Kyle Yates’ 2021 NFL Mock Draft 3.0
We are now 65 days away from the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft!
There are still so many dominoes that have yet to fall before the event that could completely alter the outlook for certain teams. For example, Deshaun Watson‘s situation is looming over the entire NFL. If he does indeed get dealt, it will change the entire landscape of the draft for several teams.
While everyone waits in anticipation for the result of the Watson saga, the NFL Draft is still moving forward. The draft is happening with or without Watson as a Houston Texan and we need to be prepared for it!
With that in mind, below is my Mock Draft 3.0. This time around, I’ve included trades again and you’ll find a second round included. My goal with these mock drafts is not to simply follow the mainstream media and “groupthink”, but to present you with the players who have impressed me immensely during my film sessions. You’ll see some curveballs in this mock draft, but my hope is that it serves as a way to introduce you to some truly talented prospects.
(All trade values were calculated using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine)
At this point, if Urban Meyer and the Jaguars don’t take Lawrence, the entire football world might simply cease to exist. As with every other mock draft out there, the 2021 NFL Draft starts at pick No. 2.
We know the Panthers were in on the Matthew Stafford trade discussions and that they’re going to be aggressive in trying to secure their QB of the future this off-season. With that in mind, the Panthers move up from No. 8 to No. 2 and secure the talented QB prospect out of BYU. Wilson still has some developing to do, which is why I have him a little bit lower than the other QBs in this class, but the NFL seems to be very high on him and his potential.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) February 15, 2021
The 49ers have been patient with Jimmy Garoppolo, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. The 49ers have a roster that’s ready to compete deep into the playoffs, but they need a competent QB behind center. Lance fits this scheme perfectly with his ability to play under center, thrive on play action, and get out and throw on the move. With the surrounding cast that Lance has in San Francisco, plus the top-notch coaching, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see Lance enter the NFL MVP conversation within a year or two. His ceiling is that high.
The Falcons looked for a trade partner, but they weren’t able to find one in this situation. They stay put and select a player that is skyrocketing up draft boards recently and may even be the first offensive lineman off the board when it’s all said and done. The Falcons have Kaleb McGary and Jake Matthews as their bookends right now, but Slater brings added versatility. He can kick inside and be an elite guard. If something were to happen to McGary or Matthews though, Slater can move right back outside and perform at a very high level at the Tackle position. Arthur Smith is going to want to run the ball in Atlanta next season. You need competent offensive line play to be able to do that effectively.
The Bengals are sitting in a great spot here where they’re fine selecting either Slater or Sewell. Sewell’s one of the safest bets in this entire draft class. He has a very high floor, but yet he still has the potential to eventually turn into one of the NFL’s best Tackles. Protecting Joe Burrow should be the main priority this off-season for the Bengals and adding Sewell’s a damn good place to start.
This was the first snap of Penei Sewell that I watched. (No. 58 – LT)
Ok, ok, ok. pic.twitter.com/l1jemcf7Fs
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 6, 2021
No matter what my Twitter mentions may say, QB is absolutely on the table for the Eagles here at No. 6 overall. Jalen Hurts showed some positive signs in his limited starts last season, but he’s still an unproven commodity. The Eagles are hitting the reset button at QB this off-season and with Fields still on the board, it’s impossible for them to pass him up. If Hurts beats Fields out in training camp, the Eagles have another QB that they can keep on the roster or sell off to a team in desperate need of a QB. If Fields turns into the NFL superstar that many, myself included, think he can eventually become, Philadelphia has insurance behind him at the QB position. That’s never a bad thing.
The Lions are heading into a multi-year rebuild, so I wouldn’t put it past them to draft a QB if one is still on the board here. However, with all four of the top QBs gone, the Lions address a critical need at WR with a dominant prospect. Chase is my number one overall prospect in this entire class and he’s going to make an immediate impact in the NFL. The Lions have zero depth at the WR position for 2021 if they lose Kenny Golladay, so adding top-tier talent at the WR position has to be a priority.
The Jets moved out of No. 2 overall and accumulated even more picks to aid in their rebuild under Robert Saleh. Now, adding CB talent has to be one of the main priorities for this front office this off-season in order for Saleh’s scheme to succeed. Farley’s still relatively inexperienced at the CB position, but he’s dripping with upside. It wouldn’t surprise me if Farley eventually turned into a 6+ interception a year type of player in Saleh’s defense.
Caleb Farley (6-2, 205) moves so well for a CB of his size. Has only played the position for two years and is well advanced beyond his years.
The Miami game (2019) was a great watch to get a snapshot of him as a prospect. Love corners that can find the ball in the air. pic.twitter.com/nwE5Hu82YL
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) February 17, 2021
The Broncos already needed help at the CB position before moving on from A.J. Bouye, so snagging Surtain at this spot is a huge win for the new front office. Surtain’s silky smooth in coverage and is not afraid to come up and engage in run support. He’d immediately step in and help elevate this already fearsome defense.
The Cowboys are disappointed to see the top two corners go off the board before them, but they still have needs elsewhere that they need to address. Tyron Smith is not getting any younger and they need to draft his eventual replacement. The Cowboys love big, physical players at the outside spots on the line and Cosmi is just that. At 6’7/309, he fits the bill of what the Cowboys look for and he’s pro-ready. If Smith can’t go next season due to his injury history, the Cowboys have his replacement ready to step right in and protect Dak Prescott – or whoever else might be playing QB for them.
With Golden Tate nearing the end of his career and Sterling Shepard having issues staying on the field, the Giants need to invest in the WR position again this off-season to help out Daniel Jones. What better way to do that then with the player who just put up arguably the greatest season ever in CFB history? Smith’s certainly an outlier with his size, but it doesn’t matter what he looks like lining up across NFL defenders, he still produces. Smith would be able to line up in the slot and replace Tate, or he can line up on the outside and allow Shepard to move back inside.
The Dolphins got the No. 3 overall pick from the Houston Texans – thanks, Bill – and then traded that for another huge haul. Now, at No. 12 overall, they get to reunite Tua Tagovailoa with one of his most explosive receiving weapons from college. Waddle steps in as a perfect compliment to DeVante Parker and Preston Williams and helps take some pressure off of Tua. This pairing makes too much sense.
Anybody know an offense that needs help creating chunk plays? Can't help but wonder what a full season stat line would have looked like for Jaylen Waddle. These are from 4 games in 2020…and I left plenty off the reel ???? pic.twitter.com/6Zij5NaKA7
— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) February 15, 2021
For the moment, let’s assume that the Chargers let Hunter Henry walk and that they’ve added some patchwork players to the offensive line in free agency. Supporting Justin Herbert has to be the play for this front office and that can be done by adding top-tier playmakers on offense. A receiving corps led by Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Pitts, and Austin Ekeler out of the backfield would be insanely fun to watch and impossible to defend. The Chargers can take advantage of the depth at OL in this class later on, but there’s no one else in this class like Pitts.
The Vikings have filled a lot of their holes on defense with young players that should still be given some time to develop, but they still have a glaring need at EDGE opposite of Danielle Hunter. Paye’s a perfect compliment to Hunter’s speed off the edge and he’d be a force immediately against the run.
From a pure talent perspective, Owusu-Koramoah’s a top-10 player on my NFL Draft Board. Unfortunately, his body type and skillset is going to have some NFL defensive coordinators unsure of how exactly to utilize him. That’s not going to be an issue with Bill Belichick who is going to have this heat-seeking missile of a prospect lining up everywhere on this defense. The Patriots have other clear needs to address, but Owusu-Koramoah in New England is a perfect pairing.
LB2 in the 2021 NFL Draft
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 17, 2021
I bet you haven’t seen this pairing in a mock draft anywhere, have you? Stick with me. Parsons can fly all over the football field, but based on my evaluation of him, his best fit might not be as a pure MIKE. While he can still be a physical presence in the middle of the defense, especially on blitz packages, I believe his best fit is as a 3-4 OLB. Parsons shows high potential as a pass-rusher off the edge with his combination of speed, bend, and simply a nose for getting to the QB. Parsons brings added versatility too though that he doesn’t have to always line up at EDGE. He can drop back into coverage or flip positions with Isaiah Simmons on any given play. Pairing Parsons with Chandler Jones would be incredibly exciting.
Paye went off the board at No. 14 to the Minnesota Vikings, but he’s not my personal favorite pass-rusher in this draft. That title belongs to Phillips from Miami. He’s a physical presence with a big frame, but yet still shows great bend and technique coming around the corner. The Raiders need to add pass-rushers this off-season and Phillips would help fill a huge need for them.
The Dolphins aren’t even attempting to hide their affinity for Alabama players at this point. While Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed are fine players at the RB position, they’re not Harris. At 6’2/230, Harris would be able to handle a significant workload in this offense and take even more pressure off of Tua. Suddenly, this Dolphins offense is looking very, very dangerous.
Washington needs a QB and the only option that’s really even worth considering is Alabama’s Mac Jones. However, Jones needs to be put in a situation where everything is set up for him to succeed and Washington is – unfortunately – not that place. They need help on the offensive line and they also need to invest in some pass-catching weapons outside of Terry McLaurin. Whoever is playing QB for them in 2021 is going to need some protection and it’s hard to pass up on Jenkins at this spot. Based on purely a film evaluation standpoint, Jenkins graded out as my OT2. He’s pro-ready and yet still shows room for growth. Whether it’s at RT or LT, Jenkins would step in and immediately help bolster that unit in Washington.
I've been enjoying studying Teven Jenkins' tape.
Backside cut-off to the 2nd level
Torque & finish pic.twitter.com/aqMKHPvz0C
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) January 22, 2021
It’s looking more and more likely that Allen Robinson is going to be playing football somewhere else in 2021. If he does leave, the Bears have a gaping hole at WR that they need to fill to help out whoever is throwing the ball next season. Bateman doesn’t have one elite trait that he can hang his hat on, but he might be the most well-rounded WR prospect in this class. He’s dominant at the catch point, a smooth route-runner, and has fantastic hands. Bateman would be able to step in right away and help pick up the slack if Robinson’s no longer in town.
The Steelers get a little antsy and move up a couple of spots to secure their LT of the future in Darrisaw. The Steelers are going to have to address this offensive line this off-season and plug some major holes. Darrisaw might not perform at an elite level in year one, but he shows a ridiculously high ceiling. If he can iron out some kinks, he could be Pittsburgh’s answer at LT for the next decade.
The Titans have needs all over their defense, but getting a competent pass-rusher opposite of Harold Landry has to be their main focus this off-season. Ossai plays with a high motor and brings some power as a pass-rusher, which is a perfect compliment to Landry’s speed.
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) November 4, 2020
Rousseau’s still pretty raw, but the upside is absolutely insane. He has every physical tool and trait that NFL front offices look for in a pass-rusher and Saleh’s going to be itching to get him into their building. It might take a year or two for Rousseau to reach his ceiling, but the Jets are in no hurry to rebuild this roster. They can afford to take the developmental player and have him grow as they fill out the rest of the depth chart.
The Colts gambled that the player they wanted would still be on the board when they traded down and it paid off. Vera-Tucker has been billed as purely an iOL prospect up to this point of the draft process, but recent chatter is showing that NFL scouts view him as a Tackle prospect at the next level. The Colts need to replace Anthony Castonzo after he retired and Vera-Tucker is the perfect replacement. With Carson Wentz now in town, plus a LT that’s ready to play immediately, the Colts should be right back in the playoffs again in 2021.
Taylor is experiencing a meteoric rise up draft boards this pre-draft process and NFL scouts are very high on his projection at the next level. At 6’3/196, Taylor has the size to stick with any receiver in the NFL. However, he’s also twitchy and fast enough to hang with the smaller and quicker receivers too. The Jaguars are slowly working on retooling their defense. Having C.J. Henderson on one side and Taylor on the other could give NFL offenses fits sooner than later.
Washington DB Keith Taylor kept his feet active and sunk his hips against the stutter and go, stare in phase and ended up running the route for the WR (Dez Fitzpatrick). Teach tape #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/XNO1S2o78j
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 27, 2021
The Browns have their offense rolling and they’re going to add Odell Beckham Jr. back into the fold next season. This allows the Browns front office to turn to the defense and shore up some weak spots. Interior defensive line is a glaring weakness and adding a player like Barmore would make that a strength pretty quickly. He needs to improve his consistency, but he showed improvement game after game this past season at Alabama. The tools are all there for Barmore to be a dominant force on the interior alongside Myles Garrett. It’s just now about putting it all together snap after snap. If he figures out how to do that, the Browns could quickly become one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL.
As of right now, Matthew Judon, Pernell McPhee, Tyus Bowser, and Yannick Ngakoue are all heading towards free agency. While the Ravens might be able to bring back one or maybe two of them on cheaper deals, upgrading the EDGE room is going to be priority number one for this front office. Ojulari’s a speedster off the edge with crazy first step explosiveness. He might not be a dominant pass-rusher at the NFL level in terms of sack totals, but he’s going to make his presence known each and every snap.
Janoris Jenkins has been a fine fill-in option for the Saints, but he’s now 32 years old and the Saints need to start thinking about the future. Additionally, Marshon Lattimore‘s contract is up at the end of the 2021 season. The Saints have to think long-term and Horn’s a solid CB prospect that would step in right away and allow the Saints to move on from Jenkins if they need to for cap reasons.
The Packers have needs across their offensive line. Mayfield played RT at Michigan, but I actually believe he could be best suited inside at Guard. Regardless, Mayfield brings some versatility that the Packers would love to have. He could step right in at RT after the Ricky Wagner release if the Packers aren’t sure about Billy Turner or he could kick inside and take over at RG. Wide receiver is certainly on the table for them at this spot too, but adding a key piece to the offense line takes precedence.
Great example here from Jalen Mayfield (RT #73) working hard with the inside hand to extend, finish, and roll on the DE. He’s had a really good game so far. pic.twitter.com/N5YrcdQa3v
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) October 25, 2020
Collins is a big, physical presence at the MLB spot. Standing 6’4/260, Collins can easily take on climbing lineman and be a force in the run game, but he also has the ability to go sideline to sideline. Pairing him with Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds would give this defense a respectable LB trio.
Did you watch the Super Bowl? Then you know that the Chiefs need to invest in offensive lineman. While injuries to starters certainly played a huge role in Patrick Mahomes‘ constant scrambling in that game, the Chiefs need to invest on the interior regardless. Dickerson’s a mammoth human being that has enough versatility to potentially play all five positions on the line.
The Bengals aren’t done with their commitment to protecting Burrow and they move back up into the first round to secure another stout offensive lineman. Sewell and Eichenberg can lock down the Tackle spots, which allows the Bengals to kick Jonah Williams back inside to Guard. If the Bengals can add an additional piece to this line in free agency, this is suddenly one of the finer units in the NFL.
Pitts gets all the attention at TE, but don’t forget about Freiermuth. He’d be a perfect safety blanket for Lawrence in Jacksonville.
You might not see Eskridge’s name this high in other industry mock drafts, but give them time. Eskridge is a dynamic receiver with crazy twitch and separation ability. His top-end speed would fit nicely in Mike LaFleur’s scheme too as a RAC threat.
Just a little sample of what D'Wayne Eskridge has to offer. pic.twitter.com/wkzmTmKdTC
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) January 25, 2021
The Dolphins have already made a couple of key selections in this draft, but they hit the upgrade button at the LB position here.
The Falcons invested in the OL at No. 4 overall and now they get their bell-cow RB. Williams isn’t Derrick Henry, but he’d be a perfect fit for what Arthur Smith wants to do on offense.
The Bucs have some tough decisions to make on their free agents. If Shaq Barrett isn’t willing to take a discount, adding Tryon would help keep this defense rolling in 2021 and beyond.
This group of DE/OLB group is stacked. Washington's @joe_tryon is a good one. He's a relentless pass rusher. Take a look at these two reps vs. Washington St. in 2019. #Titans pic.twitter.com/CH0iWYS7kv
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) February 18, 2021
Marshall’s not a first-round prospect in my opinion, but he’s a fine value at this point of the draft. He brings size and speed to the WR room in Philadelphia that they simply don’t have right now.
The Lions continue their rebuild by investing in another young corner. Samuel and Jeff Okudah could turn into a dynamic CB duo sooner than later.
The Jets are taking advantage of their trade down and they’re plugging major holes on their roster. The Jets are going to want speed at the RB position and Etienne brings plenty of that.
This is another prospect that I fully expect to rise by the time April comes around. Perkins is a speedster coming around the corner that has a knack for getting home to the QB. He can be the eventual Von Miller replacement for this defense.
Q: How good was Ronnie Perkins #Bedlam performance?
A: Very, very pic.twitter.com/Z9lGmneX7u
— Eddie Radosevich (@Eddie_Rado) November 23, 2020
Cosmi was the Cowboys’ first-round selection to address their OT need and they now focus in on improving their secondary.
The Giants need a powerful EDGE presence in this defense and Odeyingbo’s quickly rising up draft boards. He makes a lot of sense at this point of the draft.
The Chargers make life easier on Herbert again here with Humphrey who can play any of the three inside positions on the line.
Jacksonville continues to improve their secondary here with the do-it-all safety prospect out of TCU.
Trevon Moehrig is an impressive Safety prospect. He's all over the field making plays just like this one all game long. pic.twitter.com/ncXO1iFDx8
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 28, 2021
Josh McDaniels made it work with a pocket-passing QB before and he can do it again. It’ll take a while for the Patriots to surround Jones with the necessary supporting cast, but he’s worth taking the shot on here at this point of the Draft.
Arizona added Parsons in the first round to help take some pressure off of their secondary and they double down on defense again here. The Cardinals need CB help heading into next year and Robinson’s a fantastic addition.
The Raiders like size and power in the middle of their offensive line and Davis fits exactly what they like at the position.
At this point, Miami’s just drafting Best Player Available. Tufele can be an excellent rotational piece in the middle of their defensive line.
Jenkins filled a huge need for Washington in the first and now Toney fills an equally crucial need for this roster here in the second round.
This route from Kadarius Toney is ridiculously smooth. pic.twitter.com/CZf0qwx0LP
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 6, 2021
Sam Mustipher played well at Center when he stepped in last year, but having depth never hurt anyone. Smith’s a bully on the interior, but he also brings some versatility having previously played LT at Tennessee.
The Colts go with back-to-back USC players in the second round. Michael Pittman Jr. – also a former USC receiver – seems poised for a big season next year, but he can’t be the only option. Pittman, St. Brown, and Parris Campbell is a young receiving corps that’s worth getting excited about.
The Titans added some help on the end of their defensive line in the first round and they now turn to focus on the interior. A defensive front starring Jeffery Simmons, Landry, Ossai, and Onwuzurike would be tough to stop.
The Seahawks make their first pick of the draft and select the developmental EDGE rusher out of Penn State. Oweh needs a lot of refinement, but if he can develop properly, the sky’s the limit with his athletic profile.
Due to his projection at slot receiver in the NFL, Moore falls a bit in this mock draft comparative to his talent level. With JuJu Smith-Schuster almost certainly leaving in free agency, Moore would slide right in as an explosive playmaker that can help keep moving the chains.
— Ray G ???? (@RayGQue) February 15, 2021
I’m certainly not as high on Leatherwood as the rest of the draft community apparently. Leatherwood has all the size and length you could want at LT, but he’s a developmental player in my eyes. The Rams need to add help on the offensive line and this is good value for Leatherwood if he turns out to be the prospect that many think he can be.
The Browns keep fortifying through the trenches and focus in on making life very difficult for opposing offensive lines. Myles Garrett, Barmore, Sheldon Richardson, and Basham would be a tough front to defend.
The Ravens need help on the interior of their offensive line and they love the power run game. Brown, who is 6’4/350 pounds, is about as much of a scheme fit as you’re going to find in this draft.
The Saints could lose Trey Hendrickson in free agency this year, which means that they need to replenish their EDGE room. Rashed’s a quick and shifty rusher coming off the edge and he’d fit in perfectly in this defense.
The Packers have neglected the WR position long enough and they finally pull the trigger to add someone else across from Davante Adams. Collins has been the victim of some terrible QB play at Michigan, so his true talents haven’t been on full display, but he would step in immediately as the No. 2 receiving option in this offense.
Newsome’s a fast riser in the NFL Draft community and the Bills could use some help at CB2 opposite of Tre White.
The Chiefs double down on the offensive line and draft their LT of the future at this spot. Hudson’s still learning the position, but the tools and traits are all there. He won’t be asked to start right away, which will allow him to sit and learn. If he can put it all together, Hudson could easily be viewed as one of the top-10 LTs in the league with his athletic profile.
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 14, 2021
The Bucs could lose Ndamukong Suh to free agency this year if he’s not willing to take a team-friendly deal. Either way, the front office needs to start thinking about his eventual replacement and Nixon still being on the board at this point is a pleasant surprise. The Bucs keep a strength a strength by adding Nixon here at the end of the second round.