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    Valdovinos’ 2021 NFL Mock Draft | February 27, 2021

    Just two months until the commencement of the 2021 NFL Draft, and it’s time to start digging into which teams are connected to certain prospects most frequently. This year is a particularly difficult draft to mock because after the first pick, there’s no absolute answer for which teams will take a quarterback and which quarterbacks teams like the most. In this 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, we see four quarterbacks selected in the first eight picks and a fifth in the top 15.

    As always, with my mock drafts, the selections made are what I think teams will do, not necessarily what I would do if I was running the show. How do you feel about your favorite team’s selections? Let me know if you love it or hate it on Twitter @MVScouting.

    2021 3-Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

    1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

    Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. New Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer declared him the best quarterback in college football when Meyer worked as an analyst. The Jaguars already have a strong group of offensive playmakers and have four selections in the top 50.

    Expect Lawrence to lead a large influx of young talent and become a contender in the AFC South sooner rather than later.

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

    I would’ve taken Justin Fields here, but all the smoke seems to surround Zach Wilson.

    I did consider a trade back here as well, but for now, I believe the Jets are most likely going to take Wilson. He’s a natural fit in the Shanahan offense that the Jets will be running with new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. Denzel Mims and Mekhi Becton will also be significant contributors to the offense in their second year.

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

    PFN’s own NFL Insider Tony Pauline linked Ja’Marr Chase to Miami in a recent mailbag of his. He doesn’t directly say it, but hints that Miami could be interested in getting the former LSU WR1 to pair with 2020 first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa.

    Ja’Marr Chase had one of the best seasons ever as a true sophomore in 2019 but sat out the 2020 season to prepare for the draft. Tua gets a weapon that excels in contested-catch situations and is a threat to stretch the field.

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

    In my opinion, Justin Fields is the second-best passer in the class. He’s my second-highest graded QB since 2018, behind only Lawrence. He possesses all the physical tools to be a future NFL MVP and is already well-developed mentally. His internal timer and progression speed need work before he gets to that point, though.

    Atlanta is almost certainly not going to be in a position to get a quarterback of Fields’ talent any time soon, so taking him here is the smartest decision they can make for the future of the franchise. Let Fields continue to develop as a passer under Matt Ryan, then move on from Ryan in a year or two when it’s a bit more manageable.

    5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

    Protecting Joe Burrow is, without question, the biggest priority in Cincinnati this offseason. I expect them to leave free agency with one of Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff, or even Corey Linsley.

    Sitting at No. 5, they’re ecstatic that Penei Sewell makes it here. Sewell is my highest-rated tackle ever, just barely passing Tristan Wirfs last year. His play strength, hip flexibility, motor, and explosiveness are all elite. He also never played a college football game outside of his teens.

    6. Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

    I’m not entirely confident that Howie Roseman can make this selection, but I’ll award him the benefit of the doubt here. DeVonta Smith is my top-rated receiver and was the best player in college football this past season. He is arguably the best receiver of the elite ‘Bama quartet and is credited by the unit for having the group’s best hands.

    Philadelphia is desperate for receiving weapons, and Smith would instantly become the team’s alpha receiver. They’ll consider Trey Lance here, but they don’t pull the trigger on a quarterback in this 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

    7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

    There’s a decent portion of draft analysts that believe Jaylen Waddle is the top receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Genuinely, I think at least a few teams will feel the same way.

    Waddle is one of the most explosive weapons in the class but is more than just an athletic gadget weapon. He’s not only a YAC monster, but he’s a fierce and decisive route runner. He’s also very competitive in contested catch situations. Detroit gets a weapon that works well with new QB Jared Goff.

    8. San Francisco 49ers (projected trade w/ Carolina): Trey Lance, QB, NDSU

    There’s not a cell in my body that believes San Francisco is content with their quarterback situation. I think they’re motivated enough to move up if one of the top passers falls.

    Trey Lance‘s ability to make plays out of structure and in space plays perfectly into what San Francisco wants to do, ideally. The only concern is that Lance could be asked to play right away on a team that feels they’re capable of contention right now.

    SF sends: 12, 43, 2022 3rd
    CAR sends: 8, 152

    9. Denver Broncos: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

    Denver and A.J. Bouye have parted ways, and the Broncos will get their pick of CB at ninth overall. Their decisions come down to whether they want the upside and tools of Caleb Farley, the composure and floor of Patrick Surtain, or the attitude of Jaycee Horn.

    I expect them to take Farley, whose physical skill set and size are in the mold of someone like Jalen Ramsey. He can become a true shutdown press-man cornerback. He just needs to clean up his mental mishaps.

    10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

    The Cowboys will be interested in whoever the Broncos pass up at No. 9.

    Well-developed past the norm of college cornerbacks, Patrick Surtain plays level-headed at all times and is rarely out of position or panicking. He has long arms and smooth feet, making him a difficult draw for any receiver. He lacks elite tools, making him an excellent fit for new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and his famous Seattle Cover 3 zone.

    11. New York Giants: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

    The Giants desperately need more weapons in the passing game, and with the top three receivers already off the board in this 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, New York lands arguably the best offensive weapon in the class.

    Kyle Pitts towers over defensive backs at 6’6″, and is too explosive and nuanced as a route runner to consider covering him with a linebacker. Pitts’ selection also makes it easier to part with Evan Engram when his rookie contract is up.

    12. Carolina Panthers (from trade w/ San Francisco): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

    There’s been too much smoke around Mac Jones and Carolina to call it a coincidence. I’m not sure the team is entirely on board with taking him at No. 8, but a trade down could be on the table. However, if Jones is truly their guy, they should take him at No. 8.

    Featured | Tua Tagovailoa vs. Mac Jones: Who is the better Alabama QB prospect?

    Jones is fresh off a national championship where he was arguably the top quarterback in the nation. He doesn’t possess the elite physical traits others in the class show, but his accuracy to all levels is excellent, and he can run a pro-style offense effectively.

    13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

    The NFL seems to love Rashawn Slater — so much so that he’s consistently linked to Cincinnati and Philadelphia. However, for this 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, he falls to Los Angeles, who input the selection expeditiously.

    Slater is the best technician in the class with the highest variance of pass sets and most consistent hand usage. He’s the least exciting physical specimen among the top tackles, but he projects as a quality professional on Day 1.

    14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

    The Vikings have a desperate need for talent on the defensive line, whether on the edge opposite Danielle Hunter or the interior. They select what many view as the top edge rusher in the 2021 class, Kwity Paye.

    Paye is a dominant run defender whose motor runs hot 24/7. The explosion he plays with at 270+ pounds is truly rare, and he would be an excellent option to pair with Hunter. The retooling of Mike Zimmer’s defense gets another quality piece.

    15. New England Patriots: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/IOL, USC

    The Patriots are likely losing Joe Thuney this offseason, and the plan seems to be to move Michael Onwenu from right tackle to left guard. Alijah Vera-Tucker (AVT) has the smooth feet and functional athletic ability to be a quality right tackle. However, should New England decide to keep Onwenu at right tackle, AVT could play guard at a high level. The positional versatility is what will draw a team like New England to Vera-Tucker.

    16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

    One of the most entertaining studies in this draft process, Jaycee Horn‘s confidence and aggression make him a polarizing prospect. He is not the elite athlete Caleb Farley is, nor the dominant technician Patrick Surtain II is.

    However, no other cornerback competes like Horn, nor does another prospect get into a receiver’s head and under their skin like Horn does. All of the mental traits you want in a shutdown CB1, Horn has. His confidence, cockiness, moxie, and unwavering belief that he is the best player on the field are what make him an excellent cornerback prospect.

    Round One | Picks 17-32

    17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

    Off-field concerns lead to a Micah Parsons fall, but he finds a great landing spot in Las Vegas. The Raiders lack size and play strength in their linebacker room and could boost their pass-rush unit. Parsons can do both.

    Listed at 6’3″, 245, Parsons has more than enough size to be an impact playmaker near the line of scrimmage. With Cory Littleton already on the team, Parsons won’t need to draw difficult coverage matchups.

    18. Miami Dolphins: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

    After securing a pass-catching weapon with the third selection, Miami grabs the best rushing weapon in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Najee Harris is the best blend of power and finesse among running backs this year, and his ability as a pass catcher makes him the clear No. 1 running back, in my opinion.

    Miami desperately needs a workhorse in the backfield, and Harris’ history with Tua just furthers the value of this selection.

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

    Washington has a tough decision between Christian Darrisaw and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (JOK). However, with the way Cornelius Lucas played in 2020, it’s entirely possible the team feels comfortable with him as the left tackle moving forward. This awards Washington the opportunity to select one of the top defensive playmakers in the NFL Draft.

    JOK blurs the line between linebacker and safety, but he’s elite in man coverage and is more than willing to get ugly in the trenches. Playing him behind Washington’s loaded defensive line only exemplifies his strengths and could push the defense into becoming the best in football.

    20. Chicago Bears: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

    The Bears have splintered the relationship between themselves and Allen Robinson. With Robinson likely leaving the team as soon as possible, it will be essential for them to find a new WR1. Rashod Bateman can do just that. His skill set has led to some well-respected draft analysts comparing the two players.

    Bateman would immediately replace Robinson in the Chicago offense as they attempt to remain competitive in the NFC.

    21. Indianapolis Colts: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

    Though not as clean a prospect as Slater or even Sewell, I believe Christian Darrisaw may have a higher ceiling than both. His ability to make difficult blocks is unmatched in the class, and he looks like the 49ers’ superstar Trent Williams the way he moves in space. His feet and overall technique still have development to undertake, but I think he can be an impact rookie from Day 1 and a multiple-time All-Pro throughout his career.

    Playing him on an offensive line that also features Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and Braden Smith means the Colts could possess the best offensive line in the NFL for the next five-plus years.

    22. Tennessee Titans: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

    It’s hard to gauge how much the NFL will like Azeez Ojulari. His get-off, bend, and a knack for making big plays will lead an NFL team to fall in love with him. The Titans already possess an explosive and bendy edge rusher in Harold Landry. Pairing him with Ojulari gives them one of the most volatile and dangerous pass-rushing duos in the NFL.

    In this 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, the Titans add one of the most high-profile edge rushers in the class.

    23. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks): Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

    The Jets still have needs all over their defense. Most notably, at the edge rusher position. Gregory Rousseau is likely viewed higher among NFL front offices than he is by the media. His length, athletic profile, and production all jump out at you, but his film can be underwhelming at times.

    The Jets make this selection with his ceiling on their mind. Rousseau saw a bit of a fall in this 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, but don’t be surprised to see him go as high as the early teens come draft night.

    24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas

    The Steelers have several needs on offense. First, in my eyes, is identifying their left tackle of the future.

    Sam Cosmi has all the tools to warrant a selection here in the late first. His tools are some of the best in class, and his hands are as refined as Slater’s. His power at the point of attack isn’t great, and his feet could still use some work. Regardless, he becomes the top option in Pittsburgh right away.

    25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams): Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma

    One of my top-rated edge defenders, Ronnie Perkins is maybe the most well-rounded pass rusher in the 2021 class. He was dominant against elite tackles and consistently showed a hot motor on the field. He’s a good run defender and is well-developed rushing the passer.

    The Jaguars must continue to add quality players on defense but are building a strong nucleus adding Perkins to Allen, Jack, Schobert, and Henderson.

    26. Cleveland Browns: Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

    As far as traits go, Ifeatu Melifonwu is near the top of the cornerback prospects. He’s 6’3″ with fluid hips and great length. The Browns need someone to play opposite of Denzel Ward. Melifonwu fits the defense and could develop into a lockdown corner in his own right.

    Should Melifonwu develop into his full potential, the Browns would have a bid for the top cornerback duo in the NFL. A pick that seems to gain more and more steam as the draft process rolls on, this is one of my favorite selections in this 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

    27. Baltimore Ravens: Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State

    The Ravens have options here, but the edge rusher class’ depth is enough to warrant taking Wyatt Davis here. The Ravens need a guard, and Davis is one of the top players at the position.

    An impactful run blocker with a stout anchor and natural hands, Davis makes sense to have to pave the way for Lamar Jackson and former teammate J.K. Dobbins. Baltimore knows they can still get an impactful pass rusher and receiver on Day 2 and elect to take Davis here.

    28. New Orleans Saints: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

    The Saints desperately need a secondary weapon outside of Michael Thomas. Rondale Moore is one of the most dynamic athletes in the class and isn’t credited enough for his refinement as a receiver. He’s elite after the catch and has legitimate sub-4.3 speed, capable of taking the top off a defense.

    Adding Moore to the offense will be massive for whoever is starting at quarterback for the Saints next year, and his presence should lead to more single coverage looks for Thomas.

    29. Green Bay Packers: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

    Similar to the Saints, the Packers must get a running mate for their WR1. Davante Adams was arguably the best receiver in the NFL last year, and it was clear defensive coordinators didn’t fear another player in the Packers’ passing game.

    Kadarius Toney has the tools to be an elite underneath weapon, excelling with the ball in his hands. His contact balance and agility are among the best this year. A weapon that can produce after the catch for Aaron Rodgers, Toney makes a ton of sense in Green Bay.

    30. Buffalo Bills: Zaven Collins, LB/EDGE, Tulsa

    It’s unclear where the NFL values Zaven Collins and where they view him at the next level. He has the range and instincts to play as an off-ball linebacker and the length, get-off, and tenacity to be an edge rusher.

    With Buffalo likely losing one of their starting linebackers to free agency, as well as needing an influx of young talent at edge rusher, they could target Collins at the end of Round 1. Playing off-ball on early downs and coming to the line of scrimmage on obvious passing downs could optimize his usage.

    31. Kansas City Chiefs: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

    Some view Jalen Mayfield as a tackle, others as a guard. Kansas City possesses a need at both positions. Mayfield played right tackle during his time at Michigan but could replace Eric Fisher on Patrick Mahomes’ blind side.

    Smooth feet, strong hands, and natural athletic ability, give Mayfield a relatively high ceiling. He has shown flashes of dominance at the point of the attack but needs to find that power more consistently.

    32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)

    With the long-term future of Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul very much in doubt, it makes sense for the Buccaneers to target an edge rusher early in this 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

    Jaelan Phillips is a former five-star recruit who struggled at UCLA but found his footing this past season at Miami. He showed a nuanced pass-rushing skill set, as well as natural play strength, explosion, and bend. Injury concerns are there, but the player Phillips could be is enough to warrant a late first-round selection.

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