By Chris Farbolin
With the NFL offseason kicking into full swing, the NFL Draft is just over a month away. I last made a mock after the Super Bowl and it’s safe to say that a lot has changed since then. With franchise tags being placed and a more clear picture of how free agency is going to pan out it is time for my second mock of the 2021 offseason. This mock will not include a hypothetical Deshaun Watson trade as the Texans remain optimistic(not sure why) that they can bring Watson back and have remained adamant that they are not trading him. Although I will not include a hypothetical trade with the Texans, I will include a hypothetical trade in this mock.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson – Nothing changes here Jacksonville grabs a once in a generation talent at quarterback.
2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB BYU – The Jets are all but certain to trade Sam Darnold and Wilson is the second best QB in this class. Wilson can come in and be a Week 1 starter for the Jets as they begin the Robert Saleh era.
3. Mock Trade – Carolina Panthers (from Miami) – Justin Fields, QB Ohio State- Carolina is clearly urgent to get their franchise quarterback and don’t want to let their division rival Atlanta take Fields before he falls to them. Fields is an elite talent who needs a year to develop which makes Carolina an ideal spot as Fields learns under Teddy Bridgewater as a rookie.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE Florida – The Falcons red zone offense was among the worst in football last year. Pitts is one of the best tight end prospects in recent history and is basically a big wide receiver that can win contested catches in the red zone. Arthur Smith gets an elite weapon that fills the void left by Austin Hooper’s departure last offseason.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT Oregon – This is one of the most obvious picks in this draft as the Bengals offensive line was atrocious in 2020. Sewell is the best tackle prospect since Laremy Tunsil and will protect Joe Burrow’s blind side for the next decade.
6. Philadelphia Eagles – Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU – The Eagles start off the Jalen Hurts era by getting the best receiver in this class. Chase is a physically dominant WR who high-points the ball well and is dangerous after the catch.
7. Detroit Lions – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama – The Lions did not place the franchise tag on Kenny Golladay and aren’t expected to bring either Golladay or Marvin Jones. The Lions get the defending Heisman Trophy winner to give Jared Goff a reliable top WR as the Lions look to rebuild.
8. Mock Trade – Miami Dolphins (from Carolina) – Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama- The Dolphins are still able to reunite Tua with a former Alabama receiver after trading back with the Panthers. Waddle is the fastest receiver in this class who will give Miami a vertical passing element to their limited offense.
9. Denver Broncos – Patrick Surtain II, CB Alabama – The Broncos moved off of AJ Bouye this offseason so they grab the top corner prospect to help Vic Fangio’s defense.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech – The Cowboys have their franchise QB and offense set for the future but the defense has major holes especially in the secondary. Dallas gets Farley who will help the Cowboys struggling pass defense and give them a top cornerback they clearly need.
11. New York Giants – Micah Parsons, LB Penn State – The Giants get a steal with Parsons at 11th overall getting the best linebacker in the class. Parsons is an elite run stopper who also has a pass rushing presence for a defense looking to build after showing improvement last year.
12. San Francisco 49ers – Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina – A potential trade sending Jimmy Garroppolo to New England fell through when the Pats brought Cam Newton back on a one year deal. The 49ers stick with Jimmy G and address their secondary which is gonna be a need with Richard Sherman and Jason Verett set to hit free agency. Horn is an underrated prospect who can physically match up with number one receivers at the next level.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater, OT Northwestern – Similar to Cincinnati, the Chargers get an elite tackle prospect to protect their young franchise quarterback.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Kwity Paye, DE Michigan – The Vikings haven’t been able to replace Everson Griffen and the Yannick Ngakoue experiment didn’t work out. The top DE prospect falls to Minnesota at 14 and the Vikings address their pass rush concerns.
15. New England Patriots – Trey Lance, QB NDSU – The Patriots aren’t gonna go after a veteran QB in a trade after signing Cam Newton however the Pats still need a long term option at the position. Lance has a similar skillset to Newton with elite arm strength and athleticism however Lance is a project that is gonna need a year of development which makes New England a good fit.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT USC – The Cardinals offensive line has made major strides since being the worst in football in 2018. With that being said the Cardinals still need to upgrade the interior of their offensive line so they get Vera-Tucker out of USC who played tackle in college however fits better as a guard in the NFL.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame – The Raiders defense has been awful for a while and Vegas could go anywhere on defense with their first pick. Although the secondary remains awful, the top three corners are already off the board and the Raiders can address their secondary in the later rounds. The Raiders can’t pass up the best defensive player available in Owusu-Koramoah.
18. Miami Dolphins – Najee Harris, RB Alabama – Miami missed out on Aaron Jones who signed a 4 year/$48 million deal to stay with Green Bay which makes this pick make even more sense. Harris is easily the best back on the board and Miami reunites Tua with another former college teammate.
19. Washington Football Team – Mac Jones, QB Alabama – After letting go of Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins, Washington has a void at QB. Washington isn’t expected to pull off a blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson or Russell WIlson so I would expect them to get a solid starter in Mac Jones who has a fairly low ceiling but can start Week 1 and manage the offense for a team with a dominant defense. I’m not as high on Jones as some others are however he will in all likelihood be a first round pick.
20. Chicago Bears – Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota – Although the Bears franchise tagged Allen Robinson, I’d still expect the Bears to trade him in return for a potential franchise QB. I do not believe the Seahawks will trade Wilson so the Bears go after Sam Darnold who is cheaper and won’t cost Chicago a first round pick. The Bears use that pick on Bateman who is a big receiver that can win contested catches and will serve as a viable replacement for Robinson.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Christian Darrisaw, OT Virginia Tech – Trent Williams wants to stay with the 49ers so if the Colts can’t land him in free agency they get one of the top tackle prospects in Christian Darrisaw to replace the recently retired Anthony Castonzo.
22. Tennessee Titans – Gregory Rousseau, DE Miami – Tennessee’s pass rush was as weak as any in football last season. Fortunately arguably the best edge rusher in this class falls to 22 in Gregory Rousseau. Rousseau gives the Titans an elite pass rusher to get after Carson Wentz, Trevor Lawrence, and (maybe) Deshaun Watson twice a year.
23. New York Jets (via Seattle) – Azeez Ojulari, DE Georgia – The Jets have a ton of needs on their roster but an edge rusher is one of the biggest. Ojulari has been rising up boards after a strong finish last season with Georgia and the Jets get their franchise QB and a high caliber pass rusher in the 1st round.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Travis Etienne, RB Clemson – The Steelers had the worst rushing offense in football last year and James Conner is a free agent. Pittsburgh upgrades at the position and hopes to take pressure off of an aging Ben Roethlisberger.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams) – The Jaguars run defense was the third worst in football last season so the Jags get the best interior defensive lineman in the draft in Christian Barmore to add to a promising young defense.
26. Cleveland Brown – Joseph Ossai, DE Texas – Olivier Vernon is hitting free agency so Celevand gets a younger and cheaper replacement with Ossai. The Brownspair Ossai up with Myles Garrett to form one of the league’s best pass rushing duos.
27. Baltimore Ravens – Kadarius Toney, WR Florida – The Ravens have stated that they have no intention on signing a top receiver in free agency so they address that need with their first round pick. Toney is a versatile weapon offensively who can work from the slot, out of the backfield, and on special teams.
28. New Orleans Saints – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR LSU – Even with Drew Brees making his retirement official, the Saints are expected to continue forward with Jameis Winston at QB. New Orleans had to release Emmanuel Sanders to save cap space so they get a local prospect in Terrace Marshall Jr. to give their offense a talented receiver to line up alongside Michael Thomas.
29. Green Bay Packers – Nick Bolton, LB Missouri – The Packers need to upgrade the middle of their defense so they take Bolton out of Mizzou. Bolton is a high IQ player and a reliable tackler and will solve Green Bay’s need for an off the ball linebacker.
30. Buffalo Bills – Jaelen Phillips, DE Miami – The second edge rusher from Miami comes off the board as the Bills address their pass rush. After missing out on JJ Watt to Arizona, the Bills get Phillips who helps improve their pass rush and run defense.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Samuel Cosmi, OT Texas – After releasing their two Pro Bowl tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, the Chiefs are in desperate need of an offensive tackle. Cosmi will likely be a right tackle at the next level but can also play on the left side if necessary.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jayson Oweh, DE Penn State – The defending Super Bowl champs get younger on the front seven with Oweh. Shaq Barrett wasn’t franchise tagged and is gonna demand a massive contract and JPP isn’t getting any younger. Oweh is a developmental pass rusher who will likely be a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Oweh fits Todd Bowles’s 3-4 defense and will develop under two of the best outside linebackers in football.
Edited by Emma Moloney