The time has come.
To clear the smoke. To call the names. To chase the dream.
The 2021 NFL Draft is here.
I am pleased present my final first-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft. These projections are based on the current draft order and my impression of team needs heading into the draft, with consideration given to potential trade scenarios.
Enjoy the draft!
1 | Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Jaguars can finally make it official that Trevor Lawrence is their next quarterback and the new face of their franchise.
2 | New York Jets — Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Jets hit the reset button once again this offseason. Entering yet another new era, they hope that upstart quarterback Zach Wilson can continue his rise and lead the franchise to success.
3 | San Francisco 49ers — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The 49ers traded up for a quarterback. I believe this pick should be Justin Fields. I think this pick could be Trey Lance. I expect this pick to be Mac Jones. I will mock this pick to be Mac Jones because I don’t know what to do with him otherwise. So it goes.
4 | Atlanta Falcons — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Falcons have an opportunity to secure a successor to Matt Ryan and they’ve certainly done their homework on both Justin Fields and Trey Lance. If they pass on a passer, this pick expects to be the prototype for the tight end of the future, Kyle Pitts.
5 | Cincinnati Bengals — Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Bengals have a choice between wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and offensive tackle Penei Sewell here. I know they want to protect Joe Burrow, but I think they ultimately choose Chase, his former teammate and the alpha of this receiver class, and circle back to the offensive line on Day 2.
6 | Miami Dolphins — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Dolphins need a dynamic weapon to open up their offense — maybe two. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is as electric as they come. His prior experience playing with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa just happens to be a bonus.
7 | New England Patriots — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
* Projected trade up with Detroit Lions *
The Patriots are primed to trade up for a quarterback. Most of the pre-draft smoke has them wanting to jump up for Justin Fields, but I’m going to go with the upset and project a trade up for Trey Lance. Meanwhile, the Lions have a shortage of picks and a roster that needs work, so they might be open to trading down for draft capital.
8 | Carolina Panthers — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Panthers are reportedly interested in quarterback Justin Fields, which might be real or might prove to be gamesmanship. I’m going to call their bluff and project that they are going to try their hand with Sam Darnold. In that case, if he is still on the board, they should be ready to draft stud left tackle Penei Sewell here.
9 | Denver Broncos — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Broncos have Drew Lock and just traded for veteran Teddy Bridgewater, so would they still be interested in drafting a quarterback? It remains to be seen, but if Justin Fields is still on the board when they come up on the clock, it’s certainly a consideration. If this scenario plays out, I think Teddy is the bridge, Fields is the future, and Lock is on the block.
10 | Dallas Cowboys — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys have a glaring need at cornerback, but if offensive lineman Rashawn Slater is still on the board, he would also expect to be in the mix. I can see either Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn as the pick here, but I’m going to give the nod to Surtain in the event that another team has eyes on Horn and takes him in front of Dallas.
11 | New York Giants — DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Giants have a host of needs they could address with this pick, with offensive lineman Rashawn Slater, linebacker Micah Parsons, and edge defenders Kwity Paye and Azeez Ojulari among the options. But, I think adding wide receiver DeVonta Smith to their cache of weaponry might intrigue them as they continue trying to figure out exactly what they have in quarterback Daniel Jones.
12 | Philadelphia Eagles — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Eagles might regret trading back after all of the top-tier pass catchers come off the board before they pick, but I believe they are in more desperate need of a cornerback. I think they would be relieved to still come away with Jaycee Horn here, but don’t rule out the possibility of them trading up ahead of the Cowboys to steal either Horn or Patrick Surtain II.
13 | Los Angeles Chargers — Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Chargers would expect to have interest in both of the top offensive tackles — Rashawn Slater and Penei Sewell, the former teammate of quarterback Justin Herbert at Oregon. A trade up might be in order for them to land either, but if they were to stay put, Slater is the more likely candidate to be available here.
14 | Minnesota Vikings — Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Vikings are obviously in play to draft an offensive lineman here, most likely Alijah Vera-Tucker or Christian Darrisaw — unless they explore a trade up. They might also attempt to trade down to get an extra pick or two. As it stands, I could see them just as easily taking the first edge rusher off the board, potentially Kwity Paye.
15 | Detroit Lions — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
* Projected trade down with New England Patriots *
The Lions are a prime candidate to trade down in the first round, especially if a team like the Patriots is willing to pay the quarterback tax to move up. If they were to sit tight at #7, a wide receiver or offensive tackle are likely considerations. As is linebacker Micah Parsons, who could still be available here in their projected landing spot.
16 | Arizona Cardinals — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Cardinals are a little bit of a wildcard depending on their interest in a wide receiver, as it has been suggested that they are considering a trade up. I could also see them being open to trading back and taking one from the second tier. If they stand in and pick, physically imposing linebacker Zaven Collins could be the target to fill out their front seven.
17 | Las Vegas Raiders — Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The Raiders always make it interesting on draft night, but they also raised a lot of eyebrows this offseason by effectively dismantling what had been one of the better offensive lines in the league. With a definite void now at right tackle, I would expect them to strongly lean towards massive mauler Teven Jenkins with this pick. If linebacker Micah Parsons were to still be available, I think he would also be in play.
18 | Miami Dolphins — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC
The Dolphins could consider offensive tackle Penei Sewell at #6 if the Bengals pass on him in favor of wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, but I had Miami pass on him as well to get an offensive weapon in Jaylen Waddle. In turn, I think they could look at adding to their offensive line here with Alijah Vera-Tucker, who would slot in at guard alongside his former college teammate, second-year tackle Austin Jackson, who has promise but struggled as a rookie.
19 | Washington Football Team — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Washington is another team firmly in the conversation to draft an offensive tackle, but I think they could also be interested in an impact second-level defender. Hybrid linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah compares favorably to the smaller, faster linebackers head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have deployed in the past.
20 | Chicago Bears — Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
The Bears could realistically target a wide receiver, a cornerback, or an offensive tackle here — if they don’t go all in to trade up for a quarterback. In lieu of a big move, I think they might still try to splash a little bit with a wide receiver. Elijah Moore is undersized, but there’s no question he is a fast, explosive playmaker who would add some juice to their offense.
21 | Indianapolis Colts — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Colts could be a mover on draft night if they don’t see the value at offensive tackle or edge rusher being here for them. In this scenario, however, they are fortunate to have potential trade-up target Christian Darrisaw somehow make it through the minefield of tackle-needy teams ahead of them.
22 | Tennessee Titans — Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Titans lost a lot of firepower from their passing offense this offseason and have not done much to reload, thus I would expect them to strongly consider a wide receiver here. Rashod Bateman is perhaps the most natural fit in this range to complement A.J. Brown.
23 | New York Jets — Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
The Jets expect to continue renovating their defense through the draft, specifically the secondary. But, I think cornerback will stretch into Day 2. Meanwhile, they have to be leery of what they have at linebacker for this season and beyond. A riser at the position, Jamin Davis could be a compelling option to work in alongside C.J. Mosley and Jarrad Davis before eventually taking over as the leader of the unit.
24 | Pittsburgh Steelers — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Steelers have needs at cornerback and offensive tackle specifically, but may be looking at the third, fourth, or fifth options at either or both positions depending on how the board falls. Meanwhile, they are likely in position to take the first running back, which also happens to be a substantial need. Najee Harris is the call for me, but Travis Etienne would also make sense here.
25 | Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
The Jaguars expect to focus their draft on putting pieces around Trevor Lawrence, which could have them looking in multiple directions offensively here. Alternatively, if they are aiming to raise their overall talent level, safety Trevon Moehrig should be a consideration. He is arguably the top player remaining on the board, let alone at his position, and would project to be a rookie starter for their defense.
26 | Cleveland Browns — Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
The Browns are coming into this draft in the enviable, and for them unusual, position of not having to fill a pressing need. That said, there is some degree of uncertainty at cornerback due to injury, as well as opportunity for competition. Given that context, I think cornerback Eric Stokes may be a consideration over Caleb Farley and Greg Newsome II, both of whom might grade out slightly higher but come with durability questions.
27 | Baltimore Ravens — Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The Ravens expect to be in the market for multiple positions late in the the first round, but fortunately they now have two picks to address those needs. In this scenario, the first position they tackle is edge rusher, opting for Azeez Ojulari, who is at or near the top of the group talent-wise, but may slip depending on how teams interpret his medical evaluation.
28 | New Orleans Saints — Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
The Saints are thin at wide receiver and defensive tackle especially, but cornerback is perhaps their most urgent need. With Greg Newsome II still on the board, I think they have to consider taking the immediate help for their pass defense, and tabling the other two positions until later. They could also be open to trading down with a team looking to jump back into the first round.
29 | Green Bay Packers — Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
The Packers may consider drafting for value this late in the first round, which would rule out positions where they do have an immediate need, such as wide receiver, linebacker, and cornerback, where the top of the board has been thinned out. To that point, the player presenting the best value without injury concerns might be high-ceiling defensive lineman Christian Barmore, who could be a key piece of their rotation early.
30 | Buffalo Bills — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Bills have been the source of a lot of smoke this week, with reports suggesting that they are not only interested in drafting running back Travis Etienne, but exploring a trade up in the first round to secure his services. I’ll buy into it in so far as I can see the Bills and 3 or 4 other teams potentially targeting Etienne in this range. In this case, however, a trade up is not required.
31 | Baltimore Ravens — Landon Dickerson, OC, Alabama
The Ravens will look to address a position here they didn’t earlier at #27. While I think there will be interest in a wide receiver, they might feel comfortable gambling on plug-and-play center Landon Dickerson, who is considered a first-round talent, but has an injury history that can’t be ignored.
32 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Buccaneers will come into this season looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions with their title team virtually intact. As it stands, the rich get richer, as they end up with edge rusher Jaelan Phillips, who has the talent to go in the top half of the first round, but comes with significant medical red flags that could see him slide to here. Suffice to say, the Buccaneers can afford the risk.