The 2021 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away at this point. Teams are now putting the last touches on their big boards and even doing some mock drafts of their own. Either way, the time for Roger Goodell to announce prospects in Cleveland is nearly here. In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, Pro Football Network’s Free Mock Draft Simulator takes a shot at how the board may fall on April 29.
2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Trevor Lawrence will be a Jacksonville Jaguar. No other comment is needed. This is going to happen. Lawrence will hope to help spark the stagnant Jaguars’ franchise into more than it’s ever been in Jacksonville history.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Jets come in with their expected pick in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft after moving on from Sam Darnold. In another situation similar to Lawrence’s, the Jets have long been connected to Zach Wilson and his allure. Able to throw a variety of different arm slots, Wilson is a fascinating prospect.
While he may lack mental polish, the arm talent, mobility, and flashes of elite ball placement are undeniable. Wilson is a guy who may go through some lows in his rookie season, but he can improve the more experience he gets at the next level.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from HOU via MIA): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, the 49ers decide to go with the main pocket passer of the class in Mac Jones. Kyle Shanahan has worked with quarterbacks like Jones throughout his career. Now, this pick can go multiple different ways. However, the 49ers seem to stick into a comfort zone and are intrigued by the pocket presence and poise that Jones possesses.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Four picks and there are four quarterbacks off the board in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft. The Falcons have an interesting dilemma here, to say the least. Matt Ryan’s contract is structured in a manner where they are unlikely to swallow big cap hits to move on from him after the 2021 season. However, they have shown lots of interest in quarterbacks — that is undeniable.
Terry Fontenot and staff have zeroed in on Justin Fields in this scenario. While Fields may not start this year because Ryan is such a steady presence, he can be the future of the Falcons’ franchise in the post-Ryan era.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Another selection where there is a heated debate, the Bengals pounce on arguably the draft’s top tackle. Cincinnati’s struggles on the offensive line are well-documented in recent years. Of course, Joe Burrow’s injury only adds more fury to the fire to fix the offensive line. Penei Sewell can play on either side of the offensive line and will be a strong anchor for the Bengals’ offensive line for a long, long time.
6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
With Sewell heading to the Bengals, the Dolphins get the top receiver in the class with the selection of Ja’Marr Chase. Chase’s tape showed someone with exceptional skills when in jump-ball situations. His route running is not seasoned just yet, and that causes him to separate less than most would like, but he has athletic traits to grow into a potentially great separator. Chase can make an impact from Day 1 and still have even more room to grow.
7. Detroit Lions: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Lions did do a satellite trade with the acquiring of Jared Goff in the Matthew Stafford deal. Still, that does not absolve them from needing a quarterback. Goff is admittedly limited. Trey Lance takes what Goff does not have in mobility and takes it up a few notches. Not only is he a threat with his legs, but Lance has great arm talent and underrated mental processing ability. Lance should be the future of the Lions with this selection.
8. Carolina Panthers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
There are a few directions the Panthers could go with this pick in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft. However, in this scenario, they decide to upgrade the cornerback position.
Even with the signing of A.J. Bouye, this is still a significant need for the Panthers. Jaycee Horn is the selection, and with his appetite for nastiness and playmaking ability, Horn adds just what the Panthers need. He can be the shutdown cornerback they need to begin constructing a formidable secondary.
9. Denver Broncos: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
With all quarterbacks off the board, the Broncos really just have to go with value at this point. And hey, it’s not like tackle is completely perfect in the Mile High City. Ja’Wuan James is a question mark, and Rashawn Slater has some of the best body control, balance, and footwork in this class. He is a plug-and-play-ready guy that gives them options. Slater is a potential decade-long starter.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys have a huge need at cornerback. The secondary in general is extremely shoddy. With Dan Quinn’s narrow and specific Cover 3 scheme coming to town as well, they need someone with great eyes and exceptional ability to play off-coverage. Patrick Surtain II checks all of those boxes. Surtain II is a problem with his length, fluidity, and football IQ. There is no better cornerback at this spot that is better equipped to take on the Quinn scheme than him.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Giants signed Kenny Golladay and have some nice other pieces at wide receiver, but they do not have a true burner. They seemed to want to air it out deep more than they were able to do last year. So, adding the best true speed receiver in the class in Jaylen Waddle makes sense. Waddle can change how defensive coordinators prepare for the Giants’ offense. He can be a factor that opens up things for other weapons.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from SF via MIA): Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Eagles have blatant holes on their roster, that much is certain. However, the linebacker room is not talked about as much. Howie Roseman has shied away from addressing the position this early before.
Yet, when a freak like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah comes along, that might just be enough to make him reconsider it. With Owusu-Koramoah on the roster, the Eagles get a WILL linebacker, safety, and slot cornerback all in one player. He can be the basis of a revolution on Philadelphia’s defense.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Chargers get a magnificent scenario here. While they obviously need offensive line help, they could also upgrade their weapons. With the loss of Hunter Henry, and Kyle Pitts sitting right there on the board, it is hard to see them passing on Pitts. A cyborg enigma, Pitts has the potential to be a Darren Waller-esque addition with Justin Herbert’s bazooka airing it out to him on Sundays.
14. Kansas City Chiefs (via MIN): Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Trade! The Kansas City Chiefs trade picks 31, 63, and a 2022 first-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for pick 14.
The Chiefs are giving it their all in this one. With a clear need at tackle after releasing both Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, they come up to get a phenomenal talent in Christian Darrisaw. With clear improvement each year in Blacksburg and some of the best pure physical tools in the class, Darrisaw looks like a steady presence along the offensive line. If he can add a little more strength to his upper half, Darrisaw can be utterly dominant.
15. New England Patriots: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Patriots certainly put a lot of emphasis on improving the receiving corps over the past few months through free agency. However, Julian Edelman is now gone. That is arguably their best pure separator and a guy who can give them flexibility. So, with DeVonta Smith on the board, the Patriots select him. Not only is this pick great value, but Smith can give them a potentially elite receiver and a great target for Cam Newton.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
A noted big need in the desert, the Cardinals absolutely need help opposite of Byron Murphy. Thus, even with the top two cornerbacks off the board, there could still be value found here.
Greg Newsome‘s fluidity and pure mirroring talent are exceptional. As a pure cover cornerback, there may not be a better one in this class. Newsome’s ceiling is that of a lockdown cornerback, and Arizona jumps on that opportunity in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft.