The 2021 NFL season wraps up Week 13 on Monday when the Bills host the Patriots. While that game will feature significant playoff implications, Sunday saw a significant win at the other end. The Lions stunned the Vikings to earn their first win. They still have the worst record in the NFL, but they will not go winless.
Now that we’re into December, mock draft season is upon us. It really runs all year long at this point, but December is a big moment because college football has come to a close for a sizable portion of the players. Bowl season begins and features most notable players, but we have passed a key benchmark in the offseason.
With that in mind, we’re here with our first mock draft of sorts. Rather than project one pick per team, we’re taking a look at the needs for teams in the top ten, and then offering up a couple different names they might consider. Kayvon Thibodeaux remains the favorite to go No. 1 overall, but don’t sleep on the quarterbacks. The Lions don’t have a long-term answer at the position, and it doesn’t take much for a team to convince themselves they’ve found their Hall of Fame signal-caller.
1. Detroit Lions, 1-10-1, .532
Team needs: The Lions will need to figure out if there is a quarterback in the draft worth the No. 1 pick. Jared Goff is obviously not the answer, but they are weak in so many areas, the rebuild isn’t over after selecting a franchise quarterback. They need a lot of help defensively, with the secondary, defensive line and linebacking groups all places they need big improvement.
2. Houston Texans, 2-10, .505
Team needs: The Texans obviously need a quarterback with DeShaun Watson not playing or planning to play for them and Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills showing little upside this season. Like the Lions, they aren’t a quarterback away from becoming a contender though.
They will continue to shop Watson and hope to get a bunch of picks to help rebuild their roster. Besides quarterback, they need help at wide receiver, cornerback, and defensive line (inside and outside).
Possible picks: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt, Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
3. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-10, .507
Team needs: At least Jacksonville doesn’t need a quarterback, so they’ll be able to focus on other areas. Those areas are plentiful, but wide receiver, offensive and defensive line are the three key spots. But, they are weak across the board and could easily go with whichever non-QB that moves the needle.
4. New York Jets, 3-9, .507
Team needs: The Jets have needs all throughout the defense. With two picks early on, they can make a big impact on their team in this draft. Cornerback is probably the biggest void and could easily be their first pick, but even with talent at offensive line, they could still use a right tackle and they should be in a spot to grab a good one.
5. New York Jets (from Seahawks 4-8, .507)
Team needs: See above
Possible picks: See above
6. New York Giants (from Bears, 4-8, .517)
Team needs: The Giants most-likely need to replace Daniel Jones, but it seems unlikely they’ll draft one in the first round this season.
The Giants need to get to the quarterback and an EDGE rusher is very much a need, but they also need to shore up the run defense. That makes defensive line a big need on a team with quite a few needs.
7. New York Giants, 4-8, .527
Team needs: See above
Possible picks: See above
8. Atlanta Falcons, 5-7, .468
Team needs: Like any team drafting this high, there is probably something not great happening at quarterback. But for the Falcons, they have a quarterback that a lot of teams probably wouldn’t mind having on their team. Unless something happens with a trade, Ryan is likely to stick around another year.
The Falcons overall have a lot of holes to fill, but wide receiver looks really rough right now, especially if Calvin Ridley doesn’t return. A lot will depend on Ridley’s availability, but even if he returns, they are still very thin at the position.
9. Carolina Panthers, 5-7, .500
Team needs: The Panthers will likely continue to be all in on DeShaun Watson pending his legal situation, but they very much need a quarterback and they are going to go after one this off season. No matter what they do at quarterback, they very much need help on the offensive line. That foundation blocking for whoever they insert at quarterback is a must moving forward and they should address the position early.
10. Minnesota Vikings, 5-7, .510
Team needs: The Vikings are set at receiver, and running back and tight end and Kirk Cousins continues to be above average statistically. An upgrade at quarterback would be great, but that isn’t likely to happen, so defense is where the team truly needs to improve.
Cornerback is a big need, but EDGE and linebacker help to stop the run is also on the list. With strong offensive pieces in place, the Vikings should go all in on defense.
Possible picks: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati; Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia