With the NFL Draft set to kick off in a few hours, it’s time for a “better late than never” six-pack of bold predictions.
Not Many Trades on Day 1
Last year, the NFL Draft saw four trades go down on Day 1, and I expect about the same this year. To be clear, we’re talking specifically about trades happening during the first round of the draft, which doesn’t include the whole 49ers/Eagles/Dolphins trades that already happened.
This year, the QB situation is already figured out for 1-2-3 overall with Lawrence, Wilson and Mac Jones or Trey Lance, respectively. At that juncture, you won’t see the Falcons move down and pass up on a stud in Kyle Pitts, or the Bengals pass up on a chance to draft Jamar Chase or Penei Sewell. At that juncture, it can get a little fuzzy. If the Bengals go Sewell, then Miami undoubtedly goes Chase; however, if the Bengals go Chase… Miami is likely looking to trade down with a QB-hungry team (Pats?)
There’s ONE trade.
Should the 4th QB run off the board by the 6th pick, I’d imagine one of the other QB-needy teams will be racing to move up for whichever QB is left (Lance/Fields/Jones).
There’s TWO trades.
At that point, there’s not many players worth moving up for in this draft that don’t have a 1B version who is available later in the round. If EDGE is the fancy, it’s Phillips… Paye… then the next three to five EDGE rushers aren’t much different in value. Same for wideout once you get beyond the top three. Maybe somebody makes a play for Christian Darrisaw or Caleb Farley (despite his back issues) and possibly a team moves back up into Round 1… which brings us to four trades once again.
Five Wideouts Go Off The Board In Round 1
We all know the big three of Chase, Waddle and Smith will be long gone, but who else?
I’ve got Bateman going in the 17-22 range (sorry, Ravens fans) and Elijah Moore as WR5 in the final four picks. Kadarius Toney and Terrace Marshall Jr. have some intrigue, but I don’t think Toney finds a team willing to pull the Round 1 trigger, and TMJ’s injury history that’s popped up (nothing major, just a bunch of minor stuff) is enough to cause pause for teams.
I do think we’ll see an early WR run on Day 2, much like in the 2020 draft, but we’ll save those notes for tomorrow!
The EDGE Run Comes Late
There’s no secret that this draft class has no true high-end, sure-shot EDGE players. As I see it, Kwitty Paye and Jaelan Phillips are the clear-cut top options, then it’s anybody’s guess who goes next. Jason Oweh has traits but lacks production… Zaven Collins is a true tweener… Greg Rousseau had a flash-in-the-pan 2019 before sitting out 2020… Azeez Ojulari had some injury concerns pop up…
It becomes a true crapshoot beyond Phillips and Paye.
So with that in mind, coupled with how many Quarterbacks, Offensive Tackles, Wideouts and Cornerbacks we’ll see go early? It only makes sense that we’ll see the run on EDGE defenders much later than we’re used to seeing. I still think we see 5-6 players off the board at the position tonight, but the bulk should be after pick 20.
Boogie Basham & Creed Humphrey Find Their Way Into Round 1
A quick off-shoot of the last note, but I always like to identify one or two players that I think sneak into the first, despite there being little hype around them.
Because it always happens!
This year, I’m looking at Boogie Basham and Creed Humphrey. Basham is widely viewed as a mid-second round player who falls into the mix of the next wave of EDGE defenders with Peyton Turner, Joseph Ossai, Ronnie Perkins, etc. To me, Basham is another one of those players whose flashes outweigh his concerns, and I think it’s a mental game for him – if he gets his head on straight and figures out how to stop taking off plays? He could be an absolute stud, and I think some team will see that and strut to the podium for the former Demon Deacon late in Round 1.
Humphrey has been mocked aplenty in that 40-55 range, and it’s been a 1A/1B discussion with Humphrey and Landon Dickerson; however, with Dickerson’s extensive injury history, Humphrey really rockets himself to the top Center in this class. A team specifically looking for a starting Center (looking at you, Baltimore) could easily make the leap to take Humphrey in Round One.
Half Of The ‘Mock Locks” Don’t Happen
This is sort of an ‘out of the box’ thought here, but let’s look outside of the ‘Trevor Lawrence to the Jags’, and ‘Zach Wilson to the Jets’ arena.
There’s been about six or so other player-to-team locks that we’ve seen work the mock drafts steadily in the last few weeks. Clearly not every mock, but the lion’s share for sure. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Kyle Pitts to the Falcons
Jaelan Phillips to the Fins
Tevin Jenkins to the Bears
Mac Jones to the 49ers
Penei Sewell to the Bengals
Elijah Moore to the Titans
Najee Harris to the Steelers
Some of these will happen, but I’d be willing to bet more than half of these ‘locks’ never materialize.
The Falcons could opt to trade down and leave Pitts on the board, Phillips’ injury history could scare Miami (the ‘bring him home’ chants down there are similar to Ravens fans whenever there’s a local favorite free agent), the 49ers could go with Lance or Fields, the Bengals could opt to go with Chase to reunite with Joe Burrow, the Titans may want more pass rush instead of another wideout (how funny would it be if they went Friermuth here?!), the Steelers might be wise and draft OL help instead of a running back…
Heavily mocked for sure, but there’s a ton of logic behind most of these picks not coming to fruition.
The Ravens Moves At 27 & 31
I’m firmly married to the idea that Baltimore is going to trade pick 27 – not 31 – as there’s far more value in that pick than 31. A team wanting to get ahead of Green Bay, Buffalo, New Orleans and Tampa Bay – teams who share some similar needs – could create a better ROI for the Ravens trading that pick than if they trade 31. If Caleb Farley is falling down draft boards? The Ravens could lure the right team to pick up the star corner before the Saints. A big time EDGE option that the Ravens aren’t enamored with? Get it quick before Buffalo does! Running back could go the same way, and possibly wide receiver if the Ravens aren’t keen on that position early on (could you imagine trading 27 when Rashod Bateman is sitting there??)
I like trading down to Pick 40 overall (second round) with the Broncos as they move up for QB5 after opting not to go QB earlier in the first. In turn, the Ravens pick up a Round 3 pick (while having to sacrifice a Day 3 pick to make it work).
As for the pick at 31? I’m going Creed Humphrey here. I think the Offensive Tackles will be slim pickins at this point, as will the EDGE bodies (although Boogie Basham is my backup here). Humphrey gives the Ravens a plug & play Center to help bolster an Offensive Line that Eric DeCosta swore he’d improve this offseason.
That’s it for Round 1 predictions, I’ll see y’all tomorrow for Day Two predictions!