The Patriots began a new era at pick 15, drafting Mac Jones from Alabama. He will have colossus-sized shoes to fill as he becomes the heir apparent to Tom Brady. The Cardinals are now picking at 16.
Although New England re-signed Cam Newton this offseason, it was a one-year deal you’d expect a backup to sign. The Patriots are not promising Newton the job, and that becomes clear as in our Community Mock Draft they take Mac Jones, the Alabama QB who finished 3rd in Heisman voting last season. With only 16 games as a starter, he may be on the bench to start the season, but Jones’ anticipation and touch at the position should translate in the Patriots’ system, despite his clear limitations. While he doesn’t have the upside of the other top QBs, he’ll be in the best possible situation to maximize his talents.
The Cardinals are up next and will be ecstatic that only one CB is off the board so far. Although they signed Malcolm Butler in free agency, Patrick Peterson leaves a hole on the outside. While his prime is far behind him, he played all 16 games for the Cardinals last year. The two most likely picks here are either Jaycee Horn or Caleb Farley. Both are elite talents that can succeed right away across from Malcolm Butler and next to Byron Murphy Jr. in the slot. Vance Joseph needs his corners to play press-man coverage and Horn and Farley fit perfectly. Even with the J.J. Watt signing, a sneaky pick here could be an edge rusher, as Chandler Jones’ contract is up after this year. Arizona probably took themselves out of the running for an RB after signing James Conner this week. Let’s recap the previous 15 picks before breaking down the Cardinals’ options.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
- New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
- San Francisco 49ers – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
- Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
- Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
- Miami Dolphins – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
- Detroit Lions – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
- Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
- Denver Broncos – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
- Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
- New York Giants – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
- Philadelphia Eagles – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
- Los Angeles Chargers – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
- Minnesota Vikings – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
- New England Patriots – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Will the Cardinals replace Patrick Peterson at pick 16?
Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Another son of a former NFL player, Jaycee’s dad, Joe Horn, was a 4-time Pro Bowl receiver for the Saints. Jaycee is another big (6-foot-1, 205), physical corner who faced a murderer’s row of receivers during his three years in the SEC. Horn can be a bit aggressive with his hands, but he posted the best RAS of any corner in this year’s class (9.99, though he skipped agility drills). Expect him to be off the board early as his instincts and athleticism will have teams excited about him.
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Farley would likely be competing with Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn for the CB1 status in this class if not for injuries and his decision to opt out of the 2020 season. A big corner (6-foot-2, 197), Farley has both great ball skills and coverage ability and can do it all in any scheme. The medicals are the big question for him, as he tore an ACL as a true freshman and has had recurring back issues that resulted in surgery this offseason. However, he said that his pre-draft medical checks came back clean, which may give teams the confidence to put him back near the top of their cornerback boards.
Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Think Rashan Gary 2.0. Paye is almost as impressive an athlete as Gary was coming out in 2019, though Paye is a bit smaller at 6-foot-2-½ and 261 pounds to Gary’s 6-foot-4, 277-pound frame. Still, the two players share similarities in that they both had production that did not quite live up to their pro projections, with Paye’s 2020 limited to four games by injury and the COVID pandemic. Still, Paye averaged one TFL per game over his last two seasons and posted 8.5 sacks in his last 16 games, and it’s not hard to imagine a team falling in love with his tools the way the Packers did with Gary.
Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
One of the most physically imposing edge defenders in this draft class, Phillips had a very good junior year in 2020 after sitting out 2019 following his transfer from UCLA to Miami. Phillips posted eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in the fall, then posted a very good workout at Miami’s Pro Day. However, Phillips’ big questions will be on the medical side, after missing most of his sophomore season to injuries, including multiple concussions. To make matters worse, Phillips missed the pre-draft medical re-checks in Indianapolis due to a positive COVID test.
The Cardinals hope they can strengthen their defense with this pick after the departures of Haason Reddick and Patrick Peterson in free agency. With a star QB and WR tandem, the clock has started on getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Tomorrow at 11 AM EST, the Las Vegas Raiders are picking at 17. At 4 PM EST, the Miami Dolphins have their second pick in the first round at pick 18. Vote here and on Twitter @acmepackingco and check back tomorrow morning for the results.