The 2020 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror. That means it’s time to start looking forward. With *only* 11 months until the 2021 draft, Luke Inman takes his first stab at the picks — and the draft order.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Put it this way, if the Jaguars are picking No. 1 overall we have our answer about Gardner Minshew. Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect we’ve seen come out since Andrew Luck. And with back-to-back drafts with multiple first-round picks the Jaguars could go from worst to first in a hurry.
2) Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
You won’t find a better written script in Hollywood. One of the best college quarterback-wide receiver combos of all time team back up for the sequel. Bengals fans finally have a reason to get their popcorn ready.
3) Washington Redskins: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Dwayne Haskins has shown enough promise to push more chips into the middle of the table. Surrounding him with proper protection will only make him better. Sewell is an absolute monster who has starting NFL left tackle traits written all over him.
4) Detroit Lions: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Does anyone else feel bad for Matthew Stafford? One of the most under-appreciated signal callers of this generation due to a highly dysfunctional franchise that never was able to properly build a playoff team around him. Stafford will be soon forced to tutor the future in Detroit in Fields before skipping around the league his final few seasons.
5) Miami Dolphins: Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
The Dolphins kicked some serious ass in the 2020 NFL draft and look to do the same in 2021 thanks to two first-round picks (via the Houston Texans for Laremy Tunsil). After redshirting Tua Tagovailoa this offense will walk out two young and ultra-talented playmakers next season. Ross is long and lanky with speed to be a threat at every part of the field, giving the Dolphins passing game a shot of life for the first time in a decade.
6) Atlanta Falcons: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
I don’t care if the Falcons just drafted cornerback A.J. Terrell in round one of 2020. Between Jeffrey Okudah, Damon Arnette and now Wade the Ohio State Buckeyes are about to produce three top flight cover corners into the league. And after what we saw last year I’ve got a strong hunch Wade is going to wind up the best of the bunch, giving Dan Quinn’s defense a young duo to build around for years.
7) Carolina Panthers: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
New head coach Matt Rhule set the tone by using nearly every single pick on defense in 2020, and there’s a good chance that theme continues. After losing one of the best linebackers of the decade in Luke Kuechly to retirement, Rhule looks for a smooth transition with Parsons who has the instincts and movement skills of a Pro Bowl player.
8) New York Giants: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
The first physical freak of the lot lands in the big apple as all 6’7″ of Rousseau and his 15.5 sacks as a freshman cement him inside the top-10 picks on potential and high ceiling alone. Dave Gettleman lives in the trenches and will be more than happy to take a shot on this high-upside edge rusher.
9) New York Jets: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
10) Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Surtain Jr., CB, Alabama
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has gotten to open more than his fair share of presents after building his offense with guys like Kyler Murray, Josh Jones and Deandre Hopkins. Now, he looks to build a defense that can help him close out those high scoring games thanks to a revamped secondary with Surtain Jr. and this year’s top-10 selection Isaiah Simmons.
11) Chicago Bears: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
When he joined me on The Draft Rap podcast, Dane Brugler of The Athletic said Holland will be one of the biggest playmakers in the entire nation in 2020. While Matt Nagy continues to play musical chairs at quarterback at least Bears fans can take solace knowing their defense will still be one of the best of the NFC once again.
12) Denver Broncos: Marvin Wilson, DT, FSU
The Broncos and John Elway had one of my favorite draft hauls of 2020. However, they are still likely to go through some growing pains with sophomore quarterback Drew Lock. Adding Wilson into the front-seven mix with Bradley Chubb and Von Miller is a dangerous mix for opposing quarterbacks moving forward.
13) Indianapolis Colts: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
By the time we get to the 2021 draft it’s likely a third quarterback will have cemented himself behind Lawrence and Fields, putting a team like the Colts in play to finally land their future signal caller. For now, however, the Colts settle for the best tight-end of the class. Had he been eligible to come out in 2020 Freiermuth would’ve easily been the first of his peers taken with the athleticism to line up all over the field and offer scary versatility for any offense.
14) Los Angeles Chargers: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
When aren’t the Chargers in need of more pass protection up front? Now more than ever after drafting Justin Herbert with their top-10 pick, who will need the proper blocking and clean pocket to excel in the NFL.
15) Cleveland Browns: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
My spidey senses are tingling as I’m expecting a bounce-back year by Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense. Moses helps replenish the team’s linebacking unit in a big way on the other side of the ball. Before his ACL injury, Moses looked like one of the best defensemen in the entire country for Alabama.
16) Jacksonville Jaguars (Via LA Rams): Creed Humphrey, OG, Oklahoma
It was a surprise to hear Humphrey was set to return for his final season for the Sooners after many had him pegged to be off the board by the end of round one. Having said that, the Jaguars quickly build an efficient pass protection unit for Trevor Lawrence with Humphrey on the inside and Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor as the bookend tackles of the future.
17) Las Vegas Raiders: Talanoa Hufanga, SS, USC
Hufanga just screams “Gruden Grinder” all over him as one of the most aggressive defenders you’ll see on the field this season. This dude is always around the ball making splash plays and will help everyone around him play better. The Raiders quietly have assembled one of the better young rosters in the league and now are forced to wait and see if Derek Carr can put it all together.
18) New England Patriots: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Patriots have no choice but to keep trying to land a big-time wideout they can mold into a true No. 1 receiver. Bateman has the goods after averaging a ridiculous 20 yards per catch and looking unrecoverable when the ball was in the air against any competition.
19) Miami Dolphins (Via Houston Texans): Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
The biggest wild-card of the list, Bolton is the player most haven’t heard about yet, but they will. An outstanding read-and-react linebacker who thrives in pass coverage — something teams will put heavy stock into and push him up their boards — with the ability to cover running backs and tight ends. Even with the addition of Kyle Van Noy, coach Brian Flores can’t help himself to add Bolton’s outstanding potential as a three-down linebacker.
20) Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Eagles are on deck for one of the worst salary cap situations of any team next offseason and will likely be forced to cut ties with Alshon Jeffery and Desean Jackson, meaning Smith and Jalen Raegor will be asked to carry the torches for Doug Pederson‘s high octane offense. Someday soon we’ll look back and wonder in amazement how Alabama’s top-four wide outs were Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and Smith.
21) Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
This dude was a treat to watch when he tore up the Big Ten conference as a true freshman. I don’t care if it’s Rodgers or Love, whoever is throwing passes to Moore will have an easy gig.
22) Buffalo Bills: Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee
Teams will make sure the medicals are clean on Smith after a wild ride on the IR that threatened his career altogether. When he returned, however, Smith looked strong and dominant and every bit worth the price of admission for a first-round pick.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
While Mike Zimmer takes his new crop of 15 draft picks and goes through a “mini rebuild” on defense in 2020, Rick Spielman fills the final piece of the offensive line puzzle with Cosmi. While he may lack strength now, Cosmi has great play speed and quickness, fitting the mold of a terrific Gary Kubiak zone scheme blocker. After focusing on the offensive line for four straight drafts, Vikings fans finally can rest easy knowing Kirk Cousins has the proper time and protection in the pocket to thrive and maximize his best attributes.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers: Walker Little, OT, Stanford
The Steelers desperately needed to add to their offensive line in 2020 and failed to do so with no first-round pick (traded to Miami for Minkah Fitzpatrick). Landing Little would be an ideal scenario after he was pegged to be one of the cleaner tackle prospects to enter the draft class had he decided to come out a year prior.
25) Tennessee Titans: Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU
You couldn’t watch an LSU game and not see Shelvin stick out in a big way on defense. Shelvin has to become more polished but has the size and tools to be a key disruptor in Mike Vrabel‘s defense.
26) Dallas Cowboys: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The moment he stepped onto the field for the Gators, Pitts excelled and became the team’s go-to weapon. Now, Dak Prescott gets another toy at his disposal in what is quickly shaping up to be one of the most explosive and dynamic offenses you’ll find in the NFC.
27) Seattle Seahawks: Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
With freaky numbers already, Basham lead his defense with nearly 20 tackles for loss and over 10 sacks thanks to his high-end motor and big boy hands. Pete Carroll will fall for him at the end of round one after failing to bring back Jadeveon Clowney.
28) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Etienne would’ve likely been the first tailback selected had he come out in 2020 as easily one of the fastest and most explosive players in the country with the ball in his hands. With one year in the books Tom Brady and the Bucs scoop up Etienne to help take some of the pressure off Bruce Arians‘ passing game.
29) New Orleans Saints: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
If anyone is going to punch Lance’s train ticket into a first-round prospect you know it’s going to be Sean Payton. Lance has put up video game numbers for the Bison and some say has the touch, accuracy and scrambling ability to be better than his mentor Carson Wentz. With Drew Brees on his last fight don’t be surprised to see Payton find his quarterback of the future he wants to get a head start grooming.
30) Kansas City Chiefs: Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
The Chiefs are always in play for an offensive lineman on day one under Andy Reid. However, Molden will help the defense and secondary close out those high scoring games late in the fourth quarter. You can never have enough good cover cornerbacks anymore.
31) San Francisco 49ers: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Let me reiterate the same for the 49ers who currently boast one of the finest rosters top-to-bottom you will find. But adding more depth, youth and talent into the cornerback room is always a smart option, especially when teams try to spread you out with four and five wideouts.
32) Baltimore Ravens: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
The 2020 defending Super Bowl champion Ravens make a strength even stronger after plugging in another freaky athlete into their offensive system for Lamar Jackson and the running game to feed off of.