Welcome to my penultimate Mock Draft for the 2021 draft season. I will not include trades in my final mock draft (releasing on 4/28/21) so I included plenty in this edition.
The top two picks have no intrigue. The intrigue begins with the 49ers at three.
1-Jacksonville Jaguars–Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
As has been with my first six mock drafts, this pick is in the bag. Lawrence has been the pick at #1 since Jacksonville clinched the top spot.
2-New York Jets–Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Wilson to the Jets is seeming as locked in as Lawrence to the Jags. New York dealt former starter Sam Darnold to Carolina for a handful of picks thus locking in a QB pick at two. All signs point to Wilson.
3-San Francisco 49ers-F. MIA/HOU-Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
So, it appears the Jimmy Garoppolo Experience is soon to be over in the Bay Area. The 49ers gave up pick 12, two future first-round picks, and a 2022 third to make this move. And no matter the amount of smoke out there, you can’t make me believe it was for Mac Jones. So, I believe the choice here is either Trey Lance or Justin Fields. If betting odds are to be believed, then Justin Fields is the new odds-on favorite to be the pick at three. Kyle Shanahan certainly seemed happy at Fields’ pro day on Wednesday.
4-Atlanta Falcons—Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Falcons are the true wild card pick here. Could we see four QBs go in the first four picks for the first time ever? Lance would have to sit behind Matt Ryan for at least one season as Ryan carries a contract with $40 million in a dead cap hit. However, Lance may have the highest ceiling of any QB in this draft.
5-Cincinnati Bengals–Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
And now the true debate begins. The Bengals offensive line in 2020 was atrocious. This is not up for debate. However, they also are sorely lacking a true number one receiver. This was evident with the number of targets given to A.J. Green last year with little to no production. Chase put on a show at the LSU pro day, running a 4.34 40 and testing like an elite athlete.
I am not against drafting Penei Sewell with the fifth pick. However, for what the Bengals need, the depth at offensive tackle is better than the depth at wide receiver. I believe the Bengals can acquire a starting right tackle slash right guard at the top of Round 2, more than they can acquire a true number one deep threat wide receiver.
6-Miami Dolphins-F. PHI-Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Miami will set out in the 2021 draft to surround Tua Tagovailoa with more weapons. Kyle Pitts is a game-changing talent at the TE position. Pairing him with another great athlete like Mike Gesicki will torture opposing defenses.
7-Los Angeles Chargers-F. DET-Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
After the Bengals passed on Sewell the Chargers pounce on the opportunity to get the top offensive tackle in the draft to protect Justin Herbert. The Lions are stockpiling picks to reload the roster for new head coach Dan Campbell.
Chargers acquire pick #7, Lions acquire pick #13, pick #77 (3rd), pick #118 (4th)
What do you think about that trade Lieutenant?
8-Carolina Panthers—Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Carolina made the deal for QB Sam Darnold to be their new starting QB. So, common sense says they are out of the quarterback market now. The Panthers can upgrade the talent at a great number of spots. Corner is one of them.
9-Denver Broncos–Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Denver is another team that has had talks about potentially moving up for a first-round quarterback. There are rumors that Drew Lock is not a favorite amongst the front office. However, in this mock draft, unless they want Mac Jones, all of the QB’s are gone.
The Broncos could work to add a starting right tackle. Rashawn Slater is the second-best offensive tackle in this class. He could also be the best offensive guard in this class if that is how he is viewed. Slater would be an upgrade immediately.
10-Dallas Cowboys—Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Nearly every mock draft will have the Cowboys taking a corner at number 10. This one will be no different. It really all depends on who Dallas has a preference for. I think Dallas would prefer Surtain. However, with him off the board, Dallas will look to Horn. There is very little that separates them from each other on my board.
11-New York Giants–Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The other team in New York, the Giants, or a bit more difficult to figure out. They went hard on the offensive line last year. While they have interesting players at wide receiver, they could work to add a little bit of space dynamic to their passing game. Waddle possesses one of the best start/stop abilities of any receiver in this class.
12-New England Patriots-F. PHI/MIA/SF-Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
I don’t know if Bill Belichick is in love with Mac Jones. His facial expressions at the Alabama pro day this week would certainly say that he is not. However, one has to feel that they are looking for another starting quarterback. Cam Newton signed another one-year contract, so he isn’t long for the Boston area. If San Francisco unloads Jimmy Garoppolo, I could see New England making that phone call. With Mac Jones slipping out of the top ten I could see the Pats making the move.
Patriots acquire pick #12, Eagles acquire pick #15, pick #96 (3rd), pick #122 (4th)
What do you think about that trade Lieutenant?
13-Detroit Lions-F. LAC-Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Pick up some extra picks and draft the same guy you would at seven? That is some good drafting by Detroit. Parsons is an athletic specimen at the LB position that can command the Lions defense for years.
14-Minnesota Vikings–Jaelen Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)
On skillset alone, Phillips is probably the best pass rusher in this draft. However, he has a long injury history, including a near medical retirement from concussions. This likely will scare some teams away from picking him. Does that include the Vikings? I do not know. I do know that Minnesota is looking to add to their pass rush and Phillips could be special at that.
15-Philadelphia Eagles-F. NE-DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
So, the Eagles move back three spots and low and behold the guy they would have taken at 12 is there at 15. They have to improve their WR room. If Jalen Hurts is truly the guy, then giving him a top-notch pass-catcher like Smith would go a long way to help.
16-Arizona Cardinals—Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, Southern Cal
I have mocked Arizona a corner in most of my mock drafts to date. However, with the top two gone, I feel the Cards will move in another direction. AVT was a tackle at Southern Cal but projects inside in the NFL. He has the ability to be an all-pro level player at guard.
17-Las Vegas Raiders—Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
We know that GM Mike Mayock and HC Jon Gruden love taking them some big school players. With a sudden need on the interior defensive line, Vegas takes the leap on the defensive tackle viewed by most to the best in class.
18-Miami Dolphins—Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Dolphins keep adding more weapons for Tua with Bateman. The former Gopher was one of the most productive receivers over the last two years. His pro day confirmed he was an excellent athlete. You could make the argument for Najee Harris or an offensive lineman here but I think the Dolphins need to continue upgrading the offense.
19-Cleveland Browns-F. WSH-Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
The Browns have one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. They have nine total draft picks. Nine draft picks ain’t making this team. So, Cleveland packages a few and moves up to attach one of the few positions they can use an upgrade at. Newsome is a great athlete with excellent cover skills.
Browns acquire pick #19, WFT acquires pick #26, pick #89 (3rd), pick #169 (5th)
What do you think about that trade Lieutenant?
20-Chicago Bears—Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
With no QB to target, Chicago goes with the best player available.
21-Indianapolis Colts—Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The retirement of Anthony Costanzo left a huge hole at left tackle for the Colts. Adding Jenkins would erase that hole. Jenkins abused Big 12 defensive linemen over the last two years.
22-Pittsburgh Steelers-F. TEN-Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Steelers give up a four to select one of the best available offensive tackles in the draft. Darrisaw had my third highest tape grade but an injury didn’t allow him to test.
Steelers acquire pick #22, Titans acquire pick #24 and pick #128 (4th)
What do you think of that trade fellas?
23-New York Jets-F. SEA-Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Normally I would advocate adding a weapon or blocker for a new quarterback, but The Jets starting CB situation looks bleak. Caleb Farley probably would have been selected earlier if not for a neck issue that has popped up in recent weeks. It caused him to not be able to work out at the Virginia Tech pro day.
24-Tennessee Titans-F. PIT- Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
It seems that the Titans are always looking to add a pass rusher. Azeez Ojulari is a high upside rusher that the Titans could look to add with this pick.
25-Jacksonville Jaguars-F. LAR-Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Undrafted RB James Robinson had a tremendous rookie season. However, making new franchise QB Trevor Lawrence is paramount. Etienne would give him that comfort level out of the backfield.
26-Washington Football Team-F. CLV-Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Collins is an active linebacker that never has to leave the field. He can upgrade the middle of the Washington defense.
27-Baltimore Ravens—Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
BPA for the Ravens. Moehrig is an upgrade at free safety but not necessarily a need.
28-Detroit Lions-F. NO-Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
New Orleans has one of the worst salary cap situations in the league. It would not surprise me to see the Saints completely trade out of round one. The Saints need as much cheap talent as they can get their hands on.
The Lions get aggressive to potentially the best pass rusher in this class. Rousseau didn’t test as well as I expected. However, his raw pass rush ability is unmatched in this class.
Lions acquire pick #28, Saints acquire pick #41 (2nd) and pick #72 (3rd)
Let’s go to a live look at the Saints cap guy:
29-Green Bay Packers—Terrance Marshall, WR, LSU
Last year everybody ripped the Green Bay front office for selecting a quarterback instead of getting Aaron Rodgers another weapon. This year, presented with the same choice, I believe the Packers give him one of the best receivers on the board.
30-Buffalo Bills—Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Buffalo is another team with few holes. However, one of the spots they could use an upgrade at is cornerback. Stokes isn’t one of my favorite corners in this class but his name is trending into round one.
31-Kansas City Chiefs–Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
We all watched the Super Bowl. We all saw Mahomes running for his life. The Chiefs cut Eric Fisher and Mitchell Swartz so they need fresh blood at tackle. Cosmi tested through the roof at the Texas pro day. He would be an ideal fit for the KC offense.
32-Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa
For the first time in the free agency era in the NFL, one team returned all 22 starters. Tampa Bay is not looking for a starter. However, they could look to add some depth on defense.