2021 NFL Mock Draft 2.0
The mock before the mock!
Just one more week until draft day! I’ll have a final mock up next week, but wanted to get an update in now with some new information that has come up over the past couple of weeks.
1 - Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Lawrence is already making donations to Jacksonville charities. Done deal.
2 - Jets - Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
When Adam Schefter texts you “welcome to New York”, you’re going to New York. I’ve seen some folks online putting doubt into his pick, and using the 2018 draft as an example of how unsettled draft information can be. But remember this: Darnold was only a roughly -300 favorite in the days leading up to that draft. Wilson is -5000 currently on FanDuel.
3 - 49ers - Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
We’ve been on a bit of a roller-coaster with this selection, but I currently still believe the most likely result is Jones. Some of the top insiders in the NFL have backed Jones, and NONE of them have mentioned the possibility of Justin Fields using credible sources. In fact, both Michael Lombardi and Peter Schrager have mentioned that they do not believe he is in the mix currently. I think the intrigue of Trey Lance leaves him as a possibility, but believe this is a two-horse race right now.
4 - Falcons - Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The more time that has gone on, the more the national guys have been hinting at Atlanta keeping this pick. The cost to come up should ultimately be too much for teams vying for QB help, and it sounds as though the franchise prefers to make one last run at competing with Matt Ryan before moving on. Pitts is the best non-QB in the draft, and perhaps the best TE prospect of all-time.
5 - Bengals - Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
My previous speculation about how Cincinnati may approach this pick has been looking more and more accurate by the day. Local insiders Malik Wright and Joe Goodberry have been confident that Chase will be the pick, and the Bengals do not typically hold back a ton of information. They can address the offensive line on Day 2; there isn’t another WR in this class as talented as Chase.
6 - Dolphins - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
It is clear at this point that Miami moved back up into this spot for the optionality it gives them on draft night. Should a QB come off the board at four, they will likely be able to select Pitts here. If Pitts goes to Atlanta, the Dolphins are in the driver’s seat for a potential trade back to a team looking to secure their future QB. I don’t project trades in my mocks, so will have Miami selecting Waddle — who I believe they ultimately would love to pair with Tua Tagovailoa in any kind of move back.
7 - Lions - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
This is another popular trade spot, and for good reason. Brad Holmes was a lynchpin of years of maximizing draft capital with the Rams, and Detroit only has six picks in this draft amidst a full rebuild. Top potential trade options would include the Broncos and Patriots. I have Fields coming off the board here, even though it may not be Detroit who ultimately turns the card in.
8 - Panthers - Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Panthers are another team live to move back if they are interested in recouping some picks from the Sam Darnold trade. However, there is a strong possibility none of the top QBs are even available at this juncture, which explains why they made that trade to begin with. Carolina needs more help up front if they want to avoid Darnold falling into the same situation he did in New York. Slater is the OL1 for at least some teams out there, and may be the most pro-ready to play multiple positions along the offensive line.
9 - Broncos - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
There have been questions posited as to whether or not Denver would be willing to unload the capital required to move up for a QB, but I doubt they’d pass on the opportunity to upgrade the position if one fell into their laps.
10 - Cowboys - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain has been the most-linked player to Dallas, but I’m not sure they would pass up on an opportunity to protect the money (Dak Prescott) to do it. I could see them taking either of the top tackles, but otherwise would expect a corner here.
11 - Giants - Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
The Giants taking a corner seems somewhat silly given what they have already invested in the position, but passing on a blue-chip prospect like Surtain due to need is unwise. Peter Schrager noted in his last mock that this was a possibility for Big Blue, and we all know about the Joe Judge Alabama pipeline at this point.
12 - Eagles - Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
It is looking unlikely that Philly will be able to nab Jaylen Waddle at this pick, and there isn’t much precedent for a 166-pound WR coming off the board in the top-12 (DeVonta Smith). Horn is neck-and-neck with Surtain, and is probably a better fit for what Philly plans to do defensively.
13 - Chargers - Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
I would imagine that somewhere in the Charger war room is a sign that says “Protect Justin Herbert — no matter what”. If one of the top corners made it here, I would say he likely is the pick over Darrisaw, who is a tier below Sewell and Slater. With that said, Benjamin Allbright indicated L.A. could move into the top-10 to secure their guy.
14 - Vikings - Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Minnesota has holes along the offensive line, and could decide to go with Alijah Vera-Tucker or Darrisaw if he is available. The Vikings also had only 23 sacks last season, and this looks to be the range for our first edge rusher to come off the board. I think it will be Paye, but Jaelan Phillips and Azeez Ojulari are also expected to be in the mix.
15 - Patriots - DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
New England should be considered a top candidate to trade up with someone like Detroit for a QB, but I actually like the fit here for Smith regardless. Both teams are almost completely barren at the WR position, and are smart/contrarian enough to defy typical draft norms surrounding Smith’s weight.
16 - Cardinals - Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Collins has been a big riser of late, and was linked to both the Cardinals and Titans by Ben Standig last week. Tony Pauline also connected Collins to Arizona if they cannot acquire one of their top options on the board.
17 - Raiders - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Parsons slide ends here with a Raider team in complete disarray on the defensive side of the ball. Their offensive line has some holes as well, making that a position to potentially address with this pick. Parsons has elite traits and athleticism, and would likely be taken earlier if not for some off-field concerns teams have, along with opting out of the 2020 season.
18 - Dolphins - Alijah Vera-Tuckeer, OL, USC
Miami adds another great weapon with their first pick, and versatile help along the o-line with their second. The Dolphins are going to continue to set up Tua for success as he heads into his second season. Other options here include edge rusher and running back (though I think they’d likely prefer to address the latter on Day 2).
19 - Football Team - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
JOK is a versatile chess-piece on the defensive side similar to Isaiah Simmons last year, and would be a good match with Ron Rivera according to Standig. Offensive line is another major possibility with this selection.
20 - Bears - Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
There are whispers of Chicago attempting to move up for one of the QBs, but they certainly have plenty of needs that they could address here at 20. One of those is WR. With Anthony Miller seemingly perpetually on the block, there isn’t a ton of pass-catching help for Andy Dalton (sorry Bears fans). They can rectify that with Bateman, who won inside and outside at Minnesota.
21 - Colts - Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
I’m torn on this pick because I believe Cosmi is probably a reach, but fills a position of great need. The Colts absolutely cannot move star guard Quenton Nelson outside to bandaid the loss of Anthony Castonzo and expect Carson Wentz to succeed. The available edge rushers and corners, however, provide way better value here.
22 - Titans - Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Tennessee was a disaster in pass defense last season, and released both of their starting corners. They signed Janoris Jenkins, but taking a high-upside swing on Farley also makes sense. The Virginia Tech product was a projected top-10 pick prior to having back surgery.
23 - Jets - Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
I could definitely see the picks I have from here up to 20 coming off the board in a different order, and they would still make sense for their respective teams. The Jets could look to further support Zach Wilson here, though I’d suspect they’ll have the same opportunities on Day 2, where they have three more picks. Ojulari is beloved by scouts, and is expected to be a Day 1 starter in the NFL off the edge,
24 - Steelers - Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Selecting a RB in the first round is typically not how you reignite the run game, but it appears that may be what Pittsburgh thinks. Gerry Dulac, who covers the Steelers, believes the Steelers want a feature back, and will select one in the first or second round. That’s good enough for me.
25 - Jaguars - Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Schrager had Etienne up at 19 in his latest mock, indicating to me that there is at least some buzz on him as a Day 1 selection. There is obvious intrigue here on the Jacksonville side, as they could keep the Clemson backfield battery together in the pros.
26 - Browns - Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Cleveland just released Sheldon Richardson to make room for Jadaveon Clowney, and could replace him with a less expensive option in the first round. Barmore is the best of an underwhelming interior defensive line class.
27 - Ravens - Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Phillips seems to have some of the most wide-ranging opinions on the board. He had a phenomenal 2020 season and pro day, but also possesses a somewhat scary medical history. I could see him going as high as the top-15, or falling out of the first round. From what I’ve read, I’d imagine this probably ends up being too low.
28 - Saints - Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
When a division rival drafts a generational talent at TE, what do you do? Draft the guy who was able to cover him in college. Davis has fantastic athletic traits, and fits a need for New Orleans, aside from the obvious divisional bump.
29 - Packers - Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
Will Green Bay ever draft a WR in the first round? Who knows! But they could use some corner help opposite Jaire Alexander. Kevin King has not been good as a pro.
30 - Bills - Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
Tryon seems like someone the mock community may be too low on versus what the scouts think.
Tryon was an opt-out in 2020, but there are reasons to believe he would come off the board before Jayson Oweh, who had zero (0) sacks in 2020.
31 - Chiefs - Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama
Protect Patrick Mahomes. Leatherwood’s range was reported to be anywhere from 19-40 in the Standig piece, and he has a chance to play both guard and tackle at the next level. Kyle Long — who opted out in 2020 — also has that kind of flexibility, giving the Chiefs plenty of options along the offensive line.
32 - Bucs - Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Tampa returns almost their entire championship team, meaning they can just take the best player available here. Moehrig could eventually replace Jordan Whitehead, and would play in sub-packages right away.