We’re over a quarter of the way through the 2020 season, and fans of bad teams are already looking towards the future. That means it’s time for a 2021 first-round NFL mock draft. After all, it’s only natural for fans to try to escape their awful football reality by turning their attention to what they hope is a bright and promising future.
Newman’s First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-10
1) New York Jets – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Sam Darnold has regressed in year three, and the Jets will need to make a decision on him soon. If they’re picking number one, then that decision will be made for them.
No team in the NFL is going to pass on Trevor Lawrence. The star from Clemson is the best pure passer to hit the league since Andrew Luck. I question how well he’ll perform without an elite supporting cast around him, but there’s no question he has elite skills in the pocket. Whether he succeeds or not in the NFL will likely depend on how quickly a team can surround him with a halfway decent supporting cast.
2) New York Giants – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Giants need to beef up their offensive line. Their unit is one of the worst in the NFL, and that’s been true of their rookie LT Andrew Thomas. There’s a strong argument to be made that despite being the first off the board, Thomas has been the worst tackle taken in the 2020 first round so far.
They need to remedy that mistake and hopefully build a tackle pair to last for a decade by selecting Penei Sewell. The Oregon tackle is an All-Pro in the making.
3) Atlanta Falcons – Micah Parsons, ILB, Penn State
Micah Parsons is going to come in and change somebody’s defense. The Penn State product is an elite talent that stands out in all phases of the game. His coverage is phenomenal, he’s a monster in the run game, and he even had five sacks in 2019. The addition of Parsons in this first-round NFL mock draft immediately improves the Falcons’ defense at every level.
4) Washington Football Team – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Justin Fields fits into Ron Rivera’s system well. Rivera saw a similar QB, Cam Newton, win an MVP and go to a Super Bowl. Fields’ athleticism is what makes him stand out, but it’s his pocket presence and accuracy that has him this high.
Fields doesn’t turn the ball over, and his accuracy is through the roof. If you like Derek Carr, but found yourself asking what if he could run a 4.4 forty, then Fields is the prospect for you. It’s going to take a little while for him to grow into an NFL starter, but he has the potential to be elite when all is said and done.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars – Marvin Wilson, IDL, Alabama
Marvin Wilson is a good athlete for his size, and he’s strong enough to bully anyone on a football field. However, he’s going to be a run-stuffer in the NFL. He doesn’t have an assortment of pass rush moves, he’s not an explosive athlete who’ll beat lineman with surprising speed, and he’s not going to ragdoll linemen. He’ll get a few sacks a year and be a dominant run-stopper. There’s value there, and taking a prospect with an elite tool and low bust probability will always be appealing to NFL teams.
6) Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans) – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
With Ja’Marr Chase still on the board in this first-round NFL mock draft, the Dolphins get the best WR prospect in years. Chase isn’t the phenomenal athlete most expect from top prospects, nor is he the biggest. Chase brings his phenomenal route running, play strength, and contested-catch ability to the field every Sunday.
When given a chance, he’s a YAC monster, or he can use his elite route running to find a way to beat cornerbacks deep. There’s nothing that Chase can’t do on a football field. Adding Chase would give the Dolphins a potentially elite pair of wide receivers for their young QB, and no team should turn that possibility down.
7) Cincinnati Bengals – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
William Jackson III is a free agent after the 2020 season, and Trae Waynes isn’t getting any younger. Caleb Farley is an elite athlete, and his ball skills are strong. He has the potential to be one of the best corners in the NFL if given the time to grow. Coming to a team like the Bengals who have a decent pass defense and know how to groom young cornerbacks, (see Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Jonathan Joesph) makes a ton of sense for a raw, high-ceiling prospect like Farley.
8) Detroit Lions – Dylan Moses, ILB, Alabama
Dylan Moses possesses all the traits that a team looks for in an elite linebacker. His speed is unmatched at the position and should help him become an elite second level run-stuffer. That said, it’s his coverage ability that makes him a special prospect. Moses will help the Lions shut down running backs in the passing game, something that’s eluded them for years. In a division with Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, and Tarik Cohen, the Lions need someone who can cover.
Moses transforms the Lions pass defense from day one and becomes a long term piece on a defense devoid of elite talent.
9) Denver Broncos – Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Wade is a versatile piece that any team in the NFL would love to have. He can play man or zone, slot cornerback or safety, and he’s strong in the pass and run game. There’s no real weakness in his game, but he also doesn’t have any major strengths. He’s strong, but not physically overwhelming. He’s quick, but he’s not fast. His best trait is likely his football IQ and ability to play whatever role his team needs from him that day.
The right defensive coach will turn Wade into a star, even from the slot. Denver and Vic Fangio seem like a perfect fit for Wade’s versatile skill set.
10) Minnesota Vikings – Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
Sam Cosmi is a fine tackle prospect. He’s a great athlete, has improving technique, and comes from a pro-style system — all things that earn him a first-round grade. The issue is that Cosmi isn’t very consistent from game to game and isn’t going up against the best competition in the Big 12.
Personally, I think he’s a bottom of the first-round player, but the NFL loves athleticism, and it’s hard to find even first-round graded offensive linemen from year to year. So the Vikings take a chance on Cosmi’s upside and hope that he can help them solve their problem at RT for now and LT for the future.