I imagine the Eagles will release Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson this offseason. I don't suspect Waddle's broken ankle will impact his draft stock much. He was off to an incredible start — 25 receptions, 557 yards and four touchdowns in four games — after showing promise as a sophomore before hurting himself. Top needs: OL, DB, LB
Everyone who watched Alabama's Heisman winner DeVonta Smith torch Ohio State for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the first half of the national championship game came away with the same conclusion: Smith is really good.
In fact, most would expect the talented, record-breaking Smith to be the first wide receiver's name they hear called in the first round of April's NFL draft. Indeed, it may be, but it's not a forgone conclusion despite his ridiculous 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns.
There once was another record-breaking receiver who set the SEC on fire on his way to playing a significant role on a historically-good national champion. His name was Ja'Marr Chase and the ink had barely dried on his conference records before Smith broke out the Wite-Out. Chase had 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2019 before opting out of his junior season due to COVID-19. Remember Justin Jefferson was Robin to Chase's Batman at LSU.
There's also Smith's teammate Jaylen Waddle, the hobbled receiver who raced back from a broken leg to participate in the title game against the Buckeyes (and the career advice of most who watched). Waddle was limping all over the place, but still looked faster than the competition. He's the most dynamic of the three when he's 100 percent.
Personally, I see shades of Marvin Harrison and ... dare I say ... Jerry Rice (the highest compliment I can pay) in Smith's game.
He glides across the field like Fred Astaire on wet pavement, but Chase and Waddle are equally impressive in different ways and the draft process has a way of nitpicking world-class athletes until you forget why they were great in the first place.
You're going to hear Smith's explosiveness questioned — he wouldn't beat Waddle in a foot race.
You're going to hear his strength and size questioned — he's 175 pounds soaking wet with five-pound dumbbells in each pocket.
His slenderness will inevitability lead to questioning his durability.
None of this changes what will be an obvious conclusion come April: Smith is really good, and he's going to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, regardless if he's the first wide receiver taken or not.
6. Philadelphia (4-11-1) — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama, Jr.
7. Detroit (5-11) — DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama, Sr.
8. Carolina (5-11) — Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech, Jr.
I'd consider a quarterback here if Wilson or Fields were available. However, Rasul Douglas is clearly the weakest link in a young, up-and-coming defense. Farley is a physical press corner with elite athleticism and size (6-foot-2, 197 pounds) who also opted out due to COVID-19. Top needs: OT, LB, CB
10. Dallas (6-10) — Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern, Sr.
Injuries and age are starting to erode what was once the Cowboys greatest strength, it's offensive line. Slater handled Chase Young as a junior while playing left tackle and didn't allow a single sack the entire season. He's versatile and talented enough to play all five offensive line positions. Slater opted out of this season due to COVID. Top needs: Edge, DB, OL
11. N.Y. Giants (6-10) — Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami, So.
The Giants' pass rush was almost non-existent the last month of the season. It's been almost two decades since a Hurricane defensive end was taken in the first round (Jerome McDougle in 2003). Rousseau finished with 15.5 sacks in 13 games as a redshirt freshman, but opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Top needs: OT, Edge, LB
13. L.A. Chargers (7-9) — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech, Sr.
The Chargers were picking fourth overall before finishing the season with a four-game win streak. Three of their five starters on the offensive line are scheduled to hit free agency — in addition to injured Pro-Bowler Mike Pouncey. Darrisaw could find his way into the top 15 if he tests as well as I believe he will during the draft process (assuming we are able to have a combine or pro days). Top needs: OL, TE, Edge
14. Minnesota (7-9) — Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa, Jr.
Coach Mike Zimmer didn't hold back when he called his defense the "worst one I've ever had." Nixon, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, was named a consensus All-American. He'd pair nicely with Danielle Hunter to revitalize a once fearsome pass rush. Top needs: DL, FS, OL
15. New England (7-9) — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama, Jr.
Cam Newton isn't the long-term answer at quarterback and Bill Belichick clearly doesn't believe in Jarrett Stidham. Jones benefits from a great supporting cast in Tuscaloosa, but he's an accurate, decisive passer who had 4,500 yards (first in the nation), 41 touchdown passes (second in the nation) against only four interceptions and a QBR of 96.1 (first in the nation). He finished third in the Heisman Trophy race. Top needs: QB, WR, LB
17. Las Vegas (8-8) — Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan, Sr.
For as much draft capital as the Raiders have spent recently on their defense, you'd expect better results by now. There have been flashes, but nothing concrete yet. Paye is an upside pick who hadn't produced at an elite level before (he only had 9.5 sacks in his first three seasons in Ann Arbor), but there's athletic indicators he will continue to improve as a pass rusher. According to Pro Football Focus, Paye had a 26 percent pass-rush win rate — fourth-best of any Power 5 edge defender in the country — which is typically defined as how often a player beats his blocker within 2.5 seconds. He's already an impressive run defender against the spread offense, which is becoming increasingly important in the NFL. Top needs: DL, OG, DB
18. Miami (10-6) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame, Sr.
The Dolphins are only a few players away from fielding a potentially elite defense. Owusu-Koramoah is an explosive athlete who can make plays from sideline-to-sideline. The ACC Defensive Player of the Year also was won the Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker) and was a consensus All-American. Top needs: WR, OL, LB
19. Washington (7-9) — Kyle Trask, QB, Florida, Sr.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say Taylor Heinicke isn't the quarterback of the future here. Trask has legit pocket presence and a surprising touch for such a strong arm. He had a horrible Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma, but that doesn't erase a Heisman-worthy season (he finished fourth). He had 43 touchdown passes (first in the nation) against only eight interceptions, 4,283 passing yards (second in the nation) and a QBR of 88.3 (sixth in the nation). Top needs: OL, WR, QB
20. Chicago (8-8) — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC, Jr.
The pick is a wide receiver if Allen Robinson leaves during free agency. Otherwise, the offensive line needs to be upgraded. Vera-Tucker was one of the best offensive tackles in the country, but could also shine on the interior in the NFL. Top needs: OT, WR, QB
22. Tennessee (11-5) — Carlos Basham Jr., Edge, Wake Forest, Sr.
The Titans finished with only 19 sacks this season — only the Bengals and Jaguars had fewer. Basham is a strong, athletic, productive pass rusher who can disrupt an offense. He had 11 sacks and 18 tackles for loss as a first-team All-ACC selection in 2019 and opened 2020 with a sack in each of his first five games. Top needs: OT, WR, Edge
23. N.Y. Jets from Seattle (12-4) — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina, Jr.
The Jets go defense after addressing the offense with their earlier pick. Horn — his father Joe was a Pro Bowl wide receiver — is a very talented press corner with elite speed, good size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and can make plays in run support. Top needs: QB, Edge, DB
25. Jacksonville from L.A. Rams (10-6) — Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas, Jr.
Cam Robinson is a free agent and Cosmi is likely an upgrade anyways. You can't develop a young quarterback if you don't have a decent offensive line. It's science. Cosmi dominated in 26 games at right tackle. He did the same at left tackle this season. Top needs: QB, OT, CB
26. Cleveland (11-5) — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa, Jr.
The Browns need to upgrade their pass rush outside of Myles Garrett, but they also need to improve their linebacker corps. Collins has the size (6-4, 260), athleticism and positional flexibility that will cause most defensive coordinators to drool. He received the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded by the Football Writers Association of America to the top defensive player in college football. Top needs: Edge, LB, S
27. Tampa Bay (11-5) — Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama, So.
Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon will all be free agents. Most analysts considered Barmore a potential first-rounder on potential alone. He gave everyone a glimpse of that high ceiling by dominating Notre Dame and Ohio State — two of the best offensive lines in the nation — in the College Football Playoffs. Top needs: Edge, WR, DT
29. New Orleans (12-4) — Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia, Jr.
The verdict is still out on if Drew Brees' successor is currently on the roster with Taysom Hill showing his upside against Atlanta, but regressing against Denver and losing to Philadelphia. But there aren't any quarterbacks available worth taking here. Upcoming tough cap decisions could lead to a depleted secondary. Stokes is built thin, but remains an impressive athlete who maintains his physicality and played better than almost anyone at the position in the entire nation. Top needs: QB, DL, CB
30. Buffalo (13-3) — Jaylen Mayfield, OT, Michigan, Jr.
Dominant right tackle Daryl Williams is one of three starting offensive lineman headed for free agency. Mayfield features the athletic ability and size combo that makes offensive line coaches salivate. Top needs: CB, OT, LB
32. Kansas City (14-2) — Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio St., Jr.
The greatness of Patrick Mahomes covers up a lot of warts. The Chiefs offensive line needs an infusion of talent. Davis is a system-proof, plug-and-play starter at the next level and a potential All-Pro. Top needs: WR, OL, Edge