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 Brentley Weissman’s Mock Draft 5.0 and walked through some of the most significant picks.
Best Value: San Francisco 49ers select Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
It’s rare to see Surtain slip beyond the Broncos at No. 9, the Cowboys at No. 10, and the Giants at No. 11—but that’s the slate of teams behind which the 49ers currently find themselves waiting. Surtain is a clear-cut top-two cornerback in this class, and with essentially no corners under contract in 2021, the 49ers’ biggest need is at outside corner.
The only need you could argue above that is quarterback, as the 49ers are players in the current QB trade markets. Assuming they’re able to bring in a competitor to Jimmy Garoppolo via trade, Surtain is literally the ideal option come draft day. Big win.
Biggest Surprise: Buffalo Bills select Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
I definitely think Harris would help Buffalo. He’s better than their incumbent options in Zack Moss and Devin Singletary, each third-round picks from the last two drafts. He’s a great receiving option, so even though the Bills don’t run the ball much under Brian Daboll, he’ll bring value on passing downs—and he has an excellent build for pass protection to boot.
I just don’t think he helps them enough. Not enough to justify the first-round pick, at least. The Bills really don’t run the football, they have two young running backs in the building, and they have some pretty significant needs in the defensive back seven. Buffalo’s offense is Super Bowl ready—it’s the defense that needs extra juice for a final push over the hump. With players like Nick Bolton, Eric Stokes, and Greg Newsome II all still available at this stage, I’d like to see the Bills go that way.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: Cincinnati Bengals select Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
It seems like every week, there’s a new Kyle Pitts landing spot that’s a ton of fun. For such a versatile player as this, there isn’t a team in the league in which Pitts couldn’t somehow find a way to be useful. So why not just mock him everywhere?
In this case, it’s easy to see how Pitts makes the Bengals immediately and impactfully better. In the heavy quick-game offense that the Bengals employed last season with Joe Burrow at the helm, Pitts’ quick wins off the line of scrimmage and elite catch radius give him the necessary tools to become a high-volume target. Bonus points for being able to line up in the slot, out wide, and in-line—all with success.
I’m not sold that the Bengals need a new “Target 1.” A spread-the-wealth offense makes sense with their approach, so they may not get elite value out of any pass-catcher at No. 5 overall—but if it’s Pitts, he can be a 100-plus target guy immediately.
Head Scratcher: New England Patriots select Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
I think Jones has a pretty good shot to end up a first-round pick, but No. 15 is high, and New England particularly is a weird spot for him. With Brady in hand over the last two decades, they’ve spent picks on Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett to try and develop Day 2 quarterbacks into successors. Now they immediately jump at the fifth quarterback in this talented class at No. 15 without any of the necessary infrastructure to develop that young player?
Jones was great for the Crimson Tide this year, but he benefited from an elite cadre of pass-catchers to target. The Patriots don’t have that available and should address that issue before they add a low-ceiling passer with a precious first-round pick.
Best of the Rest: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Only four wide receivers were taken in this first-round mock, which is about as low as you’ll see at this time of year. The second tier of wide receivers is a tricky one, with Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, Florida’s Kadarius Toney, LSU’s Terrace Marshall, and Purdue’s Rondale Moore all representing potential first-round picks as Day 1 winds down. With only Bateman going in this mock, I’d imagine that Toney—as well as Marshall and Moore, if the latter’s medicals check out—would be some of the first picks made on Day 2.