With over a quarter of the NFL season in the rearview mirror, the good teams are beginning to truly separate themselves from the bad ones. While some teams still hold out hope of making it all the way to the Super Bowl, others are already narrowing their focus towards the 2021 NFL Draft. Which teams are truly in the market to take Trevor Lawrence? Will someone get a steal with Penei Sewell? Is Micah Parsons poised to be the first defensive player off the board? It’s time to answer these questions in my 2021 4-round NFL mock draft, version 3.0.
Like the previous two versions of my 2021 4-round NFL mock draft, the aim is to try and satisfy as many potential team needs as possible. Those needs could be defined as requiring a positional upgrade, additional depth, or replacing potential free agency losses.
The team order for this 2021 4-round NFL mock draft is as defined by the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator. With that, the New York Jets are officially on the clock.
4-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Round One
1) New York Jets: Trevor Lawrence, QB ClemsonIs the Sam Darnold experience over for the New York Jets? The former first round quarterback hasn’t lived up to expectation and if the the Jets end up selecting early, they could secure his replacement. Other offensive needs include wide receiver and running back whilst they could use additions at numerous defensive positions including safety, cornerback, and linebacker.
The consensus QB1 of this 2021 NFL Draft class from the moment he exploded on to the college football scene and led Clemson to a National Championship as a true freshman. With arm strength, accuracy, and surprising mobility for a 6'6'', 220 pound quarterback, Trevor Lawrence has all the traits to succeed in the NFL.
2) New York Giants: Micah Parsons, LB Penn StateA desperate need to create any kind of pass rush could shape how the New York Giants 2021 NFL Draft. They lack a true edge rusher but could also use an upgrade at inside linebacker despite adding Blake Martinez in free agency. After drafting Andrew Thomas last year, the Giants may look to address the interior offensive line, which lacks significant depth. Daniel Jones could also use some help at wide receiver.
A perfect blend of size, strength, and sideline-to-sideline speed make Micah Parsons the most dangerous linebacker prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Parsons' high school experience playing defensive end shows in his ability to get after the quarterback, and he is also highly skilled in pass coverage. Parsons tackling ability shows on the stats sheet, twice leading Penn State in tackles.
3) Atlanta Falcons: Dylan Moses, LB AlabamaWith Takkarist McKinley failing to live up to his first-round selection and scheduled to hit free agency, along with several other defensive ends, the Atlanta Falcons could add an edge rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft. Even though four of their six picks in 2020 were used on defense, expect further additions to that side of the ball, with safety and linebacker also a potential team need. Could a long term replacement for Julio Jones also be an option?
Despite injury in 2019, there was talk that Dylan Moses would have been a first-round pick in last year’‘s draft. He returned to Alabama to add tape to an already impressive portfolio and is expected to cement his stock as an early first-round pick. A heavy-hitting, bullet out of the gun linebacker, Moses is one of the best defensive players in the 2021 NFL Draft class.
4) Washington Football Team: Justin Fields, QB Ohio StateBefore the start of the 2020 NFL season, I stated that the biggest need for the Washington Football team in the 2021 NFL Draft would be offensive line, whilst the jury was still out on Dwayne Haskins. The jury appears to have made its decision following Haskins benching, and with Kyle Allen barely representing the present let alone the future, quarterback has to be the biggest need. Despite possessing one of the most fearsome defensive lines in football, the secondary has been a constant let down for the defense so expect additions there.
The former backup quarterback to Jake Fromm at Georgia saw his stock soar with an impressive 2019 season for Ohio State. With the ability to make all the throws, a ruthless efficiency, and mobility to extend the play, Justin Fields will be right at the top of any quarterback-needy team's board at the 2021 NFL Draft.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trey Lance, QB North Dakota StateIs Gardner Minshew the real deal? The former sixth-round selection received a vote of confidence from the Jacksonville Jaguars over the off-season, moving Nick Foles to Chicago and adding weapons in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Jaguars are currently projected to be selecting early in the 2021 NFL Draft, and if that is the case, selecting a quarterback with one of their two first-round picks may be a priority. With Leonard Fournette out of favor, a running back could be an early consideration while adding an edge rusher would continue the defensive transformation that started with last year's draft.
A playmaking quarterback who can get the job done by air or by land. Trey Lance has an impressive array of throws in his repertoire but can make magic with his legs when required. The quality of the opposition he has faced is the big question mark against his 2021 NFL Draft stock, but North Dakota State alum Carson Wentz has proven that Bison quarterbacks can succeed in the NFL.
6) Miami Dolphins: Ja'Marr Chase, WR Louisiana StateAfter three selections in last year's first-round, the Miami Dolphins follow up with two first-rounders in the 2021 NFL Draft. Surrounding Tua Tagovailoa with talented targets would appear to be the main priority, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see a wide receiver selected early on. Replacing the departed Minkah Fitzpatrick should be a defensive priority, although upgrading the edge rush could also be an option.
The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner, Ja'Marr Chase led the nation in receiving yards and touchdowns as a sophomore. Chase is a genuine deep threat due to a combination of phenomenal catching skill and ability to play taller than his 6'0'' frame. Tough to take down with the ball in his hands, he should be a playmaker in the NFL.
7) Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT OregonThe Cincinnati Bengals found their face of the franchise in 2020 and the main aim for the 2021 NFL Draft is to provide some protection for Joe Burrow. Quarterbacks won't last long in the NFL if they take a beating week in, week out, and the right side of the line is particularly troublesome. On the defensive side of the ball finding a consistent pass rush threat will be a consideration as will further additions in the secondary following free agency acquisitions earlier in the year.
Athletic, strong, and dominant, Penei Sewell has everything that you want in an offensive tackle and then some. Equally as impressive in pass blocking or run blocking, Sewell is not only the best offensive tackle in this 2021 NFL Draft class, but also the best offensive tackle prospect in a number of years.
8) Detroit Lions: Marvin Wilson, DT Florida StateThe Detroit Lions addressed a need at cornerback in 2020 but still have several needs across the defense. The interior defensive line requires attention in the 2021 NFL Draft, and although the coaching staff appears happy with the linebacker group, there is a need there. Several wide receivers are out of contract in 2021, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Lions address that need either.
A defensive tackle who is strong against the run while also being able to disrupt the quarterback is a valuable commodity in the NFL. Wilson is the standout defensive tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft class. He has the strength to be effective against the run but also has surprising athleticism for a man of his size, which makes him a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
9) Denver Broncos: Shaun Wade, CB Ohio StateThe Denver Broncos were a prime candidate for one of the top offensive tackle prospects in last year's draft. Ultimately, they opted to select Jerry Jeudy and surround Drew Lock with offensive weaponry, so offensive tackle remains a priority in the 2021 NFL Draft. Additions to the defense, in particular at cornerback and linebacker, are other areas of attention.
Shaun Wade could have followed teammate Jeff Okudah into last year's draft and been a late first-round pick. He returned to improve his stock, and for my money is the best cornerback available in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Wade has prototypical size for the position and flashes excellent playmaking skills in coverage, but he can also impact the game as a blitzer.
10) Minnesota Vikings: Jevon Holland, S OregonAlthough Justin Jefferson was one of the Minnesota Vikings first-round selections in 2020, adding further wide receiver depth for Kirk Cousins may prove to be the Vikings' early-round direction once again. With a lack of depth and performance from the interior line, there should also be a consideration there. On the defensive side of the ball, Anthony Harris could test free agency, leaving a need at the safety position.
Jevon Holland is the epitome of a “do-it-all” player. Equally competent in pass coverage as he is at playing at the line of scrimmage against the run, Holland combines strong tackling ability with good ball skills to perfectly fit the requirements of a modern-day safety in the NFL. Described as a “special talent” by Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, Holland should be an early first-round selection.
11) Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Surtain II, CB AlabamaA distinct lack of depth at linebacker may force the Philadelphia Eagles to address the position early in the 2021 NFL Draft, although they also have a need at the safety and cornerback positions, despite adding Darius Slay over the offseason. As Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson enter the final years of their careers, the Eagles may add another receiver for the future after drafting Jalen Reagor in the first round last year.
Patrick Surtain Jr. has all the ingredients to emulate his father's success in the NFL. Surtain Sr. was the 44th selection of the Miami Dolphins in 1998, and there’‘s every reason to suspect that Surtain Jr. will be drafted considerably above that in the 2021 NFL Draft. Surtain Jr. combines prototypical size, good ball skills, and an ability to create turnovers in various ways to rank as one of the best cornerbacks in the class.
12) Miami Dolphins: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE MiamiAlthough Gregory Rousseau is far from the finished product, NFL teams will be willing to bet on his athletic upside and phenomenal production levels from last season at Miami. Only Chase Young had more sacks and sacks per game than the redshirt freshman. Rousseau lined up all across the defensive line in 2019, possessing the versatility that the NFL values so highly.
13) Los Angeles Chargers: Alex Leatherwood, OT AlabamaWith the future face of the franchise secured in Justin Herbert, the Los Angeles Chargers would be wise to invest in the offensive line in the 2021 NFL Draft, especially as a high number of the current unit will be out of contracts next year. However, with two starting cornerbacks in their thirties, defense could be the first-round direction for the second consecutive season.
A potential early-round pick last year, Alex Leatherwood returned to Alabama to improve his stock ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. Leatherwood utilizes strength and aggression in pass protection, but his strongest suit maybe his run blocking ability. The debate will be whether he best projects as a tackle or guard in the NFL. Either way, he will be a stellar addition to any offensive line.
14) Arizona Cardinals: Creed Humphrey, OC OklahomaThe Arizona Cardinals addressed the defensive side of the ball during last year's draft, with Isaiah Simmons as the jewel in their draft class crown. With several offensive linemen set to hit free agency ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cardinals could seek further protection for franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, while keeping one eye on replacing legendary wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
A 6'5'', 316 pounds, behemoth of a man, Creed Humphrey has put his size and strength to great use as the anchor of what is consistently one of the best offensive lines in college football. A former high school wrestler, Humphrey uses those skills to dominate at the line of scrimmage and also has the football intelligence to help direct the rest of the offensive line.
15) Carolina Panthers: Wyatt Davis, OG Ohio StateThe Carolina Panthers 2020 class had Matt Rhule's defensive influence written all over it with zero offensive selections. Expect that to change in 2021. Additions across the offensive line are to be expected for the Panthers, but their 2021 NFL Draft needs will depend heavily on the success of Teddy Bridgewater in his first year with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. If they select early, Bridgewater could be replaced.
Wyatt Davis has NFL bloodlines and an NFL ready skillset. The 6'4"'', 310-pound interior offensive lineman is an absolute mauler who will instantly upgrade the offensive line of whichever team he lands on. Davis combines phenomenal play strength with an incredible anchor to provide an elite level of pass protection whilst having the ability to get out front and carve open lanes in the run game. His NFL Draft stock can only be helped by his return to Ohio State for the 2020 College Football season.
16) New England Patriots: Pat Freiermuth, TE Penn StateRegardless of whether the New England Patriots have Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham under center next year, reliable pass catchers should be the main order of business in the 2021 NFL Draft. With James White and Rex Burkhead out of contract, the running back room could also use a pass-catching option. The defensive line also sees several potential free agents that could leave a hole in the Patriots depth chart.
There is a reason that Pat Freiermuth has attracted the nickname “Baby Gronk”. He brings everything to the tight end position that Rob Gronkowski did during his time in New England, having the ability to be a receiving threat while being effective as an inline blocker. Freiermuth is my TE1 in this 2021 NFL Draft class, which is a remarkably better tight end group than last year.