The NFL draft is only four days away, so it’s time for our NFL mock draft of 2021. This is the fourth iteration of mocks from yours truly, and a lot has changed since Mock Draft 3.0. We’ve had trades, the medicals even in Indianapolis, and more rumors than you can count. Given what we now know, here’s one way things could unfold in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
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This one is essentially a foregone conclusion.
Like Lawrence going at the first pick, we can all but ink Wilson in at two.
3. San Francisco - Trey Lance, QB North Dakota St.
Here’s where things get very interesting. The widespread speculation is that the 49ers select Mac Jones, but something doesn’t add up. Why make this big of a move for Jones when you likely could have gotten him for less? This feels more like a power move for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, and Lance would be just that. While he’s still very raw, there’s no denying his massive ceiling. Better yet, Jimmy Garoppolo gives San Francisco a reasonable runway to not have to start Lance immediately.
4. New England (trade w/ Atlanta) - Justin Fields, QB Ohio State
With Lance off the board, things start to get interesting. The Falcons would essentially be in a position to do one of three things: 1) select Matt Ryan’s successor, 2) select Kyle Pitts, or 3) trade back and accumulate capital. I’m opting for the third outcome here, with New England moving up to get their signal-caller of the future.
5. Cincinnati - Kyle Pitts, TE Florida
While Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff aren’t necessarily close to the league’s to tackle duo, there’s enough there to suggest the Bengals don’t need to address the position with Penei Sewell. Instead, they grab the best receiving weapon in this year’s class. This one isn’t going to be popular with the Cincinnati fan base, but the Bengals can and should still address their offensive line needs on Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft.
6. Denver (trade w/ Miami) - Mac Jones, QB Alabama
Sure, the Broncos could stay put at nine and see if Jones makes it to them, but they could certainly make a move up the board with all of the rumors floating around about the Lions and Panthers fielding calls for the seventh and eighth picks.
The Lions have a legitimate pathway to Chase if we in fact see five quarterbacks in the first six picks. Detroit has arguably the league’s thinnest wide receiver corps in the league, so this would be a massive upgrade.
8. Carolina - Penei Sewell, OT Oregon
I know. I know. But given my stance on Cincinnati and the Lions’ need at wide receiver, there’s a chance Sewell slides to Carolina. He would be a huge upgrade on Cameron Erving at left tackle for the Panthers.
9. Miami (trade w/ Denver) - DeVonta Smith, WR Alabama
He’s 166 pounds, but it doesn’t matter. Smith is extremely talented and would give the Dolphins a big-time difference maker for Tua Tagovailoa along with DeVante Parker and Will Fuller.
10. Dallas - Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama
Jerry Jones may be infatuated with Kyle Pitts, but it’s hard to see a scenario where Dallas trades up to get the tight end. It’s much more likely that they address the defensive side of the ball. Surtain’s length and high football IQ give pairs well with Trevon Diggs.
11. NY Giants - Kwity Paye, EDGE Michigan
I don’t think we’re going to see right turns on a NASCAR oval course any time soon, so the Giants keep this pick and address a position of need. Paye is slightly undersized, but he’s off the charts athletically. He does have some developing to do, but his improvements in 2020 are encouraging.
12. Philadelphia - Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina
The Eagles need help at corner, and Horn will give them just that. Horn showed elite testing numbers nearly across the board with impressive size (6-1, 205), a 41.5-inch vertical, 11-1 in the board, and 4.40 in the 40-yard dash.
13. LA Chargers - Rashawn Slater, OT Northwestern
Justin Herbert has lobbied for his former college teammate, Penei Sewell, with this pick, but it’s extremely unlikely he falls this far. However, Slater isn’t a bad consolation prize to help shore up the Chargers offensive line.
14. Minnesota - Jaelan Phillips, EDGE Miami
The Vikings have a need at edge, and Phillips gives them arguably the highest ceiling at the position in this year’s class. Phillips comes with a lengthy injury history and is far from the safest pick, but his upside is very intriguing.
15. Atlanta (trade w/ New England) - Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama
With Julio Jones trade rumors flying, the Falcons grab yet another Alabama wideout to pair with Calvin Ridley. Waddle is a moveable chess piece who would give the Falcons plenty of speed.
16. Arizona - Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech
Farley is no longer in the conversation as the top corner in this year’s class following a back procedure he had last month. However, he’s still very talented and has elite size and athleticism. The Cardinals begin the post Patrick Peterson era with a key addition at the position at a slightly discounted price.
17. Las Vegas - Greg Newsome II, CB Northwestern
The Raiders could use some help on the defensive side of the ball, so look for them to address that need here. Newsome is a long corner who would give Vegas an instant upgrade at the position.
18. Miami - Christian Darrisaw, OT Virginia Tech
With their second pick in the first round, the Dolphins grab an offensive lineman. Darrisaw is one of the top run-blocking offensive linemen in this year’s class. With the way Miami likes to run the rock, this pick makes a ton of sense.
19. Washington - Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota
Ron Rivera and company brought in Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries to go along with Terry McLaurin, but they don’t have a receiver like Bateman on the roster. Bateman isn’t quite at the level of the top three receivers in this year’s class, but he isn’t that far off. Bateman excels as a route runner and has NFL size.
20. Chicago - Micah Parsons, LB Penn State
Don’t be surprised if Parsons slips a bit in the first round. The Penn State product has three-down ability but has seemingly been overshadowed. The Bears get great value here and will have Parsons to go along with Roquan Smith.
21. Indianapolis - Jayson Oweh, EDGE Penn State
There’s really good value at edge late in the first round, and the Colts get in on the action. Oweh gives them major speed and versatility along the edge. More importantly, they get younger at the position.
22. Tennessee - Zaven Collins, LB Tulsa
The Titans get a protype linebacker for their defensive scheme in Collins. The Tulsa product had an explosive rise in 2020 and was one of the nation’s top defensive players. His impressive size makes him an intriguing prospect who can pose a lot of problems for NFL offenses.
23. NY Jets - Gregory Rousseau, EDGE Miami
Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas have a lot of needs to fill, so they check off one of those boxes here. Rousseau has a limited resume at the college level but he has the physical traits you look for in an NFL-caliber edge rusher.
24. Pittsburgh - Najee Harris, RB Alabama
Art Rooney II was embarrassed by the Steelers finishing last in the league in rushing yards and said running back will be a priority. In Harris, they get a three-down back who in a lot of ways could be their Le’Veon Bell 2.0.
25. Jacksonville - Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG USC
The Jags already grabbed an elite talent at quarterback and now will protect their offensive interior with one of the most talented offensive linemen in the class. 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
This may not be the sexiest pick for the Browns, but it addresses a need. 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 - Elijah Moore, WR Ole Miss
Now that the Ravens have two picks in the bottom half of the first round, we can expect one of them to be a wideout. Drafting Moore would give Lamar Jackson a dynamic playmaker with game-breaking ability.
28. New Orleans - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame
Off-ball linebackers fell in this mock, and the Saints gladly pounce. Owusu-Koramoah is a tad undersized, but he has the chops to be a three-down option in the NFL.
29. Green Bay - Teven Jenkins, OT Oklahoma St.
As much as I wanted to mock a wideout here, we all know the Packers won’t go that route. Someone like Jenkins seems more their speed. While he only played part of this past season, Jenkins impressed in pass blocking.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane mentioned that the team would draft a running back if a player with homerun hitting ability was there. Well, Etienne is exactly that type of player. Etienne would enter a bit of a log jam with Zack Moss and Devin Singletary already in house, but his presence would make the Bills all that much more explosive on offense.
31. Baltimore - Dillon Radunz, OT North Dakota St.
The Ravens sent Orlando Brown to Kansas City in exchange for this pick (along with out picks changing hands), so why not get younger at the position? Radunz impressed blocking for Trey Lance and NDSU.
32. Tampa Bay - Rondale Moore, WR Purdue
Antonio Brown remains unsigned, which makes it seem likely that Tampa Bay goes wideout with this pick. Moore’s rare athleticism would give the Bucs another playmaker for Tom Brady.