2021 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round only

With the NFL Draft roughly 24 hours away, here’s our first and final projection of how the first round will play out tomorrow night.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson

This is obviously chalk. With Lawrence joining Urban Meyer in Jacksonville this instantly becomes one of the most interesting storylines in football.

2. New York Jets

Zach Wilson, QB BYU

This is as much chalk as the first pick. Wilson is the clear QB2 in this class despite some still pushing a debate, nonetheless, New York hopes to have a new face of the franchise in the BYU product.

3. San Francisco 49ers

Trey Lance, QB North Dakota St.

This pick is between Mac Jones and Trey Lance. Reporting indicates the scouting department/front office are mostly in favor of Lance, with head coach Kyle Shanahan in favor of Jones. While it’s reasonable to believe Shanahan wins that battle, I think the upside of Lance and endorsement from his front office will be enough to sway him to that side come Draft night.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts, TE Florida

I think the Falcons aggressively try to move back, acquire more picks, and add a defensive prospect; but if they can’t (I couldn’t here) then they’ll opt for the best player available in Pitts. The idea of pairing him with Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley for the next few years is tantalizing, and if they decide to move on from Julio then Pitts can ideally help fill that void. (Falcons fans will want to keep reading)

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU

I’ve mostly been hearing the same thing about this pick, “I think they should go Sewell, but it sounds like they’ll opt for Chase.” We can haggle over which option better helps/protects Burrow, but the reality is both prospects will elevate their new QB and offense; and it’s hard to knock a team for adding a weapon like Chase.

6. Miami Dolphins

Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama

I’m not totally sure of the Dolphins plans here, but it sounds like adding an explosive weapon for Tua to play with is the popular thought. They have a difficult choice of Bama products DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, but reporting indicates they lean toward the latter, which probably makes more sense opposite Davante Parker.

7. New England Patriots

*TRADE* Detroit receives 15th overall, 46th overall, 120th overall, & a 2nd round pick (2022)—New England receives 7th overall.

Justin Fields, QB Ohio State

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Patriots have been aggressive in improving their roster this offseason, and there isn’t a whole lot of sense in spending real money if you don’t plan on upgrading from what they had/have under center. I have little doubt that Belichick will trade up to get a QB, I just don’t know who that‘ll be. In this case my money is on them favoring the athlete with the cannon (McDaniels can build an offense around his skillset and develop the finer points as they go).

8. Carolina Panthers

Penei Sewell, OT Oregon

The Panther might benefit the most from the Pats moving up, with the Lions no longer in line to add Sewell (their likely target if they stay at 7) Matt Rhule will be glad to add a blindside protector for his new QB Sam Darnold.

9. Los Angeles Chargers

*TRADE* Denver receives 13, 77, & 159 overall—LA receives 9th overall.

Rashawn Slater, OL Northwestern

It’s hard to imagine Slater would fall far past here with a number of teams ready to move up for arguably the best OL prospect in this class. In this case the Chargers add someone whom they hope can protect Herbert’s blindside for years to come (if Slater somehow can’t stick outside he’s a generational talent on the interior).

10. Dallas Cowboys

Patrick Surtain, CB Alabama

Dallas is certainly a candidate to move back, but I couldn’t get a trade done, so I went with what’s arguably the chalkiest pick outside of the top-five. The Cowboys need serious help in the secondary, and Surtain is a sure-thing.

11. New York Giants

DaVonta Smith, WR Alabama

New York could go in a number of directions here, but I can’t shake a feeling that they’ll knife any hope that Eagles fans may have of adding the Heisman Trophy winner. Pairing Smith with newly-acquired Golladay in an offense with Saquan Barkley eliminates any and all excuses for third-year QB Daniel Jones.

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina

The board didn’t break in my favor, and I couldn’t move back—double whammy. My preference wouldn’t be Horn, but I get the sense this is where the Eagles would go if they weren’t able to trade back in this scenario. Drafting a corner in the first round for the first time since Lito Shepherd in 2002 will ideally patch up a secondary that’s been bad for over a decade.

13. Denver Broncos (trade w/ LAC)

Micah Parsons, LB PSU

Moving back and still grabbing a prospect they were likely considering at 9 is pretty much how Denver would draw it up. Adding one of the best defensive prospects in the class at 13 with some draft capital sprinkled on top would make John Elway a big winner in post-draft recaps (for whatever that’s worth).

14. Minnesota Vikings

Christian Darrisaw, OT Virginia Tech

Minnesota could look to move up or down depending on how the board falls, but in this instance it makes sense to stay put and chose their preferred lineman between Darrisaw and Alijah Vera-Tucker. I’m not sure who they like more, but I’m higher on Darrisaw.

15. Detroit Lions (trade w/ NE)

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT USC

There are some who believe that Vera-Tucker will be better served kicking inside to guard, but Detroit will need him to stick outside and I’m confident he can do that. Lions fans may not love the idea of moving so far back from the seventh pick, but it’s hard to argue with how things turned out for them in this mock.

16. Washington Redskins

*TRADE* Arizona receives 19 & 74 overall—Washington receives 16 overall.

Mac Jones, QB Alabama

With Jones on the board you have to imagine a number of teams (WFT, Chicago, even Pittsburgh) will be inquiring about a trade up. It’s hard to imagine any of the teams picking 12-15 would be willing to slide back as far as 19/20, so this is the first chance those teams will have to pounce on him. A bidding war will likely drive up the cost of moving up, but Washington will be glad to pay in this scenario.

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Teven Jenkins, OT Oklahoma St.

Jenkins is rising up draft birds, and tackles are a safer bet to go sooner than later than expected. Mayock and Gruden won’t be afraid to make a splash if the opportunity presents itself, but in this case they opt for the meat and potatoes pick.

18. Miami Dolphins

Jaelen Phillips, EDGE Miami

It’s between Phillips and Paye here, and I figure Miami chooses the prospect from their own backyard. Paye is likely the top EDGE on most boards, but Phillips is right on his heels, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear his name called first on Thursday night.

19. Arizona Cardinals (trade w/ WFT)

Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech

I flirted with Newsome here but figured Farley’s upside is too much to pass up, and it’s not like Newsome has a clean bill of health himself. The Cardinals draft the heir apparent to Pat Peterson.

20. Chicago Bears

Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota

Bateman is widely regarded as the WR4 in this class, and his blend of plus-size, sharp release package, and excellent ball skills are hard to disagree with. He’ll be a reliable (if unspectacular) option as the X receiver for Chicago and new QB Andy Dalton from day one.

21. Indianapolis Colts

Kwity Paye, EDGE Michigan

The Colts would trip over themselves to get this pick in.

22. Tennessee Titans

Greg Newsome, CB Northwestern

The Titans could look to move back, and I strongly considered receiver and offensive tackle here, but Newsome slots in comfortably across from offseason addition Janoris Jenkins in Tennessee’s new-look secondary.

23. New York Jets

Elijah Moore, WR Ole Miss

The Jets have a few other needs, but putting a real weapon around Zach Wilson wouldn’t be a bad idea. Moore is real difference maker from the slot, and a few teams likely have him rated higher than Bateman.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Dillon Radunz, OT North Dakota St.

Pittsburgh could go running back with Najee Harris or Travis Ettiene here, but adding a tackle to keep Big Ben upright and begin developing the trenches of the future makes more sense. Radunz has plenty of experience and a strong senior bowl performance cemented his status as a fringe-first round prospect.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevon Moehrig, S TCU

Jacksonville could obviously go in a number of directions here, but Moehrig goes a long way in sewing up the back end of a leaky secondary. Adding a future leader on each side of the ball is a great start for the Jags.

26. Cleveland Browns

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB ND

Similar to the Colts with Paye, Cleveland would trip over themselves to get this pick in. JOK is easily the best player available in this range, and the Browns add a dynamic weapon to an already excellent defense.

27. Baltimore Ravens

Gregory Rousseau, DL Miami

Rousseau is a freak who can line up from the 1-tech all the way out to the edge. He’s an oddly lean 6’7 265 lbs.—a build I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before—but it allows him to be a real difference maker along the line. He may be developmental but it’s pretty easy to see a coaching staff like this getting the most out of his tools.

28. Atlanta Falcons

*TRADE* New Orleans receives 35, 108, 183 overall, & a third round pick (2022)—Atlanta receives 28 overall

Christian Barmore, DT Alabama

The Falcons see a stud laying on the board this late and don’t hesitate to overpay and move up. The only shame of grabbing Pitts at 4 is it doesn’t address any of their major defensive concerns, this rectifies that.

29. Green Bay Packers

Zaven Collins, LB Tulsa

Collins has the tools to be a stud, and if there’s one thing Green Bay’s defense lacked compared to Tampa’s last season it was playmakers at linebacker. It paid off for the Bucs, and they’d be wise to mimic that if their defense is going to take the next step.

30. Buffalo Bills

Asante Samuel Jr, CB Florida St.

Sean McDermott coached his dad in Philly and over a decade later he jumps at the opportunity to coach junior. Asante Samuel should slot in comfortably on an ascending Bills team.

31. Philadelphia Eagles (trade w/ BAL)

*TRADE* Baltimore receives 37 & 83 overall—Philadelphia receives 31 overall.

Kadarius Toney, WR Florida

Baltimore and Philly have a history of draft trades, and after adding Rousseau they’re comfortable moving back a few slots. I could’ve gone Terrace Marshall here, but I get the sense Howie will opt for the big-play slot in Toney—a physical YAC threat with a flexible lower half, quick-feet, and natural separation ability. If he can refine his route-running and stay healthy then he’s a steal.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Azeez Ojulari, EDGE Georgia

Ojulari gives the Bucs more juice off the edge that they don’t necessarily need, but will be more than glad to add.

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