NFL fans can rejoice as the 2021 NFL Draft is upon us. On Thursday night, 32 college athletes will hear their names be called and hope to have a lasting impact on the organization they’ll be joining.
There will definitely be at least one trade in the first round come Thursday, but for this, there will be no trades other than the ones already made. Here is my Round 1 NFL mock draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
It’s been a known fact that Trevor Lawrence would be the No. 1 pick. Urban Meyer gets to reap the benefits of having a generational talent on his team. Lawrence has it all: size, arm strength, athleticism, winning mentality. Lawrence will (hopefully) be leading the Jaguars to victory for the foreseeable future.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Once New York traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, it was even more clear that they would be taking a quarterback with the 2nd overall pick. A breakout year in 2020, Wilson proved he’s talented enough to lead a franchise. Let’s just hope the Jets don’t make the same mistakes they did with Darnold.
3. San Francisco 49ers (via MIA & HOU): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Kyle Shanahan has been a quote machine over the past week regarding the draft. However, it’s obvious that the 49ers are going to take a quarterback, and their quarterback of the future is Justin Fields. Personally, I think Fields is the second best QB in this class. If the 49ers don’t fumble it, Fields will bring huge excitement to the Bay Area.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
It seems like the general consensus is that the Atlanta Falcons will take Kyle Pitts, the best player available, at four. The Falcons could very well take Matt Ryan’s successor, but pairing Pitts with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley is an absolute no-brainer. The offense will have a good problem in having too many weapons this upcoming season.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
I wanted this pick to be Ja’Marr Chase so bad, I really did, but I couldn’t do it. Joe Burrow needs weapons around him to make him an even bigger star, but protecting him should be top priority after his injury last year. Sewell is going to be one of the best offensive linemen for years to come.
6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
With Pitts and Sewell off the board, Ja’Marr Chase is the obvious choice. The best wide receiver in the draft, Chase can burn you anywhere on the field. Adding another weapon will help Tua Tagovailoa in his development tremendously. Now the Dolphins just need to bolster their offensive line and they are set.
7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
It’s an offensive heavy first round as the Detroit Lions desperately need a wide receiver. Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman aren’t going to do it, so Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith will help newcomer Jared Goff settle in. Smith had a monster season for the Crimson Tide in 2020, finishing 117 catches and 23 touchdowns. There have been concerns about his size, but after the numbers he’s put up, there shouldn’t be a single worry.
8. Carolina Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
It seems like the Panthers got their guy with Sam Darnold, so the logical thing to do is draft an offensive lineman to protect said guy. Slater is someone who can step into a starting role from day one. He does extremely well in pass sets and has steadily improved each year.
9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Without having to trade up, the Broncos get their guy. In his one full season, Lance didn’t throw a single interception en route to 28 touchdowns. He can also do it on the ground, rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. Lance can beat you anyway he wants, but he might sit the year. Not to discredit it, but playing in the FCS and not having played in a full year warrants some time to learn before jumping right into an NFL game.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
This is one of the safest picks in the draft, as Patrick Surtain has been linked with going to the Cowboys for quite some time. He’s the best cornerback in the draft, having won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020. As long as the Cowboys keep it simple, Surtain will be the first defensive player off the board.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
If the Giants add Jaylen Waddle to the mix, they might have one of the more explosive offenses in the league. Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley, AND Waddle… Daniel Jones will have every opportunity in the world to light it up.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (via SF & MIA): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Eagles need help on both sides of the ball, but grabbing Jaycee Horn is a step in the right direction. Horn has everything you want in a cornerback: size, speed, and ball skills. The Eagles can’t go wrong here as they need a lot, but they’ll start by taking secondary help.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Even with Sewell and Slater off the board, the Chargers will be happy taking Christian Darrisaw to help boost their depleted offensive line. Having one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year, Darrisaw has the size and athleticism to be special. Justin Herbert is already talented, now he just needs the pieces around him in order to win.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
Needing help at both the tackle and guard positions, Alijah Vera-Tucker is the perfect player for the Vikings. Vera-Tucker is the best interior lineman in this year’s class, but spent last season at the tackle position. So wherever he’s needed, Vera-Tucker will get the job done.
15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Bill Belichick and the Patriots simply love drafting quarterbacks to develop. Look at the history: Ryan Mallet, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jacoby Brissett. The only thing is they prefer to do it outside of the first round. Mac Jones should give Cam Newton a run for his money during camp, but it’s safe to say Jones is a long-term project.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Caleb Farley has the size and speed to be a top corner in the league, as we last saw in 2019 when he had four interceptions. Durability concerns, however, plague his draft stock. With Surtain and Horn gone, Farley isn’t a bad pick for a Cardinals team seeking secondary help.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Las Vegas needs to address their offensive line, but they’ll worry about that later. Right now they’ll snag Trevon Moehrig, who has great ball skills and can disrupt plays. The hard-hitting safety can blitz off the edge and can cover over the top.
18. Miami Dolphins: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
In another situation where a team needs help at two positions and a player can be successful in both those roles, Kwity Paye is the one to step up to the plate for the Dolphins. Paye can line up anywhere on the defensive line and still dominate with his size and speed.