2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
Here is a very early look into the 2021 NFL Draft. Obviously, much can still change as the college football season still may not even happen. Beyond that, players emerge. Take Joe Burrow for example a year ago. From mid-rounds to first overall pick in one season. I also attempted to project how I think the standings will look like for the 2020 NFL season.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson - Even at this point of the process, I think it’s safe to say that Trevor Lawrence will be the first player taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s now just a matter of who will be taking him. He’s as physically gifted as they come. He’s 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. He comes with great athleticism and arm talent. I think the best way to describe his play is controlled-ignorance. He’s not afraid to show what he can do. Testing his arm, throwing into windows. He just plays with the right amount of arrogance and confidence but knows his limitations. He’s shown that he can read the entire field since his Freshman year when he won a National Title. He has the pose and patience you want. This is one of those selections that can change an entire organization. The Jacksonville organization and fan-base needs this. He’s the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning.
2. Washington - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon - We thought we’ve seen great offensive tackle prospects in previous years. If we are to compare them to Sewell, they wouldn’t look so great. Not only is Sewell extremely explosive and gets off the ball quickly and plays well in space, he’s just as good of a second-level blocker. You’ll never see him over-extend himself and he may have some of the best foot-work we have seen in the past decade of a tackle prospect. Washington needs help at several levels, but with the Trent Williams drama behind them, they can move on and find his replacement in Sewell.
3. Cincinnati Bengals - Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami - The Bengals focused heavily on their offense in the 2020 draft. They added their franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow and used the first pick of the second round to select wide-out Tee Higgins. Now they need to look to improve the defensive side of the ball. Carlos Dunlap is 31 years old and although Sam Hubbard has shown flashes, he isn’t a defensive staple. Rousseau, at this point, is the best edge prospect in the draft. Rousseau had 15.5 sacks during his redshirt-freshman season last year. This put him third in ACC single-season history. This also put him second in the country last year to just Chase Young. He’s a long-limbed athletic freak that might as well set up camp in the backfield, because he’ll be there often. The way he reads the game already shows that he will be a dominant force for years to come at the next level.
4. Carolina Panthers - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State - I know, I know, the Panthers recently signed Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal. However, Bridgewater has started just six games since 2016 and has started a career 34 games. I want to believe in him, but I just can’t. With that being said, Matt Rhule can get the chance to get his guy, the then 22-year-old Fields. Fields has the size to be a quarterback at the next level at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. He threw for a 67-percent completion a year ago at Ohio State, while throwing the ball 238 times. He also comes with sub 4.6 40-yard speed. For a guy of his size, that’s nice. This spot could go to Trey Lance later on in the process, but for now, it’s Fields’.
5. Miami Dolphins - Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU - We talked so much about last year’s impressive receiving class. However, it was then sophomore Chase who won the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver. Last season, Chase totaled 1,780 yards, averaging 127.1 yards-per-game and 20 touchdowns. Teammate Justin Jefferson was the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 draft. Jefferson had 1,540 yards, 110 yards-per-game and 18 touchdowns. Chase is superior to Jefferson, there’s no doubt about that. The Dolphins opted to take Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick in 2020. They added offensive line talent in the first and second. Now it’s time they give Tua a potent weapon for years to come.
6. New York Giants - Micah Parsons, EDGE, Penn State - This is a bit hard to imagine, as since over the past decade, just seven off-ball linebackers have been taken in the top ten of the draft. If you want to follow that rule, you’ll miss out on Parsons, who may be the best complete overall linebacking prospect since Luke Keuchly. Parsons comes with the ideal athleticism, size and production to produce at the next level. Not only on the outside, but also sliding into the inside. Today’s game calls for versatility and that’s what Parsons brings to the table. If we’re making comparisons, some would argue that he would have been taken prior to the likes of Isaiah Simmons in the 2020 draft if Parsons were to declare. I don’t believe that, but he's close.
7. Detroit Lions - Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State - Prior to the 2020 draft I thought the Lions were to take the likes of Derrick Brown, as previous Patriots’ successful defenses, led by now Lions’ head coach Matt Patricia, were built from the inside out. After the team took Jeff Okudah in 2020, they now have the chance to find that defensive anchor. At 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds, Wilson comes with great mobility for his size. He comes with extremely powerful hands and devastating blows. His club and swim moves are already that of an NFL level. He’s one to draw doubles in the middle but had the agility and athleticism to split them. As the Lions continue to rebuild their defense under Patricia, they need to find their defensive anchor.
8. New York Jets - Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State - I believe, at this point, Wade to be the top secondary prospect of this draft. Although he isn’t a safety, the Jets are going to be forced to move Jamaal Adams, weakening their secondary drastically. In this draft, they have the chance to scoop the top defensive back talent. Wade’s strongest area is arguably his ability to take away the underneath pass. On top of that, he comes with great length for the position at 6-foot-1. He plays with great power and aggressiveness yet plays controlled. He was overshadowed by Jeff Okudah previously, but he’ll now be the top dog in Columbus and will be ready to show what he can do.
9. Chicago Bears - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State - I think Trey Lance will leap-frog Justin Fields by draft time next year. He comes with the size at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. On top of his thick frame, comes a complete NFL arm. Not only does he have above-average arm strength, he has great accuracy at all levels of passes. He also was born to play quarterback in the NFL. His football IQ is off the charts. It’s actually hard to find a weak spot in his game if I’m going to be fair. Mitch Trubisky will be off the Bears following this season. That leaves Nick Foles with two more years left on his deal. Even with that, his cap hit is only $9 mil per season. The Bears missed big with Trubisky but they could strike it big with Lance.
10. Oakland Raiders - Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama - I for sure thought one of Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen would be sporting the black and silver as the Raiders would have taken them with their second first round selection in 2020. The team opted to improve its secondary instead and now have the chance to get an even better prospect than both Murray and Queen. If Moses were to have come out last season, he would have easily been picked prior to those two and would have been a top 15 pick as an inside linebacker, he’s that good. Moses has true sideline-to-sideline range, exactly what you need out of today’s NFL middle linebacker. His hitting power is insane, so backs meeting him in the hole aren’t going to win too often. The Raiders could use a true defensive leader and Moses would be that franchise staple to build a successful defense around.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams - Walker Little, OT, Stanford - What do the Jaguars do after taking their franchise quarterback first overall with having a second top 11 pick? Take a franchise left tackle. Walker Little is far from Little. At 6-foot-7 and 309 pounds, he has the frame, size and length to be an NFL tackle. Walker comes with excellent technique and if he can get his hands on a defender, it’s likely over, they aren’t going to beat him. He does lack some lateral mobility so getting beat on the edge is a concern but with his excellent instincts for the game, he can get off the ball and into position. He has room for improvement, but he looks like a top-ten pick.
12. San Diego Chargers - Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas - The Chargers took their franchise quarterback with the sixth overall pick in 2020. What they didn’t do was address their god awful offensive line that was one of the league’s worst in 2019. Tyrod Taylor is going to have some troubles under center. Hopefully the team doesn’t use rookie Justin Herbert this season. Anyhow, Cosmi is a fantastic athlete who has now played both right and left tackle in college. Cosmi is 6-foot-7 and 311 pounds. He has the length needed to be an NFL left tackle. He’s more athletic than the likes of Walker Little, but just not as polished in technique. He has the ability to get to the edge rushers, even the speed rushers.
13. Atlanta Falcons - Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest - One of the most important things for an NFL edge rusher to possess is length. Basham Jr. brings that with his 6-foot-5 frame. He has fantastic football IQ and can process blocking schemes quickly to find the best plan of attack. He’s also extremely balanced as a defender. He’s just as good of a pass rusher as he is a run defender. That’s tough to find these days. He’s not an extreme athlete, as you can describe him as modest, but with his technique, moves and football IQ, he makes up for that.
14. Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama - Surtain II comes with great size at 6-foot-2. He uses his length excellently to play the ball when it’s in the air. He does not get beat often. On top of that, he’s a willing tackler. That’s not easy to find out of a cornerback. So far in his first two seasons, he’s totaled 15 pass deflections and three interceptions. If you watch his tape, you’ll see some rather impressive hits on his end. Patrick Peterson is 30-years-old and is in the final year of his contract. Surtain has CB1 capabilities.
15. Denver Broncos - Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama - Leatherwood’s play can best be described as aggressive. Sometimes, too aggressive, even to a fault. That’s one of the few cons you can pick out about his game. He’s a 6-foot-6, 310-pound monster of a man who essentially is an immovable object. The Broncos quickly put together one of the best and youngest receiving corps in the leagues in Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant. On top of that they have a quarterback who has started just five games. They added Lloyd Cushenberry via the 2020 draft to play center. Now they need to address the tackles. Leatherwood is a great piece to build around.
16. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans - Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma - The Dolphins obviously drafted Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 draft. They went on to draft Austin Jackson with the 18th overall pick and guard Robert Hunt with the 39th overall pick. Now, they get the chance to add the best interior offensive line prospect in the draft to bolster that offensive line even more, especially after adding Tagovailoa’s target Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth pick in this mock draft. Humphrey’s best attributes have been his leadership and smarts, exactly what you need and want out of your center. To show how talented and how much of a leader Humphrey is, from 2018 to 2019, Oklahoma lost four offensive line starters and there wasn’t much of a drop off. He’s the type of player that makes the entire offensive line better.
17. Cleveland Browns - Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State - The Browns finally addressed their awful offensive line in the 2020 draft with taking Jedrick Wills Jr. with the tenth overall pick. Now, they have the chance to bolster it even more and give Baker Mayfield all of the time in the world to make the passes to his plethora of weapons he has. Lucas is one of the best pass blocking tackle prospects in this entire class. He has the needed size and length at 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds to be an NFL tackle. This is a bit early than most mocks for Lucas, but I’m a big fan of this guy and I think he makes his way up draft boards by draft time next year.
18. Tennessee Titans - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama - Although Ryan Tannehill had a breakout season in 2019, he’s still a limited quarterback. The Titans need to make sure they’re surrounding him with weapons. The team addressed its offensive line in the first round of the 2020 draft. As Derrick Henry has signed a new four-year deal, the Titans need to give Tannehill some outside weapons to go along with A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith, especially signing Tannehill to a four-year, $118 million deal. Waddle is not a bad consolation prize to Chase. Waddle comes with sub 4.4 40-yard speed, an element the Titans’ offense lacks. He’s much like former teammate Henry Ruggs III, just with better hands.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers - Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State - Everyone knows the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance of this draft class. A name people need to get to know is Brock Purdy. He’s a bit smaller than you’d like but with the likes of Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield being first overall picks in previous years, that’s nothing to be too concerned about. Purdy possesses this rare combination of athleticism and accuracy. He had two separate six-touchdown games last season and his 8.38 yards-per-attempt put him second in the Big 12 last season to just Jalen Hurts. Another stat that jumps out at you is that Purdy is one of just two quarterbacks a year ago to have at least 3,900 yards, 35 touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions. Ben Roethlisberger is a brittle bag of old bones and his days are numbered. The Steelers don’t have anyone on their roster that can take over for him. That’s where Purdy comes into the picture.
20. Indianapolis Colts - Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina - The Colts need to go for it. Their roster is built to compete now. They need to use this pick to address their biggest weakness which is arguably defensive back. Mukuamu has very unique size for a cornerback. At 6-foot-4 he’s a monster. Obviously, this sets him into a league of his own when it comes to length at the position. He grabbed four interceptions and defended nine passes a year ago. When it’s all said and done, he could be the first defensive back taken in the draft.
21. Green Bay Packers - Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue - Now that the Packers have their heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers in Jordan Love, maybe they will start accumulating some weapons. Moore’s run-after-the-catch ability is out of this world. When the ball is in his hands, he runs more like a running back than a wide receiver. Watching him play reminds me of someone playing a video game. His smaller frame of 5-foot-9 along with his running ability makes him very special. In today’s game, teams are scrambling to get players like Moore, and the Packers need every weapon they can get, so why not get one that can do a bunch of jobs on the field?
22. Philadelphia Eagles - Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech - The Eagles have been neglecting their secondary for years. They did trade for Darius Slay, but they still need some help. With a chance to grab the likes of Farley in the early 20’s, Philly fans should be happy. Farley may have the best ball skills of any secondary prospect in this draft. Last season he had 12 pass-breakouts, second in the ACC, and four interceptions, tied for most in the ACC. If the ball is thrown towards Farley’s direction, you best believe it is at least going to be contested. He’s also rather quick and smooth in his movements. Farley is definitely currently being undervalued.
23. Buffalo Bills - Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State - ESPN’s Anthony Treash ranked just Penei Sewell above Wyatt Davis in terms of offensive line prospects. Davis was one of three Power 5 guards in 2019 to log at least 400 pass-block reps and not allow a single sack or even a single hit. That says something. Josh Allen was sacked 38 times in 2019. With having a quarterback who also chooses to scramble and run as much as Allen does, the Bills need to make sure they have a competent offensive line. Davis is someone any team would love to have on their offensive line.
24. Dallas Cowboys - Jevon Holland, S, Oregon - I think I’ll keep projecting the Cowboys to draft a first round safety year-after-year until it finally happens. Holland is the top safety in this draft in my opinion. Now, what makes Holland so appealing to me is how balanced he is. He does everything well but doesn’t do one thing extremely well. He has great range and cover skills, if we had to pick one thing he does best. He brings great size and speed to the position as well.
25. New England Patriots - Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota - Alongside Minnesota’s most decorated receiver in school history, Tyler Johnson, Bateman still posted 60 receptions, 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. With Johnson in the NFL, this makes way for Bateman to have a huge 2020 season. Right now, the Patriots’ skill players are rather limited. Bateman is listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. He knows how to use his size to form separation between him and the defender. If the quarterback is to be Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham, they’re going to need some help.
26. Minnesota Vikings - Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami - Roche has transferred to Miami to play opposite Gregory Rousseau. At Temple, Roche was unblockable. He’s obviously going to be a bit overlooked having to be the “other Miami edge rusher.” This will force him to fall a bit but he is a top 20 talent, especially in a draft that is limited in edge rushers. He had 68 pressures a year ago for the Owls, the most among returning players in the country, as well as his 93.3 pass-rushing grade. The Vikings need some help on the edge and getting a great value pick with pick 26 would be ideal.
27. Seattle Seahawks - Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan - This is a bit of what could be a reach as Mayfield has only started 13 games in his career thus far at right tackle. Although he has limited experience, he has great upside, as he even showed that he can handle the likes of Chase Young, as he did in the Wolverines’ season finale a year ago. Mayfield is very physical and especially talented in the run game, something Seattle annually is near the top in the league in doing. I feel like I always gravitate to projecting the Seahawks to take an offensive lineman year-in-and-year-out. Russell Wilson was tied for the most-sacked quarterback in 2019.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh - In his first season as a full-time starter a season ago, Jones totaled 41 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 8.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. His initial burst is phenomenal, which allows him the ability to get around the edge with ease. His explosiveness and speed allows him to win with straight speed around the corner. He’s simply a freak athlete. With 2021 being the final year of Tom Bardy’s contract, the Bucs’ need to fill their biggest holes and that is an edge presence. Jones will be one to climb draft boards over the next year.
29. New Orleans Saints - Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia - The Saints need to find a running mate to go opposite Marshon Lattimore. Campbell is a speedster. He’s one of the fastest players on the Georgia team, which is filled with five-star athletes. The speed comes on a 6-foot-2 frame. So he has the length and above-average speed for the position. He’s physical in run support as well.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson - Recent news broke that Raheem Mostert has requested a trade from the 49ers. On top of that, Tevin Coleman, Jerrick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. are in the final year of their contracts. This would leave pretty much nobody left to carry the football in Kyle Shanahan’s run-heavy offense. He’ll get the chance to get the draft’s best in Travis Etienne. Etienne brings game changing burst and acceleration with his game. You’ll be hard pressed to find a defender who can catch him. Not only is he extremely fast, he runs through contact, plays his angles phenomenally and is very elusive. He took strides in 2019 to improve his receiving game, which is a must in today’s NFL. Etienne would be dangerous in San Fran.
31. Baltimore Ravens - Xavier Thomas, EDGE, Clemson - Thomas is flying under the radar a bit due to a scheme change and a concussion limiting him a bit in 2019. Thomas has a great jump off the ball and is quick to get his blocker into the backfield. He has the speed to get around a lot of tackles as well. A big 2020 is needed to secure him as a first round pick. The talent surely is there.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - Trey Smith, G, Tennessee - Smith is a dominant drive blocker. He’ll stop the defender in their tracks and drive them backwards. He’s excellent in the run game and is very good when it comes to second level blocking. He has great size and length at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds. If Smith has the upper hand in terms of angles on a defender, it’s rare that he is to be beat. He does have some heavy feet and that needs to improve as his lateral movement is below-average.