Some of the buzz from the first round of the NFL draft was zapped two weekends ago.
During a flurry of three trades, the top of the draft board was drastically reshaped, with one of the Buffalo Bills’ AFC East rivals heavily involved in the action.
The Miami Dolphins started by moving out of the No. 3 overall selection, trading down to No. 12 overall with the San Francisco 49ers moving up nine spots – and giving up two future first-round draft picks to do so. The Dolphins then moved back up the board, trading the No. 12 pick and a future first-rounder to Philadelphia for the No. 6 pick later this month.
All that movement solidifies a couple things. No. 1, the Dolphins are likely sticking with Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback. It wouldn’t make sense to move out of the top three if they were considering a change. No. 2, quarterbacks now have a very good chance of going 1-2-3. The only question in that regard centers on the New York Jets with the second pick.
With the first round having been shaken up so drastically, it’s a good time for The Buffalo News’ third mock draft of the spring, forecasting what might happen when the first round begins April 29 and continuing through the Buffalo Bills’ other two selections in the first 100 picks.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson. The Jaguars can watch all the chaos behind them, content with making Lawrence the first pick.
2. New York Jets. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU. After the Jets traded Sam Darnold to Carolina this week, GM Joe Douglas was asked if the team was leaning toward taking a quarterback with the No. 2 pick. “I would say that’s a fair assessment,” he responded. It seems Wilson will be that quarterback.
3. San Francisco 49ers (trade with Miami). Mac Jones, QB, Alabama. We know the 49ers traded up for a quarterback. We also know they must love at least three of the top prospects at the position this year to make such a move. What we don’t know is which three. There is plenty of buzz, though, that Jones is their target.
4. Atlanta Falcons. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida. Pitts is poised to become the highest-drafted tight end since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The Denver Broncos took Riley Odoms No. 5 overall in 1972.
5. Cincinnati Bengals. Penei Sewall, LT, Oregon. A trade down is a possibility if a quarterback-desperate team makes a big offer, but if not, the Bengals would do well to stay put and take a potential franchise left tackle to put in front of quarterback Joe Burrow.
6. Miami Dolphins. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU. It’s possible the Dolphins reunite Tagovailoa with one of his Alabama receivers – either Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith – but Chase seems to have separated himself ever so slightly as the consensus No. 1 receiver in the class.
7. Detroit Lions. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama. The Lions lost both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. in free agency, so this fills a big need and gives new quarterback Jared Goff some help.
8. New England Patriots (projected trade with Carolina). Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State. After their spending spree in free agency, it feels like the Patriots are going to be ultra aggressive in trying to rebuild things under Bill Belichick. A move up the trade board to get Lance would fit right in with that idea.
9. Denver Broncos. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State. It’s hard to imagine John Elway being satisfied with Drew Lock as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. If Fields lasts this long, it's hard to see how the Broncos pass.
10. Dallas Cowboys. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama. Make it three straight members of the Crimson Tide to round out the top 10, with Surtain becoming the first defensive player off the board.
11. New York Giants. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama. Why not another Alabama player? The only concern about the Heisman Trophy winner is his size – Smith is listed at 175 pounds.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami). Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech. While the Eagles are bummed to have missed out on the top three receivers, it’s a deep class and Philadelphia has 11 draft picks, most in the league this year. There will be chances to add a receiver later. Drafting a potential top-flight cornerback is a good fall-back plan.
13. Los Angeles Chargers. Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern. There is some doubt about where Slater will play in the pros, but the Chargers can use an upgrade just about anywhere in front of promising young quarterback Justin Herbert.
14. Minnesota Vikings. Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, Southern Cal. The Vikings need help across the offensive line, which makes Vera-Tucker a good fit given his versatility.
15. Carolina Panthers (projected trade with New England). Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State. The Panthers got their quarterback of the future in their move for Darnold, so moving down and accumulating draft picks is a sound move. Getting Parsons, a three-down linebacker who can play in all situations, is another one.
16. Arizona Cardinals. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina. One of the risers of the pre-draft process, Horn recently moved up seven spots on NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s list of top 50 available players. The Cardinals moved on from Patrick Peterson this offseason.
17. Las Vegas Raiders. Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan. The Raiders seem to always fall in love with measurables and athleticism, and Paye has both of those in bunches.
18. Miami Dolphins. Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami (Fla.). The Dolphins don’t have to look far for help off the edge. Miami traded old friend Shaq Lawson this offseason, so its pass rush could use a boost.
19. Washington Football Team. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech. Washington seems like a team poised to trade up for a quarterback or, potentially, down given that its biggest defensive need – linebacker – can be filled later in the first round. If it stays put, Darrisaw is a potential starter along the offensive line.
20. Chicago Bears. Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida. Another team that could get left off the quarterback carousel, the Bears figure to be active in trying to move up. If they can’t, Toney can be a versatile weapon to pair with Allen Robinson, which gives quarterback Andy Dalton some quality receivers.
21. Indianapolis Colts. Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami (Fla.). The Colts lost the underrated Denico Autry and have not re-signed Justin Houston, so there is a need to get younger off the edge. Phillips has some injury concerns, but performed well at Miami’s pro day.
22. Tennessee Titans. Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State. Samuel ran well at FSU's pro day, answering questions about his speed.
23. New York Jets. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson. Etienne scored a ridiculous 78 touchdowns from scrimmage in college. This scenario would disappoint some Bills fans who hope Etienne lasts until No. 30.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers. Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State. Jenkins plays with an edge. The Steelers need to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright. A running back is a possibility here, but the better play would be to rebuild the offensive line.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars. Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan. It makes sense to get protection for Lawrence. If Etienne gets by the Jets, he might also be a possibility to stay with his college quarterback.
26. Cleveland Browns. Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky. Another riser in months leading up to the draft, Davis has the potential to play all three downs for the Browns.
27. Baltimore Ravens. Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia. The Ravens lost both Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free agency, so bolstering the pass rush is a need. Wide receiver will also be a consideration, as it seemingly is every year for the Ravens.
28. New Orleans Saints. Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern. Playing against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers twice a year means having quality cornerbacks is a requirement. Newsome has just 18 college starts, so experience is a bit of a concern.
29. Green Bay Packers. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame. The Packers continue to troll quarterback Aaron Rodgers by once again failing to draft a wide receiver in the first round for him. Hey, at least they aren’t drafting a quarterback, like they did last year.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (projected trade with the Buffalo Bills). Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU. Not seeing any player who jumps off the board for them, the Bills slide down three spots to the first pick of the second round and swap a fifth-round pick for the first pick of the fourth-round round in this scenario.
31. Kansas City Chiefs. Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame. After releasing both Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher this offseason, the Chiefs are in the process of significantly rebuilding their offensive line.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa. The Super Bowl champions add a versatile defender who can fill a variety of different roles until defensive coordinator Todd Bowles determines where he fits best.
33. Buffalo Bills (second round) Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington. The big benefit here is that General Manager Brandon Beane gets an entire day to listen to trade offers after teams reset their draft boards after the first round. Perhaps that leads to another trade down if some team blows Beane away with an offer. Tryon opted out of the 2020 season, so it’s expected he’ll need some time to adapt to the pro game. The Bills can give him that with Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison as starting defensive ends. Tryon’s 2019 season showed his potential. He had 41 tackles, including 12.5 for loss, and eight sacks in 13 games.
61. Buffalo Bills (second round). Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma. The Bills will need space under the salary cap in coming seasons when quarterback Josh Allen gets his contract extension. One way that will be created is by moving on from high-priced veterans. One of those is center Mitch Morse, who reworked his contract to stick around in 2021. The Bills might be ready to move on in 2022, though, and Humphrey would be able to provide depth as a rookie before taking over the following season.
93. Buffalo Bills (third round). Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford. Adebo is another player who opted out of the 2020 season. He was a back-to-back, All-Pac-12 first-team selection in 2018 and ’19, though, and recorded eight interceptions over that time. As a redshirt freshman in 2018, he tied for the FBS lead with 20 passes defensed. Adebo could compete with Levi Wallace for the starting job opposite Tre’Davious White.
As for pick 106 acquired from Jacksonville, that’s an ideal trade chip, perhaps in a deal for Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz.