Posted March 3, 2021.
I've done this the past 10 years, and I thought it would be fun to do it again. It's exactly what it sounds like - if free agency occurred in a draft format, who would be the top picks? I've excluded all the free agents who are either restricted or previously franchised prior to the published date.
Go here for my 2021 NFL Mock Draft
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Real 2021 NFL Mock Draft
Jacksonville Jaguars: Marcus Maye, S, Jets. Age: 27.
One important thing to note here is that I'm factoring in this free agency mock draft as if the real NFL Draft were to take place as well. Thus, the Jaguars wouldn't have a need to chase after a quarterback like Dak Prescott because they'd know that they'll be able to obtain Trevor Lawrence a month later.
With that in mind, the Jaguars need to focus on bolstering their horrendous defense. Their secondary is a mess and would really benefit from a dynamic play-making safety like Marcus Maye.
New York Jets: Yannick Ngakoue, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 26.
The Jets have lacked a blue-chip edge rusher for a very long time. I have Yannick Ngakoue designated as the No. 1 player in the Top 100 NFL Free Agents of 2021 list. The Jaguars passed on him because they've recently dedicated first-round picks to edge rushers, so the Jets would be thrilled to scoop him up instead.
Miami Dolphins: Joe Thuney, G, Patriots. Age: 28.
Even if the Dolphins plan on using the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Penei Sewell, they'd still be highly interested in Joe Thuney, given their severe problems on the offensive line. Not only would they be able to improve Tua Tagovailoa's protection; they'd steal a valuable asset from their arch rival.
Atlanta Falcons: Corey Linsley, C, Packers. Age: 30.
The Falcons figure to draft either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson, given that Matt Ryan won't be around much longer. Alex Mack isn't expected to be a Falcon for very long either. It would be a nightmare to have Fields or Wilson develop behind an offensive line with a huge hole in the center of it, so the Falcons would do well to find a viable replacement for Mack.
Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Milano, LB, Bills. Age: 26.
The Bengals are 0-5 against Lamar Jackson. They've also maintained poor linebacker play over the past few years. Coincidence? I imagine Cincinnati would be highly interested in a talented linebacker who helped his team defeat Jackson in the playoffs this past season.
Philadelphia Eagles: John Johnson, S, Rams. Age: 25.
The Eagles will be able to get one of Ja'Marr Chase, Devonta Smith or Kyle Pitts at No. 6, so they don't need to find a dynamic, offensive play-maker with this pick. Instead, they can attempt to upgrade their horrific secondary with a 25-year-old talented safety with unlimited upside.
Detroit Lions: Justin Simmons, S, Broncos. Age: 27.
The Lions have possessed one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL over the past few seasons. Justin Simmons has blossomed into one of the top safeties in the NFL, so he would be a huge help in Detroit's attempt to stop Aaron Rodgers.
Carolina Panthers: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Age: 28.
Here's where the quarterback chasing begins. The Panthers have been so desperate for a quarterback this offseason that they would undoubtedly settle for Dak Prescott if they weren't able to acquire Deshaun Watson.
Denver Broncos: Marcus Williams, S, Saints. Age: 24.
The Broncos just lost Justin Simmons to the Lions in this free agency mock draft. They also cut A.J. Bouye in free agency, so their secondary is in need of a ton of help. Marcus Williams would be a nice replacement for Simmons.
Dallas Cowboys: Brandon Scherff, G/OT, Redskins. Age: 29.
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have gotten worse in recent years because of the decline of Dallas' offensive line. The Cowboys now have several holes up front, so I'm sure they'd love to poach one of the better players from the divisional rival that embarrassed them twice in 2020.
New York Giants: Allen Robinson, WR, Bears. Age: 28.
I like Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard, but they're both No. 2 receivers. The Giants need a lead dog in their receiving corps, so I'm sure they'd love to land Allen Robinson to be a potent threat for Daniel Jones.
San Francisco 49ers: David Andrews, C, Patriots. Age: 29.
The 49ers have a big hole in the middle of their offensive line. I have them selecting a center in the second round of my 2021 NFL Mock Draft, so I think they would be interested in a stud player at the position like David Andrews.
Los Angeles Chargers: Shaq Barrett, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 28.
If it wasn't for Tom Brady, Shaq Barrett may have won Super Bowl MVP. He's been on fire the past two years, so some team will give him a huge contract. The Chargers would undoubtedly be interested, given that Melvin Ingram will likely depart via free agency.
Minnesota Vikings: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, Giants. Age: 27.
Leonard Williams is coming off an amazing 2020 campaign with the Giants. The Vikings would be interested in him if they could afford him. Instead, Kirk Cousins is tying up too much of the cap with his horrendous contract.
New England Patriots: Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers. Age: 25.
Chris Godwin goes from playing with Tom Brady to playing for Tom Brady's former team. I don't think I need to go into the Patriots' woes at receiver. Outside of Jakobi Meyers, they don't have any viable personnel at the position, so Godwin would be an enormous upgrade.
Arizona Cardinals: Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Steelers. Age: 28.
The Cardinals had major problems getting to the quarterback when Chandler Jones suffered an injury last year. Jones just turned 31, so there's no telling how long he'll be able to play on a high level.
Go to 2021 NFL Free Agent Draft: Picks 17-32
Sorry for cutting this into two halves; I've received complaints about load times and putting the mock draft on two pages saves bandwith.
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