Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on their Super Bowl win—and of course, the Kansas City Chiefs, on their better draft positioning. But now that the NFL postseason is officially over, there’s no debating it: It’s draft season.
Here at The Draft Network, you can read a new mock draft every Monday and see my review of each mock afterward, with second and third round updates coming later in the week. If you want to do your own mock draft for your favorite team, open our Mock Draft Machine and take control of the reins yourself!
I sat down with Kyle Crabbs’ Mock Draft 5.0 and walked through some of the most significant picks.
Best Value: New England Patriots select Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This is the best non-QB outcome for the Patriots. Their offensive coaching staff knows how to use tight ends well, the receiver room has room for triple-digit targets, and their quarterback—whoever it is—is going to need a catch-point playmaker to generate explosives. Enter Kyle Pitts.
Tight end value is a tricky conversation, but if Pitts projects as a 100-plus target player—which I think is reasonable in the Patriots’ offense—then he’s a wide receiver-like player in practice. I think the value is worthy.
Biggest Surprise: Panthers trade for Sam Darnold
It’s no secret that the Panthers are being aggressive on the quarterback market. They made the second-best deal for Matt Stafford and are rumored to be sitting on a huge DeShaun Watson trade package, if the moment arises.
And when you’re aggressive on the market and don’t end up with your prized targets? Well, you tend to make some bad decisions. For example, trading capital for Sam Darnold as your starting quarterback.
Darnold probably isn’t a better player than Teddy Bridgewater, who is already under contract for the Panthers. Sure, the ceiling is higher, but I’d rather hold onto those picks for a potential move in the 2021 offseason and live with another year of Bridgewater instead of chasing ghosts with Darnold.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Christian Barmore, iDL, Alabama
I’ve been pretty rigid on the offensive tackle approach for the Buccaneers, but Donovan Smith actually played pretty well down the stretch there—his game against Kansas City was perhaps the best he’s played this season. When I don’t go offensive tackle, I like to go running back—but again, Leonard Fournette played pretty well there.
Both are on the table—good Super Bowl performances shouldn’t make or break free agent deals—but if the Buccaneers have to make a tough call, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them let defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh walk in free agency. They already have their stud interior player in Vita Vea, so Suh can go command high figures elsewhere. Christian Barmore is a good rotation player in Year 1 as he works out the kinks—by Year 2 or 3 is when you expect him to start dominating as a starter.
Head Scratcher: Colts trade up for Mac Jones
The quarterback caution of Chris Ballard is bordering on legendary at this point. The Colts were soft on the Stafford market and seem to be soft on the Wentz market as well. They didn’t make an aggressive move at quarterback after they suddenly lost Andrew Luck to retirement, and it seems like Philip Rivers’ retirement won’t be any different. They’re gonna be quiet.
What about the draft? There was rumored interest in Jordan Love last season—but they traded the No. 13 overall pick for DeForest Buckner and never traded up from 34. This year, at No. 21 overall, they’re largely out of range of the top quarterbacks in the draft.
Will Mac Jones really be the player that Ballard falls for? Perhaps. Jones is a good decision-maker and polished pocket manager, which would work for a rookie passer in a competing offense like Indianapolis. His deep ball is pretty, too. But is he talented enough to break the Ballard seal and start the clock with a trade-up quarterback prospect on whom there’ll be heavy pressure? I’m not sure.
Best of the Rest: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
Joseph Ossai is a tricky player to spot, given his versatile performance at Texas and a projection based largely on athleticism. With that said, in a soft EDGE class, it’s tough to imagine the league passing on an outside rusher with this much natural ability. I think he ends up being a top-30 pick.