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.
19. Washington Football Team: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Not the flashiest receiver in this year’s draft, Rashod Bateman is a formidable wide receiver who has a lot of upside. He’s a great route runner and has nice size for mostly playing the slot position last year. Adding Bateman alongside Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel is a recipe for success.
20. Chicago Bears: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
With quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Nick Foles in the room, it’d be the perfect environment to add a rookie QB. However, the top quarterbacks are gone so it’s best to protect the ones you got with Teven Jenkins. At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, it’s a very daunting task to get past him. In fact, Jenkins has only let up two sacks in four college seasons.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
It’s been an uphill battle for Jaelan Phillips, who at one point medically retired from the game of football, but now he’s going to be a first round draft pick. The Colts need someone to come off the edge and with Phillips’ eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss, not only will his skill make him a perfect fit, but his drive will be great for the Colts.
22. Tennessee Titans: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
The Titans lost a number of pass catchers this offseason, so wide receiver help should be a top priority for the team. Elijah Moore is one of the more underrated receivers in this draft class due to his height. Don’t let that waiver you, however, as he had 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns in just eight games last season.
23. New York Jets (via SEA): Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Greg Newsome was a menace for offenses in college, playing stingy and hard nosed on the outside. The Jets need someone reliable and Newsome fills that role for the team. Newsome will fit in well with new and defensive-minded head coach Robert Saleh and his defensive schemes.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Pittsburgh has other holes to fill, but with James Conner departing, it’s not so crazy to think the Steelers will look to draft his replacement. Similar to other Bama running backs currently in the NFL, Najee Harris is a powerful back that can play every down. Harris can run through defenses while also forcing them to play him in the pass, as Harris is no stranger to catching out of the backfield.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Jaguars have drafted a defensive player in the first round five of the last six years and thanks to the Jalen Ramsey trade, they will continue to do so. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is an excellent playmaker at the next level. He won the Butkus Award in 2020 as the nation’s best linebacker and was not only a Unanimous All-American, but also the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Similar to Trevor Lawrence, Owusu-Koramoah will be the face of the defense for years to come.
26. Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
It’s clear that the Browns are trying to build a stellar defense, especially with recently acquiring Jadeveon Clowney to play opposite of Myles Garrett. Now they’re looking for someone big to plug up the middle and Christian Barmore is the guy to do it. Barmore’s only been a starter for one season, but had a monster College Football Playoff en route to being named the National Championship Defensive MVP.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
Lamar Jackson desperately needs weapons and Terrace Marshall Jr. fits the criteria. Marshall has the size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), the speed (4.38 40-yard dash at LSU’s pro day), and the stats to back it all up (94 catches for 1,402 yards and 23 touchdowns in the last two seasons). Marshall can easily take over as Jackson’s favorite target in Baltimore.
28. New Orleans Saints: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Zaven Collins is the perfect fit here for the Saints: the team needs to fill holes in the linebacker position and Collins’ versatility will have him starting right away. Collins took home a trio of Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2020 and rightfully so. He can disrupt the backfield while also having the ability to drop back in coverage. Collins will develop well playing alongside Demario Davis.
29. Green Bay Packers: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
The Packers need someone in the slot that can make plays underneath and that’s what Kadarius Toney brings to the table. Toney is shifty and elusive in the open field and brings value as a return man on special teams. He’ll still need to develop more as a receiver, but that isn’t an issue when you have Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers helping you along.
30. Buffalo Bills: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
The Buffalo Bills are just a few pieces away from getting to the Super Bowl and Jayson Oweh fills in that missing piece as an edge rusher. Oweh is a freak of nature - he ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day at 6-foot-5 and 257 pounds. Oweh’s athleticism alone will make him a key piece on Buffalo’s defense.
31. Baltimore Ravens (via KC): Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Ravens got Lamar Jackson a weapon earlier, now it’s time to fill the hole they have after trading Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs. Samuel Cosmi was a three-year starter for the Longhorns and will have the opportunity to play right away on the right side. Cosmi is a big body and solid blocker that will give Jackson great protection in the pocket.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The reigning Super Bowl champs are strong all-around and will probably go with who’s best available defensively and that's Azeez Ojulari. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ojulari goes sooner, so the Bucs should be happy if he falls to them. He can get after the quarterback and disrupt the run. Ojulari was very successful in the SEC so the jump to the NFL won’t be a problem.