With the first round of the draft being less than one week away, I’m breaking one of my “rules.” I typically dislike making trades in mock drafts, as it always feels to serve one team more than the other. Plus, it’s very hard to estimate the trade packages, as a trade can be fair on a “calculator” of trade value, but factoring in previous similar trades, and thinking about competition between two teams trying to trade up, makes mock trades very muddy.
However, I broke this rule last year, and I’m doing it again. There are way too many highly-touted quarterbacks in this class, and quite a few QB-needy teams outside the top 8 picks, that just makes it too obvious that at least one trade will go down.
Just like my mock draft two weeks ago, the first few picks are what I’m hearing, not what I would do. To address this now, the odds at pick number three have changed. Ohio State QB Justin Fields is now the favorite to be picked third overall to the San Francisco 49ers. However, all of the “insider” reports, are still indicating Alabama QB Mac Jones will be the pick. Therefore, this mock draft reflects as such.
Heads up, I will be releasing my final big board early next week with my top 300 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. And on Thursday, the day of the first round of the draft, I will release a full seven-round mock draft with every single pick in the draft mocked.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Yep, this is still happening. Just one more week Jags fans…
2. New York Jets
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Jets are obviously drafting a QB. It sounds like it is a guarantee it will be Wilson, but I still like Fields better. I have Fields ranked at 5 and Wilson ranked at 6, so there isn’t a big discrepancy here.
3. San Francisco 49ers (via MIA via HOU)
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
As I mentioned above, despite the recent move towards Fields being the betting favorite here, everything we have heard from insiders around the league remains on the Jones side of this decision.
4. New England Patriots (via ATL)*
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
NE Trades: 2021 15th overall pick, 2021 46th overall pick, 2022 first round pick, 2022 third round pick
ATL Trades: 4th overall pick, 2022 fifth round pick
The first big trade I have made in this mock draft. With all the moves Bill Belichick has made this offseason after not making the playoffs last year, I can’t see him sitting on his hands while all the top QBs fly off the board. In this situation, Fields can learn behind Cam Newton for half the season, or maybe even the whole season if things go well, and then take the reigns. Belichick doesn’t like rookie QBs, but at some point he had to bite the bullet and go after one — this is the moment.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Bengals should lock this one up faster than any pick we’ve seen. I don’t buy into the Kyle Pitts or Ja’Marr Chase rumors. The Bengals need to protect Joe Burrow, first and foremost. Sewell is the best offensive lineman prospect in this class and he beats out all the offensive tackles in last year’s draft, as well.
6. Miami Dolphins
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
It is pretty clear to me the moves the Dolphins made two weeks ago was to put them in position for the best wide receiver in this draft class, while gaining a few picks. Trading back from 3 was necessary, as a QB-needy team was obviously going to offer a lot (and the 49ers did). The problem for the Dolphins was moving back 9 spots to 12th overall. They immediately solved that by jumping back up to this spot. If they loved Kyle Pitts, they could’ve stayed at 3, ahead of the Falcons who have been linked to Pitts.
7. Denver Broncos (via DET)*
Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
DEN Trades: 2021 9th overall pick, 2021 40th overall pick, 2021 71st overall pick, 2022 third round pick
DET Trades: 2021 7th overall pick, 2021 41st overall pick, 2021 72nd overall pick
The second trade in this mock draft is also a trade up to get a QB. It feels like everyone is hanging onto a few games from Drew Lock at the end of the 2019 season. He didn’t show much improvement in 2020, with a much better roster. Lance has a similar feeling as Josh Allen; a small-school QB with a big arm and active legs, who’s accuracy and level of competition is questioned. Lance and Lock can compete for the starting job in 2021, but by 2022, it should be Lance’s job.
8. Carolina Panthers
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The new consensus pick here, after the Sam Darnold trade, seems to be Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater. As much as I love that pick, the Panthers can’t pass up on Pitts dropping to them here. Due to the heavy run on QBs, the best tight end prospect in 15 years falls to 8. Sam Darnold can now have Pitts, Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel, and Robby Anderson to dish the ball.
9. Detroit Lions (via DEN)*
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Broncos offered a trade package the Lions couldn’t refuse. They did receive Jared Goff in the Matthew Stafford trade with the Rams. They also lost WR Kenny Golladay in free agency, so the need for a number one receiver in Detroit is high. Smith showed us this past season that he can do unthinkable things at the receiver position. Goff gets the number one receiver he needs to develop on his new team.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
This pairing seems to be the most obvious one for the Cowboys. There has been talk about Jerry Jones falling in love with Kyle Pitts (and who can blame him?), but even with Pitts slipping a little in this draft, the Cowboys would have to trade up to get him. With Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin on the roster, trading up for another pass-catcher while ignoring the defense, would be a big mistake for Dallas.
11. New York Giants
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
GM Dave Gettleman does not like taking linebackers in the first round. But frankly, I don’t care. Not only do the Giants need a linebacker, Parsons is by far the best player on the board at this point. The Giants should rejoice if they can sit at 11 and draft the best defensive player (and at a position of need) in this draft class.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA via SF)
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Eagles traded down from 6 to 12, and they get to grab one of the “big three” receivers in this draft class. The receiver room in Philadelphia has been decimated and is in need of talent. Waddle has top-level speed that can remind Eagles’ fans of Desean Jackson, while providing an all-around game that makes a difference all over the field.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Chargers luck out with all the trades and QB selections. Slater is a high-end offensive tackle prospect, and the Chargers’ biggest need is offensive tackle. This is a perfect fit and Slater can protect Justin Herbert for the next decade.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Despite Slater coming off the board right in front of the Vikings, they should still be very happy with this pick. Darrisaw is potentially a top-10 pick, but once again, other needs pushes a great player down. The Vikings’ offense is almost set, despite one or two holes in the offensive line. The defense is young and rebuilding, and I think we see a big jump out of them this year.
15. Atlanta Falcons (via NE)*
Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
It is tough to trade from 4th overall all the way back to 15th overall. However, the Falcons got a haul from the Patriots. As a bonus, Jaycee Horn is still on the board. The Falcons may be the biggest winners in this mock draft. Horn is a Day One starter at cornerback on almost any NFL roster, but especially in Atlanta. The Falcons desperately need secondary help, and Horn is the second best cornerback in this draft, and a steal at 15.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Another cornerback here, and a bit of a controversial one this high. Don’t get me wrong, Farley has all the talent in the world. He has every trait you want to see from a cornerback coming out of college. The problem? He missed the 2020 season due to a back injury, not a true opt-out, and he missed Virginia Tech’s Pro Day due to back surgery. If he can stay healthy though, he has an immense value at 16.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
The Raiders decimated their offensive line this offseason for some reason. They need both an offensive tackle and interior offensive talent, and Vera-Tucker is the best offensive lineman in the board. Starting RB Josh Jacobs disappointed last season, so upgrades on the interior of the line were necessary anyway. Vera-Tucker will be a Day One starter for the Raiders.
18. Chicago Bears (via MIA)*
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
CHI Trades: 2021 20th overall pick, 2021 83rd overall pick, 2021 204th overall pick
MIA Trades: 2021 18th overall pick, 154th overall pick, 2022 4th round pick
There is a lot of speculation if the Bears will trade up in this draft, for a QB. In this mock draft, there isn’t a trade that makes sense for them to grab a QB. Instead, the trade up a couple of picks, mainly to jump ahead of Washington, to grab the fourth best offensive tackle in this draft class. Leatherwood can be the immediate starter at right tackle this season, and depending on whether Charles Leno Jr. can have a bounce-back season, Leatherwood can start at left tackle in 2022.
19. Tennessee Titans (via WAS)*
Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
TEN Trades: 2021 22nd overall pick, 2021 126th overall pick
WAS Trades: 2021 19th overall pick
With Paye still on the board at 19, the Titans trade up a few spots to ensure they land him. For the second straight pick, a team trades up to jump in front of another team who may be targeting the player they want. The Titans snipe the Dolphins, who were most likely targeting Paye at 20. The Dolphins felt comfortable moving back, assuming the Bears and Washington did not want an edge rusher. Paye is a steal at 19, as the best edge rusher in this draft class and my 13th ranked player overall. The Titans have been trying to find pass rushers with little success. They signed Jadeveon Clowney last year, but he didn’t register a single sack with the team.
20. Miami Dolphins (via CHI)*
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
While the Dolphins played the bird and trade game, they missed out on Kwity Paye. However, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a great “consolation” prize. The Dolphins are lacking talent across the board at linebacker, inside and outside. Owusu-Koramoah is the second best linebacker in this draft class and will fit right into Brian Flores’ scheme.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Colts drafted WR Michael Pittman Jr. in the second round last year, but they still need talent at the position. T.Y. Hilton is on the back-end of his career. Bateman is a big-radius receiver who makes any QB’s job easier. Lining up Pittman Jr., Hilton, and Bateman, with second-year player Jonathan Taylor at running back, would make a very good supporting cast for QB Carson Wentz.
22. Washington Football Team (via TEN)*
Dillon Radunz, OT, NDSU
Washington got jumped by the Bears for Leatherwood, but they still land a great offensive tackle prospect here in Radunz. With NDSU only playing one game this season, and Radunz opting out, we haven’t seen him on the field since 2019. He was already a raw prospect at that time, but he does have a ton of upside. We’ll see if he can build on that upside at the next level and prove a lot of doubters wrong.
23. New York Jets (via SEA)
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
The Jets picked their new franchise QB with the second overall pick in the draft. Now, they can start building around him. With the left tackle in place, Wilson needs more options to throw the ball. Marshall is a big receiver, but is very smooth in his movements. He has a big catch radius, which should help Wilson in his early development.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama
Dickerson has a bit of an history with injuries, most recently ligament damage on his left knee in December. Showing his toughness, Dickerson suited up for the National Championship game on January 11th and played the final snap in Alabama’s blowout victory. It’s still unknown when he will be 100% healthy, but he provides versatility that his hard to pass up. He played all 5 positions across the offensive line in his college career, but found a true home in the interior. The Steelers’ running game has been in a steep decline the last few years, but that is due more to a loss in talent in the offensive line than the player running the ball.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR)
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
After selecting their new franchise QB with the first overall pick, the Jaguars follow it up with a versatile piece for Lawrence. Freiermuth is a true tight end — he can catch like a receiver, but also block like an offensive lineman. He can immediately be the safety blanket that most rookie QBs love to have.
26. Cleveland Browns
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
I normally list Collins under EDGE, but with the Browns, he can primarily be a linebacker that rushes the QB on third down and other certain situations. The Browns offense looks to be set, it’s the defense that need a few more upgrades. With Jadeveon Clowney now in the mix, the need for a true pass rusher lessens. However, Collins can play inside linebacker on the first two downs, then kick down to edge rusher while Clowney or Garrett bumps inside on third downs.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Ravens just traded away their right tackle, Orlando Brown Jr., to the Chiefs for a handful of picks, including 31st overall in this draft. The Ravens interior offensive line was already a bit of a mess, and now they have a huge hole at right tackle. The Ravens need to grab the best offensive lineman left on the board. Cosmi can start Day One at right tackle for the Ravens; he can also kick inside in his first year, if that’s what they prefer.
28. New Orleans Saints
Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Another mock draft, another wide receiver for the Saints. New Orleans needs an option opposite Michael Thomas, and with Emmanuel Sanders leaving in free agency, this roster does not currently have that option. New QB Jameis Winston will need more options. Moore can use his speed to bring something to the table that the Saints have lacked, but Winston needs — a true downfield threat. Moore’s speed will open up a lot more in this offense.
29. Miami Dolphins (via GB)*
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
MIA Trades: 2021 36th overall pick, 2022 second round pick
GB Trades: 2021 29th overall, 2022 fifth round pick
With the top-ranked running back still on the board here, the Dolphins had to use their immense draft capital and move up to get him. I’m not really a believer in taking a running back in the first round, but there are a lot of teams that can use a running back currently draft ahead of the Dolphins in the second round. Miami can block them all out here by taking their new franchise running back here late in the first round.
30. Buffalo Bills
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
The Bills offense has officially succeeded their defense as the stronger unit. No slight to this defense, which still ranks highly, but they are missing an edge rush still. With the points this offense will continue to put up, opposing teams will be throwing a lot to keep up. The Bills need a pass rush to keep opposing QBs in check.
31. Baltimore Ravens (via KC)
Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
With their new pick from the Chiefs, the Ravens can add a new weapon for Lamar Jackson. Outside of Marquise Brown, and of course TE Mark Andrew’s, the Ravens don’t really have any clear go-to options for Jackson. The Ravens are a run-first team, but they need to be more multi-dimensional. They can’t always rely on their defense and running game to get them big leads early, and just continue to run the ball. They need to be able to throw it sometimes, like against the Chiefs, and another big-time receiver will be huge for the passing game. Toney was electric at Florida this last season, catching both deep balls and short screens and taking them the distance.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
The Buccaneers have one of, if not the, most complete rosters in the league. An argument could be made to draft a QB like Kyle Trask or Davis Mills here to learn behind Tom Brady for a season or two before taking the reigns. But am I really going to assume Brady will retire anytime soon? That trail of thought hasn’t worked for anyone predicting that in the last 7 years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps playing another 10 years. Instead, the Bucs can address one of the biggest reasons they did win the Super Bowl, in the pass rush department. Jason Pierre-Paul is aging and he has one year left on his deal. There isn’t much depth behind JPP and Shaquil Barrett. Ossai slips a bit in this mock draft, and he would be a fantastic rotational piece for the defending Super Bowl Champs this season.