We’ve arrived in December. College football’s playoff picture is just about settled, and the NFL playoff race is in full swing. There’s no better time to release a new 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
Featured | NFL Draft Prospects 2021: Tony Pauline’s updated big board, player rankings
As the season winds down and declarations being to trickle in, the 2021 NFL Draft class gets more and more clear. The buzz has built around several prospects, and the initial draft order has been virtually set. While there isn’t much intrigue on the #1 overall selection, the rest of the first round brings plenty of interest.
How many quarterbacks are drafted in the first round? Could 2021’s WR class have a top-10 pick, breaking a drought of the last three drafts? How is this offensive tackle class going to sort itself out? There are plenty of exciting playmakers and NFL-ready players. Let’s get into it.
And after reading this mock draft, be sure to create your own using PFN’s free Mock Draft Simulator!
Note: This is using the current draft order as updated after the Chargers-Raiders Thursday Night Football Game results.
3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Round One
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
With all of the craziness of 2020, the Jets winning themselves out of this spot was inevitable. The Jaguars’ head coaching job search will revolve around building around Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence’s athleticism, arm talent, and intangibles are special and he could become one of the best in the game within a few short years as long as the Jaguars build correctly around him.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
While the Jets won, I’m not sure the fans feel like they won this weekend. Still, Zach Wilson is an incredibly talented and fun quarterback that the team can win because of. What quarterback gets picked here will ultimatey depend upon who the new head coach of the Jets is, but *as is*, I like Zach Wilson more than Justin Fields and it sounds like the league does too. Wilson is decisive with the ball and has an excellent mix of off-script ability and arm talent to complement.
3. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Bengals offensive line has performed as one of the worst position groups in the NFL this season. Whether or not Zac Taylor is back next year, the Bengals need to draft and add as much offensive line help as they can get in the offseason to protect Joe Burrow. Sewell isn’t a perfect tackle prospect, but he’s one of the best in recent memory with incredible athleticism and poise for a prospect who just turned 20 years old.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
I thought about a couple of ventures here for the Cowboys in this 3-round 2021 NFL mock draft. The offensive line, quarterback, or even another pass rusher came to mind. However, the value of an excellent man-to-man coverage corner to Dallas, who is set to face an overhaul in their corner room, is too good to pass up. I do believe that the team will extend Dak Prescott, which expands the options for this pick.
5. Carolina Panthers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Teddy Bridgewater has been exactly what everyone thought he would be for Carolina. He’s been solid in avoiding turnovers and running the system, but he’s also not generating many explosive plays either. Time to change that. While Joe Brady’s system isn’t exactly a perfect fit for Justin Fields, Brady is soon-to-be a head coach somewhere else, and Matt Rhule will love Justin Fields’ arm talent and intangibles.
6. Atlanta Falcons: Micah Parsons, LB/EDGE, Penn State
The Falcons are in a weird stage in between rebuilding and retooling their roster. There’s plenty of talent on the roster that can make them competitive, but it feels like they’ve missed out on the prime of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. They need to do all they can to ensure that they can remain competitive while still having those two in Atlanta.
Improving their pass rush and defensive play is a must, as that’s been the bane of their existence for years. Parsons is an explosive freakazoid of an athlete who can be a versatile tool for the new defensive coaching staff.
7. Miami Dolphins (via HOU): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
If you watched Miami’s recent performance against Kansas City, you saw Tua Tagovailoa throwing to his weapons that weren’t doing him any favors. They’ve been plagued with drops and inconsistent performances all season long. Adding a weapon like Ja’Marr Chase gives Tua a reliable and physical threat on the outside, something he’s missing. Chase figures to be the first receiver off the board come April, and he is here in this 3-round 2021 NFL mock draft.
8. Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Eagles have tried several corners this season outside, and they haven’t found an effective solution. Darius Slay is a reliable player, but the corners outside of Slay have given up big plays all season.
Surtain has the man coverage ability and the upside to be a Pro Bowl-caliber corner for Philadelphia’s (likely) new coaching staff. Solidifying the corner spots in a division with receivers like Terry McLaurin, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Darius Slayton has to be a priority moving forward.
9. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT/OG, Northwestern
With the Chargers’ win against the Raiders on Thursday Night Football, they jump from pick four all the way to pick nine. In this scenario, the Chargers miss out on the top two corners. While they could go edge rusher in this scenario, improving the protection for Justin Herbert should be the priority for the new coaching staff. Rashawn Slater has the ability to play all five positions on the offensive line and is excellent in pass protection.
10. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Giants have a reliable receiving corps that feels limited by their current coaching staff (or maybe even quarterback). While Darius Slayton is a premier playmaker, the rest of the group isn’t explosive enough.
With the team likely to move on from Golden Tate and save on some cap space, the Giants need to find an explosive threat to put around Daniel Jones. Jaylen Waddle is the closest thing to Tyreek Hill that has appeared in the NFL draft in the last several years, and he should be viewed as a consensus top prospect.
11. Detroit Lions: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
It feels like the Lions have been trying to find a reliable pass rusher ever since Ndamukong Suh left. The Trey Flowers signing hasn’t panned out yet, while Everson Griffen and Romeo Okwara are likely heading to free agency. A wide receiver could be in play here as well for Detroit, but taking a freaky pass rusher who is hitting his stride this season from just down the road in Kwity Paye would be a nice start, especially if Robert Saleh becomes the new head coach.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
This was a tough call. Between a quarterback or a stud corner is a difficult call to make, especially when the 49ers are in a position for both. It sounds like Richard Sherman is on his way out of San Francisco in the offseason, and they need to find a replacement there. The 49ers have shown they can still win even with Jimmy G or Nick Mullens at quarterback.
As such, cornerback won out in this 3-round 2021 NFL mock draft. Horn is a physical, chippy corner who plays with an edge and excellent ball skills. While he can be a bit grabby and aggressive, his coverage chops and attitude will win over many coaches and teammates.
13. Denver Broncos: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB/S, Notre Dame
The Broncos need a coverage linebacker, and they also need a safety. Why not get both for the price of one? Owusu-Koramoah is an incredible athlete who plays all over the field for the Fighting Irish. I prefer him as a safety more than in the WILL LB role, but Owusu-Koramoah is a tight end eraser. With the Broncos having to play Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and Hunter Henry for half the season, they need a player who can play step-for-step with those studs.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Trey Lance falls a little bit here down to the Kubiak scheme in Minnesota. It’s an ideal situation for Lance, as he lands with one of the most QB-friendly play-callers in the NFL and has plenty of talent around him. Lance can sit and learn for a year under Kirk Cousins before the team inevitably moves on in 2022 or 2023.
Letting Lance adjust to the speed of the NFL and practice against some of the best in the game while letting the team invest in the offensive line before he plays a significant amount of time would be best for his development.
15. Chicago Bears: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Bears miss out on the top of the quarterback class here, and it’s too high to consider any of the other names. If the draft order held like this, they would likely trade up just so the Vikings couldn’t get their quarterback, but there aren’t any trades in this 3-round 2021 NFL mock draft. As such, the Bears need to grab their next premier receiver.
With Allen Robinson on his way out of Chicago and inconsistent play outside of him in the Bears’ receiving room, the Bears need a WR1 to emerge. Enter DeVonta Smith. His frame seems unsightly, but he plays like an alpha and separates seemingly at will. There aren’t many weaknesses to Smith’s game, and he’s one of the most polished and productive receivers in years. Regardless of who the next quarterback is, Smith will be his favorite target.
16. New England Patriots: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This is obvious, isn’t it? While the Patriots nabbed a couple of young tight ends in last year’s group in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, neither of them are Kyle Pitts. Pitts can play that Gronk role with aplomb, regardless of who the quarterback is. Pitts is an absolute freak at the tight end position. He’s a giant wide receiver with his freakish athleticism and 6-foot-6 frame.