NFL Mock Draft 2021: 5 QBs Go in First 10 Picks, No Running Backs in Round 1
Getty Images. Pictured: Alabama QB Mac Jones and Ohio State QB Justin Field
- Matthew Freedman's updated 2021 NFL mock draft looks quite different from his last, with five quarterbacks going in the first 10 picks, including Alabama's Mac Jones to the 49ers at pick No. 3. It also includes North Dakota State QB Trey Lance in the top 10, heading to Denver at No. 9.
- The balance of the first round is heavy on offensive tackles and wide receivers, and light on running backs -- zero, to be exact.
- This mock draft is intended to be predictive -- these picks aren't what Freedman thinks teams should do, but rather what he believes they will do. That will help you beat the NFL Draft prop betting market over the next few weeks.
We are about halfway into April, which means it’s time for us to get serious and update my 2021 mock draft. The NFL draft is less than three weeks away.
With all the recent trades and rumors, this updated mock looks significantly different from its predecessors.
As we move into April and have more information on players and teams, I will make significant changes to future versions.
In this present mock, I’m concerned solely with prediction, not prescription. My goal is for you to be able to use this mock as a guide for betting draft props. It’s not about who I would draft, but who I think teams will draft.
Last year, I was 124-88-1 (+26.2 units) betting the NFL draft and the No. 6 mocker in the FantasyPros accuracy contest. In 2019, I was 54-29 (+17.7 units) on the draft and was also a top-20 mocker in the FantasyPros accuracy contest and Mock Draft Database contest.
While I rely on my own research, I also take a “wisdom of the crowds” approach by surveying an index of mock drafts. I find that these drafts — created by experts with established records of success — collectively give me a good sense of the realistic range of outcomes for what we might see with any given player or pick.
With that in mind, here’s how I see Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft unfolding.
2021 NFL Mock Draft
CLICK THE DROPDOWN TO GET A FULL LIST OF PICKS
Click the team to jump to more analysis about the player and selection.
|1||Jaguars||Trevor Lawrence, QB|
|2||Jets||Zach Wilson, QB|
|3||49ers||Mac Jones, QB|
|4||Falcons||Justin Fields, QB|
|5||Bengals||Penei Sewell, OT|
|6||Dolphins*||Ja’Marr Chase, WR|
|7||Lions||Jaylen Waddle, WR|
|8||Panthers||Kyle Pitts, TE|
|9||Broncos||Trey Lance, QB|
|10||Cowboys||Patrick Surtain II, CB|
|11||Giants||Rashawn Slater, OT|
|12||Eagles*||DeVonta Smith, WR|
|13||Chargers||Christian Darrisaw, OT|
|14||Vikings||Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT|
|15||Patriots||Micah Parsons, LB|
|16||Cardinals||Jaycee Horn, CB|
|17||Raiders||Teven Jenkins, OT|
|18||Dolphins*||Kwity Paye, EDGE|
|19||WFT||Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB|
|20||Bears||Samuel Cosmi, OT|
|21||Colts||Caleb Farley, CB|
|22||Titans||Jaelan Phillips, EDGE|
|23||Jets*||Azeez Ojulari, EDGE|
|24||Steelers||Greg Newsome II, CB|
|25||Jaguars*||Trevon Moehrig, S|
|26||Browns||Zaven Collins, LB|
|27||Ravens||Gregory Rousseau, EDGE|
|28||Saints||Rashod Bateman, WR|
|29||Packers||Kadarius Toney, WR|
|30||Bills||Jayson Oweh, EDGE|
|31||Chiefs||Landon Dickerson, C|
|32||Bucs||Christian Barmore, DT|
1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
I have bet on Lawrence to be the No. 1 overall pick and am yet to see a mock draft that doesn’t have him slotted to the Jags at the top of the board.
No surprise here.
2. Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young
Former starter Sam Darnold has been traded to the Panthers, so the Jets seem destined to select a quarterback at No. 2. I imagine the NFL will prefer Wilson to Justin Fields because of his superior arm strength, passing skill, pocket presence and improvisational ability.
3. 49ers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama*
Yes, I have Jones at No. 3.
I prefer Fields to Jones and think he should be the choice here. In fact, I think he should (but won’t be) the pick at No. 2.
Jets OC Mike LaFleur is from the Kyle Shanahan tree. Before joining the Jets, he had been with Shanahan since 2014.
If he looks at Wilson & Fields and thinks, "I prefer Wilson," it's possible for Shanahan to look at Jones & Fields and think, "I prefer Jones."
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) April 12, 2021
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has connections to Fields through QB Collective, the coaching academy through which Shanahan has directly mentored Fields, the program’s star passer.
And it’s notable — but probably meaningless — that the QB Collective Twitter account has been posting and retweeting a lot of content praising Fields and connecting him to the 49ers at No. 3.
But Adam Schefter and Daniel Jeremiah believe the pick will be Jones. Both Schefter and Jeremiah are good at their jobs, and in a big spot like this I am skeptical that both are wrong.
Besides, Shanahan has a type, and Jones fits the mold.
Kyle Shanahan gets the most out of QBs who trust his system and make the right reads:
Matt Schaub 2009 passing champ
Kirk Cousins w Wash
Matt Ryan 2016 MVP
Mac Jones is an ideal QB for that mold, more on par with Ryan
— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) March 29, 2021
After redshirting in 2017 and backing up both Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts in 2018, Jones served as the No. 2 quarterback in 2019 until Tagovailoa’s hip injury thrust him into the full-time starting role.
In his four 2019 starts, Jones looked great throwing the ball.
- Arkansas: 18-of-22 passing, 235 yards, three touchdowns
- Western Carolina: 7-of-11 passing, 275 yards, three touchdowns
- Auburn: 26-of-39 passing, 335 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions
- Michigan: 16-of-25 passing, 327 yards, three touchdowns
And then in 2020 he looked like the best quarterback in the nation, leading the Power 5 with a 12.8 AY/A as he has completed 77.4% of his passes for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns to just four interceptions in 13 games.
There are some drawbacks with Jones: He’s older, he’s relatively small, he has barely more than a year of starting experience, he wasn’t an elite recruit, he’s a net negative as a runner and he probably has below-average arm talent.
Even so, he is a cerebral player and anticipatory passer who should get a shot to be an NFL starter. It looks like the 49ers will give him that shot.
4. Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
This is a placeholder pick: I think a team is likely to trade up for the No. 4 pick and select Fields.
And even if that doesn’t happen, the Falcons could still take Fields, as starter Matt Ryan turns 36 before the season starts, and new HC Arthur Smith might want to draft a quarterback of the future while he has a shot to get one.
Even with his rawness, Fields could be a strong starter in the league. An accomplished dual-threat quarterback, Fields was 5,373-63-9 passing with a 68.4% completion rate in 22 starts for the Buckeyes.
Previous pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
5. Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Bengals desperately need help on the offensive line, and Sewell is the best available offensive lineman. He might even be the best overall player in the class.
6. Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU*
If the Dolphins had stayed at No. 3, there was a decent chance they would have taken Chase anyway, so they did very well to trade down and pick up a future first-rounder in the process.
In drafting Chase and playing him alongside DeVante Parker and Will Fuller V, the Dolphins will have one of the best — or at least most intriguing — receiver trios in the league.
I was very tempted to go with tight end Kyle Pitts here, but the Dolphins already have Mike Gesicki at the position.
*Pick via Eagles
7. Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Before the trade for presumptive starter Jared Goff, I had the Lions selecting a quarterback at No. 7, but now it probably makes more sense for them to address another position, such as wide receiver, where they are perilously thin at the moment.
Starters Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones and second-stringers Mohamed Sanu and Jamal Agnew departed via free agency. The Lions might draft multiple receivers with top-100 picks this year.
Waddle missed most of the 2020 season with an ankle injury, but before his injury, he — and not the Heisman-winning Devonta Smith — was the playmaking No. 1 receiver at Alabama.
- Jaylen Waddle (Weeks 1-4): 25-557-4 receiving | 3-12-0 rushing
- DeVonta Smith (Weeks 1-4): 38-483-4 receiving | 2-2-1 rushing
Previous pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
8. Panthers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Now that the Panthers have Sam Darnold at quarterback, I expect them to address another position in Round 1, and they very much need a tight end. I could see Pitts going in this spot.
Pitts won the 2020 John Mackey Award as the No. 1 tight end in college football and was an easy unanimous All-American selection thanks to his unreal 43-770-12 receiving in just eight games. He is worthy of a top-10 pick.
Previous pick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
9. Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
It’s not lightly that I mock Lance to the Broncos at No. 9. Only three times in NFL history have we seen five or more quarterbacks go in Round 1.
- 1983: John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien, Dan Marino
- 1999: Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, Cade McNown
- 2018: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson
This is the type of thing that tends to happen only once every 15-20 years — and it just happened a few years ago. To have this many quarterbacks go at the top of the draft, you must have a great class of passers as well as a great need at the position in the league.
I think we have both this year.
It’s arguable as to whether the Broncos have a need at the position, given that they have Drew Lock, but Lance is almost certainly an upgrade. He’s young, but he also has immense upside, which he amply demonstrated at his pro day.
Trey Lance was throwing MISSILES all over the field at his Pro Day 👀🎯
— 247Sports (@247Sports) March 12, 2021
Lance redshirted in 2018 and played just one game (basically a scrimmage showcase given that the FCS season had been postponed), so he has just one season of college football to his name — but it was a fantastic season.
In 2019, he won the Walter Payton Award as the most outstanding FCS player in the nation, and he led the Bison to a record-setting 16-0 season with 2,786-28-0 passing on a 66.9% completion rate and 169-1,100-14 rushing.
Previous pick: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
10. Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
It’s hard to know what the Cowboys will do — especially since they have so many needs on defense — but going with the No. 1 cornerback in the class makes sense here, especially since they lost corner Chidobe Awuzie via free agency.
With his elite combination of size and athleticism …
Patrick Surtain II, Alabama CB
💢 Height: 6' 2"
💢 Weight: 208
💢 40-yard: 4.46
💢 Vertical: 39"
Pro Day Schedule & Results ⬇️
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 23, 2021
11. Giants: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Right tackle Nate Solder turns 33 years old this season, and the Giants released right guard Kevin Zeitler in the offseason. They need help on the offensive line, and Slater is the best lineman after Sewell.
Slater opted out of the 2020 season, but he’s a three-year starter with experience on both sides of the line, the flexibility to move into the interior if needed and the versatility to play in most schemes.
Previous pick: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
12. Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama*
The Eagles need pass-catching help. Veterans Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson were both released this offseason, and tight end Zach Ertz could be traded before the season starts.
On top of that, 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor and 2019 second-rounder J.J. Arcega-Whiteside have both underwhelmed in their brief NFL careers.
The Eagles could have stayed at No. 6 and drafted a receiver — maybe Smith — but in trading down they picked up a future first-rounder and still get an impact receiver.
That Smith has familiarity with quarterback Jalen Hurts from their time together at Alabama is just an added bonus.
I have my doubts about Smith because of his age and size, but he outright dominated in 2020 with 117-1,856-23 receiving as the winner of the Heisman Trophy and Biletnikoff Award. And it’s not as if he’s a one-year wonder: In 2019, he was also the No. 1 receiver for Alabama — ahead of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs — with 68-1,256-14 receiving.
Previous pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
*Pick via 49ers & Dolphins
13. Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Left tackle Sam Tevi signed with the Colts in free agency, left guard Forrest Lamp is still unsigned, center Mike Pouncey retired, right guard Trai Turner was released to create cap space and right tackle Bryan Bulaga is 32 years old.
Some of these players have been replaced via free agency, but the Chargers still need help on the offensive line, and Darrisaw is likely to go as the No. 3 tackle after Sewell and Slater
An overlooked recruit who received just one offer from an FBS school, Darrisaw prepped for a year at Fork Union Military Academy before enrolling at Virginia Tech, where he quickly won the starting left tackle job. A three-year starter, Darrisaw has improved each season.
Previous pick: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
14. Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
The Vikings have needs on the offensive line: Right tackle Brian O’Neill and left guard Dakota Dozier are slated for free agency after the 2021 season, and guard/tackle Ezra Cleveland doesn’t have a set position.
In Vera-Tucker, the Vikings get an immediate starter who can play all over the line.
Blessed with good athleticism and ability as a pass and run blocker, Vera-Tucker has positional flexibility thanks to his time starting as a left guard (2019) and left tackle (2020). If selected as a guard, Vera-Tucker could be the first interior offensive lineman off the board, but I expect he’ll get a shot in the NFL to show what he can do on the perimeter.
Previous pick: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
15. Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
With no quarterback available, I can think of nothing more fitting for the Patriots than drafting an off-ball linebacker. Even with 2020 opt-out Dont’a Hightower returning, the Pats are extremely thin at the position, and Parsons fits the draft range given his outstanding pro day.
"That's wide receiver fast!"
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 25, 2021
Previous pick: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
16. Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Cardinals are thin at cornerback after parting ways with franchise stalwart Patrick Peterson this offseason. In Horn, they get an immediate starter.
At his pro day, Horn flashed Jalen Ramsey-esque athleticism, and he stacks up favorably with Surtain.
💥 Jalen Ramsey (Combine)
33 1/3” arms
💥 Jaycee Horn (Pro Day)
💥 Patrick Surtain II (Pro Day)
32 1/2” arms
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) March 24, 2021
A three-year SEC starter, Horn has experience playing on the perimeter and in the slot, and he has the size and physicality to press NFL receivers. He might have the skill set to be an eventual shadow corner. He’s a great pick at No. 16.
17. Raiders: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The Raiders traded away right tackle Trent Brown, right guard Gabe Jackson and center Rodney Hudson. They unquestionably need help on the offensive line, and Jenkens could be an immediate starter.
Previous pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
18. Dolphins: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Dolphins defense was much improved in 2020, led mainly by the secondary, but the team could use more pass rushers, and with Paye they have the opportunity to select the first edge defender off the board.
Previous pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
19. Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Washington has a loaded defensive line but almost nothing at off-ball linebacker. The addition of Owusu-Koramoah will immediately strengthen the interior of the defense.
With this pick, the Football Team gets a unanimous All-American and the 2020 Butkus Award winner. Owusu-Koramoah will likely need to add more muscle in the NFL, but he has great instincts and looks like a Week 1 starter.
Previous pick: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
20. Bears: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Bears need help on the offensive line: Left tackle Charles Leno is entering the final year of his contract, right tackle Bobby Massie was released in early March, right guard Germain Ifedi is on a one-year deal and left guard James Daniels is coming of injured reserve and also entering his final year under contract.
With 34 college starts and experience on both sides of the line (14 games at right tackle and 21 games at left), Cosmi offers positional versatility. And with his size and length, he’s capable as both a run and pass blocker.
I’ll be honest: This feels like a little bit of a reach to me, but Cosmi is about 50/50 to go in Round 1, he fits a need for the team and the Bears aren’t the sharpest of drafters — just ask Mitch Trubisky.
Previous pick: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
21. Colts: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
I could see the Colts going with an offensive lineman, but Farley represents too much value to ignore.
An elite cover man, Farley is not without his issues. He redshirted in 2017 because of an ACL injury and opted out of 2020 because of COVID-19, and he’s still relatively new to the position because he played quarterback in high school and started out in college as a receiver — but in the 2018-19 seasons, he looked like a true talent as a perimeter corner with his size, athleticism and overall ball skills.
Until recently, he was widely expected to go in the top 10, but then he had a back surgery…
Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley, a projected first-round pick, will have a microdisectomy Tuesday with noted back-specialist Robert Watkins and will not work out at his pro day Friday, per his agent @DrewJRosenhaus.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 22, 2021
… and since then his draft stock has dropped.
But Farley is expected to be ready to play for the 2021 season, and No. 1 cornerback Xavier Rhodes is on a one-year contract.
Previous pick: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
22. Titans: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)
The Titans defense last year was No. 31 in the league with a 17.6% pressure rate, and they need bodies at pass rusher, especially since Jadeveon Clowney and Harold Landry are respectively entering free agency and a contract year.
A five-star recruit, Phillips did little at UCLA for his first two seasons of college. But after transferring to Miami and sitting out a season per NCAA rules, he dominated in 2020 with a team-high eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
23. Jets: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia*
The Jets have so many holes on the roster that they could draft almost anyone at No. 23, but they have little at edge rusher after Carl Lawson, and it’s an important position for the defense.
Ojulari feels like the kind of player new HC Robert Saleh would like. He’s undersized, but he plays with effort and has the versatility to function as an off-ball linebacker if needed. And he’s also productive: In 2020, he led the SEC with 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.
Previous pick: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
*Pick via Seahawks
24. Steelers: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
I could see the Steelers going with an offensive lineman, but Newsome is shooting up draft boards, and the Steelers lost starting cornerbacks Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson this offseason. In Newsome, they get a Week 1 starter.
Newsome is small, but he has adequate length to press larger receivers, and in 2020 he was phenomenal (albeit in only six games), holding opposing receivers to just 93 yards and 12 receptions on 34 targets (per Pro Football Focus).
Previous pick: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
25. Jaguars: Trevon Moehrig, S, Texas Christian*
Safeties Josh Jones, Andrew Wingard and Jarrod Wilson are all slated for free agency in 2022, and none of them is an above-average defender. With Moehrig, the Jags upgrade the position and get a starter beyond this year.
Previous pick: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
*Pick via Rams
26. Browns: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Browns defense is notably weak at linebacker, and snap leaders B.J. Goodson and Malcolm Smith are both free agents. The Browns need some new blood at the position, and they get a great player in Collins at No. 26.
A unanimous All-American and the winner of the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player, Collins is the type of versatile defender who can make an immediate NFL impact. With his size, athleticism, intelligence and effort, he can hold up against the run, drop back in coverage or even rush the passer from the middle of the field or off the edge of the defensive line.
Collins looks like a multi-year starter at worst.
27. Ravens: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
The Ravens lost edge rushers Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Jihad Ward in free agency, so they could look to address the position in Round 1. With Rousseau the Ravens get an upside prospect with All-Pro potential.
Previous pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
28. Saints: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
At this point in Round 1, almost anything goes — especially with a team like the Saints, who don’t have many glaring weaknesses. But they did part ways with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason, and Bateman is a worthy replacement.
Previous pick: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
29. Packers: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
The Packers don’t have many needs, but they could certainly stand to upgrade the receiver position. Outside of Davante Adams, the guys quarterback Aaron Rodgers is throwing to are just guys.
Toney feels like the kind of Randall Cobb-esque offensive weapon Rodgers would like. For his first three years in college, he was a utility player who contributed in a part-time hybrid role as a wide receiver, running back, wildcat quarterback and return man — but in his senior season he finally broke out as a full-time playmaker with 70-984-10 receiving and 19-161-1 rushing in 11 games.
Previous pick: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
30. Bills: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
Edge rushers Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison will respectively be 33 and 34 years old when the season kicks off, and both are in the final years of their contracts. The Bills need explosiveness and depth at the position. Oweh provides both.
Blessed with elite athleticism …
Reminder that Jayson Oweh only started playing football in 2016 https://t.co/xO59zfXAe3
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) March 25, 2021
Previous pick: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
31. Chiefs: Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
I’m not fully satisfied with this pick, but at this point in the draft, it’s hard to find surefire Round 1 selections.
The Chiefs very much need offensive linemen: The main question is which one to mock to them at No. 31.
Following the offseason release of left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, I think the Chiefs need a tackle more than an interior lineman, but there’s not clear top candidate on the board, whereas Dickerson is a great pick at a position of need.
While free agent pickup Austin Blythe can play center, he has more experience at right guard, and Dickerson has veteran-level ability at center, although he can shift to guard if needed.
A four-year starter, Dickerson has ample experience at both guard and center, and in 2020 he was a unanimous All-American and the winner of the Rimington Trophy as the top center in college football.
Although he’s coming off a season-ending injury, his rehab is reportedly ahead of schedule — he was seen doing cartwheels at Alabama’s April pro day — and he could be a long-time anchor in the middle of the Chiefs offensive line.
Previous pick: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
32. Buccaneers: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
This pick is mostly about getting Barmore in Round 1, but I think it also fits.
The Bucs don’t have immediate needs anywhere on the team, but interior defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea are respectively slated for free agency in 2022 and 2023.
With Barmore, the Bucs address a potential need without reaching. Despite playing for just two years at Alabama, Barmore is widely regarded as the top interior defensive lineman in the class, and in 2020 he had a team-high eight sacks.
Rounds 1-2 Borderline
- Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
- Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
- Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU
- Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
- Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
- Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
- Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
- Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
- Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
- Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi
- Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
- Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Matthew Freedman is 1,018-828-37 (55.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.