THE 2021 NFL Mock Draft

THE 2021 NFL Mock Draft

With the 2021 NFL Draft kicking off this week, aspiring sports journalists Hunter Carroll and Jack Hatton Jr. sat down and made their picks in this extensive first-round mock draft…

They focussed mainly on drafting for positional needs, but some selections are picks they think could seriously help elevate teams’ potentials moving forward.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
      • For months, it’s been all but guaranteed that the Jaguars will take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jaguars hope to find their new franchise quarterback this year, and pairing Lawrence with new head coach Urban Meyer could be a match made in heaven. Jacksonville has had trouble drafting quarterbacks over the years, selecting Blaine Gabbert with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Blake Bortles with the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, and drafting quarterbacks 2016, 2019, and 2020. Based on his exceptional career at Clemson, which included a National Championship in 2018, three ACC Championships, and finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting in 2020, Trevor Lawrence could finally be the answer to the Jaguars problems. 
  2. New York Jets
    • Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
      • After trading Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers a few weeks ago, there’s no doubt that the Jets will select a quarterback with the second overall pick in this year’s draft. The Jets will have their pick of projected first-round quarterbacks Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones, but they appear to be set on taking Wilson with the second overall selection in this year’s draft. Wilson was not highly rated heading into the 2020 college football season, but after finishing his senior season with a passer rating of 196.4, as well as 3,692 yards and a 73.5 completion percentage en route to an 11-1 season for BYU, his draft stock shot up. 
  3. San Francisco 49ers (from Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans)
    • Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State) 
      • The 49ers recently traded their 12th pick in this year’s draft to the Miami Dolphins to move up to the third overall pick. The 49ers thought they had their franchise quarterback lined up when they acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots in 2017, but his time in San Francisco has been full of injuries. After signing a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension in 2019 after returning from an ACL tear in the season prior, Garoppolo led the Niners to a Super Bowl appearance in 2020. This past season, Garoppolo was sidelined throughout the season with a high ankle sprain. It seems crazy for the Niners to move on from someone they recently spent plenty of money on, but with their trade up to the third pick, it seems inevitable that they have their eyes on their future quarterback.
  4. Denver Broncos (from Atlanta Falcons)
    • Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
      • In our mock, the Denver Broncos trade up from the ninth pick to the fourth overall pick in the draft and select former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The Falcons are in an interesting position this year with the fourth overall pick in the draft. They could take the best skill-position player available in Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, or draft a quarterback to be Matt Ryan’s successor once his career comes to an end. Both are attractive options, but the Broncos seem to be looking at drafting a quarterback based on inconsistent play from current starter Drew Lock, so don’t be surprised if they make a big trade on draft day and move up to get their guy. 
  5. Cincinnati Bengals
    • J’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
      • The Bengals are also in an interesting position this year with the fifth pick in the draft. They definitely could use some help on the offensive line by taking Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell to protect Joe Burrow, who tore his ACL in Week 11 last season, but they could also use this pick to find Burrow a valid number one receiver. J’Marr Chase is incredibly talented and is the most NFL-ready receiver in the draft, something that may be too hard for the Bengals to pass up on.
  6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles)
    • Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
      • The Dolphins traded their third overall pick to the 49ers, moving back to the 12th pick in this year’s draft before trading with the Philadelphia Eagles to move up to the sixth overall pick. Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback this season, and Miami has been focused on surrounding him with talent. They already signed former Texans wide receiver Will Fuller to a one-year contract, and they also have DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. The Dolphins could take another wide receiver with this pick, but Pitts would add a piece to Miami’s offense that could be used in many ways.
  7. Detroit Lions
    • Devonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
      • The Lions lost star wide receiver Kenny Golladay to the Giants this offseason, so they are going to look at bringing in another weapon for their new starting quarterback Jared Goff. Smith has plenty of doubters because of his size, but that didn’t stop him from winning the Heisman Trophy last season and a National Championship with the Alabama Crimson Tide. There could be an argument made for the Lions to take Smith’s former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle, who is coming off an injury. Smith brings NFL-ready skills to the table with elite route running and catching ability, ultimately convincing the Lions to draft him over Waddle, whose talent is raw and less refined.
  8. Carolina Panthers
    • Penei Sewell ( OT, Oregon)
      • The Panthers need to bring in more help on the line to protect their new quarterback in Sam Darnold. Sewell is the best tackle in the draft, and he has proven his abilities during his time at Oregon. According to Pro Football Focus, over his two seasons with the Ducks, Sewell allowed zero sacks and seven pressures on 491 pass-protecting snaps. He is also a strong run blocker and an elite-level pass blocker, making him a perfect addition to the Panthers’ offensive line.
  9. Atlanta Falcons (from Denver Broncos)
    • Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
      • After moving from the fourth overall spot in the 2021 NFL Draft to the ninth spot after a trade with the Denver Broncos, the Falcons should look to work on their defense. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Falcons used their first-round pick to select cornerback A.J. Terrell from Clemson. He quickly found his footing in the NFL and became one of the best defensive players during his rookie season. The Falcons should take Patrick Surtain II to pair with Terrell and create one of the best young cornerback duos in the NFL. It’s also important to note that the Falcons finished last in the NFL in pass defense last season, giving up an average of 293.6 yards per game.
  10. Dallas Cowboys
    • Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
      • There has been plenty of discussion about the Cowboys taking a cornerback with the tenth pick in the draft. While Patrick Surtain II has been regarded as the top corner in the draft, and with the Falcons taking him with the ninth pick, Farley is a fantastic option for Dallas’ defense. Farley didn’t play last season after opting out due to COVID-19 concerns, but during the 2019 season with Virginia Tech, he led the ACC in pass breakups with 16. He also just had surgery in March on a herniated disk in his back, but the expected recovery time is seven to 12 weeks, so Farley would be on pace to be ready for training camp.  
  11. New York Giants
    • Rashawn Slater (OT, Northwestern)
      • This pick for the Giants is more of a need than a want. Sure, you could make the argument to take Jaylen Waddle and add another weapon for Daniel Jones, but the Giants signed former Lions receiver Kenny Golladay this offseason, and they also have Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton coming back. They already have plenty of proven talent at receiver, so they should use this pick on someone to offer Daniel Jones protection on the line. Rashawn Slater can play tackle or guard, positions that the Giants could use upgrades at. 
  12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers)
    • Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
      • Even with trading back in March with the Miami Dolphins, the Eagles have plenty of talent to pick from with the 12th pick. The Eagles have many holes to fill, both offensively and defensively, but if Waddle is still on the board, he’s too hard to pass up on here. Waddle is one of the most explosive playmakers in the draft, and his play style has been heavily compared to Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill. Waddle is also regarded as the most dangerous player in this year’s draft class with the ball in his hands. This would add a phenomenal weapon for the Eagles, especially after the Eagles’ 2020 first-round selection Jalen Reagor spent plenty of time injured last season. 
  13. Los Angeles Chargers
    • Christian Darrisaw (OT, Virginia Tech)
      • The only option for the Chargers in the first round of this year’s draft is to take a tackle to protect Justin Herbert. Darrisaw has the potential to become the Chargers franchise left tackle, something that is extremely important considering how well Herbert turned out for the team last season. Darrisaw is also huge at 6-5 and 314 pounds. During his time at Virginia Tech, Darrisaw started in 34 games and gave up zero hits or sacks on 293 pass-block snaps throughout the 2020 season. There is concern over his hand use, but this is something that can be developed at the next level, so there is an enormous amount of upside with this pick for the Chargers.
  14. Minnesota Vikings 
    • Jaelan Phillips (ED, Miami)
      • Jaelen Phillips is widely considered the best edge rusher in the draft with the amount of athleticism he brings to the table. The former top-5 high school recruit and UCLA Bruin is no stranger to high expectations, and after transferring to Miami for a year, Phillips proved his worth. Racking up 15 ½ tackles for loss and eight sacks in his one year with the Hurricanes, Phillips has an insane amount of potential and the motor to become a dominant pass rusher in the NFL. While there may be concerns about durability and lack of experience on the field, Phillips is a natural edge talent who has shown flashes of dominance that have shot his draft grade up. WIth a major need for the Vikings at the defensive end position, Phillips seems like a great fit who will be able to have an immediate impact for head coach Mike Zimmer and company. 
  15. New England Patriots
    • Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
      • Everyone knows that the Patriots lost their franchise quarterback, Tom Brady, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 free agency. Since Brady’s departure, New England has tried to incorporate former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton into the offense, but this doesn’t appear to be a long-term role, mainly because the Patriots just signed him to a one-year deal. Former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones seems to be the perfect replacement to throw into Belichick’s system to find a long-term replacement for Brady. Many people think the Patriots will have to trade up to take Jones, but we believe Jones falls to 15 despite these concerns.
  16. Arizona Cardinals 
    • Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
      • The Cardinals made several moves in free agency this past off-season, including adding some veteran talent in defensive lineman J.J. Watt, wide receiver A.J. Green, and cornerback Malcom Butler. With these additions also came a big-time loss in their longtime number-one corner, Patrick Peterson. With Butler only on a one-year deal, Arizona looks to draft South Carolina prospect Jaycee Horn to fill Peterson’s role. With some big shoes to fill, Horn looks to be Arizona’s next hopeful lockdown corner for years to come.
  17. Las Vegas Raiders
    • Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
      • The Raiders and General Manager Mike Mayock have had a number of picks in the past couple of years to help build a team that fits with the playing style of Head Coach Jon Gruden and also the feel of their new city. With Parsons still on the board at 17 and some much-needed help on defense, it will be hard for the former draft guru in Mayock to pass up on the ninth highest-graded player in the draft, according to PFF. The Raiders ranked in the bottom ten of rushing yards allowed last season and hope to solve that problem with a true run stopper in Micah Parsons. The 6’3, 245lb linebacker will not only look the part in the silver and black, but he’ll also play the part being one of the most pro-ready players in the draft. 
  18. Miami Dolphins
    • Kwity Paye (ED, Michigan)
      • Kwity Paye is a physical machine who has the ability to become a very productive pass rusher at the next level due to his size, speed, and strength to dominate opposing offensive lines. Standing at 6’4, 272 pounds, and putting up a very impressive 36 bench press reps at his pro-day, Paye is an NFL-ready talent that head coach Brian Flores would love to add to his squad. Although there has been some concern about his productivity only grabbing two sacks last year, he would be a hard prospect to pass up on as Miami’s defense is already excellent. He would be able to step in without a ton of pressure and find his groove throughout the season. With Josh Allen on the Bills, Cam Newton on the Patriots, and the Jets projected to grab a quarterback at their number two draft spot this year, the Dolphins need to find a way to get to opposing quarterbacks in their division, and Kwity Paye may be the answer for them. 
  19. Washington Football Team 
    • Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
      • Although the Football Team has some needs to address on the offensive side of the ball, Owusu-Koramoah is too good of a player to pass up at 19. WIth one of the best-ranked defenses in the league last year, Washington adds another dynamic player to the squad who will have an immediate impact. With versatility in his abilities to man cover and be an aggressive hitter, Owusu-Koramoah has the speed to keep up with receivers and tight ends but the physicality to punish opposing running backs when filling the hole. As a kid who can do it all, he would be a great addition to an already dominant defense that head coach Ron Rivera would be very excited about heading into next season having to defend their division crown. 
  20. Chicago Bears 
    • Greg Newsome II (CB, Northwestern)
      • The Chicago Bears have eyes set on the hometown kid in Greg Newsome II at 20, who looks to replace former Bears’ corner Kyle Fuller as they released him earlier this offseason. With durability concerns about him standing at 6’1 and 190 pounds, along with the fact that he has never completed an entire college season, he is an NFL-ready corner who can make an instant impact. After allowing just a 31.8% completion percentage last year and running a 4.38 40-yard dash, Newsome has proven great production and has the speed and quickness to be a dynamic corner at the next level. Plus, the Bears love drafting hometown kids like they did with tight end Cole Kmet last year. 
  21. Indianapolis Colts 
    • Alijah Vera-Tucker (OT, USC) 
      • The Colts brought in quarterback Carson Wentz from the Eagles this year after moving on from the now retired veteran Phillip Rivers. With a new face at quarterback who had injury issues and offensive line problems in Philly, the Colts look to protect Wentz with some serious size and talent in Vera-Tucker. After receiving first-team All Pac 12 honors this past season, Vera-Tucker’s draft grade has only risen and has been discussed as a top three Tackle in this year’s draft. With their star guard Quentin Nelson on the inside, the Colts pick Vera-Tucker to solidify the left side of their offensive line and hopefully bring Wentz back to the elite level of play we have seen from him in the past. 
  22. Tennessee Titans 
    • Teven Jenkins (OT, Oklahoma State)
      •  With the return of star left tackle Taylor Lewan coming off an ACL injury next season, the Titans look to solidify the other side of their offensive line by selecting Jenkins at 22. The Oklahoma State prospect has ideal size for the position and plays with a certain edge and nastiness that head coach Mike Vrabel would be fond of. An absolute beast in run blocking, Teven paired with Lewan on the other side would provide an ideal situation for the reigning offensive player of the year Derrick Henry. With questions about Jenkins’s arm length and ability to contain edge defenders in pass blocking, Jenkins makes up for it in his run blocking ability and desire to bury opposing defensive players on the turf. The redshirt senior has played in 37 games in college and has shown serious grit that the Titans will love. 
  23. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)
    • Jayson Oweh (ED, Penn State)
      • If Oweh is available here for the Jets, it would be hard for them to pass on his insane athleticism and raw talent. Not as polished as the other pass rushers in this draft, Oweh clocked a 4.37 40-yard dash time at 6’5 and 257 pounds, which would make him an enticing pick for first-year head coach Robert Saleh, who would love to add to a struggling Jets defense that ranked 26th overall last year by Pro Football Focus. Although his inconsistency may be a concern, Oweh has shown a willingness and desire to get better at the game through his effort on the field. If he can be developed appropriately, he would be a scary good player coming off the edge for the Jets. 
  24. Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
      • The last time that a running back wasn’t selected in the first round was in 2014 when the Tennessee Titans selected Bishop Sankey with the 54th pick in the draft. Many people think there won’t be a running back taken in the first round this year, but we don’t see the Steelers passing up on former Alabama running back Najee Harris with the 24th pick. The Steelers’ current starting running back going into the 2021 season is Benny Snell Jr., who underperformed in 2020 with only 368 yards and four touchdowns on 111 attempts. The team had James Conner, but they lost him to the Cardinals in free agency on April 13. Snell could be the team’s starter moving forward, but Harris would be a substantial addition Steelers’ offense, especially after rushing for 2690 yards and 39 touchdowns over his final two seasons with the Crimson Tide.
  25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams)
    • Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
      • Although the Jags fortified their defensive backfield through free agency by signing Rayshawn Jenkins and Rudy Ford, they could still use an upgrade, and it would be hard for them to pass on Moehrig at 25. The Jags were one of the worst-ranked pass defenses last year, allowing 34 touchdowns through the air. Moehrig brings size at 6’2 and 202 pounds and ability at the safety position after leading college football in pass breakups last season. 
  26. Cleveland Browns 
    • Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
      • The Cleveland Browns look to solidify their already very talented roster with Barmore, who is criticized for his inconsistency but offers an upside with his athleticism and size at 6’5 and 310 pounds. After signing Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason to pair up with Myles Garret on the other side, the Browns bring Barmore in to make their defensive line possibly the scariest in football. With the right coaching and guidance, Barmore could be a game-changer, as we saw him play well in big games in the College Football Playoff. 
  27. Baltimore Ravens 
    • Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
      • Bateman was a very productive player in college, posting a 1200+ yard season with 11 touchdowns in 2019 and continued to produce on the shortened college football schedule this past year. The Ravens have had a need at wide receiver for some time, especially not having a true number one guy. Adding Bateman to the roster at 6’2 and 210 pounds adds ideal size for a number one receiver and will complement the speed and ability of Marquise Brown when they are on the field together, giving Lamar a very nice combo to go along with their tight end Mark Andrews.
  28. New Orleans Saints 
    • Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR, LSU)
      • The Saints have one of the best rosters in football but are going to need another receiver on the squad without a true number two to compliment Michael Thomas on the outside, who missed six weeks last year due to injury and never saw the endzone. With Emmanuel Sanders out on the one-year deal they gave him last year and Drew Brees retiring in the offseason, the Saints look to add some talent on the outside in Marshall to help support Jameis Winston as he takes the reins at the quarterback position. The Saints could look defense here, but Marshall is too talented of a prospect to overlook at 6’3 200 pounds and running a 4.38 at his pro day. According to PFF, Marshall also caught the highest amount of his contested catches in FBS last year. 
  29. Green Bay Packers 
    • Elijah Moore (WR, Ole Miss)
      • Quite possibly our favorite pick in this draft, there is no better place for a playmaking speedster like Moore to go than Green Bay with the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. Drafting Moore would add serious speed to their receiving core and would take some of the attention off Davonte Adams that opposing defenses put on him. The Packers have not drafted a receiver in the first round since 2002, but this pick would seem too foolish to pass up on. Although the Packers could address needs elsewhere, a number two receiver on the squad to go along with Devonte Adams seems like a home run. Although the Packers have some talent in Lazard and Valdes-Scantling, Moore adds NFL-ready speed and ability to go along with the production he showed in 2020, making him a nice tool for head coach Matt LaFleur to use in the passing game. Moore will immediately become a favorite of Rodgers as a deep threat. 
  30. Buffalo Bills 
    • Azeez Ojulari (ED, Georgia)
      • Azeez Ojulari has some significant upside and would be an excellent addition to the Buffalo defense that ranked in the bottom six of teams in rushing touchdowns allowed last season. There are some questions about Ojulari’s size and if he is big enough to set the edge on the line within the Bills defensive scheme, but he has only progressed through college and finished last season with 8 ½  sacks. Where he lacks in size, he makes up for in length and speed getting off the ball and has the potential to become a crucial part of the Bills defense. 
  31. Baltimore Ravens (from Kansas City Chiefs) 
    • Walker Little (OT, Stanford)
      • After trading away their all-pro tackle Orlando Brown, the Ravens look to plug that hole with Walker Little, who is anything but little. Standing at 6’7 and weighing in at just over 300lbs, Little is an absolute monster on the line but hasn’t played a snap of football since 2019. Although the Ravens may be taking a risk not knowing how well he has developed since playing, Little has the potential to come in as a starting tackle in the NFL. With superb technique, quickness and poise, Little is a great prospect. He needs some improvements in his run blocking but will definitely be a quick learner in the league and hopefully provide quarterback Lamar Jackson with consistent protection. 
  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
    • Gregory Rousseau (ED, Miami)
      • The Bucs are bringing back much of their super-bowl winning squad through moves they’ve made in free agency and have a talented but aging defensive line. With Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul still being productive, Rousseau will add some youth to their defensive line. Even though he is labeled as an edge guy, he played much of his snaps inside as well in college and can move across different positions. Even though he only has one year of college ball under his belt, he is an enticing pick for the Bucs at 6’7 and 266 pounds with room to grow physically and on the field. He is a nice piece of clay for the Bucs to mold into a disruptive player coming off the edge, and with the presence of veterans in JPP and Suh, Rousseau may be an excellent fit for the defending champs. 

Written by Hunter Carroll

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