It’s draft day! In honor of the 2021 NFL draft, it’s time to roll out my final mock draft in time for the first round later on tonight. For this mock draft, I did not include any trades. This gives a perspective on how each team should draft at their respective position. Who do the Packers draft at the 29th pick? Where does Mac Jones land? I answer these questions and more down below.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB – Clemson
Lawrence has been the consensus number one overall pick in this year’s draft since the Jets beat the Rams last December. The Jaguars get their franchise quarterback with new head coach Urban Meyer. Lawrence is a once in a generational type quarterback since Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, and is the best quarterback that Pro Football Focus has ever scouted. He has incredible arm strength, tremendous pocket presence and averaged a 113.7 passer rating in his three years at Clemson.
2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB – BYU
Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like Sam Darnold was their guy. However, after trading Darnold to Carolina, the Jets grab Wilson with the second overall pick. His play making ability fits the Jets scheme. More so, it’s his toughness and fearlessness that convinces new head coach Robert Saleh he’s their guy. Wilson has amazing arm talent, which was recently compared to that of Aaron Rodgers’ quick release.
3) San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields, QB – Ohio State
This is a pivotal draft pick the 49ers have that could shape up the rest of the first round potentially. There’s been talks that they take Mac Jones here. However, Fields is one of those dynamic quarterbacks that head coach Kyle Shanahan would love to have in his system. He thrived on big stages throughout his career in Ohio State, and provides that rushing ability in play-action. He’s the most pro-ready prospect outside of Trevor Lawrence at quarterback.
4) Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE – Florida
There’s a chance the Falcons may go Trey Lance here, to be Matt Ryan’s successor. However, under new head coach Arthur Smith and this offense, he may believe Matt Ryan is his guy for one or two more seasons. It’s possible that two generational players at their respective positions go within the first four picks in this year’s draft. At 6’6″ and 240lbs, Pitts is a monster and a nightmare to opposing defenders. He moves unlike any other tight end, and can line up anywhere on the field. He has unbelievable body control, and a massive catch radius. After a few down years, Matt Ryan could become his former 2016 season MVP self. They’ll address the needs of offensive line, running back, and defense later in the draft.
5) Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT – Oregon
The temptation is certainly there to reunite Joe Burrow with his former teammate in Ja’Marr Chase. However, the biggest priority for the Bengals is to protect their franchise quarterback who is coming off a torn ACL. Grabbing an offensive lineman here, and getting Burrow a WR in round two would be the smart move.
6) Miami Dolphins: Devonta Smith, WR – Alabama
Unlike the Bengals, Miami reunites their quarterback with his former teammate. The Dolphins believe in Tua Tagovailoa, and they reunite him with Smith and provide him with more offensive firepower. Smith is the smoothest route runner, and plays bigger than his actual size. He’s incredibly athletic and agile for his size, great on the release off the Line of scrimmage, and can win contested catches. To me, he’s the best wide receiver in this class.
7) Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR – LSU
With the Lions losing Kenny Golladay via free agency, they need a wide receiver to give Jared Goff a chance in this offense. Chase, who opted out in 2020, steps right into an offense in need of a big bodied receiver that can win in press coverage. He Gets off the line of scrimmage with his physicality, and has incredible acceleration at the second level. Had his 2019 season be in 2020 instead, there’d be no question he’d be the first wide receiver off the board.
8) Carolina Panthers: Christian Darrisaw, OT – Virginia Tech
The Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, comes into a better situation than what he had in New York. Carolina did lose Curtis Samuel via free agency, so expect them to address the wide receiver position later in the draft. With the eighth overall pick, Darnold gets some protection with Darrisaw. At a monstrous 6’5″ and 314lbs, he has incredible upper body strength, and is a prospect who is quickly rising up draft boards. Not to mention, he would help create running lanes for Christian McCaffrey and the running game. In addition, Darrisaw didn’t allow a single sack/hit and a total of six pressures the entire season. However, had Rashawn Slater played in 2020, he would be drafted here instead of Darrisaw.
9) Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, QB – North Dakota State
The Broncos gave Drew Lock the keys to this offense last year. However he was the “key reason” they failed to gain momentum and ended with a 5-11 record. In 13 games, Lock posted a terrible completion percentage of 57.3%, threw a league high fifteen interceptions, and was sacked 19 times. Bringing in a player like Lance brings competition, and a chance for both quarterbacks to develop their game. Lance is a more polished prospect in this year’s draft, but still has some raw talent and oozes with upside. With his size, he has great mobility and tremendous accuracy as he’s able to hit the receiver in short, intermediate, and deep routes. Great decision making with a high football IQ, and thrives outside the pocket. This wide receiving core has immense speed, and having a quarterback that can thrive in play-action is a match made in heaven.
update: The Broncos have traded a sixth round pick to acquire quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from Carolina. Per source, they are still in the mix to possibly draft a quarterback in the first round.
10) Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB – Alabama
One of the highest graded prospects at the position, Surtain played in 662 press coverage snaps over the past two seasons. Dallas has the firepower on offense with Prescott and Blake Jarwin coming back from injury, and can address it later in the draft. However, their defense was atrocious and needs a rebuild. Surtain has that ability to fit in any defensive scheme, and thrives in zone coverage. At 6’2” and 202lbs, Surtain is a lockdown corner, and is able to stay with any receiver. Surtain has excellent hip movement, by keeping them centered while watching the quarterback.
He only had two missed tackles, while forcing ten incompletions in 2020. In addition, he reunites with former teammate Trevon Diggs, and locks up their secondary in a division that will gain more pass catchers. With the recent retirement of linebacker Sean Lee, the Cowboys can address the linebacker position later in the draft.
11) New York Giants: Rashawn Slater, OT – Northwestern
The Giants still believe Daniel Jones is their franchise quarterback. After acquiring Kenny Golladay via free agency, and with Saquon barkley coming back from a torn ACL, Jones has his weapons. With his versatile skillset and natural athleticism, Slater can provide protection from anywhere on the offensive line. The Giants had to release their steadiest lineman in Kevin Zeitler. Slater provides a solid foundation for an offensive line looking for a rebuild. New York will look to address their need at edge rusher later in the draft.
12) Philadelphia Eagles: Jaylen Waddle, WR – Alabama
After drafting a wide receiver in the first round last year with Jalen Reagor. The Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts a dynamic playmaker in Jaylen Waddle. They lost Alshon Jeffery and Desean Jackson, and adding a quick and elusive player like Waddle is a perfect fit for this Eagles offense. He’s diverse in his route tree, has great hands, and release off the line of scrimmage. He’s the type of receiver, who can explode on one big play, and is absolutely one of the most explosive all-around receiver in this draft class.
13) Los Angeles Chargers: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT – USC
Los Angeles needs to protect their franchise, 2020 offensive rookie of the year, quarterback in Justin Herbert. Vera-Tucker put up the highest pass-blocking grade on true pass sets of any lineman over the past two seasons. More importantly, he achieved this while playing both at guard and tackle. He brings the versatility to play at each position, and provides both protection for Herbert and boosts the run game on this offense.
14) Minnesota Vikings: Micah Parsons, LB – Penn State
After the reconstructing of linebacker Anthony Barr’s contract, it makes him a free agent after the 2021 season. Drafting Parsons here means the Vikings are looking towards the future at the position, and will have Parsons line up next to Eric Kendricks. Parsons opted out in 2020, and could potentially slide down draft boards come Thursday. However, there’s no question the player has the talent and athleticism as he is the best run-defending, blitzing and tackling linebacker in this class.
At twenty two years old, Parsons could be the long-term solution to this Minnesota defense. They can address the offensive line, and edge rushing positions later on in the draft. They signed cornerback Patrick Peterson this offseason, and can address the offensive line and edge rushers in the later rounds of the draft.
15) New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB – Alabama
There’s this narrative that New England has never drafted a starting quarterback in the first round of the draft under Bill Belichick. However, he didn’t need to while Tom Brady was still under center. They have Cam Newton on a one year deal, but Mac Jones brings that versatility to be a pocket passer, while being able to extend plays with his legs. Coming off of one of the most dominant offenses in college football history, Jones is the perfect candidate to be the next franchise quarterback in New England. He’s very elusive when extending plays, while staying calm under pressure in the pocket as well.
16) Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB – South Carolina
The Cardinals can address their offensive line issues here, but the defense suffered a huge loss when Patrick Peterson signed a one year deal with the Minnesota Vikings. Horn is a big NFL comparison to Dre Kirkpatrick, who was the corner opposite of Peterson last season in Arizona. At 6’1″ and 205lbs, Horn only allowed a 54.9% passer rating when targeted last season. He’s a very aggressive corner, with press coverage mentality. Also, Horn portrays huge confidence when in man coverage, and refuses to be stacked. He will instantly upgrade the secondary in Arizona, as they can address the offensive line, or linebacker position later in the draft.
17) Las Vegas Raiders: Jaelan Phillips, Edge – Miami (FL)
Name a position, and chances are the Raiders need to address it in the draft. After shuffling around their offensive line this offseason, they can easily address it here. However, since Khalil Mack was traded to Chicago, their pass rush has been substantially underwhelming. Pairing Phillips with Maxx Crosby on the other side gives them an advantage to rush the quarterback and instantly helps their defense. With there being a ton of value in offensive linemen, they can address it as early in the second round.
18) Miami Dolphins: Teven Jenkins, OT – Oklahoma State
Miami has four picks within the first two rounds. They have their franchise quarterback in Tua, and drafted him a dynamic playmaker in Devonta Smith with the sixth pick. Here, they draft possibly the best offensive tackle in this draft. You can plug him at right tackle, and protect Tua’s blind side. In the past two seasons, Jenkins only allowed eleven pressures on 623 pass-blocking snaps.
19) Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu- Koramoah, LB – Notre Dame
It’s very possible that Washington can trade up in the draft and grab one of the big four quarterbacks. However, in this mock draft they grab a linebacker that plays a strength on strength with their defense. JOK is a linebacker that you can put into coverage, much like a slot corner, and still had 19 run-stopping plays in 2020. Washington already has a terrific defensive line. If they can grab a true three-down linebacker, they can address their needs for quarterback later in the draft.
20) Chicago Bears: Greg Newsome II, CB – Northwestern
Much like Washington, the Chicago Bears can easily trade up in the draft to compete for one of those top four quarterbacks. However, a big hole they need to fill is the cornerback position. Newsome fills a role the Bears needed after they released Kyle Fuller because of cap salary issues. Look for them add offensive firepower later on in the draft with the depth of wide receivers in this class. Along with that, they could look into fixing the offensive line as well in the second and third rounds.
21) Indianapolis Colts: Samuel Cosmi, OT – Texas
The Colts unfortunately lost left tackle Anthony Castanzo, after he retired at the end of last year. Cosmi is a tremendous overall athlete, and started in all three seasons in a pass heavy offense. In 368 pass-blocking snaps last year, he only allowed two sacks and five hurries last season through eight games. You can plug him right in, and he will protect Wentz’s blindside. After drafting Quenton Nelson sixth overall in 2018, they hit another home run with Cosmi.
22) Tennessee Titans: Elijah Moore, WR – Mississippi
Tennessee needs another weapon opposite of A.J Brown, after losing Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith via free agency. Moore is a very reliable, tough and versatile receiver. If he lands in Tennessee, Moore will bring his tremendous speed to an offense led by Ryan Tannehill. His route tree is incredible, and you can have him running screens while having A.J on the perimeter. The Titans need to address their edge rushing, but Elijah Moore fills a big hole they have on the offense.
23) New York Jets: Kwity Paye, Edge – Michigan
The New York Jets found their franchise quarterback in Zach Wilson, now it’s time to rebuild the defense. They drafted Quinnen Williams third overall in 2019 to bolster that defensive line. Adding Paye, who had a huge pro day, brings physicality and athleticism to that defensive line. They can find value in the later rounds for a defensive back, and offensive line help to protect Wilson.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, HB – Alabama
The Steelers need help at running back. They lost James Conner via free agency to the Cardinals. After posting over 100 rushing yards per game the first five games last year, they only hit that century mark once the last eleven games. Harris is clearly the do-it-all, three down back that can help Ben Roethlisberger not have to attempt over 40 passes per game. Honestly, this is Harris’ floor being picked 24th overall. Pittsburgh can look for interior lineman in the later rounds of the draft.
25) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Moehrig, S – TCU
Jacksonville can easily add offensive weapons for Trevor Lawrence here. However, they can use the 33rd overall pick to add a Travis Etienne, or maybe an offensive lineman. Adding Moehrig here would be to big to pass up with a thin safety class this year. Moehrig is a do-it-all safety prospect that can help fill a crucial role in a rebuilding secondary like Jacksonville. He’s extremely intelligent, and constantly making plays on the ball. He has great speed and agility, and willing to come down to help as a run defender.
26) Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore, DI – Alabama
This pick is somewhat obvious, but as previous drafts have shown some picks can surprise us. With the recent departure of interior defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, Cleveland fills a huge need with Barmore. He brings even more pass rushing ability for a defensive line consisting of Myles Garrett, Malik Jackson, and new addition Jadeveon Clowney.
27) Baltimore Ravens: Rondale Moore, WR – Purdue
Baltimore, being a run heavy team, still needs help at wide receiver. They need another weapon outside of Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. Moore is one of the most electric wide receivers with the ball in his hands. There are injury and size concerns which is perhaps why he falls down this far. He’s the next version of Steve Smith Sr, who coincidently, also played for Baltimore. At 5’9″ and 180lbs, he plays with big physicality and sheds tackles consistently.
28) New Orleans Saints: Zaven Collins, LB – Tulsa
New Orleans grabs one of the best run defending linebackers in this class. Collins is a freak of nature at 6’5″ and 260lbs. They tried shortening up the position by trading for Kwon Alexander last year. However, Alexander suffered an Achilles injury last December, and was released back in March. Zaven Collins can fit right in with this Saints defense as a big presence at middle linebacker. He’s terrific in coverage, and is shifty as a pass rusher. They can address the needs for wide receiver and cornerback possibly in the second or third round in the draft.
29) Green Bay Packers: Asante Samuel Jr, CB – Florida State
With Kevin King on a one year deal, bringing in a developmental player like Samuel can strengthen Green Bay’s secondary. Samuel has a very similar dynamic skillset to Jaire Alexander’s. In fact, Samuel oozes with upside and can become the lockdown number two corner opposite of Alexander in the future. He had an eye opening pro day, and only allowed 179 yards into his coverage last season.
He can play in multiple positions in the defensive backfield, and had an amazing 2020 season. He’s an absolute ballhawk, defended five passes, and totaled three interceptions last year. Also, he’s very smooth with his moves, and very shifty while keeping his hips centered. Although he’s measured at 5’10”, he plays with big physicality and has crazy athleticism. Green Bay can look to grab a wide receiver or an offensive lineman in the second or third round.
30) Buffalo Bills: Jayson Oweh, Edge – Penn State
The Buffalo Bills came around last year with an explosive offense, after the addition of Stefon Diggs. However, their defense could use some work. They lost Trent Murphy and Quinton Jefferson this offseason and are in dire need of a pass rush attack. Jayson Oweh is a prospect that has a massive ceiling. He’s very explosive off the line of scrimmage and ran a 4.3 40yard dash at his pro day. Buffalo needs a player that can take snaps in 2021 and then take over in 2022 with Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison having one year left on their deals.
31) Baltimore Ravens: Dillon Radunz, OT – North Dakota State
The Ravens traded left tackle Orlando Brown to the Chiefs just a week ago. He’s got the skillset to be successful in the NFL, and can quickly fill that hole at left tackle. Radunz really made a name for itself at the senior bowl and was the highest-graded tackles in the one-on-ones. He’s a very strong anchor of a lineman and can create open running lanes for the Baltimore running backs. Although Radunz can very well be a day two pick, he offers that upside to go here at 31 overall.
32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR – LSU
This is essentially a luxury pick for the current super bowl champions. Chances are, Antonio Brown may not return to Tampa Bay. In addition, Chris Godwin has had trouble staying on the field the past two seasons. Marshall saw his game improve in 2020 after moving into the slot position. In the past two seasons, Marshall scored 23 touchdowns on just 94 catches, and averaged 15.3 yards per reception throughout his career at LSU. Ultimately, he provides Tom Brady another offensive weapon.
update: Tampa Bay has re-signed wide receiver Antonio Brown to a one year deal worth up to $3.1M. With that, chances are they draft an edge rusher to be a long term replacement to an aging Jason Pierre Paul. Possibly, they draft Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia.
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