It’s that time again. The NFL season kicks off in just a few hours and the college football season really kicks off this weekend with some of the Power 5 starting play. This also means… mock drafts! Not surprisingly, I really missed doing mock drafts.
I had a way-too-early mock draft come out just after the 2020 NFL Draft concluded, and things are already pretty different in this preseason edition. Things are also very different in the CFB world, with COVID-19 still present among us and several conferences, including the Big Ten and the PAC-12 cancelling their seasons, for the time being.
So let’s get away from all of that for a little bit, and get lost in the world of mock drafts. There are 3 quarterbacks who look locked into the first round; this is another very deep wide receiver class and a much-needed deep offensive line class; and the offense is looking like it will really dominate the defense in first round picks this year.The draft order is based off of current Las Vegas Super Bowl betting odds, in reverse order. Without further ado, the Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
If the Jaguars are selecting first overall, Gardner Minshew did not get the job done and they will need to draft a new quarterback. Trevor Lawrence has been thrown some of the highest praise for a quarterback prospect even before his freshman season at Clemson. He has the size, arm strength, athleticism, footwork, and play-making ability that teams look for. He’s a proven winner, currently sitting with a 29-1 record and two trips to the National Championship Game with one National Championship already under his belt. He still needs to work on his ball placement and work on some routes such as outs, comebacks, and fades. With the NFL leaning on mobile quarterbacks, Lawrence is set up very well, with the added bonus of a great arm.
2) Washington Football Team
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
There can be a similar argument made for Washington and Dwayne Haskins if they end up this high in the draft order, but I believe this team, and Haskins, will be completely different and improved with a franchise-caliber left tackle. They had Trent Williams before and the rest of the roster wasn’t as good as it is now, but they still finished with a better record than they did in 2019. Sewell is the best offensive tackle prospect I have ever evaluated. He is as close to perfect an offensive tackle prospect you could find. He’s a technician who is athletic, quick, strong, and physical. Sewell is very intelligent and he doesn’t quit plays early. The only weakness I can find is that he might not be currently strong enough to deal with some of the stronger guys in the NFL. He will certainly improve in that area before starting a game in the NFL. I will be absolutely shocked if Sewell doesn’t get drafted in the top 5 of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he is the top-ranked prospect on my board.
3) Cincinnati Bengals
Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Even if the Bengals are picking first overall, they are not taking another quarterback. I think this team will sneak in some more wins than most are expecting, so I don’t think we’ll see them this high come April. I also don’t believe Wade will be selected this high; his former teammate at Ohio State in Jeff Okudah was just selected third overall by the Lions, but it is very unusual to see a cornerback selected that high. However, in this spot, without an offensive tackle on the board that I like this high, I have the Bengals taking Wade to fill a big need. One of the biggest challenges I faced watching his tape is that he’s so good in man coverage that it’s honestly hard to find many instances of him playing the ball since it’s simply not thrown his way very often. Wade is very fast and very sticky with quick feet and flexible hips. He needs to improve his man coverage on shorter routes, but I think Wade’s abilities right now can translate well to the NFL. If the Big Ten does not have a season this fall, it could hurt Wade’s draft stock as he hasn’t seen very many reps at outside cornerback due to the talent that was ahead of him last year at Ohio State. As of now, though, he is my top-ranked cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft.
4) Carolina Panthers
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Panthers drafted only defense in the 2020 draft, and I have them continuing with that plan with their first pick in 2021. Luke Kuechly retiring early in his career has left a huge hole in the middle of this defense that has not been filled yet. Parsons is a fast and athletic linebacker who fits exactly what NFL GM’s are really starting to look for: versatility. He can easily cover running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers, while effectively blitzing the quarterback while slipping right past the offensive line. While I wish he would add muscle so he can shed blockers more easily, Parsons looks like the perfect linebacker/strong safety mold, a la Isaiah Simmons last year (who the Panthers passed up on). When Parsons makes one good play, it usually snowballs into a good series, and so on. With the attention Simmons received last year, I expect Parsons to be a top-10 pick in this draft.
5) New York Jets
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Jets are still lacking that go-to pass catcher for Sam Darnold. Their offensive line is slowly improving, but they need to give Darnold weapons. Chase is quick, shifty, tough, and ball-attacking. His route running gives the appearance of a much smaller player even though he’s 6’1”. He also attacks the ball at the highest point, typically over defenders, making him look taller than he is. Chase excels at deep routes and comeback routes. I have concerns surrounding his speed, mainly in the short area due to the lack of separation he has on shorter routes. This isn’t the biggest issue a wide receiver can have; Chase could simply just be a possession receiver at the next level. Saints’ WR Michael Thomas is surely doing well without top-end speed in the NFL. I anticipate Chase being the first receiver off the board in this draft and most likely a top-10 pick.
6) New York Giants
Greg Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
The Giants have put together some good pieces on offense, but their defense is still a couple steps behind. Rousseau is my top-ranked edge rusher by a wide margin and would instantly upgrade their pass rush. His speed and quickness is just mesmerizing. He plays every single play exactly the way he is asked; he effectively sets the edge, he destroys interior offensive linemen with his speed and swim move, and his motor is non-stop. Despite his lack of muscle, he can stand his ground against any blocker and even most double teams. Rousseau needs to develop more pass rush moves, but I am very excited for his future.
7) Miami Dolphins
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Dolphins made some major improvements on their roster in the draft and in free agency this offseason, to the point where they could be just a few more additions away from making some noise. The Dolphins can reunite Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle in the NFL. Nothing describes Waddle like “speed”. He is a blur across the field and his feet work at a ridiculous speed. Of course he reminds me of Henry Ruggs III, but that’s more to do with the top-end speed (and the Alabama jersey) than anything. But he also reminds me of Devin Hester. He is an excellent punt and kick returner with insane speed. He projects as a much better receiver than Hester, so combining Hester and Ruggs should leave NFL scouts salivating.
8) Las Vegas Raiders
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
If the Raiders are picking this high in 2021, they need to seriously consider moving on from Derek Carr. There were rumors they were thinking about doing that this offseason. With all that considered and Justin Fields still on the board, I am convinced this would be the pick. He has a strong arm, is very mobile, has elite vision, is tough, and is a proven winner. This isn’t a comparison, but Fields reminds me of a bigger Russell Wilson. Both would rather throw the ball than run it, even when a play is breaking down, but both are very effective at running the ball. If Fields can work on his accuracy, mainly throwing on the run, he projects to be a really good NFL prospect.
9) Detroit Lions
Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
The Lions have been trying to find the captain for the middle of their defense for a long time now. Jaffa’s Davis is good, but Moses would be a huge upgrade for the number one middle linebacker. Moses was my top linebacker for the 2020 NFL Draft as soon as the 2019 Draft concluded. He unfortunately tore his ACL right before the 2019 season, causing him to miss the entire season. If he bounces back to his play pre-injury, he’ll be considered a great prospect once more. He is similar to Isaiah Simmons in his play style, fast, rangy, quick, excellent against the pass. Moses is more of a linebacker than Simmons, who lined up at safety half the time, although he struggles in shedding blocks more than I would like. He has high awareness that, paired with his fast and quick physical traits, make it very hard to get things past him.
10) Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State
Like I said earlier, the Dolphins feel like they are just a few moves away from being a real competitor in the AFC. They have really built their defense up in just one offseason, but they are still missing that guy in the middle of the defensive line. Wilson is a massive interior defensive lineman with a surprising amount of mobility and fluidity in his game. He rightfully dominates weaker opponents, can trade blows with the strongest of offensive linemen, and holds his own against double teams. Wilson is a guy that won’t be moved off the line of scrimmage very often, even after entering the NFL.
11) Denver Broncos
Dillon Radunz, OT, NDSU
The Broncos keep passing on a left tackle in the draft, despite Garrett Bolles not getting the job done for years now. Their offense is much improved, but it will struggle until they get a good offensive line in front of Drew Locke. Radunz is a physical but athletic offensive tackle. He is strong in his base set and can handle any defensive lineman in the run game. He is a good athlete that can mirror the pass rush of even the fastest guys he goes up against. Radunz has good technique with great lateral agility that provides him with a good chance to stay in front of defenders in both the passing and run game.
12) Arizona Cardinals
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Much like the Broncos, the Cardinals have put together a great offense, but have neglected the offensive line. They need to start to build that up so their offense can properly function. Leatherwood is a phenomenal lockdown pass rusher. He struggles against speedy pass rushers and working in space, mainly in getting to the second level when run blocking. However, Leatherwood can lock up a pass rusher and dominate him like any other top offensive tackle prospect. He’s crazy strong and his first punch is devastating. I think his performances will be up and down simply depending on the speed of pass rushers he faces in any given game, or even any given snap.
13) Atlanta Falcons
Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
The Falcons have a great wide receiver in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. But that’s pretty much it for their receiving corps. Purdue runs their offense through Moore as he is by far their best player, but every time he touches the ball, he makes something happen. He is one of the most exciting and electric college football player’s I have ever watched, not just scouted. Moore is just ridiculous after the catch. He just has an amazing blend of speed, quickness, acceleration, balance, agility, and shiftiness that is simply unparalleled.
14) Los Angeles Chargers
Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
The Chargers traded for Russell Okung last offseason, but he’s aging and the rest of the offensive line has some major questions. If Okung sticks around for the 2021 season, Mayfield can play on the right side for a year or two. Mayfield is a large but athletic offensive tackle. He contains the athleticism and strength to dominate defensive linemen and linebackers alike. His long arms allow him to reach across defensive linemen that are shaded to the inside of him. Mayfield’s frame allows him to put on even more weight while keeping his high-end athleticism. The big problem, though, is his lack of experience in college football. He only has 13 starts, and now he has declared for the draft following the announcement of the Big 10 cancelling the season in the Fall. But like I said, he can play on the right side and learn from Okung for a year or two before taking over on the left side.
15) Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia
We all know the Jaguars traded away Jalen Ramsey last year to the Rams, and now he is the highest paid cornerback in NFL history. I’m not saying the Jags can replace Ramsey, but they at least need to draft a high potential cornerback with one of their first round picks, which they did not do this last draft. Farley is still relatively new to the cornerback position and another year most likely would’ve helped him feel more comfortable and help his zone coverage issues. That being said, Farley is a very fascinating cornerback prospect due to his unique size and length, paired with his speed and quickness. He’s a sticky cornerback that allows small catch windows for receivers that he typically works his hands in to knock the ball away.
16) Cleveland Browns
Trey Smith, IOL, Tennessee
The Browns have really built up this roster from where it was two years ago. They still have a few holes though, and offensive guard is probably the biggest one. Smith is a very strong and powerful blocker that just punishes defensive linemen in the run game. He’s surprisingly quick and agile and gets to the second level with ease and dominates linebackers as well. Smith is also a strong pas blocker with a powerful first punch, but his feet are heavy and his lateral agility leaves a lot to be desired. He dealt with blood clots in 2018, but came back and dominated in 2019. As long as he checks out medically, his potential is extremely high.
17) Chicago Bears
Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
First of all, I do not expect Trey Lance to still be on the board at 17. Early mock drafts will always have good QBs falling due to team needs (most projected high picking teams just drafted a QB within the last two years). Secondly, all eyes are on Mitch Trubisky this year. If the Bears fail to make the playoffs again, Trubisky will be out; that’s almost a guarantee. Lance is as mobile of a quarterback as Kyler Murray while having as strong of an arm as Josh Allen. I really love everything about his arm, except for his accuracy issues throwing deep. He has a special ability of keeping plays alive with his feet and finding the soft spot in zones and hitting the open receivers.
18) Tennessee Titans
Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
The Titans won late in the season and in the playoffs on the legs of Derrick Henry. But they need to have good options in the passing game in case Henry is up against 8 men in the box, or he’s hurt, or it’s late in the game and they’re down two touchdowns. A.J. Brown was arguably the best rookie wide receiver in 2019. But aided from him, the Titans don’t have another real option. Surratt is a big, strong, and physical wide receivers that excels in traffic. He fights through contact throughout his route and makes 50/50 balls seem more like 80/20 balls in his favor. He shows true ball skills in his excellent body control and concentration when the ball is in the air. He is a fluid and smooth runner, but doesn’t have the quickness or explosiveness to make a career out of short routes. At the catch point, Surratt has incredibly strong hands that allows him to fight through contact after the catch like the ball is magnetized to his hands.
19) Green Bay Packers
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
We all know the story of the Packers not drafting a wide receiver in the 2019 draft, potentially one of the best wide receiver classes in NFL history. They cannot make that mistake again. Smith is a smooth and efficient route runner with a diverse a route tree. He is tough to tackle after the catch due to his vision with the ball in his hands and the slippery nature of his game. He excels on ins and slants, quickly gaining separation with his quick and active feet. The deficiencies in Smith’s game mainly come from his rail-thin frame. He struggles to fight through contact at the catch point.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers
Cade Mays, OT, Tennessee
With Big Ben back, I am expecting big things out of this Steelers team and I think they will be much closer to a Super Bowl appearance than this draft pick number indicates. They do have a good offensive line, but it’s starting to age and they need to plan for the near future. I’ve listed Mays at offensive tackle, but he is the most versatile offensive lineman in this draft class as he played every single offensive line position at Georgia last season. To have that versatility alone as a backup in 2020 season (and a future starter) with his skill set, is enough alone to make the Steelers really consider Mays here. He is a big, athletic, strong, and powerful offensive lineman. He wasn’t granted immediate eligibility to play at Tennessee and there is a good chance he will not declare for the 2021 draft, but in 2020 and the opt-out rules in CFB, anything seems possible.
21) Minnesota Vikings
Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
Minnesota’s defensive line is looking pretty good now with Danielle Hunter and Yannick Ngakoue. But Jordan Davis can be that missing piece right in between them. Davis shows tremendous potential in his large and powerful yet agile frame. He has the kind of potential right now that Javon Kinlaw had at this time last year, which propelled him to the 13th overall selection this past draft. If Davis can build upon what he has already shown, he won’t be in the board in this spot come April.
22) Buffalo Bills
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Bills made one of the biggest splashes this offseason in acquiring Stefan Diggs from the Vikings. They also have John Brown, but I’m just not sold on him or the rest of the receiving corps. Bateman has phenomenal catching abilities, not only featuring a lack of drops, but a great ability to catch the ball in traffic and win jump balls. He is excellent after the catch, quickly gaining separation and being hard to tackle due to his great balance.
23) Indianapolis Colts
Israel Makuamu, CB, South Carolina
The Colts are a sneaky team in the AFC with their improved offensive weapons, excellent offensive line, good defense, and new quarterback in Philip Rivers. They’ve addressed their secondary fairly early in the last few drafts, but it still just doesn’t appear to be solved. Makuamu is a very long and tall cornerback at 6’3”. He is excellent in man coverage and at the catch point due to his long arms. He is also a very good run support defender. When I think of Makuamu, I just think he is a perfect fit for the Colts physical style of defense.
24) New York Jets (via Seahawks)
Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
The Jets filled some needs in lasts year’s draft with a left tackle and a wide receiver on Day Two. I mocked another receiver to them earlier in this mock draft with the best receiver in this class. But now, they really need to focus on finding some pass rushers. Roche has a violent first step that immediately gives him an advantage over offensive linemen. He is a physical and strong pass rusher with great athletic and lateral agility. Roche has great and active hands and several devastating pass rush moves. His slightly shorter frame with his strength makes him a very good run defender.
25) Philadelphia Eagles
Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
The Eagles secondary has faced a major overhaul in the last two years. While they now appear to be set at cornerback, the safety position has gotten worse. Cisco is a very athletic and rangey safety who really just needs to work on some aspects of his technique. He can play almost anywhere in the secondary and he is a true ball-hawk when the ball is in the air. His aggressiveness can lead to poor plays at times.
26) New England Patriots
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Do I think the Patriots will draft a wide receiver? Probably not. They never seem to go the obvious route in the draft. But I’m going to mock them a wide receiver anyway because they need a top guy to take over for Edelman, and we haven’t heard much from N’Keal Harry. Olave really knows how to control his body throughout a play. He works really well off the line of scrimmage, is a technician with his routes, and can position his body in the air to be in the best possible spot to catch the ball. He is fantastic along the sideline in controlling his feet and his body. Olave is a really great route runner, creating separation just with how he runs routes, and he has a diverse route tree.
27) Dallas Cowboys
Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
The Cowboys always seem to be linked to safeties. Just this offseason alone, they were linked to Jamal Adams in a potential trade, and they are still the favorites to bring in Earl Thomas. Jerry Jones really wants that dominant safety. Well, he might find one in Jevon Holland. He has a very Cowboys-feel to him, in that he is a vocal leader and the decision-maker on the Oregon defense. He is a very fluid athlete who had the range to cover the field, while being a good run supporter. Holland has the versatility to also line up at the nickel and cover slot receivers and tight ends. He has sufficient enough play in man coverage, but he is really excellent in zone coverage with his intelligence and range.
28) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Buccaneers keep swinging on running backs, but I still don’t feel like they are satisfied. I was surprised they waited so long in last year’s draft and ended up grabbing Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the 3rd round. I don’t think we’ll see that again, and I don’t think Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, or Vaughn are the true number one options at running back in the future for the Bucs. Harris is a thick and powerful running back, with strong legs, great balance, and feet that won’t stop churning that allow him to run over so many would-be tacklers. He’s surprisingly patient after getting the hand-off, allowing the play to develop before bursting through. Harris’ speed is a liability, but he has that Derrick Henry stiff arm that can shove down would-be tacklers downfield. He can be an asset in the passing game, as he has a more polished route running tree than just screens and swings. He can line up at receiver and run slants, ins, outs, and more.
29) New Orleans Saints
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
The Saints have a good duo at wide receiver in Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders this season. But, not only do they need another guy, I don’t know if Sanders will stay in New Orleans after this season. St. Brown is a very good athlete with a great blend of burst, agility and body control. He can easily create separation against man coverage with his excellent route running abilities and quickness. St. Brown has very reliable and strong hands that do not often drop the ball, even when faced with contact at the catch point. He is excellent after the catch and does not go down easily.
30) Baltimore Ravens
Jaylen Twyman, DL, Pitt
The Ravens still have a very good defense, but it has sort of been poached the past few years. They need more pass rushers, but they also need that guy in the middle. Ignore the helmet and jersey on Tywman, he is not Aaron Donald. But he is a very good interior defensive lineman with incredible strength. And a bonus for the Ravens, Twyman is a very good interior defensive lineman pass rusher. He has a good first step and very active hands. He is very flexible and can contort his body to edge past blockers. And like I mentioned, he is very strong and does not get pushed off the ball against the run by just one blocker.
31) San Francisco 49ers
Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The 49ers feel like nearly a complete team on paper, and they showed that in the 2019 season. One area I think they still lack in, is their secondary. Horn has a long and strong frame that he uses very well to bump off receivers and re-route them. He is excellent in press coverage, great in zone coverage, and good in man coverage. His intelligence and awareness really help him in zone coverage, while his lack of quickness can hurt him in man coverage. But I can see Horn learning from Richard Sherman and maybe becoming his successor in San Francisco.
32) Kansas City Chiefs
Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State
As you can imagine, the Chiefs don’t have many needs. They filled the hole at running back in the last draft with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. They have a much improved secondary and look to be content with who they have. But they still have room for improvement on the interior of their offensive line. Davis is one of the prospects in this class that I can envision moving up much higher on my board after watching his tape again, and especially if he ends up playing this season with the Big Ten up in the air. Davis is a very strong and physical blocker that imposes his will on the defense. Not only is he very powerful, he is also quick and a very fluid mover for a person of his size. He always plays with great leverage that gives him an advantage, no matter who is up against physically or talent-wise.