NFL

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots Get Their Guy, 49ers Make Their Pick at 3rd

The 2018 NFL Draft logo is seen on a video board during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After months of speculation, the draft is finally upon us. In a year unlike any other, with no combine and players opting out of the season, this draft has about as much uncertainty as it can get. That is not to say there isn’t talent. However, fans can expect their team’s picks to not match up with what the media has been portraying for the last few weeks. Here is the final NFL mock draft of this year’s draft cycle.

Picks 1-3

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (1) scrambles with the ball against the UCF Knights during the first half at FAU Stadium.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars (1) – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: This is a no-brainer. Since the start of the draft process, Lawrence has been the consensus top pick, and nothing has changed since. The Urban Meyer era has officially begun in Jacksonville.

New York Jets (2) – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU. After the Sam Darnold trade, this pick became a no-brainer as well. The Jets love Wilsons’ arm talent and unmatched accuracy. The real question is if the Jets will be able to surround Wilson with enough talent to prevent a Darnold-esque flameout.

San Francisco 49ers (via Miami from Houston) – (3) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State. This pick will remain a mystery up until the card is in. We can say with a high degree of certainty that it is between the three remaining quarterbacks. Reports have said it is down to Jones and Lance, with head coach Kyle Shanahan preferring the former. In the end, I think Lances’ scheme fit and high ceiling will be too much for the Niners to pass up. Lance can sit behind Jimmy Garropolo for the year while improving his accuracy, taking over the following season. The Niners would save a lot of cap space by cutting Garropolo, a significant financial move with contract extensions for Trent Williams and Fred Warner looming.

Picks 4-6

Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Penei Sewell (58) blocks a defender during the Oregon spring game at Autzen Stadium. Mighty Oregon beat Fighting Ducks 20-13.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons (4) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida. This is a tough pick to predict, especially considering there is a very good chance that the Falcons trade out of this spot come draft night. If the Falcons do make the pick, Pitts seems like a perfect fit. The Falcons hired former Titans offensive coordinator as their head coach this offseason. The Titans had the highest frequency in the league of ’12’ personnel formations. Selecting Pitts will allow Smith to continue to utilize that formation with Pitts and former first-rounder Hayden Hurst.

Cincinnati Bengals (5) – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU. This pick is a huge conflict of interest for the Bengals. Sewell is definitely an option, as the Bengals needed to address the offensive line. And then there is Chase. Burrow’s teammate at LSU and supremely talented instantly gives the Bengals their best No. 1 receiver since prime A.J Green. This pick is a toss-up between Sewell and Chase, but the Bengals will go with Chase come draft night.

Miami Dolphins (6) – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon. If the Dolphins are able to select Sewell to come draft night, general manager Chris Grier deserves a statue outside of Hard Rock Stadium. After two pre-draft trades, the Dolphins ended up just three slots back of their initial spot and with one more first-rounder in their pocket. Those deals look even better if Sewell falls into their lap at 6. While the trade sending Ereck Flowers to the Washington Football Team will cause some shuffling on the offensive line, having Sewell and former first-round pick Austin Jackson as the team’s bookend tackles is a great foundation for this young team.

Picks 7-9

Michigan Wolverines running back Hassan Haskins (25) leaps over Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6) in the first half at Michigan Stadium.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions (7) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama. This is a potential trade-up spot for a team looking for a quarterback. Odds are, with most top receivers still available, the Lions sit and take their new No. 1 receiver. Devonta Smiths’ weight has been a cause for concern which may cause Detriot to lean towards Waddle at 7. His yard after catch explosion and elite speed is exactly what the Lions offense needs and is the perfect way to maximize Jared Goffs’ potential.

New England Patriots (via Carolina Panthers) – (8) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State. This trade has a genuine chance of happening come draft night and makes sense for both teams. Carolina presumably got their franchise quarterback in the acquisition of Sam Darnold, so they don’t need to select Fields. With Cam Newton being an unrestricted free agent after this season, the Patriots will be looking for a solution at quarterback. Bill Belichick loves running RPOs, a concept Fields is very familiar with from his time in Ohio.

Denver Broncos (9) – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame. Overall, Micah Parsons is the better linebacker. However, given the reported character issues and the players, the Broncos already have at linebacker, JOK makes more sense. He is extremely versatile, as he can drop into coverage on the opposing teams’ slot receiver when necessary. Against the run, he has proven that he can shoot the gap and light up the ball carrier during his time with the Fighting Irish.

Picks 10-12

South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jaycee Horn (7) celebrates a missed field goal by the Texas A&M Aggies in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys (10) – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina. Jerry Jones will be heartbroken not to get Pitts, but Horn is a great consolation prize. The Dallas secondary allowed the 7th-highest passer rating last season and has struggled since the departure of Byron Jones last year. Horn is at his best in press-man coverage and is ferocious at the catch point. Horn allowed a conference-low 33% completion percentage last season as well.

New York Giants (11) – Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern. With many needs to address, the Giants could go in many different directions with this pick. Given that Daniel Jones was sacked 45 times last season, a stellar offensive lineman couldn’t hurt. Slater played tackle in college, but, given his below-average arm length, he will likely play guard in the NFL. He combines top-tier athleticism with elite processing and reaction time. Slater can come and potentially take over for Zach Fulton at guard from Day 1. Fulton gave up 7 sacks last season during his time with the Texans.

Philadelphia Eagles (12) – Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama. The Eagles stop Smiths’ mini-slide by taking him at 12. His weight is still something to be wary of, but his obvious talent and production during his college career are too much to pass up. The Eagles were paper thin at receiver last season, and the issue was exacerbated by the release of Alshon Jeffery in the offseason. Smith steps in and becomes the No. 1 receiver for Jalen Hurts, who played with Smith at Alabama in 2018.

Picks 13-15

Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (0) rushes with the ball after making a catch in the first half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at TCF Bank Stadium.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Chargers (13) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech. Chargers are in a good situation at 13. While Sewell and Slater will likely be gone by then, Darrisaw will still be available for the Chargers to select. The Virginia Tech product is a fantastic run blocker and moves rushers with his impressive upper body strength. His pass blocking and run blocking grades were some of the best in the country last season. Darrisaw will secure the left side of the offensive line for franchise quarterback Justin Herbert.

Minnesota Vikings (14) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC. Similar to the Chargers, the Vikings are in a good spot. They need to address the offensive line and, even though they will miss out on the top 3 guys, Vera-Tucker will still be there at 14. The former USC product can play multiple different positions on the line and is very consistent on a snap by snap basis. Vera-Tucker will fit perfectly into the Vikings’ outside zone run scheme.

Carolina Panthers (via Patriots) – (15) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota. This was another great move by the Panthers. After acquiring Darnold for pennies on the dollar, the team still gets a position of need after trading down with the Patriots. Bateman is a perfect addition to the receiving corps in Carolina that already features D.J Moore and Robby Anderson. Bateman is a master of releases off the line of scrimmage and is competitive at the catch point.

Picks 16-18

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Patrick Surtain II (2) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals – (16) – Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama. The Cardinals stop Surtains’ slide at 16. The Cardinals neglected to resign their two starting corners from last year (Dre Kirkpatrick and Patrick Peterson). In a division where they face receivers like D.K Metcalf, Cooper Kupp, and Deebo Samuel, having a strong secondary is crucial. Surtain plays smart and has lots of experience against talented SEC receivers. He will make an impact from Day 1.

Las Vegas Raiders – (17) – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State. One of the best fits of the first round, this is a win-win for both parties. The Raiders overhauled the offensive line this offseason, including trading right tackle Trent Brown to the Patriots. Jenkins is the perfect replacement for the right side of the line. Jenkins plays a brutal yet technically sound brand of football, something that head coach Jon Gruden loves. Hard to think of a better fit for Jenkins in the first round.

Miami Dolphins – (18) – Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami. After the Dolphins get their franchise tackle at 6, they take a swing on a high upside player at 18. Phillips is arguably a top-10 player in the draft, with medical red flags holding him back. He possesses insane speed (40-yard dash ranked in 94th percentile amongst edges) as well as a powerful upper half. While his injuries are a cause for concern, Miami should not pass up on his potential upside at 18.

Picks 19-21

American quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama (10) drills during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium.
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Football Team – (19) – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas. Washington makes it six tackles selected in the top 20 picks. With no clear-cut franchise quarterback available, Washington opts to address the offensive line that struggled in pass protection last season. Cosmi demonstrated elite athleticism and movement skills in his three years at Texas. Cosmi will also be able to refine his technique in Washington with legendary offensive line coach John Matsko.

Chicago Bears – (20) – Mac Jones, QB, Bears. After rumors that he might go as high as three to the Niners, Jones free-falls all the way to the Bears at 20. Since Mitch Trubisky joined the Bills this offseason, the Bears have needed their next franchise quarterback. Jones has fantastic timing on his throws and ranked first in the country in adjusted completion percentage last season (84.2%). While he will no longer be throwing to Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, Bears wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney should offer a strong support system for Jones.

Indianapolis Colts – (21) – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss. With the top-5 receivers already off the board, the Colts will settle for Moore, arguably the best slot receiver in the draft. While his physical traits are underwhelming, there is no denying Moores’ speed and agility. He also has very reliable hands, dropping only two of 101 catchable passes thrown his way last season. With T.Y Hilton likely on his last legs, the Colts bring in Moore to be his successor.

Picks 22-24

LSU Tigers wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (6) runs against Missouri Tigers safety Martez Manuel (3) during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Tennesee Titans – (22) – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU. After seeing Moore go one pick ahead of their selection, the Titans select the next best receiver in Marshall. After the departure of Justin Jefferson, Marshall became the focal point of the LSU offense. He was up to the task, finishing with 10 receiving touchdowns on just 48 receptions last season. He has a great combination of size and quick releases off the line. The Titans get a receiver to put opposite A.J Brown.

New York Jets (via Seattle) – (23) – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech. After getting the franchise quarterback at second overall, the Jets get their next franchise cornerback by selecting Farley at 23. Like Phillips, Farley is as talented as any other cornerback in this class. However, a history of back issues may cause him to slide on draft night. Aside from his injuries, Farley is the ideal boundary corner. He possesses great ball skills and has elite recovery speed on the off chance he is beaten.

Pittsburgh Steelers – (24) – Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State. With Ben Roethlisberger on his last legs, the Steelers need to make sure he is not constantly under pressure next season. Enter Radunz, who plays with power and possesses insane athleticism that allows him to handle any type of edge rusher. His hand placement in the run game is impeccable, and he finishes his blocks emphatically.

Picks 25-27

Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye sacks the Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley during the first half on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at Michigan Stadium.
Kirthmon F. Dozier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Jacksonville Jaguars – (25) – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama. While the defensive tackle class is one of the weakest classes this year, Barmore is ahead of the pack and is a great pick for Jacksonville at 25. Barmore is quick out of his stance and produced against the nation’s top teams in the College Football Playoff. He is a Day 1 starter in Jacksonville.

Cleveland Browns – (26) – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan. This pick makes too much sense. The Browns are in desperate need of defensive line depth after a lot of shuffling of players during the offseason. Paye is this class’s best run defender with freakish athleticism. His 20-yard split and 40-yard dash ranked in the 95th and 96th percentiles, respectively. In a division with run-heavy teams like the Steelers and Ravens, having a stellar run defender like Paye is a fantastic counter.

Baltimore Ravens – (27) – Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State. After losing Matt Judon to the Patriots in the offseason, the Ravens will be looking to reload on the edge. Oweh is one of the most athletic edge prospects of the last decade and has high upside on a Ravens team that consistently develops top-tier pass rushers.

Picks 28-32

American wide receiver Kadarius Toney of Florida (1) runs after a catch during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA;
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints – (28) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State. The Saints stop Parsons monster slide and take a risk on him at 28. While he is regarded as one of the most talented players in the draft, questions about his character and skills translating to the next level have been causes for concerns. At 28, his potential upside is worth the risk.

Green Bay Packers – (29) – Ka’Darius Toney, WR, Florida. The Packers finally decide to get Aaron Rodgers some help at receiver. Toney is a menace with the ball in his hand and plays physically despite his underwhelming frame. Matt LaFleur would love to have a versatile, yards after catch guy like Toney.

Buffalo Bills – (30) – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia. A super bendy and silky player off the edge, Ojulari falls after concern with his knee were revealed just before the draft. Despite the injury, the Bills need defensive line depth and should be willing to take a chance on Ojulari this late in the first round.

Baltimore Ravens – (31) – Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame. After receiving this pick in the Orlando Brown trade, the Ravens will hope they select his successor in Eichenberg. The anchor of Notre Dames’ offensive line, Eichenberg, can do it all and operates with remarkable consistency on a snap by snap basis.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – (32) – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida. Tom Brady will eventually retire. That much is inevitable. Selecting Trask as his successor seems like the perfect transition. Trask is a pure pocket passer and can throw a strike to any area on a field. Despite his limited mobility, he will excel in Tampas’ high-powered offense.

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