The 2021 NFL Draft is only two and a half weeks away at this point. With it drawing nearer, teams are taking the final steps to finalize their big boards. How does the board fall in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft according to Pro Football Network’s Free Mock Draft Simulator? How do team needs and value shake out? Let’s get going!
2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
No beating around the bush here. Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars is essentially a done deal at this point. The Jaguars get their quarterback of the future, and Urban Meyer starts to construct his team around the former Clemson star.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
After Sam Darnold was traded to Carolina this past week, this also feels like a pick that will inevitably happen. The Jets are now in a prime position to take a quarterback, and it seems that guy is Zach Wilson in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft.
With dazzling throws on the run and a meteoric rise, Wilson is a guy who clearly has a high ceiling. While he lacks some polish on his processing and has some concerns with his shoulder injury history, Wilson’s tools and unreal play outside of structure make his ceiling extremely high.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Texans via Dolphins): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Let’s be honest here, no one really knows yet what Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are thinking. The reports are swirling from everyone that this could be any quarterback after Wilson and Lawrence. However, here, Shanahan follows the mobile quarterback trend and goes with Justin Fields. While the NFL reportedly has concerns with Fields, Shanahan may be a different story. Fields’ natural athleticism and accuracy to all three levels of the field should open up the 49ers’ offense in a dynamic way.
4. Denver Broncos (from Falcons): Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Trade! The Denver Broncos trade picks 9, 40, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2022 third-round pick to the Falcons for pick 4.
The Broncos make a move up the board here in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft. And the sim pulls off something that has never been done in NFL history — four quarterbacks in four picks.
Drew Lock is nothing certain in Denver’s system, and George Paton comes in and decides he has to go up and get his guy. Trey Lance turns out to be the guy at this point. The talented quarterback from North Dakota State was asked to do a lot of mental processing in his one year. He is as good a candidate as anyone to lead the Broncos into the future.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
It is no secret that the Bengals face a dilemma in this scenario. With both Ja’Marr Chase and Penei Sewell on the board, the Bengals decide to protect their quarterback in this scenario. Sewell is a freak of nature who is technically advanced for his age and still has room to improve. With the Bengals’ hole at one of their tackle spots, Sewell will fill that immediately and make a great duo with Jonah Williams into the future.
6. Miami Dolphins (from Eagles): Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
As Florida head coach Dan Mullen describes him, the Dolphins will have added a unicorn in Kyle Pitts. With their choice of the war chest of weapons here in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, the Dolphins instead decide to grab the definition of mismatch weapon. Whether Pitts works up the seam, out wide, or across the middle of the field, there is a good chance he will come down with the ball. For a young quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa, Pitts will be a welcome target.
7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
For the Lions, this is about as close to a dream scenario as you can get aside from one of the quarterbacks falling right into your lap. All three receivers are on the board, which means the Lions can get their WR1 of the future. After Kenny Golladay’s departure, Ja’Marr Chase will step in and perhaps do even more in that role. Jared Goff will have his alpha weapon on the outside in the Motor City with the LSU product.
8. Carolina Panthers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Panthers are coming in here with a spicy pick. Instead of Rashawn Slater, they usurp him for Christian Darrisaw instead. Based on physical traits, Darrisaw is an absolute menace. Guys at his size should not move as he does. It helps that he quite literally ragdolls everyone around the field, too.
In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, Darrisaw is the chosen man for the Panthers across from Taylor Moton.
9. Atlanta Falcons (from Broncos): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
This is a natural fit for the Falcons after trading back. A.J. Terrell was money in his first season, but having a lockdown duo is never, ever a bad thing to have. Jaycee Horn can come down and be the chirpiness that the Falcons need in the secondary. He is the quintessential lockdown cornerback with his playmaking skills and football IQ.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
There is no question that the Cowboys badly need help at cornerback. In fact, the biggest thing for them is that they need the right fit. Luckily, Patrick Surtain’s ability in off-man coverage and zone coverage is more adept than Horn’s. For Dan Quinn’s Cover 3 scheme, that makes Surtain a much more natural fit for the Cowboys.
11. New York Giants: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Giants need to add protection for Daniel Jones. Now, with Rashawn Slater falling right into their laps, this pick was an easy one for them to make. Slater can probably play all five positions on the offensive line and do it well. So, wherever the Giants see it fit to play him is where they will put him. And given the issues they have on the interior of their offensive line, that is likely where Slater starts.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, the Eagles get a dream scenario that comes to fruition. With both of the top cornerbacks off the board and no quarterback they like, the Eagles take the value of a dropping DeVonta Smith to pair with Jalen Reagor. Smith will reunite with Jalen Hurts and give him a weapon who is an elite separator at all levels of the field.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The cornerbacks and worthy tackles are all off the board at this point. So, if there is one thing you can not hate on, it is the Chargers going for talent and value by drafting Jaylen Waddle. Listen, Waddle isn’t some type of luxury anyways. I mean, adding him to the receiving corps of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, and others is a serious weapon. And with Justin Herbert’s bazooka as a bonus, Waddle has a chance to be electric in this offense.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
There have been some swirlings of trade rumors with Danielle Hunter, but the Vikings could use another edge rusher across from him even if he stays. Azeez Ojulari is one of the best pure run defenders in this draft class. While there certainly is not a definite way he wins just yet in the pass-rushing aspect, there is upside to his game. Ojulari should make quite a nice tandem with Hunter for the future.
15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Mac Jones’ fall ends here with the Patriots. There is certainly a need at quarterback for the future of the Patriots. Bill Belichick was on hand for Jones’ performance at the Alabama Pro Day, so this would be no surprise. With the value and need all circling up at this spot, Jones could potentially start at some point in 2021.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, the Cardinals are the ones that bring out a surprise. With the top two cornerbacks off the board, they decide to attack the running back position and take Najee Harris instead. A phenomenal receiver and all-around back, Harris will have an immediate starting role and touches waiting for him, even in an Air Raid scheme like Kliff Kingsbury’s.