The NFL Draft is now less than a week away, many teams are starting to dial in on certain prospects and positions to cover in the draft to continue to improve their teams. While others are looking to make deals to move up or down in the draft order. With hundreds of predictions and mock drafts out there, I figured I'd get in on the fun, here's my 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence QB, Clemson
I said it in my player rankings and I’ll say it here once again… did you expect to see anyone else? The Jaguars were awful at the Quarterback position last season, no matter who they had under center. With new head coach Urban Meyer, the Jaguars get a fresh start and begin their rebuild by taking their QB of the future. This pick is practically guaranteed, as Jaguars fans raised twenty-thousand dollars for charity as a wedding gift to Lawrence and his wife, who in response donated twenty-thousand dollars to Jacksonville charities. (actionnewsjax.com)
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson QB, BYU
After the Jets decided to send Sam Darnod to Carolina, this pick is nearly as obvious as the previous one. Although I have Justin Fields ranked ahead of Wilson, the QB that is constantly being talked about in New York is Zach Wilson. With plenty of picks in this draft, the Jets’ next step will be building the right team around Wilson.
3. San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones QB, Alabama
For weeks now there have been constant rumors about how much the 49ers love Mac Jones. Usually I would ignore them and consider it a giant smoke screen, but it has been several weeks and the rumors have not calmed down. San Francisco’s choice to trade up into the top three clearly indicated that they don’t believe Jimmy Garoppolo is the guy that can win them a Super Bowl. They go ahead and select the guy they believe can at number three.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Trey Lance QB, North Dakota State
The draft really begins here at number four with Atlanta. The tough choice for the Falcons on this pick is deciding if they take soon-to-be 36 year old Matt Ryan’s successor, do they take another position of need, or do they even trade back as recent rumors around the league have suggested? I believe they go with Lance, who will fit their offensive system perfectly, assuming new General Manager Terry Fontenot and Head Coach Arthur Smith don’t believe they’ll be picking this high again soon.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase WR, LSU
The Bengals should take Oregon’s Penei Sewell but recent reports suggest that the Bengals are targeting Ja’Marr Chase with this pick (Tyler Dragon of the Enquirer). Reuniting Burrow and his favorite target from his one year at LSU could go a long way for the success of both Burrow and Chase. But this still doesn’t solve the Bengals problem of protecting Burrow, offensive tackle is also a strong possibility here.
6. Miami Dolphins: DeVonta Smith WR, Alabama
Although the number one wide receiver in the class is off the board, the Dolphins are still very happy with being able to bring in Tua Tagovailoa’s former teammate, DeVonta Smith. The Dolphins will be getting Albert Wilson back after opting out of last season and they signed Will Fuller V but only to a one year deal. With uncertainty about both of those players' futures in Miami, the Dolphins get a receiver they can pair with DeVante Parker for years to come.
7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle WR, Alabama
The last of the three wide receivers that could potentially have his name called in the top 10, Jaylen Waddle fills a huge gap in the roster for Detroit. After losing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. in free agency, the Lions have a big need to fill at the receiver position. Although they signed Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman, those two guys are not the long term answer. Here at pick seven, they get the best deep threat in the class to pair with newly acquired Quarterback, Jared Goff.
8. Carolina Panthers: Penei Sewell OT, Oregon
If it weren't for the extreme talent at QB and Wide Receiver in this class, Sewell would have been long gone by now. But that’s not the case and the Panthers pounce on the opportunity to pick up the best offensive lineman in the draft. The Panthers will need to keep Sam Darnold upright in order to see if he’s their QB of the future and they’ll also need to open up running lanes for Christian McCaffrey if they're going to win more games this year.
9. Denver Broncos: Micah Parsons LB, Penn State
The Broncos seem to be sticking with Drew Lock at Quarterback, for now at least. During free agency, the Broncos filled a large hole at the corner position by signing Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. The Broncos defense could use a playmaker in the linebacker core like Parsons, who can also get to the Quarterback when necessary. But I also would not be surprised if the Broncos chose an offensive player here.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Kyle Pitts TE, Florida
The odds of Kyle Pitts still being available at this pick on draft night are slim but if he is, I have no doubt the Cowboys would send in their pick right away. The Cowboys defense was pitiful last year in every unit and lost even more talent in free agency with the departure of Chidobe Awuzie, but the infatuation Jerry Jones has with Kyle Pitts has not gone unnoticed around the league. The Cowboys take Pitts here, and use the majority of their remaining draft picks on upgrading one of the worst defenses in the league last year.
11. New York Giants: Kwity Paye DE, Michigan
The Giants defense was very impressive last season but mostly in the secondary. Their leading sack leader was Leonard Williams with 11.5, which is not bad until you look at everyone else on the roster. After Williams, the player with the second most sacks on the team drops off to only 3.5 by Defensive Tackle, Dalvin Tomlinson. The Giants continued to add talent to the secondary with some of their offseason signings and also addressed some needs at the receiver position. But after missing out on Chase Young in last year’s daft, it is clear the Giants still need help up front.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Surtain II CB, Alabama
The Eagles traded back from 6 to 12 and essentially eliminated the possibility of getting one of the top pass catchers in the draft, a dire need for their roster. With that being said, the Eagles were able to gain more draft capital and put themselves in the best spot to get one of the top defensive backs in the draft, which is another need for them. The Eagles have a true number one corner with Darius Slay Jr. on the roster but experience a major drop off in talent after him. They can secure the best corner in the draft with this pick.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater OT, Northwestern
The chargers found the future of their franchise last year in Justin Herbert, and have been continuously aiming to improve his protection. The Chargers gave Center Corey Linsley a big time deal in free agency and also added Matt Feiler to play either tackle or guard. The Chargers will continue to add to the offensive line here, by getting the second best lineman in the class.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw OT, Virginia Tech
The Vikings are weak all over the offensive line and became even weaker by losing tackle Riley Reiff in free agency. Darrisaw is a great fit here for Minnesota as he fills an instant need for the Vikings and will protect Kirk Cousins' blind side while also opening holes in the running game for Dalvin Cook.
15. New England Patriots: Justin Fields QB, Ohio State
The odds of Fields actually still being on the board at fifteen is practically none but I didn't want to include any trades in this mock draft, so Fields finds his new home at pick fifteen. Even though I have Fields as my number two QB in the class, it seems as if teams are seeing something they don’t like about Fields or they have a prospect in mind that they like better. Either way, I strongly believe some of these teams will regret not taking Justin Fields. The Patriots re-signed Cam Newton but only to a one year deal and they don’t seem very confident in any other QB on the roster. They get Fields here and let him sit and learn from Newton for a season before taking over as the franchise QB.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn CB, South Carolina
The Cardinals lost long-time corner and All-Pro Patrick Peterson in free agency, leaving a position of weakness even weaker. The Cardinals have Robert Alford and Malcom Butler as the corners on the outside but they’re not the answer for the Cardinals at the corner position. I would go Farley here but due to some of his health concerns and his recent back procedure, I think the Cardinals take the number three corner in the draft, Jaycee Horn. I’d also be on the lookout for the Cardinals to trade up and potentially take a receiver, as those rumors have started swirling around the league
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Alijah Vera-Tucker OT/G USC
The Raiders lost three of their five offensive linemen in the offseason, a unit that was the most talented on the team. The Raiders traded away their Center, Right Guard, and Right tackle this offseason, leaving a massive gap to fill for the team. Vera-Tucker is the perfect fit for the Raiders as he could slide into either Right Guard, or Right Tackle on day one of his career. The Raiders will have to reload the offensive line this draft, in hopes to prevent Derek Carr from having to run for his life all season.
18. Miami Dolphins: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB, Notre Dame
The Dolphins second and final pick in round one fills the need of a versatile and reliable linebacker. The Dolphins were able to secure a premier Wideout earlier in the first round and can now turn to the defense with this pick. After releasing Kyle Van Noy early in the offseason the Dolphins have a serious weakness at Linebacker and can strengthen the position here by taking Owusu-Koramoah. Offensive line could also be a potential pick here for the Dolphins.
19. Washington Football Team: Teven Jenkins OT, Oklahoma State
With the additions of Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries during free agency, it is not likely that Washington takes a receiver here. Instead they take their next biggest need, offensive line. Washington has failed to find a solid Left Tackle since trading Trent Williams to the 49ers, neither Ereck Flowers nor Geron Christan Sr. have been the answer, which is why they select Tevin Jenkins here at nineteen.
20. Chicago Bears: Caleb Farley CB, Virginia Tech
The Bears were forced to cut two-time pro-bowl corner Kyle Fuller this offseason due to issues with their cap space, leaving them with a major hole to fill at the position. The Bears signed former first rounder Desmond Trufant but after watching Trufant during his days in Atlanta, he most likely won’t be the number one corner this team needs. Farley is the second best corner in the draft but he could see his stock drop slightly due to concerns about his back. The Bears taking Farley here makes perfect sense.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Gregory Rousseau DE, Miami
The Colts biggest issue last year was their pass rush, and losing Denico Autry and still having not re-signed Justin Houston makes the position even more of a concern. They return only one player from last year’s team that recorded over four sacks, that being Defensive Tackle DeForest Buckner. The odds of the Colts taking a pass rusher here are almost guaranteed, the real question is: who will it be?
22. Tennessee Titans: Kadarius Toney WR, Florida
The Titans receiving core and secondary looks very different compared to a season ago. After losing: Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Adam Humphries, Desmond King II, and Adoree’ Jackson in free agency, receiver or corner has to be the choice here for the Titans. Toney is the best receiver on the board at the time the Titans pick, and can provide another explosive wideout to pair with A.J. Brown.
23. New York Jets: Greg Newsome II CB, Northwestern
The Jets addressed their need at QB with their first pick but this is a roster with holes all over the place, especially at corner. Newsome has risen up draft boards over the last few weeks and is now expected to be a late first round pick or a solid second round pick. Greg Newsome II is the type of corner that new Head Coach Robert Saleh loves.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris RB, Alabama
Pittsburgh was last in the NFL last season in yards per carry with just 3.6 and lost their leading rusher James Connor in free agency to the Cardinals. Big Ben is returning for what is likely his last NFL season which means the Steelers need to load up on all the offensive talent possible for one last Super Bowl run with Roethlisberger. Offensive line as well as an edge rusher could be a possibility here due to the Steelers’ free agency departures, but I’m confident that the running back position will be the pick.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevon Moehrig S, TCU
The top safety in the class, Moehrig lands in the end of the first round to Jacksonville. The Jags could also go receiver but having two picks in the second round, they could easily still find a playmaker in a deep receiver class in this year’s draft. Moehrig has incredible ball skills and would make an instant impact for the Jaguars defense.
26. Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore DT, Alabama
After signing Jadeveon Clowney recently for a rather cheap deal, the Browns may have found another stellar pass rusher to pair with All-Pro Myles Garrett. But along with signing Clowney, they also released starting Defensive Tackle Sheldon Richardson to clear cap space. The Browns still have Malik Jackson on the interior of the defensive line but adding Barmore would strengthen their defense even more, especially the front seven.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall WR, LSU
The Ravens desperately need another target for Lamar Jackson and a passing offense that was mediocre last season. The Ravens signed Sammy Watkins in the offseason but they shouldn’t stop there with adding pass catchers. If it weren’t for Marshall's teammates at LSU being Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, his numbers would have been even better, which is crazy to think about because his numbers are already outstanding.
28. New Orleans Saints: Elijah Moore WR, Ole Miss
The Saints roster is another that looks very different from last season, as they had to make a plethora of cuts to get under the cap space before the deadline. The Saints lost a lot on the offensive end and are in the process of figuring out who will be the successor of Drew Brees after he announced retirement. But the Saints also lost Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook, their number two and three receivers last year. The Saints will want to add some more firepower at some point in this draft to relieve the load of All-Pro running back Alvin Kamara, they’ll start here by taking Elijah Moore on day one.
29. Green Bay Packers: Rashod Bateman WR, Minnesota
The Packers are another team that could desperately use more help at the receiver position. Although DeVante Adams had arguably the best season of his career, there was a huge drop-off in receptions by Wide Receivers after Adams. With Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling tied for the second most receptions by receivers on the roster only having thirty-three. The Packers need more weapons to make things easier for reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers but have failed to do so in the past when needed, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they failed once again.
30. Buffalo Bills: Jaelan Philips DE, Miami
The Bills edge rushers are both aging, Philips could make a great young trio with Ed Oliver and A.J. Epenesa for years to come. Philips has a history of medical problems related to concussions that caused him to be medically disqualified for a season at UCLA before transferring to Miami. But Philips has potential to be a great pass rusher if he can stay healthy. The Bills could also go running back here depending on who’s available at this pick.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Azeez Ojulari LB, Georgia
After watching the Super Bowl and seeing Patrick Mahomes run for his life all night long and seeing the Chiefs lose both starting tackles in free agency,you’d expect an offensive lineman here. But this draft class has plenty of depth at offensive tackle, so the Chiefs can wait until day two to secure more protection for Mahomes. The Chiefs were 19th in the league in total sacks last year with thirty-two total, meaning they were in the middle of the pack. No player on the Chiefs had eight or more sacks last year, so the Chiefs could use more help in that aspect of their defense. Ojulari is one of the more underrated players in the draft but is the fastest of the edge rushers. Ojulari could come in and instantly be a game-wrecker with his speed of the edge.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Zaven Collins LB, Tulsa
There aren’t really any existing weaknesses on this Buccaneers roster but they do have some pending free agents in 2022. Zaven Collins is one of the most versatile players in the draft and was the only player in the FBS to have at least four sacks and four interceptions last season (Mel Kiper, Espn). Collins could come in and be a replacement for Jason Peire-Paul who is a free agent after this upcoming season. Many of the late round selections for the Buccaneers may not make the roster because of how stacked this team is, so the Bucs will be looking to hit early on in the draft, or even use those late picks to trade up on day one.
*All stats recorded from ESPN Stats & Info. department