Consensus doesn’t shape a draft. In fact, the opposite does. Chaos reigns because every team not only evaluates players differently, but various schemes prioritize traits in meaningfully different ways. To try and smooth out some of the rough edges in terms of projecting what is most likely to happen though, we can look to how the majority of people feel about a player to find realistic landing spots. There will always be reaches and draft fallers, sometimes for reasons that never become clear. But it can help fans see where their team might have options in the draft.
Arif Hasan over at The Athletic puts together the consensus board every year and while the NFL draft never follows the crowd, this offers a nice roadmap for where we can expect guys to be going. So using that board, we did a mock draft to see where teams could be identifying players who both fit their team needs and sit in the proper value range.
If a team didn’t have a player who matched both, we looked for a trade-down, or in the case of the blockbuster trade, a quarterback-needy team read the room and took their shot.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
We’ve reached, “Let’s overthink it” season with Lawrence. He’s going No. 1. He’s the best prospect since Andrew Luck (at least) and maybe Jo
2. New York Jets — Kyle Wilson, QB, BYU
The consensus board actually has Fields a spot ahead of Wilson, but they’re close enough and we believe to a near degree of certainty Wilson will be the pick, so let’s not ball the whole process up. They’re really close. The Jets prefer Wilson. The end.
3. San Francisco 49ers — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Do not let the Chris Simms smokescreens fool you. I’m not buying that it’s Mac Jones. Fields is the consensus QB2 and tailormade for the Shanahan offense, plus he has a pre-existing relationship with Fields. This fits.
4. *Trade* Denver Broncos f/Atlanta Falcons — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Adam Schefter has said for weeks he thinks it’s four quarterbacks in the top 4. The buzz from Atlanta has the new GM in favor of the quarterback while the new coach wants the position player. Rather than fight that battle, the Falcons take advantage of a team that wanted to be in on Matthew Stafford and Sam Darnold but couldn’t get it done. Lance stays in the mountains and will have a chance to be the quarterback Drew Lock hasn’t been.
5. Cincinnati Bengals — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The No. 2 prospect in the draft who plays a position of dire need supersedes the pass-catcher desires from Bengals fans. Joe Burrow can’t throw to anyone from his back and there will be excellent pass catchers still available at the top of Round 2.
6. Miami Dolphins — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Theoretically, the Dolphins traded back up to they could grab one of Sewell, Pitts, or Ja’Marr Chase at this spot. With at least three and maybe four quarterbacks expected to go, that tracks and in this scenario they get the best position player in the draft by consensus.
7. Detroit Lions — Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
When you trade for a quarterback who has accuracy issues, it’s nice to pair with him a quarterback who can go up, over, and through defensive backs to snag off-target throws. Give Jared Goff a downfield weapon like Chase and this offense might actually be OK.
8. Carolina Panthers — Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
With the top two players left on the board receivers, the Panthers take a step in protecting new quarterback Sam Darnold so he can throw to the quality stable of pass-catchers already in house. Slater didn’t play last year, but he can play guard or tackle for the Panthers and keep Darnold from seeing ghosts.
9. Atlanta Falcons f/Broncos — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Sure, the Falcons pass on the chance to draft Kyle Pitts, but they add future picks (presumably a first and more) to get the best defensive player in the draft. Parsons offers truly unique athletic traits at linebacker where he could have a Devin White-esque career path early.
10. Dallas Cowboys — Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
The most obvious fit in the draft in terms of position and need. Should they have taken Jalen Ramsey instead of Ezekiel Elliott and/or paid Byron Jones instead of Elliott? Sure. But they can take the safest cornerback in the draft now and let him try to stabilize the defense even if it likely won’t be in Year 1.
11. New York Giants — DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Lately Dave Gettleman can’t keep a poker face. The scuttlebutt around the players he’s liked as Giants GM end up donning the Big Blue. Luckily, in this case, Smith is right there with Jaylen Waddle as the two best players left on the board right next to each other. Waddle is a tick higher, but with Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton in the building already, sticking Smith in the slot looks appealing.
12. Philadelphia Eagles — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Three straight ‘Bama players off the board as Philly snags WR2 based on the big board. New coach Nick Sirianni comes from Indianapolis where they built an offense around an undersized speed receiver and Waddle’s playmaking after the catch is truly special.
13. Los Angeles Chargers — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
How can Brandon Staley watch Horn at South Carolina and not start getting ideas about the next Jalen Ramsey? The Chargers could use a left tackle to protect Justin Herbert, but Horn is the last of the elite cornerbacks, at least those who don’t have significant health questions. He’s a press-man corner, but Staley is smart enough not to put a square peg into a round zone scheme.
14. Minnesota Vikings — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Mike Zimmer pushes hard for Kwity Paye in this spot, the best player on the board, but ultimately the need at tackle looms too large. An inability to block for Kirk Cousins doomed the Vikings last year, plus they used free agency to address some of the glaring needs on the defense with Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson.
15. New England Patriots — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
This is another slam dunk. Bill Belichick loved Jimmy Garoppolo, so why not draft the guy whose pocket movement has drawn comparisons to Tom Brady, and who physically profiles like Jimmy G? The top guys likely won’t fall into a range where the Hoodie will be comfortable trading up for them (a thing he never does), so Jones winds up here.
16. Arizona Cardinals — Alijah Vera-Trucker, OL, USC
Keep pouring resources into protecting Kyler Murray. Arizona revamped its roster with older, veteran players, but the offensive line isn’t the place to rely on those guys with Murray set to be the quarterback for a long time. Vera-Tucker could play guard or tackle and with 2020 third-round pick Josh Jones a potential future starter at tackle, slots in as a potential Pro Bowl guard prospect.
17. Las Vegas Raiders — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, S/LB, Notre Dame
After pouring resources into the middle-of-the-field defense and getting little return last offseason, the Raiders return to the well. Paye was the best player left on the board, but they just used a top-10 pick on the disappointing Clelin Ferrell, then signed Yannick Ngakoue. He’s ideally suited to play the K.J. Wright role in Gus Bradley’s Seattle-tree defense.
18. Miami Dolphins — Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Paye doesn’t fit perfectly into a 3-4 defense as a stand-up edge, but profiles similarly to versatile edge players Bill Belichick liked to draft in New England. This team desperately needs edge rush and while this isn’t a terrific class, the best player on the board by a decent margin falls to them. Easy call.
19. Washington Football — Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
With the best players left edge rushers and corners, where Washington already allocated considerable resources, they instead take one of the best cover players in the draft who isn’t a corner. The investment in Landon Collins hasn’t paid off, but he could be a perfect fit next to the ball-hawking Moehrig who made more plays on the ball than any DB in college football the last two seasons.
20. Chicago Bears — Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Helping Andy Dalton means keeping him clean. Jenkins can step in right away at right tackle to protect Dalton against guys like Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. Presumably Chicago would like to get a receiver early with the uncertain future of Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, but based on this board, any of the available guys would be a reach here.
21. Indianapolis Colts — Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech
There’s nothing Chris Ballard loves more than a distressed asset. NFL Network’s Peter Schrager recently said the medicals came back well enough on Farley’s back for teams to feel “OK” about it, but given the strength of the top two guys at the position, he’ll likely fall. This feels like a potential trade-up spot for a team like Green Bay as well, but given the board, they can be patient.
22. Tennessee Titans — Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)
This spot holds the Titans hostage a little bit because there isn’t great value here for them with the best two players on the board at edge where Tennessee has players they like, but these edge guys aren’t sexy enough to attract much attention for teams hoping to move up. Still, Mike Vrabel knows he has to beat teams like the Chiefs and Bills in the playoffs and a team can never have too much pass rush.
23. New York Jets — Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
New coach Robert Saleh gets his guy after giving Mike LaFleur his. Ojulari’s wingspan and length make up for his lack of ideal height, and guess what? He can learn from the master of leverage and hand placement in free agent signing Carl Lawson.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers — Najeh Harris, RB, Alabama
An inability to run the ball last year, mixed with Ben Roethlisberger’s deteriorating physical skills, doomed this Pittsburgh offense. I’m almost never a fan of getting a running back in the first, but considering how awesome these defense has been, Pittsburgh might be able to afford the luxury here. Greg Newsome II is a sneaky pick here though with Steven Nelson out as is offensive line, but the value wasn’t there at this spot. Alex Leatherwood would make sense.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars — Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Urban Meyer’s Ravens-tree defensive coordinator Joe Cullen has been cagey about what kind of front the Jaguars will play in 2021, using buzzwords like “multiple,” ever DC uses in his introductory press conference. If they’re going to play any 3-4, they don’t really have a guy who can feasibly play the nose. Barmore can, plus he can be a 1-gap, penetrating type when they’d want him to be.
26. *Trade* Green Bay Packers, Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Green Bay takes advantage of the Browns’ analytics-forward approach, offers a meager compensation to move three spots (let’s say picks 135 and 173) to take a cornerback absolutely tailor-made for their defense. It would be tempting to stick and pick at 29 for Green Bay with Rashod Bateman, Kadarius Toney and Terrace Marshall also all still on the board, but Brian Gutekunst loves to be aggressive and with 10 picks, Green Bay has the ammunition.
27. Baltimore Ravens — Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Speaking of Bateman, Baltimore finds a true WR1 to pair with the speed of Hollywood Brown. Bateman’s route running evinces images of Keenan Allen or Davante Adams, high praise to be sure, but worthy for a player like Bateman. He can be Lamar Jackson’s best friend as a one-cut winner who can make plays after the catch.
28. New Orleans Saints — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Surprisingly, Toney checks in ahead of Marshall as the next receiver in the class and the second-best overall player. With not-Drew Brees at quarterback the Saints will have to win even more with receiver talent than on timing and accuracy. Toney offers that big-play, run-after-catch punch with enough deep speed to test teams from the slot.
29. Cleveland Browns f/ Packers — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Pure value play here. Cleveland gets some picks and takes a player they could have taken at 26 anyway. The Browns lack glaring weaknesses except at linebacker and while Collins may not profile as the athletic freak most teams prefer in the NFL, he’s a versatile, productive linebacker who could come in an play a role for the Browns.
30. Buffalo Bills — Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
One of the most absurd athletes we’ve ever seen at the position goes to Buffalo where he can learn from Jerry Hughes while he develops those physical tools. Coach Sean McDermott might prefer another cornerback here, but there’s no great value and Oweh’s physical upside would be too much to pass up.
31. Kansas City Chiefs — Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
A bit of a reach based on the board, but the tackle situation in Kansas City warrants the move, particularly in this case with a ready-made Day 1 starter. Leatherwood could play left or right tackle for the Chiefs right away and while a guy like Terrace Marshall would be tempting, they can find some receivers on Day 2 to backfill the Sammy Watkins spot.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
Rousseau didn’t play last year, but could come in slowly for the Bucs, learn from guys like Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett, while developing in a secondary pass-rush role in Todd Bowles defense. He didn’t test superlatively, but the size and production are there with him.
33. Jaguars — Landon Dickerson, iOL, Alabama
34. Jets — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
35. Falcons — Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
36. Dolphins — Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
37. Eagles — Samuel Cosmi, OL, Texas
38. Bengals — Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
39. Panthers — Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
40. Broncos — Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
41. Lions — Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
42. Giants — Creed Humphrey, iOL, Oklahoma
43. 49ers — Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
44. Cowboys — Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
45. Trade Dolphins* — Dillon Radunz, OL, North Dakota State
46. Patriots — Levi Onwuzurike, iDL, Washington
47. Chargers — Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
48. Raiders — Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
49. Cardinals — Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
50. Jaguars f/ Dolphins* — Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
51. Washington — Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
52. Bears — Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon
53. Titans — Richie Grant, S, Central Florida
54. Colts — Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
55. Steelers — Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
56. Seattle Seahawks — Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
57. Los Angeles Rams — Elijah Molden, DB, Washington
58. Ravens — Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma
59. Browns — Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
60. Saints — Daviyon Nixon, iDL, Iowa
61. Bills — Aaron Robinson, DB, Central Florida
62. Packers — Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
63. Chiefs — Jabrill Cox, LB, LSU
64. Bucs — Quinn Meinerz, iOL, Wisconsin-Whitewater
65. Jaguars — Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
66. Jets — Aman-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
67. Texans — Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston
68. Falcons — Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
69. Bengals — Jackson Carman, OL, Clemson
70. Eagles — Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
71. Broncos — Josh Myers, iOL, Ohio State
72. Lions — Trey Smith, iOL, Tennessee
73. Panthers — Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
74. WFT — Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
75. Cowboys — Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State
76. Giants — Alim NcNeill, iDL, North Carolina State
77. Chargers — D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
78. Vikings — Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
79. Raiders — Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
80. Raiders — Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
81. Dolphins — Amari Rodgers, WR/RB, Clemson
82. WFT — Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
83. Bears — Tommy Togiai, iDL, Ohio State
84. Eagles — Jay Tufele, iDL, USC
85. Titans — Kenneth Gainwell, RB/WR, Memphis
86. Jets — Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
87. Steelers — Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame
88. Rams — Brady Christensen, OT, BYU
89. Browns — Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
90. Vikings — Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (FL)
91. Browns — Walker Little, OT Stanford
92. Packers — Milton Williams, iDL, Louisiana Tech
93. Bills — Aaron Banks, iOL, Notre Dame
94. Chiefs — Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
95. Buccaneers — Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
96. Patriots — Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
97. Chargers — Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami (FL)
98. Saints — Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana
99. Cowboys — Tyler Shelvin, iDL, LSU
100. Titans — James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati
101. Lions — Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pitt
102. 49ers — Kendrick Green, iOL, Illinois
103. Rams — Patrick Jones, EDGE, Pitt
104. Ravens — Ben Cleveland, iOL, Georgia
105. Saints — Davis Mills, QB, Stanford