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Pauline’s First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

PFN Chief Draft Analyst and NFL Insider Tony Pauline uses what he’s hearing around the league to create this First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

Paulines First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
Jan 1, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) attempts a pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency on the horizon, it’s time for another First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft. Many of these 2021 NFL Draft choices are based on the positions I’m hearing teams will target in April, not so much the names of the players. Those names will come after pro day workouts and interviews.

2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

The Jaguars select the best quarterback to enter the draft since Andrew Luck. Trevor Lawrence is a true franchise passer with limitless upside.  

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Zach Wilson is the pick. Granted, there is much to be played out with the Jets’ quarterback saga. Will they trade Sam Darnold? The needle is leaning towards likely. Can they trade for Watson? Not any time soon.

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Ja’Marr Chase is a dominant No. 1 receiver for the next level — something the Dolphins desperately need.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State 

A new general manager coupled with a new head coach coupled with an aging quarterback makes this selection of Justin Fields a no-brainer.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, T, Oregon

Kyle Pitts will receive a lot of consideration here, but the Bengals desperately need to sure up the offensive line. As a result, Penei Sewell is the pick.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Kyle Pitts goes to the Eagles. However, I’ve stated all along Sewell will get consideration at this spot if he’s available as will the signal-callers. 

7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama 

The Lions have had a splendid offseason and the league year hasn’t even begun. They need a receiver, and DeVonta Smith offers the least amount of downside at this point.

8. Carolina Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State 

I’ve stated all along I believe Trey Lance may have to sit a season — his limited body of work scares me. The Panthers have the luxury to do as much (if they don’t trade for Deshaun Watson).

9. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama 

Denver fills a need with the best corner in the draft: Patrick Surtain II.

10. Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina 

The first surprise of Round 1. Jaycee Horn has the same physicality and ball skills as any other corner in this draft, and he’s coming off a tremendous season.  

11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama 

With Surtain off the board, Jaylen Waddle is the choice. He’s a great complement to the Giants’ existing WR group. 

12. San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama 

Like the Jets, much has to be resolved at the quarterback spot for the 49ers. Caleb Farley is a consideration here, but Mac Jones fits the San Francisco system from a mental and intangible point of view.

13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, T, Virginia Tech

Christian Darrisaw is the perfect fit for the offensive-tackle-needy Chargers.

14. Minnesota Vikings: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

This is a bit of a reach based on my board.

Featured | NFL Draft Prospects 2021: Pauline’s updated big board, player rankings

At any rate, the Vikings need an edge rusher, and Gregory Rousseau is one of the best in this draft, nevermind being a terrific fit.

15. New England Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State 

His instincts concern me, but Micah Parsons is the athletic and explosive type of linebacker Bill Belichick has had success with in the past.

16. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

I’ve been pretty consistent in that I believe Caleb Farley will be over-drafted. He’s a good corner with an upside, yet was never consistently dominant at Virginia Tech before opting out last season. That said, he plays a priority position the Cardinals need to fill.

2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 17-32

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa 

Linebacker is not a need for the Raiders — yet. But with two starters and two backups destined for free agency, it could soon be a position with a gaping hole. Zaven Collins is someone I believe could eventually develop as the top defender from this year’s draft class, and he’s a player Mayock and Gruden will fall in love with.

18. Miami Dolphins: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a consideration at this spot, but I have Najee Harris rated higher. Running back is a pressing need for Miami.

19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame  

I really wanted to stick an offensive tackle in this slot, but any prospect at that position would be a reach over Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.  He’ll be a great fit for Ron Rivera’s defense.

20. Chicago Bears: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

I’m not a believer in Rashawn Slater as a top-15 prospect; I think he’s better inside at guard rather than tackle. Despite this, I think he’ll immediately upgrade the Bears’ offensive line.

21. Indianapolis Colts: Jalen Mayfield, T, Michigan

Jalen Mayfield is one of the more underrated offensive tackles in this year’s draft. Moreover, he’ll eventually develop into a terrific left tackle.

22. Tennessee Titans: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

Azeez Ojulari is a big-time talent with star potential and the perfect fit for Tennessee’s defensive scheme.

23. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks): Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma

Not the sexy pick Jets fans want, but like Nick Mangold, Creed Humphrey fits the system and can be a ten-year starter.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Teven Jenkins, T, Oklahoma State

The Steelers have needs all over the offensive line and offense in general. Teven Jenkins is mobile, athletic, and can line up at left or right tackle.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

This pick will hinge on what happens with Cam Robinson in free agency, but you best protect your franchise passer. So, Alijah Vera-Tucker is the selection for Jacksonville. 

26. Cleveland Browns: Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma

The Browns get a steal. I grade Ronnie Perkins higher than just about anyone; he’s the 16th-ranked player on my big board and the top pass rusher.  

27. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Carlos Basham was given serious consideration at this spot, but the Ravens’ eternal search for a receiver is answered in part by Rashod Bateman.

28. New Orleans Saints: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

Marcus Williams is scheduled for free agency and Malcolm Jenkins is 33 years old. As a result, Trevon Moehrig lands in the Bayou.

29. Green Bay Packers: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky

Whether or not Kelvin Joseph ends up in Round 1 depends on his testing results from his pro day. He’s a big, physical press corner with instincts.  

30. Buffalo Bills: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

Buffalo’s starting defensive ends are both over 30 years old. Kwity Paye is a natural fit for the Bills’ defense.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State

Before his injury in the national title game, I graded Wyatt Davis as a top-20 pick. He’s an outstanding interior offensive line prospect.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest

Carlos Basham Jr. is athletic, tough, and very instinctive. He can rush the passer out of a three-point stance or standing over the tackle.

Want more prospect news? Want to do your own mock draft?

Dive into PFN’s Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator and test your own drafting acumen — you can do the first round or all seven. Continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay in the loop on all things college football and the NFL Draft landscape.

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