NFL mock draft 2021: Final projection for Thursday’s first round


After months of speculation the NFL Draft finally begins Thursday night and the dominant story remains how many quarterbacks will go in the top 10. It’s the driving force of the 2021 class and will have ripples throughout the first round.

Trevor Lawrence has always been a lock for the No. 1 pick, but when private workouts started things got pushed through the moon. Zach Wilson moved up to be in the top 5 of most mocks, then to No. 2 overall, Trey Lance went from being a likely pick in the 20s to another top 10 pick, and Mac Jones, once seen as a 3rd round pick, shot up boards due to his NFL readiness.

In a few short weeks we’ve seen arguments pivot from “Is Justin Fields better than Lawrence?” to now “Is he worth a top ten pick?” It’s a ridiculous over-analysis of the draft and a bit of a mess, really. I might be overcompensating for this issue a little by putting five quarterbacks in the top 10, but I see the potential. That’s going to lead to a lot of players, particularly on defense to fall further than they ever should.

Let’s waste no more time and get to the mock.

2021 NFL Mock Draft

Pick Team Player Position School
Pick Team Player Position School
1 Jacksonville Jaguars Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson
2 New York Jets Zach Wilson QB BYU
3 San Francisco 49ers Mac Jones QB Alabama
4 Atlanta Falcons Kyle Pitts TE Florida
5 Cincinnati Bengals Penei Sewell OT Oregon
6 Miami Dolphins Jaylen Waddle WR Alabama
7 **TRADE** New England Patriots Justin Fields QB Ohio State
8 Carolina Panthers Trey Lance QB North Dakota State
9 Denver Broncos Caleb Farley CB Viginia Tech
10 Dallas Cowboys Patrick Surtain II CB Alabama
11 New York Giants Kwity Paye EDGE Michigan
12 Philadelphia Eagles Ja’Marr Chase WR LSU
13 Los Angeles Chargers Rashawn Slater OT Northwestern
14 Minnesota Vikings Alijah Vera-Tucker OG USC
15 Detroit Lions Micah Parsons LB Penn State
16 Arizona Cardinals DeVonta Smith WR Alabama
17 Las Vegas Raiders Gregory Rousseau EDGE Miami
18 Miami Dolphins Christian Darrisaw OT Virginia Tech
19 Washington Football Team Travis Etienne RB Clemson
20 Chicago Bears Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina
21 Indianapolis Colts Rashod Bateman WR Minnesota
22 Tennessee Titans Azeez Olujari LB Georgia
23 New York Jets Jaelan Philips EDGE Miami
24 Pittsburgh Steelers Najee Harris RB Alabama
25 Jacksonville Jaguars Teven Jenkins OT Oklahoma State
26 Cleveland Browns Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB Notre Dame
27 Baltimore Ravens Kadarius Toney WR Florida
28 New Orleans Saints Greg Newsome II CB Northwestern
29 Green Bay Packers Asante Samuel Jr. CB Florida State
30 Buffalo Bills Jayson Oweh EDGE Penn State
31 Baltimore Ravens Trevon Moehrig S TCU
32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Zaven Collins LB Tulsa

What’s the story with the top 5 QBs?

This part of the draft is still really up in the air. I’m absolutely not convinced Mac Jones is “the guy” at No. 3 for the Niners, but I see that he fits what Kyle Shanahan likes to do on offense and he’s ready to step in and contribute right now.

Sooner or later the Patriots need to make a splash at the position and I think it’s now. Fields will get a year to sit behind Cam Newton and learn the offense, and he’s entering a team with a tradition of getting the most out of its players. I think long-term this could be a match made in heaven.

Carolina is picking the final QB of the lot. If San Francisco takes Trey Lance at No. 3 I think Mac Jones slides a lot, and Carolina go in another direction. For now, I think the possibility of him being there at the Panthers pick is too good to hang their hat on Sam Darnold becoming the player he looked like out of USC.

The real steals come on defense

If you’re a good team then this mock draft is fantastic for you. Guys like Gregory Rousseau, Azeez Olujari, Jayson Oweh and Zaven Collins are easily top 15 talents, and here they’re all going to playoff, and fringe playoff teams. Desperation is leading to an offensive overload in 2021, and teams with established offenses are going to get absolute killer players this year because of it.

The pick I love the most is …

DeVonta Smith to the Cardinals, just because it would be fun as hell. I don’t care that Smith is leaner than the NFL ideal. The modern NFL leads most receivers to avoid contact, and in a scenario where he’s paired with DeAndre Hopkins on the outside … gosh it would be fun.

I think Arizona would find incredible ways to make their scary offense even more fearsome, and it would become must-watch TV. The Cardinals take advantage of other teams getting skittish on Smith and come away with a stud.

The pick I hate the most is …

Mac Jones to the 49ers at three. Only because I think it’s way too much of a reach and didn’t necessitate a draft up before draft day. Look, Jones is smart and he’s NFL ready, but him being a franchise cornerstone worries me a little. I think San Francisco could have waited until draft night to pull the trigger if he ends up really being their guy.



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