By Christopher Farbolin
Now that the confetti has finished falling after the Buccaneers’ dominant win over the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, it is time to look forward to the offseason … mainly the 2021 NFL Draft. It may be more than two months away, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early for mock drafts. This draft should be one of the most interesting in recent memory due to the uncertainty of what happens with several veteran QBs. This mock will not include a hypothetical Deshaun Watson trade ,because we really don’t know where Watson will end up. This mock also won’t include any trades that haven’t already happened. With all of that being, said here is my first mock draft of the 2021 offseason.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson – This pick didn’t require much thought as the Jaguars get the best QB prospect since John Elway.
2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB BYU – Sam Darnold is likely to get traded so the Jets get the 2nd best QB in the class in Wilson. It was close between Wilson and Justin Fields but Wilson is more pro ready for a team that needs a week 1 starter.
3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston) – Devonta Smith, WR Alabama – Tua Tagovailoa put his name on the map by hitting Devonta Smith on a walkoff TD to win the National Championship so the Dolphins reunite their franchise QB with the defending Heisman Trophy winner.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama – The Falcons could go quarterback here but they are focused on getting the most of their current core as possible. Cornerback is the Falcons top need so they go CB in the first round for the second year in a row.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT Oregon – The Bengals got their franchise QB first overall in Joe Burrow last year now they focus on protecting his blind side for the next decade with the best offensive tackle prospect in recent memory.
6. Philadelphia Eagles – Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU – The Eagles definitely regret passing on Justin Jefferson in the draft last year so they make up for it by drafting his LSU teammate and give them a true number one WR.
7. Detroit Lions – Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama – Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are set to hit free agency so the Lions get the fastest WR in the class as the team begins a long rebuild under Jared Goff.
8. Carolina Panthers – Justin Fields, QB Ohio State – Fields goes to an ideal situation where he can sit under Teddy Bridgewater for a year before taking over as the next franchise QB in Charlotte.
9. Denver Broncos – Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech – The Broncos are letting AJ Bouye go so they need a replacement at CB. Farley is easily the best corner still on the board and gives Denver a true top corner with great ball skills that can match up with top receivers at the next level.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Kwity Paye, DE Michigan – The Cowboys defense was atrocious in 2020 and Paye will give Dallas a reliable pass rush alongside Demarcus Lawrence.
11. New York Giants – Micah Parsons, LB Penn State – One of the best prospects in this year’s class falls to New York at 11 as the Giants get an elite playmaker in the middle of their young and improving defense.
12. San Francisco 49ers- Trey Lance, QB NDSU – In this scenario San Fran sends Jimmy Garoppolo back to New England in a trade. The 49ers get their replacement in Lance who has a higher ceiling than Garoppolo although he will need time to develop.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater, OT Northwestern – Like the Bengals, LA gets a high caliber offensive tackle to protect the future of their franchise in Justin Herbert.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Gregory Rousseau, DE Miami – The Vikings need to replace Everson Griffen and the Yannick Ngakoue experiment didn’t work out. Rousseau gives Mike Zimmer’s defense an elite pass rusher it desperately needs.
15. New England Patriots – Kyle Pitts, TE Florida – Remember the Patriots addressed their quarterback need by trading for Jimmy Garoppolo so the Pats can get their new Gronk in Kyle Pitts. Pitts is one of the best TEs I have ever seen coming out of college and gives New England a dynamic skill player they were missing in 2020.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT USC – The Cardinals get Kyler Murray an upgrade on the offensive line as Vera-Tucker can play inside or at left tackle.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina – The Raiders secondary is among the worst in football so Vegas gets Horn out of SC who can play on the outside and line up against top WRs.
18. Miami Dolphins – Najee Harris, RB Alabama – Miami gets another one of Tua’s old teammates at Bama in Najee Harris. Harris is easily the best back in this class and Miami’s RB core is unproven and could use an elite back like Harris.
19. Washington Football Team – Kyle Trask, QB Florida – Washington is a QB away from being a serious threat in the NFC. Barring a trade for Sam Darnold Washington needs to get their next franchise QB in the draft. Trask is a solid prospect who will have a great defense to rely on as he develops.
20. Chicago Bears – Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota – The Bears are likely gonna lose Allen Robinson in free agency so they get his replacement in Bateman. Bateman is a big WR who can line up on the edge and win contested catches.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Christian Darrisaw, OT Virginia Tech – With the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, the Colts find their next franchise LT in Darrisaw to solidify an already elite offensive line.
22. Tennessee Titans – Azeez Ojulari, DE Georgia – The Titans’ pass rush was as bad as any in football which led to their defense struggling throughout the season. Tennessee fixes that with a great DE prospect who has been rising in mock drafts in recent weeks.
23. New York Jets (via Seattle) – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame – The Jets have several needs on their roster so they take the best player available in Owusu-Koramoah. This pick is a steal as Owusu- Koramoah is arguably a top 10 prospect in this class who falls as teams address other needs.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Travis Etienne, RB Clemson – James Conner is set to hit free agency and Pittsburgh needs an upgrade at the RB position so they take Etienne to give their offense more balance.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams) – Kadarius Toney, WR Florida – The Jags don’t have any reliable pass catchers outside of DJ Chark so they grab a local prospect who can be a gadget WR and work out of the slot for Trevor Lawrence and this offense.
26. Cleveland Browns – Joseph Ossai, DE Texas – Olivier Vernon is set to hit free agency so the Browns get a younger and cheaper replacement to line up alongside Myles Garrett.
27. Baltimore Ravens – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR LSU – The Ravens will probably address WR in free agency but add another weapon for Lamar Jackon in Marshall. Baltimore needs to improve on the perimeter if they want to be able to compete with Kansas City and Buffalo in the AFC.
28. New Orleans Saints – Nick Bolton, LB Missouri – Many Mizzou fans are wondering where Bolton will land in the NFL Draft. Bolton goes to the Saints in this mock as the Saints are in a bad cap situation and need to address the middle of their defense through the draft. Bolton is a reliable playmaker that will help this Saints defense.
29. Green Bay Packers – Christian Barmore, DT Alabama – The Packers have the luxury of going with the best player available and that’s exactly what they do by adding Barmore to the middle of their defensive line.
30. Buffalo Bills – Samuel Cosmi, OT Texas – Buffalo’s starting right tackle Daryl Williams is set to become a free agent so the Bills get a younger replacement in Cosmi who is set to play right tackle at the next level.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Alex Leatherwood, OT Alabama – If we learned anything from the Super Bowl it’s that the Chiefs don’t have depth at offensive tackle. The Chiefs address that with Leatherwood who can start as an interior lineman and eventually shift to tackle to replace Eric Fisher or Mitchell Schwartz.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Zaven Collins, LB Tulsa – The Buccaneers front 7 is loaded but also getting old. Lavonte David is a free agent and the Bucs use their first round pick to get younger on the defensive front.
Edited by Emma Moloney