2021 NFL Mock Draft
NFL Mock Draft 1.0
As we enter into the NFL offseason, it's time to look ahead to the NFL Draft. While Trevor Lawrence is a near-lock to be suiting up for the Jaguars next fall, the remainder of this draft will be shrouded in mystery. With three months between now and the day of the draft, there is a lot that could change. However, as things stand at this moment, these are the selections that make the most sense (in my mind, at least).
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Team Needs: QB, OL, DL, TE
Pick: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Lawrence is, in many ways, the perfect quarterback prospect. At 6'6, 225 lbs, he's got a great frame and plenty of mobility, with high-level accuracy and an uncanny ability to read a defense. While the Gardner Minshew era was fun, Lawrence will provide the Jaguars with long term stability at the QB spot. He's drawn comparisons to John Elway and Andrew Luck for a good reason, as the sustained excellence which Lawrence displayed during his three years with Clemson was unlike anything we've seen from a college passer in the past decade.
2. New York Jets
Team Needs: Everything (seriously)
Pick: LT Penei Sewell, Oregon
Sam Darnold may never become an elite quarterback in the NFL, but he's still a young, talented passer. Swapping out Darnold for Justin Fields or Zach Wilson won't move the needle for the Jets, as they have a ton of needs elsewhere. Sewell is an elite blindside blocker, who in tandem with Mekhi Becton could allow the Jets to build a truly dominant offensive line.
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
Team Needs: OL, LB, WR, RB
Pick: WR Devonta Smith, Alabama
Smith won the Heisman Trophy this past fall on the merit of his 117/1,856/23 line. He's not the biggest or fastest receiver. At 6'1, 185 lbs, Smith is a bit thin for an NFL wideout but his production speaks for itself. He's got great hands, excellent route-running ability, and tremendous body control. Reuniting him with college teammate Tua Tagovailoa could be in the best interest of Smith, Tua, and the Dolphins organization.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Team Needs: RB, OL, DL, DB
Pick: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
There were rumors swirling this past season that the Falcons were looking to move on from Matt Ryan. If these rumors have any truth to them, then the Falcons could be taking a long look at Fields, should he fall to this spot in the draft. A dynamic dual-threat who can drop some absolute dimes when he has to, Fields would be a candidate to be the first quarterback off the board in any other draft class. A Georgia native, landing with the Falcons could be a dream come true for Fields and his family.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Team Needs: OL, TE, LB
Pick: DE Gregory Rousseau, Miami (FL.)
Had Rousseau not opted out of the 2020 season, he could have easily elevated himself to Chase Young-status in this class (i.e the best player in the class regardless of position). At 6'7, 270 lbs, the former Hurricanes star is an absolute demon off the edge, the type of pass-rusher who could easily lead the NFL in sacks by his second or third season in the league. I see a lot of Julius Peppers in his game and with Penei Sewell off the board, he's the best player available for the Bengals, who could use a superstar of the defensive side of the ball.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
Team Needs: WR, OL, DB, DL
Pick: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
Stuck in salary cap hell, the Eagles have a ton of needs and not a ton of ways to address them. While grabbing Ja'Marr Chase to pair with Jalen Reagor could be a nice proposal for the fantasy football upside of this team, the more practical move would be taking Parsons, the best linebacker in this class. Parsons can do it all, from rushing the passer to making stops in space to covering tight ends. There are some off-field concerns about Parsons, but his overall body of work suggests that there is a good chance he can develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker.
7. Detroit Lions
Team Needs: LB, DB, WR, QB
Pick: WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
If the new brass in Detroit decides to move on from either Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones then taking a wideout with their first-round pick could be the right decision. Chase was utterly dominant in 2019, outshining his teammate Justin Jefferson, who set the league on fire as a rookie with over 1,400 receiving yards. The Lions will have to surround Jared Goff with weapons if they hope to get the best out of him this season, and bringing in a player of Chase's caliber would be a step in the right direction.
8. Carolina Panthers
Team Needs: TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, QB
Pick: QB Zach Wilson, BYU
Teddy Bridgewater is not the long-term answer for Carolina. Joe Brady's offense looked solid last season despite Bridgewater's limitations as a passer, but just imagine how it could operate with a player of Wilson's caliber under-center. Averaging over 11 yards-per-attempt for the Cougars in 2020, Wilson's ascension up draft boards has been rapid yet justified. With arm strength for days and an uncanny ability to make something out of nothing, Wilson has drawn comparisons to Patrick Mahomes for good reason, and the Panthers' offense could be one of the league's best once he takes over the reins.
9. Denver Broncos
Team Needs: QB, OL, DB, DL
Pick: OL Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
The Broncos appear willing to give Drew Lock one more season to prove that he is the answer to the team's quarterback woes. Drafting Slater, a versatile lineman who can play all over the offensive line, seems to be the best move at this stage. If the team can provide Lock with ample time to throw the ball, they could very well bring out the best in the third-year gunslinger.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Team Needs: DB, DL, OL
Pick: DL Kwity Paye, Michigan
Paye is a really special athlete who has yet to scratch the surface of his potential as a pass-rusher. He could be a game-changer along the defensive line for Dallas, where Demarcus Lawrence's deteriorating performance has led to a decline in the production of the Cowboys defense as a whole. This is both a value pick and a need-based selection for Dallas.
11. New York Giants
Team Needs: WR, DB, LB
Pick: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
At 6'2, 210 lbs, Farley is the type of big-bodied boundary corner that could really help the Giants defense develop into an elite unit. There are shades of Richard Sherman in Farley's game, who should develop into a special man coverage corner regardless of his landing spot. Following the DeAndre Baker debacle, New York will need to re-invest in their secondary once again.
12. San Francisco 49ers
Team Needs: QB, DB
Pick: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Ravaged by injuries in 2020, the 49ers should be much better in 2021 following the return of Nick Bosa, George Kittle, and countless others. Blessed with an early draft pick in this class, taking Lance as their quarterback of the future seems almost too good to be true. While 49ers fans (and the front office) have soured on starter Jimmy Garopollo, he could be a decent bridge starter until Lance is deemed "ready". A tremendous mobile passer with great field vision, Lance is an ideal fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense as well, making this pick a match made in heaven for both sides.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Team Needs: OL, LB, DB, DT, TE
Pick: DL Jaelan Phillips, Miami (FL.)
Phillips is a blue-chipper who really showed out in 2020, totaling 8 sacks for the Hurricanes defense. While he's not quite on Rousseau's level as a prospect, Phillips is a long, athletic edge rusher who could immediately take over Melvin Ingram's spot for the Chargers, assuming the veteran leaves in free agency.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Team Needs: DB, OL, DL, LB
Pick: DL Christian Barmore, Alabama
At 6'5, 310 lbs, Barmore has the size and athleticism to be a game-changer along the defensive line for Minnesota. While the Vikings could desperately use some secondary help, selecting Barmore fills a need elsewhere without reaching. Barmore's teammate Patrick Surtain II could also be in consideration for this selection.
15. New England Patriots
Team Needs: QB, WR, TE, DL, LB
Pick: QB Mac Jones, Alabama
Jones set a few records in his only full season as a starter for the Crimson Tide, though his performance was largely boosted by the dominant senior seasons of Devonta Smith and Najee Harris. The Patriots could desperately use a cerebral passer like Jones under-center, as their offense simply failed to operate efficiently with Cam Newton. Jones isn't a high-level athlete and his arm strength is average at best. However, his anticipation and accuracy are top notch, making him a perfect fit in New England.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Team Needs: OL, DL, TE, DB,
Pick: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
While rumors of Patrick Peterson's departure from the Cardinals have been met with doubt (from Peterson himself), it would not be a bad idea for Arizona to invest in a long-term shutdown corner. Surtain II is the son of former NFL star Patrick Surtain. He's a very special player who could be even better than his father was. In a division that features D.K Metcalf, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Lockett, the Cardinals would love to have a player of Surtain's caliber on the defensive side of the ball.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Team Needs: DL, LB, WR, QB
Pick: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Owusu-Koramoah is a very unique player. At 6'1, 215 lbs, he's not a traditionally sized linebacker, but he thrived as a pass-rusher for the Fighting Irish in 2019, tallying 8.5 sacks. Owusu-Koramoah could be a nice chess piece in the middle of the Raiders defense, as he's equally adept in coverage and as a rusher. While he's not the best linebacker in this class, Owusu-Koramoah's versatility makes him perhaps the most valuable defensive player in this class -- if he doesn't bust, that is.
18. Miami Dolphins
Team Needs: OL, LB, WR, RB
Pick: LB Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
Ojulari emerged as one of the best edge rushers in the SEC this past fall, boosting his draft stock tremendously. While he's a bit raw, the Dolphins defense could present Ojulari with the perfect opportunity to learn and grow into an elite NFL player.
19. Washington Football Team
Team Needs: QB, OT, LB, DB
Pick: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
As solid as Logan Thomas was in 2020, passing up Pitts at this juncture would be a sin. At 6'6, 245 lbs, Pitts is reminiscent of a young Jimmy Graham, with more willingness to throw blocks. He could be a fantasy football superstar as the 1A to Terry McLaurin in Washington's west coast scheme.
20. Chicago Bears
Team Needs: QB, WR, OL, DE, OLB, CB
Pick: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
It's looking like the Bears could be sending this pick to Philadelphia in exchange for Carson Wentz, though rumors of their frustrations with said negotiations suggest that a deal for Wentz could fall through. If Chicago stands pat here, grabbing Bateman could be a smart move, as the Minnesota star could be a nice, cheap replacement for impending free agent Allen Robinson.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Team Needs: QB, WR, DE, CB
Pick: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
A rather unsexy selection, Horn is a sticky cover corner who could add to Indianapolis' strong defense. As things stand right now, the Colts appear to be rolling with either Jacoby Brissett or Jacob Eason as their starting quarterback for 2021 following the retirement of Phillip Rivers. Barring a deal for Carson Wentz, it's hard to imagine the Colts using this selection to acquire a QB, as Kyle Trask won't move the needle.
22. Tennessee Titans
Team Needs: WR, OL, DL, CB
Pick: WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
Corey Davis is a free agent and it's unclear whether the Titans will look to re-up with him, as Davis's strong performance in 2020 could earn him a nice payday. With a passing attack predicated upon using athletic receivers who can run after the catch, Rondale Moore is a perfect fit here. An explosive athlete who caught over 100 passes as a true freshman, Moore is the closest thing I've seen to Tyreek Hill since...well, Tyreek Hill.
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
Team Needs: Everything
Pick: TE Pat Friermuth, Penn State
New Jets HC Robert Saleh got to see first hand what happens when you can build an offense around a dynamic tight end who can block and catch at a Pro Bowl level. While Friermuth is not quite George Kittle, his impact for the Jets offense could be massive, perhaps even as a rookie.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Team Needs: RB, C, DB, QB
Pick: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
If there was ever a team in need of a running back, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers. Following a season that saw his team finish dead last in the NFL in rushing offense (84.4 yards per-game), GM Kevin Colbert should look to bring in Harris, a dominant rusher who has drawn comparisons to Derrick Henry.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)
Team Needs: QB, OL, DL, TE
Pick: LB Joseph Ossai, Texas
Ossai is a very skilled edge rusher who has proven himself to be a solid all-around linebacker, as well. The Jaguars could use some help all over the field and taking the best player available is probably best for business. In this case, Ossai is that player.
26. Cleveland Browns
Team Needs: LB, DB, WR
Pick: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Believe it or not, the Browns do not need that many things to be a contender in 2021. Adding Collins would be a huge boost for their defense, as the former Tulsa star proved himself to be an outstanding playmaker during his time with the Golden Hurricanes. A sound tackler with great instincts, Collins would surely help the Browns defense tighten up a bit in 2021 and beyond.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Team Needs: WR, DL
Pick: WR Kadarius Toney, Florida
Toney broke out as the WR1 for the Gators in 2020 and appears to be a fast riser in the eyes of many draft scouts. The artist formerly known as "Hollywood" Brown has yet to develop into a legit No. 1 wideout for the Ravens, so here's hoping Toney can be that guy. While I expect the team to be a top contender to land Allen Robinson, drafting Toney on top of that isn't a bad idea either.
28. New Orleans Saints
Team Needs: QB, WR, DE, LB, CB
Pick: DE Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
If Trey Hendrickson leaves via free agency then the Saints should look to the draft to replace him, as spending money on a similar talent would be unwise. Basham has been a productive player for the Demon Deacons and at 6'5, 285 lbs, has the size to be an ideal fit as a 4-3 defensive end for New Orleans' defense. In Basham's case, the phrase "dominant at the point of attack" has been brought up in his evaluations numerous times.
29. Green Bay Packers
Team Needs: WR, LB, DB, TE, OG
Pick: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Though he never put up gaudy statistics for the Crimson Tide, Waddle was as good as any of the receivers we've seen come out of the program in the last two seasons. Concerns about Waddle's durability could push him to the end of round one, where the Packers would gladly scoop him up as the Robin to Davante Adams' Batman. Selecting a player of Waddle's caliber would surely put a smile on Aaron Rodgers' face.
30. Buffalo Bills
Team Needs: RB, TE, OL, DE, DB
Pick: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
A terrific tackle prospect, the value of Darrisaw here is too good for Buffalo to pass up. If he can reach his potential as a professional, Darrisaw could be an anchor along the Bills offensive line for years to come. Lord knows that Josh Allen would love a blindside protector of Darrisaw's caliber. And before you ask, yes Dion Dawkins would move to the right side of the line in this case, though Darrisaw could easily shift over if need be.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Team Needs: CB, OL, LB
Pick: CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State
Wade hurt his stock by opting back into the 2020 season. While some anticipate the former OSU star falling out of round one altogether, I see him landing with the Chiefs here. A very good technical corner with a tough mindset, Wade could be the top cornerback in Kansas City by his second season in the league if everything goes according to plan.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Team Needs: OG, DT, DE, CB
Pick: DT Daivyon Nixon, Iowa
Nixon is a disruptive interior lineman who would work well in tandem with Vita Vea. The Bucs defense looked great in the Super Bowl, but this unit is far from perfect. Investing more resources into the defensive line would be the best idea if the team intends to repeat as champions in 2021.
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A self-proclaimed "cat person" with an affinity for pass-catching running backs and slot receivers, Alex is a well-traveled writer whose work can be found on sites such as 3CoSports and Dynasty Nerds in addition to FantasyData and BettingData. Follow him @AlexKurpeskiNFL on Twitter for more great content!