Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
2021 NFL Mock DRAFT
- WALT'S | CHARLIE'S
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The overreaction mock draft is back! You never know what outside-the-box thinking will end up being prophetic.
NFL Picks - Sept. 23
Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Jacksonville Jaguars were never going to be among the elite teams of the AFC as long as Dave Caldwell was their general manager. Thanks to Caldwell's terrible drafting, the Jaguars are in rebuilding mode. Caldwell blew top-five picks on Luke Joeckel (2013), Blake Bortles (2014) and Dante Fowler (2015).
Jacksonville is paying the price for Caldwell's blown picks right now, and to make matters worse, the Jaguars passed on Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson because they made the mistake of drafting Bortles and sticking with him. Caldwell's terrible drafting gave proof how he was one of the worst general managers in the NFL and how one draft mistake leads to another. Fortunately for Jaguars fans, the team has moved on from Caldwell and can hire a more competent general manager and coaching staff to build around Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence made some beautiful throws in 2020, showing off his powerful arm, accuracy, and an impressive ability to throw on the run. His deep ball accuracy was phenomenal. He completed 69 percent of his passes in 2020 for 3,153 yards, 24 touchdowns passing and five interceptions. Lawrence also rushed for eight touchdowns.
In 2019, Lawrence completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,665 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 563 yards and nine touchdowns while leading Clemson back to the National Championship Game. Lawrence showed further development as a passer and as a team leader. Lawrence took college football by storm as a freshman in 2018, compiling a flawless season that culminated with him ripping Alabama's defense comprised of NFL talent to win another National Championship for Clemson. Lawrence completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions on the year.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder has a powerful arm, developed poise, and play-making ability. Lawrence made good decisions while distributing the ball well to his phenomenal supporting cast. On top of his great size and arm, Lawrence is a dangerous runner with surprising speed and moves in the open field. He can make something out of nothing and shows real toughness as a runner. Lawrence needs to improve not staring down his first read and getting quicker at working through his progressions.
Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
TRADE!! The Falcons trade up with the Jets to get their quarterback of the future and bring Fields, a local guy, back to Georgia.
Given the age of Matt Ryan and the Falcons' salary cap issues, it would make sense to draft their starter of the future if they have a shot at one of the top quarterback prospects. A new regime in Atlanta could start the rebuilding process with its own quarterback.
Fields has completed 73 percent of his passes in 2020 for 1,906 yards with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has five rushing scores as well. Fields possesses a dynamic skill set with natural passing ability and is a dangerous runner. He is an accurate passer with a strong arm, is aggressive to push the ball downfield, and is a playmaker with his feet. Team sources agreed he looks like a bigger Deshaun Watson. Fields definitely needs development and refinement, as he as a serious lack of pocket awareness. For the NFL, there are some critical areas for improvement including pocket passing, executing in the face of the rush, handling blitzes, and anticipating receivers breaking open rather them needing to see them come open.
Coming out of high school, Fields (6-3, 223) was one of the top recruits in the nation along with Trevor Lawrence. Fields started off his career at Georgia before transferring to Ohio State. In Fields' one season at Georgia, he was 27-of-39 for 328 yards with four touchdowns passing and four touchdowns rushing. He took over as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback in 2019 following Dwayne Haskins' departure for the NFL and dominated the Big Ten. Fields completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,273 yards with 41 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran for 484 yards and 10 scores in 2019.
Carolina Panthers: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
TRADE!! The Panthers trade up with the Dolphins to get Matt Rhule his long-term starter.
Wilson has some arm talent, makes good decisions, and has an efficient style of play. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder also is a very good athlete who can pick up yards with his feet, and is excellent at buying time to escape the pass rush and extend plays. Team sources say Wilson is confident and intelligent, plays tough, and inspires his teammates play for him. On the negative side, they say Wilson is a rich, entitled brat who rather than being a leader, is a selfish know-it-all - his parents are a pain to deal with too. Those opposing opinions suggest Wilson is going to need to mature, so it will be interesting to see how he handles getting humbled in the NFL.
Wilson played well in 2020, dominating a lot of weak competition and completing 73 percent of his passes for 3,692 yards with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also notched 10 rushing scores. In 2019, he completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,382 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In 2018, he completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,578 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Check out my video on racism in the NFL, with recent examples involving the Carolina Panthers.
New York Jets: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
TRADE!! The Jets trade down with the Falcons to add more premium picks for their rebuild.
This would be very early for a wide receiver, and the 2021 NFL Draft is loaded at the position, so the Jets could land good a wideout late in the first round or in the second round. The organization also could find quality running back or edge-rush prospects in that range. The Jets could go for the best non-quarterback prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft by taking Sewell. He could form an elite tandem with Mekhi Becton and give New York the makings of a dominant offensive line.
Sewell (6-6, 325) had a dominant 2019 season as the blind-side protector for Justin Herbert. With his good size, length, quickness and athleticism, Sewell has a nice skill set that could end up making him one of the top choices of the 2021 NFL Draft. For his excellent sophomore season, Sewell won the Outland Trophy and was the Pac-12 co-offensive player of the year. Sewell was a shutdown pass protector as a freshman in 2018, not allowing a sack in over 926 snaps. He only was credited with allowing seven pressures and two hits that season. Having skipped the Pac-12's pandemic-shortened season should not harm Sewell's draft stock because he had already produced two good seasons of tape for the NFL to examine.
Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
There isn't good value here for the Bengals' top needs on the offensive and defensive line. Cincinnati could target a playmaker like Pitts here. The team lacks a receiving tight end, and A.J. Green is declining and injury-prone. Here's a dynamite mismatch weapon to help Joe Burrow.
Team sources say they think Pitts is a top-10 talent due to his dynamic ability as a receiver, and some scouts feel he is the best receiving weapon in the 2021 NFL Draft. They believe he may not be as explosive as Eric Ebron or Evan Engram, but Pitts is a more polished pass catcher and more dynamic as a route-runner and mismatch weapon. Some team evaluators have told me they think Pitts is a better tight end prospect than T.J. Hockenson, Ebron, O.J. Howard or Engram were.
Pitts was incredible in 2020, showing speed on long touchdown receptions, size on jump balls, superior route-running to create separation, good hands, and dangerous yards-after-the-catch skills. He was too fast for linebackers and some defensive backs while being too big for safeties or cornerbacks in coverage. Pitts is matchup nightmare and the most dynamic mismatch receiving weapon in the 2021 NFL Draft, including Ja'Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith. The 6-foot-6, 239-pounder could stand to improve his blocking, but he will get drafted for his receiving ability.
Pitts totaled 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2020. He turned into play-maker in 2019, creating mismatches in the passing game while recording 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns.
Philadelphia Eagles: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Eagles badly need linebacker help, and Parsons could be a plug-and-play upgrade.
Parsons collected 109 tackles with five sacks, four forced fumbles and five passes defended in 2019. He was always around the ball and produced some splash plays for Penn State. Parsons broke into the starting lineup as a true freshman in 2018 and showed that he has lot of upside to develop into an intriguing player. On the year, he totaled 83 tackles with five for a loss, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Parsons (6-3, 245) has good size, speed and quality instincts. Prior to the Big Ten canceling and then restarting its season, Parsons decided not to play in 2020. Team sources say that while Parsons is not a criminal, he is being dinged over lesser character in their reports.
Detroit Lions: Jaelen Phillips, DE, Miami
Detroit needs a lot of upgrades on the defensive line. Here's an edge rusher to go across from Trey Flowers.
The Hurricanes were dealt a serious blow when star defensive end Gregory Rousseau decided to skip the 2020 season. Miami gave Rousseau's number to UCLA transfer Jaelen Phillips, who a nice job of continuing the disruptive presence coming from No. 15. Team sources noted Phillips really impressed them, and they see a lot of upside with the junior.
Phillips (6-5, 266) really improved as a pass rusher over the course of the 2020 season and recorded 45 tackles, eight sacks, an interception and three passes defended on the year. Phillips has quality speed to go with length and strength. He can both shed blocks and hold his ground in run defense. Phillips could continue to grow as he gains experience.
Miami Dolphins: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
TRADE!! Miami swapped its first pick of Round 1 with Carolina to move back to a different top-10 selection.
The Dolphins could use more receiver talent, and they already have tape of Smith being a lethal weapon with their starting quarterback. Smith fits the culture that Brian Flores is fostering in Miami and could be a phenomenal weapon across from DeVante Parker.
Smith has 105 catches for 1,641 yards with 20 touchdowns so far this year. He put together a tremendous junior season for Alabama, recording 68 receptions for 1,256 yards with 14 touchdowns. Throughout his time at Alabama, Smith has showed off excellent hands, phenomenal route-running, speed to get vertical, and the ability to pick up yards after the catch. He had 42 catches for 693 yards and six scores in 2018.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder has taken on a bigger role in 2020 with Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs having moved on to the NFL. If Smith were 20 pounds heavier, he would be a sure-fire top-10 pick because he is a pure football player.
Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Denver could use a young No. 1 cornerback for its defense.
Surtain has 35 tackles, one pick-six, and 11 passes batted in 2020 while playing sound coverage for Alabama. He did give up a long touchdown to Trevon Grimes in the SEC Championship. Surtain (6-2, 203) is a big corner who brings speed and athleticism to go with his size. He was the rare freshman defensive back to see the field under Nick Saban, and in 2018, Surtain contributed 28 tackles with an interception and seven passes defended. He moved to the "star" position for 2019, which is a critical nickel corner/safety role in Alabama's defense. Surtain is a great fit for that position, like Minkah Fitzpatrick was in past years. As a sophomore in 2019, Surtain had 42 tackles with two interceptions, three forced fumbles and eight passes broken up. Surtain is the son of former Miami Dolphins corner and three-time Pro Bowler Patrick Surtain.
Dallas Cowboys: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
The Cowboys go with the best defensive player available to take an edge rusher to go across from Demarcus Lawrence.
Rousseau (6-6, 260) was one of the best edge defenders in college football during his redshirt freshman season. For his breakout 2019, he notched 15.5 sacks with two forced fumbles and 54 tackles. Rousseau has an excellent skill set with upside to improve, but his development could be slowed down by his decision to opt out of the 2020 season. There is no substitute for experience and a year of refining pass-rushing moves, getting off blocks, and improving technique. Thus, Rousseau will enter the NFL as a 1-year wonder who could require more developmental time. He might still be a top-10 pick, but he will be more raw and underdeveloped compared to other recent high first-round defensive ends like Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garret, Bradley Chubb and the Bosa brothers.
New York Giants: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Giants need to get more receiving weapons for Daniel Jones, and the position has been a painful weakness since trading away Odell Beckham Jr. They should double up at the position by adding receiver talent on Day 1 and Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Chase (6-1, 200) enjoyed a breakout 2019 season and was a source of big plays for the Tigers' offense. On the year, the sophomore averaged 21.2 yards per reception with 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was the No. 1 receiver for the Tigers' offense, showing off game-breaking speed with quality route-running and yards-after-the-catch ability. Chase was the best wide receiver in college football in 2019, and there wasn't a close second. As a freshman, he had 23 catches for 313 yards with three scores.
San Francisco 49ers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The 49ers could use some young talent at cornerback and safety. Here's the former, and one who can complement Richard Sherman before eventually taking over as their No. 1 corner.
While teammate Israel Mukuamu had received more media attention coming into 2020, some team sources shared they preferred Horn as a prospect for the NFL. They believe Horn is a more fluid athlete and faster. Those evaluators like Horn's ability to run the route and prevent separation. He looked very good in 2020, holding his own against Florida's dynamic receivers and dominating Auburn. Horn totaled 16 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defended for his season. He opted out of the final three games of the year after head coach Will Muschamp was fired.
Horn broke into the starting lineup as a true freshman and showed improvement in his sophomore season. He has quality size to him and has shown a nice ability to break up passes. Horn (6-1, 205) helped himself as a junior, showing improved ball skills. Jaycee Horn is the son of former Saints wide receiver Joe Horn.
Los Angeles Chargers: Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC
The Chargers grab a long-term left tackle to protect Justin Herbert.
With Austin Jackson in the NFL, Vera-Tucker took over as the Trojans left tackle and played well in limited action. Vera-Tucker was going to sit out the 2020 season before opting back in, and re-joining USC helped him display the versatility to compete at guard or tackle in the NFL. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Vera-Tucker was a good left guard for the Trojans in 2019 and has upside to develop at the next level.
In the ground game, Vera-Tucker is not a bull at the point of attack, but he is effective. He is more of a wall-off-and-position blocker who beats defenders to a spot to cover them up and keep them from making a tackle. He does a nice job of scrapping and keeping his hands fighting to sustain his blocks. It would help him to add strength if his frame isn't maxed out. For a pro rushing offense, Vera-Tucker might fit best in a zone-blocking scheme.
There is a lot to like about Vera-Tucker in pass protection for the next level. He is an easy mover with athleticism, quickness and agility. He can glide with speed rushers, showing an easy ability to play the typewriter with his feet. Vera-Tucker is a natural knee bender who maintains good leverage while avoiding bending at the waist. He looks like a starting left tackle or guard in the NFL.
Washington Redskins: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
TRADE!! The Redskins move up in a trade with the Vikings to get Ron Rivera his quarterback of the future. Lance can learn behind Alex Smith for a year or two.
Lance's one game of the 2020 season was a mixed outing. He missed some throws and made some mistakes, but considering the rust factor, that is somewhat understandable. Lance completed 15-of-30 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries as well. The 2019 season was Lance's first year of playing time, and he produced a huge year, completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Lance is listed at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, and sources say he has a good skill set of physical tools. In the spring of 2020, scouts told me they needed to see more from Lance and were wary of a 1-year-wonder situation, but North Dakota State had its football season canceled, other than that one game, which makes Lance a tougher and more risky evaluation for the 2021 NFL Draft.
New England Patriots: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
New England clearly needs more receiver help, and Waddle could be a plug-and-play upgrade.
Waddle is very fast and could develop into a dangerous outside or slot receiver. Some team sources think that the 5-foot-10, 182-pounder could be a Tyreek Hill-type game breaker in the NFL. Waddle has game-changing speed and the ability to score on any catch.
Waddle notched 25 receptions for 557 yards and four touchdowns in 2020 before going out with a season-ending ankle injury. In 2019, Waddle recorded 33 receptions for 560 yards and six touchdowns. He would have produced more at other schools, but at Alabama, he was rotated with a loaded receiving corps that included the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and DeVonta Smith. Waddle recorded 45 receptions for 848 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018.
Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Patrick Peterson won't play forever, and the Cardinals could use more cornerback talent to go with Byron Murphy in the long term.
The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Farley has an excellent skill set with size, speed and athleticism. After starting out at wide receiver for the Hokies, Farley missed the 2017 season with a torn ACL. He had a bad year 2018, but was excellent in 2019, recording four interceptions with 12 passes broken up and 20 tackles. It was impressive that Farley played that well considering he had a serious back injury for a lot of the season.
Farley decided to sit out the 2020 season because of the pandemic, so he will enter the 2021 NFL Draft having been a 1-year wonder and flagged with durability issues. His physical tools, however, could be enough to lead to him being selected during the opening night of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Go to Overreaction 2021 NFL Mock 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 bandwidth.
Other 2021 NFL Mock Drafts:
2021 NFL Mock Draft - Walt's
Charlie Campbell's 2021 NFL Mock Draft
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 22
NFL Power Rankings - Sept. 21
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8
NFL Draft Links: