Now that the Super Bowl is over and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been crowned the champions, we release former NFL scout and ESPN analyst Matt Williamson’s First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft. Can the Kansas City Chiefs find a way to make enough improvements to make it to their third straight Super Bowl? Will the Buccaneers look to bring in Brady’s successor through the NFL Draft? Find out here.
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First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Round One
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Let’s not spend too much time on this. Lawrence to Jacksonville is a done deal. End of story. Congrats to the Jaguars for landing a player of this caliber to build around.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Zach Wilson vs. Justin Fields will be a tough discussion for the Jets, but I expect this pick to be a quarterback (or maybe part of a Deshaun Watson trade) with Sam Darnold fetching a nice pick back in a trade.
3. Miami Dolphins: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Many have a wide receiver going here to Miami with the pick they acquired from the Texans, and that very well could happen to help Tua Tagovailoa.
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The Dolphins are an analytically-driven team and should realize that history shows that they can add great wide receiver help (and this is a deep draft at that position) later in the first round or in the second round. Offensive tackle is a much more difficult position to find, and Penei Sewell is a supreme prospect in the mold of Walter Jones.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Falcons are not the fourth-worst team in the NFL and are in a great situation with a new head coach to add their quarterback of the future while also trying to win now with Matt Ryan, who would also be a great influence for Justin Fields.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This will shock many people as every First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft you see has the Bengals drafting offensive line help with this pick. And hey, if Sewell were still there, Cincinnati would run to the podium to add him to their team. But Sewell is gone, the other available linemen are reaches, and I am also assuming that the Bengals added some offensive line help in free agency at this point.
And wow, would Joe Burrow love throwing to Kyle Pitts, who is unlike any receiving weapon in recent draft memory. Line help will be coming on Day 2. The defense is next offseason’s project.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
It looks like a strong possibility that Carson Wentz is playing elsewhere in 2021, but don’t you think Jalen Hurts would enjoy throwing to Chase and last year’s first-round pick Jalen Reagor? Add in Dallas Goedert with Miles Sanders out of the backfield behind an offensive line that returns from injuries, and their young quarterback would have the tools needed to succeed.
7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Grabbing Trey Lance here would tempt Detroit, but I really think they plan to roll with Jared Goff and build it from the ground up. That could mean Goff, who would sure like throwing to DeVonta Smith, is the guy. If he stumbles, they address quarterback down the road. I just don’t think it happens this year.
8. Carolina Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Lions passing on Trey Lance couldn’t have worked out any better for Carolina in this situation. In fact, in real life, with trades being an option, the Panthers would probably be on the phone with the Bengals, Eagles, and Lions to move up for their franchise quarterback. Lance falls into a great situation where Teddy Bridgewater can truly act as a bridge (over rough water) until Lance is ready for action.
9. Denver Broncos: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
There isn’t a quarterback worth grabbing here. There is a good chance by the time the draft rolls around, Denver has a veteran quarterback to challenge Drew Lock. The offense is loaded with young skill position players. While Vic Fangio’s defense doesn’t rely on elite cornerback play, having someone like Caleb Farley could have a real positive ripple effect for this entire side of the ball.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Let’s assume that Dallas gets a contract worked out with Dak Prescott. Sure, they could use an offensive lineman like Rashawn Slater. Still, this draft should really be about the defense for Big D. Patrick Surtain would be an extremely welcome addition to the Cowboys’ secondary.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
If there were a clear stud edge prospect here, the Giants should pounce. They also had to consider Slater and Micah Parsons, but let’s not forget that most valued Jaylen Waddle higher than his teammate, Smith, before the NCAA season. New York could really use an explosive playmaker in this mold.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
This might be a little early for Horn, but the top two cornerbacks are off the board. Horn fits the 49ers’ mold for this position very well with a high ceiling. We know that cornerbacks can go quick in the NFL Draft. The 49ers get a fiery competitor in this First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
It seems unlikely that Slater would fall this far. However, sometimes that is just the way mock drafts go — and Los Angeles will take this gift and run with it. Slater would start from day one somewhere on the Chargers’ offensive line.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Mike Zimmer’s defense is predicated on getting a consistent pass rush off the edge. With Danielle Hunter out in 2020, Minnesota’s defense (which allowed 6.1 yards per play) was really lacking in this department. The combination of Gregory Rousseau and Hunter could be really something, though.
15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Everyone knows the relationship Bill Belichick has with Nick Saban. In a strange year for scouting, where information will be hard to find, we have Belichick relying on his friend here and grabbing a quarterback that the Patriots will run a Tom Brady-type scheme once again for Mac Jones.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Cardinals could go several ways here on either side of the ball. Yet, Christian Darrisaw is too good to pass up in the middle of the first round. Top offensive tackle prospects don’t grow on trees.