By Chris Farbolin
The wait is almost over, the NFL Draft is now less than a week away and all 32 teams are setting up their draft boards and preparing their war rooms for the 2021 NFL Draft. With that being said it’s time to make one last mock draft before the real thing kicks off next Thursday night. Although very little has changed as far as free agency and trades are concerned since my last mock, the stock of several players have gone up and down since then. The draft process is always an interesting one because players can have their value skyrocket or go into the tank all because of speculation and narratives. Despite the fact that these college players haven’t played a snap of football since January several players have flown up mock drafts while others have slipped from where they were at the beginning of the offseason.
This mock draft is based off of what I would do if I was the GM of every team as it is impossible to predict the entire first round to perfection. There will be several trades during the draft that are impossible to predict in a mock and there are so many variables with the draft that could change how the first round will look come Thursday evening. One of the biggest question marks in the draft is where the top five quarterback prospects will land. It appears the first two quarterbacks are locks however guys like Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones are still up in the air. This largely depends on who the 49ers take with the third pick. I will have a trade prediction in this mock which I usually refrain from however I feel this trade makes too much sense for both parties involved. With all that being said here is my final 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson – This pick took about five seconds to make and is one of the most obvious draft picks in recent history. Lawrence is a generational quarterback talent that checks every box for a franchise quarterback, not to mention Lawrence has already donated to charities in Jacksonville so it’s safe to say this is a done deal.
2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB BYU – The second pick in this year’s draft is almost as much of a guarantee as the first pick as the Jets get their franchise quarterback in Zach Wilson. Wilson has elite arm strength and athleticism and can also make difficult throws off platform. Wilson has elite talent but is also ready to be a starter immediately.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Miami) – Justin Fields, QB Ohio State – We know the 49ers are taking a quarterback with this pick however we aren’t sure which QB that will be. San Fran is reportedly interested in Mac Jones and that has been the consensus choice in several mock drafts, however I still view Fields as the best quarterback available. Fields has elite arm strength, mobility, and deep accuracy along with a much higher ceiling than Jones. All of Fields’ issues can be fixed with coaching and development while Mac Jones has the same limitations that frustrated the 49ers with Jimmy Garoppolo.
4. Mock Trade – Denver Broncos (from Atlanta) – Trey Lance, QB NDSU – Denver reportedly has interest in Justin Fields and Trey Lance at QB. With the former already being selected the Broncos don’t risk letting someone else trade up for Lance. Denver is a great fit for Lance because he can sit behind Drew Lock as a rookie and will have a good defense and promising young weapons to work with whenever he takes over as the starter. George Paton didn’t draft Drew Lock and could look to get his own guy under center. The Broncos can play Lock in 2021 then trade him next offseason to get some picks back that they lost in this trade. Lock has shown promise and is still on his rookie deal and we just saw the Jets get several picks in return for Sam Darnold. Lock has good value while he is still on his rookie deal and Lance is a world class talent who just needs some development.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT Oregon – Joe Burrow may want to be reunited with Ja’Marr Chase however the Bengals already have a solid receiving core but still have a dreadful offensive line. Cincy gets Sewell who is a generational talent that will protect Burrow’s upside for the next decade.
6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia) – Kyle Pitts, TE Florida – Miami may already have Mike Gesicki but Pitts is too talented of a prospect to pass up on. Miami can run a two tight end offense with Gesicki and Pitts or they can use Pitts as a receiver and line him up on the edge. No matter how the Phins use Pitts they will be giving Tua an elite pass catcher and arguably the best player in this draft.
7. Detroit Lions – Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU – Detroit has several needs on their defense however the Lions lost Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in free agency. The Lions take the best receiver in this class in Ja’Marr Chase to give Jared Goff a true number one option at receiver.
8. Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater, OT Northwestern – The Panthers have their quarterback in Sam Darnold and now they need to protect him. Left tackle is Carolina’s greatest need and Slater is an elite left tackle who matched up against Chase Young in college.
9. Atlanta Falcons – Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama – The Falcons pass up on a potential Matt Ryan replacement and trade down with Denver. This makes sense for the Falcons because Atlanta has several needs on their defense and offensive line but don’t have much cap space to address said needs. Atlanta’s biggest need is corner and the Falcons can still get the top corner prospect at ninth overall. Surtain is a high IQ player which isn’t surprising considering he is the son of an All-Pro cornerback and played for DB guru Nick Saban in college. Atlanta goes corner for the second year in a row and adds draft capital to address other needs later in the draft.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina – The Cowboys pass defense was nothing short of atrocious in 2020. Dallas addresses that by taking Horn out of SC who has jumped in mock drafts as much as any prospect lately. Horn is a physically dominant player who can play man coverage against top receivers in this league.
11. New York Giants – Micah Parsons, LB Penn State – The Giants benefit from the top 10 picks being used to address other needs. Parsons is the best defensive player in this draft and will give New York a much needed upgrade at linebacker. Parsons can play inside or outside linebacker and gives New York much needed help in the middle of their defense.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami) – DeVonta Smith, WR Alabama – The Eagles haven’t had the best luck in recent years when it comes to drafting receivers but fortunately for them the Heisman Trophy winner falls to them. Smith is an elite route runner with great speed and versatility. Smith can make an impact on special teams and can play on the edge or in the slot for Nick Sirianni’s offense.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Christian Darrisaw, OT Virginia Tech – The Chargers added Bryan Bulaga at right tackle last offseason but left tackle was still a weak spot for LA in 2020. The Chargers get Justin Herbert a talented blindside blocker to keep the defending Offensive Rookie of the Year upright.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Kwity Paye, DE Michigan – Minnesota’s defense has regressed in 2020 mainly due to a lack of a pass rush. The Vikings haven’t been able to replace Everson Griffen so they draft Paye out of Michigan. Paye has drawn comparisons to Griffen as both are edge rushers who can play on the interior of the defensive line and generate interior pressure.
15. New England Patriots – Mac Jones, QB Alabama – Odds are Jones is going much higher than 15th but I don’t view Jones as the prospect I view Justin Fields or Trey Lance. The Patriots solved most of their holes in free agency so they have the freedom to take a guy who may not make an immediate impact. Jones is a very accurate passer and would be an upgrade over Cam Newton. Bill Belichick doesn’t plan on having a top 15 pick anytime soon so he takes advantage of this rare opportunity and takes Jones out of Bama.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT USC – Arizona brought in Rodney Hudson at center however they still need more interior line help. Vera-Tucker played tackle at USC but will move inside as an NFL guard which is a huge need for the Cardinals. Arizona grabs the best lineman left on the board to protect Kyler Murray.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame – Vegas has no shortage of needs on the defense and offensive line. With so many needs the Raiders go with the best player on the board in Owusu-Koramoah who has great range and is good in coverage.
18. Miami Dolphins – Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama – The Dolphins double down on weapons for Tua as Waddle falls to them. Will Fuller is on a one year deal and is injury prone so Miami needs a more long term receiver alongside Devante Parker. Waddle is a great deep threat with his speed. Miami surrounds Tua with a loaded receiving core adding Kyle Pitts and Jaylen Waddle with their first two picks.
19. Washington Football Team – Samuel Cosmi, OT Texas – Washington obviously still needs a quarterback but the five first round caliber prospects are long gone. Instead Washington upgrades the offensive line with Samuel Cosmi. Cosmi can play left or right tackle at the next level and will help protect journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick on his 9th team in 17 seasons.
20. Chicago Bears – Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech – Farley is much more talented than his draft stock would suggest however he has had multiple back surgeries. Farley is a risk however the Bears get an absolute steal in the back end of the first round. Farley has great ball skills and has the physicality to match up with guys like Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen twice a year. Chicago gets their Kyle Fuller replacement with Farley at 20th overall.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota – The Colts have a Super Bowl caliber roster that is a receiver away from having a shot at winning the AFC. T.Y. Hilton is aging and has been inconsistent and injured and their other young receivers haven’t been reliable so far. Bateman is a big receiver who will remind Carson Wentz of Alshon Jeffery. With Bateman, Indy will have one of the best offenses in football come 2021.
22. Tennessee Titans – Gregory Rousseau, DE Miami – Rousseau has dropped in mock drafts and could possibly fall out of the first round after Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season. Rousseau is still one of the best pure edge rushers in this class and Tennessee still needs to improve their pass rush which was a liability last season.
23. New York Jets (from Seattle) – Najee Harris, RB Alabama – The Jets were aggressive in free agency and improved several weak spots on their roster however they didn’t address RB outside of signing Tevin Coleman. New York takes some of the pressure off of Zach Wilson by getting him the best running back in this class.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Azeez Ojulari, DE Georgia – Pittsburgh has a glaring need at running back however Harris went off the board right in front of them. Instead the Steelers get an elite edge rusher out of Georgia in Ojulari. Ojulari fits Pittsburgh’s scheme well and will make a scary pass rushing duo with T.J. Watt.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams) – Christian Barmore, DT Alabama – This year’s interior defensive line class isn’t anything special however Barmore is an elite run stopper which Jacksonville desperately needs after their rushing defense was among the worst in football last year.
26. Cleveland Browns – Jamin Davis, LB Kentucky – One of the most underrated prospects in this class, Davis has started getting some recognition as he has skyrocketed up mock drafts in recent weeks. The Browns no longer need an edge rusher after signing Jadeveon Clowney however linebacker is still a need for Cleveland. Davis has the speed and range to be an outside linebacker for the Browns 4-3 defense.
27. Baltimore Ravens – Kadarius Toney, WR Florida – Another dark horse prospect that can make an impact as a late first round pick, Toney is overshadowed by a loaded receiver class. Toney is the shiftiest player in this class and will fit Baltimore’s offense well. Toney will fit Greg Roman’s offense as he can be used in pistol formation out of the backfield while also being used on the edge or in the slot. Toney can do it all and he will give the Ravens a much needed upgrade at receiver.
28. New Orleans Saints – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR LSU – New Orleans had the worst cap situation in football this offseason so they had to let several key players walk including Emmanuel Sanders. New Orleans gets Sanders’ replacement in their backyard as LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr. is still available. The Saints get Jameis Winston a second receiver alongside Michael Thomas.
29. Green Bay Packers – Elijah Moore, WR Ole Miss – The Packers ignored receiver last year despite the class being littered with talented WRs throughout the draft. This year’s class is just as good and Green Bay needs a number two receiver alongside Davante Adams. Green Bay gets Moore who has risen from a day two pick to a possible late first rounder.
30. Buffalo Bills – Joseph Ossai, DE Texas – Buffalo’s pass rush was an issue last year and it showed in the playoff where Patrick Mahomes and Phillip Rivers both had all day to throw. Luckily for the Bills, Ossai falls to them and Sean McDermott gets his defense a talented edge rusher.
31. Baltimore Ravens (from Kansas City) – Trevon Moehrig, S TCU – The Ravens traded OT Orlando Brown to the Chiefs in exchange for several picks including the 31st overall pick. Baltimore is expected to sign Alejandro Villanueva as a replacement and they have already addressed receiver with their first pick. Now the Ravens take the best safety in this class, Trevon Moehrig who has good ball skills, has good awareness and is a solid run defender.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Travis Etienne, RB Clemson – Considering the Bucs bring almost everyone back and don’t have any huge needs Tampa adds depth at running back. Leonard Fournette is only signed for one year and Tom Brady loves pass catching backs and Etienne is arguably the best pass catching back available. Tampa could draft a QB but Tom Brady doesn’t appear to be going anywhere so they add another weapon as they load up for a repeat Super Bowl run.
Edited by Emma Moloney