The NFL Draft is about a week away and the buzz has been electric surrounding this year’s draft. Where will the quarterbacks end up? Which receiver gets taken first? Are there any teams that could jump up to pick their next franchise quarterback? Is Mac Jones, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance the pick for the 49ers? Lots of questions and hopefully this mock draft will have the right answers. Here is my 2021 NFL mock draft for the first round!

PICK 1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence (QB – Clemson)

This is the easiest pick in the draft. Urban Meyer took this job for Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence is once in a generational talent who’s in the category of being compared to Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and John Elway as slam dunk prospects. He’s big, tall, mobile, has a big arm, accurate, decisive with the football, and can handle big-game situations. Urban Meyer can design any type of offense around Lawrence whether he wants to go with an RPO style or air raid offense. The face of college football will call Jacksonville home for hopefully the next 10 years while winning plenty of ball games.

PICK 2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson (QB – BYU)

A new regime is in place for the Jets once again and they’re starting over with another rookie QB. This time it will be the “out of nowhere” prospect Zach Wilson. Wilson has the “wow” factor when he slings the football as he may be the best pure passer in this class. He has tremendous playmaking ability when things break down while being accurate with the football. BYU’s schedule in 2020 wasn’t really the toughest schedule which may have led to his tape looking so good and dealt with some injuries in 2019. Nonetheless, the traits are there for Wilson to succeed in the NFL. Hopefully, the Jets get it right with Wilson and not be in this same predicament in 3 years.

PICK 3. San Francisco 49ers – Mac Jones (QB – Alabama) (via Miami)

This is the pick where all the speculation is swirling around. The 49ers traded away two future first-round picks and a third to get to this spot to have a choice of the remaining quarterbacks on the board. Rumors from people within the league thinks it’s Mac Jones and are confident in that. After going back and forth with this pick, I agree with them.

Mac Jones makes sense to the 49ers. He had the best tape last year leading Alabama to another national championship run. While Mac Jones may not have the “wow” factor with his talents such as mobility and arm strength, he has the intangibles to be a very successful quarterback in the NFL. His best attributes are his accuracy at all three levels of the field and deciphering defenses going through his progressions making the right throw. He’s mobile enough to elude pressure which is all he needs with Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan wants the best quarterback to execute his game plan and Mac Jones will dot every i and cross every t. The system matters more than talent.

PICK 4. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts (TE – Florida)

The Falcons will be asking for too much for just the fourth-best QB, so they get stuck here and pick the best player available. Kyle Pitts is a genetic-super freak at the tight end position. He is possibly the best tight end to enter the NFL draft with his elite talents and physical stature. A wide wingspan allows him to make the most difficult catches look easy. He also has incredible speed and awareness to find the holes in the defense. He’s not the best blocking tight end but can be coached up enough on that. Pitts with Julio, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, and Russell Gage…. that’s a dangerous core even though Atlanta’s defense is still terrible. They’ll go with a corner in round 2.

PICK 5. Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase (WR – LSU)

The decision is between one of the top tackles or Joe Burrow’s best buddy at LSU, who helped him have the best college season in history. Chase has been noted to be the best receiver in this draft class by NFL executives and scouts. Chase is a gifted athlete who can attack the football to make contested catches with the ability to have smooth and fluid routes. He dominated the college game with those traits plus the ability to fly down the field and find the end zone. The combination of Burrow and Chase will be a problem for years in the AFC North. This draft class is deep with offensive line help as Cincy can address that need in rounds 2 and 3.

PICK 6. Miami Dolphins – DeVonta Smith (WR – Alabama) (via Eagles)

The hope was Ja’Marr Chase would end up here. In this mock draft, it doesn’t work out that way. They follow the same approach as the Bengals however and bring in their quarterback’s old college teammate. Smith is incredible with his ball skills and his athletic attributes. His route running is crisp and smooth as he can create separation from defenders putting himself in a great position to be a playmaker. His size is the only thing in question, but he played his entire college career without a major injury. The Heisman winner reunites with Tua in hopes of establishing himself as an elite wide receiver right off the gecko.

PICK 7. TRADE! Denver Broncos – Justin Fields (QB – Ohio State) (via Detroit)

Denver moves up a couple of spots to avoid any team jumping ahead of them at 9 to secure their potential QB of the future at a cheaper price. Fields check the boxes for every talented trait a mobile QB should have. Incredible arm strength along with accuracy while being able to be effective as a runner. Reading defenses and being able to go through his progressions quickly can be a concern, but can be fixed with the right coaching. Denver’s offense needs an accurate passer that can get the ball in their playmakers’ hands. Fields will bring that game right to the Mile High City while also having the arm to sling the ball down the field for deep shots to KJ Hamler or Courtland Sutton. Justin Fields has the potential to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league in an already stacked AFC West.

PICK 8. Carolina Panthers – Penei Sewell (OT – Oregon)

Carolina was in the market for drafting one of the top quarterbacks for a while until they traded for Sam Darnold. The arsenal is there for Darnold to have success, and it would be a smart idea to give him protection as a potential All-Pro talent slides right to them in Penei Sewell. The two-year starter at Oregon possesses the footwork, agility, and movement that a star left tackle needs in the NFL. Very stout in the pass and run game, but could use a little more aggression to finish his blocks. Carolina will take his potential and excel it to make him the best in the game.

PICK 9. Detroit Lions – Jaylen Waddle (WR – Alabama) (via Denver)

Detroit needs a lot of things. That’s why the trade down makes sense gathering a bunch of assets from Denver to fill some holes in the roster. One of the biggest holes is wideout. This team is in desperate need of a playmaking wide receiver with the losses of Kenny Golliday and Marvin Jones. Waddle has that playmaking ability with his shiftiness and speed that has some scouts comparing him to Tyreek Hill. I don’t think he will meet those expectations, but the skillset is there. Jared Goff would be excited about this pick.

PICK 10. Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II (CB – Alabama)

Jerry Jones was hoping Pitts would still be here. Instead, they improve that terrible defense with one of the best defensive players in this draft. Surtain is a large, physical cornerback with speed that battles his opponents at the line of scrimmage throwing them off their intended routes. He may struggle with second moves and ball fakes but will improve on that with more experience. Dallas gets a terrific corner that they desperately need.

PICK 11. TRADE! New England Patriots – Trey Lance (QB – North Dakota State) (via New York Giants)

BIG TRADE RIGHT HERE! Giants can move down and still get the player they want while receiving some quality assets from the Patriots. The Patriots have been aggressive in free agency and now it leeks over into the NFL draft as they get their next franchise quarterback.

Trey Lance is a superb talent when it comes to his arm strength and running capabilities. He’s also very good at going through his progressions making smart decisions in split seconds. In his one year as a starter, Lance threw 0 interceptions meaning he knows where to place the football. People may question the competition he faced but playing at the FCS level hasn’t shied teams away from picking a quarterback this high before. The sky is the limit with Trey Lance in New England. If he can improve some of his mechanics and accuracy sitting behind Cam Newton, he will be the next best thing in the league. Maybe we’ll see Bill Belichick smile.

PICK 12. Philadelphia Eagles – Jaycee Horn (CB – South Carolina) (via Miami) (via 49ers)

The Eagles traded back with Miami to gain a first-round pick in next year’s draft. This pick, however, they don’t get the playmaking wide receiver they hoped for. They instead address another need and that is corner depth. Jaycee Horn has had a fabulous draft process flying up draft boards. Horn has incredible athletic ability while having the size for a big corner. Watch the Auburn tape where he dominates Auburn receivers. He’s more of a press man coverage guy than an off-the-ball zone type of guy. The Eagles will still be satisfied, and hopefully, the fans of Philadelphia approve this pick.

PICK 13. Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater (OT – Northwestern)

The Chargers had a tough time keeping the pocket clean for Justin Herbert last season. They already have addressed the inside of the line and now can fill that left tackle spot with Rashawn Slater. Slater was a terrific left tackle at Northwestern who was able to shut down pass rushers in the Big 10 such as Chase Young. He has abilities to play both guard and tackle in case someone goes down with an injury. Slater will be very effective for the Chargers.

PICK 14. Minnesota Vikings – Kwitty Paye (EDGE – Michigan)

Minnesota’s defense took a major step back in 2020. One of the reasons they did was not being able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Paye is physically relentless, exploding off the snap getting great leverage against tackles that makes him a true pass rusher. He’s more of a 4-3 defensive end which fits right in the wheelhouse for the Vikings. He’ll learn how to be dominant in the run and pass games on the opposite side of Danielle Hunter. Coach Mike Zimmer will be grinning from ear to ear with this pick.

PICK 15. New York Giants – Micah Parsons (LB – Penn State)

The Giants now have a bunch of picks to fill out the rest of their roster. They get the best player available in Parsons who has All-Pro potential as a linebacker. Something they haven’t had since Carl Banks. Parsons is a monster of a linebacker that has the speed, explosiveness, and ability to alter his angles that makes him a playmaking machine. Not sure if he can be stout in man-to-man defense but effective in zone coverage. The Giants get an all-purpose linebacker to join a very good defensive unit.

PICK 16. Arizona Cardinals – Greg Newsome II (CB – Northwestern)

Someone has to fill in the hole Patrick Peterson left. The Cardinals try to accomplish that by going out and getting a big corner in Greg Newsome with the 16th pick. Newsome is a lengthy corner with good change of direction. He is well-versed in cover 3 schemes along with quarters coverage and press-man. He’s got great ball instincts to knock it away but has a small number of interceptions questioning his ball skills. He’ll be a solid corner in Arizona who has some great receivers to cover in the NFC West.

PICK 17. Las Vegas Raiders – Alijah Vera-Tucker (OL – USC)

The Raiders would like to go defense here, but the board didn’t go their way. Instead, they’ll fill a hole left by some of the moves they made earlier this offseason to free up some cap space. They take Alijah Vera Tucker who is very versatile. He can play both guard and tackle if needed but had a stand-out year as a tackle in 2020. He may not have the prototype length for a tackle, but he’s solid enough as a pass protector and run blocker to help the Raiders.

PICK 18. Miami Dolphins – Jaelan Phillips (DE – Miami)

Dolphins pluck a pass rusher who played in their own backyard to get pressure on all the young QBs in the AFC East. Jaelan Phillips is a terrific athlete that had a break-out 2020 season as a pass rusher for the Hurricanes. He’s got natural pass-rushing skills that create a high ceiling for him to be a great sack artist. His concerns are his health as he had some issues with staying on the field. If that part is squared away, Miami will have an explosive pass rusher to pair with Emmanuel Ogbah.

PICK 19. Washington Football Team – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB – Notre Dame)

A team that missed out on a QB they really liked in Trey Lance takes a linebacker to add to their top-ranked defense. JOK is a quick and instinctive linebacker that can fly around the field making electrifying hits that rattle receivers. His size might be an issue if he gets locked on blocks or is faced with a big back. He makes up for it by using his speed to elude defenders making him effective in coverage and in the run game. JOK will be the perfect willie linebacker in this Washington defense. By the way, the name is starting to stick with me. Kind of like it now.

PICK 20. Chicago Bears – Christian Darrisaw (OT – Virginia Tech)

Not being able to strike a deal with Seattle to acquire Russell Wilson or moving up for a quarterback leaves the Bears in a tough spot. They get a big body tackle at 20 with the outstanding tackle out of Virginia Tech. Darrisaw was an anchor for the Hokies offensive line with his devastating run blocking and protecting the edge in the passing game. He needs to learn how to pick up blitzes faster but can manhandle defenders straight up. A big improvement for Chicago’s lackluster line that had trouble keeping the quarterback upright last year. I think they sniff around the idea of taking either Kyle Trask or Kellen Mond in the second round to see if they can find a quarterback later.

PICK 21. Indianapolis Colts – Azeez Ojulari (ED – Georgia)

Colts want to find the replacement in Anthony Castonzo but need to solidify that defense with some better edge rushers. Azeez Ojulari would be a good pick for them at 21. Ojulari is a fast, explosive edge rusher that’s very agile and can get to the QB quickly. He got better and better as the season went along for Georgia. He needs to bulk up in size to go against some of these big tackles in the league. A great edge presence will allow the linebackers to fly around the field and open opportunities for DeForest Buckner. The draft is deep at tackle where they can take a guy in the second round if the Colts want to go that route.

PICK 22. Tennessee Titans – Rashod Bateman (WR – Minnesota)

A.J. Brown is a stud on one side, but there’s a hole on the other with the departure of Corey Davis. Bateman can be just as good as Davis was last season. He’s got the size, speed, and hands to be productive in a division that struggles at defending the pass. He needs to do a better job at attacking the ball in the air and controlling his balance against stronger corners. He has pro traits that Tennessee will want to utilize as he learns to be the complete receiver. The Titans will address their corner need in round 2.

PICK 23. New York Jets – Caleb Farley (CB – Virginia Tech)

Farley was projected to be a top 10 pick a couple of months ago. An unexpected back surgery has scared off some teams, but the Jets can get a very talented corner at a tremendous value at pick 23. When he’s on the field, he is freakishly athletic with his size, speed, and ball skills. Farley can be thrown off his game at the line of scrimmage but uses his speed to recover. The talents of a top 10 pick combined with the upside make him a tremendous value pick for the Jets who can use a corner like him in the AFC East.

PICK 24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Teven Jenkins (OT – Oklahoma State)

Pittsburgh needs some serious offensive line help. That’s why Teven Jenkins makes the most sense here at pick 24. He is a great run blocker that moves the line down the field while also finishing his blocks. Even with concerns about his arm length, he was able to control defenders in OSU’s air raid offense. He can be a bit aggressive that could lead to someone getting the best of him. Jenkens can slide right into a starting role and be successful in Pittsburgh.

PICK 25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevon Moehrig (S – TCU)

People forget the Jaguars had a pretty bad defense too. Moehrig is at his best when he patrols the middle of the field forcing turnovers with his ball skills. His loose hips, good instincts, and length allow him to cover a ton of ground as a single-high safety. He can improve his tackling which was an issue at times at TCU. A safety who flies around the back end of the defense is a great get for the Urban Meyer era in Jacksonville.

PICK 26. Cleveland Browns – Jamin Davis (LB – Kentucky)

The edge rush need was relieved by the signing of Jadeveon Clowney. Now the Browns can add to that defense by selecting a linebacker who is flying up everyone’s draft boards. Davis is a three-down linebacker that can diagnose plays quickly, putting him in the right place at the right time. He’s aggressive in the run game bringing ball carriers down in an instant. He quickly locates the action that makes him solid in coverage and takes home some interceptions with his good hands. He will be very solid in the Browns defense, which has got dramatically better in the offseason.

PICK 27. Baltimore Ravens – Terrace Marshall (WR – LSU)

Ravens give Lamar some help in the passing game by taking a quality receiver. SOMETHING I”VE BEEN PREACHING FOR OVER A YEAR NOW! Marshall is a big body receiver that can line up in the slot and outside with great ball skills and playmaking ability after the catch. He makes adjustments on the ball bringing in difficult contested catches. He needs to redefine how he gets off the line of scrimmage as he can be easily affected by a physical corner. Marshall can address that in Baltimore and become dominant in the passing game. A great addition for the Ravens who wants to play further than the divisional round.

PICK 28. New Orleans Saints Elijah Moore (WR – Ole Miss)

Saints fill the void of WR2 with Moore who is a dynamic slot receiver. Moore is a shifty, explosive slot wideout who can turn a little play into a big play. One underlying part of his game is that he has the toughness to shed tackles resulting in some of those big plays. Most of his production might have come off of manufactured plays built for him to show his skills but has the talented traits to go along with Michael Thomas and bring a little extra sizzle to the Saints offense. He can produce immediately in Sean Payton’s offense no matter who’s throwing the ball.

PICK 29. New York Jets Najee Harris (RB – Alabama) (via Green Bay)

The Jets hop back into the first round with worry of what the Bills might do to take their running back of the future. Najee Harris is a 3-down running back that can do it all. He can be a power back running in between the tackles while pass protecting or being an effective receiver in the screen game or check downs. Harris can dish out punishment but doesn’t have that breakaway speed like another former Alabama running back Derrick Henry. He will be a great running back for the Jets that can bring the difference-maker capabilities to the run game. A great fit to go alongside draft classmate Zach Wilson. Three successful first round picks for the Jets

Green Bay trades back to the second round to pick one of the top lineman remaining. Just fix Aaron Rodgers contract to get more space to bring back MVS and Lazard.

PICK 30. Buffalo Bills Christian Barmore (DL – Alabama)

Barmore slips for being the highest-rated defensive tackle, but Buffalo will be a solid team for him to go and be productive right away. Barmore is a massive interior defensive lineman standing at 6’5 that has an explosive motor to quickly get off the ball driving blockers into the backfield. He’s not as polished as some teams want him to be, but all the traits are there for a monster of a defensive tackle.

PICK 31. Kansas City Chiefs Samuel Cosmi (OT – Texas)

You saw the Super Bowl right? We all know Patrick Mahomes was running for his life. Plus, the Chiefs let both starting tackles go in free agency. So it’s best for them to take the best tackle on the board and it’s the former Longhorn in Cosmi. Cosmi was a three-year starting left tackle who has big-time ability in shutting down defenders. There were times where he was pedestrian but most of the time he was an anchor for Texas. Kansas City is a perfect spot for him to learn how to become a high-quality left tackle while protecting Patrick Mahomes.

PICK 32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jason Oweh (EDGE – Penn State)

Tampa has the luxury to go with the best player available with their first-round pick since they have all 22 starters returning. They can get a developmental piece with a high upside such as Jason Oweh. Oweh has the raw athletic ability that can make teams fall in love with this guy. He’s explosive and can make plays behind the line of scrimmage and in space. You would like the production to be there but he didn’t have a single sack in 2020. He can learn how to polish his abilities by playing behind JPP and Shaq Barrett. Once he does, Oweh can be a great situational pass rusher for the defending champs.

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