We did it. It’s officially draft week. After months of prepping and waiting, teams are taking off for Cleveland to shape the future of their franchises during the 2021 NFL Draft. For one last time, let’s fire up PFN’s Free Mock Draft Simulator and have it run through a 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft.
2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
The Jaguars kick off the 2021 NFL Draft with a pick we all know will happen.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Jaguars will not screw this up, and all 31 other teams already have Trevor Lawrence crossed off their boards. Jacksonville acquires their QB of the future, and Urban Meyer receives the player he believes can lead them to the promised land.
Also, I have a conspiracy about this, so grab your tin foil hats. Lawrence’s marriage was a sham. Complete fake. Erroneous on all counts. It was nothing but a rouge so the Jaguars could send him a playbook disguised as a “wedding gift.” I’m on to you, Urban Meyer.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Following Sam Darnold’s trade to the Carolina Panthers, the New York Jets are locked in for a QB at No. 2 overall. All signs point to Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas being infatuated with Zach Wilson. He put on a show at BYU’s Pro Day and forced all other QBs to tweak their playsheet in the process.
Despite only having one year of stellar tape to evaluate, albeit one of the best in the draft class, Wilson can drive the football and make throws off-platform with ease. While I don’t think he is the best QB still on the board, the Jets believe in him, and that’s all that matters.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Texans via Dolphins): Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
You do not make a franchise-altering trade with the plan of “taking who falls.” No, you have a player in mind when you bet the farm. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have gone all-in and placed themselves in a position to make a franchise-altering move.
In a recent report (April 26) from PFN’s Chief Draft Analyst and NFL Insider Tony Pauline, Mac Jones and Trey Lance are the two QBs Shanahan is targeting. The PFN Mock Draft Simulator turns this into a reality as it selects Trey Lance from NDSU.
In terms of raw talent, Lance owns the highest ceiling and one of the lowest floors. There is not a throw on the field Lance can’t make, as evidenced in his film. The velocity is effortless, and his athleticism is awe-inspiring. I think we forget that he was a freshman in 2019, making guys look silly on the field.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Should Atlanta select a QB? Perhaps not, but the talent of Justin Fields is undeniable. There is no throw Fields can’t make, and he could easily end up being the best signal-caller of this draft class. He threw down a blistering 4.40 40 time at his pro day, then wowed scouts with incredible throws that showcased his arm. If anyone still has a question, ask Brent Venables how good Fields is, and I think he’ll be okay with this pick.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Bengals have two options here, and both revolve around Joe Burrow. They can either select a pass catcher in Ja’Marr Chase or protect him with Penei Sewell. After watching his knee and subsequently his rookie season come crumbling down, it would be egregious for Cincinnati not to add more protection for Burrow.
6. Miami Dolphins (from Eagles): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
There will be no reunion in Miami this year, as Miami passes on Tua Tagovailoa’s former WR and select arguably the most dominant receiver in the class with Ja’Marr Chase.
If you want that prototypical X receiver who plays bully ball at the point of the catch after stealing lunch money at the line of scrimmage, Chase is your man. For Tua, this could be just what he needs as he learns how to trust his WRs and throw a contested catch if need be.
7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The NFL finally got its answer as to DeVonta Smith‘s weight, and honestly, was anyone really surprised? Does it even change anything? I don’t think so at all. You either believe in Smith or not, and the difference between 175 and 166 pounds is negligible.
The Lions were going to select whichever WR fell to them, and to snag a reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the second wide receiver on the board would be crazy any other year. Outside of his weight, no argument can be made about his ball skills.
Smith will fluctuate between Z and inside the slot. He is the best route runner in this draft class and possesses a catch radius that can’t be overlooked. The Lions have the worst WR corps in the NFL heading into the draft, and this selection goes a long way in changing that narrative.
8. Carolina Panthers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
At least he will save money in moving costs by staying in the state. In his first year, Matt Rhule spent every pick on defense and continues the trend in 2021 by selecting possibly the best CB in the draft with Jaycee Horn.
Horn thrives in press coverage and has the size and length to shut down any receiver. Should he choose to play bump and run, he can go stride for stride with the fastest players in the NFL with 4.39 40-yard speed. Carolina has an offense that should be better in 2021 and possesses a defense to keep them in games.
9. Denver Broncos: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Given the rumors surrounding Mac Jones going third overall, the Broncos are thrilled to see him slide to No. 9 in this First Round NFL Mock Draft ran by the PFN Mock Draft Simulator. The jury is out on Drew Lock’s trajectory, and bringing in Jones turns up the heat on Lock to perform in 2021.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Oh, boy. Honestly, this is just comical. After watching CeeDee Lamb fall into their laps, the PFN Mock Draft simulator decides the Cowboys’ offense is not explosive enough and adds Kyle Pitts in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft.
It’s well-documented that Jerry Jones is infatuated with Pitts — who could blame him. What is arguably more fascinating here is not who they select but who they pass on in Patrick Surtain II.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Dave Gettleman could go several ways with this pick. I could easily see him going Kwity Paye, but giving Daniel Jones another weapon is too tantalizing. You will be hard-pressed to find a more game-breaking wide receiver than Jaylen Waddle in this year’s 2021 NFL Draft class.
Waddle can do it all. He lined up all over the field while at Alabama and is a dangerous returner. He destroys angles and has a speed that rivals Tyreek Hill. His acceleration coming out of breaks is just as elite as his second and third gear.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Philadelphia needs receiver help, but given the depth of the class, they choose to hold off for now. Patrick Surtain falling into their laps is a dream scenario for the Eagles. When they moved from No. 6 to 12, the Eagles placed themselves right into the sweet spot to target a cornerback.
Surtain is a high-floor and high-ceiling player who relishes shutting down an opposing team’s WR1. He is also a safe pick which might be precisely what Howie Roseman needs at the current juncture of his tenure.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Chargers exited free agency as one of the most improved franchises and now fill another hole with Rashawn Slater. Many analysts believe Slater is the No. 1 tackle in this class. Slater is a mauler rather than a finesse guy. He went through a baptism by fire in the Big Ten after matchups against Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, Chase Young, Yetur Gross-Matos, A.J. Epenesa, and Paye. He also boasts the skill set to move into the interior if need be.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Vikings are in an interesting spot in the 2021 NFL Draft. They are a team I could see trading back that doesn’t get talked about often. I think it makes sense, especially given the Vikings traded away their second-round pick last year and could look to recoup that draft capital.
Christian Darrisaw is a plug-and-play left tackle and would help keep the Vikings from needing to shuffle the line around. This past season, Darrisaw earned second-team AP All-American honors and was a first-team All-ACC selection. He is a smooth blocker in pass protection but is even better when going downhill and getting to the second level in the running game. At 6’5″, 314 pounds, Darrisaw defies physics — guys his size should not be able to move the way he does.
15. New England Patriots: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Although a bit raw, Greg Newsome owns a tremendous ceiling due to his combination of length, physicality, and speed. After a great showing at Northwestern’s Pro Day, including a 4.39 40-yard dash, Newsome posted a 9.65 Relative Athletic Score (RAS).
He is a fluid athlete with the lower-body flexibility and hip quickness to shadow receivers on all types of routes and has shown the ability to succeed in both man and zone coverage. Durability is a concern with Newsome, given that he missed 14 games over three seasons, but the PFN Mock Draft Simulator uses Newsome’s ceiling to help fill a position of need.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The Cardinals have an offense that could explode in 2021, so long as Kyler Murray has time to get the ball off. Teven Jenkins played both tackle positions and also guard in college at Oklahoma State. He started 35 of 37 games in three years and played in an Air Raid offensive scheme. At 6’6″, 320 pounds, Jenkins is a destroyer of men. His sole purpose in life is to make yours miserable and be the baddest man on the field.