2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft via PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator v 1.0

There’s no science behind NFL mock drafts. Or is there? Using the PFN Mock Draft Simulator, we took the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft for a spin.

Draft Context

We’re under 10 weeks away from the 2021 NFL Draft and anything is on the table. Well, with the exception of the Jacksonville Jaguars at first overall. For months, the pick has always been Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence — the question always was who would it be? This year’s draft gets interesting once the Jets hit the clock at No. 2 overall, and that’s when PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator gets to work.

Using a number of factors, including consensus voting and team needs, we let the machine do the drafting.

2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft via PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Trevor Lawrence is the pick at No. 1. Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars front office can’t mess this one up.

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

At this point in the offseason for the New York Jets, the question is whether or not they keep quarterback Sam Darnold. The experiment with Adam Gase failed — miserably — but that doesn’t mean Darnold couldn’t be successful under new head coach Robert Saleh and his regime. However, Pro Football Network’s Mock Draft
Simulator projects Zach Wilson will be the pick in New York.

Will Darnold still be around to compete with the former BYU QB? PFN’s NFL Draft Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline reported recently Sam Darnold could be the odd man out.

3. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The Miami Dolphins’ second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa will need weapons if he’s going to find success. Whether Alabama fans want him to find that success in the NFL throwing to an LSU wide receiver is irrelevant; Ja’Marr Chase is the true playmaker the Dolphins’ franchise and fan base need.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Just two years ago, the Atlanta Falcons addressed the offensive line twice in the first round in Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. Now with Penei Sewell, the Falcons would possibly set Sewell up at right tackle, leaving Jake Matthews in on the left side.

5. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (TRADE! The San Francisco 49ers have traded up with the Detroit Lions for the 5th overall selection. The Lions will receive picks 12 and 43 in 2021 and the 49ers first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.)

The Jimmy Garoppolo era was brief. While he did help push the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl berth in the 2019 NFL season, a lack of consistency and success each week forced general manager John Lynch’s hand to move on.

Moving up for Justin Fields comes at a slight cost, losing a second-round pick in 2021 and their first-round pick in 2022. However, Fields’ accurate arm and ability to move in the pocket is what weapons like George Kittle and Deebo Samuel will thrive with.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

It was only a matter of time before Carson Wentz found himself out of Philadelphia. It’s now Jalen Hurts’ team, and what better gift than a former teammate in 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.

7. Detroit Lions: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Fans knew there was a possibility 2021 was the year Detroit finally let Matthew Stafford free. They traded him to the Los Angeles Rams for two first-round picks (2022 and 2023), a third-round pick in 2021, and quarterback Jared Goff.

So why Trey Lance? Goff isn’t a promise for success, and the Lions have an out in his contract following the 2022 season. Lance will have time to learn the pro game, preparing to take over if Detroit chooses to move on from Goff.

8. Carolina Panthers: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

It’s not a secret the Carolina Panthers are flirting with the top quarterbacks available in the 2021 NFL Draft. In this mock draft, however, new general manager Scott Fitterer is on the outside looking in on the QB race.

At 6-foot-4, 272 pounds, Kwity Paye adds another big body opposite Brian Burns, bringing another pass-rushing element to the Panthers’ defense.

9. New York Jets: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (TRADE! The New York Jets have traded up with the Denver Broncos for the 9th overall selection. The Broncos will receive picks 23 and 34 in 2021 and the Jets’ third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.)

After taking Zach Wilson second overall, the Jets use their first-round pick acquired in the Jamal Adams trade to move up and select Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle. What was a stagnant, boring offense under Adam Gase quickly turns into exciting, must-watch football under new head coach Robert Saleh.

10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense struggled in 2020, giving up the fifth-most points per game in the league with 29.6.

With Dak Prescott expected to get the franchise tag, Jerry Jones can afford to shore up the defensive secondary with Patrick Surtain II while giving Prescott, given a healthy return, another year to showcase his worth for a long-term contract. The only question for Jones is which cornerback is the best fit for the Cowboys’ defense.

11. New York Giants: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Speaking of cornerbacks joining the NFC East, Caleb Farley, the second-ranked cornerback on Tony Pauline’s 2021 NFL big board, heads north to the New York Giants. Along with James Bradberry, general manager Dave Gettleman adds to an already strong secondary.

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Quarterback Joe Burrow needs another weapon, and after trading down in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, they got a weapon they needed. After scoring 12 touchdowns this fall, Florida’s TE Kyle Pitts is one of the best playmakers available in the 2021 NFL Draft.

13. Los Angeles Chargers: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

The Los Angeles Chargers look to have a slam dunk in Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. Micah Parsons showcased his talents in his freshman and sophomore seasons enough to warrant a top-16 selection. Parsons would join second-year linebacker Kenneth Murray in the Chargers’ linebacking corps.

14. Minnesota Vikings: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Minnesota Vikings fans want a new quarterback. Maybe they’ll get their wish, given the Vikings’ front office wants to deal with Kirk Cousins’ contract. In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, Rashawn Slater is the pick, providing a solid anchor up front for Dalvin Cook’s offense.

15. New England Patriots: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)

We saw a completely different Patriots team in 2020 without quarterback Tom Brady. Head coach Bill Belichick has a number of holes to fill, and with none of the top quarterbacks slipping down the board, Gregory Rousseau is one of the top EDGE options available at 15.

16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Longtime Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson is likely on his way out. Insert Jaycee Horn, joining a secondary with the likes of third-year cornerback Byron Murphy and All-Pro safety Budda Baker.

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