We’re now more than a quarter through the 2020 NFL season and the 2021 NFL Draft feels like it’s just around the corner. While plenty of teams are focused on the NFL Playoffs, clubs like the New York Jets, New York Giants, and Atlanta Falcons are already thinking about this year’s draft class.
It’s hard to blame them for thinking ahead and NFL scouts are already probably taking part in 2021 mock drafts. Even amid a wild college football season, some of the nation’s best players are shining. Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence continues to prove he is a once-in-a-generation talent. Meanwhile, the Big Ten returns next week and future NFL stars will hit the gridiron,
Tankathon’s live standings determine our draft order for the mock draft with our draft picks made through The Draft Network’s mock simulator. With Week 5 of the season in the books and Week 6 drawing closer, it’s time to talk about the 2021 NFL Draft.
Let’s dive into our latest 2021 NFL mock draft.
NFL Draft Predictions – 2021 first-round picks
1. New York Giants: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Giants can’t pass on Trevor Lawrence. A generational talent who has already declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, the talent gap between the Clemson star and Daniel Jones is wider than the Grand Canyon. A quarterback with a 3-14 record in his first 17 games, including 17 interceptions and 22 fumbles, doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Lawrence is an Andrew Luck-caliber draft prospect, too. We’ve seen it in the big moments, the ability to make jaw-dropping throws, a veteran-like skill of manipulating defenders with his eyes and every physical tool you could want. If the Giants have the No. 1 pick, the only call they must make is to submit their selection of Lawrence.
2. Atlanta Falcons: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
If the Falcons finish with the worst record and land the No. 1 pick, Lawrence is the guy. By falling just short, with strength of schedule serving as the tiebreaker, Atlanta faces a choice between offensive tackle Penei Sewell and linebacker Micah Parsons.
The decision should be relatively easy, given left tackle Jake Matthews is under contract through 2023. Parsons is an incredible athlete for the position with a 4.43 40-time, impressive strength and the flexibility to move from sideline-to-sideline. He is the ultimate chess piece for a defensive-minded coach and could help overhaul a unit allowing the second-most points (32.3) and passing yards (335.8) per game this season. There would still be plenty of work to do, but the Falcons could feel good in 2021 with their first NFL mock draft selection.
3. New York Jets: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Jets would love to land the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, even if it means trading up to acquire it. In our mock draft scenario, with the Giants snagging Lawrence and rejecting offers, the Jets happily settle for Fields. After all, the team still lands an elite quarterback prospect.
Blessed with impressive arm strength and touch, Fields offers the physical ability to make every single throw. He also provides a caliber of athleticism that few quarterbacks at any level can match. While he isn’t as polished as Lawrence, there is a Dak Prescott-like upside here. Pair him with a new head coach like Brian Daboll or Arthur Smith and the Jets will have a bright future. As for Sam Darnold, he gets shopped around the NFL for a Day 2 draft pick in our mock projection.
4. Los Angeles Chargers: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
While the Chargers’ medical staff did wrong by Tyrod Taylor, head coach Anthony Lynn made the right call in naming Justin Herbert the starter. Los Angeles might be 0-4 since he took over, but every game has been close and his stats (1,195 passing yards, 9/3 TD/INT ratio, 107.1 quarterback rating) are off the charts. It’s now time to protect him.
Sewell is an outstanding draft prospect and no other offensive lineman comes close to him this year. He is everything coaches dream of from a left tackle at 6-foot-6 with incredible power and athleticism for someone of that size. Sewell can start in Week 1 as a rookie and be counted on to protect Herbert for the next 10 years.
5. Washington Football Team: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Washington is done with Dwayne Haskins. If benching him in a lost seasonwasn’t enough proof, the leaks about Haskins’ work ethic are the final straw. Ron Rivera will be looking for a new quarterback this offseason and with Lawrence and Fields off the board, Washington reaches for Lance.
The FCS star declared for the 2021 NFL Draft after his lone start this season and for a good reason. Coming off a historic campaign in 2019 with North Dakota State, the Alabama Crimson Tide of FCS programs, Lance had nothing else to prove. On pure upside alone, he might be the top quarterback in the 2021 class. He needs a lot of work, refining his mechanics and learning the nuances of the game are just the start, but Lance offers franchise-changing talent for an organization that needs it.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Jacksonville already spent one top-10 pick on a cornerback, selecting C.J. Henderson with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Given the NFL is a passing league, with rules tailored to make things easier for wide receivers, the Jaguars would be wise to add more shutdown cornerbacks. We saw how good this defense was during Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye’s peak, why not recreate that with another lockdown duo for years to come.
7. Minnesota Vikings: Wyatt Davis, iOL, Ohio State
This isn’t the ideal scenario for the Vikings. Lance would be the perfect developmental quarterback behind Kirk Cousins, but the Vikings likely won’t land him without trading up. Meanwhile, the Jaguars snipe Minnesota by snagging Surtain one pick before. So, we focus on the offensive line. Mike Zimmer is devoted to the running game and he needs bullies on the line of scrimmage. Davis can be a Pro Bowl guard almost immediately, creating lanes for Dalvin Cook and protecting Cousins. It’s not a sexy draft selection, but a dominant offensive line can go a long way in boosting an offense.
8. Miami Dolphins (via HOU): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
A dream scenario for Miami. After Tua Tagovailoa fell into the Dolphins’ lap with their top pick in 2019, Chase slides right to them in 2020. The LSU star made magic with Joe Burrow in 2018, hauling in 20 touchdowns with 1,780 receiving yards, and looked like Randy Moss. After dedicating a year to prepare himself for the NFL, Chase would step in as Tagovailoa’s go-to receiver and this offense would be set to roll. A perfect start to our 2021 NFL mock draft for the Dolphins and it could get even better.
9. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Lions should consider drafting a quarterback if they land a top-five selection, but no signal-caller is worth considering once the first three come off the board. So, Detroit sticks with Matthew Stafford for another season and gives him an electrifying weapon. Waddle’s speed is insane and he is thriving this year in a larger role for Alabama’s offense. He will complement Kenny Golladay and an offensive-minded coach will get great things from a group that also features D’Andre Swift.
10. Denver Broncos: Dylan Moses, linebacker, Alabama
Denver addressed its offense in the 2019 NFL Draft, so the focus here shifts to defense. This group hasn’t been living up to expectations this season, but a hole at linebacker and injuries around the defense are the reason. An All-American linebacker in 2018, Moses has recovered nicely this year after missing 2019 with a torn ACL. A great athlete with range and instincts, Moses is the piece missing from Denver’s front seven.
11. Philadelphia Eagles: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Landing Darius Slay this offseason was the first step to fixing this secondary, but there is a lot of work remaining. Farley, a preseason All-American, thrives in man coverage and brings the size (6-foot-2) to physically match with all kinds of receivers. He can also be a playmaker, reacting quickly to plays with outstanding athleticism and length. Pair him with Slay and suddenly everything gets much easier for the Eagles defensively.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Creed Humphrey, iOL, Oklahoma
Burrow has already been sacked 22 times this season, on pace to nearly match David Carr’s NFL single-season record (76). We talk about protecting the franchise all the time, but it is even more essential for Cincinnati. The Bengals must find an offensive tackle who can start right away via free agency, but Humphrey can be their addition on the interior. Across 896 snaps coming into this season, per Pro Football Focus, Humphrey hasn’t allowed a sack. Burrow needs him and that’s why Humphrey is the pick in our 2021 NFL mock draft.
13. Miami Dolphins: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Everything is working out perfectly for the Dolphins. Miami’s defense enters Week 6 with the lowest pressure rate (16.5%) and hurry rate (6.1%) in the NFL, numbers that Brian Flores can’t be pleased with. Fortunately for Miami, a local star drops to their pick.
Rousseau, a 6-foot-6 edge rusher, is an athletic marvel that converted from wide receiver to the defensive side of the ball just a short time ago. In his first full season, Rousseau recorded 19.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks. He needs some development, making the decision to opt-out this season iffy, but remains a top-15 pick off upside alone.
14. San Francisco 49ers: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
The 2020 season has been a disaster for the 49ers. One of the biggest issues is the offensive line’s inability to stop teams from creating pressure. Leatherwood has been spotty at times, but his physicality and will solidify his stock as a first-round pick. He can play at right tackle in his rookie season, before eventually moving to the left side.
15. New England Patriots: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Everyone misses the days when the Patriots had an unguardable tight end, enter Kyle Pitts. Not only is he the best tight end in college football, he would instantly become an upper-echelon player upon being drafted. No pass-catcher in this class can match his size (6-foot-6), speed and game-changing ability. He’ll be a Pro Bowl selection in his first season and would be thrilling to watch in New England.
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16. Carolina Panthers: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Carolina’s secondary hasn’t been bad this season, but reinforcements should always be welcome. He has excelled in the slot for Ohio State, all while developing in a program that knows how to groom NFL cornerbacks. The 6-foot-1 defensive back plays with a physicality that should help him transition well to the outside. He could fit in nicely as a No. 2 cornerback in Carolina’s secondary next season.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Buccaneers could go in numerous directions with their first-round pick, but generating pressure is our priority in this 2021 NFL mock draft. Tampa Bay helped unlock Shaquil Barrett into an All-Pro selection last season, they could do the same with Paye. Rated as the No. 1 athletic force in college football by The Athletic, Paye destroys offensive linemen when his technique and timing are right. If he develops, we’ll look back on him as a top-five player from the 2021 draft class.
18. Indianapolis Colts: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
It’s time to admit T.Y. Hilton might be on the decline, even if Philip Rivers is making things look worse. Indianapolis is in a win-now window, so drafting a quarterback to start in 2021 isn’t an option. Instead, with whatever signal-caller they add next offseason, Smith rounds out this receiving corps perfectly. Hilton works in the slot, Michael Pittman offers a physical presence on the outside and Smith is the vertical threat. Put that together with a great defense and you’ve got a legit threat in the AFC.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
Dallas came into the season without anyone in the secondary it could count on, the results shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The Cowboys are dreadful against the pass and they’ve faced a top quarterback Russell Wilson) just once this season. Campbell offers intriguing physical traits, which are starting to turn into consistent production this season. There’s more work to be done, but he can develop into a strong cover corner.
20. New Orleans Saints: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Yes, we’re giving the Saints another offensive weapon. While wide receiver might not be the biggest need, playmakers make life easier for a quarterback and that’s important for a team that might not have Drew Brees. No player in the country evaded more tackles, put opponents on the spin cycle, nor broke more ankles than Moore. He is a treat to watch and would be unstoppable in an offense with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
21. Las Vegas Raiders: Marvin Wilson, iDL, Florida State
Something special is coming together in Las Vegas. Offensively, this group looks set to dominate for years to come. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders could use some more beef upfront. Wilson showed nice improvement in his junior season, recording a career-high 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He could step in immediately and eat up running lanes, while also causing some havoc on passing downs.
22. Arizona Cardinals: Trey Smith, iOL, Tennessee
While the Cardinals don’t have the worst offensive line in football, a unit that ranks 19th in DVOA won’t cut it for a franchise quarterback. Of course, Arizona doesn’t have time to waste on a developmental piece either. Fortunately, Smith is a plug-and-play guard who can open up running lanes and keep the interior pocket clean for Kyler Murray.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
If you’re going to spend $500 million on your franchise quarterback, you better protect him. The Chiefs can feel confident about Eric Fisher through 2021, but they’ll likely need to find his replacement in the near future. Radunz has protected Trey Lance at North Dakota State, serving as a pillar on the offensive line in an electrifying offense. He could probably start immediately in 2021 on the right side, but would certainly be ready for left tackle in 2022.
24. Baltimore Ravens: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
A strong showing doesn’t change the situation in Baltimore, especially for a front office that puts an emphasis on defense. The Ravens must do a better job creating pressure and Oweh is a tantalizing prospect. At 6-foot-5 with eye-popping athleticism, Oweh’s physical tools arguably make him a top-15 prospect. He falls due to being undeveloped, but the Ravens could turn him into an All-Pro edge rusher.
25. Chicago Bears: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Nick Foles isn’t the long-term answer at quarterback, but Chicago could do a lot worse than him. With Allen Robinson unhappy and headed for free agency, the Bears may need a No. 1 receiver. Bateman averaged 20.3 yards per catch in 2019 and offers excellent speed for a 6-foot-2 receiver. When the Big Ten returns later this month, with Bateman cleared to play, expect him to showcase NFL skills immediately. Frankly, there’s a chance he could go even higher after our next 2021 NFL mock draft update.
26. Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore, iDL, Alabama
Myles Garrett is emerging as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but he can’t do all the work by himself. Cleveland needs to put maulers around him on the defensive line and Alabama’s 6-foot-5, 310-pound defensive tackle fits that role. Ge generated pressure on 20% of his downs, according to ESPN. Picture an offensive line trying to stop that, while already committing a double team to Garrett.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Pat Freirmuth, TE, Penn State
Gardner Minshew might not be Jacksonville’s franchise quarterback for years to come, but he would benefit from playing with more weapons. Known as Baby Gronk, Penn State’s 6-foot-5 tight end flashes elite ability with great hands and a great understanding of how to run routes. He is the pass-catching weapon this offense would greatly benefit from adding.
28. Buffalo Bills: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Buffalo’s defense looked like a strength heading into the season, but that hasn’t been the case. One problem area is the No. 2 cornerback, where Josh Norman is landing on highlight reels for all the wrong reasons. Adebo was a shutdown cornerback in 2018, but things unraveled the following seasons. The 6-foot-1 corner has the traits to be great and learning from Tre’Davious White could help him reach his potential.
29. Green Bay Packers: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Offensively, it looks like the Packers don’t need help. However, this defense still needs a lot of work. Opposing teams are averaging 4.8 yards per carry against Green Bay, evidence that a big hole remains at inside linebacker. Owusu-Koramoah brings the range to drop back in coverage against tight ends with the instincts and explosiveness to attack against the run. Quite frankly, he is everything Green Bay’s defense is missing and would fit perfectly. This 2021 mock draft is already off to a better start than Green Bay’s 2020 first-round selection, which should scare other NFL teams.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Steelers have enjoyed having Alejandro Villanueva protect the left side in recent years, but they will likely part ways after the season. The moment he leaves, a massive hole opens at left tackle. Cosmi is one of the best linemen in the country and he could start right away for the Steelers in 2021. Given this club’s reputation for developing lineman, we’re confident Cosmi would hit his ceiling in Pittsburgh.
31. Tennessee Titans: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
There’s no such thing as too many edge rushers, but this is an area of need for the Titans. Jadeveon Clowney is making an impact, but a defense that ranks 25th in pressure rate (21.1%) and 32nd in quarterback knockdown rate (4.5%) needs more help. Hutchinson offers prototypical size with athleticism and flexibility off the edge, the tools that can be developed into a force coming around the line.
32. New York Jets (via SEA): Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Jets could explore additions to the defense here, but passing on Etienne is too difficult. He could have been a first-round pick in 2020, but stunned the world by returning to Clemson. A home-run threat any time he touches the football, Etienne is a touchdown waiting to happen. Imagine a backfield with Fields and Etienne, the possibilities are endless and thrilling. It’s the perfect way to close out our 2021 NFL mock draft, especially when we imagine this offense with Adam Gase unable to ruin it.
2021 NFL draft pick tracker
New York Jets 2021 draft picks
- 1st round pick – New York Jets
- 1st round pick – Seattle Seahawks
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Miami Dolphins 2021 draft picks
- 1st round pick – Miami Dolphins
- 1st round pick – Houston Texans
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- 6th round pick – Pittsburgh Steelers
Buffalo Bills 2021 draft picks
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- 5th round pick – Las Vegas Raiders
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New England Patriots 2021 draft picks
- 1st round pick – New England Patriots
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- 6th round pick – New York Jets
- 6th round pick – Dallas Cowboys
- 7th round pick – New England Patriots