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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Charley Casserly 2021 NFL mock draft 1.0: Justin Fields slides to Steelers

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There’s a lot of hype around this year’s quarterback class. That’s why I have three flying off the board early in Round 1 in my first mock of the 2021 NFL Draft, while another talented signal-caller slides into the 20s. Here’s my initial projection for the first 32 picks, with pro day season — of heightened importance this year without the standard version of the NFL Scouting Combine — set to heat up next month.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence

No surprise here. Urban Meyer strikes gold with franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence to start the rebuild.

New York Jets

Zach Wilson

The Jets ultimately decide to trade Sam Darnold and go with the highly touted rookie.

Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers

(via Falcons)

Trey Lance

North Dakota State
QB · Sophomore (RS)

The Panthers trade up to select their potential quarterback of the future. Lance has a lot of upside but will need time to develop, and he gets it in Year 1 behind Teddy Bridgewater.

Cincinnati Bengals

Penei Sewell

The Bengals need to protect their young, talented quarterback Joe Burrow, whose rookie season was cut short due to injury. Getting the best offensive tackle in this draft class should help.

Detroit Lions

Micah Parsons

The Lions are in desperate need of talent throughout the roster. They take the best defensive player in the draft here — if they don’t trade back. 

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons

(via Panthers)

Najee Harris

The Falcons trade back and still get their top choice — a dynamic running back whom Arthur Smith can build his offense around. I know we rarely see running backs go this early these days, but Todd Gurley is a pending free agent and Atlanta has to have a strong running game if it’s going to get back to competing for a playoff spot.

Denver Broncos

Caleb Farley

Virginia Tech
CB · Junior (RS)

The Broncos mull taking Justin Fields here but decide to go another year with Drew Lock under center. Farley replaces the recently cut A.J. Bouye.

Dallas Cowboys

Patrick Surtain II

Dallas has plenty of defensive needs, and Surtain gives Dan Quinn’s unit another good young cornerback to pair with Trevon Diggs .

New York Giants

Jaylen Waddle

Big Blue’s offense looks a lot different with a healthy Saquon Barkley and Waddle on the field.

San Francisco 49ers

Kwity Paye

The 49ers need another outside presence opposite Nick Bosa, and Paye is my top-rated pass rusher in this year’s class.

Los Angeles Chargers

Rashawn Slater

The Chargers must rebuild the offensive line to protect Justin Herbert.

Minnesota Vikings

Jaelan Phillips

Edge · Junior (RS)

The offensive line is a priority in Minnesota, but pass rush is a bigger need right now.

New England Patriots

Kyle Pitts

Pitts is too good of a talent to pass on, especially for an offense lacking playmakers.

Arizona Cardinals

Christian Darrisaw

Virginia Tech
OT · Junior

Another option for the Cardinals could be an outside linebacker/pass rusher if they let Haason Reddick walk in free agency.

Las Vegas Raiders

Alijah Vera-Tucker

He’s the best guard in the draft, but the more you watch the film, the more you ask, “Why can’t he play left tackle?”

Miami Dolphins

Gregory Rousseau

Edge · Sophomore (RS)

The Dolphins need a legitimate pass rusher on the outside and spend their second first-round pick on one of the top prospects at the position.

Washington Football Team

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Notre Dame
LB · Junior (RS)

A better prospect than Isaiah Simmons, Owusu-Koramoah will make an immediate impact and eventually become a star. A quarterback could certainly be in play here, depending on what Washington decides to do this offseason. 

Chicago Bears

Kadarius Toney

If the Bears keep Allen Robinson and add Toney — a better prospect than Minnesota’s budding star Justin Jefferson was a year ago — they’ll all of a sudden have a formidable receiving corps.

Indianapolis Colts

Teven Jenkins

Oklahoma State
OT · Senior (RS)

With Anthony Castonzo’s retirement, Jenkins fills in as a Day 1 starter to man Carson Wentz’s blindside.

Tennessee Titans

Jalen Mayfield

OT · Sophomore (RS)

With the sticky situation around 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Wilson, the Titans must make sure a potential void at right tackle is filled.

New York Jets

Joe Tryon

Edge · Junior (RS)

There’s a chance the Jets fill this need in free agency, but if they don’t, Tryon would fit well in Robert Saleh’s scheme.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Justin Fields

Even though the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger are planning to continue their partnership, I don’t see the veteran playing much longer. In a stunning turn of events, Fields slides all the way to No. 24 (obviously, it won’t be a surprise if he goes much earlier than this) and Pittsburgh pounces at the chance to land a talented successor for Big Ben. Sitting behind a future Hall of Famer for a year is a prime spot for the Ohio State prospect.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Christian Barmore

DT · Sophomore (RS)

The Jags couldn’t stop the run last season, so this pick is dedicated to shoring up that weakness. I also won’t be surprised if they choose to sign another defensive tackle in free agency.

Cleveland Browns

Jaycee Horn

South Carolina
CB · Junior

The Browns need another cornerback to play opposite Denzel Ward to stop high-flying offenses in today’s NFL, and 2019 second-round pick Greedy Williams missed all of last season with a nerve injury in his shoulder.

Baltimore Ravens

Trevon Moehrig

They take the best player on the board and fill a need. There’s a chance Baltimore decides to trade back to acquire more picks.

New Orleans Saints

Jayson Oweh

Penn State
Edge · Sophomore (RS)

Assuming the Saints lose Trey Hendrickson in free agency, they replace the 2020 breakout pass rusher with Penn State’s Oweh.

Green Bay Packers

Zaven Collins

Collins fills a big need for the Packers. Offensive tackle and cornerback are possibilities here, too.

Buffalo Bills

Joseph Ossai

Jerry Hughes can’t play forever — although, it feels like he can at times — so Buffalo brings in another young, hungry pass rusher after 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa recorded only one sack as a rookie.

Kansas City Chiefs

Greg Newsome II

CB · Junior

The Chiefs will let a number of cornerbacks hit the market and upgrade the position with the rookie.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Patrick Jones II

Edge · Senior (RS)

The Bucs have a lot of guys to pay this offseason, so my guess is Shaquil Barrett will depart in free agency. Jones would be a good fit in Todd Bowles’ unit.

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