| TOP 100 | QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | G/C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S |

| Final Mock Draft |


1.     Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence
1 (Big Board Ranking)
Comments: Ever since Lawrence walked into college football, he seemed destined to be the top pick of the 2021 class. He’s one of the best examples of potential meeting production we’ve seen in the college game and the highest-graded quarterback I’ve ever studied. The Meyer-Lawrence era in Jacksonville officially starts on Thursday.
2.     New York Jets
Zach Wilson
Comments: The Jets are hoping to evolve from the disaster they’ve become over the last decade. It’s been ten years since Rex Ryan led them to back-to-back AFC Championship appearances, and they had one winning record since.

Wilson’s draft hike is as much about his development as it is the incredible stats he put up. He’s tamed his gunslinger mentality a bit, despite having a lightning-quick release that convinces most quarterbacks that they can make any throw. I look forward to seeing his swagger in the Big Apple.

3.     San Francisco 49ers
Trey Lance
North Dakota State
Comments: This is where the draft begins. We are in an era that has seen more high-upside quarterbacks reach their potential than ever before, thanks to the implementation of college offenses into NFL playbooks. That’s why I’m not buying the idea of Mac Jones going here.

You don’t make a jump from 12 to three to take the safe option. That’s a home-run swing type of move, which means San Francisco is aiming for the fences. Lance has the kind of incredible upside that can make him one of the best signal-callers in the game if developed properly.

4.     Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts
Comments: Teams have called Atlanta about moving up, but the lofty price tag for the fourth selection means the Falcons must have someone they truly covet in mind. Considering the top prospects in this class, I’ve settled on that being Pitts, although I do think Atlanta is taking a considerable risk by passing on a quarterback.

Still, with Hayden Hurst as the more traditional tight end, the Falcons can shuffle Pitts all over the formation to maximize his immense talent as a pass-catcher. Atlanta’s passing attack has been fearsome for many years, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

5.     Cincinnati Bengals
Penei Sewell
Comments: It seems like we are seeing Ja’Marr Chase show up more and more at this spot, but you can’t look at that scar on Joe Burrow’s knee without believing that this group has to get better up front. The narrative on Jonah Williams coming out was that his arm length could work against him as an NFL left tackle and that it would be wise for him to kick inside.

The selection of Sewell allows that to happen. The idea of rekindling the Burrow-Chase connection is a romantic notion, as is the scenario where the Bengals target Joe Brady as a replacement for Zac Thomas if he can’t turn things around in 2021. However, the NFL isn’t the place for fairy tales, and Burrows’ knees aren’t locked away in a castle protected by fire-breathing dragons. They need real protection, and that’s what Sewell provides.

6.     Miami Dolphins
Ja’Marr Chase
Comments:  The Dolphins are in the best situation in this top ten (outside of the Jaguars and Jets). They’d be thrilled to add Pitts, Sewell, or Chase, and with the top three selections guaranteed to be quarterbacks, they are sure to get one of them.

You have to applaud the Dolphins front office for the maneuvering that basically netted Miami a first-round pick and change. All that, and they are still going to get someone they would have considered at three. That’s work the draft to your advantage. There are always teams willing to make an irrational decision in order to secure a signal-caller, and the Dolphins feasted on that with an assist from Philadelphia.

As for Chase, he’s a dangerous weapon on the perimeter, thanks to his combination of play speed and play strength. Look for him and Tua Tagovailoa to click instantly in that offense.

7.     Detroit Lions
Jaylen Waddle
Comments: I’ve got a strong feeling that this will be the spot everyone is trying to get to so they can secure Justin Fields. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised if the Lions are the team to look past Micah Parson’s character concerns with the later pick they acquire from a team like New England, Chicago, or Washington.

Still, I don’t predict trades, and if the Lions stay put, a pass-catcher makes the most sense. This offense has a lot of question marks, but adding Waddle gives them a player who can change a game in a variety of ways. The Lions have never been shy to pull the trigger on a receiver in round one, and while there is a new regime in town, Brad Holmes’ long tenure with the Rams has undoubtedly taught him the value of having explosive playmakers on offense.

8.     Carolina Panthers
Rayshawn Slater
Comments: The Panthers made waves by shipping Teddy Bridgewater to Denver, leaving everyone to speculate whether or not they could be looking to add competition for Sam Darnold with this pick. The problem is there is no logic in trading Bridgewater BEFORE THE DRAFT if they are targeting a player like Fields or Lance.

A move like that only paints a target on your back that tells everyone else Carolina is the team to jump if you want a quarterback. You can still have that trade in place, but also keep it in your pocket until after you’ve picked your guy at eight. I’m going with Slater here, although it would be tempting to slide Waddle into Curtis Samuel’s old role if he is available. Picking Slater makes Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey’s job a lot easier, and his versatility allows Carolina to get their best five linemen on the field.

9.     Denver Broncos
Justin Fields
Ohio State
Comments: A lot of speculation on who will line up under center for Denver next year, and George Paton just added gas to the fire by acquiring Teddy Bridgewater for a sixth-round pick. One way or another, I see a quarterback being selected ninth in this draft, although it may not be the Broncos doing the picking.

I think Denver does draft a signal-caller because the Broncos have made too much effort this offseason to try and grab one to settle on simply adding Bridgewater. We’ve heard they were heavily active on the Carson Wentz and Matt Stafford market and that they nearly traded Lock before backing out.

Here’s my reasoning for that; maybe they did the math and realized Lock’s value increases once the top five quarterbacks are off the board. Not sure what Chicago or Washington would offer for him now, but once Mac Jones is off the board as the fifth in that group, Lock suddenly becomes the best option to improve at that position for them (yes, over Jimmy Garoppolo).

With that being said, I still think Denver takes Fields or Lance here to sit behind or compete with Bridgewater for that job. They also maximize their return on Lock in a trade somewhere between late Thursday night and training camp. If I’m wrong, and it’s Lock and Bridgewater moving forward, look for them to move back and target a linebacker or cornerback.

10.   Dallas Cowboys
Patrick Surtain
Comments: I don’t think Slater is out of the picture, but I believe Dallas goes with Surtain or Jaycee Horn if he’s off the board. It makes sense that the scouts and coaches would be split on which to take. Horn played for Dan Quinn’s close friend Will Muschamp, and Mike McCarthy coached his father on two separate occasions. That leads me to believe they have a pretty good picture of who Horn is as a person and player.

I’ll add that Horn’s game is very similar to that of cornerback coach Al Harris’ when he was playing, which could put him on Team Horn as well. Still, this is a top-ten pick that the Cowboys have to hit on, and no scout is going to argue that Surtain is not the more polished player at this point. Horn’s upside could be tempting, but Surtain seems bust-proof, even if he never reaches an All-Pro level.

11.   New York Giants
DeVonta Smith
Comments: The Giants seem like they are in a position to sit and see what falls to them. If it’s an offensive lineman or a wide receiver, they are in the market. Maybe it’s a corner or Micah Parsons, which seems likely at this point. They need them too.

However, if there is a top quarterback available, New York could benefit by moving back with a team desperate to get their hands on a signal-caller. The Giants’ most significant need is an edge rusher, and there are several that could hear their names called in the back half of day one. Even Dave Gettleman shouldn’t be able to mess this one up.

12.   Philadelphia Eagles
Jaycee Horn
South Carolina
Comments: Predictions for this selection seem to be all over the place. I’ve seen a wide receiver or Slater, as well as a corner or Parsons. Some say the Eagles aren’t out of the quarterback conversation. All I know is that Jim Schwartz’s stance on devaluating corners and over-emphasizing the play in front of them was wrong a heck of a lot more than it was right.

The Eagles took a big step at improving their situation a year ago by trading for Darius Slay. With Schwartz now out of the picture, they can now secure the best cornerback duo Philly has seen since Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent by selecting Horn. He’s got elite athleticism with terrific size and length, and if you are going to win the NFC East, you better be able to slow down some of those dangerous pass catchers.

13.   Los Angeles Chargers
Christian Darrisaw
Virginia Tech
Comments: There are whispers that Sewell could slide a bit in the top ten, and if so, the Chargers need to be on the phone looking to move up. Teaming up the Oregon tackle with his former quarterback in this offense would be an outstanding addition, although it could be a little pricy if multiple teams are trying to get up as well.

If they stay put, Darrisaw is a player that could be a day-one starter. Some feel he is better suited for the right side, but I think that stems more from his ability to excel as a run blocker, as opposed to any physical limitations that would hinder him on the blindside. Adding Darrisaw would be the final piece to the Chargers offensive-line puzzle.

14.   Minnesota Vikings
Alijah Vera-Tucker
Comments: The Vikings are in a flexible position at 14. They could move up if a player like Slater slides or move back for a pass rusher if the top offensive linemen are off the board. With Vera-Tucker available, the Vikings should be eager to enlist his services up front.

My gut says Minnesota would slide him to guard while kicking Ezra Cleveland out to tackle to give them a talented young duo on the left side of that offensive line. This team thrives on playing with balance, and the offensive line is key to making that happen.

15.   New England Patriots
Mac Jones
Comments: I expect the Patriots to wear out the phone lines all night on Thursday until they’ve made a selection. This team simply must improve their situation at quarterback. Otherwise, some veterans on that roster are likely to start pushing to be moved because this team can’t compete with their current group of signal-callers.

I also don’t expect them to get one at 15. The good news is there are a plethora of teams in the 7-11 range that would all entertain moving back, and the options could keep New England from having to overspend to move up. Bill Belichick is usually very crafty with his ability to pull off a trade without breaking the bank, and I won’t be shocked if we see some of that magic again.

With Jones, they get a leader capable of picking up that offense very quickly. He doesn’t try to be Superman and win games with only his right arm, instead choosing to make sound decisions and let his playmakers shine.

16.   Arizona Cardinals
Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech
Comments: I’m sure the Cardinals would love to see Horn or Surtain fall to this slot, but I went with Farley with that not being the case. Until the announcement of Farley’s second back-surgery of his pre-NFL career, he was my top-ranked corner.

Still, the little concerns have continued to pile up for him and dropped his overall grade on my board. However, this most recent procedure is minor and not expected to impact him long-term, which is why I’ve predicted he’ll still be taken on day one. If everything pans out, Arizona could be getting the best corner in this class.

17.   Las Vegas Raiders
Micah Parsons
Penn State
Comments: The draft can’t come soon enough for the Penn State linebacker, as his stock has continued to sink ever since he decided to opt-out last fall. On the field, Parsons is my top-ranked defender in this class. However, character concerns and less-than-flattering reviews on his interviews with teams have seen his stock start to plummet.

It’s hard not to reference Reuben Foster here. His narrative was very similar leading up to the draft, and Foster turned out to be his own worst enemy as a professional. I’ve heard some even suggest that Parsons could slide out of day one, which leads me to believe that a fair number of teams have taken his name off their boards completely.

Still, Jon Gruden has consistently preached wanting high-character players in Las Vegas, and this is why you build a team like that. Yes, it allows them to take advantage of a talented player falling in the draft because his influence won’t outweigh that of the core Gruden has built. However, it also provides an ideal environment for someone to mature as a person.

Front office members and coaches get an unfair reputation for being cut-throat businessmen with little loyalty to their athletes. Still, for every example in which that appears true, there are a litany more where teams show dedication to helping their players become better fathers, husbands, and human beings.

In this scenario, the Raiders can help Parsons, and he can surely help them by infusing some talent into that linebacker group.

18.   Miami Dolphins
Azeez Ojulari
Comments: This continues to be one of my favorite fits in the first round, as Ojulari displays the kind of versatility and intensity that Brian Flores wants on that defense. Yes, this offense needs more help than the defense, and if a player like Vera-Tucker slid, I’d jump at the opportunity of lining him up next to his former college teammate, Austin Jackson.

Still, the Dolphins have two more top-50 picks in this draft, and Chris Grier has stocked-piled future assets as well. With the release of Kyle Van Noy, the Dolphins have an available role that Ojulari is tailor-made to fill. I’d also keep my eye on Parsons here. He’s the most talented defender in this class, and Flores would be an ideal mentor for his maturation.

19.   Washington Football Team
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame
Comments: This is another terrific fit in my eyes, as Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio can get very creative with how they implement Owusu-Koramoah in that defense. Both are former linebackers and will love the versatility that he brings to the table.

That defensive line is so talented, and anything Washington can do, personnel-wise, to slow down the quarterback’s decision-making is going to make them that much more dominant. Owusu-Koramoah’s flexible skill set allows a team to disguise coverages and blitzes that much more, and it’s scary to think that Washington could soon benefit from coverage sacks on top of the pressure their front-four typically provides.

Of course, a quarterback or left tackle are possibilities, but I’m not sure they will find a suitable prospect at 19. I’d also keep an eye on Devonta Smith, who could fall right in their laps.

20.   Chicago Bears
Teven Jenkins
Oklahoma State
Comments: Jenkins seems like the default pick for Chicago. No quarterback-needy team seems to have tried harder to find their guy while striking out on all the players moved thus far in the offseason.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure their luck will change in the draft, considering they are picking at 20. Yes, I predicted Jones to the Patriots at 15, but I do not expect any of the top five quarterbacks to get out of the top 10-12 picks come draft night.

That’s a long way to move up for Chicago, considering New England and Washington are in the same boat as the Bears and are further up the board. We may very well see the Bears shift their focus to acquiring guys like Drew Lock or Jimmy Garoppolo, and they may get back in on the circus that is currently surrounding Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.

Still, with Jenkins, the Bears get a player who could change how this offense goes about their business. He’s a violent run-blocker that could be a contributing factor to seeing Chicago take a more run-heavy approach after finishing as one of only seven teams to not attempt 400 rushes in 2020. If you’re not happy with your quarterback, you better be able to run the ball.

21.   Indianapolis Colts
Samuel Cosmi
Comments: Outside of Micah Parsons, there may be no player with a more questionable landing spot among first-round talents than Cosmi. Some reps make me think the Colts would be getting a steal here at 21, but others suggest he could fall out of the top 50.

Indianapolis has done an excellent job of building their offensive line through the draft, and with Sam Tevi, they could be patient with the former Longhorn. If he’s not their guy, look for them to go after one of the edge rushers. It’s no secret that the Colts lack and end with double-digit sack potential, and Kwity Paye or Gregory Rousseau could change that.

22.   Tennessee Titans
Greg Newsome
Comments: The closer we get to the draft, the more teams I see interested in Newsome, and it’s got me thinking he will go well ahead of where I’ve got him ranked. It’s understandable. Cornerback is a very tough position to thrive at without exceptional athleticism, and Newsome has demonstrated that against a high level in competition.

He’s nowhere near as technically sound as Surtain, or even Horn and Farley. Still, Adoree Jackson had a very similar narrative coming out of USC, and this staff did a terrific job grooming him. After a bit of a makeover at the cornerback position, Newsome or Florida State’s Asante Samuel would be a welcomed addition.

I’m also keeping my eye on a pass rusher that could line up opposite Bud Dupree. I think Kwity Paye, Jaelan Phillips, and Jayson Oweh could all stand up in the NFL, while Joseph Ossai and Joe Tryon are already proven in that regard.

23.   New York Jets
Travis Etienne
Comments: The Jets have a lot of areas they can go with this pick, and I tried to focus on a player who didn’t have a chance to make it to their next selection at 34. I’ve only got two running backs ranked in my top 50, though it wouldn’t surprise me if Javonte Williams were taken in that range as well.

Still, with teams like Pittsburgh and Buffalo picking between 23 and 34, I’m not sure Etienne gets to them if they pass here. I’ve targeted the Clemson runner because he is a terrific fit in the zone-blocking scheme Mike LaFleur is implementing in New York.

Adding him gives them a one-cut back that can take pressure off the shoulders of new quarterback Zach Wilson. Don’t be shocked if they grab Newsome if he makes it here either or one of the top edge rushers.

24.   Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee Harris
Comments: Not only am I predicting back-to-back running backs in the first round, but I believe each team would be taking the top runner on their respective board. While the Jets are looking for a one-cut runner, Pittsburgh would benefit from a hard-nosed runner that can grind out wins in that cold environment.

Harris may not bring as much to the passing game as Etienne, but he’s still a dangerous check-down option that defenders don’t want to see running in the open field. A guy like Harris could become the focal point to this offense whenever they choose to transition to a new starter at quarterback. I’d also keep my eye on a player that can improve their linebacker group like Tulsa’s Zaven Collins.

25.   Jacksonville Jaguars
Christian Barmore
Comments: After cashing in their ticket for the Trevor Lawrence Sweepstakes, I’ve got Jacksonville going with a defender here. The inside of this defensive line needs a fair amount of help beyond just the addition of Malcolm Brown, and Barmore would give them someone with the potential to disrupt opposing offenses on all three downs.

We finally started to see Barmore crack into his immense upside in 2020, and if he continues to develop, this could turn out to be a steal. I’m certainly not writing off a defense back. Trevon Moehrig would offer an instant upgrade at safety, while Asante Samuel would be a day-one contributor in the slot.

26.   Cleveland Browns
Kwity Paye
Comments: The Browns have done a lot of homework on defensive prospects, and I’m sticking with an edge player as the pick. Myles Garrett is one of the best pass rushers in football, and pairing him with another gifted athlete coming off the edge could impact this entire defense.

I’m not banking on Jadeveon Clowney or Takk McKinley being long-term answers in Cleveland, and Paye could be an essential piece to bring this defense up to the level of their offensive counterparts. Asante Samuel is also very much in play here, as is Zaven Collins, who would offer them the kind of versatile skill set they had when Jamie Collins was a Brown.

27.   Baltimore Ravens
Jaelan Phillips
Comments: I’m not sure there is a tackle I like here that can step into the void the recent trade of Orlando Brown has created. If Jenkins fell this far, that would be the logical choice, but instead, I’ve got them going after an edge rusher.

The Ravens lost a lot of their sack production in the offseason, and while there is some risk regarding Phillip’s injury history, the reward could be a game-changer for this defense. The question will be whether Baltimore thinks Phillips can stand up regularly as I do. That’s something they have likely addressed with Paye and Jayson Oweh as well, and they could opt for Joseph Ossai or Joe Tryon instead, who have proven track records as outside linebackers.

28.   New Orleans Saints
Zaven Collins
Comments: The Saints have several intriguing options available, but I went with the versatile linebacker out of Tulsa. A year ago, New Orleans had their sights set on Kenneth Murray before the Chargers jumped them for his services.

Here, they get their guy that can help keep this defense near the top of the league. That will be vital, considering Drew Brees is leading them on the opposite side of the ball any longer. I continue to throw Asante Samuel’s name out as an option because teams just can’t have enough good cover-guys, and the Saints aren’t committed to any of their current corners long term. A receiver like Kadarious Toney or Elijah Moore would also be very tempting for this offense.

29.   Green Bay Packers
Kadarious Toney
Comments: I’ve been back and forth about whether the Packers need a wide receiver or cornerback more, and I’m not sure there is a wrong answer. I get the outcry for another weapon for Aaron Rodgers, but Rodgers didn’t exactly put up shabby performances in the last two NFC Championship Games.

Still, I went with Toney to give the future Hall-of-Famer the best slot option he’s had since Randall Cobb was in his prime. This receiving core is rather average once you look past Devante Adams, and none of them are what I would consider home-run hitters with the ball in their hands. That’s what Toney can provide from day one.

30.   Buffalo Bills
Gregory Rousseau
Comments: There are a lot of prospects predicted to go in the latter parts of the first round that Buffalo would love to get their hands on. Newsome, Etienne, and any of the pass rushers would be ideal, and here I’ve got Buffalo getting their pick of Rousseau and Oweh.

While Oweh wowed at his Pro Day, and Rousseau’s was so-so, the number I did come away impressed with was Rousseau’s 1.57 10-yard split that is the best of any of the top defensive ends. As the tallest in that bunch, that’s impressive burst, and we see flashes of it on tape.

31.   Baltimore Ravens
Terrace Marshall
Comments: It seems like a given that one of Baltimore’s first two picks will be receivers, but the Ravens need to be mindful of the type of receiver they target. In the past few years, we’ve seen them prioritize speed with guys like Marquise Brown and Devin Duvernay.

I understand how that can be an asset, considering teams can never take their eyes off Lamar Jackson. Still, smaller, faster receivers make it more difficult for a passer to be accurate, and pin-point accuracy will never be one of Jackson’s strong suits. On the other hand, the opposite is true of big receivers, which is why Jackson has so much trust in Mark Andrews.

That’s what Marshall provides as at over six feet, two inches with nearly 33-inch arms. He’s got a big catch radius and accentuates it with a 39-inch vertical jump. The former-Bayou Bengal is the type of player who makes quarterbacks more accurate, and that should be the top priority for the Ravens when searching for a pass-catcher.

32.   Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jayson Oweh
Penn State
Comments: The Bucs are essentially running it back with the same bunch that won them a Super Bowl last year. The problem is, to do that, they’ve had to push guaranteed money beyond the life of the contract, which is going to create some cap issues down the line.

Essentially, they are sacrificing the five-year plan to win now, and the only team that makes sense for is one with a proven track record of Super Bowl success, which this team has. Yes, a lot of teams have implemented this tactic in the 2021 offseason to navigate the tricky cap situation that the NFL is in, thanks to the pandemic.

Still, none have been as liberal with it as Tampa Bay, who will be paying seven players until 2025 despite their contracts ending long before that season. However, this only becomes an issue if the Buccaneers struggle during the draft between now and then.

Nothing helps a cap situation more than the constant flow of talented young players living up to their billing in the NFL. Yes, it will push veterans out the door because Tampa Bay can’t afford to extend them, but the hope is to have a young player ready to fill that void before it’s actually vacated.

That’s what I looked to do here. I tried to target a player that played the same position as a high-priced veteran in the final year of his deal. In this scenario, I’ve got the Bucs bringing in Oweh as the future replacement for Jason Pierre-Paul, who will be 33 before the end of next season.

Oweh is an uber-talented edge rusher that needs to develop further to have success in the NFL. Let him play behind a two-time Super Bowl Champion with 89 career sacks and 119 tackles for loss, and I’m not sure you could come up with a better situation for the former Nittany Lion.

Leave a Reply