This is it—the final first-round mock draft of 2021. I feel great about five of the 32 picks. The other 27 will require a great deal of luck to be right.
The top two picks have no intrigue. All of the intrigues begin with the 49ers at three…again.
1-Jacksonville Jaguars–Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
As has been with my first seven 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 is the apple to the Jets eye, it appears. The Big Apple, if you will. He will replace Sam Darnold as the new top signal-caller for New York.
3-San Francisco 49ers-F. MIA/HOU-Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
And here we go. The 49ers are replacing Jimmy G (eventually). But with who? The betting favorite has gone from Mac Jones to Justin Fields and back to Mac Jones. However, you don’t give up three ones for a limited, albeit very accurate QB like Jones, do you? I now think the pick will be the passing prospect with perhaps the highest ceiling of the Top 5 QBs, Trey Lance.
4-Atlanta Falcons–Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
If the Niners take Mac Jones, then I believe Trey Lance is in play at four. Justin Fields could also be in play. Or a trade down. With that being said, in this scenario, I believe the Falcons will take the potential offense-changing weapon with Pitts.
5-Cincinnati Bengals–Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
This is really between two players, and that’s it. Its either #TeamChase or #TeamSewell. I have said it before, and I still believe it. The offensive line depth in this class will allow the Bengals to get starting quality players in rounds two and three on the offensive line. However, a Ja’Marr Chase level player won’t be. Chase becomes the Bengals’ #1 WR, setting up potentially having three 1,000-yard receivers on their offense next season.
6-Miami Dolphins-F. PHI-Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
I entertained the thought of selecting Penei Sewell here, but the opportunity to put such a dynamic WR with Tua Tagovailoa was hard to pass up. Waddle can change a game in an instant.
7-Detroit Lions–DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
I do not believe Detroit will make a pick in this slot. Detroit is in full rebuild mode and could look to move back to acquire extra picks. Whether at pick 7 or later, the Lions have to address the WR position. Their depth chart at the position is atrocious. The only concern with Smith is his weight (166 -pounds). Everything else he does is phenomenal.
8-Carolina Panthers–Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Carolina is another team I could see trying to slide back for more picks. Perhaps with a team looking to move up for one of the other QBs. Whether at guard or tackle, Slater has a chance to be an elite player up front for many years.
9-Denver Broncos–Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
I really struggled with whom to pick here for Denver. I think they could go with one of the other QBs or maybe even an edge rusher. If Slater or Sewell are in play, it won’t shock me if either were the pick. But a linebacker is needed, so the top LB and first defensive player come off the board here.
10-Dallas Cowboys–Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
This is one of the few picks after five that I feel confident about. Surtain has been linked to Dallas for some time. He and Jaycee Horn are 1A and 1B at the CB position. For the sake of fun, it wouldn’t surprise me, despite reports to the contrary, if Jerry Jones moved up for Kyle Pitts.
11-New York Giants–Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, Southern Cal
While I wouldn’t classify it as a need, Vera-Tucker feels like a Dave Gettleman pick. AVT could start at right guard this season, maybe even getting a shot at right tackle.
12-Philadelphia Eagles-F. MIA/SF-Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
If one of the Alabama receivers falls to the Eagles, I think that will be the pick. Philly needs a corner opposite Darius Slay. Horn is the best press-man corner in this class. You can go back and watch the Auburn tape from this season to see him emasculate Seth Williams.
13-Los Angeles Chargers–Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
I believe Los Angeles will move up into the top ten to get one of the tackles. Whether that is Sewell or Slater remains to be seen. They did a great job in free agency addressing some of their holes up front center Corey Linsley and guard Matt Feiler. However, you are still projected to start Trey Pipkins at left tackle, and that probably ain’t going to get it done.
14-Minnesota Vikings–Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The search for a pass rusher opposite Danielle Hunter continues. Paye is a tremendous athlete with good production. He isn’t as tall as your typical Mike Zimmer defensive end. If Jaelen Phillips’s medicals check out, he could be the pick instead.
15-New England Patriots–Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Well, NFL, you have gone and done it now. You let Bill Belichick get his hands on the #2 QB in this class. Fields is an A+ athlete; he is accurate and has a big arm. I believe this will be in a trade-up, but if rumors are to be believed, Fields seems to be falling like a rock for some reason.
16-Arizona Cardinals–Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
Arizona would love to get their hands on Surtain or Horn. However, Newsome isn’t a bad consolation prize.
17-Las Vegas Raiders–Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)
I went back and forth between Phillips and Christian Barmore here. Barmore is more of an immediate need. I can see the Gruden/Mayock tandem being ok with taking a chance on Phillips’s long medical history for his potential to be a 10+ sack rookie.
18-Miami Dolphins–Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Miami could be moving backward with this pick, especially if a team wants to get ahead of Washington for Mac Jones. Harris is a perfect fit in Miami’s offense at the RB position. I personally can’t advocate for drafting a running back in the first round, but I can understand if the Dolphins go this way.
19-Washington Football Team–Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
JOK is an instant playmaking upgrade for the Football Team as a nickel LB/safety hybrid.
20-Chicago Bears–Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Andy Dalton is the current Bears starting quarterback. I will let you marinate on that for a little while. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chicago moved up some to make this pick. If a QB isn’t available, I could see offensive tackle being in play.
21-Indianapolis Colts–Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
I don’t know which offensive tackle it will ultimately be, but I am about 90% sure that position will be the selection for Indy. Darrisaw is a tremendous finisher.
22-Tennessee Titans–Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
I toyed with Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman here, but I kept coming back to pass rush. I still like Harold Landry, but maybe they can upgrade with Ojulari.
23-New York Jets-F. SEA-Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Blessaun Austin and Bryce Hall are currently the Jets starting corners.
Since they are in a complete rebuild, they can take a chance on Caleb Farley’s tremendous talent overcoming his poor medical history.
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) April 27, 2021
I sneakily like Clemson RB Travis Etienne or North Carolina RB Javonte Williams as a potential selection here.
24-Pittsburgh Steelers–Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
If Najee Harris falls to 24, I think he is the selection. Pittsburgh could use an upgrade over Zach Banner at right tackle. Teven Jenkins could allow Okorafor to move back to the right side while Jenkins starts on the left.
25-Jacksonville Jaguars-F. LAR-Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Moehrig is the top safety in this class and would be an immediate upgrade for the Jags. There is always the possibility of giving new QB Lawrence a toy to play with. Perhaps his old Clemson teammate Etienne?
26-Cleveland Browns–Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Let’s start some controversy on the Cuyahoga, shall we? Bateman is a highly productive receiver who also happens to be a great athlete. He would likely be the #3 wideout this season, but he would certainly ease the transition away from Odell Beckham and/or Jarvis Landry after next season. If Bateman isn’t the pick, I could see Christian Barmore or one of the LBs being the pick.
27-Baltimore Ravens–Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
The Ravens couldn’t pass up a talented Crimson Tide defender here. If Trevon Moehrig falls, he could be in play. Also, I could see an offensive tackle or a receiver as well.
28-New Orleans Saints–Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Zaven Collins could be the athletic, playmaking linebacker they thought they were getting with Alex Anzalone. I still believe a trade out of round one is possible.
29-Green Bay Packers–Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
A year late, but the packers finally give Aaron Rodgers a first-round wide receiver. Elijah Moore was one of the biggest playmakers in the SEC this season. He is completely different than any WR currently on their roster. If Barmore were to fall, he would certainly be in play.
30-Buffalo Bills–Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
It was tough to nail down where Buffalo is going to go. They have no glaring needs. So, this is literally throwing darts and giving them a high-upside pass rusher in Joe Tryon.
31-Baltimore Ravens-F. KC-Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
I think the Ravens will either come out of this pick by either moving out of round one, taking a tackle, or a wideout. Dyami Brown is a dynamic weapon. His name has been bandied about as a potential round one player. Terrance Marshall (LSU) and Kadarius Toney (Florida) would be other potential receiver targets.
32-Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
Tampa Bay is the only team I can ever remember returning all 22 starters from a Super Bowl-winning team. I think they could stand to groom a young pass rusher behind Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul. Rousseau may have the highest upside of all of the edge rushers in this class.