The 2021 NFL draft is almost here, and it has the makings of one of the more volatile first rounds in draft history.
Writing a Mock NFL Draft is a challenging exercise as you want to pair a team with a position and player that makes sense. This year more than any other, it feels there is unknown at every turn, and it should be fascinating to see how the real thing unfolds.
Injuries will play a huge factor this year as there are significant unknowns, and a lack of getting good information will push players with known injuries down a bit. I have included some players with known medical issues in this mock as their talent warrants selection in the first round, but it should not surprise us when they slip and fall into Round 2.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Lawrence is going first overall to the Jaguars. He is one of the better quarterback prospects to enter the NFL in recent years and is a player that may be able to get the Jaguars on the right track.
2) New York Jets
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Wilson is an exciting prospect as he can deliver the ball from different arm angles and make plays outside the structure of an offense. He is polarizing, as some see an undisciplined player while others see playmaking ability.
3) San Francisco 49ers (NFL Draft Trade)
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Total speculation at this point, and nobody knows anything. Jones has been connected to the 49ers for some time, and his fit in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense is solid. Still, it should not be a total surprise if Trey Lance or Justin Fields has their name called here.
4) Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The addition of Pitts gives quarterback Matt Ryan one last shot as the Falcons offense could score 50 points a game. Considering the Falcons defense, they might have to.
5) Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow showed incredible chemistry in 2019 at LSU, and the connection might be too much to pass up. Selecting a tackle is the safer play, but the Bengals can address the right tackle position in Round 2.
6) Miami Dolphins (NFL Draft Trade)
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Sewell has incredible upside and is a player the Dolphins can build around. He makes the running game more potent and is a young player with the potential to play for the Dolphins for a very long time.
Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Slater brings toughness and can play tackle on either side of the offensive line. The Chargers make this move in a desire to keep second-year quarterback Justin Herbert clean, allowing him to continue to make plays.
8) New England Patriots (NFL Draft Trade)
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Patriots get their quarterback of the future with the selection of Lance. Lance is a cerebral player with incredible upside and is only 20 years old. He has time to develop and can become an excellent quarterback.
9) Denver Broncos
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Fields brings excellent versatility to an offense as he is very accurate and can hurt the defense via his legs. Fields steps into a tremendous situation, and while he will challenge incumbent starter Drew Lock, he could be uber-productive with Denver’s weapons in the passing game.
10) Arizona Cardinals (NFL Draft Trade)
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Waddle is fun to watch as he is outrageously electric with the ball in his hands. He would open up large parts of the field for outside receivers DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green. Waddle is a home-run hitter, and he would make things easier for quarterback Kyler Murray.
11) New York Giants
Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Smith is a very advanced route runner, and he is capable of opening early in routes to make things clear for quarterback Daniel Jones. There are questions related to his size, but his talent as a receiver is undeniable.
12) Philadelphia Eagles (NFL Draft Trade Down)
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Surtain is a highly polished prospect entering the NFL, typical of an Alabama cornerback. He is likely at his peak as a player, but he is ready to play and will be a reliable cornerback for the Eagles.
13) Detroit Lions (Trade Down)
Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Lions fill a need at right tackle with the selection of Darrisaw, but the real value is in adding the Chargers picks this year and into the future. I’m penciling in a first-round pick in 2022 and a second or third-round pick in this year’s draft to come down to 13. Darrisaw is a huge man, and he can move, but he does need work on his footwork in pass protection.
14) Minnesota Vikings
Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
The Vikings need help with their offensive line, and Vera-Tucker can play. Yes, he has short arms, but he brings multi-position versatility and will help right away.
15) Carolina Panthers (Trade Down)
Gregory Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Newsome moves differently than the other cornerbacks in this class, and he is a better coverage cornerback than anyone left. Whether he plays outside or in the slot, he is an upgrade and an excellent prospect.
16) Dallas Cowboys (Trade Down)
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Parsons is a significant upgrade in an area needing one for Dallas. He needs to attack coming forward and is a sideline-to-sideline menace playing in the second level of the defense.
17) Las Vegas Raiders
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Hybrid S, Notre Dame
Owusu-Koramoah is a swiss-army knife-type player, but the Raiders better have a plan for him. He can play out over the slot and in coverage in the flats, do not ask him to take on blockers defending the run, though.
18) Miami Dolphins
Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
Paye comes from a blue-chip program and is one of the best athletes in the entire draft. He is going to take time, but he is going to take time to develop. If he does, he will be a very productive pass rusher for a long time.
19) Washington Redskins
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Collins is perhaps the most complete linebacker in the class, capable of defending the run, turning the corner as a pass rusher, and dropping into coverage at a high level. Interestingly, he should have an easy time playing behind Washington’s excellent defensive line.
20) Chicago Bears
Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Moore is an electric weapon and an excellent complement to receiver Allen Robinson. He will generate lots of yards after the catch and can make defenders miss, running through them or by them.
21) Indianapolis Colts
Azeez Ojulari, DE, Georgia
Ojulari is built low to the ground, and he has very long arms, which means he can win with leverage. He is tough, physical, and can turn the corner to give the Colts defensive line a jolt.
22) Tennessee Titans
Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (MEDICAL HISTORY)
Philips can stand up or put his hand in the dirt, and he fits the Titans scheme well. He is a relentless player and a hard worker. There are questions about his medicals with his concussion history, but his talent is not in question here.
23) New York Jets
Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Horn is a super physical cornerback capable of playing the physical style new head coach Robert Saleh desires. He is susceptible to getting beat because of his aggressive style, but he is a solid player here in the draft.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Harris is an excellent runner player capable of being a workhorse-type player. He is effective as a runner, but he is also reliable in pass protection and will stay on the field on third downs.
25) Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevon Moehring, S, TCU
Moehring is a playmaker in the secondary, and he fills a need in the Jacksonville defense. He is a versatile defender, has a nose for the ball, and is a smooth and fluid mover.
26) Cleveland Browns
Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
Barmore is a penetrating defensive tackle capable of interior disruption, which is very valuable in today’s game. Barmore will occupy interior linemen, opening up opportunities for his teammates.
27) Baltimore Ravens
Teven Jenkins. OT, Oklahoma State
Jenkins is a battler, a right tackle playing an aggressive game. He wins through physicality and effort, and he desires to finish defenders in the dirt. He will bring a nasty element to the Ravens offensive line, and his presence will help the ground game.
28) New Orleans Saints
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech (MEDICAL HISTORY)
Farley has it all except a clean bill of health, and that’s the story with him. He is exceptionally risky in the NFL Draft Round 1 because of the extensive injury history, especially to his back, but there is a reward too if he can get healthy. He is an excellent player, capable of growing into a No. 1 corner role.
29) Green Bay Packers
Landon Dickerson, OC, Alabama (MEDICAL HISTORY)
Dickerson is an excellent interior offensive lineman. He brings significant power and solid movement skills and will anchor the Packers offensive line for years.
30) Buffalo Bills
Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
Onwuzurike is a disruptive, powerful player capable of creating problems from the interior of an offensive line. He adds depth and playmaking to an already potent unit and is a solid addition going into the future.
31) Baltimore Ravens
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Bateman brings good size to the position, and he is capable of making plays outside, which could open up a part of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s game that has been missing to this point. Bateman battled Covid in the spring, and his 2020 film was not as strong as his 2019 film. He is a skillful player, and he gives the Ravens an element of playmaking they have not had on the outside.
32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
Mills is a very developmental player, but he should have plenty of time to learn from aging quarterback Tom Brady. Mills has a lot of tools that make him intriguing, from a big arm to excellent athleticism. He needs time, but this is a perfect spot for him to sit and develop.
Players just missing the cut that could easily be in Round 1 in The NFL Draft are:
Clemson running back Travis Etienne
North Carolina running back Javonte Williams
Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney
LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr.
Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood
Penn State DE Jayson Oweh
Washington DE Joe Tryon