Last update: Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Major changes in all six rounds.
Next update: Occasionally. Follow me @walterfootball
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*** 2021 NFL MOCK DRAFT updated April 13. This mock draft will be updated weekly. Follow @walterfootball for NFL Draft updates. ***
Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Jaguars were gifted the No. 1 overall pick due to the Jets' incompetence. This was a franchise-altering turn of events that even had the mayor of Jacksonville thanking the Jets via Twitter. This is an obvious selection. The Gardner Minshew experience was fun, but it's sadly coming to an end. Minshew is a feisty quarterback, but will be relegated to backup duties because he can't throw passes longer than 15 yards.
Trevor Lawrence is locked in as the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He has it all, and that includes size (6-6, 215), a big arm, accuracy and mobility.
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New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Jets made a very foolish decision to beat the Rams (and the Browns.) Now, they have a dilemma. Do they select the second-best quarterback in the class or stick with Sam Darnold? Considering that Darnold has shown no signs of becoming a franchise quarterback and has admitted to "seeing ghosts," it would be best to trade him, especially given that New York will have to pay him a large contract to retain him. It would be smart to move him for a second- or third-round pick.
Zach Wilson is a smart quarterback with good arm talent. However, there are some reported off-the-field and injury issues. Go here to read about Teams Having Concerns with Zach Wilson. I've moved Wilson up to No. 2, but the Jets could still go with Justin Fields.
San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The 49ers moved up to No. 3 in a deal with the Dolphins - go here to see my NFL Trade Grades - and they did so for a quarterback. The question is, which one? Justin Fields is vastly superior to Trey Lance, but there's lots of speculation about Lance being the choice. I penciled earlier, but Charlie Campbell reported that his sources believe the 49ers will draft Fields. Read more in the NFL Hot Press.
Fields dominated in his first season at Ohio State. He continued his strong play into the shortened 2020 campaign, aside from sloppy performances against Indiana and Northwestern. He seemed injured in those games, but after a long layoff, he dominated Clemson in the playoff semi-final. Drawing comparisons to Deshaun Watson, Fields should be the second- or fourth-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
We've been hearing that the Falcons are attempting to trade out of the No. 4 spot. Those rumors surfaced recently, so perhaps Atlanta has realized that it may not be able to obtain Justin Fields with this pick. If this is the case, I imagine the Falcons would be interested in Kyle Pitts. Hayden Hurst is just a middling talent, so an upgade could be obtained to further enhance the offense.
Pitts is a matchup nightmare, as he's too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties. Some teams view him as a receiver.
Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
How lucky are the Bengals? They won some meaningless games at the end of the year to seemingly move themselves out of the Penei Sewell sweepstakes. However, there's now a decent chance he'll be available at No. 5, which is a dream come true for a team that needs to protect Joe Burrow.
The Bengals signed Riley Reiff, but that won't preclude them from selecting Sewell. Besides, Reiff played guard in Iowa and even told the Vikings he'd be willing to move to that position if needed.
Miami Dolphins: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Why did the Dolphins trade up to No. 6? They need to give Tua Tagovailoa some help, but with Penei Sewell likely unavailable, they'll have to either draft a wide receiver or Kyle Pitts. The problem with the former position is that the Dolphins added Will Fuller to go along with DeVante Parker. However, Fuller signed for just one year, while Parker is owed lots of money over the next three years. Besides, giving Tagovailoa as many weapons as possible is not a bad idea.
DeVonta Smith is an excellent route runner with great hands and tremendous run-after-catch ability. He rightfully won the Heisman and then embarrassed Ohio State in the national championship.
Pick change; previously Ja'Marr Chase, WR
Detroit Lions: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Matthew Stafford was traded to the Rams, but I don't think the Lions are going after a quarterback with this pick because they're likely to give Jared Goff a try for one year. If so, Detroit will focus on its other big issues, including their receivers. Both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones have signed elsewhere, so two new receivers are needed.
Ja'Marr Chase caught 17 passes in his freshman year, then took a huge step forward in 2019, displaying the ability of a top-10 prospect.
Pick change; previously Ja'Marr Chase, WR
Carolina Panthers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
I've been projecting a quarterback to this spot for quite some time, but that will obviously no longer be the case in the wake of the Sam Darnold trade. Go here for the Sam Darnold Trade Grades. Instead, the Panthers can focus on further upgrading their poor defense.
Jaycee Horn is a fast, fluid athlete. Team sources have told Charlie Campbell that Horn is a better prospect than his teammate, Israel Mukuamu.
Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Broncos have tried to upgrade Drew Lock this offseason, but failed to find a solution. Perhaps they'll select a quarterback in the first round.
Lance has some nice physical tools, and he's coming off a huge year in 2019. For more on him, check out Charlie Campbell's entry in the NFL Hot Press.
Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys will be tempted to upgrade their offensive line, but I suspect that they'll target a potential shutdown cornerback instead to fix their woeful pass defense.
Son of former Dolphins star cornerback Patrick Surtain Sr., Surtain II was tested early by teams, yet was able to punish opponents for doing so. The 6-foot-2 cornerback projects as a top-15 pick in the future.
New York Giants: Rashawn Slater, OT/G/C, Northwestern
The Giants have added plenty of talent to their roster, so they're in a position where they can draft the best player available as long as it's not a quarterback or a running back. An offensive lineman makes sense even though the Giants spent a first-round pick on Andrew Thomas last year. Teams are often reluctant to spend back-to-back opening-round choices on the same position due to financial implications in the future, but Rashawn Slater can start at any spot on the offensive line.
Rashawn Slater can play every position on the offensive line. He some great tape against Chase Young.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Eagles won't get a blue-chip player unless one of the receivers falls to them. However, I think this is fine because there are so many holes on the roster that no one player could fix things. Getting an extra 2022 first-round pick is extremely important.
Now that quarterback is officially out of the picture - the Eagles were trying to trade up for Zach Wilson, but failed - they'll build around Jalen Hurts. Why not give him his former receiver? Philadelphia has an enormous need at the position, and Hurts is a big fan of Waddle. When asked to name an Alabama prospect whom he thinks will have the best career in the 2021 NFL Draft, Hurts' answer was Waddle.
Los Angeles Chargers: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
The Chargers need to protect Justin Herbert as well as possible. They have a huge hole at left tackle that must be addressed.
Alijah Vera-Tucker made a great decision to opt back in to the season. He has played extremely well at left tackle for the Trojans.
Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Vikings cut Riley Reiff, which means their offensive line is a greater liability right now. They could use this pick on a new blind-side protector for Kirk Cousins.
Christian Darrisaw had an amazing 2020 season, propelling himself into first-round consideration.
New England Patriots: Zaven Collins, DE/OLB, Tulsa
With the top five quarterbacks off the board, the Patriots should wait until Day 2 to find a new signal-caller and obtain help on their defensive line in the meantime.
Zaven Collins seems built for the Patriots. He's extremely versatile - he can rush on the edge or play linebacker in the middle of the field - and could be viewed as a better version of Kyle Van Noy.
Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Cardinals had major issues stopping the pass. They need someone to replace Patrick Peterson, who signed with the Vikings this offseason.
Caleb Farley opted out of the 2020 season, but he has high upside with nice size and speed. He has some injury concerns that could drop him a bit, but he's a nice value pick at this juncture.
Go to 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 17-32
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Go to 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Round 4 | Go to 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Round 5
2022 NFL Mock Draft - April 14
2021 NFL Mock Draft - April 13
NFL Power Rankings - April 4
NFL Picks - Feb. 8
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