It’s finally here. Football is back!
With the start of the College Football season upon us, and the NFL set to start in less than a week, our staff here at NFL Draft Lounge couldn’t be anymore excited. This season is going to be different from anything that we’ve ever experienced before, but in terms of scouting college prospects, we’re ready for the challenge. I’ve put together this Preseason 2021 NFL Mock Draft for you all, which I hope you find enjoyable. It’s a one round mock draft
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Unless something drastic happens between now and the NFL Draft, I think this one is pretty much set in stone. Trevor Lawrence is the class of the field and clearly the best player that’s eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jaguars may say that they’re committed to Gardner Minshew, but if they end up drafting first overall here, Trevor Lawrence is an immediate upgrade from day one.
2. Washington Football Team
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
There is no better offensive lineman in this draft class than the University of Oregon’s left tackle, Penei Sewell. He does a very good job of handling pressure and keeping defenders at bay on the quarterback’s blind side.
With Ron Rivera at the helm, it’s going to be an interesting few years in Washington. They’ll be rebuilding on both sides of the ball, loading up with young talent that the franchise can build around. Additionally, the Washington will have to make a decision on quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Regardless of where they stand on Haskins as the quarterback of the franchise, they’ll still need a mauler on the offensive line.
3. Carolina Panthers
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
I was very tempted to go another route and mock the Panthers an interior offensive lineman, such as Wyatt Davis from Ohio State. As the Panthers rebuild under new head coach Matt Rhule, they’ll have to address the left guard position as John Miller enters the final year of his contract.
Instead, I’ll have Carolina drafting the top linebackers in this class. Micah Parsons not only excels as a run stopper or in pass coverage, but also does very well as a pass rusher. For the Panthers, Parsons will bring with him the versatility so desperately needed in their defensive front seven.
4. New York Giants
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Giants have Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard on the roster at wide receiver. However, QB Daniel Jones is entering his second season in New York, and if the Giants are drafting this high, it wasn’t a successful season. With Jason Garrett taking over as offensive coordinator, a high-powered offense isn’t a terrible idea.
Ja’Marr Chase is only a junior this season, but with most of the talent on the LSU team now in the NFL, it only makes sense for Chase to make the jump as well. I’m not anticipating the Tigers being very competitive this year as they rebuild, so if Ja’Marr Chase is still a first round lock for the NFL Draft at season’s end, I believe it’s highly likely that he declares.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
I want so badly to mock a wide receiver here for the Bengals. A.J. Green is working off a one-year contract, and spite selecting Tee Higgins in the second round, Cincinnati still needs to address the receiver position.
However, the secondary is more of a pressing need. Caleb Farley recently opted out of the college football season due to coronavirus and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s one of the top defensive backs in the draft class and could very well end up in the top ten of this draft. With the Bengals needing much needed talent and depth at the position, Farley makes perfect sense here.
6. New York Jets
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
The New York Jets are a disaster.
Yeah, I said it. Outside of a handful of positions, they desperately need to upgrade talent across the board. However, despite QB Sam Darnold missing three games, the Jets were still able to finish with a 7-9 record.
Gregory Rousseau is another collegiate athlete that, much like Caleb Farley, opted out of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. As I documented here, Gregory Rousseau is one of the top EDGE rushers in this draft class. He’s a raw talent that relies heavily on his athleticism, but he would be a blank canvas for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to work with.
7. Miami Dolphins
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
As it currently stands, the Miami Dolphins have two top ten draft picks in this draft, with one of those picks coming from the Houston Texans. Last year, Miami did a great job of using their first round picks to select QB Tua Tagovailoa and LT Austin Jackson.
This year, I have them using one of their firsts to select a wide receiver. DeVonta Smith should run somewhere in the 4.4 range at the NFL Combine, which NFL scouts and GMs will love. Wide receiver Kenny Stills was included in the Laremy Tunsil trade to Houston, leaving the Dolphins with a need at wide out. Smith will be able to open up the field and stretch the defense.
8. Detroit Lions
Marvin Wilson, IDL, Florida State
In my opinion, Detroit has one of the worst defensive lines in the NFL. While they have a few young pieces to build around for the future, they desperately need more talent. Jaylen Twyman is also an option here, depending on how the NFL Combine and pro days shake out. Nonetheless, an interior defensive lineman would be a huge need for the Lions here at eight.
9. Miami Dolphins
Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma
In January, Humphrey announced that he would be returning to Oklahoma for the 2020 college football season. At the time, I had a mid-to-late first round grade on him. If he’s able to show some improvement this season and play at a more consistent level, I think it’s possible that a franchise such as Miami takes a look at him here.
However, with two first round draft picks, that could potentially both be in the top ten, they could look move back in the 2021 NFL Draft and obtain additional capital. For a team with several needs on both sides of the ballet’s something to consider.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
With Jacksonville selecting Trevor Lawrence first overall in this mock draft, I now have them opting for much needed offensive line depth. I don’t believe that Alex Leatherwood will be able to play a tackle position from day one, nor do I believe that the Jaguars need him to. Rather, I think they could move him inside to one of the guard positions and shore up the interior.
However, the Jacksonville Jaguars could be doing so with a new head coach. With the first overall pick, as well as an additional first round selection from the Los Angeles Rams, we could see an entirely revamped roster for Jacksonville.
11. Las Vegas Raiders
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
I feel like we’ve all been waiting for the Raiders to cut ties from Derek Carr and move on from the quarterback. At some point, if they don’t turn the corner and find success, I don’t know if they have a choice. With two first-round graded quarterbacks left on the board, it’s a perfect time for the franchise to draft Carr’s successor.
You can check out my summer scouting report on Justin Fields here. I was looking forward to watching Fields throughout the 2020 college football season to find if he could improve upon his accuracy. Even with the Big Ten Conference pulling out of a fall football season, I don’t think it’ll hurt Justin Fields. A solid performance at the NFL Combine coldest himself apart from North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
12. Arizona Cardinals
Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Despite the Cardinals drafting LB Isaiah Simmons with their first round pick last year, I still think Dylan Moses could be in play for them. By selecting Moses, this would provide Arizona with the versatility to play Simmons at multiple positions, which he did very well in college at Clemson.
While it’s unlikely to happen, I do think it would be a smart decision for the defense.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr., a new addition to the Chargers, are both set to become free agents following next season. By drafting Patrick Surtain II, they’ll allow him to grow into the position for a full season before taking over in 2022.
Another area that the Chargers could look to focus would be the offensive line. Aside from Trey Pipkins in the 2019 NFL Draft, the offensive line hasn’t been addressed. Finding depth and talent in the trenches should be a priority as Justin Herbert looks to take the reins of the offense at some point.
14. Denver Broncos
Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Much like the Chargers on the previous page, the Denver Broncos will have a few decisions to make in the secondary over the next few seasons. Cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan are both set to become free agents following the 2021 season. While Callahan is the cheaper option, Bouye will likely cost a pretty penny.
Shaun Wade is a solid option at cornerback here. By selecting him, they could let him battle it out with Bryce Callahan in training camp, letting the best man start the 2021 season. With the Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the division, upgrading the secondary should be a priority for the Broncos.
15. Chicago Bears
Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
If the Chicago Bears are impressed with Trey Lance here, they should pull the trigger on him. Mitch Trubisky hasn’t looked the part of a franchise quarterback since coming into the league. At this point, a breakup between the two would appear to be the best for both parties.
However, the wide receiver position is a need, too. Rondale Moore had a phenomal freshman season for Purdue in 2018. However, he was limited by a hamstring injury in 2019. He has since opted out of the 2020 season and declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. I’m not sure if he’ll still be on the board when the Bears pick, but Moore would be an immediate upgrade at the position.
16. Atlanta Falcons
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
I really like what Aidan Hutchinson was able to do at the University of Michigan. I’d like what he would be able to bring to the Falcons even more. Atlanta needs some talent and depth at pass rush, which Hutchinson would bring to the Falcons.
The interior offensive line, as well as the wide receiver position, are both alternative needs, too. However, in this particular 2021 preseason NFL mock draft, the Falcons are in a great position to nab a spectacular edge rusher. If I were them, I’d pounce on the opportunity.
17. Cleveland Browns
Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State
One of my favorite players to watch in the trenches is Wyatt Davis. He’s a mauler at guard that opens up wide running lanes. Not to mention, he’s able to hold his own in pass protection, too.
For the Cleveland Browns, who have a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball, they need to find ways to do the average things better. By adding Wyatt Davis, they give Baker Mayfield more time to make reads downfield, as well as open up the running game.
18. Tennessee Titans
Jaylen Twyman, IDL, Pitt
While Jaylen Twyman recently opted out of the 2020 College Football season, and declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, he stills remains as one of my favorite defensive prospects to watch on film. On my recently released Top 100 draft-eligible prospects, I have Twyman as my top ranked interior defensive lineman in this class. However, I do believe that not being on the field for this season might hurt his draft stock a bit.
Nonetheless, this is a beautiful fit for the Titans. I like the idea of solidifying the defensive line early in this draft for the Titans. However, if they want to go a different route, I think we could easily plug in an EDGE rusher here.
19. Minnesota Vikings
Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
This week, the Vikings were able to acquire Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars. If they can re-sign him to a long-term deal, and paired with Danielle Hunter, the front seven for the Vikings will be a monster for years to come.
By selecting Nasirildeen with this pick, they’ll have a hawk at safety to make plays across the field. I love his playmaking abilities and tenacity that he brings to the field. However, if the Vikings want to look elsewhere, they could certainly afford to address the offensive line.
20. Green Bay Packers
Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
It’s tempting to mock the Packers a wide receiver with this pick, such as Minnesota wideout Rashod Bateman. However, using the front office’s strategy from the 2020 NFL Draft to build for the future through the NFL Draft, a defensive back would make sense here. Jaire Alexander is an unrestricted free agent following next season, and while the Packers have depth at the position, they lack desirable talent.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Once everything shakes out and we get to April 2021, I don’t think there’s anyway that Trey Lance will still be on the board when the Steelers are on the clock. However, there is a ton of talent on this board, and quite frankly, there just aren’t a lot of teams that need a quarterback.
Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner is entering the final year of his contract, so if the offense struggles to take off, the Steelers will likely be in the market for a new OC. If that’s the case, look for them to bring in a coach to build an offense around a young quarterback, such as North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
22. Buffalo Bills
Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami (FL.)
I’m excited to see what Quincy Roche, the grad transfer from Temple University, will be able to do on the field for the Hurricanes this season. It’s going to be a huge opportunity for scouts to evaluate where exactly he’ll fit into an NFL defense. In my opinion, he fits more as an outside linebacker, but some scouts may look at him as more of a true defensive end.
If the Buffalo Bills decide to go in a different direction, the safety position is one that needs an upgrade in talent, as well as much needed depth.
23. Indianapolis Colts
Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Last season, I thought that Paulson Adebo would turn a corner and solidify himself as a top defensive back at the collegiate level. Unfortunately, this never happened. With the PAC-12 sitting out of a fall college football season, his draft stock will likely suffer. I for one wanted to see what he could do this season.
The Indianapolis Colts are in a division with DeShaun Watson, Ryan Tannehill, and potentially Trevor Lawrence. Addressing the secondary and being proactive in the NFL Draft could put the Colts in a position to compete for AFC South titles for several seasons.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Jalen Reagor with their first round draft pick. I loved the idea of drafting a receiver, but didn’t love the player. This year, I have them coming back to do the same. The wide receiver position, in my opinion, still remains a pressing need. Rashod Bateman has a small sample size, but delivered big time for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
With DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery both in their 30’s, the receiver position is one that should be addressed. By doing so, Philadelphia will be able to stretch the field and provide quarterback Carson Wentz with several targets.
25. New York Jets
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
With Rashod Bateman and Rondale Moore both officially declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft, it paves the way for a wide receiver to fall in the first round. As high as I am on Waddle, I think ultimately it’s his draft stock that suffers.
For the Jets, they spent a second round pick on WR Denzel Mims last year. However, I still think they could look at addressing the position in 2021. New York has a potential out in the contract of slot receiver Jamison Crowder following this season. Drafting a talented prospect to battle for the slot could save the Jets money, as well as provide a long-term safety net for QB Sam Darnold.
26. Dallas Cowboys
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
With Jason Witten moving on to the Las Vegas Raiders, it leaves a massive hole at tight end for the Cowboys. If Dallas is somehow able to workout a long-term contract with QB Dad Prescott, finding him a checkdown at tight end should be key.
If Jerry Jones wants to find a tight end that most resembles what Jason Witten was able to do in Dallas, Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth is the obvious answer. Late in the first round is a solid spot to draft Freiermuth, which I don’t feel is a reach in value.
27. New England Patriots
Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
It’s always tough to try and predict what the New England Patriots will do in the NFL Draft. Head coach Bill Belichick always finds a way to get the most out of less. With that being said, Belichick has a relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban. If New England is indeed in the market for an interior defensive lineman, they could take a hard look at Christian Barmore.
28. New Orleans Saints
Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
This pick is complicated if the Saints are able to bring in free agent Jadeveon Clowney. However, if he doesn’t end up in New Orleans to start the season, the Saints could look at drafting a linebacker to aid in pass rush and coverage. I might be higher on Chazz Surratt than most, but he possesses the traits to be a disruption on defense. New Orleans has a talented defensive front, and by plugging in a prospect such as Surratt at linebacker, the Saints would be much improved on defense.
29. San Francisco 49ers
Carlos Basham, Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
Defensive end Nick Bosa forces offenses to build their game plan around stopping Bosa. With Javon Kinlaw on the interior defensive line, it’ll open up more holes in the trenches. If the 49ers are in the market for an EDGE rusher to take pressure off of Bosa, then the Wake Forest defender Carlos Basham Jr. is a perfect candidate.
30. Baltimore Ravens
Caden Sterns, S, Texas
The Earl Thomas experiment ended in disaster for Baltimore. If DeShon Elliott isn’t able to replace Thomas, the Ravens could look at another University of Texas safety. I’m rather impressed with what Caden Sterns has been able to do at Texas, and if he can improve upon that this season, he could be a mid-first round draft pick. However, if he’s on the board here for Baltimore, they should do their due diligence.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Admittedly, I had this pick lined up before the Buccaneers were able to land free agent Leonard Fournette after he was released by the Jaguars. Despite that, I still think Tampa Bay should remain in the market for a talented running back.
I have Najee Harris as a borderline first round talent. However, I do believe that he would fit well in Tampa. As we’ve seen with older quarterbacks, the Buccaneers will, eventually, have to rely less on Brady’s arm and more on the team around him.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Chiefs locked up quarterback Patrick Mahomes this offseason with a massive contract. By selecting an offensive tackle at this spot, they could nab one of my favorites in Texas’ Samuel Cosmi. He’s been solid at left tackle for the Longhorns, which could work in Kansas City’s favor as Eric Fisher is set to be an unrestricted free agent following next season.