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2021 NFL Mock Draft by kkunert327 - First Wave Free Agency Edition
Published at 3/19/2021 8:35:41 AM

This is my official foray into the Mock Draft realm of the season. Of course with Free Agency still rolling along there are bound to be big moves that will happen while I write this up so bear with me. Without further adieu here we go!

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Round 1

1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback, Clemson

This is one of the most obvious picks in a long while now. It has been known for while now that Lawrence would be the first overall pick once he was eligible for the draft. I know some people want to hint that Zach Wilson is the better prospect, but to me it's all just a smokescreen. While Wilson may have the more tangible upside, I think Lawrence is more of a sure thing to be great right off the bat. To me a combination of Lawrence and Urban Meyer may actually be the key to turning this hapless franchise around.

2. Jets: Zach Wilson, Quarterback, BYU

I think Wilson is a bit of Fool's Gold in this draft that has people wearing beer goggles when they look at him. Sure he has a ton of talent, skills, and athleticism, but throughout his career he has beaten up on lesser competition. In his one big match up against Coastal Carolina he came up with a bit of a dud. Also, whenever quarterbacks go 1st and 2nd one turns out to be a stud and the other turns into a bust. I doubt Lawrence is the one that turns into the bust. Wilson to me is destined to be a let down after the hype.

3. Dolphins: Ja'Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU

If I were the Dolphins I would have to take a long hard look at Justin Fields, but it does look like they would give Tua Tagovailoa one more year at the helm to prove himself. One way to help him out is by giving a dynamic go to weapon like Ja'Marr Chase. While I think it's a tad high to take a receiver in the top 5 of a loaded receiver draft class, the Dolphins do have a boat load of picks to reach on a few prospects. Chase to me is a worthy one for a team that needs to get more explosive on offense.

4. Falcons: Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida

I think it's a bit of a misdirection by the Falcons to hint at taking a quarterback here. If you ask me Matt Ryan is still a top 10 quarterback in this league and then there's also the issue of his contract being in the way of cutting or moving him in the near future. So instead, I would recommend them trading down with a more quarterback needy team. However, if they stay here I would not be opposed to them taking a dynamic talent like Pitts here to add to their offense. With new head coach Arthur Smith at the helm their offense could take off with a passing attack made up of Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, and Kyle Pitts on their offense. After that all they need to do is find a more reliable running back to have one the best offenses in the league.

5. Bengals: Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle, Oregon

This is the 2nd most obvious pick in the draft behind Trevor Lawrence going to the Jags. If Penei Sewell ends up falling to the Bengals they have to sprint to the podium to place the pick. He would give them the blindside protector for Joe Burrow they so desperately need after watching him turn into a punching bag last year. To me Sewell is by far the safest and possibly best pick in this draft.

6. Eagles: DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver, Alabama

The Eagles had tanked for DeVonta Smith at the end of the season and it even ended up costing Doug Pederson's job. Like the Dolphins I do not think taking a receiver in the top 10 picks of this draft seems to be a bit steep with how good the value can be later in the draft at the position. However, I do understand the appeal of landing either of the top two receivers of this draft class. Smith is a pretty safe pick thanks to his high end routes, speed, and elite hands. Unlike Chase who has more upside, Smith is a ready to play stud with a ton of experience and an elite IQ on how to get open. Both Smith and Chase should be excellent players at the next level.

7. Lions: Caleb Farley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech

The Lions could be a prime candidate to trade down in the draft with them picking right in front of the Panthers and Broncos who both need quarterbacks. However, I do not predict trades in the draft as the draft is amazingly unpredictable in the first place. If they stay here Farley could be an ideal pick for them after how badly Jeff Okudah preformed. Even if Okudah does turn it around it never hurts to have too many good corners in a league filled with elite receivers and quarterbacks. I still think Patrick Surtain II is the better of the two or at least the safest of the two. To me Farley is a bit too much of a boom or bust prospect with him only playing corner for one season in college. He did perform amazingly despite it being his only season as a starter. Many see him as having immense upside and I think a team ready for a fresh start like the Lions could be an ideal fit for him.

8. Panthers: Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State

It seems like new owner David Tepper is determined to bring in a new quarterback at some point. I think they will be whiffing on the trade market for a high named veteran, but they could look to add one in the draft here. I think Justin Fields is the Justin Herbert of this draft class as a quarterback who seems to be over nitpicked by analysts and scouts. Fields to me is the 2nd best quarterback in this class. He has the accuracy, instincts, and leadership to be a great quarterback in this league. He could easily buck the trend of poor Buckeye quarterback play in the NFL. I can see him turn into a great quarterback who can sit and learn a bit behind Teddy Bridgewater as well in this scenario if they hang onto him.

9. Broncos: Micah Parsons, Linebacker, Penn State

The Broncos could be looking for a quarterback here, but I can see them also try to swing a trade for a veteran like Teddy Bridgewater, Jimmy Garoppolo, or Gardner Minshew to compete with Drew Lock. If they decide to pass on a quarterback they can come around and land a stud linebacker like Parsons here. In a division where they have to face off with likes of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert twice a season they need a great defensive quarterback to go toe to toe with them. Parsons is a similar game changing linebacker in the same vein as Roquan Smith and Devin White who are two of the best young linebackers in the league.

10. Cowboys: Rashawn Slater, Offensive Guard, Northwestern

The Cowboys just handed Dak Prescott a ton of money to stay around for a few more years. Now they need to turn around and give him a better blocking unit to stay upright behind. Outside of Zach Martin the rest of the line needs upgrades. That includes Tyrone Smith who was once one of the best tackles in the league, but his age and injuries have taken a toll on him over the years. Bringing a new tackle to push him Smith would be a wise idea. An even wiser one would be bringing in Slater who can play all five spots on the offensive line. Slater is a powerful, intelligent, and talented blocker who has experience playing at guard, center, and tackle. He should find a good home anywhere on the Cowboys offensive line.

11. Giants: Kwity Paye, Defensive End, Michigan

The Giants are clearly in the market for a new receiver with how many guys they are talking to in the early goings of the free agency period. I think a short term deal for Kenny Golladay would be a great move for them. Regardless I think they can wait on a receiver in this draft and target a pass rush they desperately need here. Paye is a dynamic interior pass rusher who can fit as an edge rusher or a tackle. He offers a lot of versatility and upside after only starting about one season in college. A lot of former Wolverines tend to do better in the pros than in the college so I would not be surprised if Paye lights it up for the Giants alongside Leonard Williams.

12. 49ers: Mac Jones, Quarterback, Alabama

I am not as high on Jones as some people are, but I doubt he makes it past the top 15 picks. One of the more ideal landing spots for him could be in San Fran under Kyle Shanahan that runs a great offensive system for him to thrive in. He is also more pro ready than say Trey Lance who they can also likely have here. I would imagine if they landed Mac Jones here that they would end up moving on from Jimmy Garropolo sooner than later. In all honesty, I think Jones will be a pretty solid quarterback at the next level, but not worthy enough being a franchise quarterback.

13. Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, Offensive Tackle, Virginia Tech

I love what the Chargers have done this offseason thus far landing Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler to help out their offensive line. However, I would love to see them to continue to build up the protection in front of Justin Herbert. Christian Darrisaw would be a great pick up for the Chargers here to lock down the left tackle spot. He is a dynamic athlete who has continued to improve every season as a left tackle at Virginia Tech. The Chargers should love having what could be a completely revamped and improved offensive line in front of the young Justin Herbert.

14. Vikings: Trey Lance, Quarterback, North Dakota State

I am not sure the Vikings are going to take a quarterback or not, but I do not see why not. Kirk Cousins is not the future in Minnesota anymore. Adding a quarterback like Trey Lance could be an ideal fit here to develop and groom behind Cousins. I think Trey Lance has the most talented upside out of any quarterback in this draft class. He has a giant arm, great athleticism, and a ton of potential. I would not be surprised if given the time to properly develop that he could turn into the next Patrick Mahomes. In fact, he plays a lot like Mahomes blended with Josh Allen and Cam Newton. His biggest red flag is his lack of experience if he is given time to develop he could be an excellent quarterback.

15. Patriots: Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver, Alabama

The Patriots went on a spending spree, but if you ask me not all of it was wise. I know they have had a difficult time drafting receivers, but why overpay on receivers when this class is so deep at the position. The Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith signings make sense, but I think both are being severely overpaid. In any case, I still think they need help at receiver since Agholor is super inconsistent and Bourne has not been able to stay healthy at all. A new weapon like Waddle would be a nice addition to the mix with his extreme speed and explosive playmaking. While his injury history has not been the best either, but if he can stay healthy his upside is worth the risk here.

16. Cardinals: Patrick Surtain, Cornerback, Alabama

The Cardinals need a new corner or two with them letting Patrick Peterson walk in free agency. They do have a solid gadget type corner in Byron Murphy who can move all across their defense. However, in this pass happy league you need more than just one okay corner to be able to sport a strong defense. The Cardinals pass rush should be improved with J.J. Watt, but I would still like to see them bring back Haasan Reddick. In any case, landing who I think is one of the best prospects in Patrick Surtain II here is a great grab for them. Surtain II plays much like his former Pro Bowl father with a ton of instincts, aggressiveness, and quickness. He is not a speedy corner, but he is certainly a savvy cover corner who was the guy everyone facing Alabama avoided on their defense. To me he is ready to play at a high level right away thanks to his experience and being coached up by his father. I would not be surprised if he turns into one of the best players from this draft class.


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