Redrafting the entire NFL: Mahomes goes 1st. What happens next?
Imagine this: An error is discovered in the legal language of the NFL's rulebook that immediately renders all player contracts null and void. To restart the league, a draft is planned. All players are eligible to be selected.
In this four-part series, theScore's NFL editors will draft on behalf of the league's 32 teams, with each employing a unique roster-building strategy, explaining their picks as they go.
In today's Part 1, we cover the first round.
The rules 📋
The draft order is determined by cumulative record over the last 10 seasons with point differential as the tiebreaker. With a mere 44 wins over their last 160 contests, the Jacksonville Jaguars get the first overall pick. Patrick Mahomes will look sharp in teal. Trevor Lawrence will have to wait to hear his name called ... but for how long?
Next up in the draft are the historically hapless Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. Then things get interesting, with the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting fourth, having won 60 of their last 160 games. Will they look to run it back and draft 43-year-old Tom Brady, or instead turn an eye to the future by taking a young franchise passer?
The draft is 25 rounds, with a requirement that teams draft 11 starters on offense, 11 on defense, and three backups. All remaining players will be considered undrafted free agents.
The salary cap is not a concern. Existing player contracts are voided and we can assume all drafted players will sign a new contract tied to their draft position.
Editors will draft for four teams each:
Got all that? Let's see how the first round unfolded.
Round 1 👇
The number of quarterbacks selected in Round 1 shouldn't shock anyone. There's no position in all of sports that's more crucial to a team's success. Only Aaron Donald, the most dominant defensive force in recent memory, was able to break up the monopoly in the top 10, and even that pick could be questioned considering the number of talented signal-callers that were still available. But the order in which the quarterbacks were selected could leave some scratching their heads. Clearly, teams at the top of this draft prioritized winning immediately over building for the long haul. And can you blame a historically woeful team like the Browns or Jets for opening an immediate Super Bowl window with a future Hall of Fame passer?
The next four teams swung the opposite way, drafting quarterbacks for the next decade or more. Lawrence is 21, Jackson is 24, Allen is 25, and Herbert is 23. It's understandable that the Bucs wanted to take the most talented prospect we've seen since Andrew Luck, but Lawrence will now quickly have to live up to those expectations and outperform the three players taken immediately after him to justify the selection. Meanwhile, Wilson might've been a top-three pick if this draft happened halfway through last year. But his turnover-heavy second half of 2020, as well as a style that might not age well, apparently caused teams to look elsewhere.
Chiefs fans will likely feel their team came out of this first round the worst, having swapped Patrick Mahomes for Carson Wentz at No. 27. But considering how quickly the depth at quarterback was wiped out, the presence of the best offensive mind in the game in head coach Andy Reid and Wentz's previous levels of great production, it's a decision that could look smart in hindsight once rosters have been filled out. The Bengals selecting Deshaun Watson is also a major risk. The 25-year-old would've likely been in contention to be picked right after Mahomes, but his status for the 2021 campaign is unclear amid ongoing legal issues. Cincinnati should prioritize a backup plan.
Interestingly, only two players were selected by their originating teams: running backs Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey. Alvin Kamara became the only other running back taken in the first when he was picked by Seattle at No. 30. Get ready for Pete Carroll to give you 30-plus touches a game, Alvin. Henry, McCaffrey, and Kamara are all wildly talented but might have just three or four years of elite play left. Running backs have been increasingly devalued over the last two decades, and to see Henry go as high as No. 11 - even if he's is coming off a 2,000-yard season - was one of the shocks of the opening round.
Almost as shocking was that it took until pick No. 23 to see our first edge rusher taken. The early clamor for quarterbacks seemingly caused most teams to jump on the best available passer in order to not be left with a below-average player at the game's most vital position. It's also understandable that the Eagles (No. 21) and Vikings (No. 22) took the best receiver in Davante Adams and the best guard in Quenton Nelson, respectively. Still, Myles Garrett to the Colts at No. 23 was one of the steals of the first round. The selection of Garrett shone a light on remaining talent at pass-rusher, with Chase Young, Nick Bosa, Khalil Mack, and T.J. Watt selected in the next five picks.
Check back Tuesday as we reveal Rounds 2-10!