By Alex Kurpeski
With only a couple of months left in the 2020 NFL season, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2021 NFL Draft, which is shaping up to be one of the deepest offensive classes in recent memory. So without further adieu, let’s jump right into it!
1. New York Jets
Pick: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Has there ever been a more obvious pick? Lawrence has dominated college football for the last three years and he seems to get better with every game. Not since Andrew Luck has there been a more clear-cut franchise quarterback available — and all the Jets have to do is keep losing to get him.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Fields would be in the conversation to be the first passer off the board in any other class. An excellent dual-threat, he’s a great building block for a Jaguars’ organization that has been in quarterback limbo since the days of David Garrard. He’s a plug-and-play starter like Lawrence.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
Joe Burrow blew out his knee because the Bengals refused to address their offensive line this past offseason. Sewell is a plug-and-play starter who could develop into an All-Pro at the NFL level.
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Pick: DL Kwity Paye, Michigan
Paye is a versatile defensive lineman who could develop into a special player alongside Joey Bosa. Melvin Ingram is no longer the elite pass-rusher he once was, so replacing him with a player of Paye’s caliber will be an important step in the right direction for this team.
5. Dallas Cowboys
Pick: EDGE Greg Rousseau, Miami
Rousseau may be the best pure edge rusher in this class and the Cowboys would gladly scoop him up with Paye off the board. Dallas loves long, athletic rushers like Rousseau a lot, as evidenced by their commitment to troubled talents like Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith, both of whom have similar skill sets to Rousseau. He’s not only a great fit here, but he’s a great character guy as well — at least compared to some of the defensive ends we’ve seen this team bring in.
6. Carolina Panthers
Pick: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
There are many scouts who believe that Lance is the highest-upside prospect in this class, though I bet those guys are simply suffering from prospect fatigue related to Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Lance needs a year before he’s ready to start, and Carolina can afford to stash him behind Teddy Bridgewater. In Joe Brady’s offense, the former NDSU star could become a superstar.
7. Atlanta Falcons
Pick: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
Parsons is a very complete linebacker and he’s easily the best player available here. The Falcons need to build up their defense if they hope to compete in the NFC South anytime soon, and grabbing a versatile player like Parsons is a good start.
8. Miami Dolphins (Via Houston Texans)
Pick: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
The Dolphins need to grab a true No. 1 wideout for Tua Tagovailoa and who better than Chase to be that guy. With Chase and DeVante Parker, the Dolphins passing offense could be something to behold next season.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: DB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
The son of a very good NFL corner, Surtain may very well be better than his namesake when all is said and done. A huge boundary corner with tremendous production and an Alabama pedigree, Surtain could be a valuable pickup for the Eagles defense.
10. New York Giants
Pick: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
Darrisaw has been one of the best left tackles in college football this season for the Hokies. He could be a nice long-term tackle for the G-Men on either side of the line.
11. Detroit Lions
Pick: WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
Moore is a very special playmaker. His skillset differs greatly from anyone on Detroit’s roster right now and he could be exactly what they need to dominate in the passing game once again. While Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle could also be good fits, Moore’s potential to be a Tyreek Hill-esque player for the Lions is too enticing to pass up.
12. San Francisco 49ers
Pick: QB Zach Wilson, BYU
Wilson has been ridiculously good in 2020, finally putting everything together and posting historic numbers for the Cougars. He’s a great athlete with a great arm and he could be something special for the 49ers.
13. Denver Broncos
Pick: DL Christian Barmore, Alabama
While taking a QB may be tempting, Drew Lock deserves at least one more year to prove himself. Barmore is a very good, very versatile defensive lineman who could immediately start for this team.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Pick: DB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Many scouts view Horn as the best cornerback in this class. He fits a need for the Vikings here, while also serving as the BPA.
15. Chicago Bears
Pick: QB Kyle Trask, Florida
Trask has earned the Heisman this season and will likely be a first-round pick on the merit of his production, size (6’5, 240), and arm strength/accuracy. The Bears would love to land an NFL-ready player like Trask without having to move up.
16. New England Patriots
Pick: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
One pick after his teammate, Pitts comes off the board. While Mac Jones looks awfully good here, Pitts is the BPA and he could be a go-to target for the Patriots off the bat. I discussed his fit with the team in an article from last week.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Pick: DL Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
Basham is a versatile defensive lineman who can stop the run and rush the passer. He’s a good fit for this Raiders’ defense too.
18. Baltimore Ravens
Pick: WR Devonta Smith, Alabama
A skilled route-runner with great hands, Smith is exactly what the Ravens need in a wideout. He’s been stellar this season and would immediately start for this team.
19. Washington Football Team
Pick: QB Mac Jones, Alabama
Jones is a solid prospect who has played great this season. While I’m not a very big fan of him as a prospect, he’s a good fit in Washington.
20. Arizona Cardinals
Pick: OL Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Slater is a guy who can play anywhere along the offensive line. He’s a valuable pickup for a team like Arizona that features numerous veterans as starters.
21. Miami Dolphins
Pick: OL Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
Miami’s offensive line could use more work, but thankfully they land Leatherwood here, a capable plug-and-play starter at either guard or tackle.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State
Wade is incredibly skilled in coverage and could be a great pickup for Tampa’s secondary. He could go much higher than this, but I see teams valuing the size of Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn slightly more, pushing Wade down draft boards.
23. Indianapolis Colts
Pick: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Owusu-Koramoah is a super athletic coverage linebacker who could be a special chess piece for this Colts defense, as he’s fast enough to cover receivers and big enough to take on tight ends.
24. Cleveland Browns
Pick: LB Dylan Moses, Alabama
Moses is as good as Micah Parsons, he’s just been forced to miss a lot of more time. Cleveland could use a linebacker with Moses’ skill-set, so this is a perfect fit for both sides.
25. New York Jets (Via Seattle Seahawks)
Pick: TE Pat Friermuth, Penn State
The Jets need to build around Lawrence and Friermuth has the potential to be a very well-rounded tight end at the NFL level. He should help move things in the passing game and in the run game as a blocker.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Los Angeles Rams)
Pick: OL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
Jacksonville should look to build around Fields — as the Jets should with Lawrence. Davis is a very good guard prospect who fills a need for the team, while also uniting with his college teammate.
27. Tennessee Titans
Pick: OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
Mayfield is a terrific tackle prospect who could have easily been a top-ten pick. Given Taylor Lewan’s recent injury, he could be a good developmental prospect for Tennessee, while filling in at guard as a rookie.
28. Buffalo Bills
Pick: FS Andre Cisco, Syracuse
Cisco has been terrific as a deep coverage safety this season and he’s a solid contingency plan for the veteran duo of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.
29. Green Bay Packers
Pick: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Waddle’s season was cut short by an ankle injury but he was dominant when he was on the field. Paired with Davante Adams, he could help the Packers build towards the future while still fueling the present roster.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
Pittsburgh needs a true bellcow back, as they have struggled to run the ball once again this season. Harris has the chance to be a great NFL player and his fit in Pittsburgh is too good to pass up.
31. New Orleans Saints
Pick: DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Hutchinson is a very athletic and very powerful edge rusher who could be a nice contingency plan for free agent Trey Hendrickson, who’s led the team in sacks this year.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
Humphrey is the best center in this class by a wide margin and he’s a great investment for the Chiefs long-term. Having a strong pivot will be extremely important if the team hopes to make their core work for the next decade.