2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

     

Now that free agency is winding down, all eyes turn to the 2021 NFL Draft, set to commence on Thursday, April 29, almost one month from now. Here’s a first look at how the first round could shake out in our 2021 NFL Mock Draft

Here are some additional draft resources we’ve compiled as well. 

2021 NFL Mock Draft

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence

Urban Meyer pretty much gave up the game this week but it wasn’t a secret in the slightest. Go ahead and start ordering your Lawrence jerseys if you haven’t already, Jacksonville. 

2. New York Jets: BYU QB Zach Wilson

This pick hasn’t been as firmed up as the No. 1, but the overwhelming indication seems to be that Wilson has put some distance between himself and the rest of the class as the No. 2 quarterback, thus making him the call here for the Jets. Even if you’re bullish on Sam Darnold‘s future, it’s hard to make such a huge bet on him here and pass up the chance to land a really good quarterback prospect who’s not damaged goods and has a full rookie contract to develop. 

3. San Francisco 49ers: Alabama QB Mac Jones

The 49ers’ blockbuster trade sent ripples through the NFL landscape on Friday. Since then, it’s become abundantly clear they moved up for a quarterback and a chorus of voices that can’t be ignored have suggested it’s for Jones. The 49ers themselves have said they’re evaluating all five of the top quarterbacks in the class for this pick, including Jones. Whether or not he ends up being the pick — which was inconceivable as little as a week ago — it’s clear that he’s at the very least a viable option to go this high. 

4. Atlanta Falcons: North Dakota State QB Trey Lance

Much of the intrigue surrounds the 49ers’ pick, but Atlanta’s decision right here is the biggest pressure point of the entire draft. Do they take a quarterback to sit behind Matt Ryan for at least a year? Do they trade down, lower their draft pick budget and acquire more picks that are desperately needed to fill out the most top-heavy roster in the NFL? Or do they pluck one of the non-quarterbacks? In this scenario, they go with Lance to marinate on the sidelines, which most analysts believe will do the one-year FCS starter good. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals: LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase

Bengals fans desperate to never see QB Joe Burrow go down again have been drooling over a top tackle in the draft for months. But both beat reporters and national media have connected Chase — Burrow’s top target his record-breaking senior season at LSU — to Cincinnati. Receiver would be a bit of a luxury pick but it’s hard not to see the allure of reuniting Burrow and Chase in the NFL, and the Bengals do have an opening with A.J. Green moving on. 

6. Miami Dolphins: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle

The Dolphins were alright with moving down a few picks but their aggressiveness to get back into the top six picks shows they clearly have their eyes on someone in the upper echelon of non-quarterback position players. Chase, Penei Sewell and Kyle Pitts are viable options but the NFL time and time again shows that it will extend itself to get speed on its roster. Waddle is just about as fast as former Alabama teammate Henry Ruggs, who was a borderline top-ten pick last year, and Miami would be able to reunite him with his former quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, and add another weapon on offense. 

7. Detroit Lions: Oregon LT Penei Sewell

Sewell is dripping with potential and it’s a huge boon for the Lions that he gets pushed down the board to this selection. He can step in immediately at right tackle and create a bookend duo with Lions LT Taylor Decker. In fact, with Sewell in the fold, there would be an argument that new Lions QB Jared Goff will be working with a better offensive line than what he had with the Rams. 

8. Carolina Panthers: Ohio State QB Justin Fields

Last weekend’s blockbuster trades were not good news for the Panthers, as they’re now boxed into taking whichever quarterback falls to their pick. The consensus has been that Jones would be available but with the Alabama starter getting top-five buzz, in this scenario it’s Fields who falls to Carolina. 

9. Denver Broncos: Penn State LB Micah Parsons

Between getting players back from injury and their additions in the secondary, the Broncos are looking like an early contender to have one of the top defenses in the NFL. The weakest spot on the defense is easily linebacker. The duo of Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell have been serviceable but adding a blue-chip player like Parsons could take things to another level. Parsons is a tremendous athlete and can be a defensive weapon in either coverage or blitzing situations. 

10. Dallas Cowboys: Alabama CB Patrick Surtain

The Cowboys are in great shape to land a cornerback at this pick and address a major need on defense. Surtain has the best combination of traits and tape and Dallas would have the bonus of teaming him up with former college teammate Trevon Diggs, who looked like a nice hit as a rookie last season. 

11. New York Giants: Florida TE Kyle Pitts

Giants GM Dave Gettleman never takes long to turn in his pick but he might set a record if Pitts is available this late. While Pitts is becoming a consensus top player in the draft, the early run at quarterback is going to push a few great players down the board to teams that in other years might have no shot at taking them. New York already has Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph but they reportedly love Pitts and there would be a trade market for Engram, which would also clear $6 million in cap space. 

12. Philadelphia Eagles: Michigan DE Kwity Paye

Positional value is something the Eagles value highly when picking in the first round. Pass rusher is near the top of the list there and Philadelphia’s future at the position is a little unsettled at the moment with an aging Brandon Graham and an upcoming contract year for Derek Barnett. Paye fits the mold the Eagles have looked for in the first round with Barnett and Graham, as while he’s not the longest defensive end he’s extraordinarily quick and powerful. 

13. Los Angeles Chargers: Northwestern OL Rashawn Slater

Some evaluators actually like Slater more than Sewell and they could go off the board much closer together or in a different order on draft night. Slater doesn’t have the prototypical length for a tackle but if it doesn’t work out he projects safely as a stud guard. Slater’s performance against Chase Young last year likely has Los Angeles feeling good about trusting Justin Herbert‘s blind side to him, though. 

14. Minnesota Vikings: USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker

The Vikings have a gaping need at both guard and left tackle. Vera-Tucker could provide the answer at one of them. Like Slater, he doesn’t have the typical frame the NFL tends to covet in a tackle and many teams will project him to guard. But he kicked outside to left tackle last year for the Trojans and more than held his own, so there’s some optimism he could do the same in the NFL. 

15. New England Patriots: Alabama WR DeVonta Smith

This would qualify as a little bit of a slide for Smith. He’s an excellent player, but his size will raise a lot of red flags for teams that just rarely see players with his build succeed in the NFL. At 6-1 and probably 170 pounds, Smith is thin. But the man they call “Slim Reaper” lit up the SEC last season and become one of the only receivers to ever win the Heisman. Smith also has the smarts and the background in a similar program to potentially be able to succeed in New England where other receivers have failed. 

16. Arizona Cardinals: South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn

Cornerback isn’t as screaming of a need for Arizona after landing veteran Malcolm Butler. The Cardinals still need an outside corner they can build around long-term. Horn is a physical freak and perhaps the toolsiest cornerback in the draft. He needs to clean up his technique to avoid being a penalty magnet in the NFL but he could thrive in DC Vance Joseph‘s man-heavy defense. 

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw 

The Raiders’ decision to shake up the offensive line has left them with a major hole at right tackle. Fortunately for them, it’s a deep draft class at the position and there should be a number of options available in this range for them to pick from. Darrisaw only had one Division-I offer, but he became a starter as a true freshman and has never looked back. 

18. Miami Dolphins: Tulsa LB Zaven Collins

Cutting Kyle Van Noy made it clear the Dolphins are looking to get better at linebacker. Their scheme asks a lot from the position but there might not be another player better suited athletically to meet those demands than Collins. At 6-4, 260 pounds, Collins is huge, built more like an old-school linebacker than the modern prototype. But he’s a freak athlete who can thump in the run game, blitz off the edge and show range in coverage. He has the potential to be the type of elite playmaker Miami is looking for. 

19. Washington Football Team: Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah

Unlike Collins, Owusu-Koromoah is much closer to what teams are looking for from their linebackers with how much the spread offense has taken over the NFL. At 6-1 and 216 pounds, he’s closer to safety-sized than a linebacker. However, Owusu-Koromoah is a great fit as a versatile defensive chess piece who has the size to match up with some bigger targets and the speed to run, chase and cover a lot of ground when the offense tries to spread things out. 

20. Chicago Bears: Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley

Farley’s back surgery raises major medical questions for him, questions that may or may not be answered given how the lack of a centralized Combine has changed how teams do medical evaluations. Without the back surgery, Farley is a likely top 10-12 pick. The injury pushes him down the board a bit but the Bears are happy to take a swing given how badly they need a corner. 

21. Indianapolis Colts: Miami DE Jaelan Phillips

Edge rusher is a major need for the Colts, and while it’s a position they place a high value on, they’ve yet to really address it in free agency. Phillips could answer those questions for a long time, though. Injuries and transferring from UCLA kept Phillips from breaking out until this past season, when he had eight sacks in 10 games for the Hurricanes. At 6-5 and 260+ pounds, Phillips also annihilated his pro day with a 40-yard dash of 4.56 seconds and outstanding agility and explosion numbers. If it weren’t for his injury history, he’d likely go higher. 

22. Tennessee Titans: Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins

The Titans have to try again at right tackle after the colossal bust that was last year’s first-round selection, Isaiah Wilson. Tennessee also moved on from veteran Dennis Kelly, which makes the need more glaring. They dip into a deep pool of possible right tackles though and land Jenkins, who exhibited a mean streak at Oklahoma State that should mesh perfectly with the Titans’ identity on offense. 

23. New York Jets: Northwestern CB Greg Newsome

There have been a number of late risers at cornerback this year in what’s seen as a deep class and Newsome falls in that category. A stellar pro day when he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 40 inches helped put Newsome on the map, as his tape in 2020 was also superb with strong performances against Ohio State in particular. The Jets have a gaping need at cornerback and Newsome would be a good first step toward fixing that. 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alabama RB Najee Harris

The Steelers were completely unable to run the ball with any semblance of consistent effectiveness last season. It made them one-dimensional and ultimately contributed to their collapse. Owner Art Rooney has made it clear that won’t be tolerated again, as it flies in the face of his franchise’s identity. Addressing the offensive line is one way to do that but Pittsburgh might have had a bigger issue with its running backs last season. Harris would come in as a three-down bellcow to fix that. He’s not fast, but he’s big, powerful and adept as a receiver. He could help the Steelers rediscover their identity as a smashmouth football team. 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars: TCU S Trevon Moehrig

There are a number of directions the Jaguars could go with this pick, as they need help just about everywhere. But safety is one of the positions on the team that remains relatively bare and Moehrig is widely seen as the best in a deep class. His ball skills and playmaking should help nicely as the Jaguars try to rebuild. 

26. Cleveland Browns: Miami DE Gregory Rousseau

Rousseau was one of several players who opted out of this past season but unlike guys like Chase and Sewell, it appears he could have used another year to answer questions scouts still had. A converted receiver from high school, Rousseau had a staggering 15.5 sacks in 2019. He has the type of frame the NFL covets at 6-7 and 266 pounds but there are questions about just how explosive he is. He provides an intriguing option to add to Cleveland’s pass rush, however. 

27. Baltimore Ravens: Georgia OLB Azeez Ojulari

The Ravens let both edge rushers Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue leave this offseason and so far haven’t really replaced them with anyone of note. That could change here, as Baltimore lands Ojulari who has drawn some comparisons to former division rival Bud Dupree

28. New Orleans Saints: Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore

Moore has flown a little bit under the radar in a deep, deep wide receiver class. But there have been rumblings for a little bit now that the NFL is high on Moore and he boosted his stock in the eyes of the public with a 4.33 40-yard dash. At just 5-9, Moore profiles as more of a slot receiver at the next level. But he could step pretty easily into the role Emmanuel Sanders had for the Saints last season and help take attention off of Michael Thomas.

29. Green Bay Packers: Texas OT Samuel Cosmi

Cornerback and receiver are both needs for the Packers but it’s a deep class at both positions. Green Bay is actually a decent candidate to trade back and accumulate more picks, as they need all the cheap labor they can get due to their cap pinch this year and next. If they stay put, though, they could look to fill their current hole at right tackle after cutting Rick Wagner. Drafting Cosmi would let them keep Billy Turner inside at guard where he’s better. 

30. Buffalo Bills: Penn State DE Jayson Oweh

Oweh is the ultimate projection in this draft class. He’s an absolutely phenomenal athlete as he recently proved at his pro day. At 6-5 and 257 pounds, Oweh ran a 4.36 40-yard dash time, jumped nearly 40 inches in the vertical and had a broad jump of 11’2. However, he’s nearly entirely a projection as he didn’t start playing football until just a few years ago and had zero sacks last season, just seven for his career. Landing with the Bills would give him some time to develop behind Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison while potentially giving Buffalo a long-term answer for when those two are no longer part of the picture. 

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman

The Chiefs have kicked the tires on a lot of receivers in free agency despite GM Brett Veach‘s bluff that they were perfectly happy with Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle rounding out Patrick Mahomes‘ receiving corps. Kansas City benefits from an outstanding draft class at the position yet again and nabs Bateman as a reliable No. 2 with perhaps some untapped athletic potential, as evidenced by his 4.39 40-yard dash at the EXOS combine. 

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alabama DT Christian Barmore

It’s generally seen as a weak defensive tackle class but there are some intriguing players like Barmore. At 6-4 and 310 pounds, Barmore has great size and he showed off some explosiveness in the other drills at his pro day. The potential has always been there and he went a long way toward showing it in a breakout 2020 season. For the Buccaneers, Barmore would reinforce a defensive line that, though it’s a strength of the team, is starting to age. 

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