How could the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft shape up according to Pro Football Network’s Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator? Let’s look at where players could wind up as teams address their needs heading into the 2021 NFL season.
2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Jacksonville Jaguars kick off this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft with the seemingly guaranteed selection of Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars need a franchise quarterback to carry them into their next phase as a team. Lawrence appears to be exactly what the Jaguars covet this offseason.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Jets appear to still be in the market to move Sam Darnold this offseason. If they do, a quarterback with the second overall selection is almost guaranteed. In this mock draft, the Jets take the QB who boosted his stock the most in 2020: Zach Wilson. Wilson will have his work cut out coming into a Jets offense lacking key elements.
3. Miami Dolphins (from Houston Texans): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Dolphins need to surround their second-year QB, Tua Tagovailoa, with playmakers. Jaylen Waddle fits that mold perfectly — he provides an electric threat at the wide receiver position. Waddle’s 2020 season was derailed by injury, but he has an extremely high ceiling as a prospect in the NFL.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Falcons need to start contemplating life after Matt Ryan, and Georgia native Justin Fields presents an intriguing option. Fields’ athleticism provides him with tremendous upside, and the new Falcons’ scheme has seen quarterback Ryan Tannehill prosper in Tennessee.
Fields would have the opportunity to sit and learn behind Ryan for at least the next season. The most significant danger for the Falcons is that drafting Fields will immediately cause a QB controversy this offseason. If the new head coach/general manager combination is prepared to handle those issues, this move makes sense to secure the Falcons’ future.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Cincinnati Bengals desperately need to reinforce their offensive line. Therefore, if the draft were to play out like this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, that would be perfect.
Penei Sewell would provide an option to slot in and start immediately. He could either be opposite Jonah Williams at right tackle or allow the Bengals to shift Williams to right tackle and play Sewell at left tackle.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Eagles look set to release Zach Ertz ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Even if they decide to keep Ertz, 2021 will likely be his last season in Philadelphia. Therefore, adding Kyle Pitts prepares them for the loss of Ertz.
If the Eagles decide to keep Ertz, an offense with him, Dallas Goedert, and Pitts would make for some fascinating matchups for opposing defenses.
7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Lions could lose their top three wide receivers from last season in Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and Marvin Jones. Therefore, the Lions are likely looking to draft a top-tier wide receiver. Ja’Marr Chase gives the Lions an immediate No. 1 receiver for them to build their offense around.
8. Carolina Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
If the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft plays out like this mock draft, the Carolina Panthers will likely be ecstatic. In this scenario, the Panthers can remain at No. 8 and still get the QB that many believe they will be targeting.
Trey Lance will enter the NFL with plenty of upside, but he may require some time to develop. Lance started just one season in college and could benefit from a year behind a veteran QB like Teddy Bridgewater. This selection gives the Panthers a player with oodles of potential.
9. Denver Broncos: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Denver Broncos’ defense is lacking a true star in the middle of their defense. Drafting Micah Parsons in the 2021 NFL Draft would be an immediate fix for those concerns. The Penn State linebacker has good vision and is capable of playing sideline to sideline. He could provide the Broncos’ defense the stability at linebacker to build around.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Cornerback appears to be the most straightforward option for the Cowboys in the upcoming NFL Draft. However, that was also the case in the first round of last year’s draft, and they chose to take a wide receiver instead.
In 2021, they get the opportunity to pair Patrick Surtain II up with his college teammate, Trevon Diggs. The Cowboys have the perfect inside man to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Surtain. Putting the two Alabama corners together could give the Cowboys’ defense an immediate boost.
11. New York Giants: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
In James Bradberry, the Giants have one outstanding cornerback, but they lack a star opposite him. In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, the Giants get the chance to add one of the top corners of the class in Caleb Farley. Drafting Farley with pick 11 would immediately put him in contention to start in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The 49ers are potentially set to lose their 2020 starting tackle in Trent Williams. Therefore, immediately drafting a replacement in Rashawn Slater would be an ideal option in the 2021 NFL Draft. Slater could compete with Colton McKivitz and Justin Skule to be the starting left tackle.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Chargers have a situation where they could look to release one of their veteran corners this offseason. Regardless of what they do this offseason, Jaycee Horn would provide a potential starting option in 2021. Horn would provide a ready-made replacement if the Chargers decide not to retain Chris Harris or Casey Hayward at any point.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
If the 2021 NFL Draft works out like this first-round mock, the Minnesota Vikings will be rubbing their hands together. For many, Kwity Paye is the best EDGE in this year’s class. Therefore, getting him to go opposite the returning Danielle Hunter would be perfect for the Vikings.
Paye would provide an immediate upgrade as a secondary rusher, and could benefit hugely from Hunter potentially drawing double-teams.
15. New England Patriots: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Speaking of teams rubbing their hands together, the New England Patriots would be delighted if DeVonta Smith fell to them at pick 15. Smith has question marks raised around his size, but it is hard to watch his tape and not be impressed.
He plays much bigger than his frame suggests, and he can beat defenders off the line. Whoever ends up being the QB in New England will be enthralled to have Smith as one of their pass-catching options in 2021.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
This selection for the Arizona Cardinals would be fascinating. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has drawn some comparisons to the Cardinals’ first-round selection from 2020 in Isaiah Simmons. Pairing Owusu-Koramoah and Simmons in the middle of the Cardinals’ defense would give them an extremely versatile group that can cover a lot of bases. Both players could realistically be three-down options at the linebacker position for years to come.