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Rebecca Warren/LSU

2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

A lot will change over the next three months with free agency, trades, more coaching hires, etc., but NFL Draft season is starting to go into full swing, so now is a good time to release the first mock of the year. Quarterback movement will be the biggest storyline of the offseason, and mock trades are included.


1. JAX: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Anyone that thinks Jacksonville might pass on Lawrence is just trying to create a storyline. The prodigious quarterback prospect could immediately turn Urban Meyer’s new squad into a playoff team next season.


2. SF (mock trade w/ NYJ): Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

I don’t know that moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo would be a wise move for the Niners (he’s 22-8 as their starting quarterback), but Kyle Shanahan doesn’t plan to be drafting high again anytime soon, so now is the best chance to move up if there’s someone he loves. Wilson brings a tremendous blend of arm talent and movement skills. [Note: San Francisco sends Jimmy Garoppolo to New England for additional picks as ammunition to move up]


3. MIA (via HOU): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

This isn’t too high for Smith, and he already has built-in chemistry with Tua Tagovailoa from their time together at Alabama. The Heisman winner being able to win at all three levels would only open up the offense for DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki.


4. CIN (mock trade w/ ATL): Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Some have suggested Cincinnati could also pair their second-year quarterback with a former college teammate (Ja’Marr Chase), but instead they opt for a short trade up to secure their left tackle. Sewell on the blindside with Jonah Williams possibly kicking in to left guard would have the Bengals feeling a lot better about keeping Joe Burrow upright.


5. ATL (mock trade w/ CIN): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

While the Falcons could go in a variety of directions (including quarterback), I’d be surprised if head coach Arthur Smith didn’t find working with Matt Ryan as a big positive for his new job. Pairing Parsons with Deion Jones would be a nightmare defensive duo, and the former Penn State standout can also rush the passer.


6. PHI: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Whether or not it’s the right pick, there might be a literal revolt if the Eagles pass on a top receiver here. Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns as a 19-year-old at LSU.


7. DET: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

Detroit is another team in the top ten that could be in the market for a quarterback, but they have other needs, and Matthew Stafford is still in his prime turning 33 next month. Paye had limited production for the Wolverines (11.5 career sacks), though I could see the new regime believing in his potential as a homegrown talent.


8. HOU (mock trade w/ CAR): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The Texans—currently without a first-round pick—moving all the way up to No. 8 overall obviously means this mock has them sending Deshaun Watson to the Panthers, but would they target a quarterback? For now, we’ll say general manager Nick Caserio starts off his tenure by securing the most important position in sports, but there are a lot of holes to fill on the roster.


9. DEN: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Sam Darnold versus the top signal-callers will be talked about over the next few months, but the same debate can and will be had in Denver regarding Drew Lock. If the Broncos aren’t fully sold on the former second-round pick being able to match Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert in the division, Lance would be an exciting dual-threat option to grow with all the young talent on offense.


10. DAL: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

Fixing the run defense needs to be the priority for Dallas in 2021, and Barmore can do that and more from the interior. Playing his best on the biggest stage has Baremore trending towards the top ten, and it’s important to remember that the Cowboys have had plenty of success making non-flashy picks early.


11. NYG: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The Giants not acquiring a pass rusher via free agency or the trade market would put one in the crosshairs in Round 1, but Surtain II would really complete the rebuild on the backend. A trio of James Bradberry, Surtain II, and Darnay Holmes might be the best cornerback group in football.


12. NYJ (mock trade w/ SF): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Everyone knows the kind of player Waddle is, and displaying his top-tier football character by returning for the national championship at less than full strength could make him a favorite of Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh. Waddle also happens to be a perfect complement to Denzel Mims at receiver.


13. LAC: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

The Chargers were able to make it work at left tackle in 2020, but I don’t think they can pass up a chance to solidify the position with a star-level talent for the next decade. Darrisaw would be a Day 1 starter for the emerging Los Angeles offense.


14. MIN: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

Getting Danielle Hunter back in the lineup next year and pairing him with another long edge defender like Rousseau sounds like the best way to help out a young secondary. I’d expect Mike Zimmer to want the best defensive player on the board in April.


15. WAS (mock trade w/ NE): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Washington should certainly give Taylor Heinicke a shot in 2021, but they can’t forgo the opportunity to select a signal-caller based on one game, and Jones is an accurate distributor that would fit well in Scott Turner’s offense. Heinicke, Kyle Allen, or Alex Smith (if he returns) would give Jones time to develop.


16. JAX (mock trade w/ ARI): Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Pitts should probably go a lot higher than this, but if he starts to slip, Jacksonville is the perfect landing spot assuming they are willing to part with some picks to move up. Other than quarterback, tight end is perhaps the most significant weakness on offense for the Jags.


17. LV: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

They are still young, but Las Vegas hasn’t quite gotten what they’d hoped out of Trayvon Mullen (No. 40 overall in 2019) and Damon Arnette (No. 19 overall in 2020) so far, and Farley could give them a true No. 1 cornerback. No matter which direction the team goes, the draft will be key for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock to take the next step.


18. MIA: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

Pass coverage surely isn’t an issue for Miami, and getting a stud on the edge would make Xavien Howard and company even tougher to throw on. Oweh didn’t have a sack in five games this year for Penn State, but the upside is there to be a force.


19. NE (mock trade w/ WAS): Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

As stated, the Patriots get Jimmy Garoppolo back in this mock, and it’d be interesting to see if they decide to get a first-round receiver or wait until Day 2 if quarterback isn’t an option. Should it be the latter, Owusu-Koramoah is a versatile linebacker that would bring added playmaking ability to Bill Belichick’s defense.


20. CHI: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Many have pegged Chicago as a team that could move up for a quarterback, but would Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy rely on a rookie passer with their jobs possibly on the line? A veteran option seems more likely, and Slater could help bolster the offensive line for whoever is under center.


21. IND: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC

Indy has a huge hole to fill at left tackle with Anthony Castonzo now retired, and Vera-Tucker showed well there in 2020 as the replacement for 2019 first-rounder Austin Jackson. If the Colts are indeed contemplating a move outside for Quenton Nelson, it’s worth noting that Vera-Tucker started at left guard as a sophomore.


22. TEN: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

The Titans will be hoping for more out of Kristian Fulton in Year 2 after he started just two games as a rookie, but the secondary is in bad enough shape that they should consider going back into the draft pool for a corner. Horn’s confidence should make him an instant starter for Tennessee.


23. NYJ (via SEA): Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

New York not drafting a quarterback this year means they need to support Sam Darnold to make him a success entering his fourth season, and sticking with the champion Crimson Tide’s roster isn’t a bad idea. An offensive core of Darnold, Harris, Denzel Mims, and Jaylen Waddle would bring plenty of promise.


24. TB (mock trade w/ PIT): Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Leonard Fournette was able to make some key plays as a pass-catcher in Tampa Bay’s win over New Orleans yesterday, but Etienne would take the offense to another level as the Bucs’ own version of Alvin Kamara. Imagine the explosiveness of a backfield led by Etienne and Ronald Jones II.


25. ARI (mock trade w/ JAX via LAR): Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Arizona could lose Larry Fitzgerald to retirement and has seemed to lose trust in Andy Isabella, so receiver can’t be counted out as a substantial need. Toney’s unique abilities and a route runner could allow him to create space all over the formation in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.


26. CLE: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

The Browns will hope to have Greedy Williams healthy and contributing in 2021, but their lack of depth at cornerback showed up down the stretch this year. Plus, Samuel Jr. has the skillset to easily start his career defending the slot between Denzel Ward and Williams.


27. BAL: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Again, a lot will change over the next several weeks, but for now, Baltimore is lacking a top possession receiver that Lamar Jackson can rely on to come down with the ball in key moments, and Bateman feels like a strong fit. Prior to this year’s COVID-impacted campaign, Bateman went for a 60/1,219/11 line in 2019 while averaging 20.3 yards per reception.


28. NO: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

Sean Payton wants to add explosiveness on offense whether it’s Taysom Hill, Jameis Winston, or someone else at quarterback, and Moore brings just that as a five-foot-nine speedster. I like his play style as a fit alongside Michael Thomas or Tre’Quan Smith.


29. PIT (mock trade w/ TB): Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

Bud Dupree going down with a torn ACL was pretty much the turning point for Pittsburgh’s once-promising season, and Ojulari is a ready-made replacement if T.J. Watt’s partner signs elsewhere in free agency. At a time when a lot of players opt out of bowl games to prepare for the draft, Ojulari dominated with 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in a 24-21 win for the Bulldogs.


30. BUF: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

The Bills should be able to re-sign Levi Wallace as a restricted free agent in the spring, but they will always look to improve the roster, and Adebo is the prototype cornerback for Sean McDermott’s defense. Help on the defensive line is also an option.


31. GB: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC

I believe wanting offensive continuity heading into the second season of the Matt LaFleur era was reason for Green Bay not targeting a wideout in last year’s draft, but now they can certainly afford to add to it. Interestingly enough, St. Brown is the brother of current Packers wideout Equanimeous St. Brown.


32. KC: Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State

Davis has been one of the best guards in the country over the past two years, and he could immediately boost the interior to help open holes for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. For as good as Kansas City is, they could go in any number of directions with their first pick.


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