2021 NFL Mock Draft: First Round Predictions For All 32 Picks
Getty Images. Pictured: Devonta Smith, Justin Fields
In a special collaboration with The Action Network, you’ll find the second edition 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.
2021 NFL Mock Draft
1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This selection seems set with Lawrence teaming up with Urban Meyer to lead the Jaguars into the future. How Jacksonville decides to surround the top overall pick in the draft is of more interest at this point.
Previous pick: Trevor Lawrence
2. Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Editor’s note: This mock was published before the Jets traded Sam Darnold to the Panthers on Monday, boosting Wilson’s odds of being drafted second overall.
The Jets have yet to address the Sam Darnold situation as he still remains on the roster, but all signs point toward Wilson being the pick regardless of whether Darnold remains with the team or not.
Some analysts have gone as far as ranking Wilson higher than Lawrence at the position. Wilson did nothing to dispel that praise at his pro day, displaying the the ability to make some beautiful throws on the move.
Previous pick: Zach Wilson
3. 49ers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State*
The first domino of the the draft fell when San Francisco dealt three (current and future) first-round picks to Miami for the right to make this selection. Rumors have since swirled about which quarterback the 49ers truly covet: Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones. Fields’ pro day proved that he has the most physical tools to work with and Kyle Shanahan has shown the ability to get the most out of the position.
This situation will be monitored until draft day. Here’s to hoping the 49ers tip their hand.
Previous pick: Rashawn Slater
*Pick acquired from the Dolphins via Houston
4. Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Falcons addressed their quarterback situation by restructuring Matt Ryan’s contract. While that doesn’t exclude them from selecting a quarterback with this pick, it allows them the flexibility to move down or address other concerns.
Tight end Hayden Hurst had a solid season in 2020, and while the position may not be one of high priority, freak athletes like Pitts don’t come along often. Running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at 245 pounds with an 83-inch wing span makes him a unicorn prospect at tight end. Adding Pitts to an offense that also features Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones would make the Falcons tough to defend.
Previous pick: Justin Fields
5. Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
“Generational Talent” are words used to describe Chase. Fresh off a 4.38-second 40-yard dash and 41-inch vertical at his pro day, Chase secured his place as the top WR in the 2021 class.
A reunion with Joe Burrow is slowly gaining buzz in NFL circles with the Bengals maintaining the ability to address protection issues in Round 2.
Previous pick: Kyle Pitts
6. Dolphins: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon*
The Dolphins were part of the big shake up with the 49ers, later trading a future first-round pick to the Eagles to move into this spot from 12th overall. Many mocks will have Chase or Pitts going here, but under this scenario, Miami selects the best tackle in the draft and gets some protection for its young quarterback.
Previous pick: Penei Sewell
*Pick acquired from the Eagles
7. Lions: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Micah Parsons may be the pick that jives more with the personality of new head coach Dan Campbell, but the Lions are in desperate need of playmakers. Free agency saw the Lions attempt to replace the loss of Kenny Golladay by bringing in Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams. Adding Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith would greatly add to an offense with no identity.
Previous pick: Jaylen Waddle
8. Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
This pick will be heavily dependent on what the 49ers do at third overall. The Panthers are also in a position that they could also choose to move up to either No. 4 or 7 to get a QB. In this scenario, Carolina takes Trey Lance.
While Lance’s skill set would fit well with what the Panthers want to do, his small college sample size may require him to sit a year behind Teddy Bridgewater.
Previous pick: Trey Lance
9. Broncos: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Will Mac Jones be the pick at No. 3? Rumors say yes, but logic says that San Francisco did not need to move up that early in the draft to make that selection.
The Broncos find themselves in a similar position as the Panthers in that they may need to trade up to select the QB they prefer.
Previous pick: Patrick Surtain
10. Cowboys: Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
Many scouts value Surtain as the best defensive prospect in this draft. Adding his talents with former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs would greatly improve a secondary that allowed nearly 30 points-per-game in 2020.
Previous pick: Caleb Farley
11. Giants: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Parsons put his stacking speed on display by producing a sub-4.4 40 at his pro day. Acing the rest of his pre-draft tests have him in the running to be the top defensive player selected in the draft.
Previous pick: Devonta Smith
12. Eagles: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina*
Reports say that Philadelphia’s brass moved from No. 7 because the Eagles expect the Bengals to select Chase. While wide receiver needs to be a priority for Philly, cornerback should be just as high on the list. Avonte Maddox — currently projected as a starter — graded out as the 121st at the position according to Pro Football Focus.
Previous pick: Ja’Marr Chase
*Pick acquired from the Dolphins via 49ers
13. Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Slater has a bevy of fans in the scouting community, with some even rating him ahead of Penei Sewell. After adding Brian Bulaga to the right side, Slater could slide in to protect Justin Herbert’s blind side.
Previous pick: Christian Darrisaw
14. Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Vikings have needs in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Drafting Darrisaw would help both Dalvin Cook and system-based quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Previous pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker
15. Patriots: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Patriots have spent heavily in free agency, adding tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to go with Nelson Agholor. With Julian Edelman aging and N’Keal Harry a bust to this point, adding a threat like Waddle would help open up the middle of the field for the Patriots.
Previous pick: Mac Jones
16. Cardinals: Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan
Replacing the pressure production that Haason Reddick brought late in the season would be beneficial for a defense that has both Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt on the wrong side of 30. Adding a starting cornerback is of greater importance, but Arizona misses out on Jaycee Horn going earlier to the Eagles.
Previous pick: Jaycee Horn
17. Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Raiders addressed their pass rush in free agency by signing Yannick Ngakoue. Owusu-Koramoah brings a versatile skillset to a defense that’s forced to match up with the Chiefs twice per season.
Previous pick: Kwity Paye
18. Dolphins: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Collins offers the size and skill to fit in perfectly on the Miami defense. Head coach Brian Flores would easily be able to take advantage of Collins by moving him inside and outside offering the ability to disguise coverage and blitz packages.
Previous pick: Rashod Bateman
19. Washington: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
Jamin Davis may be the fastest rising player in the draft. Seeing him here is not that far of a stretch when you turn on his tape and see him covering Kyle Pitts successfully. Running a 4.41 40 with a 42-inch vertical puts his athletic traits on full display as Davis continues to ace the pre draft process.
Previous pick: Micah Parsons
20. Bears: Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
The Bears have seemingly been the odd team out in the draft and free-agent quarterback market. Another failed run via trade or draft movement will likely see general manager Ryan Pace fired.
Vera-Tucker offers the position versatility along the offensive line to allow the Bears to make adjustments until they figure out what works.
Previous pick: Terrace Marshall
21. Colts: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
With both Philip Rivers and Anthony Costanzo retiring, the Colts need to fill two of the most important positions in football. Adding Cosmi to protect newly acquired Carson Wentz would fill both needs.
Previous pick: S
22. Titans: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The Titans traded away 2020 first-round bust Isaiah Wilson this offseason. Going back to the draft well to fill the right tackle position may not be ideal, but it’s necessary to maintain their rushing identity. Jenkins offers a mean streak that will be appreciated by Derrick Henry.
Previous pick: Jaelan Phillips
23. Jets: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern*
Another riser during the pre-draft process, Newsome was able to elevate his profile in 2020. His play style and talent will fill a severe need for the Jets at this selection.
Previous pick: Najee Harris
*Pick acquired from the Seahawks
24. Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Steelers have a number of needs including linebacker, cornerback and offensive tackle. While running back may rate lower than some of those positions, Harris may be a better talent than any of the other options left.
The Steelers struggled to run the ball during their late-season crash and Harris offers the ability as receiver to warrant a first round selection.
Previous pick: Teven Jenkins
25. Jaguars: Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama*
At this point in the draft, the Jaguars will already presumably have Trevor Lawrence. They also added a weapon through free agency in veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones. Addressing the hole along the middle of their defensive line makes sense here. In a weak class, Barmore is the only defensive tackle prospect who warrants a selection in the first round.
Previous pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
*Pick acquired from the Rams
26. Browns: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Browns have interest in improving their defense early in the draft. Adding a linebacker could make sense but they go with Phillips here. The Browns have been searching for pressure opposite of Myles Garrett that the offseason signing of Takkarist McKinley is unlikely to provide.
Previous pick: Zaven Collins
27. Ravens: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Ojulari is the best speed rusher in the draft. Adding a player of this pedigree at this juncture is just the type of move the Ravens have historically found success with. Keep an eye on Terrace Marshall as an option here as well.
Previous pick: Gregory Rousseau
28. Saints: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Saints have a major need at cornerback. Farley’s draft stock has taken a hit recently due to concerns over a back injury. How he checks out medically will be paramount but his size and speed could warrant taking a chance here.
Previous pick: Trevon Moehrig
29. Packers: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Is this the season that Aaron Rodgers finally gets some wide receiver help in the first round? If it is, the Packers could have their choice between Rashod Bateman or Terrace Marshall. Bateman gets the nod here, although he seeming lost two inches and 20 pounds at his pro day.
Previous pick: Kadarius Toney
30. Bills: Asante Samuel, CB, Florida State
Samuel offers NFL pedigree and was among the smoothest cornerbacks in college football last season. The ability to play outside or in the slot would greatly help opposite of Tre’Davious White
Previous pick: Nick Bolton
31. Chiefs: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
Tony Pauline recently mentioned Radunz as a name to monitor at the end of Round 1. Radunz offers the explosiveness and agility that would be a great fit in Andy Reid’s offensive scheme. Radunz is a bit undersized at 299 pounds, so this projection depends greatly on his ability to add size to his frame.
Previous pick: Jalen Mayfield
32. Buccaneers: Trevon Moehrig S, TCU
The Buccaneers return all 22 starters from their Super Bowl roster. Moehrig could change that and immediately bring versatility on the back end of the Bucs’ defense on the opposite side of Antoine Winfield.
Previous pick: Christian Barmore