Updated: May 12, 2021
With the 2021 NFL Draft right around the corner, we thought we would take a shot at a co-op mock draft. We tasked two of our young sports analysts with the challenge of alternating picks for this year’s draft. In this mock draft one of the members of The Sports Branch team, CJ, will be drafting for the odd teams, and Wesley will be drafting for the even teams . Tell us how you think they did. With that being said, this is the Sports Branch’s Official 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence QB, Clemson
I think every NFL fan, coach, and team sees this happening. Lawrence is the clear-cut number one prospect of this draft class. He is not only one of the most winning college QBs of all time, but he is one of the greatest leaders the game has ever seen. Lawrence already has been seen donating money to Jacksonville charities, so I think that does everything to solidify the thought that he will be the Jaguars’ franchise guy.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson QB, BYU
Although this mock draft is based on who we would pick, the Jets have the guy that they want in Zach Wilson. And if I’m the General Manager or Head Coach for the Jets and I have my guy, I’m sticking with him. The Jets take the potential savior of their franchise, Zach Wilson.
3. San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones QB, Alabama
San Francisco announced Monday that they have narrowed their QB search to two players; Trey Lance and Mac Jones. The two QBs are similar in terms of experience, but in terms of playstyle, they are nothing but different. That is why I believe this pick will be Jones. I know a lot of 49er fans are holding their breath while I type this, but I have a feeling this will be the reality. Jones fits right in the run-heavy offense that the 49ers like to run. He can also take his time in becoming the starter for the team as he learns behind Jimmy Garoppolo for a season or two. Overall, I think he is a perfect fit for the team.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields QB, Ohio State
With three of the top five QBs off the board, that leaves Fields and Lance. I have Fields as my second-ranked QB in the class, so this is an absolute steal in my eyes. Fields is a prospect that is sliding down the board for many teams, but with no real reason as to why. As I’ve said before, I think Fields will make a lot of teams regret overlooking him. Atlanta gets Fields here, and he takes over after one or two seasons of learning from Matt Ryan.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell OT, Oregon
Just like Lawrence to the Jaguars, Sewell to Cincinnati should be no different in terms of likeliness of happening. Yes, I know there are rumors of reuniting Burrow with his former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase, but that should be a last resort. I have confidence that Burrow can make any receiver look good as long as he has the time to stay upright. To add it, Sewell has the potential to be one of the best lineman drafted since Joe Thomas. He has the perfect balance of height, weight, and technical ability to make him a super good player for a long time in this league.
6. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase WR, LSU
If the Bengals do pass on Ja’Marr Chase on draft night as the previous pick suggests, the Dolphins would be ecstatic. The Dolphins would be in a position to get the best receiver in the draft and secure a long-term target for Tua. Chase is so talented, that it has been said by an NFL draft evaluator that he is “the best WR prospect since Julio Jones” (Ian Rapoport, NFL Network).
7. New England Patriots (Mock Trade, via Detroit): Trey Lance QB, North Dakota State
We have a trade! The New England Patriots see the last of the top 5 QBs start to drop down the board and they make a move to go up and get him. Lance may be the last QB to go in this mock, but that does not deem him as a bad player. Lance has the highest ceiling of any of the QBs in this class. Yes, his pro day was not the best, but I do not think that will scare Bill Belichick away from taking a prospect that could take the Patriots back to greatness.
8. Carolina Panthers: Kyle Pitts TE, Florida
For the Panthers to give Sam Darnold a fair shot at winning over the franchise, they need to get him more weapons. They still have a very strong offense with DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Christian McCaffery at running back. But the Panthers have not recovered at the Tight End position since losing Greg Olsen years ago. They recover at the position here by taking generational talent, Kyle Pitts.
9. Denver Broncos: Micah Parsons LB, Penn State
Unfortunately, Denver missed out on the QB frenzy. But fortunately, that means the best defensive player of this draft falls right into their laps at #9. Parsons would fill a huge role on a team that lacks a solid linebacking core. To add to the matter, Von Miller may be on the way out next season. So having someone like Parson to play with him would be a great start at replacing him. Until then Parson could play inside in that scary Denver 3-4 defense. With his athleticism, he can both cover in a zone and rush the passer if needed.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II CB, Alabama
Selecting Rashawn Slater here was very tempting, but the Cowboys defense has been dreadful for the last two years, especially in the secondary. After losing Chidobe Awuzie in free agency, the secondary became even weaker. The Cowboys will spend most of their picks on the defensive side of the ball and they’ll start here with Surtain.
11. New York Giants: DeVonta Smith WR, Alabama
Wouldn’t this be a dream come true Giants fans? I know a lot of fans are concerned about edge rushers and offensive line, but I think it would be hard for Dave Gettleman to pass up on a generational talent. Smith is a fantastic separator and would pair nicely with the newly acquired Kenny Golladay. The 2020 Heisman trophy winner had an unreal career at Alabama and hopefully will bring those skills to the Giants wide receiver core.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaylen Waddle WR, Alabama
It’s shocking to me that both DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle have slid this far down the board. But with this many QBs being sought after in this class, it is possible. The Eagles are stoked here to still get one of the top receivers of the class even after trading back this far. The Eagles send their pick in right away here.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater OT, Northwestern
With all the quarterbacks and receivers taking up the majority of the top 12 picks, the Chargers sit still and get a gift in offensive tackle Rashawn Slater. With a young quarterback in Justin Herbert, your number one goal should be to protect him so he can make plays. Slater is super talented in terms of his technical ability and size. He can easily play both the tackle and guard positions so he can fit wherever the Chargers need him the most.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw OT, Virginia Tech
The offensive line for the Vikings is arguably the team's weakest unit, which became even weaker this offseason. The Vikings have to protect Kirk Cousins and open up lanes for Dalvin Cook, who was incredible last season. Darrisaw can come in and instantly be a starter at Left Tackle for the Vikings. The defensive line is also a possibility here, considering that is another weak unit for this team.
15. Detroit Lions (trade via New England): Kwity Paye EDGE, Michigan
After trading back and acquiring more draft capital, the rebuilding Lions go with the in-state edge rusher in Kwity Paye. Paye played a short but solid career at the University of Michigan where he shined as one of the Wolverines' top defensive players. Thanks to that, Paye found him to be the first edge rusher selected in this mock draft. Paye will fit nicely rushing opposite of veteran Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley CB, Virginia Tech
Arguably the best corner in the class, Farley has seen his stock slightly drop due to his recent back procedure. But if I’m the Cardinals General Manager I believe the risk is worth taking with Farley and his health. The Cardinals desperately need help at the corner, especially with the offensive talent in the NFC West.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB, Notre Dame
Vegas you just got a new face of your defense. This would be a match made in heaven on both sides. Owusu-Koramoah was a stud middle linebacker at Notre Dame this past season. He is fast and agile with the ability to cover in a zone or close in off the edge to catch a runner. Not only that, but Owusu-Koramoah is a leader. After all, he did help lead a dominant Fighting Irish defense to a 10-2 record in the 2020 season. After watching the tape, the Silver and Black will make the pick to hopefully change their defense for the better.
18. Miami Dolphins: Alijah Vera-Tucker OT/G, USC
Well with Owusu-Koramoah off the board just before the Dolphins pick, I’ll address another need for the team by picking Vera-Tucker. Vera-Tucker can play both tackle and guard in the NFL, and the Dolphins have needs at both of those positions. The Dolphins have a young tackle that they believe in on the left side of the line in Austin Jackson, but they need help on the right side of the line and at Left Guard after trading Ereck Flowers within the last few days. Vera-Tucker could step in and make an instant impact at either Right Guard or Right Tackle for Miami.
19. Washington Football Team: Jaycee Horn CB, South Carolina
After deciding to roll with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the upcoming season, the Washington Football Team set their eyes towards improving their secondary unit. Jaycee Horn would be a great addition to an almost perfect defense. Measuring in at 6 foot 1 inch, Horn is a big physical corner who can play the outside ball very well in man coverage. Even though he only played 7 games this past season for the Gamecocks due to injury, he will look to stay healthy and improve his playing time in Washington.
20. Chicago Bears: Kadarius Toney WR, Florida
Another desired pick of mine goes just before I’m on the clock for the Bears but since Horn is off the board, I’ll go with the opposite side of the ball and pick a receiver. The relationship between Allen Robinson II and the Bears seems to be coming to an end, meaning they’ll need help at receiver sometime in the near future. Toney is the best receiver on the board at the time and is arguably the most dangerous player with the ball in his hands in this class. Toney will be able to make a lot of plays from the slot for the Bears.
21. New York Jets (trade via Colts): Greg Newsome II CB, Northwestern
With the threat of Tennessee taking their prospect, the Jets make a move to jump the Titans. Aside from Marcus Maye at the safety position, the Jets secondary is a train wreck. So with the newly acquired pick, the Jets take Greg Newsome II. Newsome is arguably the 4th best cornerback in the draft class. He started all three years with the Wildcats but saw the most success in this past season where he had 10 pass deflections all while allowing only 12 pass catches. I think the Jets will see what I see in a hopeful prospect and I feel like they would hate to see him get drafted by anyone else.
22. Tennessee Titans: Elijah Moore WR, Ole Miss
With Toney off the board and the Titans still needing a pass catcher, they get the next best one in Elijah Moore. The Titans receiving core is depleted going into the new season when you compare it to last year. Moore will make a great weapon in the slot to pair with A.J. Brown and will help relieve the workload of Derrick Henry. Corner is another possibility here but it depends on what prospects are available.
23. Indianapolis Colts (trade via Jets): Teven Jenkins OT, Oklahoma State
The Colts trade back and still get their guy. After the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, the Colts knew they needed to find a young replacement. He is a super talented run blocker with that chip that gives him the mentality that he will win his matchup every time. This is a good sign for Jonathan Tayor. The Oklahoma State prospect will lock in on defenders and run them over. But his bullying approach will only go so far as he has an issue trying to block certain rushers from the edge.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris RB, Alabama
The offensive line is a deep position in this class, meaning the Steelers can wait until round two when addressing the offensive line. With that said, the Steelers get a running back of need, considering they were last in the NFL last year in yards per carrying with only 3.6. The Steelers seem to be focused on loading up for one last run at a Super Bowl with Big Ben, meaning solidifying the run game and offensive line.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Gregory Rousseau EDGE, Miami
After going with Trevor Lawrence at number one overall, the Jags look to brighten up their play on the other side of the ball. Gregory Rousseau was an absolute stud in the 2019 season where he led the NCAA in sacks (15.5). Not to mention he also led the league in size at 6 foot 7 inches, 266 pounds. The one knock that drops him this far down the board is that he is not powerful enough to get around a lot of offensive lineman at the next level. But with that size and high ceiling, Jacksonville does not hesitate on taking their Calais Campbell replacement.
26. Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore DT, Alabama
The Browns just released starting Defensive Tackle Sheldon Richardson, while also signing Jadeveon Clowney meaning they were able to fill one need but created another for themselves. Barmore is my pick here, as adding Barmore to a defensive line as talented as Cleveland’s makes the front of the defense even stronger. NFL teams would struggle mightily while trying to run the ball against Clowney, Barmore, and Malik Jackson while also trying to protect the Qb from those three and All-Pro Myles Garrett.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Jaelan Phillips EDGE, Miami
With the departure of edge rusher Matthew Judon, the Ravens use this pick to reload on their defensive side of the ball. Phillips is easily a top-three edge rusher in this class, so seeing him fall this far is a blessing to many fans in Baltimore. After transferring to Miami, Phillips revived his football career. He was one of the sack leaders of this past season. The one thing that dropped him so far down the board is his injury concerns. If it was not for those, he would easily be a top 10 pick in this year's draft.
28. New Orleans Saints: Terrace Marshall WR, LSU
The Saints need to add another playmaking receiver for their offense after losing Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook this offseason. If I was the General Manager of the Saints, I would take the best receiver on the board and local LSU standout Terrace Marshall. Marshall can run every route possible and would be the perfect receiver to pair with Michael Thomas.
29. Green Bay Packers: Creed Humphrey C, Oklahoma
With Corey Lindsey off the L.A., the Packers take this opportunity to select the top interior lineman in this draft class in Creed Humphrey. He is the picture of dependability. The three-year starter never gave up a sack in his collegiate career. Humphrey also has a great ability to bulldoze defensive lineman in his way. While it may not be the flashy wide receiver that many fans would want, for Aaron Jones and Aaron Rodgers this is a perfect pick.
30. Buffalo Bills: Azeez Ojulari LB, Georgia
As I’ve mentioned before the Bills pass rushers are not getting any younger, Ojulari would add a different dimension of speed off the edge for the Bills that would be hard to contain. Ojulari had an incredible end to his final season at Georgia and recorded three sacks in the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati. Running back is another position to watch for here for Buffalo.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Zaven Collins LB, Tulsa
After trading Orlando Brown to Kansas City, Baltimore has found themselves picking once again in the first round. With this pick, they decide to fortify the defense which still has a few holes. Once again, Ravens fans should be super thrilled about this pick. Zaven Collins might be the second-best interior linebacker in terms of overall skill. Measuring in 6 foot 4 inches, Collins can sniff out and chase down just about any runner that tries to sneak by him. Collins will fit nicely against previously picked Jaelen Phillips.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jayson Oweh DE, Penn State
Oweh is a name that has shot up draft boards over the last month or so and understandably so. Oweh ran a 4.36 forty-yard dash while standing at 6-5 and 252 pounds, which is faster than his teammate Micah Parsons who is a projected early to mid-first-round pick. This is an insurance pick for the Buccaneers in case they are unable to bring back Jason Pierre-Paul in 2022 when he is a free agent. Trading up is also a possibility for the Bucs as it is very possible that their late-round picks don’t make the roster.
*All stats from ESPN Stats & Info. Department