The 2021 NFL draft is almost here, beginning on Thursday, April 29 in Cleveland, Ohio.
VSiN senior editor and host Matt Youmans gives his final version of a mock draft for how the first round of the draft could unfold.
1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Top needs: QB, TE, OL, DL
Tune out the contrarian noise because this is an easy call for new coach Urban Meyer. Lawrence is 6-foot-6 with elite athletic ability and looks like the best quarterback prospect to go No. 1 overall since Andrew Luck in 2012.
2. Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young
Top needs: QB, CB, DL, OL
A confident kid with gunslinger traits and mobility, Wilson is comparable in many ways to Brett Favre and Russell Wilson. His development will be helped by the Jets’ improved coaching staff.
3. 49ers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Top needs: CB, DL, OL, QB
If the sources are reliable, San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan is going with Jones instead of betting on the potential upside of Trey Lance. It’s a reach, but it might also be the best fit. Jones is an accurate passer who completed 77.4% of his throws with 41 touchdowns and four interceptions last season.
4. Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Top needs: DL, CB, QB, OL, TE
It probably makes more sense for the Falcons to pick Justin Fields, whom I mocked in this spot last week, but most indications are they will add a weapon for Matt Ryan if no trade develops.
5. Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Top needs: OL, WR, TE, DL
If Pitts is available, he could be the pick. Cincinnati will get help for second-year quarterback Joe Burrow in this spot one way or another. The Bengals will be tempted to take Ja’Marr Chase, who caught 20 of Burrow’s 60 touchdown passes at LSU in 2019, yet the offensive line is the team’s biggest need and Sewell is the top left tackle in the draft.
6. Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Top needs: WR, DL, LB, OL
The Dolphins are desperate to get a playmaker for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. This could be the draft’s first big surprise as Miami goes with Tagovailoa’s former Alabama wideout instead of Chase, the slightly higher-rated receiver from LSU.
7. Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Top needs: WR, LB, DL, OL
A quarterback is a possibility, but Detroit has too many immediate needs. The defense must be repaired, yet with Kenny Golladay gone to the Giants, the Lions will grab a potential No. 1 receiver to give new quarterback Jared Goff a fighting chance in a new offense.
8. Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Top needs: OL, CB, WR, QB
After spending all his draft picks on defensive players last year, Carolina coach Matt Rhule will focus on the offense. Will he be tempted to pick a quarterback to compete with Sam Darnold? The safe bet is Slater, an outstanding athlete who excels as a run blocker and pass protector. Rhule is an old-school team builder who values substance over sizzle.
9. Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Top needs: QB, OL, DL, LB
The Broncos have been cluelessly riding a quarterback carousel since Peyton Manning retired. It’s time. Denver will look for competition for Drew Lock, draft the best offensive lineman available or beef up the middle of the defense with a linebacker such as Penn State’s Micah Parsons.
10. Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Top needs: CB, DL, S, OL
The last thing Jerry Jones should be talking about is a trade up for Kyle Pitts. Dallas has several holes to fill on a disastrous defense, but no safeties or edge rushers warrant going this high and Surtain has the skills to be an elite corner. Surtain fits in well with former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs on the other corner.
11. Giants: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Top needs: DL, OL, WR
General manager Dave Gettleman has his reputation tied to quarterback Daniel Jones, so he’ll tend to that investment. Finding a speed receiver will be a priority as Jones enters a pivotal third year.
12. Eagles: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Top needs: CB, LB, OL, WR, QB
Fields is rumored to be falling, so this pick is based on information. My opinion is Fields should go in the top 10. If he falls, however, Philadelphia would have to grab the best player available as competition for Jalen Hurts, who’s far from a proven starter.
13. Chargers: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
Top needs: OL, TE, CB, DL
Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert is becoming a star, but the offensive line must be upgraded for Herbert to reach the next level.
14. Vikings: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
Top needs: DL, OL, LB
Coach Mike Zimmer will think defense first. Barmore is a stud run stopper and the strongest interior pass rusher in the draft. Offensive line picks can come later.
15. Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Top needs: LB, DL, QB, WR
It will be surprising if Parsons falls to the Patriots. The Broncos, Giants, Eagles and Vikings might grab him first, but if Parsons is on the board, he’s a perfect fit for Bill Belichick.
16. Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Top needs: CB, WR, OL
An argument can be made for Horn as the top corner in the draft, so Arizona will snag him if he slips to this spot.
17. Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Top needs: OL, LB, CB, S
It’s obvious the Raiders must rebuild their offensive line, but plenty of quality linemen will be there in the next few rounds. Las Vegas’ defensive needs are at linebacker, corner and safety. Owusu-Koramoah is an outstanding athlete with versatility.
18. Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
Top needs: WR, DL, LB, OL
Miami is undoubtedly going offense at No. 6, so its priority with this pick will be an edge rusher, and the Hurricane stays home.
19. Washington: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Top needs: OL, QB, LB
If the Raiders pass on Darrisaw, Ron Rivera is likely to take him. It does not appear Washington will trade up for a quarterback.
20. Bears: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
Top needs: OL, CB, WR, QB
Darrisaw should be the pick here if he’s available, yet there’s no telling what Chicago’s clumsy general manager, Ryan Pace, might do. Corner and wideout are also big needs.
21. Colts: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Top needs: OL, DL, WR, CB
Indianapolis is building one of the league’s toughest offensive lines, and Cosmi fills a void left by Anthony Castonzo’s retirement. Carson Wentz needs protection. The Colts will be tempted to look at edge rushers too.
22. Titans: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Top needs: OL, CB, S, WR
Farley has the athletic ability and toughness to immediately help a weak Tennessee defense. He would be a good value pick in this spot.
23. Jets: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
Top needs: CB, DL, OL
The Jets are hunting for a pass-rushing force, and Paye is a physical freak.
24. Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Top needs: OL, RB, DL, CB
Two years ago, the Raiders selected Alabama running back Josh Jacobs with the 24th pick, and it was a pick well spent. Harris is a Le’Veon Bell-type runner and pass catcher who will be tough to pass up, though offensive line is also a major need.
25. Jaguars: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Top needs: WR, TE, OL, DL
Jacksonville has five of the first 65 picks, and surrounding Trevor Lawrence with playmakers will be the priority. No tight end who would still be available is worthy of this first-round spot.
26. Browns: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Top needs: LB, CB, DT
Collins is a versatile talent who can cover a lot of ground in the middle of a defense. He could go higher, and Cleveland would be lucky to get him at this spot.
27. Ravens: Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia
Top needs: DL, OL, S, WR
Baltimore added an extra first-round pick in a recent trade with Kansas City. Bet on the Ravens using one pick on defense and the other on a wide receiver.
28. Saints: Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi
Top needs: WR, CB, DL
There is a lot of buzz about Moore’s stock rising. He fits with the Saints as the replacement for Emmanuel Sanders.
29. Packers: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Top needs: OL, WR, CB, DL
It would make sense for the Packers to pick a wide receiver, but their draft last year made no sense. An offensive lineman would at least be of some help to Aaron Rodgers.
30. Bills: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Top needs: DL, OL, CB
Two running backs in the first round? I’m buying the idea after reading reports of Buffalo’s interest in Etienne.
31. Ravens: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Top needs: OL, DL, CB, WR
Lamar Jackson could use a speed receiver, and Moore is a dynamic player. LSU’s Terrace Marshall could be another option.
32. Buccaneers: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
Top needs: DL, OL, WR, RB
Tampa Bay has 22 starters returning, but depth on the defensive line is a need. The Bucs also could trade down or take a slot receiver such as Elijah Moore or Rondale Moore to complement Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Bruce Arians could look for a quarterback in the next round.