2021 NFL Mock Draft

No matter what happens, we’re in for one of the most interesting drafts we’ve seen in some time

Blake Robinson, Reporter

The NFL 2021 Draft is coming up soon April 29-May 1, and it’s a draft like no other. With there being no combine and scouts not being able to see athletes in person during games due to COVID-19 restrictions, teams are going to have to pick guys strictly off of what they saw from them on tape, meaning the gap between player’s talent is going to be pretty small with nothing else to go off of. This could make for some shock decisions and interesting picks from teams, which would make for a very intriguing draft. Here is how I believe the first round of the draft is going to shape up.

Pick 1 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Being that Trevor Lawrence is one of the most complete quarterbacks and overall best players we’ve seen enter the draft in the past decade, it’s obvious that he’s going to be selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first pick. Lawrence, a quarterback coming out of Clemson, might be the best draft prospect we’ve ever seen come out of college, and the impact that he has on his team is going to be immediate.

Pick 2 – New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

The New York Jets have had their eyes on Zach Wilson for several months now, and with them trading away their starting quarterback Sam Darnold just a couple weeks ago, it’s almost guaranteed that the Jets are going to take Wilson with this pick. A quarterback coming out of BYU, Wilson has both a good arm and good athleticism, and the Jets are likely going to try to make him their franchise quarterback for years to come.

Pick 3 – San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Despite claims that the San Francisco 49ers were not going to target a quarterback in this draft, them trading up to the third overall pick says otherwise, as they know that quarterbacks are going to be flying off the board very early on in this draft. There are a few viable options here, but Mac Jones is the quarterback that’s likely to be drafted to San Francisco. Jones is a quarterback out of Alabama, who the 49ers will select for his immediate impact as opposed to being a future star. While there are other quarterbacks with a higher ceiling they could potentially draft, Jones seems to be the QB most fitting for the 49ers. The 49ers were in the 2019 Super Bowl, and considering they haven’t lost any major pieces since then, they’re clearly still in win-now mode, Jones seems to be the way to go for them.

Pick 4 – Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

There are rumors going around that the Atlanta Falcons are going to trade this pick, but I believe they’re going to stick with it and select quarterback Justin Fields. While he may not be put to use immediately after being drafted, Fields is going to be an unexpected but great pick for Atlanta to make here. The Falcons’ current starting quarterback, Matt Ryan, is 35 years old, and is not quite the QB that he once was. While Ryan will likely still be the starter throughout the 2021 season, Fields  will be a great option to succeed him. Fields was dominant at Ohio State in the time that he was there, and he’ll have the chance to continue to develop his skills as he awaits his starting spot to open up.

Pick 5 – Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

If there was one position that the Cincinnati Bengals struggled in the 2020 season, it was the offensive line. Young quarterback Joe Burrow is the focal point of the Bengals roster, and if he doesn’t have the blocking that he needs, he’s never going to be able to live up to his full potential. Offensive tackle Penei Sewell is by far the best blocker in this class, and he would be a big help to Burrow and the team as a whole.

Pick 6 – Miami Dolphins: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The more help that the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovaiola can get, the better, making Kyle Pitts the choice here. While they could target a top receiver, the Dolphins have receivers DeVante Parker and the recently acquired Will Fuller to go to, while tight end Mike Gesicki could certainly use and upgrade. Pitts is great against most any matchup, being too fast for linebackers to cover and too big for safeties to cover, and he also fits in perfectly with the Dolphins’ offense.

Pick 7 – Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The Detroit Lions took some big losses in the offseason, with franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford being traded to the Los Angeles Rams for quarterback Jarred Goff and future draft picks, and wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr signing with the New York Giants and the Jacksonville Jaguars respectively. Considering they lost their two top receivers, it’s likely that they will try to replace one of them, drafting receiver Ja’Marr Chase out of LSU. Chase is arguably the best wide receiver in the draft, as he’s able to do most everything needed of him, which will be a big factor, as Chase is immediately going to be the best wide receiver option on their team.

Pick 8 – Carolina Panthers: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

While it is definitely a possibility that the Carolina Panthers target a lineman or a wide receiver in order to give help to newly acquired quarterback Sam Darnold on the offense, the defense is in need for some immediate improvement. It can be argued who the best corner in the draft is, but Patrick Surtain II seems like the best fit for Carolina. Surtain gives them the size and athleticism that they need, as well as fills a position that needs to be filled on defense.

Pick 9 – Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

There is a lot to improve upon for the Denver Broncos, but the play that would have the biggest impact in the long run for them would be quarterback Trey Lance. While a team may not exactly want the fifth quarterback in the draft, Lance is still one of the most talented players in the draft, and could easily be drafted in place of a few other quarterbacks taken earlier in the draft. Current Broncos quarterback Drew Lock has shown signs of potential, but is far too inconsistent to be sold on, whereas Lance would bring the team a much needed consistency, as well as a strong arm and a quick release. If Lance is to be drafted by Denver, he could be the first step towards rebuilding the Broncos’ offense.

Pick 10 – Dallas Cowboy: Jayce Horn, CB, South Carolina

With the way that the draft seems to be shaping up, a cornerback seems to be the move for the Dallas Cowboys. Jaycee Horn is the best corner in the draft now that Patrick Surtain II is off the board, but Horn isn’t very far behind him, his measurements being very similar to Surtain’s. Horn would bring Dallas size, athleticism, and speed, and would immediately be inserted into a starting spot. A corner is what the Cowboys are targeting, and Horn would be a great fit that would have an immediate impact.

Pick 11 – New York Giants: Rashwan Slater, OL, Northwestern

Having the worst-ranked offensive line by the time the season had ended, and not making any moves to improve it in the offseason up to this point, it seems like the obvious choice would be to draft lineman Rashawn Slater. The Giants have good weapons on their offense, including young quarterback Daniel Jones, elite running back Saquon Barkley, and newly acquired wide receiver Kenny Golladay, but they desperately need to upgrade their o-line, and Slater would be a step in the right direction to do that. Slater is one of the top offensive linemen in the draft, and he’ll help give the offense some much needed help.

Pick 12 – Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

It seems that the Philadelphia Eagles are committing to having Jalen Hurts as the official quarterback of their future, meaning they’re going to want to build around him as much as possible. Heisman Trophy-winning receiver and former teammate of Hurts, DeVonta Smith, would be a great addition to the Eagles’ offense. Not only is Smith a good piece to add to the offense, but his already established chemistry with Hurts will help Philadelphia’s team chemistry as a whole, something that the team needs.

Pick 13 – Los Angeles Chargers: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

Improvements have been made to the Los Angeles Chargers’ offensive line during the offseason, but there’s a strong possibility they’re not done improving yet. Quarterback Justin Herbert coming off of a Rookie of the Year winning season and is set to be the franchise quarterback for years to come, meaning the Chargers are going to want to get him as much protection as possible, and Alijah Vera-Tucker will help with just that.

Pick 14 – Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

It seems pretty apparent that the Minnesota Vikings are going to be targeting a defensive end with their first round pick, but which defensive end they select is tough to call. There is a lot of uncertainty at the defensive end position in this draft, and Michigan product Kwity Paye seems to be the safest bet to take. He’s athletic for his position and is explosive, having a lot of good upside with not a lot of downside.

Pick 15 – New England Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

It would not be surprising to see the New England Patriots trade up in this draft, most likely to target a quarterback. However, if the Patriots are patient, they could very well see one of the top defensive prospects in the draft, Micah Parsons, still on the board by the time they’re up to pick. During the offseason, the Patriots have made several moves to improve upon their lackluster offense. With such heavy focus on the offense up to this point, they could most definitely continue that trend by attempting to trade up in order to land a top offensive prospect, but I believe they will switch over to the defensive side of the ball and select the well-rounded Parsons with their current pick.

Pick 16 – Arizona Cardinals: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

While there are arguably better fits for the Arizona Cardinals at this point, it would be hard to pass on receiver Jaylen Waddle with this pick. Being a good secondary target for quarterback Kyler Murray to go to alongside elite receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the speedy Waddle would be electric in the Cardinals’ offense.

Pick 17 – Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

The Las Vegas Raiders have been trying to build their core of linebackers for sometime now, and they are going to continue to do so in the draft. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah gives them everything that they’re looking for in a linebacker, bringing good athleticism, speed, and change of direction that will be beneficial to the Raiders on defense.

Pick 18 – Miami Dolphins: Jaelen Phillips, EDGE, Miami

Being arguably the best defensive end in the draft, Jaelen Phillips has had past injury problems that make drafting him cause for concern. If he continues to be prone to injury throughout his NFL career, he’ll never be able to live up to his full potential, and this will have been a waste of a first round pick for Miami. If Phillips can remain healthy, however, he would be a great asset to have and will likely be seen as a steal a few years down the road.

Pick 19 – Washington Football Team: Christian Darrisaw, OL, Virginia Tech

A left tackle is the top need for Washington, making Christian Darrisaw a perfect fit for the Football Team. Darrisaw is arguably the best-left tackle in the draft, and with him being from Washington and a fan of the team since he was a kid, this would be a great scenario for both sides.

Pick 20 – Chicago Bears: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

There is a very apparent need at the quarterback position for the Chicago Bears, but with the top quarterbacks all already off the board, the next best thing would be to acquire some depth to their secondary. They may have already missed out on the big-name corners, but cornerback Greg Newsome II would provide what the Bears need.

Pick 21 – Indianapolis Colts: Teven Jenkins, OL

After offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo announced his retirement, there’s a hole to fill on the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line. Teven Jenkins would be a good choice to fill that spot, bringing the ability to play both left and right tackle, as well as a good intensity to the team.

Pick 22 – Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

After cutting two of their cornerbacks during the offseason, the Tennessee Titans are in need of a corner. Caleb Farley would be a great pickup for them at this point in the draft, being one of the few top corners still remaining up to this point. Farley had to get surgery in late March, but he was told that he’ll be ready to go for the start of the NFL season and that his issue was not chronic, so injury should not be much of a concern.

Pick 23 – New York Jets: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

A problem that’s almost as prevalent as their quarterback issues, the New York Jets are also lacking in pass rushing. Their selection of Zach Wilson with the second pick solves their QB problem, so they’ll likely target an edge defender with this pick. Being arguably the best defensive end remaining in the draft, Azeez Ojulari seems like the way to go. Ojulari would be an immediate upgrade to the position and improves upon their ability to get after the quarterback on defense.

Pick 24 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have other positions that are in need of an upgrade, including offensive line, defensive end, and cornerback, the Steelers would have a hard time passing on Najee Harris at this point in the draft, and there are still going to be plenty of offensive linemen to pick from in the following rounds. Harris could help the Steelers recommit to the running game, but also has the ability to go out for the pass if needed.

Pick 25 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

The first safety off the board, Trevon Moehrig would be a good, versatile pickup for the defense. Moehrig has the ability to play all over the field, being most fit to play free safety. He also brings a good aggressiveness and reliability to the defense.

Pick 26 – Cleveland Browns: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

After a pretty successful season, the Cleveland Browns are going to look to continue their winning ways by making some upgrades in the draft. The defense is in need of some improvement, and with the recent signing of Jadeveon Clowney, they seem to be doing just that. Gregory Rousseau provides good size and speed for the defense, as well as some good upside that can be capitalized upon in the future.

Pick 27 – Baltimore Ravens: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

After losing some star power on the edge, the Baltimore Ravens could use a young edge defender to replace what was lost. With Jayson Oweh likely being the best edge left in the draft at this point, it’d make sense for Baltimore to pick him here. He’d bring some speed and explosiveness to an already good Ravens defense.

Pick 28 – New Orleans Saints: Asante Samuel Jr, CB, Florida State

In need of a replacement for Janoris Jenkins, Asante Samuel Jr is the smart move with this pick. Samuel is a playmaker with a good football IQ, and he’ll likely begin his contribution to the defense almost immediately.

Pick 29 – Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

After another tough playoff loss, the Green Bay Packers are going to look to continue trying to give Aaron Rodgers all the help he can get on offense. When healthy, Rondale Moore was pretty dominant at Purdue, having great speed and the ability to get down the field quickly, which would provide Rodgers with a great option at receiver. His injuries have been concerning for organizations, but even with his injury history, he’s still worth the pick.

Pick 30 – Buffalo Bills: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

After making it to the AFC Championship game, it seems that the Buffalo Bills are starting to get it together as a team. They do still have some upgrades to make, notably at cornerback. Tyson Campbell would serve as a good pick to help solve this issue.

Pick 31 – Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama

There was a pretty notable issue with the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line during the Super Bowl. The Chiefs have since released a couple players from the line, going for a new look in 2021. Alex Leatherwood would potentially be an immediate starter, being tasked with protecting one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

Pick 32 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

After winning the 2020 Super Bowl and bringing back the same 22 starters that they had on that Super Bowl winning team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves with a first-round luxury pick. They’ll more than likely pick whoever the best player available is, and Christian Barmore would be a good candidate for that spot.

A lot is going to be happening in this draft, and it should be a fun one to watch. It’s tough to predict what teams are thinking with their picks, and that’s if they don’t want to straight-up trade their pick, which is a very real possibility for several teams. No matter what happens though, we’re in for one of the most interesting drafts we’ve seen in some time.