2021 NFL First Round Mock Draft 1.0
With the craziness of free agency behind us, we now shift our attention to the NFL draft, which is just under two weeks away and is set to start on Thursday, April 29. This year’s draft features many great players and is one of the deepest in recent years.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what the first round could look like.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Jaguars lucked into the No. 1 overall pick after the Jets failed to complete their winless season. This was franchise-altering, as Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect we have seen since Peyton Manning. Lawrence has everything you want in a quarterback, including size, a big arm, accuracy and mobility.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
After trading Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, this selection becomes a lot more clear. Wilson is a smart quarterback with a great arm, accuracy and athleticism. The only knock on Wilson is the level of competition he faced in college.
3. San Francisco 49ers (via Miami, via Houston): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
A lot of the rumors have Mac Jones being the pick here, but that is just a smokescreen—Fields should be the pick here. Fields dominated in his first season at Ohio State. He continued his strong play into the shortened 2020 campaign and showed off against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This could be a potential trade-down spot with teams looking to grab a quarterback, but the Falcons decide to keep the pick and select Pitts. Pitts is a matchup nightmare, as he’s too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties. Some teams view him as a receiver. Pairing Pitts with Julio Jones should scare any defense.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Getting Joe Burrow another big-time playmaker at wide receiver or tight end might be tempting, but you need to protect Burrow after he tore his ACL last season. Sewell still is the best all-around tackle in this class with his smooth agility for pass protection and rock-like stature for the running game.
6. Miami Dolphins (via Philadelphia): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Dolphins move down three spots and still get their No. 1 player on their board. Chase can be a do-everything receiver who lines up everywhere to complement DeVante Parker well and will make Tua Tagovailoa very happy.
7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
After losing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. in free agency, the Lions need to draft a receiver for new quarterback Jared Goff. Smith provides the Lions with elite separation, route-running and hands. Smith should be a great target for Goff.
8. Carolina Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
After acquiring quarterback Sam Darnold, the Panthers need to focus on protecting him, as one of the reasons he struggled in New York was a lack of protection. Slater is arguably the best tackle in the draft and will give Carolina a much-needed boost on the offensive line.
9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Drew Lock has not been the answer for the Broncos, and finding a quarterback has to be the main focus for Denver. Adding Lance will provide the Broncos with a quality option at QB, and Lance will battle with Lock for the starting job.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys desperately need to upgrade at cornerback, and lucky for them, the best corner in the draft is still on the board. Surtain was tested early by teams yet was able to punish opponents for doing so.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Yes, the Giants signed Kenny Golladay this offseason, but they still could use an upgrade at receiver. Waddle will give the Giants a true separator and someone who can stretch the field. Waddle alongside Golladay and Saquon Barkley in the backfield gives the Giants playmakers all over the offense.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami, via San Francisco): Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina
Since the top four receivers are all off the board, the Eagles are forced to pivot and take Horn, who desperately fills a need at corner. Outside of Darius Slay, the Eagles do not have a second corner, and Horn will fill that role perfectly.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Chargers need to protect Justin Herbert. It’s that simple. Los Angeles signed center Corey Linsley to address the middle of the offensive line, but they need to draft a tackle, too. Darrisaw gives the Chargers a great pass blocker and an above-average run blocker.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
This could also be a trade-down spot, as the Vikings have multiple holes, but they do need to address their offensive line. Vera-Tucker is very versatile with guard and tackle flexibility.
15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
This season proved that Cam Newton is not the answer for the Patriots and that New England has to draft a quarterback. Mac Jones is an interesting prospect, as he has always played with great receivers at Alabama, so his stats were always great. Jones has above-average accuracy but lacks athleticism.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
A few months ago, the Surtain vs. Farley debate was real, but an injury to Farley has lowered his stock. The Cardinals are not complaining; Farley is a great corner who will come in and immediately become the team’s top corner, replacing recently departed Patrick Peterson.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Parsons is an interesting prospect. He has the talent to be a top-10 pick though his character is in question. That said, Parsons can do it all at linebacker, rush the passer, play the pass and play in the run. The Raiders desperately need a linebacker, and Parsons could thrive in the Las Vegas system.
18. Miami Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
After selecting Ja’Marr Chase earlier, the Dolphins switch their focus to the defense. Injuries have limited the production of Phillips, but this past season at Miami, he showed how dominant he can be when he is on the field. The Dolphins could desperately use a player like Phillips coming off the edge.
19. Washington Football Team: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Washington could go several different ways with this pick, but its biggest need is on the offensive line. At Texas, Cosmi showed he can be a great pass blocker, and that is exactly what Washington needs.
20. Chicago Bears: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
With the future of Allen Robinson up in the air, the Bears need to select a receiver with their first-round pick. Lucky enough for the Bears, Rashod Bateman falls right into their lap at No. 20. Bateman can do it all on the field and will slot perfectly next to Robinson next year.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
After long-time tackle Anthony Castonzo retired earlier this offseason, the Colts were left to fill the void he created. Jalen Mayfield is a solid run blocker and decent pass blocker, and he will bolster the offensive line.
22. Tennessee Titans: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Tennessee needs help rushing the passer after the 2020 season where it sacked the quarterback just 19 times. The Titans did sign Bud Dupree in free agency, but they still need more pass rushers. Over his four years at Michigan, Paye played in just 28 games, but his production in those games is what excites scouts—Paye registered 23 1/2 tackles for loss and 11 1/2 sacks.
23. New York Jets (via Seattle): Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
After selecting Zach Wilson with the second pick, the Jets turn their attention to the other side of the ball and address their second biggest need in the cornerback position. Newsome has showcased strong ball skills and length to pair with high-end levels of flexibility and functional athleticism; he’s a great pick for New York at No. 23.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Steelers decided to let James Conner walk in free agency leaving the team with a massive hole at running back. Lucky for Pittsburgh, no running back has been picked so far, so the Steelers get their pick. Etienne is a great replacement for Conner and can contribute from day one. He has 4.40 speed and the makings of a true three-down back.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams): Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
After selecting your franchise quarterback, you need to protect him at all costs, and that is exactly what the Jaguars do here. Jenkins gives Jacksonville versatility, as he played all over the offensive line in college. Jenkins is a top-heavy blocker who has experienced success in air-raid offenses.
26. Cleveland Browns: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Browns have had one of the best offseasons of any team, addressing most of their needs; however, they still have a huge hole to fill at linebacker. Owusu-Koramoah plays with great explosiveness and is always around the ball. He is not your typical linebacker, and he will struggle if you ask him to play a traditional linebacker role, but he fits into Cleveland’s scheme perfectly.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The Ravens lost both Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue this offseason, leaving them with few solid edge rushers. Ojulari plays with good reactive athleticism and demonstrates good quickness, effort and body control. He needs to improve and refine his technique as a pass rusher but has shown flashes of the athleticism that projects him to have success in the NFL.
28. New Orleans Saints: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
The Saints seem to be comfortable with the duo of Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston at quarterback after Drew Brees retired earlier this offseason. New Orleans, meanwhile, does need secondary help, and Stokes fills that. Stokes can play in both man and zone and has great speed. He tends to grab receivers a lot, so he will need to clean that up.
29. Green Bay Packers: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
The Packers can not keep wasting the last few seasons of Aaron Rodgers; they need to get him a weapon alongside Davante Adams. Toney is a great slot option for Green Bay, as he has electric speed and good route-running. Toney just needs to work on catching the football and limiting his drops.
30. Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Buffalo does not have many needs, but the defensive line is starting to get older and is the weak spot on the defense. Rousseau had 19 1/2 tackles for loss and 15 1/2 sacks in 2019 before opting out of 2020. When you look at his tape, his game is very underdeveloped and the Bills will need to work with him to develop him into a star. But if he progresses as hoped, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Kansas City needs to upgrade the offensive line; you can not have Patrick Mahomes constantly running for his life. Eichenberg has sound footwork and fundamentals, which make him a solid pass and run blocker. If he becomes a little bit faster, he has all the makings to be a great tackle in the NFL.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
The Buccaneers can go with the best player available after retaining everyone from their Super Bowl victory. Jayson Oweh falls into their lap, giving the team even more youth at a position that dominated in Super Bowl LV. The addition also gives the Bucs some nice long-term insurance with Jason Pierre-Paul only signed through 2021.
Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Second-Year / Broadcast Journalism