Horn were already selected and so were receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. Cornerback is the greatest need the Cardinals have both in the present and long term (only Byron Murphy is under contract in 2022). Farley is an undeniable talent with size, ball skills and elite athleticism. He has to check out medically, but if things are as he has said, this will be a home run pick for Arizona. Jess Root, Cards Wire

Las Vegas Raiders — OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It would be tempting to go defense here for Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden as players such as Micah Parsons and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah are still on the board. However, the Raiders have just too big of a hole at right tackle to ignore. USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker has experience at both tackle and guard in college, but it’s unknown where his best spot might be at in the NFL. He doesn’t have the longest arms, but he is a dominant run blocker who can also pass protect. The Raiders would likely start him at right tackle, but could easily move him inside to guard if he struggles. He is a big-time prospect with elite athleticism and fills their biggest need. — Marcus Mosher, Raiders Wire

Miami Dolphins — LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are seeking more defenders capable of bringing Brian Flores’ defensive vision to life. Collins, a hybrid defender who offers imposing size, great intelligence and effective play in coverage, will be exactly that for a linebacker group that is as desperate for a makeover in 2021 as the team’s wide receiver room was. And, just like wide receiver, Miami will have added a key veteran (Benardrick McKinney) and now Collins as a rookie. Kyle Crabbs, Dolphins Wire

Washington Football Team — LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The most obvious needs here are offensive tackle and linebacker. With Christian Darrisaw off the board, I go with Owusu-Koramoah. His versatility is perfect for Washington’s defense, which needs a playmaking, off-the-ball linebacker. In Ron Rivera’s pre-draft press conference last week, he mentioned versatility from the linebacker position. Owusu-Koramoah fits that to a T. — Bryan Manning, Washington Wire

Chicago Bears — OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

Teven Jenkins Oklahoma State

Teven Jenkins Oklahoma State

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears could go in a few different directions with their first-round pick given several needs on their roster ranging from cornerback to wide receiver. But barring GM Ryan Pace trading up for a top quarterback prospect, Chicago’s best option is to address their need at offensive tackle. Jenkins has experience at both left tackle and right tackle, both of which are needs for the Bears, and he’s someone that could step in right away as a starter for a Bears team with inconsistent tackles in Charles Leno Jr. and Germain Ifedi. —Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire

Indianapolis Colts — EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

Syndication: USA TODAY

If this were the real draft, the Colts would most likely be trading back to the end of the round and hopefully picking up a third-round pick to replace the one they gave up for Carson Wentz. Since we’re staying here, the choice is Ojulari. His explosiveness and length should intrigue the Colts, while his character fits exactly the kind of culture Chris Ballard has built over the years. Edge rusher is the biggest need for the Colts, and even though they don’t draft solely off need, Ojulari is a strong fit and can contribute immediately to a thin position group. Texas offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi was also under consideration here. — Kevin Hickey, Colts Wire

Tennessee Titans — DL Christian Barmore, Alabama

Christian Barmore

Christian Barmore

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the depth at cornerback and wide receiver in this draft, and because of the lack of depth in this year’s interior defensive lineman class, the Titans can wait on both of the aforementioned positions for another round and address their need up front, which was made more dire by the departure of DaQuan Jones to the Carolina Panthers. Barmore has the versatility to line up all over the defensive line and will be a pass-rush upgrade over Jones. He’s the most NFL-ready defensive line prospect in this draft and could contribute from day one. — Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire

New York Jets — CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

Greg Newsome II

Greg Newsome II

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Bless Austin, Bryce Hall and other young corners got a chance to show their skills in New York’s secondary last season, but none proved that he could be a dependable starter. And yet Joe Douglas didn’t sign a single cornerback in free agency. That makes Newsome a no-brainer with this selection. He has a real shot at starting Week 1 and should push Gang Green’s other inexperienced defensive backs. Even with Newsome on board, look for the Jets to target another corner later in the draft. — Gary Phillips, Jets Wire

Pittsburgh Steelers — LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It would have been easy to select a running back like Najee Harris or Travis Etienne here. But Pittsburgh has never been the type of team to pass up a truly elite player who falls in its lap. The Steelers are getting Devin Bush back from a torn ACL, and pairing him up on the inside with Parsons will make an excellent defense even more formidable. Parsons was born for the Steelers’ blitz-heavy scheme, and his ability to line up inside and outside just makes this pick look even better. — Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire Check out Nittany Lions Wire

Jacksonville Jaguars — S Trevon Moehrig, TCU

Trevon Moehrig

Trevon Moehrig

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Jags could really use a defensive lineman here, but with Christian Barmore off the board, Moehrig makes a lot of sense. They addressed safety by signing Rayshawn Jenkins in free agency, but he may be better suited to play close to the line of scrimmage. Moehrig, who most feel is the best safety in this class, would give them a solid option in coverage to pair with what they already have in the secondary. — Jay Johnson, Jags Wire

Cleveland Browns — WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Rashod Bateman

Rashod Bateman

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Bateman doesn’t necessarily fill an immediate need for the Browns, but GM Andrew Berry has preached that the draft is about long-term roster view. And with those eyes, Bateman makes a ton of sense as an eventual starter on the outside who can also step right in and contribute as a rookie with his well-polished receiving skills. With the way this board played out, he is good value for a team without any urgent first-round needs that can be met here. —Jeff Risdon, Browns Wire

Baltimore Ravens — WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU

Terrace Marshall Jr

Terrace Marshall Jr

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

It would have been nice if the Ravens were able to snag Rashod Bateman, but with the Browns taking him one pick before, Baltimore takes the next best receiver available in Terrace Marshall Jr. out of LSU. Marshall is a big-bodied target that can play both outside or in the slot, and would open up the Ravens’ offense in a big way. A group of Marshall, Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins would give Baltimore a nice trio at the wide receiver position, and would certainly help the Ravens pass the football better than they did in 2020. Marshall uses his frame to his advantage, attacks the football, and has deceptive speed, all traits that Baltimore can use at the receiver position. Kevin Oestreicher, Ravens Wire

New Orleans Saints — DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

(Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

The top cornerbacks and linebackers are off the board, so the Saints are going after Miami pass rusher Jaelan Phillips. Phillips put up one of the best pro day workouts we’ve seen in years, which followed an outstanding 2020 season that saw the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder rack up nine sacks in seven games. He’ll push for first-string snaps immediately in the rotation with Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, helping replace Trey Hendrickson (the Saints’ sacks leader last year who left for the Bengals in free agency). Phillips was available here only because of his injury history, but his game tape proves he is worth the risk. — John Sigler, Saints Wire

Green Bay Packers — OL Alex Leatherwood, Alabama

Alex Leatherwood

Alex Leatherwood

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Second-tier receivers and cornerbacks were still available, but the Packers go with Leatherwood to ensure the offensive line remains a high-level unit in 2021 and beyond. A left tackle at Alabama, Leatherwood could slot in at right guard or right tackle as a rookie and help the Packers replace All-Pro center Corey Linsley among the starting five. In this scenario, the Packers could play Lucas Patrick or Elgton Jenkins at center and have either Leatherwood or Billy Turner eventually play guard. Leatherwood tested well, and his experience and versatility will be attractive to Green Bay. His floor is high. And his ceiling is as a 10-year starter at either tackle spot. — Zach Kruse, Packers Wire

Buffalo Bills — LB Jayson Oweh, Penn State

Jayson Oweh

Jayson Oweh

Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

While the Bills don’t have a glaring need, their pass rush is an area where the team has openly attempted to, and failed at, trying to improve this offseason. It’s unlikely that Jayson Oweh will enter the lineup in 2021 and make an immediate impact, however, the Bills are set up in a way where the raw prospect can be given time to fill into his 6-foot-5 frame and get accustomed to the pros. Buffalo did the same with A.J. Epenesa last year and down the stretch he started to see more playing time on Sean McDermott’s defensive line rotation. If Oweh and Epenesa can use 2021 to grow, the Bills might be set for the foreseeable future in an area they’ve struggled to solidify in recent memory. — Nick Wojton, Bills Wire Check out Nittany Lions Wire

Kansas City Chiefs — EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington

Joe Tryon

Joe Tryon

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

This really felt like a worst-case scenario type of mock draft for the Chiefs. All of the top tier tackles, receivers and corners are off the board. The pick could easily be Dillon Radunz or Liam Eichenberg at this spot, but I didn’t want to press for a tackle. Instead, I sought to improve the one position on the defensive side of the ball that was sorely lacking last season. Adding a third player who can consistently get to the quarterback alongside Frank Clark and Chris Jones will open things up on defense. Tryon is fairly raw as a player, but he has intriguing size, quickness and athleticism. His motor doesn’t quit, which is something that will definitely get the respect of Steve Spagnuolo and Brendan Daly. — Charles Goldman, Chiefs Wire

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — RB Najee’ Harris, Alabama

Najee Harris

Najee Harris

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the Bucs already have Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette. Yes, they just signed Giovani Bernard. Yes, they spent a third-round pick on Ke’Shawn Vaughn just last year. But only Vaughn is under contract past the 2021 season, and none of those four is talented enough to warrant passing up a prospect like Harris. The Bucs are still in win-now mode as they look to repeat as Super Bowl champs, and there’s nobody else on the board who helps them achieve that goal like Harris would. His rare combination of size, athleticism and versatility would give the Bucs a weapon they simply don’t have on the roster right now, and that’s a scary thought for anyone who wants to stop Tom Brady from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for a second straight year. — Luke Easterling, Bucs Wire





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