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Arthur: Final 2021 NFL Mock Draft

How will the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft unfold? Senior analyst Jake Arthur tells us in his predictive mock draft.
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Draft Day is finally upon us!

After months of tape-watching and information-gathering, it's led us to these next few days.

Today, I'm giving my one and only mock of the 2021 NFL Draft season.

For accuracy's sake, there are some picks we can be fairly confident in, but this year's draft may be one like no other due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that be in terms of the information teams have (or haven't) been able to gather, players opting out of the last season, etc.

This mock will be a predictive one, as the "what I would do" approach is a moot point by now. For transparency, this is the same lineup I'll be submitting for mock draft grading on NFL Mock Draft Database and FantasyPros.

Let's get into it.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: Trevor Lawrence | QB | Clemson

No mystery here. Arguably the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck has been cemented to Jacksonville for quite some time.

2. New York Jets

Pick: Zach Wilson | QB | BYU

With the Jets having the benefit of unofficially knowing who the one team before them in selecting, they've been able to zero in on their man as well. Wilson offers a ton of upside at the sport's most important position for a team that needs it.

3. San Francisco 49ers

Pick: Trey Lance | QB | North Dakota State

This is a tough one, but I think we all know it's a quarterback. Head coach Kyle Shanahan reportedly wants Mac Jones while the scouting department prefers Lance. Jones seems to be the favorite, but people I trust seem to think it may actually be Lance. He's garnering consideration as the smartest QB among the top bunch and offers a world of potential.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Pick: Kyle Pitts | Tight End | Florida

Just taking a best player available approach, adding Pitts into the mix with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley would really be something. The Falcons could shake things up by going with a new quarterback, but Matt Ryan isn't done making plays.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Penei Sewell | OT | Oregon

If they do go with an offensive lineman then I wouldn't be shocked to see Cincinnati throw a curveball and go with Rashawn Slater if they have reservations about Sewell. However, he's the most likely top tackle on their board. Pairing quarterback Joe Burrow with his former star receiver in Ja'Marr Chase is really appealing, but the investment the Bengals made in Burrow last year means they need to protect him.

6. Miami Dolphins

Pick: Ja'Marr Chase | WR | LSU

The Dolphins absolutely stunk for a while, to the point where some people accused them of tanking in order to be able to draft quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Well, they got their man last year, so they ought to do everything they can to allow him to flourish. They give him the draft's top wideout here to play alongside DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Mike Gesicki, and Preston Williams.

7. Detroit Lions

Pick: Jaylen Waddle | WR | Alabama

After Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones left in free agency, the cupboard got pretty bare for the Lions. Here, they add a terrific multi-threat receiver for new quarterback Jared Goff to sling passes to.

8. Carolina Panthers

Pick: Rashawn Slater | OL | Northwestern

Teams are likely in love with Slater as a well-rounded tackle who may have the ability to play every offensive line position. Carolina no longer has left tackle Russell Okung, but Slater could play anywhere the Panthers see fit.

9. Denver Broncos

Pick: Micah Parsons | LB | Penn State

Quarterback has been a big rumor here, but it would feel odd to give them one after they just traded for Teddy Bridgewater this week. In Parson, they get an elite linebacker talent to plug into Vic Fangio's defense. He would help a defense that's already got some talent.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Pick: Patrick Surtain II | CB | Alabama

This has got to be one of the most common mock draft matches of the spring. The Cowboys need cornerbacks, and the best one in the draft is available to them here.

11. New York Giants

Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker | OL | USC

Quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley need things cleared in front of them, and Vera-Tucker is just the man for the job. Like Slater, he can play inside or outside and could fill New York's needs on the right side. Edge Kwity Paye makes a lot of sense, but Vera-Tucker is likely to be higher on most boards.

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Pick: Jaycee Horn | CB | South Carolina

Philadelphia's secondary has been an issue, but adding an experienced player like Horn who plays with tenacity and attitude would be a big step in the right direction. He's a shutdown corner who allowed just 8 receptions on 24 targets last year.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: Christian Darrisaw | OT | Virginia Tech

It would be a mistake for Los Angeles to enter the season with their offensive tackle situation how it is. Darrisaw is a well-balanced tackle who has mobility and toughness as a blocker.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Pick: Kwity Paye | ED | Michigan

Outside of Danielle Hunter, there's not much going on for Minnesota in terms of pass rush. Paye is the cleanest of the top edge rushing prospects and is capable of playing right away.

15. New England Patriots

Pick: Justin Fields | QB | Ohio State

It seems crazy for Fields to last this long, and I really don't think he will, but the Patriots get an outstanding quarterback prospect for the future. Oddly enough, he's often compared to current Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. Fields is capable of playing right away partly due to his mobility, but he's also a sharp passer. New England is the type of team to capitalize on some of the stupid narratives out there about Fields.

16. Arizona Cardinals

Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah | LB | Notre Dame

Adding Owusu-Koramoah to a defensive already featuring Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt, Budda Baker, and Isaiah Simmons is too good to pass up. Owusu-Koramoah is similar to Simmons in that he can play in multiple spots, whether it's strong safety, weakside linebacker, or some other sub-spot.

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17. Las Vegas Raiders

Pick: DeVonta Smith | WR | Alabama

The Raiders are one of the most unpredictable teams when it comes to the draft. While they're just as likely to take someone with a second-round grade here at No. 17, they stop the slide of the reigning Heisman winner. Smith can stretch the field, pick up yards after the catch, and is one of the toughest receivers in the class despite his 166-pound weight.

18. Miami Dolphins

Pick: Jaelan Phillips | ED | Miami

The Dolphins got offense with their first pick, and now they add arguably the most talented edge rusher in the class at No. 18. Likely the only thing keeping Phillips around this long is his medical background, particularly the concussions that forced his brief retirement early in his college career. The Dolphins need reinforcements among their pass rush, and they take a leap of faith here with Phillips.

19. Washington Football Team

Pick: Mac Jones | QB | Alabama

For what it's worth, I fully expect both Fields and Jones to be gone within the first dozen picks. Washington brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback this offseason, but he's the guy that teams acquire when they're ready to find a new long-term quarterback. They grab that here in Jones, who could go as high at No. 3. He's an accurate short-to-intermediate passer who should do well with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.

20. Chicago Bears

Pick: Teven Jenkins | OT | Oklahoma State

After releasing Bobby Massie, it appears to be Germain Ifedi or Elijah Wilkinson at right tackle for the Bears. Instead, it's Jenkins, who is a plug-and-play right tackle for Chicago. His style of play fits the city as well, as he's a total tough, nasty, bulldog of a blocker. They're going to need protection for quarterback Andy Dalton.

Nov 14, 2020; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Northwestern Wildcats defensive back Greg Newsome II (2) breaks up the pass to Purdue Boilermakers tight end Payne Durham (87) in the game at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

21. Indianapolis Colts

Pick: Greg Newsome II | CB | Northwestern

With the most appropriate offensive tackles and edge rushers off the board, I would take a hard pass here if I was Colts general manager Chris Ballard and attempt to trade back. However, since we're not doing trades, I'll make a pick.

Cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie are on one-year deals. Starter Rock Ya-Sin is facing a crucial season, and we don't know how much not playing last year has affected Marvell Tell III's development. This cornerback group could look so much different next year and could be a big area of need if not addressed now.

There has been a lot of smoke connecting Georgia edge defender Azeez Ojulari to the Colts recently, but I would find it hard to rank him above Newsome.

22. Tennessee Titans

Pick: Caleb Farley | CB | Virginia Tech

The Titans desperately need help at receiver and cornerback, and corner is the better value here. Farley's last month or so has been a mess for his draft stock after it came out that he's had a couple of operations on his back, and reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 twice. If they're comfortable with his medicals, they get a player who likely would've been taken among the top dozen picks.

23. New York Jets

Pick: Christian Barmore | DT | Alabama

New defensive-minded head coach Robert Saleh gets the top defensive tackle of the class here to pair with Quinnen Williams on the defensive line. Having a top-notch defensive line would go a long way toward closing the gap in the AFC East.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: Najee Harris | RB | Alabama

The Steelers need help on the offensive line, but without a quick fix, they get a running back who can create his own tough yards and contribute on all three downs. As Ben Roethlisberger gets older, a solid run game becomes more important for Pittsburgh.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: Trevon Moehrig | S | TCU

Jacksonville could use an upgrade at both safety positions, so they get a do-it-all safety in Moehrig that they can plug-and-play wherever they feel they need most. The AFC South has quality quarterbacks in Deshaun Watson, Ryan Tannehill, and Carson Wentz, so it's important for the Jaguars to be able to counter that in their secondary after drafting a quarterback who can match the others.

26. Cleveland Browns

Pick: Asante Samuel Jr. | CB | Florida State

The Browns don't have any pressing needs, but they could use a boost at cornerback. Denzel Ward is a solid starter, but they may not know what they're getting in Greedy Williams, who missed all of 2020 with a shoulder injury. Samuel could be a surprise standout performer as a rookie.

27. Baltimore Ravens

Pick: Gregory Rousseau | ED | Miami

The Ravens defense could look un-Raven-like if they don't add some more outside pass rush. Rousseau has the size and strength to see the field quickly, but he's got plenty to work on in terms of a pass-rush plan and combat moves. Still, his ability to play inside and out fits the Ravens defense well.

28. New Orleans Saints

Pick: Zaven Collins | LB | Tulsa

Demario Davis and Zaven Collins sounds really intriguing if I'm the Saints. They'll be getting used to life without Drew Brees at quarterback, so the pick may be on the offensive side of the ball, but getting a multi-talented linebacker who can play all three downs is a terrific move for their defense.

29. Green Bay Packers

Pick: Rashod Bateman | WR | Minnesota

Behind Davante Adams, no one else has really risen above the fray at receiver for Green Bay, but Bateman could be capable of changing that. Allen Lazard gives them a  solid contested-catch option to round out the top trio. Bateman can line up outside or in the slot and he makes plays after the catch.

30. Buffalo Bills

Pick: Azeez Ojulari | ED | Georgia

Jerry Hughes is nearly 33 and Mario Addison is nearly 34, so Buffalo needs some younger blood among their edge rushers. Ojulari has athleticism but needs some time to develop, which is a perfect scenario playing behind Hughes and Addison.

31. Baltimore Ravens

Pick: Liam Eichenberg | OT | Notre Dame

After trading tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs, it created an obvious opening at right tackle. Tyre Phillips and Andre Smith are Baltimore's top options at right tackle otherwise. Time to get some help.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pick: Jayson Oweh | ED | Penn State

Tampa is bringing back basically everyone from a Super Bowl-winning team, so what do you give them? This is the perfect spot for Oweh, who doesn't have to contribute immediately and can be an eventual replacement for Shaquil Barrett or Jason Pierre-Paul.

What do you want to see the Colts do in the draft? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!

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