2021 NFL Mock Draft: Version 4
Welcome back to my 2021 NFL Mock Draft series! Again, this is not what I think teams necessarily should do, rather in the end it is what I think they may do in the draft; I also do not mock trades.
After working my way through other viable options, this one is where my head is at before my final version. That version will come out on Thursday, April 29th before the draft starts.
Pick 1 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB – Clemson)
No changes here and nothing new to say; he should be great NFL quarterback going forward.
Pick 2 – New York Jets: Zach Wilson (QB – BYU)
Number 2 is still Zach Wilson, but the Jets front office does not appear to be leaking much of anything. This could mean they are not sure what they want to do, they are hoping to get a bite in a trade down or just aren’t telling people. Wilson still seems the most likely of the QBs here based on current info, but none of the top quarterbacks would surprise me.
Pick 3 – San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields (QB – Ohio State)
I am taking the leap here. I am hoping that this is Justin Fields, or Trey Lance if it isn’t. It will be a QB; Nothing against Mac Jones, but I don’t see him as top three pick valuable. If they are serious about Garoppolo for another year, maybe they like Lance more, but I don’t think it is him. Fields is an accurate passer that has done everything that has been asked of him in terms of trying new things and improving. He would immediately compete with Jimmy Garoppolo, and he would end up starting if Jimmy was traded. He would immediately be in contention for the top pick in superflex drafts.
Pick 4 – Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts (TE – Florida)
If it is a quarterback, I think it would be Lance. I still like him more than Mac Jones, but I don’t think Atlanta actually takes a quarterback. Matt Ryan has about $70 million, $50 million, and $15 million in dead cap the next three years, so I am assuming he starts the next two. This would be a nice long-term spot for Lance, but one without much hope of showing what he has for a few years.
If they keep it, I think the favorites are Pitts, Penei Sewell and Ja’Marr Chase. I think Pitts fits better with what they need now, and if they are keeping Matt Ryan, they are trying to win now.
Pick 5 – Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell (OT – Oregon)
How the Bengals view their offensive line tiers, pass catcher tiers, and what they feel the drop offs of each are at this point paired with what seems likely available in the top of the second will determine what they do. If I was in their situation, I like the wide receivers I think I can get the top of the second more than the offensive linemen. I would take Sewell here, and I think they should too.
Pick 6 – Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase (WR – LSU)
Dolphins are in a great place to trade back to a team that wants to take a quarterback or someone else, if they want. If Chase is here, and if they keep the pick, I do not see them passing on him. Their wide receiver corps could use a long-term piece to pair with DeVante Paker, as Preston Williams is a restricted free agent after this year, and Will Fuller is on a one year deal. This would round out a great set of receivers for Tua Tagovailoa.
Pick 7 – Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle (WR – Alabama)
This is another great trade out opportunity if a team comes calling for a quarterback. If they stay put, they need playmakers for Jared Goff, and as discussed in prior versions, I think Waddle fits very nicely with Goff’s style of play. Waddle was playing better than DeVonta Smith before Waddle was hurt last year, and does not come with the size concerns some have about Smith.
Pick 8 – Carolina Panthers: Rashawn Slater (OT – Northwestern)
Offensive line is a clear area of need for the Panthers, and there are quite a few people who have Slater as better than Penei Sewell. Boosting the offensive line to keep new quarterback Sam Darnold upright would go a long way to helping him reach his potential in his new home.
Pick 9 – Denver Broncos: Trey Lance (QB – North Dakota State)
Lance’s rawness in terms of playing time and competition appear to have some teams worried, and he could fall due to that. If he falls here, I think the Broncos take him. He could sit part or all of the year behind Drew Lock, but has all the tools you want in a quarterback, he just needs refinement. With the weapons here and the defense in place, this would be a very nice place for a young quarterback.
Pick 10 – Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II (CB – Alabama)
I still prefer them taking offensive tackle here, but the top two offensive tackles are not available. Surtain II or Jaycee Horn would be great fits, and fill a need. Dallas needs to find a top end cornerback for their defense, and pairing either one with Trevon Diggs (2nd round, 2020) and Jourdan Lewis (3rd round, 2017) would give them a much improved set of cornerbacks in a division where they are needed.
Pick 11 – New York Giants: Devonta Smith (WR – Alabama)
Pass rusher and more offensive line help are still needs, but I can see the Giants stacking up on offense to give Daniel Jones as many weapons as possible to succeed, similar what Dallas did taking CeeDee Lamb at pick 17 last year. Adding Smith to an already potent set off offensive weapons would also keep him away from Philadelphia with the next pick.
Pick 12 – Philadelphia Eagles: Jaycee Horn (CB – South Carolina)
I think this is the same as what I had in the first version. The Eagles just have to get more weapons for their offense, and Waddle is a top two receiver for many in this class. He is an explosive playmaker with the ball in his hands, and someone like him is needed on the Eagles offense if they are to keep up with the other teams in their division.
Pick 13 – Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw (OT – Virginia Tech)
With two of the top three cornerbacks and offensive tackles, this could come down to Darrisaw and Farley. I like the theoretical depth and cornerback in the second round better, and Darrisaw comes with fewer issues than Farley. Darrisaw would be an offensive line upgrade to help protect Justin Herbert better.
Pick 14 – Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye (DL – Michigan)
The Vikings need defensive end help, and Paye is a do-it-all defensive end. He has a high motor, plays the run well and can rush the passer. Whether Danielle Hunter stays or not, Paye would be an immediate contributor to help their defense. Paye comes with fewer health concerns than Jaelen Phillips, although his ceiling may not be as high.
Pick 15 – New England Patriots: Mac Jones (QB – Alabama)
I don’t know where else to put Mac Jones without trades, so he goes here to be the hopeful long-term quarterback for the Patriots. I think Bill Belichick would be happy with any of the top quarterbacks falling to them, to sit for a year behind Cam if needed, before taking over. It has been an unusual offseason for the Patriots, so a trade up (which would be quite unusual) can’t be ruled out.
Pick 16 – Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley (CB – Virginia Tech)
The Cardinals need cornerback help in the draft; linebacker is another need, but I don’t know that they would go that route again with seemingly putting 2020 first round pick Isaiah Simmons there. Farley would have been in consideration for a top 10 pick if fully healthy, and could fall farther, but he’s a talented player that fills a need here.
Pick 17 – Las Vegas Raiders: Alijah Vera-Tucker (OL – USC)
The Raiders need a lot of help at cornerback, despite drafting ones in the first round in 2020 (Damon Arnette) and the second round in 2019 (Trayvon Mullen). That said, they have invested a lot in the offense the past few years too, but seem to have forsaken their offensive line outside of Kolton Miller (currently the only returning starter for last year). Alijah could play guard or right tackle for them and is seemingly an instant upgrade over their current options.
Pick 18 – Miami Dolphins: Micah Parsons (LB – Penn State)
This would be viewed as a fall for the top linebacker prospect, but past off the field issues and apparent concerns regarding more going forward appear to have legs. This would not be the first time we have seen this with a top five or ten prospect. Parsons fitting in as the long-term LB1 for Miami would be a great situation for real life and fantasy.
Pick 19 – Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB – Notre Dame)
Offensive line help could occur here, but I think it is too early for Telvin Jenkins. Linebacker is another big area of need long-term, and JOK would be a great fit behind the elite defensive line. Like Micah before, this would be a great fantasy fit long-term as well.
Pick 20 – Chicago Bears: Greg Newsome II (CB – Northwestern)
After cutting Kyle Fuller (who signed with the Broncos) the Bears are in need of cornerback help, despite drafting Jaylon Johnson in the second round last year. Newsome has had some injuries issues, but not to the same level as the other option, Caleb Farley, here. Farley’s agent stated that he received great check-ups from doctors leading up to the draft, but that is his agent speaking. Either guy would be a great get for Chicago here.
Pick 21 – Indianapolis Colts: Jaelen Phillips (DE – Miami)
I have had Phillips a lot higher before, which could still happen, but with medical concerns and questions over how much his heart is in it, he is probably more likely to fall than go that high. I still think he is a first round pick and may go higher than this because his upside is immense. Having him on the line next to DeForest Bucker would be a real nice situation.
Pick 22 – Tennessee Titans: Zaven Collins (LB – Tulsa)
The Titans could use reinforcements for their long-term linebacking corps. Harold Landry and Bud Dupree seem to be locked into the outside linebackers, but Jayon Brown is back on a one year deal, and it is unclear if they will pick-up Rashaan Evans’ fifth year option. Zaven could be seen as a replacement for either one here.
Pick 23 – New York Jets: Azeez Ojulari (EDGE – Georgia)
The Jets added help here in free agency with Carl Lawson, but coming from the San Francisco 49ers, new head coach Robert Saleh knows the importance of having multiple quality pash rushers. Azeez has the chance to be a great pass rusher and would be an immediate upgrade over Bryce Huff or Jabari Zuniga.
Pick 24 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris (RB – Alabama)
Harris is the best mix of need and value here to me. The Steelers do need some cornerback (Caleb Farley?), linebacker (Zaven Collins?) and offensive line help (take your pick), but if they do not take a linebacker here. Most of the top end prospects will be gone when they pick again (55).
Pick 25 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Kadarius Toney (WR – Florida)
I don’t think Toney is worth a first round pick, but there is a lot of buzz that he is viewed that way in the NFL, and I can see Urban Meyer envisioning him like Percy Harvin was used at Florida year ago. He would certainly add another element to this offense, and could be used out of the backfield as well.
Pick 26 – Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore (DL – Alabama)
Sheldon Richardson was released, and Jadeveon Clowney is only on a one year deal so the Browns still need long-term defensive line help to pair with Myles Garrett. Barmore has shown himself to be great against the run and a capable pass rusher. More consistency is needed, but he has the making of a great player to put next to Garrett.
Pick 27 – Baltimore Ravens: Trevon Moehrig (S – TCU)
The Ravens have needs at pass rusher and interior line, but I don’t like any options for them here that much. Moehrig would help them out as a coverage safety that can do more than just play deep. Chuck Clark fits nicely as their strong safety, but Moehrig would be a great compliment to him.
Pick 28 – New Orleans Saints: Jamin Davis (LB – Kentucky)
I had this one a bit ago, but the fact remains that the Saints need linebacker help. If they both pan out, Davis and Zach Baun from the third round in last year’s draft could set them up nicely long term. This wouldn’t be a great spot immediately with Demario Davis still there, but would be a nice long-term spot.
Pick 29 – Green Bay Packers: Teven Jenkins (OL – Oklahoma State)
The Packers offensive line is filled with spot flexible players, but it needs more people you would want starting. Jenkins for right tackle would seem like a good place to start, although he may go higher than this in the draft.
Pick 30 – Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau (EDGE – Miami)
Rousseau would be a long-term piece that could fit into the current pass rusher rotation. The Bills need youth here, despite taking AJ Epenesa in the second round last year, as Mario Addison will be 34 and Jerry Hughes will be 33 this year. Rousseau has a good chance of falling more than many think due to needed refinement, sitting out the 2020 season and only having one season of college tape (he played in one game as a freshman in 2018).
Pick 31 – Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Leatherwood (OL – Alabama)
I’m going with a different offensive linemen here, although there are many that it could be, as protecting Patrick Mahomes is a must going forward. There is a high likelihood of a run on offensive linemen (including guards and center) starting around here and into the second round.
Pick 32 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jayson Oweh (EDGE – Penn State)
Tampa has many options in the draft, as whomever they pick will likely not be viewed as a year one starter. Taking a prospect like Oweh, with all the tools you want but refinement needed to get pressure into production, would be a good fit. He could play behind Jason Pierre-Paul (a free agent after this year and turning 33 next January) before taking over in 2022.
Thank you for reading the 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Version 4
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