With the Senior Bowl here, NFL Draft season is officially in full swing. The pre-draft process is going to look very different in 2021 with no NFL Combine, but we can still get a lay of the land with an initial first-round 2021 NFL mock draft. Here’s how I see things shaking out based on what we currently know.
Note: No trades are included in Mock Draft 1.0. The goal for this mock was to address team needs with players who are most likely to be first-round picks.
1. Jacksonville — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Easiest pick on the board, and for good reason. The Urban Meyer era begins in Jacksonville with a potential franchise quarterback in Lawrence.
2. NY Jets — Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
While I’m not convinced the Jets have this pick when the draft rolls around given the recent Deshaun Watson news, Wilson is still a good bet to go second overall. The BYU product had a fast rise in 2020 thanks to impressive play. His ability to make big-boy throws bodes well for success at the next level.
3. Miami — Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
If the Dolphins don’t get in on the Watson sweepstakes, they’re going to want to get a dynamic weapon for Tua Tagovailoa. Chase opted out of 2020, but what he did in 2019 was special. He was clearly the best wideout on an LSU squad that also featured Justin Jefferson.
4. Atlanta — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
This one almost feels scripted. A Georgia product, Fields comes home to the Falcons following two impressive seasons at Ohio State. While the Buckeyes didn’t win the National Championship, Fields showed his massive ceiling in the semifinal round when he posted 385 yards and six scores against Clemson.
5. Cincinnati — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Joe Burrow is the future in Cincinnati, and the Bengals showed in 2020 that they simply don’t have the bodies up front to protect him. Sewell opted out of the 2020 season, but he more than impressed in 2019 with no sacks allowed on the season. He also pitched a shutout with no hits or hurries in 9-of-13 starts.
6. Philadelphia — DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The new regime has yet to tell us if they’re going to salvage Carson Wentz, but regardless, this team needs help at wide receiver. Enter the Heisman Trophy winner who put on an absolute show in 2020.
7. Detroit — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota St.
With the Lions likely moving on from Matthew Stafford, they’re a good bet to address quarterback with this pick. Lance comes with some question marks, but his big arm and high ceiling are appealing for a new coaching regime in the midst of a rebuild.
8. Carolina — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Panthers have a need at quarterback, but they go with the best player left on the board in Pitts. A quintessential example of the modern tight end, Pitts is a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. He’d give Carolina yet another dynamic weapon on the offensive side of the ball.
9. Denver — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
I know. This is too early for Jones. But where quarterbacks “should” go and where they actually do go in NFL drafts are two different things. The Broncos have new brass in charge of personnel decision-making in George Paton. He gets his tenure started with a bang with Jones.
10. Dallas — Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Cornerback was an issued for Dallas this season, as the team allowed 34 passing touchdowns on the year. Farley is a long and athletic player who is somewhat reminiscent of former Cowboys corner Byron Jones.
11. NY Giants — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Daniel Jones gets some help with this pick. Waddle doesn’t have prototype NFL size, but his top-shelf athleticism and ability to play all over the formation would give the Giants a dynamic chess piece.
12. San Francisco — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
With essentially all the 49ers cornerbacks heading into free agency, San Francisco will likely have a major need at the position. Surtain’s length and high football IQ give them a strong foundation as they remodel the secondary.
13. LA Chargers — Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Like the Bengals at Pick 5, the Chargers go offensive line to protect their young franchise quarterback. This might be a tad late on Slater for some, but there’s a path for him still being on the board at this point.
14. Minnesota — Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Vikings addressed offense in the first-round last year with Justin Jefferson. This time they go defense and get an edge presence. Paye still has some developing to do, but his improvements in 2020 are encouraging.
15. New England — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Where do we begin with the Patriots needs? Bill Belichick’s squad certainly has its work cut out for it on the offensive side of the ball, but they also need defensive help. Parsons gives them a much-needed boost at linebacker and should help shore up the New England run defense.
16. Arizona — Gregory Rosseau, EDGE, Miami
It was tempting to go wide receiver here, but edge is arguably a bigger a need for this squad. Arizona traded for Markus Golden last season, but he figures to hit free agency. Rosseau has a limited resume at the college level but his physical traits are off the charts.
17. Las Vegas — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
It’s no secret the Raiders brass are not satisfied with what they have on the defensive side of the ball. Owusu-Koramoah is a tad undersized, but he has the chops to be a three-down option in the NFL.
18. Miami — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
With their second pick of the first round, the Dolphins address a big need at linebacker. Collins had an explosive rise in 2020 and was one of the nation’s top defensive players. His impressive size makes him the optimal fit in a Belichick derived defense.
19. Washington — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Quarterback is a need for the Football Team, but this just feels too early for Kyle Trask. So instead, Washington grabs help along the offensive line. Darrisaw gives this squad a boost, especially in the run game. That’s good news for Antonio Gibson.
20. Chicago — Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Allen Robinson could potentially be on the move if the Bears don’t end up re-signing the veteran wideout, but Chicago has a need at the position regardless. Bateman excels as a route runner and has NFL size.
21. Indianapolis — Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Here’s another team with a big question mark at quarterback, but there just isn’t a viable option in this spot. Instead, they get younger at edge with Ojulari. The Georgia product isn’t the biggest edge in this class, but his speed bodes well at the next level.
22. Tennessee — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Titans have a glaring need at corner, so scooping up Joe Horn’s son isn’t a bad idea in this spot. Horn has the ability to play man, which fits well with what the Titans like to do on the defensive side of the ball.
23. NY Jets — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Yeah, I know. Running backs in the first round aren’t anywhere near as common as they once were. But there will likely be at least one selected on Day 1. Whether it’s Etienne or Najee Harris is debatable, but I’m going with Etienne, who slides into an interesting spot in a new-look Jets offense.
24. Pittsburgh — Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma St.
The Steelers upgrade along the offensive line with Jenkins. While he only played part of the season, Jenkins impressed in pass blocking.
25. Jacksonville — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC
The theme of supporting a young quarterback with an offensive lineman continues. Vera-Tucker played tackle at the college level but is viewed more as an interior option at the next level.
26. Cleveland — Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
Edge isn’t an issue for the Browns with Myles Garrett in place, but they do have a need along the defensive interior. While this isn’t a premium interior class, Barmore has impressed over the last two seasons in Alabama and is the clear top option in the class.
27. Baltimore — Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Lamar Jackson needs more weapons in the passing game, so let’s get him one in Moore. The Purdue product would give Baltimore a dynamic presence in the slot to complement what the Ravens already have on the outside.
28. New Orleans — Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
The Saints need an upgrade at linebacker, so Bolton makes a lot of sense here. The Missouri product isn’t the most physically imposing player, but his football IQ and well-rounded game would give the Saints a rock-solid option at the position.
29. Green Bay — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
A guy can dream, can’t he? The Packers have a glaring need at wide receiver and Toney would give them an explosive playmaker. Of course, they probably won’t draft a wideout here.
30. Buffalo — Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
This may be a little bit low on Phillips, but his injury history could push him down the board slightly. The Bills need help at edge with Jerry Hughes getting long in the tooth.
31. Tampa Bay — Jason Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
Another edge comes off the board here with the Bucs also getting younger at the position. Jason Pierre-Paul is on the wrong side of 30 and Shaq Barrett is a free agent this year.
32. Kansas City — Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State
The Chiefs grab some help at guard at the end of the first round. Davis didn’t necessarily have an elite season the Buckeye’s abridged 2020 campaign, but he’s still an impressive prospect who has the pass pro chops to help protect Patrick Mahomes.