Ahead of the 2021 NFL season and the start of free agency, former NFL scout and ESPN analyst Matt Williamson breaks down his latest 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft. With just over a month until the NFL Draft, how does Williamson see the first round playing out as it stands? Find out here.
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First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This is the obvious selection. Trevor Lawrence will be playing for the Jaguars. End of discussion.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Zach Wilson has separated himself from the other quarterbacks in this draft not named Trevor Lawrence. This might seem far-fetched, but could Wilson challenge Lawrence for the first pick overall? Probably not, but in most years, Wilson would go first. His 2020 tape is remarkable.
3. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Ja’Marr Chase is a phenomenal wide receiver prospect, and Miami clearly has a significant need at this position. What better way to get Tua Tagovailoa’s career on track than giving him a premier weapon like Chase?
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Matt Ryan is going to be Atlanta’s starting quarterback this year and maybe beyond. The Falcons have several defensive needs, but think of Arthur Smith’s passing game with Kyle Pitts added to the mix. If the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft plays out like this mock, that offense would be unstoppable.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
This works out perfectly for the Bengals. They have a massive need up front and surely will address it to some degree in free agency, but when a talent like Penei Sewell falls into their lap, Cincinnati jumps all over it. If Sewell isn’t available, don’t rule out Pitts becoming Joe Burrow’s favorite target.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Jalen Hurts will be the Eagles’ starting quarterback, and Philadelphia should have a very potent running game. With his amazing downfield speed, a guy like Jaylen Waddle would make it much more challenging for defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage.
7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Some might be shocked that DeVonta Smith’s teammate, Waddle, went off the board first in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft. The Lions would be happy with either, and in this case, grab the Heisman winner in the No. 7 spot.
8. Carolina Panthers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
This will shock people, as most expect Justin Fields and Trey Lance to go ahead of Mac Jones. But not only did the Panthers coach Jones at the Senior Bowl, but the shortcomings of Alabama’s signal-caller have been far too overblown. Jones is a premier prospect, and the Panthers know it.
9. Denver Broncos: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Most mock a cornerback to Denver with this pick, and that absolutely could happen. Numerous teams could trade into the top eight picks to grab Justin Fields or Trey Lance, but the way this worked out, Denver simply had to make this pick and worry about their other roster needs later.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
With the Broncos taking Fields, Dallas gets their pick of cornerbacks. The way this draft went thus far, the Cowboys have their choice of any defensive player in this entire draft. The rare traits of Caleb Farley make him the choice.
11. New York Giants: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The top four receiving prospects are off the board, and this might be a little early to take an edge rusher. Rashawn Slater would be difficult for New York to pass on, but they grab Patrick Surtain II to pair with James Bradberry. What a great pair of corners that could be.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
As was the case with Denver in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, the Niners have to grab the quarterback prospect that oozes with ability in Trey Lance. He could conceivably sit a year while Kyle Shanahan creates all kinds of ways to design San Francisco’s offense around Lance for 2022.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
As was the case with Sewell for the Bengals, this works out perfectly for Los Angeles. The Chargers’ biggest offseason project should be to improve their offensive line. Rashawn Slater would immediately step in somewhere on their front five.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
In this case, Minnesota would have their choice of edge defenders. It would be a tough choice, but Mike Zimmer likes defensive ends with size and would love to work with Gregory Rousseau. This would be a great landing spot.
15. New England Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Patriots should be getting Dont’a Hightower back next year. He was sorely missed. Such a versatile, powerful linebacker is very important in this scheme. Micah Parsons is even more talented than Hightower and could open up possibilities for Bill Belichick.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Cardinals could go in many different directions, but Patrick Peterson’s time in Arizona is likely over. Therefore, with cornerbacks like Jaycee Horn being awfully difficult to find, that is the direction they go in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft.