The 2021 NFL draft is only a week away, beginning on Thursday, April 29. VSiN senior editor and host Matt Youmans gives his first version of a mock draft for how the draft could unfold.
1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Top needs: QB, TE, OL, DL
No mock drafter should go 0-for-32 this year because the top pick is a lock. Ignore the contrarian opinions about Lawrence, who’s legit and probably would have been drafted No. 1 two years ago. Jacksonville is no longer a joke. The doubts about Urban Meyer becoming a successful NFL coach will be answered in large part by Lawrence quickly developing into a star.
2. Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young
Top needs: QB, CB, DL, OL
Wilson is not as big and strong as Lawrence, but he’s a gunslinger with elite athletic ability and could turn into a Russell Wilson-type winner. The Jets upgraded by trading Sam Darnold.
3. 49ers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Top needs: CB, DL, OL, QB
This is where the draft begins and where many mock drafts could blow up. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan could be targeting Justin Fields or Trey Lance to operate his play-action offensive attack, but VSiN’s Michael Lombardi said “multiple sources” in the league indicate it’s Jones or Lance, not Fields. Jones is an accurate passer who completed 77.4% of his throws with 41 touchdowns and four interceptions last season.
4. Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Top needs: DL, CB, QB, OL, TE
At some point, the Falcons need to find their quarterback of the future to replace Matt Ryan. Fields, who started his college career at Georgia, could be the next face of the franchise in Atlanta. While he could go No. 3, Fields is rumored to be slipping out of the top 10.
5. Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Top needs: OL, WR, TE, DL
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: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Top needs: WR, DL, LB, OL
If he’s not snagged by the Falcons, who already have elite receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Pitts should slip by Cincinnati and take his talents to South Beach. Miami’s priority is to get a playmaker for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
7. Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Top needs: WR, LB, DL, OL
Detroit has several needs, and most are on the defensive side of the ball. But with Kenny Golladay gone to the Giants, the Lions must grab a potential No. 1 receiver to give new quarterback Jared Goff a fighting chance in a new-look offense.
8. Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Top needs: OL, CB, WR, QB
Carolina coach Matt Rhule used all of his draft picks on defensive players last year. If he’s committed to Sam Darnold at quarterback, this pick can be used to strengthen the offensive line. Slater is an outstanding athlete who excels as a run blocker and pass protector.
9. Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Top needs: QB, OL, DL, LB
If Lance goes third, this pick could be Jones if he falls this far. Denver will look for a quarterback to compete with Drew Lock, draft the best offensive lineman available or beef up the middle of the defense with a linebacker such as Micah Parsons.
10. Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Top needs: CB, DL, S, OL
Dallas has several defensive holes to fill, but no safeties or edge rushers warrant going this high, and Surtain has the skills to be an elite corner. Surtain will fit in well with former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs on the other corner.
11. Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Top needs: DL, OL, WR
12. Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Top needs: CB, LB, OL, WR
13. Chargers: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
Top needs: OL, TE, CB, DL
14. Vikings: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
Top needs: DL, OL, LB
15. Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Top needs: LB, DL, QB, WR
16. Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Top needs: CB, WR, OL
17. Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Top needs: OL, LB, CB, S
18. Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
Top needs: WR, DL, LB, OL
19. Washington: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Top needs: OL, QB, LB
20. Bears: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
Top needs: OL, CB, WR, QB
21. Colts: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Top needs: OL, DL, WR, CB
22. Titans: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Top needs: OL, CB, S, WR
23. Jets: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
Top needs: CB, DL, OL
24. Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Top needs: OL, RB, DL, CB
25. Jaguars: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Top needs: WR, TE, OL, DL
26. Browns: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Top needs: LB, CB, DT
27. Ravens: Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia
Top needs: DL, OL, S, WR
28. Saints: Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU
Top needs: WR, CB, DL
29. Packers: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Top needs: OL, WR, CB, DL
30. Bills: Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
Top needs: DL, OL, CB
31. Chiefs: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Top needs: OL, DL, CB, WR
32. Buccaneers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Top needs: DL, OL, WR, RB