2021 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1
With the college football season wrapping up and draft-eligible underclassmen having to declare for the draft, it’s officially Mock Draft Season! Today we take a look at the first round and try to predict landing spots that are probable (Trevor Lawrence), trades that could shake things up, and whether or not the Patriots will find a successor for Tom Brady.
Here we go!
Round 1 – Pick 1
Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence (QB – Clemson)
I don’t believe the Jaguars will be all that tempted to take Justin Fields, even if Urban Meyer ends up as their head coach. Lawrence is the best quarterback in this class and one of the better prospects to come out over the past five seasons. The combination of his deadly accuracy and the ability to extend plays makes this an easy choice.
Round 1 – Pick 2
New York Jets – Justin Fields (QB – Ohio State)
Fields had a performance for the ages against Clemson on the college football playoff, and his draft stock has soared accordingly. He fell back to earth against Alabama, but the list of players who have This pick assumes the Jets’ new coach decides to move on from Sam Darnold, but it seems like a solid bet at the moment.
Round 1 – Pick 3
Miami Dolphins – Penei Sewell (OT – Oregon)
I don’t believe the Dolphins and Texans will be able to cobble together a deal for Deshaun Watson, so the Dolphins stay put and take the best offensive lineman in the draft. At 6’6 and 325 pounds, Sewell has tremendous athleticism for his size. He will anchor the offensive line and be a cornerstone piece for a Dolphins organization that has greatly improved its roster over the past 24 months.
Round 1 – Pick 4 (Trade via Atlanta Falcons)
Carolina Panthers – Zach Wilson (QB – BYU)
The Panthers trade up to get their quarterback of the future in Wilson, who has as good of an arm as anyone in the draft. Wilson comes with some character questions, but Matt Rhule has a strong track record of having success in that area. The Panthers get a quarterback to push the ball downfield to DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, while Christian McCaffery is a nice security blanket. A good fit all the way around.
Round 1 – Pick 5
Cincinnati Bengals – Rashawn Slater (OT – Northwestern)
The Bengals have many needs, and someone like Micah Parsons or Patrick Surtain would work here but protecting Joe Burrow is the highest priority. With Sewell off the board, the Bengals go with Slater, who can play both tackle positions and will start right away. With Burrow coming off a major knee injury, Cincinnati wisely goes with someone who will keep him upright.
Round 1 – Pick 6
Philadelphia Eagles – Devonta Smith (WR – Alabama)
The Eagles will be in a position to take Smith, who is coming off one of the best seasons for a receiver in college football history. A tremendous route runner with elite yard after the catch ability, Smith, would give Jalen Hurts (or Carson Wentz) an explosive option the Eagles have sometimes lacked this year. Getting Smith gives Philadelphia one of the best young cores of skill position players in the NFC, with Jalen Reagor, Miles Sanders, and Dallas Goedert already in the fold.
Round 1 – Pick 7
Detroit Lions – Ja’Marr Chase (WR – LSU)
With Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola all being pending free agents, this is about filling a big need for the Lions. Chase sat out the 2020 season, but he was one of the best receivers in the country for LSU in 2019. An explosive athlete who can take the top off of coverage, Chase will be a great fit in Detroit with Matt Stafford and young offensive pieces like D’Andre Swift and TJ Hockenson. It wouldn’t shock me if Chase ended up as the top receiver in this class.
Round 1 – Pick 8 (Trade via Carolina Panthers)
Atlanta Falcons – Patrick Surtain II (DB – Alabama)
The Falcons move back and still get a lockdown corner to combat the pass-happy NFC South taking Surtain over Caleb Farley. Alabama put Surtain in single coverage to take out the opponent’s top receiver every week, and he was more than up to the challenge. Surtain is a physical corner who can win press coverage at the line, and at 6’2, he won’t be bullied by the big receivers in the division.
Round 1 – Pick 9
Denver Broncos – Kwity Paye (DL – Michigan)
Whether or not Von Miller returns to Denver, the Broncos have to get better at rushing the passer. Enter Paye, who is considered the top edge rusher in this year’s class and in a division with Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes; this fills a need right away. The Broncos could also think about Farley here, but the need along their front seven is much greater than the need in their secondary.
Round 1 – Pick 10
Dallas Cowboys – Caleb Farley (DB – Virginia Tech)
The Cowboys had one of the worst pass defenses in football, so Farley makes too much sense here. He played primarily in zone coverage while at Virginia Tech, so his man-press skills might need some work, but the Cowboys need playmakers. At 6’2, he’s got good size, and he is a fluid athlete who will rarely be out of position or get beat because of not playing his assignment. He will be a starter from his first day on the roster.
Round 1 – Pick 11
New York Giants – Micah Parsons (LB – Penn State)
Parsons opted out of the 2020 season, but he is an every-down linebacker who can play the run and pass or rush the passer, so the Giants are thrilled he is still here. At 6’3 and 245 pounds, Parsons is an exceptional athlete with the speed and range to play all over the field. He dominated games while at Penn State, and he should be a shot in the arm for the Giants’ front seven.
Round 1 – Pick 12 (Trade via San Francisco)
New England Patriots – Mac Jones (QB – Alabama)
San Francisco and New England have been trading partners involving quarterbacks before, so when the 49ers miss out on Parsons, they work something out with New England. The Patriots jump Minnesota and grab Jones, who, despite just one season as a starter at Alabama, has the accuracy, work ethic, and unassuming character that Bill Belichick covets. Jones is unlikely to be named the Week 1 starter, but given his intangibles, it might not be long before the Patriots give him the keys to the offense.
Round 1 – Pick 13
Los Angeles Chargers – Kyle Pitts (TE – Florida)
With Hunter Henry set to leave as a free agent, the Chargers nab the dynamic Pitts to give Justin Herbert another weapon in the passing game. Pitts can lineup all over the formation, and the Chargers will have a chance to use him inline, out wide, and in the slot as a mismatch against linebackers and smaller corners. The best tight end in college football, Pitts will mesh well with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams giving Herbert and the Chargers offense plenty of firepower to compete with Kansas City in the AFC West.
Round 1 – Pick 14
Minnesota Vikings – Gregory Rousseau (DL – Miami)
The Vikings were the worst team in the league at rushing the passer this year; enter Rousseau, who registered 15.5 sacks in his lone season at Miami. Mike Zimmer knows the Vikings have the offensive weapons to compete. With Rousseau, he starts to sure up a front seven that lacks talent and depth.
Round 1 – Pick 15 (Trade via New England)
San Francisco 49ers – Christian Darrisaw (OL – Virginia Tech)
The 49ers trade back and still get the offensive lineman they covet, as I am not buying the idea they are in on Trey Lance before they fill other needs. One of the fastest rising players in this year’s draft crop, Darrisaw would be an eventual replacement for Trent Williams but will be a fine fit opposite him for now. Darrisaw is a great athlete who should play well in all phases of the offense for Kyle Shanahan.
Round 1 – Pick 16
Arizona Cardinals – Trevon Moehrig (S – TCU)
The Cardinals could go a couple of different directions here, but Moehrig injects some much-needed youth into a secondary that is starting to age a little bit. Moehrig is a big-time playmaker who won the Jim Thorpe Award after picking off two passes and breaking up nine others. Moehrig has good size and would pair really well with Budda Baker on the back end of the Arizona defense.
Round 1 – Pick 17
Las Vegas Raiders – Rashad Weaver (DL – Pittsburgh)
The Raiders have holes all over their defense, and while Weaver isn’t a flashy pick, he is as polished as any defensive line prospect in the draft. A big body who can play the run or the pass, Weaver, will be an immediate impact player for the Raiders, who need a lot of help along their defensive front. Weaver has the makeup of a 10-year pro.
Round 1 – Pick 18 (Trade via Miami Dolphins)
San Francisco 49ers – Trey Lance (QB – North Dakota State)
The 49ers trade back into the first round to swoop in and get Lance ahead of the Washington Football Team and the Bears. Lance has the physical tools (6’4, 226 pounds) and arm talent that will make Kyle Shanahan swoon, so, despite the small sample size, the upside outweighs the risk. Lance can sit for a year behind Jimmy Garoppolo or Nick Mullens to take in the playbook and get his feet under him.
Round 1 – Pick 19
Washington Football Team – Jaylen Waddle (WR – Alabama)
Ron Rivera stays put and ends up with Waddle, who will give defenses fits opposite of Terry McLaurin. With Waddle, the WFT now has two burners at wide receiver, and with Alex Smith running the offense, they have the look of a team who will once again be atop the division. Antonio Gibson, McLaurin, and Waddle are a superb young core for Rivera to work with and potentially get his quarterback heading into 2022.
Round 1 – Pick 20
Chicago Bears – Rashod Bateman (WR – Minnesota)
The Bears could go offensive line here, but I am anticipating them losing Allen Robinson. Enter Bateman, who is big (6’2, 210) and physical but also able to move around the formation and play some in the slot. He’s a clean route runner who can get off press coverage, and he should get plenty of volume in an offense that is devoid of talent at the receiver position.
Round 1 – Pick 21
Indianapolis Colts – Alex Leatherwood (OL – Alabama)
After the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, the Colts get a perfect fit, with Leatherwood falling to them at 21. He should allow the Colts to continue being a balanced unit on offense, and while there might be a push to look at Rondale Moore, Leatherwood fits a more immediate need.
Round 1 – Pick 22
Tennessee Titans – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB – Notre Dame)
The Titans could use help at every level of their defense, and Owusu-Koramoah can make plays all over the field. He’s a bit undersized as a traditional linebacker, but his coverage skills will make him an asset in nickel and dime packages. The added weight he will likely gain will ensure he is a three-down player, and he is the perfect hybrid weapon for Mike Vrabel’s scheme.
Round 1 – Pick 23 (Trade via Seattle Seahawks)
New York Jets – Najee Harris (RB – Alabama)
This is a bit off the board, but the Jets were a mess at running back this year. Harris is the type of three-down back that could pair with Justin Fields to form an exciting backfield in New York. His blend of speed and power is complemented well by his receiving prowess out of the backfield. The Jets address two of their biggest needs in the first round despite the consensus that running backs should be left alone at this point in the draft.
Round 1 – Pick 24
Pittsburgh Steelers – Samuel Cosmi (OL – Texas)
The Steelers offensive line was a big reason why they ranked dead last in the running game, and Ben Roethlisberger was often throwing out of a phone booth. With Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva set to depart in free agency, Cosmi could step right in and offer a likely upgrade over both. An athletic mauler who was a three-year starter for Texas, Cosmi would be part of a minor rebuild project with the Pittsburgh offense.
Round 1 – Pick 25 (Trade via Los Angeles Rams)
Jacksonville Jaguars – Rondale Moore (WR – Purdue)
After taking Lawrence 1st overall, the Jaguars use their second pick of the first round on the dynamic Moore, who should be a weapon all over the field. Moore is one of the most explosive players in the draft but comes with some question marks after only playing seven games the past two seasons, but he had one of the best freshmen seasons ever in 2018. Moore should do well to work underneath routes for Lawrence, and with DJ Chark and James Robinson already on the roster, the Jaguars should be able to put up some points.
Round 1 – Pick 26
Cleveland Browns – Zaven Collins (LB/DE – Tulsa)
The Browns could look at a receiver here if they decide to part ways with Odell Beckham but instead, they nab the versatile Collins. The Tulsa product was tremendous in coverage, with four interceptions and one of the best blitzing linebackers in the country. Collins should fit well with what the Browns ask their linebackers to do, and he reminds me a bit of Sione Takitaki.
Round 1 – Pick 27
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Christian Barmore (DL – Alabama)
The Buccaneers are likely to go defense unless someone like Waddle falls due to his injury. Barmore is a nice fit here as a replacement for Ndamukong Suh. Barmore spent a lot of time in opposing backfields this fall, and he has the prototypical size to play inside. He wouldn’t have to come off the field in passing situations either, giving the Buccaneers a rock-solid pick late in the first round.
Round 1 – Pick 28
Baltimore Ravens – Alijah Vera-Tucker (OL – USC)
The Ravens’ offensive line was hit by injuries and inconsistent play this year. Vera-Tucker fills a need at guard that opened up when Marshall Yanda retired, and the fact he can play tackle in a pinch doesn’t hurt. This is the type of pick that doesn’t garner much hype, but in three or four years, we look back and wonder how the Ravens were able to land a player like this in the latter stages of the first round.
Round 1 – Pick 29
New Orleans Saints – Chris Olave (WR – Ohio State)
The Saints had some luck with another receiver from Ohio State drafted a few years ago, and bringing in Olave gives them a legitimate WR2 behind Michael Thomas. Olave averaged over 16 YPC in his three seasons in Columbus, so he can stretch the field and open things up underneath for Thomas and Alvin Kamara. With Taysom Hill likely taking over for Drew Brees, the Saints offense will look different in 2021, and Olave would be a big reason why.
Round 1 – Pick 30
Buffalo Bills – Pat Freiermuth (TE – Penn State)
The Bills offense has been a machine this year, so this is a luxury pick, but Freiermuth would strengthen the one skill position where there are more questions than answers. He’s got tremendous size (6’5, 258) and is s solid blocker who can play on running downs. Freiermuth scored 16 touchdowns in three seasons with Penn State, so he can also contribute plenty in the passing game. Dawson Knox has done a decent job, but pairing him with Freirmuth would add another layer to an already awesome offense.
Round 1 – Pick 31
Green Bay Packers – Kadarius Toney (WR – Florida)
Toney brings a unique skill set to the Packers’ offense and possibly take some defensive attention off Davante Adams. He isn’t the perfect prospect, and he needs some polish from a route-running perspective, but Matt LaFleur will undoubtedly find fun ways to get him the ball. The last thing teams want to see is another weapon for Aaron Rodgers to take advantage of, but here we are.
Round.1 – Pick 32 (Trade via Kansas City Chiefs)
Washington Football Team – Kyle Trask (QB – Florida)
Ron Rivera trades back into the first round and gets Trask, who put up arguably the best numbers of any quarterback in the country last fall. With prototypical size (6’5, 240 pounds) and the ability to make any throw, Trask makes for a solid target at this stage. He would benefit from a year behind Alex Smith before taking over as the full-time starter in 2022 with a bevy of young options at his disposal for Washington.
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