Jones Rises, Tide Falls in Jeremiah Mock Draft 3.0
In the eyes of many, the idea that Alabama quarterback Mac Jones could the first Crimson Tide prospect selected in the 2021 NFL Draft would be met with cruel laughter. However, since the Miami Dolphins shook up the entire top-half of the draft order with trades with the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles, rumor circles are alive with the thought that Jones could be headed to the Bay Area with the third overall pick.
Still, with all the shaking up those two trades did for the excitement of the draft, the ripple effect didn't seem to help the rest of the Crimson Tide stars expecting to hear their names come April 29.
NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah released his third mock draft of the offseason Tuesday morning, featuring five Crimson Tide alumni. Jeremiah stresses before diving into the picks that his mock is based off of what he is led to believe teams will do in the first round, rather than what he believes they should do.
In other words, Jeremiah compiled his resources and based this mock on what he's heard from teams, sources and prospects rather than his own player projections. Though NFL teams are not above fooling even the most respected of draft analysts, there is much to be taken seriously with Jeremiah's latest mock draft.
Though we sit just a bit over three weeks away from the NFL Draft being officially opened by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, there are signs pointing in a negative direction for the stars Crimson Tide fans cheered throughout the 2020 season.
Still, with five names in the first 32 picks, there's still plenty to be excited for. Lets take a look at how Jeremiah sees the first round shaking out and what it means for those selected and those waiting an extra 24 hours to find an NFL home.
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3rd-Overall: San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones, QB
Smokescreen or not, the bulk of NFL insiders are adamant that this is the landing spot for the most accurate quarterback in college football history. Jeremiah agrees, even if Jones is the 32nd-ranked player overall on his board and admits he's "surprised" the 49ers traded up to select him.
Jeremiah has spoken highly of Jones in the past, though, and is the furthest thing from a hater when it comes to the "Joker." However, for Jeremiah to pencil Jones's name in at number three is a strong indicator that Jones will play in 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan's quarterback-friendly offense.
Jones would have ample opportunity to succeed in San Fran as the heir-apparent to Jimmy Garoppolo. The offense relies on outside zone runs and play action passes that can hide Jones's "shortcomings" as an athlete.
11th-Overall: New York Giants: DeVonta Smith, WR
Jeremiah praises DeVonta Smith as "the best route-runner in the class," but that doesn't prevent the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner from falling out of the top-10 selections nor from being the third pass-catcher selected.
Smith's stock has taken a stumble lately as more teams fall in love with Florida TE Kyle Pitts and LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase. Whether it's due to his size or his age, it seems more and more likely that the "Slim Reaper" won't be harvested from the draft pool until the double digit picks begin.
The benefit to this landing spot, however, is Smith won't be the immediate number-one target for the New York Giants as he'll be paired up with free agent signing Kenny Golladay. That'll free up some space for Smith to get comfortable at the next level.
The negative will be his quarterback Daniel Jones, who still hasn't proven to be the long-term answer for the blue side of New York football. Maybe with guys like Smitty, Golladay and a returning Saquon Barkley that could change.
12th-Overall: Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Surtain II, CB
Philadelphia traded down from six to 12 and may have found some serious value at cornerback in the process. The Eagles have long needed help at wide receiver and at cornerback. Though the trade back took the top receiving threats out of the discussion here, the top cornerback in the draft remains.
Surtain would pair with Darius Slay, one of the top shutdown corners in the NFL, thus removing the pressure to follow every team's top threat, including Dallas's Amari Cooper twice a year.
Surtain has long been fitted between the 9th and 12th picks and so his value is at a premium here. He's one of the few Crimson Tide prospects to see very little fluctuation in his draft stock this offseason.
16th-Overall: Arizona Cardinals: Jaylen Waddle, WR
One of the more surprising selections in this mock draft, Jeremiah called this pick a "big-time steal." Waddle hasn't been seen this low on a major analyst's mock draft since the draft order was set in February.
While Waddle would certainly be lethally entertaining in Arizona's air raid passing attack, this is where a lack of trades in Jeremiah's mock draft begins to stick out.
While it isn't inconceivable that Waddle could be the receiver to slip into the latter half of the first round, it's very much not expected to happen. Personally, I don't buy this one. But, if Jeremiah is right and Waddle falls, don't expect him to make it past Arizona. Kliff Kingsbury loves dynamic wideouts.
29th-Overall: Green Bay Packers: Landon Dickerson, C
After Alabama's first pro day, I asked Daniel Jeremiah what he thought of Landon Dickerson. His analysis of this pick was basically his answer then:
"Dickerson is the best pure interior offensive lineman available. I thought he might fall out of the first round after his ACL injury..." Jeremiah said before referring to Dickerson's cartwheels at the second pro day as an indicator that Dickerson's knee is probably just fine.
As the draft draws more and more near, it appears Dickerson is in a prime position to hear his name in the late stages of round one. While the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are the most notable teams in that range that need centers, Jeremiah has Dickerson fall to the Packers here at 29.
Dickerson's playstyle certainly mashes up with blue-collar reputation of the Green Bay organization. There's no denying that Green Bay is one of the best fits for Dickerson at the next level.
Though five players being selected in the first round is a serious feat for any college football program, it does fall short of the imaginative goal for many Crimson Tide fans that watch the NFL Draft closely, which is tying or breaking the Miami Hurricane's record of six players selected in one first round.
The two prospects Jeremiah omits from his top-32 selections with first-round potential are running back Najee Harris and defensive lineman Christian Barmore.
Jeremiah has been hesitant when discussing his thoughts on Barmore recently, citing the defender as the best interior defensive lineman in a weak class who has a scary boom-bust potential. It's not surprising for Jeremiah to leave Barmore out of the first round in that case. Still, don't be surprised to see a team like the Dallas Cowboys trade back into the late first round or even a team like the New Orleans Saints to spend first rounder on Barmore. While bust potential is scary, no team wants to miss out catching a booming prospect with a fifth-year option to fall back on.
As for Najee Harris, signs are pointing very strongly in recent days that the Pittsburgh Steelers are destined to select the all-time Crimson Tide rushing leader. Harris has a mutual favoring of Pittsburgh, but it's more than understanding if the Steelers opt to instead select an offensive lineman with its first selection (as Jeremiah had the team do in his mock.)
Harris's stock has risen since the second Alabama Pro Day, but as a running back it's not uncommon in today's NFL to see a first-round talent fall into the second round because of the position's diminished value.
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