Dave Birkett | Detroit Free Press
Which quarterbacks go where will have a significant influence on what teams do in April’s 2021 NFL draft, but now seems like as good a time as any for my first mock draft of the season.
A lot will change over the next two months, but for now the draft looks strong on the offensive side, particularly at quarterback, wide receiver and offensive tackle.
Here’s my first mock draft, taking a crack at how the first round plays out April 29:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Lawrence has been a lock to go No. 1 since his magnificent freshman season at Clemson.
2. New York Jets
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
I still think the Jets will make a run at Deshaun Watson, but whoever owns the No. 2 pick is taking a quarterback.
3. Miami Dolphins
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
I am not projecting trades in my early mocks, but if I were, the Dolphins would be a prime trade-down candidate.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Fields has been too picked-over as a prospect. He was a very good player in college, and the Falcons need to start planning for their future.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
One of Sewell or Slater should be the pick here as the Bengals must protect their investment in Joe Burrow.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
DeVonta Smith won the Heisman, but Chase is the best receiver in this class.
7. Detroit Lions
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Don’t think for a second the Lions are out of the quarterback market because they acquired Jared Goff. The extra draft capital they have is nice, but it won’t mean a thing if they don’t get the quarterback position right. Lance has the tools to be a star. He’s not ready to play yet, and in Detroit, he can sit a season and take over in 2022.
8. Carolina Panthers
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Panthers will get a quarterback somehow this offseason, perhaps in the draft. But in this scenario, none of the top four fall to No. 8; and no one in the next group is worth taking this high.
9. Denver Broncos
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Another team that misses out on a quarterback in my no-trade mock. The Broncos took receivers with their top two picks last season. Here, they get the best defensive player in the draft.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
This might be a tick high for Rousseau based on his college production, but the traits are undeniable and Dallas will need some pass-rush help if Aldon Smith leaves in free agency.
11. New York Giants
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
There are three potential top-10 receivers in this class. The Giants would be wise to get one for young quarterback Daniel Jones.
12. San Francisco 49ers
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
This cornerback class does not get high marks, but the 49ers have a lot of work to do in their secondary, and Farley has the size and length to fit that defense.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Nothing wrong with getting stud quarterback Justin Herbert another weapon.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
I don’t see Anthony Harris returning, and even if he does, Harrison Smith is 32 years old.
15. New England Patriots
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Matthew Stafford said no to New England, but Mac Jones can’t.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia
If Haason Reddick bolts in free agency after his breakout 12.5-sack season, Ojulari would be a nice replacement.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
The Raiders whiffed on Trent Brown in free agency. Darrisaw could be his replacement.
18. Miami Dolphins
CB Patrick Surtain Jr., Alabama
Surtain’s father made three Pro Bowls with the Dolphins as a player, so this would be a homecoming of sorts.
OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
New Washington GM Martin Mayhew made two picks in the bottom half of the first round as Lions GM. He took offensive linemen both times.
20. Chicago Bears
DL Christian Barmore, Alabama
This is not a good year to need interior defensive line help in the draft, but the Bears will be in that position if Akiem Hicks is a cap casualty.
21. Indianapolis Colts
DE Kwity Paye, Michigan
If the Colts trade for rehab project Carson Wentz without surrendering this pick, they can use it to add more firepower to their defense.
22. Tennessee Titans
CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Desmond King will be a free agent in March and Adoree’ Jackson next year. It makes sense for the Titans to start planning ahead in the secondary.
23. New York Jets
DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
After taking a quarterback at No. 2, the Jets can get new coach Robert Saleh pass rush help.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
RB Najee Harris, Alabama
Harris seems like a Steelers running back.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
Radunz was practice player of the week at the Senior Bowl, and the Jaguars cannot let Lawrence take a beating as a rookie.
26. Cleveland Browns
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
The Bucs showed in the Super Bowl how much value there is in a good linebacking corps. Owusu-Koramoah will not get out of the first round.
27. Baltimore Ravens
C Landon Dickerson, Alabama
Dickerson might not be ready to start the season after tearing his ACL, but the Ravens’ problems at center were on display in the playoffs.
28. New Orleans Saints
WR Kadarius Toney, Florida
Coach Sean Payton should have fun scheming up plays for Toney.
29. Green Bay Packers
WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
Aaron Rodgers rejoices, though Moore’s size and injury history are a concern.
30. Buffalo Bills
CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State
Wade was not at his best in the weird 2020 season, but looked like a first-round pick as a slot defender in 2019, and will be solid in that role in the NFL.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
Eric Fisher won’t be back until late in the 2021 season if at all. Taking best offensive lineman available seems like a wise idea.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Another piece for coordinator Todd Bowles to wreak havoc with on defense.