It’s finally here! My first 2021 NFL Mock Draft of the season. We’re only a few months removed from the 2020 NFL Draft, so it’s still a bit early to truly know how this is going to play out. However, let’s have a little fun with this one. This is a one round mock draft with teams drafting based on need.
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1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
If a quarterback-needy team ends up with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, then we can go ahead and write this one in permanent marker. Trevor Lawrence is, without a doubt, the class of the field heading into the college football season. A lot can happen between now and then, but I can’t envision many scenarios where he isn’t the top player selected.
2. Washington Redskins
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Assuming that Washington is sold on Dwayne Haskins as their franchise quarterback, it only makes sense to protect him. Penei Sewell is as good of an offensive tackle prospect as I’ve seen since Lane Johnson in 2013. Ron Rivera will have his hands full as he looks to revamp the Redskins roster, but drafting a talented prospect like Sewell will make his job much easier. It’ll also keep his quarterback upright and healthy, while also having more time to make downfield reads from the pocket.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
The Bengals selected Joe Burrow with the top overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, while also releasing Andy Dalton, essentially handing the reins over to Burrow. Jonah Williams suffered a shoulder injury in 2019, ending his rookie season. The Bengals are a young team with needs across the board, but selecting an offensive tackle to ensure that Burrow remains protected isn’t a bad plan.
4. Carolina Panthers
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Carolina signed Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $68M contract this offseason to replace Cam Newton. However, Bridgewater has seen limited time on-field following his ACL injury in Minnesota. With Matt Rhule and Joe Brady overhauling the offense for the Panthers, let’s go ahead and give them an explosive dual-threat prospect at the quarterback position. I don’t know if Lance is ready to start in the NFL on day one, but he should be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
5. New York Giants
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (Fla.)
After breaking down his film for our summer scouting series, I’m expecting big things from Gregory Rousseau this season. With Rousseau and Quincy Roche both rushing the passer for the Hurricanes, you’ve got to assume that Rousseau will have another productive season. If that’s the case, he’s certainly deserving of the top five hype.
6. Miami Dolphins
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Miami has DeVante Parker signed through the 2023 season, but I believe that they need to add at least one offensive weapon for QB Tua Tagovailoa. Ja’Marr Chase is an excellent receiver that excels at high pointing the ball and catching in traffic. Not only will this alleviate the pressure off Parker, but it will also go a long way in opening up their offense.
7. Detroit Lions
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Lions need a linebacker that looks to punish the ballcarrier, thrives at bringing down players in the open field, and can hold his own as pass rusher.
In other words, the Detroit Lions need Micah Parsons.
8. New York Jets
Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Short of the quarterback position, the Jets should look at upgrading every position on both sides of the ball, including head coach. Shaun Wade is a really talented prospect at cornerback that’s worthy of a top ten pick here.
The 2020 season will be a good indication as to where the Jets are headed. If their offense can find consistency and solid production, then New York could look to address their needs on the defensive side of the ball. However, if Adam Gase is indeed the wrong coach for the Jets and the front office makes a change, it’s game on, boys.
9. Las Vegas Raiders
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
We keep doing this every year, but at some point the Las Vegas Raiders have to pull the plug on the Derek Carr experiment. If they do, Justin Fields could be the answer for them. I’m still not sold on his ability to make consistent throws downfield, nor am I Solon his ability to make three or four reads the NFL level. However, I do believe that he has the skillset and abilities to deserve a look.
10. Los Angeles Chargers
Marvin Wilson, IDL, Florida State
With a rebuild on their hands, let’s give the Chargers some help on the interior defensive line. Marvin Wilson is an impressive prospect that imposes his will on opposing players in the trenches. I’d like to see him play with more aggression, but he’s the type of player that the Chargers will be able to build around.
11. Denver Broncos
Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State
Denver has done a lot to invest in their offense as they build around Drew Lock. Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and Lloyd Cushenberry III are all prospects that should be nice contributions for the Broncos. By selecting a prospect such as Wyatt Davis here, they’ll be able to shore up the offensive line and give Drew Lock ample time to run through his progressions and make throws downfield.
12. Arizona Cardinals
Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami (Fla.)
Arizona has the pieces on defense to make some noise in the competitive NFC West. With that being said, adding an additional edge rusher to take pressure off of Zach Allen and Isaiah Simmons, will also go a long ways in lessening the load on the secondary, too.
13. Atlanta Falcons
Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma
The Falcons could very well use this pick to find an eventual successor to Matt Ryan, but rather, let’s implement the same strategy that the Saints used in the 2020 NFL Draft. By addressing the offensive line, they’ll add some much needed talent and depth, while also giving Matt Ryan a few more opportunities to get it done for the Falcons.
14. Miami Dolphins (Via Houston Texans)
Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
With two picks in the first round yet again for the Dolphins, I’m going to mock them my top safety in the 2021 NFL draft class thus far. Head coach Brian Flores performed well given the talent that he had on the team last season, so let’s see what he can do with upgraded talent in the secondary.
15. Cleveland Browns
Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
Offensive line isn’t a pressing need for the Browns, but by addressing the position now, it’ll give them the flexibility down the road to focus on other areas.
It’s an unconventional method, but it’s one that could set the Browns up for long-term success.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Los Angeles Rams)
Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
I’ll make this one quite simple. The Jaguars have been a disaster lately, both on and off the field. Upgrading talent across board, offensively and defensively, is going to be a priority for them for years to come.
17. Chicago Bears
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
I don’t believe that the Bears are in a position to draft a quarterback here at 17, so rather, I’m going to pair Khalil Mack with a talented pass rusher. Doing so should free up Mack to be an even greater presence behind the line of scrimmage.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
Minnesota has quietly built a very solid defensive roster. However, they’re missing an above average talent on the interior defensive line. Alabama always seems to develop really strong defensive prospects, so look for Barmore to put up some solid numbers.
19. Indianapolis Colts
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
For the Colts to compete in the AFC South, they’ll have to add depth in the secondary. Surtain II is a nice complementary piece that should fit well into Indianapolis’ system.
20. Tennessee Titans
Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
I had Dylan Moses pegged as a late-first prospect heading into the 2020 NFL Draft process, before he announced that he would return to Alabama following an ACL injury. Heading into this season, I believe that he can improve upon his draft stock, but let’s not go too crazy here. He’s a late-first at this point in the 2021 NFL Draft process for this mock.
21. New England Patriots
Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia
This is going to sound crazy, but let me explain.
Tom Brady is in Tampa Bay now and the Patriots now have to rely on a combination of Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham. I don’t have Jamie Newman listed as a first round prospect, but things can certainly change. New England can develop Newman at their own pace and start him when he’s ready.
In short, it’s a win-win for both parties.
22. Seattle Seahawks
Walker Little, OT, Stanford
Duane Brown has been very consistent at left tackle for the Seahawks, but upgrading the rest of the offensive line would be a smart move for the future of the franchise.
Although Seattle just signed Carlos Hyde as an unrestricted free agent, they could still address the backfield, too. If the Seahawks find a running back that wows them, it wouldn’t completely shock me to hear his name called here in the first.
23. Philadelphia Eagles
Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
Philadelphia has a solid roster that looks poised to make another deep playoff run, especially if Carson Wentz can remain healthy and on the field.
Upgrading the pass rush and adding a talented edge rusher would allow the Eagles to reload and remain a relevant threat in the NFC East.
24. Green Bay Packers
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Considering how upset Aaron Rodgers was with the direction that the front office took in the 2020 NFL Draft, I don’t believe that there is a scenario in which the Packers can’t address the receiver position. I am a fan of DeVonta Smith, but he does have areas in which he needs to improve.
Do I think that DeVonta Smith falls to 24? Absolutely not. So if need be, the Packers could look to move up to draft a skill player.
25. Buffalo Bills
Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
I’ve been waiting for Paulson Adebo to make the leap and establish himself as a top secondary prospect in the NFL Draft process. It may never happen, but I think that this is still a solid position for a team to take a shot on drafting him.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Trey Smith, IOL, Tennessee
Last season, Tom Brady looked like an average quarterback for the first time in his career, or at least as long as I can remember. I don’t know how long he’ll be able to continue playing at a high level, but it won’t be forever.
Trey Smith will add some much needed depth and versatility across the offensive line. The Buccaneers don’t have a lot of options behind Brady, so they could legitimately target a quarterback here, but they’re out of position to do so in this 2021 NFL mock draft. Hence, that’s why I’ve opted to add depth in the trenches and give Brady more time to make reads and throws downfield.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers
Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (Fla.)
The 2020 NFL Draft was a disappointing one if you were a fan of the tight end position. This year, the 2021 NFL Draft looks much better for the position.
The Steelers signed Eric Ebron this offseason, although he hasn’t been the most consistent player at the position. Pittsburgh also has Vance McDonald on the roster, too.
I’m going to send Brevin Jordan, one of the top tight ends in the country, to the Steelers in this 2021 NFL mock draft. This will allow head coach Mike Tomlin to open up the offense, even if Ben Roethlisberger retires after the season.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Caden Sterns, S, Texas
Dallas currently has Xavier Woods and HaHa Clinton-Dix lined up at safety, but both are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2021. The Cowboys might be able to re-sign one of them, but bringing both back seems highly unlikely.
To remedy the situation, they won’t have to go far. Caden Sterns was born in Dallas, but grew up just outside of San Antonio. In my opinion, he’s the best safety available here and would be a fine addition to the roster.
29. New Orleans Saints
Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Assuming that the 2020 season will be Drew Brees’ last, the Saints need to surround Taysom Hill with talent at the receiver position.
Rondale Moore is the best available left on my board, although Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle could be a potential target for the Saints in this 2021 NFL mock draft.
30. Baltimore Ravens
Joe Tyron, EDGE, Washington
Pernell McPhee is on a one-year contract for the Ravens. The franchise was able to bring in Calais Campbell through a trade with Jacksonville, so let’s pair him with a talented edge rusher to replace McPhee.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Raheem Mostert had a breakout season in 2019 for the San Francisco 49ers. With his backup Tevin Coleman set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2021, let’s give the 49ers a tandem in the backfield to wear down defenses in this NFL mock draft.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Kansas City Chiefs did a really good job of addressing their needs in the 2020 NFL Draft, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Although the Chiefs used a third round pick on Lucas Niang last year, I still think they can afford to address the offensive line, specifically at guard and center.