Published: Apr 08, 2021 at 07:03 AM
Just a few weeks away from the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s time to roll out my first mock of the year. Trades have already significantly impacted Round 1 … and I’m supplying two more juicy swaps below. Plus, a sixth quarterback sneaks into the first 32 selections.
In the end, I think Wilson will be the guy. His 2020 campaign numbers were eye-popping, but it’s his toughness and fearlessness over the course of his entire college career that really impresses folks around the league.
The 49ers made a decisive trade to get to No. 3 overall. I honestly do not think they’ve made a decision on who the QB will be yet, but they wanted the flexibility to make that choice over the next few weeks. I will tell you this: Mac Jones‘ name didn’t pop up out of nowhere. And I don’t think it’s a smoke screen. He has all of the traits Kyle Shanahan is looking for.
New England Patriots
This would be a trade that rocks the NFL, but I don’t think it’s too crazy. The Patriots don’t envision having a pick as high as they currently do (15th) anytime soon, and this is their year to make a big move if they’re ever going to get their blue-chip QB to develop. Fields was a highly recruited player who performed on the biggest of stages. This year’s first- and second-rounder (No. 46) plus next year’s first and third could be enough for New England to get Atlanta to move back 11 spots.
The Bengals can’t go wrong if things play out this way. Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater and Kyle Pitts all would be excellent selections for Cincinnati. But Chase racked up 84 catches, 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns in a season with Joe Burrow at LSU. Let them thrive together for years to come in Cincy.
Most mock drafts have Penei Sewell coming off the board before Slater, but a few teams have told me it’ll be the other way around. Miami took offensive linemen with early picks last year, but I think they’ll continue to build there and protect the QB.
Pitts isn’t falling out of the top eight. Too many teams are intoxicated by him. I’ve got the Cardinals as aggressors — as they’ve been all offseason — with Steve Keim bringing in yet another weapon for Kyler Murray. Arizona gives up this year’s first-rounder, next year’s first and next year’s third to move up from No. 16.
Now that the QB position has been addressed — for the time being — the Panthers can look to add the best player on their board. Sewell is a prime talent and would be a tremendous value at eighth overall.
The QB carousel goes round and round, and it appears Denver still doesn’t have a new one. Lance could go as high as No. 3 or remain available until the middle of Round 1. I think Denver makes a whole lot of sense if he’s available here.
The first defensive player off the board, and it’s a cornerback to a team in desperate need of help there. Surtain would join his former Crimson Tide teammate, Trevon Diggs, in Dan Quinn’s defensive backfield.
The Giants have been aggressive and proactive in free agency, but they still have holes to fill. As much as giving Daniel Jones another weapon is a priority, Parsons fits what they need on defense and could be an immediate standout in both pass and run defense.
Could the Eagles really go with a WR in the first round a year after taking a WR in the first round? Yes. Waddle’s medicals will come in and we’ll see where he’s at health-wise, but I won’t be surprised if Howie Roseman and Co. go ahead and grab the talented wideout (and former Jalen Hurts teammate) to pair with Jalen Reagor.
The Chargers made two big O-line signings in free agency — C Corey Linsley and OG Matt Feiler — but I don’t think they’re necessarily done there. The goal is to protect Justin Herbert at all costs. Darrisaw is a fast-rising prospect who can play across the offensive front.
Paye improved every year at the college level and can play all three downs. He’s as polished as any of the QB hunters in this class. Minnesota needs pass-rush help ASAP.
Yes, they have Deion Jones. But the division rival Bucs have Devin White and Lavonte David, and how’s that working out? Owusu-Koramoah is a wild-card prospect — he’s going to be playing at 220-230 pounds — but he fits the bill for the 2021 LB prototype. Atlanta needs a lot of defensive help.
If Detroit trades out of No. 7, scoops up some additional picks and still gets Smith, I’d see that as a Day 1 home run. The Alabama product has elite ball skills, won in big spots and is a gamer in every sense of the word. The Lions bid farewell to their top two wideouts in free agency, and Golden Tate a year before that. Insert the Heisman winner.
This could be higher than other mock drafts have Newsome going, but I think teams are higher on the Northwestern CB than the rest of our “draft media” world. He is smart, tough and brings a professionalism to the field. The Raiders will be looking to continue their offseason trend: beefing up the defense.
The Dolphins had some success with a running back by committee last season, but Harris is a cut above. He’d be joining his college teammate, Tua Tagovailoa, in Miami’s quest to win its first AFC East crown since 2008.
I had Moehrig as a top-10 prospect in the draft before the end of the NFL season. That doesn’t mean he’ll go in the top 10, but I think he’s that talented. A do-it-all safety who can play some CB if you need — he’s smart, talented and would be a fantastic addition to the back end of Ron Rivera’s D.
I think the Bears are going to do everything they can to get more offensive firepower in this draft. Toney is as hard a player to tackle as there is in this draft class. He’s tough, he’s competitive and he’s a perfect complement to (or eventual replacement for) WR1 Allen Robinson.
Horn gave up just eight catches on passes thrown in his direction last year, per Pro Football Focus. He has a professional build and competitive spirit. This defense’s tone is set by Darius Leonard. Horn would match that fire on the back end.
Phillips was the standout defensive player at Miami’s pro day, but he’s really all about upside and potential. He offers burning speed and a desire for excellence — he wants to be coached. I don’t think the Bud Dupree and Denico Autry signings mean the Titans are done upgrading their awful pass rush from a season ago.
Moore is a beast and a nightmare to tackle after the catch. He’s neither a burner nor a huge physical specimen, but he fits everything the Jets are looking to be. Think Deebo Samuel, with his ability to carry the ball, catch the ball and generally be a DC’s headache week in and week out.
The ACL tear in the SEC Championship Game will scare off a lot of teams, but if Pittsburgh needs anything, it’s a way to immediately address an ailing run game. Dickerson is supposed to be healthy by the start of the season. Will he be anything close to Maurkice Pouncey? Of course not … yet.
Urban Meyer knows how critical the pass rush is to building a champion. The Jags finished last season with the second-fewest sacks (18) in the NFL. Oweh is a one-year starter, but ran an absurd 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day, can pressure the QB and can be an immediate contributor to a defense that can use one.
Rousseau didn’t have the lights-out pro day everyone wanted to see, but he still has the lights-out potential. He’s put on a ton of weight since he got to Miami and is just scratching the surface. A 2020 opt-out who is a hard evaluation with just one full year of college football, Rousseau’s upside remains enticing, especially in the back end of Round 1.
The Ravens have a great, young defensive backfield. They’re not done adding to it. Farley, who is only available at this point because of health concerns, combines 4.4 speed with good NFL size. Wink Martindale and the Ravens’ D will find a way to make him shine even brighter than he did in college.
Collins is a 6-foot-5 gazelle at LB, able to cover in space and also get to the QB. The Saints are in a fork-in-the-road period as a franchise, with questions at several areas. Collins is the type of impact player who can help in Year 1.
Joe Barry is the new DC and his specialty is LB play. I’m not sure GB’s defense didn’t miss Blake Martinez roaming the middle in big games last year. Bolton isn’t going to jump off the page with eye-popping athleticism, but everyone says he’ll be the QB of whichever defense he joins.
Samuel can play multiple positions in the defensive backfield and had an outstanding season in 2020, giving up just 179 yards in eight games, per PFF. He also had an impressive pro day to back up the solid career in Tallahassee.
LSU has been so loaded with talent the past few years that Marshall’s name has almost gone under the radar in NFL draft circles. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder scored 23 touchdowns in 19 games over the past two seasons.
I don’t know where Mills goes exactly, but the buzz around the league is that he could be a first-round pick and will most likely be the sixth quarterback selected. I’ll throw him to Tampa Bay, where he can learn from a pretty good QB1.