The 2021 NFL draft is rapidly approaching, with the much anticipated first round scheduled to kick off Thursday 4/27. Find out your favorite team is projected to pick in our latest mock draft.
2021 NFL Mock Draft: First Round
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Player: Trevor Lawrence
No surprise here. Lawrence has been the presumed #1 pick for almost 2 years now and for good reason – he’s a proven winner with every physical tool imaginable. The Jaguars have holes up and down their roster, but Lawrence represents an immediate upgrade for Urban Meyer in his first foray into NFL coaching and should lead to at least a 2-3 win improvement from last year’s 1-15 debacle.
2. New York Jets
Player: Zach Wilson
The rampant speculation on who the Jets would go with at #2 dissipated when New York traded away Sam Darnold (the #3 pick in 2018) to the Carolina Panthers. Boasting perhaps the best combination of arm strength, accuracy and athleticism of any prospect in the draft, Wilson should fit seamlessly into new OC Mike Lafleur’s offensive scheme.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans)
Player: Mac Jones
The 49ers gave up a lot to move up to the #3 pick (including 2 future first rounders) and all signs are pointing to them taking a quarterback at this position. At this spot, they’ll have their choice between Justin Fields (OSU), Trey Lance (North Dakota State) and Jones, who head coach Kyle Shanahan apparently is enamored with. While Jones isn’t the best athlete of the three, he’s the most accurate and experienced in Shanahan’s offensive system and will have a year or two to develop behind Garoppolo.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Player: Kyle Pitts
The best athlete and likely best player in the draft, Kyle Pitts is the most hyped tight end prospect in recent memory. While the Falcons may look to draft Matt Ryan’s replacement at this spot, it’ll be hard to pass up the temptation of pairing Pitts with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley and baffling defenses next season.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Player: Ja’Marr Chase
The Bengals have a lot of holes and will have the option here to patch up their offensive line or deliver Joe Burrow another weapon. My gut is telling me they’ll jump all over the chance to reunite Burrow with Chase, his favorite weapon from LSU, who is an explosive playmaker that will face plenty of single coverage paired with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.
6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles)
Player: Penei Sewell
Last year’s surprise team, Miami aggressively traded up last month and will look to build on an already strong foundation. With this pick, they might lean towards one of the top pass catchers still on the board, but it will be very hard to pass on Sewell, who is the kind of left tackle that teams are built around.
7. Detroit Lions
Player: DeVonta Smith
While last year’s Heisman winner is slim, he’s hands down the most explosive player in the draft. Detroit is in desperate need of offensive weapons, especially after losing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in free agency, and Smit is just the kind of instant offense they’ll need.
8. Carolina Panthers
Player: Rashawn Slater
Not the flashiest pick, but the Panthers are gambling on Sam Darnold and if they learned anything from his time in New York, it’s that they absolutely have to protect him and surround him with talent. They’d do well to start with the offensive line and Slater, who can start from Day One and has the versatility to play either of the tackles and even guard, is the obvious choice.
9. Denver Broncos
Player: Justin Fields
School: Ohio State
I love Drew Locke but after two seasons, it’s becoming clear that he’s not really the long-term answer in Denver. Justin Fields can be. Once widely considered the #2 pick in the draft, he’s started to fall down the draft boards for really no good reason. He’s got all the physical tools and showed guts playing through an injury in the College Football playoff. This would be a straight up steal from the Broncos at 9.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Player: Patrick Surtain II
The Dallas defense has a ton of weak spots and securing a lock-down corner is priority one for them this draft. This pick is a bit of no-brainer, as Surtain is the top-ranked corner in most expert’s draft boards. He’s big (6’2, 202), can run with most receivers, and has an NFL pedigree (his father, Patrick Surtain Sr., is an 11 year NFL veteran and 3 time Pro Bowl corner.) Put him across from Trevon Duggs (another Crimson Tide alum) and the Cowboys have the corner position figured out for the next few years.
11. New York Giants
Player: Zaven Collins
The Giants need a lot of help on the defensive line and it starts with an explosive edge player like Collins, who is one of the athletic marvels in the draft. Collins is one of the new breed of linebackers who can drop into coverage, rush the passer and stop the run. The only issue is determining where his best fit is, but I see the Giants taking a risk on him early and trusting his talent to pay off down the road.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers)
Player: Jaylen Waddle
After spending a season relying on the likes of Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham for receiving support, the Eagles are in desperate need of a pass catcher upgrade. Waddle is the exact answer for the belaugered unit, and combines explosive, big play speed with sturdy hands and skill in the return game. If he falls this far, it might be the steal of the draft for Eagles fans everywhere.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Player: Christian Darrisaw
School: Virginia Tech
The Chargers don’t have a ton of holes on their team right now outside of the most important area to protect promising QB Justin Herbert – left tackle. Darrisaw is athletic, physical and the type of cerebral lineman who excels at the next level. If he pans out and can start from Day One, the Chargers may be primed for a surprise playoff run next year.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Player: Jaelan Phillips
The Minnesota defense, to put it simply, stinks on ice. They signed some talent to the line this off-season, with tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and end Stephen Weatherly, but Phillips would represent a much needed explosive pass rush option on the edge. He has the ideal combination of athleticism, length and power for a defensive end, but has a long injury history (he medically retired at UCLA after two season and a car accident) that might scare teams off.
15. New England Patriots
Player: Trey Lance
School: North Dakota State
New England resigned Cam Newton after an up and down 2020 season, but he’s far from the long-term answer at the position. Lance is the best QB left on the board and one of the most intriguing prospects in years. He’s athletic, well-built and has all the throwing tools needed for the next level. However, due to COVID, he’s only played 17 games in his career and at the FCS level. I don’t see that scaring off the Patriots, who’ll give a year or two to learn from and develop behind Newton and hone his technique.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Player: Alijah Vera-Tucker
A much-needed security blanket for Kyler Murray on the offensive line, Vera-Tucker can start from day one and slot in pretty much anywhere on the line. He started 13 games at left guard for USC in 2019 and then switched out to left tackle last season, where he showcased his athleticism and pass blocking skills. Not a flashy pick but a smart long-term selection for protect the face of the franchise.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Player: Micah Parson
School: Penn State
One of the top prospects in the draft, the Raiders will jump all over this opportunity if he falls all the way to 17 for them. The 2019 All-American has sideline to sideline speed, the size to stop the run, and awareness and agility to help in the coverage game. He’s a solid, if not great pass rusher, but one that can help a Raiders defense that was 29th in total sacks last year. He’s a raw talent but can learn the linebacker position at the next level
18. Miami Dolphins
Player: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
School: Notre Dame
This plugs another hole for the Dolphins in the draft with one of the higher upside athletes in the draft. “Linebacker” is a bit of a misrepresentation for Owusu-Koramoah, who is more of a hybrid safety/backer. The winner of the 2020 Butkus award for the top linebacker, he’s a high motor leader who delivers bone-jarring hits. While he’s a bit small to play linebacker at the next level, he’s instinctive in coverage and the type of playmaker who you just know will figure it out come Sundays.
19. Washington Football Team
Player: Jaycee Horn
School: South Carolina
The single biggest need for Washington right now is at QB, which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if they trade up come draft day, as the top signal callers will all be gone come #19. If they stay put, look for them to go with their highest rated prospect still on the board. I really like Horn, the son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn, whose a physical, aggressive corner who has the ball skills to excel at the next level. This could be the cornerstone of their secondary for years.
20. Chicago Bears
Player: Greg Newsome II
The Bears are in a similar boat as Washington, where they’re desperately in need of a QB who won’t be available this late in the draft. Assuming they stay put, they have holes almost across the board and will be best served drafting for talent here. Newsome is a ballhawking playmaker who can lock down receivers on the outside and almost never gets beat deep. This is step one in the long process for the Bears of fixing this sorry roster.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Player: Teven Jenkins
School: Oklahoma State
The Colts are a team built on offensive line strength and they’re currently in the market for a left tackle after Anthony Castonzo retired. Jenkins is absolutely massive and one of the most powerful run blockers in the draft right now who finishes blocks better than anyone on the board. Pairing him with All-Pro Quenton Nelson would create the nastiest left side in the NFL.
22. Tennessee Titans
Player: Jamin Davis
One of the fastest rising prospects in the draft, Davis wowed scouts at his pro day, after running a ridiculous 4.37 40 and added an absurd 42 inch vertical. That’s pretty damn impressive for a 6/4 230+ pound linebacker. This pick is mainly based on potential, as Davis has just 11 career starts and can be over-aggressive and lack discipline at times.
23. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)
Player: Rashod Bateman
The Jets need weapons and Batemon is just that. Standing 6’2 with impressive frame and hands, he averaged over 20 yards per catch in college and has downfield big play ability. He’s not the most explosive player in the draft, but as a strong route runner with long strides, he can beat corners deep and be relied on to most the sticks on third down.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Player: Liam Echenberg
School: Notre Dame
Like the Colts, the Steelers have prided themselves on offensive line talent in the past and are looking to fill a hole this year. Eichenberg, a second team All-America, can be the guy who does that next year. While he may lack the speed to stop elite edge rushers, he’s a tough physical runblocker with the technique and experience to be a solid, dependable left tackle.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams)
Player: Travis Etienne
The best running back in the draft, Etienne is an explosive, touchdown machine who has a long history of consistent production at Clemson. He’s not a physical inside runner, but he demonstrated the ability to use his game-changing speed in the running and passing game in a way that translates to the next level. A Jaguars team that is light on weapons will look to pair him with his college teammate Lawrence to turn the offense around overnight.
26. Cleveland Browns
Player: Gregory Rousseau
A raw prospect with elite length, power and versatility that can make the Browns defense dominant. Rousseau is a former high school receiver who transitioned to the edge his senior year and showed flashes of dominance at Miami, earning second team All-American honors in 2019 after recording 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. While he lacks experience and refinment, it’s impossible to ignore his athleticism and build.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Player: Jayson Oweh
School: Penn State
Oweh is another project that will be given the space to develop in a strong organization. He clocked in at an insane 4.36 second 40 yard dash and at 6’5 257 pounds, has the length and athleticism to dominate on the edge. He hasn’t been as productive as scouts would like in college (just 7 total sacks in his career and 0 in 2020) but he can fit in nicely as situational pass rusher and develop throughout his career.
28. New Orleans Saints
Player: Caleb Farley
School: Virginia Tech
One of the most talented players in the draft, Farley has battled injuries throughout his career and might fall come draft day. If he goes this late, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints take a chance on him at 28. Farley is big (6’2, 207) but has the quickness and athleticism needed to succeed at the next level, not to mention the ball skills to be a playmaker on Sundays (the former QB started his career as a WR at Tech.)
29. Green Bay Packers
Player: Rondale Moore
The Packers need another receiver to pair with Davante Adams and Rondale Moore could be an interesting fit for them here. While he stands just 5’9 and weighs in at 180 pounds, he’s the quickest player in the draft. After winning first-team All American and the Paul Hornung award in 2018 (given to the most versatile player) he battled injuries in 2019 and 2020. If he can stay on the field, he’s the kind of explosive playmaker in the mold of Tyreke Hill or Golden Tate that can be tantalizing complement to Adams on the inside.
30. Buffalo Bills
Player: Asante Samuel Jr
The son of legendary corner Asante Samuel (is it just me or are there a ton of former NFL star’s children in this year’s draft) Samuel is a ball-hawk who can help the Bills right away. He’s a little small but has huge upside and anticipation in the coverage game. The Bills don’t have a ton of holes right now and can afford to take a swing on a game-changing talent in the end of the round here.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Player: Samuel Cosmi
After releasing Eric Fischer and Mitchell Schwartz this offseason, the line is the biggest weak spot for the defending AFC champions. Cosmi started 34 games over his 3 years at Texas and can play both right and left tackle. He struggles with speed rushers, but is a low risk pick to retool the line at the end of the round.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Player: Levi Onwuzurike
Imagine pairing this guy with Suh, Vita Vea, JPP and Shaq Barrett? Onwuzurike is tall, athletic and can be dominant up front, though his production doesn’t always matches his potential. However, he’s an interior lineman that can play all 3 downs and if given the chance to learn from veterans, he could grow into a dominant force in a few years.