We’ve entered the final stages of offseason boredom. We are but a single month away from finally reaching football season. Yes, the road to the 2020 season has been difficult and nobody has enjoyed this elongated offseason. However, with the first game of the NFL season coming on September 10th, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. To commemorate, I am gifting you my first 2021 3-round NFL mock draft of the year.
3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Round 1
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
I am not a believer in Gardner Minshew as a franchise quarterback, and if the Jaguars are selecting first overall, I doubt anyone else will be. The Jaguars have quietly done a good job building a quality roster. They have very strong receivers, a quality offensive line, and a very good and young defensive core. Adding Lawrence and giving him a quality coaching staff could be the kick in the pants the Jaguars need to re-achieve relevancy.
2) Washington Football Team EST. 1932: Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
This is a difficult decision to make because I’m a believer in Dwayne Haskins. With that being said, if Washington finds itself selecting second overall for the second time in two years, it will likely mean they’re in search of their next franchise quarterback.
Related | Examining Trey Lance’s best NFL fits
The spot for QB2 behind Lawrence is a two-horse race between Lance and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. In my time, Fields has been the most common QB connected to Washington, so I decided to mix it up and mock them the top FCS player in the country.
3) Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Bengals drafted their franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow, and they have the 2019 11th overall pick Jonah Williams expected to come back from injury. Pairing Jonah with Penei Sewell would give the Bengals one of the best young offensive tackle duos in the NFL. Sewell is, in my opinion, the best player in the 2021 NFL Draft class, and the Bengals land him at third overall.
4) Carolina Panthers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Similar to Washington, I don’t necessarily think that Carolina needs a quarterback as I’ve long been a believer in Teddy Bridgewater. However, if the Panthers find themselves selecting in the top five, it likely means Teddy struggled this season. If one of the top three quarterbacks is still available when they’re on the clock, it will be difficult to pass on them.
5) Miami Dolphins: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Dolphins have done a solid job building a competitive roster, but continue to have a massive need at edge rusher. Unfortunately, I don’t see any edge rushers in this class as top 25 players, much less players worthy of being selected in the first five selections.
So, I gave Miami the best player on the board in Micah Parsons. Parsons would fit perfectly in Miami’s defense playing as a linebacker/pass-rusher in Brian Flores’ defense, a system in which he could really shine.
6) New York Giants: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
The Giants spent some money on the linebacker position this offseason, but they still lack overall talent in the group. They missed out on Parsons, who would provide value as a pass rusher as well, but they land Moses, a phenomenal compensation prize. Moses instantly provides the Big Blue defense with speed and coverage ability that they sorely lack.
7) Detroit Lions: Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
The Lions defensive line went from highly exciting heading into 2019 to a disappointing unit entering 2020. Marvin Wilson is far and away my highest rated defensive lineman, among both edge rushers and interior rushers. Detroit drafted my top-rated defensive back last year in Jeffrey Okudah, and now they can take my top-rated pass rusher. It’s time for Matt Patricia to produce top-tier play from his defense.
8) New York Jets: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
The Jets hiring Joe Douglas to be their general manager is the best move the franchise has made in years. He had one of the top draft classes in the 2020 NFL Draft and traded Jamal Adams for maximum value. They stole WR Denzel Mims last year late in the second round, who projects to function as the X-receiver.
Adding Rondale Moore – my top receiver in 2021 – would provide an explosive Z-receiver who can double as a slot and produce both yards after the catch and function as a deep threat.
9) Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Farley was the first of the high profile draft prospects to opt-out of playing this season to focus on the NFL Draft. I have no real qualms with his decision, as I believe he’s already a top-15 prospect in the class.
Farley has dominant physical tools. He’s a great athlete with excellent length and size. His ball skills are excellent, and his click-and-close ability is close to the level of last year’s CB1, Okudah. Farley’s not nearly the polished prospect Okudah was, but his upside might be higher.
10) Las Vegas Raiders: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Outside of the quarterback position, I don’t see a major need for the Silver and Black. So here I combine a tier-two need with one of the top players on the board. Bolton is a dominant athlete for the linebacker position, and arguably the top coverage linebacker in the nation. Having Bolton play middle linebacker, with 2020 free agency signing Cory Littleton playing the WILL, gives the Raiders arguably the most athletic linebacker duo in the NFL.
11) Los Angeles Chargers: Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
Jackson Carman is a bit of a raw prospect right now, but his tools are obvious and his flashes are brilliant. He’s a nasty run mauler, and his massive frame is a dominant tool. Even more impressive, he can play with nimble feet. His down to down consistency needs to improve, but his upside is palpable. Expect a Mekhi Becton like rise in draft stock throughout the season and pre-draft process.
12) Atlanta Falcons: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
The Falcons have a deep roster with few holes. I debated giving them a linebacker or edge rusher here, but I didn’t love the options. However, Atlanta was too strapped for cash to bring stand out tight-end Austin Hooper back in free agency. So why not get them a great successor? Pat “Baby Gronk” Freiermuth is my top-rated tight-end, and the closest player to Hooper in the 2021 class, giving Matty-Ice another great weapon.
13) Miami Dolphins (via HOU): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Dolphins beefed up their defense with the 5th overall selection, and with this pick, they get Tua a weapon he’s familiar with. Jaylen Waddle is one of the top athletes in the 2021 draft class. The definition of a “weapon,” he’s a threat to score whenever he touches the football and provides value as a receiver, rusher, and returner. Miami gets an elite offensive weapon.
14) Chicago Bears: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
The Bears have, in my opinion, the top single-high free safety in the NFL in Eddie Jackson. So why not pair Jackson with my top-rated safety in the 2021 class? Jevon Holland is a do-it-all chess piece that is a plus defender in man and zone coverage, as well as being a strong run defender and aggressive pass rusher. He lacks elite athletic ability, which limits his ability to play single-high. This is a dream pairing, and Holland just screams “Bears.”
15) Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos
The Broncos offense is pretty much set for at least the next four years after spending a lot of draft capital on weapons for presumed franchise quarterback Drew Lock. However, the team still has work to do building up the defense, and the most pressing need on defense.
The team brought in veteran AJ Bouye, but he’s approaching 30 soon and will be a free agent in 2022. They also have arguably the top slot corner in the NFL in Bryce Callahan. Adding a talent like Surtain to spend a year with Bouye and take over the CB1 duties in year two makes too much sense here.
16) Cleveland Browns: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Cleveland already had success selecting an Ohio State cornerback when they drafted Denzel Ward in the 2018 NFL Draft. They then drafted LSU’s Greedy Williams to play opposite of Ward, but Williams struggled as a rookie.
Even if he has a bounce-back season this year, the Browns have a massive need in the slot, and I think Wade has the talent to be the best slot corner in the NFL. He’s very good near the line of scrimmage, both playing the run and blitzing, and he’s athletic and aggressive enough to play bump and run or off-zone on the inside.