2021 NFL Mock Draft: Back To School Edition

By Alex Kurpeski

While there will likely be no college football played for nearly half of the programs in Division-I, it’s never not the right time for an NFL Mock Draft. With barely two weeks to go before the NFL season kicks off, let’s take a look into the future to find out just what next spring’s draft may bring to us. 

  1. Washington Football Team

Pick: LT Penei Sewell, Oregon

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I sincerely doubt that Washington would give up on Dwayne Haskins after this season, as the former OSU star has been surrounded by one of the least talented rosters in the league (on offense at least). Trent Williams is now a 49er, leaving Washington with a 6’8 hole at the left tackle spot. Enter Sewell, who has the makings of an elite blindside protector. It would be smart for Washington to trade down from this position with a QB-needy team, though they could simply stand pat and take the BPA who in this case is Sewell. PFF graded Sewell as the third-best player in the NCAA for the 2019 season, behind only Joe Burrow and Chase Young. 

    1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

trevorlawrence2 In this scenario, Jacksonville has failed miserably in year two of the Gardner Minshew era and must now look elsewhere for their QB of the future. Lawrence is arguably the best QB prospect we’ve seen in the last decade, thus he’s not much of a reach here with the second overall pick. As competent as Minshew has been, Lawrence’s ceiling is much higher and he’s been a proven winner for Clemson through two seasons. As a silver lining, Minshew becomes a huge trade chip in this scenario, potentially netting the Jags an early day two pick to add to their stockpile. With a player like Lawrence, it’s also possible that a team would make a “godfather” offer to Washington in order to take him first overall. 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

 Pick: EDGE Gregory Rousseau, Miami

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Cincinnati had the chance to select pass rusher Chase Young with the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft but instead opted to take LSU signal-caller Joe Burrow due to their glaring need at the QB spot. In this scenario the team has another chance to take the best edge rusher in the draft, in the form of Rosseau, a 6’6, 260 lb defensive end who should be a double-digit sack machine once he reaches the NFL. Though this is a BPA situation, Rousseau also fills a need for the Bengals, particularly if the team elects to move on from Carl Lawson. 

    1. Miami Dolphins

      Pick: LB Dylan Moses, Alabama

Dylan-Moses-The-Crimson-White Brian Flores is a defensive coach first and foremost. A descendant of the Belichick coaching tree, Flores knows that the heart of a defense belongs to the middle linebacker. While taking Moses may seem like a reach here, especially given the young linebacker’s injury history, it’s a necessary move for a Dolphins team that should be looking to forge an elite defensive unit. Were it not for the serious knee injury suffered by Moses last season, the idea of taking him as a top-five pick would not seem so odd, as many draftniks believed him to be a better overall prospect than Devin White, the fifth overall pick by Tampa Bay in 2019. Not only does he fill a need for the Dolphins, but he also may be the best player on the board here.

  1. Chicago Bears

Pick: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

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Mercifully the Mitchell Trubisky era comes to an end with this pick. While Fields is far from a perfect QB prospect, his athleticism and leadership abilities would make him an excellent fit in the Windy City. The Bears offense has always operated at full capacity when their QB is a threat to run the ball, an element of Fields’ game that cannot be questioned. A smart, accurate passer who occasionally can become a bit too conservative, Fields is the anti-Trubisky in many ways and would be welcomed with open arms by Bears fans. 

    1. Carolina Panthers

      Pick: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

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Lance is an outstanding athlete with great intangibles for the QB position. That being said, he could use at least one year on the bench for an NFL team learning the NFL game. This makes him a perfect fit for Carolina, where not only will he get to sit behind Teddy Bridgewater, but he will also be an ideal fit for Joe Brady’s spread offense. If the Panthers can be patient while continuing to build a solid team around him, Lance could be as good as Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson. However, if the process is rushed he could be a massive bust. 

  1. New York Jets

Pick: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

Ja'Marr Chase, Trevon Diggs
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

A true number one receiver, Chase can fill the role that the Jets have needed since Brandon Marshall left town. Had he been eligible for the 2020 draft it’s possible that Chase would have been the first receiver off of the board, as his combination of size, speed, and football I.Q are unmatched by any receiver we’ve seen in the last couple of seasons. With Chase, Jamison Crowder, and Denzel Mims, the Jets offense can finally take flight in what could be a make or break year for Sam Darnold. 

    1. Denver Broncos

      Pick: OL Alex Leatherwood, Alabama 

GettyImages-1175982847-e1577992912885 The Broncos offensive line has several holes, all of which could be filled by a versatile player like Leatherwood, who can dominate as either a guard or tackle. Depending on how Drew Lock performs as the team’s starting QB this season, Denver could also look to trade up for one of the big three quarterbacks. Assuming that’s not the case, Leatherwood is the second-best lineman in this class and he should easily be a top-ten selection. 

  1. Detroit Lions

Pick: CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State

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The Lions continue to build their defense by taking another shutdown corner. Wade, who was teammates with Jeff Okudah, Detroit’s first-round pick from the 2020 draft, appears poised to become the next great product of DBU. Like Okudah, Marshawn Lattimore, and Gareon Conley before him, Wade is an incredible tough cover corner who can hang with the best receivers every day of the week. With Okudah and Wade on the boundary, the Lions defense could blossom into a truly elite unit by 2021. 

    1. New York Giants

      Pick: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

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Parsons can do a little bit of everything at the linebacker position, making him an ideal fit for the Giants defense, which still has needs across the board. While this is a bit of a BPA situation, I think Parsons could be a tremendous fit in New York’s 3-4 defense coming off of the edge. Had Shaun Wade been available he could have been a better fit given the DeAndre Baker situation, but landing Parsons is not a bad concession prize. 

  1. Las Vegas Raiders

Pick: DL Marvin Wilson, Florida State

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There always seems to be at least one interior lineman who sees his stock shoot through the roof during the pre-draft process. As of right now, Wilson is the best candidate to do so, as the big man was the anchor for the Seminoles defense last season. The Raiders could use another DT next to Maurice Hurst, so Wilson is a nice fit here. Though it’s never a sexy move to draft a defensive tackle in round one, Wilson could make a huge difference for the Raiders. 

    1. Atlanta Falcons

      Pick: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech 

download (6) Though Farley has opted out of the upcoming College Football season he should still be a strong candidate to be the first cornerback off the board this spring. Yes, Atlanta just spent a first-round pick on A.J Terrell but the team should look to add at least one more high-upside player at the position. Farley has true shutdown corner potential and could be an excellent value here. 

  1. Arizona Cardinals

Pick: OT Sam Cosmi, Texas

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The Cardinals could’ve used a tackle badly in the 2020 NFL Draft so we can only imagine how desperate they’ll be for one here. Cosmi is a prospect that most either love or hate, but his overall skill set could make him an ideal fit for Arizona, where athleticism is the most important quality in a lineman. While Cosmi is a couple tiers below Penei Sewell he’s still a first-round talent and the Cardinals are lucky to grab him here. Plus who doesn’t love a lineman that can do this:

    1. San Francisco 49ers

      Pick: WR Rondale Moore, Purdue 

moore-pic Moore is a swiss army knife with blazing speed and open-field moves that would make any running back coach swoon. With Moore, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk, the 49ers offense could be one of the most unpredictable and explosive units in the NFL. Though there could be needs elsewhere, passing on a player like Moore who has drawn comparisons to Tyreek Hill could be a major mistake. While this feels like a luxury pick, every NFL team could use a playmaker like Moore in their offense. 

  1. Tennessee Titans

Pick: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

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Assuming Corey Davis doesn’t break out in 2020 the Titans are going to need a starting-caliber wideout to pair with A.J Brown. Bateman is a player who many folks see as the WR1A in this class, making him a good value pick for Tennessee here. At 6’3, 215 lbs, Bateman has the size of a true alpha dog at the receiver position, and his dominance against the Big 10 speaks to his upside. Together Bateman and Brown could form one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL. 

    1. Philadelphia Eagles

      Pick: DB Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, TCU 

7D_27514-1024x812 Moehrig-Woodard was awesome for TCU last season and he could be a great Malcolm Jenkins replacement for the Eagles. At 6’2, 210 lbs, Moehrig-Woodard has the size and speed to dominate at the NFL level. Back-to-back TCU products in the first round for Philly. Moehrig is a player who could easily push his way into the top-ten with another strong campaign for the Horned Frogs. I love to make fun of Big 12 defenses, but TCU’s secondary may be one of the best in the nation this season thanks to Moehrig-Woodard. 

  1. Buffalo Bills

Pick: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

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Pitts is the first complete tight end prospect that we’ve seen in a while, as he runs like a gazelle at 6’6 while also serving as a capable blocker for the Gators. The Bills could certainly use a player like Pitts in their lineup, especially with two of their starting receivers (John Brown and Cole Beasley) now over age 30. Pitts has the upside to become a George Kittle type of player, so he may get taken earlier than this with another strong season. 

    1. Indianapolis Colts

      Pick: DL Carlos Basham, Wake Forest 

GettyImages-1170055981-e1576954521793 Basham is a great run stuffer who has displayed some nice pass-rushing chops for the Demon Deacons. The Colts love players like Basham and he could absolutely shine as a 4-3 defensive end for them. He may never be an elite pass-rusher, but Basham could easily be a productive plug-and-play starter. 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Los Angeles Rams)

Pick: LT Walker Little, Stanford

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With the pick traded to them in the Jalen Ramsey swap from last season, Jacksonville grabs a blindside protector for Trevor Lawrence. Little is an overall solid tackle with great technique. He’s a plug-and-play starter who can allow the Jags to move on from Cam Robinson. With a trio of solid pass-catchers already in place, the Jaguars should focus on beefing up the trenches for Lawrence. 

    1. Pittsburgh Steelers

      Pick: QB Jamie Newman, Georgia 

jamie-newman-wake-forest Big Ben is at the end of the line and the Steelers know it. Newman is currently the best candidate to be the QB4 from this class though who knows how things will shake out during his season with the Bulldogs. At 6’4, 230 lbs, Newman has great size for a QB and tremendous mobility to boot. Kellen Mond, Brock Purdy, and K.J Costello could all be in play here as well. 

  1. Cleveland Browns

Pick: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

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(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Waddle has a lot of hype going for him this season with Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy off to the NFL. The Browns could be looking to move on from either Odell Beckham or Jarvis Landry next offseason so taking a wideout here is not as strange as it sounds. Waddle has true WR1 potential thanks to his elite athleticism and technique. 

    1. Green Bay Packers

      Pick: WR Sage Surratt, Wake Forest 

Sage At 6’4, 220 lbs, Surratt is a massive target who has shined as a downfield threat for Wake Forest. Though he’s opted out of the upcoming season, Surratt’s draft stock should stay afloat purely due to his incredible tape from last year and his rare size/speed combination. With Surratt and Davante Adams, the Packers offense could once again dominate through the air in 2021. 

  1. Miami Dolphins (Via Houston Texans)

Pick: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

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The son of former Dolphins star Patrick Surtain, Surtain II could be even better than his daddy was. In sticking with the theme of building up a dominant defense, Chris Grier and Brian Flores take Surtain II as their No. 1 corner of the future. With Surtain II and Byron Jones, Miami could soon become a no-fly zone for opposing offenses. Surtain II and his college teammate Moses could be a huge part of the turnaround for the Dolphins, who will be quarterbacked by another former Alabama star, Tua Tagovailoa. 

    1. Minnesota Vikings

      Pick: OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan 

unnamed (1) A toolsy tackle prospect who played very well against Chase Young last season, Mayfield could be a huge riser in 2021. Minnesota could always use offensive line help, so a player like Mayfield could be a nice pickup here. A pass-rusher or defensive back could also be in play here. 

  1. Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: OL Trey Smith, Tennessee

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Though blood clots have slowed him down during his college career, Smith has been downright dominant when healthy, flashing as both a guard and a tackle for the Vols. The Chargers could use a long term solution at several spots along their offensive line, so Smith is a no brainer here. 

    1. New Orleans Saints 

      Pick: WR Tamorrion Terry, Florida State

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Florida State
Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

A true weapon when running after the catch, the 6’4 Terry could be the perfect complement to Michael Thomas on the Saints offense. Like D.K Metcalf, Terry could become a dominant downfield threat with a bit of seasoning, as his size and speed combination is elite for the position. With Terry, Thomas, and Emmanuel Sanders, the Saints receiving core could be one of the league’s best. 

  1. New England Patriots

Pick: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson

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Sony Michel was not the player the Patriots thought he was. Ettiene is a true three-down back who New England can build their offense around. Few players in at the college level have ever been as well-rounded as Etienne is. He’s a stud through and through. Rest in peace to the Patriots RBBC (2007 – 2020). 

    1. New York Jets (Via Seattle Seahawks)

      Pick: OL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Ohio State
Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

A very good interior lineman, Davis fills a need for the Jets here. Though not very exciting, a strong interior offensive line makes life easier for Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell, and the rest of New York’s playmakers. The Jets acquired this pick in the Jamal Adams trade. 

  1. Baltimore Ravens

Pick: EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington

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Tryon is the exact type of edge rusher that the Ravens adore. At 6’5, 255 lbs, the hybrid DE/LB is an excellent pass-rusher who can also stuff the run when necessary. With Tryon and Matt Judon coming off the edge, Baltimore’s defense will remain elite for 2021 and beyond. 

    1. Dallas Cowboys

      Pick: FS Jevon Holland, Oregon 

McKinley_Holland_Stanford_EE_2_ Dallas always needs a safety but we know they’re never going to draft one. While the pick says Jevon Holland, I imagine it will actually be traded or used on something frivolous like another wide receiver. 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs

Pick: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford

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The Chiefs could use help at cornerback and Adebo is a physical corner who can be very sticky in coverage. This is definitely a need pick for the Chiefs who think that drafting a running back in round one is the way to rebuild a defense that’s slowly rotting to bits. 

    1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

      Pick: RB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis 

5d6aef85e9aa8.image Finally, the Ronald Jones era comes to an end. Gainwell is an electric receiving back who embodies the play style of a young LeSean McCoy. Tom Brady is going to love this kid.

 

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