2021 NFL Mock Draft V2.0
We’re just now getting into a pretty steady stream of college pro day workouts: but we’ve already had a pretty full off-season of trades (Stafford and Wentz), releases (T.J. Watt), and trade requests, some believable (DeShaun Watson) and some not so much (Russell Wilson). Projected top pick Trevor Lawrence has already had a pro day workout in advance of the draft so that he can have surgery on his non-throwing shoulder (Labrum) later this month and be ready for camp in July. Other than that, everyone is prepping for their own workout since this year you’ll only get one shot to impress.
Jacksonville Jaguars – There isn’t a chance in hell that Lawrence is drafted anywhere but Jacksonville at #1. The “standard” for trading up to the first pick has been surprisingly low, and while the Jags could certainly do with extra picks, I doubt they take anything less that someone’s entire draft, and since Mike Ditka isn’t anyone’s GM these days that ain’t happening.
Pick – Trevor Lawrence – QB – Clemson
Previous pick – Lawrence
New York Jets – As I said in my previous mock draft, the Jets seem content to keep Sam Darnold for the time being, though rumors are all over the place, speculating on where he could end up, most seem to look at Chicago (the team who “lost” the Carson Wentz sweepstakes) as a strong possibility. If Chicago can pull off a trade without giving up this year’s First rounder, this sounds plausible and would completely change the face of this draft.
Pick – Devonta Smith – WR – Alabama
Previous pick - Smith
Miami Dolphins – Nothing has changed for me with this pick yet. The ‘Phins seem content to stand pat with Tua, they have another pick later in this round (18th), and they still need a way to protect their QB (whoever that might be). If something were to happen with the drama playing out in Houston and this pick goes back to the Texans, Miami will probably be shipping off this pick, the 18th pick, Tua, and likely, at least a 2nd rounder next year, maybe more.
Pick – Penei Sewell – OT – Oregon
Previous pick – Sewell
Atlanta Falcons – The feeling out there on the interwebz is that the Falcons might be a team willing to do what it takes to trade up and get the quarterback that everyone thinks they’re lusting after (Zach Wilson, if you’re curious). Looking at the trade Mel Kiper made between the Jets and Falcons, he’s projecting them to give up 2021’s 1st and 2nd and “other picks”, let’s call those a 2022 3rd and a 5th pick. I don’t know about you but unless you’re in the business of making the Jets a better team you run away from this deal, let someone else ruin their draft(s). I still think that Justin Fields is the pick here and the Zach Wilson talk is just smoke in an attempt to get someone to trade up.
Pick – Justin Fields – QB – Ohio State
Previous pick – Fields
Cincinnati Bengals – I keep seeing the Bengals taking WR Ja’Marr Chase because “they’ll take care of the tackle spot in free agency.” Really? The only decent UFA LTs that will be available are all 33 or older (Trent Williams, Russell Okung, Alejandro Villenueva, and Jason Peters). Why? Because if they were young and good, they’d be under contract. Why sign a guy who you’ll likely have to overpay, just so you can go through this again in a few years? Suck it up, draft a LT, and if you really want Chase, deal from future picks. This might be a good place for the Bengals to trade down and pick up a few extra picks too.
Pick – Christian Darrisaw – OT – Virginia Tech
Previous pick – Darrisaw
Philadelphia Eagles – If the Bengals are going to make a deal to get Ja’Marr Chase, this is likely who they’ll be dealing with as the Eagles have had a need for top end WRs since DeSean Jackson was released after the 2013 season. Nothing I’ve read makes me think they’re planning on drafting a QB here, but I suppose it’s possible, of course I said that Carson Wentz would be sticking around in the previous mock, so. . .
Pick – Ja’Marr Chase – WR – LSU
Previous pick – Chase
Detroit Lions – If anyone is in a position to trade down and get more picks while still getting a player that they desperately need, it might be Detroit. While they don’t have an extra first this year, thanks to trading Matt Stafford, they DO have an extra 1st round pick in both 2022 and 2023, trading back could net them an extra 1st next year and an extra 2nd this year, depending on how far “up” a team has to go.
Pick – Zach Wilson – QB – BYU
Previous pick – Wilson
Carolina Panthers – With the Panthers already involved in at least two attempts to upgrade their QB (Stafford and Watson) you have to think that they might at least consider drafting a QB at this pick. On the other hand, they might only be interested in acquiring a proven starter and not drafting a player who might be a bust. Teddy Bridgewater is going to be on the Panthers roster next year, if he’s not they have $20M in dead cap space just sitting there. That alone makes me think that we’ll see them upgrade another position.
Pick – Patrick Surtain II – CB - Alabama
Previous pick – Micah Parsons – LB – Penn State
Denver Broncos – The Broncos have some decisions to make as free agency looms (March 17) with regards to safety Justin Simmons and Von Miller. Do they pay Simmons and keep one of the better safeties in Denver or let him walk? Miller is a bit more complicated. Not only is Miller returning from an ankle injury that cost him the 2020 season, he’s entering his 10th year in the league, will be carrying a $22M cap hit for 2021, and to complicate things even more he is also under investigation in Parker, CO for an unspecified crime. All that adds up to Miller being cut or, at the least, a renegotiation/extension of his contract.
Pick – Micah Parsons – LB – Penn State
Precious pick – Patrick Surtain II – CB – Alabama
Dallas Cowboys – With all the attention that is on the Dak Prescott contract negotiations (Prescott signed a 4-year $160M contract with $126M guaranteed on 3/8/21), you’d almost forget that the rest of the team was less than spectacular and were it not for the Falcons having the mother of all brain farts in week 2 and a late season win streak against the Bengals, Niners, and Eagles, the ‘Boys could’ve been drafting top 5. Still 2020 was a helluva year, and with all the injuries they endured the Cowboys could be poised to bounce back in a big way.
Pick – Caleb Farley – CB – Virginia Tech
Previous pick – Kwity Paye – EDGE (DE) – Michigan
New York Giants – Another team with decisions that have to be made in free agency, and particularly along the defensive line. Leonard Williams and Dalvin Thomlinson are both key parts on the defensive line that the G-men would like to bring back, but as of this writing they may need to cut contracts to fit under the Salary Cap. Depending on their thinking, they might sign some veterans to short-term contracts and try to scrape by. Regardless of what they choose to do, they need to give Daniel Jones more to work with.
Pick – Jalen Waddle – WR – Alabama
Previous pick – Zaven Collins – LB – Tulsa
San Francisco 49ers - If the ‘Niners can keep Trent Williams, there’s a possibility they can keep contending for the NFC West title in 2021, if they can’t? It might be time to break things up and rebuild. With Williams (33) nearing the end of his career and looking for a contract larger than what San Francisco currently has available in cap space this might be the time to start the rebuild. Richard Sherman is likely gone as well, plus Solomon Thomas is just one of seven D-linemen who will be looking for new deals.
Pick – Jalen Mayfield – OT - Michigan
Previous Pick – Kyle Pitts – TE – Florida
Los Angeles Chargers – The Chargers biggest need isn’t likely one they can fill in free agency, what with multiple teams needing a LT and only four available of quality. Instead they fill their CB, and EDGE needs in free agency and draft the best OT available. If, however, they allow Hunter Henry to walk, and they do have some cap room to work with, they could easily select Kyle Pitts at this spot and no one says a word about it.
Pick – Rashawn Slater – OT – Northwestern
Previous pick – Slater
Minnesota Vikings – Looking at the Vikes needs, combined with their pending free agents, their cap situation (not good), and cuts they can make to trim their cap number it sounds like they could address their OL and DL needs in free agency and select a WR3 or take a lineman for depth. The recent release of long-time Viking Kyle Rudolph says this might be a great spot for another Kyle (Pitts), it’s not. Minnesota will have to spend considerably to bring back FS Anthony Harris, and I don’t see a 29 year-old going into his last big contract giving a discount.
Pick – Trevon Moehrig – S – TCU
Previous pick – Alijah Vera-Tucker – OT/IOL – Southern Cal
New England Patriots – The Pats have a lot of salary cap room, third-most in the league, and should have plenty to bring back anyone they want as well as make a few key additions. Unfortunately the position they need to secure the most likely won’t be completely covered by free agency, quarterback. Yes, it seems likely they’ll bring back Cam Newton, but unless you’re excited about bringing in a Mitch Trubisky or Andy Dalton, you’re gonna need to draft one.
Pick – Mac Jones – QB – Alabama
Previous pick – Jalen Waddle – WR – Alabama
Arizona Cardinals – So, the winners of the J.J. Watt sweepstakes were. . . the Cardinals? Yeah, it surprised me too, I expected it to be someone like the Browns, Packers, or Bills. In any case, Watt gives the Cardinals a defensive player they can line up wherever they want, if he can stay healthy. Shore up the defense and add some offensive help in the draft (RB, WR2, TE) and you might have a team that can make a deep run in the playoffs.
Pick – Travis Etienne – RB – Clemson
Previous pick – Etienne
Las Vegas Raiders – Yet another team in on the Deshaun Watson trade wagon, and another team doomed to be disappointed. With a few cap victims (Marcus Mariotta, Lamarcus Joyner, and the already-cut Tyrell Williams) the Raiders might be in a position to pluck an EDGE or a pocket-pusher from the interior of another team. They need more help on offense and that could be this pick, but, until we see what they come away with in free agency I’m sticking with defense.
Pick – Jealan Phillips – EDGE – Miami (FL)
Previous pick – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – LB – Notre Dame
Miami Dolphins – With money to spend (but not burn) in free agency, this pick will depend heavily on what Miami does there and with the first pick in this draft. With Sewell (OT) already selected, it’s likely that they focus on either an edge rusher or another weapon for Tua. The EDGE market is going to be deeper than the receiver market so I’m betting its offense with this pick.
Pick – Kyle Pitts – TE – Florida
Previous pick – Terrance Marshall Jr. – WR – LSU
Washington Football Team –So it begins. The WFT cut Alex Smith on Friday of last week to save another chunk of change ($14.7M) against the cap giving them just shy of $48M to spend adding a WR, TE, and help in the secondary. The draft is where you’ll see them pick up their QB, barring a big trade, and they will look to bring in veteran help at QB as well, maybe someone like Mark Fitzpatrick, who is looking for a bigger role than Miami has to offer.
Pick – Trey Lance – QB – North Dakota State
Previous pick – Lance
Chicago Bears – Priority #1 for the Bears has to be clearing cap and figuring out a way to sign Allen Robinson II to a long-term contract, his last two years have been his best by a wide margin so he’ll be looking to cash in and might be looking for a contract in the area of $19-21 AAV. With the Mitch Trubisky experiment over, the Bears still need a QB and I’m not sure Nick Foles is him. The release of Bobbie Massey (RT) makes finding another lineman even more pressing.
Pick – Tevin Jenkins – OT – Oklahoma State
Previous pick – Jalen Mayfield – OT – Michigan
Indianapolis Colts – With their starter in place with the trade for Carson Wentz, the Colts can look at free agency and what they will do about T.Y. Hilton. With the 4th most available cap room (aprox. $41M) the Colts have choices to make, a lot of them, with 15 UFAs as of right now. Yes, Hilton will be someone they will want to bring back but they will likely need him to take a “hometown” discount for that to happen. Marlon Mack is another pending UFA, and LT Anthony Castanzo is retiring after ten years.
Pick – Jaycee Horn – CB – South Carolina
Previous pick – Caleb Farley – CB – Virginia Tech
Tennessee Titans – If you haven’t been paying attention to the Isaiah Wilson issue in Nashville, it’s already over. Wilson, 2020’s 1st round pick, played only four snaps this past season and in a now deleted tweet said he was “done with” the Titans. Well, he’s right, it appears that the Titans and the Dolphins have worked out a trade with the Titans getting a 2022 7th round pick and the Dolphins getting Wilson and a 7th rounder this year. Adding a pass rusher has to be their #1 concern but adding an OLB to make plays is up there too.
Pick – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – OLB – Notre Dame
Previous pick – Joseph Ossai – EDGE (LB) – Texas
New York Jets – The Jets have already made sure that Safety Marcus Maye is going nowhere. On Monday evening the Jets placed the Franchise Tag on him ensuring a hefty payday for next year (expected to be in the $10.5M range). Next they need to see about shoring up the rest of the roster and getting at least one cornerback they can call a CB1 with a straight face. With Chris Godwin of the Bucs also being Franchise tagged on Tuesday, they’ll likely need to look to the draft for more offensive help.
Pick – Gregory Rousseau – EDGE (DE) – Miami (FL)
Previous pick – Rousseau
Pittsburgh Steelers – It looks like the Steelers are going to roll with Ben Roethlisberger for at least one more year, though there’s always the possibility they announce a longer deal to help create badly needed cap space. With several key players set to become UFAs, the Steelers will be looking to the draft to replace them, barring a string of unexpected releases. Key among them with be (WR) Juju Smith-Schuster, and (RB) James Conner as well as (LB) Bud Dupree and (LT) Alejandro Villanueva.
Pick – Najee Harris – RB – Alabama
Previous pick – Harris
Jacksonville Jaguars – Another team that is working towards signing a cornerstone player to a long-term contract, the Jags informed UFA LT Cam Robinson that he would be wearing the Franchise Tag for 2021 unless a longer deal could be struck. It sounds like the Jags will be making a run at Chargers TE Hunter Henry, but they’ll have plenty of competition for his services.
Pick – Samuel Cosmi – OT – Texas
Previous pick – Alex Leatherwood – OT – Alabama
Cleveland Browns – Falling short in the J.J. Watt lottery, the Browns enter the offseason on a high note for the first time in a long time, they’ll be looking to add a playmaker at linebacker and pass rush wherever they can. There’s still talk about the possibility of Odell Beckham Jr. being traded, but I have to believe the Browns will want to hold onto him unless someone comes offering a first rounder.
Pick – Zaven Collins – LB – Tulsa
Previous pick – Nick Bolton – LB – Missouri
Baltimore Ravens – With the worst receiver group in the NFL last season (137 REC, 1729 Yards), the Ravens HAVE to find help in either the draft or free agency, but likely both. They also need to find help at outside linebacker with the possibility of Yannick Ngakoue signing elsewhere, taking along a chunk of pass rush with him.
Pick – Rashod Bateman – WR – Minnesota
Previous pick – Bateman
New Orleans Saints – Depending on what happens with Drew Brees and his retirement/nonretirement, Taysom Hill will have some competition this training camp, the question is if it will be 2015 Top Selection Jameis Winston or not. There are other concerns on the roster, but if you don’t have a QB, you really don’t have a chance.
Pick – Terrence Marshall Jr. – WR – LSU
Previous pick – Rondale Moore – WR – Perdue
Green Bay Packers – For a team that was within a game of the Super Bowl, the Packers sure have a lot of holes to fill and it’s a bit of a crapshoot figuring out just which on is the most pressing. Is it offensive line, where they might have to start 2021 without two All-Pro players? Is it defensive line where the middle could use help? Or is it another position? Who knows? In any case, good teams tend to draft players, not needs.
Pick – Nick Bolton – LB – Missouri
Previous pick – Liam Eichenberg – OT – Notre Dame
Buffalo Bills – With their most successful season since the Super Bowl run in the early 90s over, the Bills look towards next season and closing the gap between themselves and Kansas City. First stop, improving the pass rush. In 2020 the Bills finished right in the middle of the pack with 38 sacks, good for 15th in the league, but with the money being spent on defensive line contracts they should be getting much better production.
Pick – Azeez Ojulari – EDGE (LB) – Georgia
Previous Pick – Ojulari
Kansas City Chiefs – KC steamrolled right through the regular season with only two losses, but in the AFC Championship game they lost their LT Eric Fisher to an Achilles tendon tear. Add that to losing Keleche Osemele earlier in the year (also a pending UFA), and Mitchell Schwartz missing much of the season with a back injury, it’s not hard to see why Patrick Mahomes was bullied in the Super Bowl. It’s time to invest in protecting Mahomes, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Chiefs invest the top 3 picks in OL talent.
Pick – Dillon Radunz – OT – North Dakota State
Previous pick – Wyatt Davis – OG – Ohio State
Tampa Bay Bucaneers – With Chris Godwin tagged, and Lavonte David signing a two-year deal on Tuesday, the Bucs managed to answer two of their three biggest questions of the offseason. The third? Shaq Barrett and his expiring deal. After leading the NFL in sacks two years ago, his production dipped a bit in 2020. No one thinks he’s not capable though, that’s just the way it goes with pass rushers. If they can’t get him signed long term, and the cost for elite pass rushers is steep, they’ll have to look for help in the draft.
Pick – Joe Tryon – EDGE (DE/LB) - Washington
Previous pick – Christian Barmore – DT - Alabama