By MIKE HERNDON
Beside “husband” in the dictionary should just be the word “wrong.”
That gift you got her for her birthday that you thought was perfect/funny? Wrong. That thing you said when she was crying that you thought would take her mind off it? Wrong. The answer you gave when she asked if you remembered who you’re having dinner with next week? Wrong (you do not). Your response when she asked if you remembered to put the clothes in the dryer before you went to bed? Wrong (you did not).
And if you’re a wife or a single person reading this? Well, I’m sure you’ve been wrong at some point in your life, too. Maybe.
As if you and I weren’t wrong enough, weren’t already swimming in a bottomless ocean of wrongness, now we think we’re going to predict what 32 NFL general managers are going to do? Wrong again.
There are two ways to attack an NFL mock draft. You can try to predict what each team will do, or you can suggest what you think they should do. Either way, you’re going to be wrong.
I’ve been mocking drafts for years and the best you can usually hope for is to get the majority of the Top 10 right. Last year, I got seven of the first nine right and would’ve thrown myself a party except we were still in COVID-19 lockdown and that sort of thing would’ve been frowned upon.
If you elect to try to predict what they should do, when you look back in three or four years you will likely find that you were wrong about much of it. NFL GMs aren’t idiots, and they’re wrong a lot of the time too. Projecting what a 22-year-old is going to do when he’s given millions of dollars and told to block Aaron Donald or cover Tyreek Hill is an inexact science.
We can watch film until we’re blue in the face. We can sift through combine results, pro day workouts and 40 times. We can follow every rumor and leaked bit of information from sources within the clubs.
We’re still going to get it wrong. Because:
1. Film only gives you a partial picture of ability, unless you have the time to watch all of it and the expertise to know what you’re looking at. Many of us think we can meet one or both of these conditions. Very few actually do.
2. Measurables don’t necessarily equal ability. If I had a dime for every workout warrior who was out of the league in three years, I’d be on an island somewhere with a cocktail in my hand instead of sitting here writing another mock.
3. NFL sources are going to lie to protect their teams’ interests, and you can’t even blame them for doing so. It’s smokescreen season.
But mocks are fun to do and fun to pick apart. We all like to pretend we’re a GM for a day. And if we’re wrong, our jobs aren’t dependent upon it. So here we go with 2021.
The first day of this year’s draft appears to be deep in quarterbacks, receivers and offensive tackles and light in defensive backs and interior linemen. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is almost guaranteed to go first overall to Jacksonville and the only questions for the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers with the next two picks will be which quarterbacks they prefer.
The Jets ended any speculation about which position they’re targeting by trading Sam Darnold, and BYU’s Zach Wilson is widely thought to be their target at No. 2. The pervasive rumor around the third pick has been that Alabama’s Mac Jones is who the Niners like. But the Vegas line has slowly shifted back toward Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
What I see is two quarterbacks who can make all the requisite throws, who were both very productive in the stat book and on the scoreboard, and who both were fortunate enough to throw from clean pockets a large portion of the time.
The big difference? Fields can make plays happen with his legs and Jones, while not immobile, is less of a threat on the ground. And can you imagine that 49ers ground game with a running threat at quarterback?
I’ll go with Vegas.
The rest of this mock is built on a combination of team needs and value on the board. Don’t like who I’ve got slotted to your team? Tell me who you’d pick. Maybe you’ll be right.
More likely, we’ll both be wrong.
The 2021 mock:
1. Jacksonville – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
2. New York Jets — Zach Wilson, QB. BYU
3. San Francisco — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
4. Atlanta — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
5. Cincinnati — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
6. Miami — J’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
7. Detroit — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
8. Carolina — Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
9. Denver — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
10. Dallas — Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
11. New York Giants — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
12. Philadelphia — DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
13. Los Angeles Chargers — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
14. Minnesota — Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
15. New England — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
16. Arizona — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
17. Las Vegas — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
18. Miami — Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
19. Washington — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
20. Chicago — Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
21. Indianapolis — Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
22. Tennessee — Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
23. New York Jets — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
24. Pittsburgh — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
25. Jacksonville — Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
26. Cleveland — Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
27. Baltimore — Azeez Ojulari, OLB, Georgia
28. New Orleans — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
29. Green Bay — Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
30. Buffalo — Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
31. Baltimore — Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama
32. Tampa Bay — Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU