Merry Christmas, football fans.
One of the most anticipated days on the professional football calendar is here, as the 2021 NFL Draft is set to begin tonight at 8:00 pm eastern time. The NFL Draft acts as a refresh button, providing hope and optimism for all 32 fan bases across the league.
Whether your team is in the beginning of a rebuild, just a few pieces away from competing, or simply trying to keep adding to a talented roster, the NFL Draft offers hope of being one franchise player away from turning the tide.
It's a puzzle that few have perfected: Navigating the various draft boards and stringing together strong draft classes to better your team. The 2021 NFL Draft presents its own pandemonium waiting to be unleashed, as Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Zach Wilson to the New York Jets appears to be the only sure thing on Thursday night.
The San Francisco 49ers are the team everybody in the league is watching, with an apparent quarterback decision coming between the likes of Mac Jones and Trey Lance. The ripple effects from the third overall pick will undoubtedly impact the remaining draft order.
Yet quarterbacks aren't the only hot topics of discussion. Between Caleb Farley's back problems, Micah Parsons' off-field character concerns, the CB1 debate between Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn and where in the world Penei Sewell will land, storylines are sure to follow each and every pick.
So, with no further delay, your final mock draft of the 2021 offseason.
With the first pick, in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select...
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
There's no need to overthink this. Surround Lawrence with a half-competent team and coaching staff and you'll get everything he's advertised to be: A star quarterback who can save a franchise.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
After dealing Darnold, the Jets regroup and grab their next guy to potentially be a franchise gun-slinger. Wilson has all the tools pro scouts love, and should translate well with proper talent around him. Wilson would be considered for the top pick in almost any other draft.
3. San Francisco 49ers (From Miami): Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The debate here is between Lance and Mac Jones, and while this pick is leaning towards Mac Jones near the end of the finish line, the 49ers didn't trade multiple first-round picks to not draft what many believe to be the smartest QB in the draft. Lance presents himself as the perfect candidate to sit behind Jimmy Garoppolo for a season or two before taking over the reigns.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This pick could easily be a QB. How many times will you be in draft position to get a franchise QB? With an aging Matt Ryan, it makes sense. However, the Falcons appear committed to squeezing everything out of Ryan's last run, and with rumors of Julio Jones being moved, Atlanta grabs the proclaimed Unicorn that is Kyle Pitts.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: JaMarr Chase, WR, LSU
For Joe Burrow's sake, I really hope Penei Sewell is the pick here. The Bengals need protection for Burrow's health in the long run, yet a myriad of reports suggest Chase is likely to link up with Burrow once more. Chase has been hailed as the most pro-ready WR, and would help Cincy keep up in a division where prominent offenses exist on each team.
6. Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Although the Dolphins are candidates to grab Sewell here, a second pick in the first-round (18) may be used to grab an offensive tackle. The Dolphins are here to grab a playmaker, and should Chase/Pitts not be available, Miami happily grabs the uber-quick Waddle to add a game-changing speed dynamic unbeknownst to their current depth chart.
Trade alert! The Los Angeles Chargers and Detroit Lions have swapped picks, and the Chargers are now on the clock.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (via Detroit): Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Sewell's fall stops here, as the Chargers pull the trigger on a trade to get what many believe to be a generational talent at offensive tackle. Los Angeles is confident Herbert is the guy moving forward, and the organization was dying for Sewell to get within reaching distance as they build protection around their greatest asset.
Trade alert! The Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers have swapped picks, and the Bears are now on the clock.
8. Chicago Bears (via Carolina): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
This could be a number of teams, yet the Bears win the bidding war for the eight overall pick and put a stop to the senseless fall of Justin Fields. Fields has potential to be a top two quarterback in this class, and with the Bears having no real options for their future at the position, the time is now for the front office to pull the trigger and get a solidified passer. These are the types of moves that save jobs.
Trade alert! The Philadelphia Eagles and the Denver Broncos have swapped picks, and the Eagles are now on the clock.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (via Denver): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Knowing the Cowboys are sure to grab a top cornerback, the Eagles are leaving nothing to chance and find a willing trade partner with the Broncos. Horn appears to the best man coverage corner in the draft, a player the Eagles have desperately needed over the last decade. Horn lands in Philly and immediately helps sure up some of the questions surrounding their secondary.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
This is one of the those picks in the draft that just feels right, doesn't it? Surtain is highly regarded as the best overall cornerback in the draft, and his play against top-level receivers stands true to that statement. The Cowboys pair Surtain with former teammate Trevon Diggs in a duo that exemplifies tough to beat technique despite being "knocked" for speed issues.
11. New York Giants: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Truth be told, this pick can go any direction, as the Giants have a few holes to plug here. However, the Giants land one of the best receiving prospects to come out in recent memory to pair with Kenny Golladay and Saquon Barkley as solidified offensive weapons with hope of adding to the trenches later in the draft, as Smith's talent is too much to pass up.
12. Denver Broncos (via Philadelphia): Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Is it possible the Broncos stay put if the right QB is there? Absolutely, but the recent trade for Teddy Bridgewater gives a nudge that Denver is at least willing to roll with Bridgewater/Lock for the next season. In that case, Denver moves back and grabs a solidified tackle in Slater, who has been graded higher than Sewell by some within the draft community.
13. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Thanks to a fall of top talent, the Lions are able to capitalize and move back for a key defensive chess piece they've valued all along in Micah Parsons. Parsons' tape sees him shine, as he's likely one of the best overall defensive players in this draft. The catch? His off-field issues likely push him out of the top ten, and there are some concerns about what true position/scheme will fit him best at the next level.
Trade alert! The Washington Football Team and the Minnesota Vikings have swapped picks, and Washington is now on the clock
14. Washington (via Minnesota): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
This appears to be on the more extreme end of what can happen for Mac Jones during the draft. He could easily go at number three, and he could easily fall out of the top ten. Here, Washington makes the move up a handful of spots and is able to grab a viable quarterback for the future. With Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, Jones could sit and get his feet under him before being thrown to the fire. Make no mistake, Jones has the tools to be a great NFL quarterback, and a potential fall shouldn't discount that.
15. New England Patriots: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Patriots appear to be serious contenders for a quarterback, and I had a now-deleted mock that had them moving into the top ten for one. However, New England decides to stay put and grab an absolute swiss army knife in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. His versatility ranks highly next to the likes of Parsons, as Bill Belichick could deploy his talents in a number of fashions in New England.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
This all boils down to Farley's medicals, and what potential teams think of his back. If they're confident in Farley's ability to stay clear of back issues, teams could get what many believe to be the steal of the draft in the mid-later parts of the first-round. The Cardinals are window-shopping receivers, yet with no top talent escaping the first eleven picks, Arizona grabs a potential playmaker at the corner position following Patrick Peterson's departure.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
This is where we may see EDGE players start to go, and if we're measuring a Raiders pick by toughness, Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins may fit the bill here better. However you spin it, the Raiders could very much benefit from the protection of Darrisaw, who sees a slight drop here but still is heralded as the third-best tackle prospect behind Sewell/Slater.
18. Miami Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Remember when I said the Dolphins would look for an offensive tackle here? I lied. Welcome to draft season. Tackle is certainly on the board, as well as running back, yet the Dolphins are willing to add the uber talented Jaelan Phillips to their front-seven. Phillips is an athletic pass-rusher that (if he fills out properly) could make serious noise for Miami.
19. Minnesota Vikings (Via Washington): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
The Vikings are able to trade back and still take a player they simply might sit and take at 14. Alijah Vera-Tucker is one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the draft, playing extremely well at either tackle or guard in a place where Minnesota can benefit from his services at either position.
20. Carolina Panthers (via Chicago): Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
So, the Panthers didn't get Sewell or Slater. However, they're able to pick up some great draft capital while also taking one of the draft's more underrated tackles in Teven Jenkins. Jenkins has established himself as a down right nasty blocker who finished blocks before they even start, which spells good news for Christian McCaffrey and new quarterback Sam Darnold.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Offensive tackle Sam Cosmi is a favorite to go here, and that would make sense given the glaring hole left by Anthony Castonzo's retirement. However, Ojulari has serious potential to become the best edge rusher in this class thanks to his playmaking and motor despite size concerns, and could contribute right away at a needy position in Indianapolis.
22. Tennessee Titans: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Although there's strong consideration for a corner here, there are some within the Titans organization (led by A.J. Brown and Taylor Lewan) that are pushing for Elijah Moore to end up in Tennessee. Moore would slot well as the second-best pass catcher behind Brown and help the Titans resume their efficiency on the offensive side of the football thanks to his deep-threat abilities.
23. New York Jets: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
It's a surprise to see Paye drop this far, as he may very well be the first edge rusher off the board. After adding Wilson to the team, the Jets are able to nab Paye's extremely high ceiling to go along with his athleticism, as many believe his best football has yet to be played.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Should Harris be available here, this is absolutely the pick. While the Steelers have holes at center and offensive tackle, they're zeroing in on a top running back in the first two rounds of the draft. Harris appears to be the best all-around back (depending on who you ask of course) that can be a big part of revitalizing the ground game in Pittsburgh.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Franchise quarterback? Check. Next on their list is to grab a playmaker on either side of the ball. Travis Etienne is tempting here, yet the Jags may be too confident in James Robinson to take another back early. The Jaguars add one of the best safeties in the draft in Trevon Moehrig, who's extremely comfortable and capable of playing downhill and near the line of scrimmage in a league that requires exactly that out of safeties.
26. Cleveland Browns: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
With few holes for Cleveland to fill, they're able to take an extremely productive sack artist to mold behind the likes of Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. Gregory Rousseau tallied 15.5 sacks in 2019 prior to opting out last season, and should he have even remotely kept pace with his form, the Browns' front seven will have only grown stronger for the future.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Collins is a favorite to land somewhere in the first-round thanks to his versatility as either an off-ball linebacker or an edge rusher, a chess piece the Ravens could greatly use given their defensive departures this offseason. Collins' presence would also give Baltimore a dynamic piece to keep tabs on mobile quarterbacks that have haunted them in the past such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and others.
28. New Orleans Saints: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
The Saints are favored to draft a cornerback early in the 2021 NFL Draft, and what better player than a lockdown corner in the likes of Greg Newsome? Newsome struggled with injuries at times during his stay at Northwestern, but should he live up to his athletic prowess he displayed in college, he would fit quite nicely opposite of Marshon Lattimore and give the Saints flexibility at the position moving forward.
29. Green Bay Packers: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
It's damn near time the Packers draft a solidified pass-catcher, and they may just be getting a steal at the position here in Rashod Bateman. Bateman possesses the size, speed and athleticism coveted at the position despite being nagged by inconsistency. Should the Packers be able to get the best out of Bateman, Green Bay may very well develop the best receiving duo in the league.
30. Buffalo Bills: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Bills can go any number of directions here, as building any side of the trenches remains a possibility. However, the Bills are lacking just one thing on the offensive side of the ball: A home-run hitting ball-carrier. Enter Travis Etienne, who many believe to be the draft's most dynamic running back with the ball in his hands. An offense consisting of Josh Allen, Travis Etienne and Stefon Diggs among others would satisfy the Bills' front office and allow them to focus on defense/depth pieces for the rest of the draft.
31. Baltimore Ravens (via Kansas City): Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Admittedly so, this spot may be a tad low for Sam Cosmi. I am fully expecting the Ravens to at least explore trading back here, but if they're unable to, Baltimore is able to stay and grab a solidified athletic monster at the tackle position following Orlando Brown's departure. Cosmi, despite concerns about his consistency and technique, has the build and natural ability that NFL coaches love to build upon.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
What do you do when literally every single starter returns from a Super Bowl run? You stockpile talent, and that's exactly what the Buccaneers do here. Joe Tryon has garnered a ton of first-round hype in the week leading up to the draft, as his ability to command the edge mixed with his versatility scheme-wise could potentially bode well for a Tampa Bay defense expecting an eventual departure of one of their top pass-rushers down the road.