Scott Smith’s NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Trevor Lawrence, Then Who? Forecasting All 32 First-Round Picks
Getty Images. Pictured: Trevor Lawrence, Devonta Smith
In a special collaboration with The Action Network, you’ll find the debut version of Scott Smith’s 2021 NFL Mock Draft below.
Smith was the most accurate mock drafter of 2018 at Mock Draft Database, which grades the accuracy of mock drafts industry-wide, including longtime draft analysts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper. Smith’s ability to consistently finish in the top-five of that mock draft accuracy contest for three straight years is what sets his mocks apart from others.
1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
After a year of playing quarterback carousel with the likes of Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton and Mike Glennon, the reset button has been hit in Jacksonville. Incoming head coach Urban Myer will try his hand at the pro game and enters a favorable situation with the first overall pick and more than $69 million in cap space.
Trevor Lawrence is locked in as the pick here as Myer attempts to succeed where other elite college coaches have failed. Starting with the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck is an easy decision.
2. Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Jets lost out on the “Tank for Trevor” sweepstakes by winning two meaningless games. Gone is perennial laughing stock of a coach, Adam Gase, and in comes Robert Saleh to right the ship.
The first puzzle Saleh must figure out is whether Sam Darnold’s career can be salvaged in the same way Ryan Tannehill’s was in Tennessee. If that answer is no, then New York’s front office will again be picking second overall with no consensus on which quarterback is next on the list.
Wilson had a stellar 2020 season beating up on weaker competition but showed the ability to be accurate with the ball while also displaying surprising mobility.
3. Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU*
Rumors have been swirling that this pick could be traded for Deshaun Watson. Houston, however, has leverage and little-to-no motivation to move a top-five asset at the quarterback position.
Miami is invested in Tua Tagovailoa and touts a defense that nearly carried the team into the playoffs despite the offensive woes. If Tua is to succeed, it’s obvious that the Dolphins need weapons on offense.
This pick should come down to Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith or LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase. Smith dominated the 2020 college season while Chase opted out of playing. Chase, however, posted numbers just as impressive while overshadowing rookie phenom Justin Jefferson.
*Pick acquired from the Texans
4. Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Falcons have the fourth-worst cap situation, finding themselves $33 million over budget. With a roster lacking the talent to compete for playoff contention and an aging quarterback accounting for more than 23% of their cap, moving on from Matt Ryan and drafting a new signal-caller seems prudent.
Fields started his college career at Georgia before moving on to Ohio State and could be just the jolt of energy this franchise needs.
5. Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Bengals had what should be considered a successful 2020 draft by many measures: Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins acquitted themselves well in their rookie seasons. But in 2020, Cincinnati gave up a sack on 8.6% of plays, so adding protection for Burrow will be paramount in seeing the young 1-2 punch reach their potential.
6. Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Smith won the Heisman after posting 123 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns, and no team needs Smith’s help more than the Eagles.
New head coach Nick Sirianni has been tasked with getting Carson Wentz right again. Whether that happens or they pivot to second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, the Eagles will need more production at wide receiver. Pairing Smith with Jalen Reagor would give the Eagles a young pair of weapons.
7. Lions: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Lions made the first significant move of the offseason by sending Matthew Stafford to the Rams for a ransom of picks and Jared Goff. The picks weren’t representative of Stafford’s market value and were more of payment for taking on the contract of Goff — the fact that those picks were added as compensation shows that Goff is not seen as a valued asset.
Acquiring Goff will not stop Detroit from drafting a quarterback. Lance is added here as both competition for Goff and for the future of the franchise. Outside of Lawrence, Lance could have the most upside among quarterbacks in this class and should have an easier time transitioning to the NFL after what he was tasked to do under center at North Dakota State.
8. Panthers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
While Teddy Bridgewater may not be the long-term answer for the Panthers, he did play well enough to continue as the place holder until the long-term answer arrives.
After missing out on the top quarterbacks, Carolina takes Pitts, who could turn out to be a huge difference-maker with skills in the mold or Travis Kelce.
9. Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Surtain is the big athletic cornerback upgrade that Denver desperately needs. Starring at Alabama, Surtain was a star for Nick Saban en route to another championship. With NFL pedigree in his father, Surtain should test and interview well, making him an easy choice for the Broncos.
10. Cowboys: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Dallas needs help at a number of positions: The offensive line failed and the secondary was a bottom-10 unit in 2020. Tyron Smith has produced at an All-Pro level for years, but injuries have started to see his play decline.
If the Cowboys are going to invest big money in Dak Prescott, protecting that investment will be a big priority. Slater has clean tape and should be the first lineman off the board after Sewell.
11. Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Giants have failed to surround Daniel Jones with the weapons he needs to succeed. Waddle’s skillset has been compared to Tyreek Hill’s and would not only add a threat to help Jones, but could also help to stop defenses from crowding the line on Saquon Barkley.
12. 49ers: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Jason Verrett was a nice reclamation project but has a significant injury history. Richard Sherman is another year early. The 49ers don’t do anything flashy in the way of defensive scheme and rely on base coverage a lot.
Slotting in Farley to take over for Sherman or in case of another Verrett injury makes sense.
13. Chargers: Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
Vera-Tucker has clean tape and proved to have positional versatility along the offensive line after moving to left tackle for the Trojans. Protecting Justin Herbert will be of the utmost importance for the Chargers.
Vera-Tucker should be given a chance to play outside, but ultimately probably slots in better on the interior.
14. Vikings: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami
Head coach Mike Zimmer has called the 2020 version of the Vikings defense among the worst he had ever coached. An inability to generate a pass rush consistently plagued the team. And a failed experiment with Yannick Ngakoue saw him shipped to Baltimore.
Phillips offers the production and bend to bring the heat at the next level.
15. Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Patriots simply must get faster on defense. Parsons has top-10 ability but has some red flags with off-field concerns. A primary candidate to drop on draft day, the Patriots could snag a valuable asset to add to their front seven.
16. Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Entering his age-31 season, Patrick Peterson is probably past his prime. Horn, the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, made is name in the SEC as a long tough defensive back who has improved every year.
Getting a player with Horn’s ability to play on the outside and match up with X receivers would help the Cardinals.
17. Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
An explosive and versatile defender, Owusu-Koramoah has the speed to play all over the field. His ability would give the Raiders the luxury of playing more base packages, while gaining a much-needed playmaker on defense.
Through two years, general manager Mike Mayock has also shown a propensity for drafting players from top programs in the early rounds.
18. Dolphins: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Dolphins could look to add another piece on offense to help Tua. If they don’t, head coach Brian Flores could add Collins and give him the chance to shine playing in space and occasionally rushing the passer.
Collins could thrive in a situation that allows him to play downhill in multiple alignments.
19. Washington: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The Washington Football Team needs to address several positions on offense. After missing out on Stafford even though the WFT reportedly offered more compensation, the team could have a tough time attracting a free agent quarterback to be their starter.
Jones will be a tough evaluation due to the surrounding talent at Alabama. He did, however, acquit himself well at Senior Bowl practices and you can’t fault him for making the plays he was supposed to.
20. Bears: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Chicago has failed thus far to extend star wide receiver Allen Robinson. Robinson’s recent tweets do not make it sound as if he will return to the Bears. If so, Bateman would be an excellent selection as his ball skills and route running should be in high demand.
21. Colts: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Colts need to address three primary positions: Quarterback, left tackle and edge defender. The retirements of PhilIp Rivers and Anthony Castonzo place emphasis on filling two of footballs most important positions. In this scenario, the Colts miss out on Mac Jones, so they instead fill the tackle position with Darrisaw.
22. Titans: Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan
The Titans need to address their defense, in the secondary and along the edge. Paye is the best player available at this point and could slide right in along the line for head coach Mike Vrabel’s defense.
23. Jets: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson*
The Jets need playmakers. A look at their running back depth chart shows how talent depleted this team is in the way of playmakers. Etienne displayed the ability to make plays and leaves Clemson as their leading rusher.
*Pick acquired from the Seahawks
24. Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Steelers have some cap issues that could see multiple players on offense leaving. Benny Snell proved that he’s just another guy while Harris sports an all-around skill set and the ability to be a bell cow runner at the NFL level.
With guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ben Roethlisberger possibly being cap casualties, Harris could help give the Steelers an offensive identity.
25. Jaguars: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan*
After getting Lawrence with the first pick, the Jaguars need to beef up his blind side protection. Mayfield is a monster in the run game and has the athletic ability to be a quality starter in this league for years.
*Pick acquired from the Rams
26. Browns: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
The Browns ended their playoff drought and look to be an up-and-coming team in the AFC North. Rousseau offers elite length and the ability to rush from inside. Pairing him with star defensive end Myles Garrett would be a problem for years to come.
27. Ravens: Joseph Ossai, Edge, Texas
Ossai is a high-motor edge rusher who would fit best in a 3-4 defense like Baltimore runs. The Ravens should love his effort, and pairing him with Matt Judon and Patrick Queen would allow them to disguise the pressures.
28. Saints: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
The Saints are behind the eight ball as they start what’s expected to be the post-Drew Brees era. Sporting the league’s worst salary cap situation, Micky Loomis and Co. wil have to trim a lot of fat. Linebacker Alex Anzalone was unreliable, and the trade acquisition of Kwon Alexander worked on the field but ended badly due to injury.
Bolton could come in and be an impact-level starter for the Saints.
29. Packers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Packers made some head-scratching decisions in the NFC Championship. After drafting Jordan Love in 2020, it’s easy to see why Aaron Rodgers may not be very happy in Green Bay. Adding a wide receiver or some offensive line help could go a long way toward helping mend fences.
Cosmi can slot in on the right side as a plug-and-play.
30. Bills: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Buffalo needs someone to play consistently opposite Tre’Davious White. Much too often teams found success by avoiding White in coverage. Stokes offers the ability to play in zone or man and plays best when in press position at the line.
31. Buccaneers: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State*
The Bucs could go a number of places, including edge and interior defensive line. This may be a bit early for Freiermuth , but there’s no guarantee that Rob Gronkowski comes back next year and the Bucs could save $6.5 million by cutting Cameron Brate.
*Projected first-round draft position
32. Chiefs: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU*
The Chiefs are in the position to take the best player available. Moehrig offers range and the versatility to play deep or in the box. Keep an eye on him as he should be a mover during the draft process as the best safety in the class.
*Projected first-round draft position