2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
After a wild NFL season, we are one game away from our favorite time of the year, draft season. It might not be everyone’s favorite time of the year, but it sure is mine. The lead up to the 2021 NFL Draft looks a little different this year, including last week’s Senior Bowl and a canceled combine in the traditional sense. Combine that with an offseason that might have more quarterback movement than any other season in recent memory, locking down an accurate mock draft will be a constantly-evolving process. Version 1.0 of this mock draft does not include any trades so all picks will be made by the team currently owning the picks as of 2/4/2021. Without further ado, let’s find out what your team is liable to do come Draft Day.
2021 NFL Mock Draft
Last Updated: February 7, 2021
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Jaguars will select Trevor Lawrence, who is the best quarterback prospect to enter the draft since Andrew Luck. While Lawrence is a prospect among the best at his position in the last decade or so, finding a stylistic comp for him is difficult. A 6-foot-6 quarterback with mobility and the arm strength to make all the throws in the book while also having accuracy and touch to go along with a fastball, Lawrence is as well rounded as any quarterback to enter the draft in recent years. With Urban Meyer now on the sidelines, pairing him with Lawrence only further enhances the former Clemson Tiger's value.
2. New York Jets: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
It sounds like Sam Darnold may be at the end of his leash with the Jets. In Justin Fields, the Jets bring in a highly versatile quarterback whose athleticism can get them out of some sticky situations. Fields possesses elite traits and huge upside, so the Jets swing for the fences in their first season under Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur. Athleticism has long been a desirable trait in West Coast offenses. That athleticism combined with Fields’s accuracy in the quick passing game will allow LaFleur and Fields to work together on dissecting AFC defenses.
3. Miami Dolphins: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
While reuniting Tua Tagovailoa with a former college pass-catcher seems like a good move here, Ja'Marr Chase is just the better prospect. The Biletnikoff Award winner was a unanimous First Team All-America selection in 2019 and set SEC records for touchdown receptions with 20 and receiving yards with 1,780, a record that stood for just one season thanks to DeVonta Smith. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound receiver would have worn #7 would he have played in 2020, an honor only given to the best players at LSU. After the dominant season of teammate Justin Jefferson in the NFL, Chase should be an impact player for the Dolphins his rookie season.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
While drafting a defensive back, hell any defensive player might seem prudent here, this draft just lacks top-end prospects on the defensive side of the ball. Without finding a taker in a move back scenario, the Falcons are forced to consider their post-Matt Ryan future. With picks poured into the offensive skill positions and offensive line, and with a potential out in Ryan’s contract in 2022, the Falcons and new head coach Arthur Smith pull the trigger on Zach Wilson. Wilson is considered to be a mobile quarterback with deep-ball accuracy second to none—a perfect fit in Smith’s play-action heavy scheme that mixes in spread passing principles.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Cincinnati allows Joe Burrow to walk gingerly up to the stand and announce the selection of Penei Sewell. Protecting Burrow, especially coming off a major knee reconstruction, needs to be at the top of Cincinnati's mind. Sewell was the first sophomore to win the Outland Trophy and was a unanimous All-American in 2019. The Oregon tackle allowed just one sack over 1,376 snaps in his first two seasons as a starter. Getting Sewell, who many consider a top-three draft prospect, at five is a dream for Cincinnati.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
If you are reading this you probably remember using Patrick Surtain in NFL Street, where he was a flat-out God. Surtain II is his father’s son and played like the best College Football DB in 2020. While the interception numbers aren’t going to jump out at you (4 in 40 career games), Surtain is a pro's pro. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed 12 completions and forced 13 incompletions in single coverage in 2020. Surtain is a lanky cover corner who will help the Eagles' issue in the secondary after allowing 1,066 receiving yards and nine touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over the last five weeks of 2020.
7. Detroit Lions: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Exchanging Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and a pair of first-round picks, the Lions have positioned themselves for the long term, but questions still remain in the near term at the quarterback position. While a developmental quarterback to sit behind Goff, whose deal will have no guaranteed money after 2022, is an option, the Lions may choose to do that in either of the next two seasons with the extra picks. Instead, the Lions choose their defensive quarterback this year, one of those guys who will bite the other team’s kneecaps off. Micah Parsons is another player with tons of 2019 hardware who chose to sit out the 2020 season. Parsons was an All-American in 2019 and became the first sophomore in Big Ten history to win the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award. The middle linebacker’s size and speed allow him to roam sideline-to-sideline as well as create havoc in the backfield. One of Bruce Feldman’s biggest freaks, Parsons biggest knock is maturity issues, with some teams even rumored to have removed him from their draft boards due to fights while at Penn State.
8. Carolina Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Panthers are bummed after the Lions grab Parsons a pick before them. The Panthers have a giant hole in the middle of their defense because of Luke Kuechly's retirement. Unable to fill the largest hole on their defense, the Panthers look to upgrade the most important position in football and make a splash. Trey Lance is that splash after a redshirt freshman season in 2019, in which he won the Walter Payton Award and Jerry Rice Award. He was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2020 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game. Let’s just not mention he played in only one game in 2020, completing just 50% of his passes. Lance is a mobile quarterback with top-tier arm talent that has been all the rage over the last few years of the NFL Draft. However, his lack of game experience with only one full season as a starter and competition level on the FCS stage leave some doubters in the room on draft day.
9. Denver Broncos: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Caleb Farley is a press corner who has the length and athleticism to wipe away the wide receiver across from him. Farley, who is newer to the position after playing quarterback in high school and entered college as a wide receiver, is a smooth mover who opted out of the 2020 season. A potential lockdown corner who intercepted four passes in 10 games in 2019, Farley does have an injury history that will cause some concern. Adding Farley to the Broncos adds more weapons for Vic Fangio to deploy and hopefully slow down some of the high-flying options in the division.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Remember that one time Joe Horn picked up the phone to make a call after scoring a touchdown? Well, what you might not know is that he was trying to call his son Jaycee. While Dallas would love to unite current Cowboy Trevon Diggs with former college teammate Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn is a great consolation prize. Horn has experience playing both in the slot and out wide but has the size to stand up outside on an every-down basis. Horn has played three years in the SEC and ran various coverages making him a fit for pretty much any defense in the league.
11. New York Giants: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (Fla.)
The Giants may have ranked tied for 12th in the league in sacks, and their defense looked much improved down the stretch, but none of that pressure came from the edge. Leonard Williams led the team with 11.5 sacks, but Kyler Fackrell led the edge defenders in sacks with four. Gregory Rousseau is a giant at 6-foot-7, who played wide receiver up until his senior year of high school. After not playing in 2020, some have forgotten how consistently dominant he was in 2019. Rousseau tallied 15.5 sacks and showed an ability to rush the passer from all over the defensive line.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
While corner is an obviously bigger need for the 49ers, they fly off the board in this draft. In grabbing Rashawn Slater, who is growing into maybe the top offensive lineman in this draft, the 49ers get insurance in case Trent Williams were to leave in free agency. If Williams does return, Slater’s versatility all over the line allows him to play inside and dramatically improve any spot he plays. Slater will be an impact player on the interior and road grade for a dominant offensive line. He will pass protect for whoever is under center for the Niners in 2021.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
While adding an offensive tackle might be more popular, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Replacing Jalen Guyton for a Jaylen Waddle puts the Chargers' skill players up there amongst the best in the league. Waddle possesses elite speed and instantly joins the lineup as a field-stretcher who can potentially grow into the team's number one receiver. Waddle can play on the outside or in the slot and create matchup problems everywhere on the field for Justin Herbert. Let's not forget that when Waddle and DeVonta Smith were both healthy this season, Waddle is the one who led Alabama in yards per route run. His ability as a punt returner also adds something to the special team’s unit that always seems to struggle for the Chargers.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Vikings had the fifth-fewest sacks in the league in 2020 (23), clearly a thorn in Mike Zimmer’s side. Zimmer’s defense requires getting pressure with the front four, and when it doesn’t happen, the points can pile up in a hurry. In Paye, the Vikings get a hand-in-the-dirt edge rusher who fits perfectly in their scheme and who won’t have the pressure of being a top edge rushing option from Day One with Danielle Hunter in tow. Paye was Bruce Feldman’s biggest Freak in 2020 with a reported freakish time in the 3-cone drill. Paye is a player impossible to root against, and his drive for success makes him a great addition to the Vikings.
15. New England Patriots: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Kyle Pitts to New England is the easiest pick in the draft—should he last this long. Pitts is a long and limber athlete at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds with athleticism to boot. Pitts would fit in as the classic move tight end in the Patriots' system, as someone who can play tight, as an h-back or out wide as a receiver. No matter who is at quarterback for the Patriots next season, he will need weapons, and the Patriots haven’t had a matchup problem for defenses since Rob Gronkowski retired rather than being traded to the Detroit Lions (then returning and making his way to Tampa Bay).
16. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Christian Darrisaw came to Virginia Tech and was a true freshman starter. He would have a chance to do similar in Arizona with the need for upgrades at both tackle spots. Darrisaw checks all the size, length and agility boxes to be an impact left tackle from the start. With Kyler Murray worth the price of admission and keeping him healthy for a full 16-game season a priority, Darrisaw instantly becomes the Cardinals' first investment into that.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a linebacker built for today’s NFL as a playmaking linebacker who can play any of the spots in a 4-3 alignment or on the inside of a 3-4. The Raiders' defense lacks athletic playmakers at all levels, and adding this Golden Domer gives them a defensive piece for years to come. Owusu-Koramoah is a linebacker in a safety's body, but the athleticism also allows him to stay on the field for third downs. He was also a member of Bruce Feldman’s Freak list, where his explosiveness was noted by his 20.4 MPH GPS tracking speed and 39 vertical at 220 pounds.
18. Miami Dolphins: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
While Miami was much improved as a unit last year, and their defense thrived in taking the ball away, forcing a turnover in every single game last season. Zaven Collins was a consensus All-American in 2020 after being named a freshman All-American in 2018. Collins has push rush ability but also the ability to drop back in coverage that may remind the Miami staff of current linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Miami can add Collins to their pass rush mix and allow him to use his instincts to make plays. A defense that loves to play matchups and considers themselves multiple will love Collins’s wide-ranging skill set.
19. Washington Football Team: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
While Washington starts the run of playoff teams that need a quarterback (Washington, Chicago, Indianapolis), they show restraint and add their top remaining offensive lineman to the squad. Vera-Tucker played left tackle last season for the Trojans, but may fit better on the inside projecting forward. With questions at both guard and tackle long-term, Vera Tucker gives the team options as they assess the quarterback position moving forward, trying to supplement Alex Smith through free agency while leaning on a strong defense and running game.
20. Chicago Bears: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
With what could be a lame-duck head coach and general manager in tow, the Bears hope lightning can strike twice in drafting Mac Jones. Jones, who took over as the Alabama quarterback full-time this season, lit the world on fire completing over 77% of his passes for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns to just four interceptions, setting a number of SEC passing records along the way. With Mitch Trubisky likely finding another home, and Nick Foles still having enough dead money to remain on the roster, the Bears adapt their offense to the statuesque passers in Foles and Jones and hope it's enough to provide enough offense for what was just a few years ago a championship-level defense.
21. Indianapolis Colts: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
I know, I know, anybody who is anybody is mocking DeVonta Smith much higher than this, but the other receivers going ahead of him possess more elite traits. Smith will be questioned for his size after declining to weigh in at the Senior Bowl and being listed anywhere between 165-175 pounds by the school and other inside sources. While he will likely tip the scales closer to 180 pounds during Alabama’s Pro Day, the elevated weight could also slow him down as he runs his 40-yard dash. With only one event this season, players get just one opportunity to put measurements and times to paper. The Heisman Trophy winner has been compared to Marvin Harrison and possesses elite ball skills and a diverse skillset to create space. With a lack of proven pass-catchers, the Colts end up ecstatic to add Smith to the weaponry for their next quarterback.
22. Tennessee Titans: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Azeez Ojulari is more than just an off-ball linebacker. While his size might take away from being an every-down edge at just 240 pounds, his speed and agility make him a chess piece in a multiple defense like the Titans. Ojulari posted 9.5 sacks in just 10 games last season but left a cherry on top in the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati, posting three more sacks. With the third-fewest sacks in the NFL last season, the Titans need to add pressure wherever they can, and the former Bulldog can help.
23. New York Jets: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
Tyson Campbell is another long and lanky corner—a theme of first-round corners as of late. In Campbell, the Jets are getting a corner who can replace Lamar Jackson on the outside and instantly provides an upgrade over the undrafted free agent. Along with his length, Campbell is a track star with a verified 100-meter time of 10.39 seconds as a senior in high school. With that mix of length and speed, a defensive-minded coach like Robert Saleh would love to add him to a thin defensive backfield.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Samuel Cosmi has extensive experience at tackle for the Longhorns—14 starts on the right side and 20 on the left side. Cosmi does have ideal size and length for the position, but could add some bulk to his frame. With many believing Alejandro Villanueva, who has started the last 90 games on the blindside of Ben Roethlisberger, not expected to be re-signed, tackle becomes a huge need for the now less-than-mobile Roethlisberger.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Swiss army knife Kadarius Toney is a former quarterback who will be able to line up all over the field for the Jaguars. Do you know who has had a lot of success with hybrid players in the past? Some guy named Urban Meyer, who just so happens to be the Jaguars' new head coach. A wide receiver with track speed, Toney can be called upon for many of the same plays that worked for Curtis Samuel and Percy Harvin in past seasons. With Trevor Lawrence now at quarterback, getting him weapons will be a top priority.
26. Cleveland Browns: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
After posting their best season of my lifetime, the Browns now look to add pieces to push them from playoff team to Super Bowl contender. With Olivier Vernon now 30, and a free agent coming off a nine-sack season, he may be looking for a big pay day. With Myles Garrett solidifying one side, the Browns need to continue to look for his complement on the other side. Joseph Ossai is a natural athlete who still has room to grow as a pass rusher. We should expect him to put up some eye-popping numbers at the Longhorns’ Pro Day.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Getting Rashod Bateman here is big deal for the Ravens, who could really use a featured figure in their passing game. Bateman has the ability to handle big target numbers in both the short and intermediate passing game, as well as vertically down the field. The former Golden Gopher shined against some of the Big Ten’s best defenses the last two years. His physicality at the catch point could bring something to the Ravens they have been missing with Lamar Jackson under center.
28. New Orleans Saints: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
The Saints feature one of the more complete rosters in the NFL, with no real holes outside of a question mark at the quarterback position with Drew Brees’s retirement still looming. Christian Barmore is a young and explosive 3-technique defensive lineman who posted eight sacks in 2020, despite lacking some strength and bull rush technique. Adding interior pressure is something every team can do, and without a clear-cut corner to add, adding Barmore is a gamble that could pay off big.
29. Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Listen, you can only stir the pot with Aaron Rodgers so many times before having to give in to the man who may be 2020’s Most Valuable Player. Adding Rondale Moore gives the Packers a multi-faceted weapon they haven’t had since a young Randall Cobb. Moore can change a game whenever he touches the football—just get the ball in his hands and let his juice shine through. Speed isn’t the only thing Moore possesses though, with a reported max squat of over 600 pounds. He also has the ability to add value on special teams. Moore does have durability questions after playing in just seven games over the last two seasons, but his explosiveness would add a dimension to the Packers' offense that could take them to even greater heights.
30. Buffalo Bills: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (Fla.)
The Bills finished last season middle of the road in sacks with 38, but even that was a collective effort with their top sack-getters being Mario Addison and A.J. Klein (tied with five each). Jaelan Phillips was a five-star Rivals recruit, who ended up at UCLA. His first two seasons were marred by injuries, entering the transfer portal and a near-retirement from medical issues stemming from concussions. Phillips is a long athletic edge player perfect for a team needing an infusion of pass-rushing talent.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
With both of their tackles missing the Super Bowl, the Chiefs have to start looking for the future at the position, especially with Eric Fisher looking at a lengthy recovery from a torn Achilles. Teven Jenkins is another offensive lineman who has played many positions, giving the Chiefs versatility should their tackles end up healthy entering 2021. No lineman starting for the Chiefs in the Super Bowl were drafted higher than the seventh round. Adding Jenkins gives the Chiefs a high impact offensive lineman who can help no matter where he plays and could develop into a long-term left tackle.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jalen Mayfield, OL, Michigan
Tampa doesn’t have many immediate holes, but they do have some long-term questions. One of those is Donovan Smith. While Tristan Wirfs may end up at left tackle, that still leaves a hole on the right side. With right guard also a question mark with Alex Cappa’s fractured ankle in the playoffs, Jalen Mayfield can potentially help anywhere across the offensive line, something that is ultra-important with Tom Brady at quarterback.