The NFL wrapped up its Divisional round and we now know the order of the first 28 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. We’ll get spots 29 and 30 after the AFC and NFC Championship games and then the final two spots when the Super Bowl concludes.
We’re continuing our series of mock drafts as we add more picks to the draft. The top of the board is not changing yet because there is no real reason to change other than boredom. The Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and free agency will all shake up draft prognostications, but for now, it’s more about seeing how the back half of the board fills out.
We won’t be removing Trevor Lawrence from the top of the board anytime soon, but it could get interesting with the other quarterbacks going up and down the draft board. We’ve got three in the top ten, with Justin Fields and Mac Jones joining Lawrence up there. One has to think this will open the door to some significant wheeling and dealing.
We won’t be projecting trades yet, but in the meantime, here’s what we’ve got for the first 28 picks.
The pick: Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback, Clemson
Urban Meyer isn’t going to let this guy go for Justin Fields. The most sure-fire No. 1 overall since Andrew Luck, Lawrence can do everything you’d want from a 21st century quarterback. Accurate, mobile, big arm, and he’s built like a barn to withstand the pounding. His hair might be too pretty to hide under a helmet for the next 15 years however.
The pick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Fields erased all questions with this performance in the College Football Playoff. Those go by the wayside after his incredible game against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. He’s got a rocket arm, with the mobility and athleticism to give defenses fits. His ability to recognize coverages has been an issue, as when he makes mistakes they tend to be big ones.
3. Miami Dolphins (from Houston)
The pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Don’t overthink it, get Tua the best receiver prospect available. Going with Ja’Maar Chase is fine as well, but if you want to get better in a hurry (and the playoff-ish Dolphins do) Smith is more game-ready. Speed, athleticism, catch radius... it’s all there and will force teams to respect the run game and throw bombs out of play action. The Heisman Trophy winner is the real deal.
The pick: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The “Mormon Manziel” might be a smaller but swifter Baker Mayfield, and the question will be can he throw a 15-yard out in the NFL. Listed at 6’3, the Combine will tell us for sure. He’s elusive and can make plays to both his left and his right when the pocket breaks down, and his ability to improvise is strong and fits a pro skillset. But does he have enough raw tools to be a top-five pick?
The pick: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Can protect Joe Burrow for a decade plus, which after his gruesome injury should be the priority. Sewell is 6’6, 330, and runs like he’s on the track team for the Ducks. The first sophomore to win the Outland Trophy, a freak of nature by all accounts, and a great kid off the field. On talent alone, he’s probably the best player in the draft.
The pick: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Opting out of the 2020 season, the ball-hawking Hokie is the most talented player at this position. Will be interesting to see if there’s any rust in 2021, but Farley can do everything you need from a shutdown corner. He’s got coverage skills and can stay step-for-step with X’s and Z’s in both man or zone schemes.
The pick: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
DeVonta Smith did so much this season, but many draft-niks like Chase more on raw ability. Opted out of the 2020 season, but his national championship season in 2019 showed he can run all the routes and isn’t afraid to go over the middle. He’s also a nightmare for any DB covering as he adjusts for the ball in the air as well as any human not named Odell Beckham on the planet.
The pick: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Once he declared, the 6’3 national champion starting quarterback showed he can do whatever is needed in the pocket. He’s got all the throws, and polished of a 41 TD, 4 INT season to get a ring and a Heisman nomination.
He’s not super-mobile, and his arm is big but not overwhelming, but if you can protect him he can pick apart a secondary with elite accuracy.
The pick: Patrick Surtain II, DB, Alabama
If you need someone to cover physical wide receivers on go routes, here’s the guy. At 6’2, 200, he’s physical enough to jam and has excellent ball skills. If you can start 12 games at Alabama as a true freshman, you’re probably worthy of a top-10 pick on that alone. A quality Rose Bowl doesn’t hurt either.
10. Dallas Cowboys
The pick: Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
Dallas stays in state with Comsi, who is 6’7, 309 and at 21-years-old will get bigger. Does everything you need to protect a quarterback and open up holes for your superstar running back, and would be able to start from Day 1. Fun facts: He’s from Humble, Texas, and is getting a degree in Human Dimensions of Organizations. Hook ‘Em!
11. New York Giants
The pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
For sure the third-best receiver in a class that might be loaded. Waddle is more of a slot guy than an outside guy, but if he gets behind you it’s six points. The precision of his routes and ability to separate using cuts is what makes him so dangerous.
The pick: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
A good player on an awful college team, Horn is 6’1, 205 and plays physical enough to jam at the next level. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do without the limitations of Will Muschamp and lack of talent around him.
The pick: Wyatt Davis, OL, Minnesota
You need guards that can both pull and pass protect in a triangle spot, and Davis can do that. For a team that wants to protect their rising star quarterback in Justin Herbert, as well as get movement in the run game, this could be the best option.
The pick: Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee
The Volunteers had an outstanding offensive line in 2020, and it’s a shame the rest of the team wasn’t close to their level of production. Smith is 6’6, 325 and is considered a long-term stud at guard with the ability to open up holes in the run game. The knock is his quickness in pass protection, but that can certainly still be developed.
The pick: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Carson Wentz showed a QB can come from the FCS and Fargo and be effective in the NFL right away (remember when Wentz was one of the best prospects in football??). Lance only played one game in 2020, and looked pretty mediocre according to the stats. But he has all the tools, and at 6’4, 226 he was the Most Outstanding Player in the FCS Playoffs winning another national championship for the Bison.
2021 has a lot of teams that need a quarterback, but not a lot of talent on the board. If Belichick wants to develop a young passer, this could be how.
The pick: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Had some ups-and-downs with the NCAA and opting-in-out of this season, but he’s a total stud. Had just 36 catches for 472 yards this season, and he’s much more of a complete receiver than just a speed guy.
The pick: Greg Rousseau, DE, Miami
Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season, but anchored a very good 2019 Canes defense, and finished with 15.5 sacks and 19.5 TFL’s. He’s got that freakish South Florida athleticism, and can win either on the outside or in the run game.
18. Miami Dolphins
The pick: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
An absolute freak at the levels of the American Conference, Collins is 6’4”, 260 lbs, and had two pick-sixes this past season. He can cover, and he can hit. If you need a linebacker that can cover a slot receiver and blow up an iso run, he’s got both skills. And a high floor here as well.
The pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
If Taylor Heinicke returns, you’ll have to keep him upright. At 6’4, 315, he comes from a school with a long tradition of producing great OL talent.
20. Chicago Bears
The pick: Rayshawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
This is under the assumption the Bears don’t have the time to develop a passer, and will make a trade or free agency signing to try and win using the rest of their roster. Slater stays in Chicago, where he’s one of the most versatile big men available.
The pick: Azeez Ojulari, DE, Georgia
He had 8.5 sacks and four forced fumbles for what might have been the best defense in college football last season. He’s 6’ 3”, 240 lbs, but there’s plenty of room to add more size to explosive speed already. He should be able to get to the passer right away, and the Colts can use the help if they can’t move for a QB.
22. Tennessee Titans
The pick: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Barmore only played two full seasons after redshirting out of Neumann Goretti High School in Philadelphia. In 22 career games he had 15.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. The 6’5, 310 pounder moves with tremendous speed and athleticism and will likely slot in as a nose or three-technique at the next level.
23. New York Jets (from Seattle)
The pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Under “needs” for the Jets you’ll find a list every position in the history of football, including wingback and flanker. Just get the best guy, and somehow Pitts fell this far in this mock draft. He’s a freak of nature that can make plays both over the middle and on the sidelines, and has the size to light up second-level defenders in the run game.
The pick: Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
We don’t claim to watch a ton of film on FCS guys, but Brown has a freak athlete rating from everyone that’s seen him. Pittsburgh either needs to a franchise quarterback (there aren’t any this late), or someone to protect Big Ben if he returns.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles)
The pick: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Proved he can make plays on the biggest stage, even if his team gave up 52 points in the title game to Alabama. Has good size at 6’ 1”, 195 lbs, and is actually from Jacksonville. People that actually want to be in #DUVALLLLL tend to play better there.
26. Cleveland Browns
The pick: Joseph Ossai, LB, Texas
Five sacks and 54 tackles for the Longhorns last season, and plenty of room to grow at 6’4, 253 lbs. The Browns need to be able to attack the young quarterbacks of the AFC with quick pressure, and Ossai brings that explosiveness they’ll need as an edge pressure player.
27. Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Joe Tryon, LB, Washington
We’re leaning a bit towards guys that have been in prep mode due to opting out of the 2020 season as we get to this point in the draft. It’s tough to take a guy that didn’t play last year in the Top 10, but you can in the back half. And at 6’5, 262 in two years of starting in Seattle, he had eight sacks in 2019 and showed good strength at the point of attack.
The pick: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
They’re $95 million over the cap and Drew Brees is gone. Trask is the best QB available on the board, and he’s shown toughness and good awareness in his two seasons starting for the Gators. He’s likely competent if not a huge talent, but you can develop him with plenty of reps while heading into what seems to be a massive rebuild.