2021 NFL mock draft: As we approach Week 12 of the NFL season, it feels like the 2021 NFL Draft is right around the corner. The race for spots in the NFL Playoffs is heating up, but fans also have their eye on the next wave of talent coming to the league.
Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields headline a loaded 2021 NFL Draft class. Unsurprisingly, both elite talents go back-to-back in our 2021 NFL mock draft. We’re expecting a lot of teams will be in the market for signal-callers to build around this offseason, leading to four passers being taken in the top-10 selections.
While the quarterbacks always define draft classes, there’s much more to love about the 2021 NFL Draft. Whether you’re looking for a playmaking receiver, a shutdown cornerback or want someone who helps you win in the trenches, it can be found with this upcoming class.
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 11 of the season in the books and Week 12 drawing closer, it’s time to talk about the 2021 NFL Draft.
2021 NFL mock draft: First-round mock predictions
1. New York Jets: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This is the easiest pick in any 2021 NFL mock draft, no matter who lands the No. 1 overall pick. Fortunately for the Jets, who are on pace to finish 0-16, they are in a prime position to land their next franchise quarterback. Lawrence thrives in the big moments, showcases the ability to make jaw-dropping throws and has all kinds of physical talent. Fans shouldn’t have to worry, as long as Adam Gase is fired, Lawrence will be a Jet.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
There really isn’t a huge difference between Lawrence and Fields; it’s a 1A and 1b situation. Some might see Fields’ three-interception performance against Indiana as a negative. Ultimately, it was a game he can learn from and he still racked up three total touchdowns and 378 yards of offense. He brings impressive arm strength and touch to the table, all while being an electrifying running threat. Fields is everything Jacksonville’s offense, organization and fan base needs.
3. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Joe Burrow is paying the consequences for the failure by Cincinnati’s front office to improve the offensive line this season. When he recovers from the devastating knee injury, the Bengals must do right by their franchise quarterback. Fortunately, losing out the rest of the way allows them to do that in our 2021 NFL mock draft. Sewell is an elite prospect at offensive tackle, the caliber of player who can start immediately and be a pillar for the next decade-plus. This is the first step to protecting Burrow’s future.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
In an ideal situation, the Cowboys trade down and collect a boatload of draft picks. With a deal off the table in our in-season NFL mock drafts, Dallas addresses its biggest need. Surtain II can be a No. 1 cornerback at the next level and he’d be reunited with Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs. Put these two together and a defense that allows nearly 32 points per game becomes far more respectable and the pass rush will also improve.
5. Washington Football Team: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Meet the fastest riser in the 2021 NFL Draft class. While Wilson isn’t quite having a Joe Burrow-esque climb up draft boards, it’s pretty close. BYU’s 6-foot-3 quarterback has become a star this season, posting a 26/2 TD/INT ratio with 2,724 passing yards and a 205.3 quarterback rating. Did we mention he also has eight rushing touchdowns?
The numbers are impressive, but throws like this (WATCH) and this (WATCH) highlight his absurd arm talent. From a Day 2 pick to a top-five selection, Wilson can be a franchise quarterback in Washington.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Los Angeles would love for Sewell to fall right into its lap or for another tackle prospect to elevate himself into top-10 consideration. Entering Week 12, neither of those possibilities seem imminent. So, the Chargers look to upgrade their secondary. Casey Hayward has taken a massive step back and Chris Harris Jr. is struggling with injuries. Getting All-Pro safety Derwin James back in 2021 will be huge, But Farley would round out this secondary nicely.
7. New York Giants: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
It comes down to Paye and Micah Parsons. With Dave Gettleman in charge of New York’s front office, for now, we recognize his adoration for linemen. Paye, at 6-foot-4, looked like a potential first-round pick coming into 2020. He is taking his game to another level this season, dominating against the run and creating pressure off the edge. Plug him in on this defensive line and the Giants will live in the backfield.
8. Miami Dolphins (via HOU): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Tua Tagovailoa looked like a rookie quarterback in over his head against the Denver Broncos. It’s not a long-term concern, but the game also highlighted the importance of landing a No. 1 receiver. Look at what Keenan Allen does for Justin Herbert; that’s what Tua needs. Chase made magic with Joe Burrow in 2019, hauling in 20 touchdowns with 1,780 receiving yards, making plays that reminded us of Randy Moss. Put these two together and the Dolphins can win the AFC East in 2021.
9. Atlanta Falcons: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
While it’s not entirely Matt Ryan’s fault that he was sacked eight times against the New Orleans Saints, it demonstrated a larger point. When a new general manager and head coach are brought in, they’ll want their own quarterback and the best NFL signal-callers are ridiculous dual-threat weapons. Lance had 2,786 passing yards, a 28/0 TD/INT ratio and 1,100 rushing yards in 2019. A new coach can help develop his physical tools, with Ryan as the starter, before Lance takes over in 2022.
10. Carolina Panthers: Micah Parsons, linebacker, Penn State
Carolina’s defense is already showing flashes of one day being one of the best in the NFC. But they badly need an off-ball linebacker, a player who can cover ground and be a defensive Swiss Army knife. Enter Micah Parsons. Parsons flies to the ball carrier, holds his own in coverage and loves to blitz. One of our favorite prospects in the 2021 draft class, this is the perfect landing spot.
2021 NFL mock draft: NFL draft picks 10-20
11. New England Patriots: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
New England’s offense desperately needs more weapons. Even when this team scrapes by with victories, it’s never an impressive showing. Pitts, the best tight end prospect in years, has the size (6-foot-6), speed and game-changing ability to dominate. You want mismatches against NFL defenses and there are few defenders in the NFL capable of covering Pitts.
12. Detroit Lions: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
We needed to see Moore back on the field before vaulting him high into our updated NFL mock draft. Moore made his 2020 debut against Minnesota, the stats (135 scrimmage yards, one touchdown) were almost as impressive as his highlights. No player in the country evaded more tackles, put opponents on the spin cycle, nor broke more ankles than him. If Kenny Golladay returns, pairing him with Moore would be a delight to watch.
13. Minnesota Vikings: Wyatt Davis, iOL, Ohio State
Minnesota finally gets its man in our latest NFL mock draft. There is nothing the Vikings love more than running the football, but even Dalvin Cook can’t completely hide the problems on this offensive line. Davis is a bully in the best kind of way, a player that Mike Zimmer will adore. Add him to this offensive line and a 2,000-yard season from Cook might be possible.
14. San Francisco 49ers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
We know the 49ers love physical cornerbacks; Richard Sherman proves that. Heading into the offseason, San Francisco will see Sherman, K’Waun Williams, Jason Verrett and Ahkello Witherspoon all headed for the open market. One of Sherman and Verrett needs to return, the other hole can be filled via the NFL Draft. Horn, the son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn, embraces physicality and should be an outstanding cornerback in the NFL.
15. Denver Broncos: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
The Broncos are settled at nickel corner with Bryce Callahan, but they could stand to upgrade on the outside. Stokes has elevated his draft stock this season, pushing past Georgia teammate Tyson Campbell. There are some refinements he’d need, but that will come with NFL coaching. Pair this playmaking cornerback with the surrounding talent and Denver will have a great defense.
16. Chicago Bears: Christian Drarrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
NFL teams learn from the mistakes others make. Cincinnati didn’t prioritize its offensive line and its franchise quarterback suffered. The Bears will enter the offseason without a QB1, but they can start laying the ground work to invest in the future.
Darrisaw (6-foot-5) boasts great length, athleticism and strength. Those traits are often found in Pro Bowl left tackles. Plug Darrisaw along this offensive line, a major weakness, and it creates a foundation to support Chicago’s next quarterback.
17. Miami Dolphins: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Dolphins might consider using their top-10 pick on Micah Parsons, but we couldn’t pass on the chance to give Tua an elite receiver. With that taken care of, Brian Flores gets the last puzzle piece to put his defense over the top. Owusu-Koramoah is an outstanding athlete, capable of lining up against tight ends or running backs in man coverage. He can fill running lanes or rush the passer just as easily, making him the defensive weapon that will remind Flores of his days in New England.
18. Baltimore Ravens: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Gregory Rousseau’s fall in our NFL mock draft comes to an end. Based entirely on athleticism and raw talent, he can be a top-five pick. However, there’s a lot of development that must be done and opting out of the 2020 season eliminated a shot to prove he wasn’t a one-year wonder. This is an unbelievable dream for Baltimore. A 6-foot-6 athlete with All-Pro potential, playing for one of the NFL’s best draft-and-develop teams. The Ravens want this badly.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The idea of adding Waddle to this offense is attractive, but Smith is a better schematic fit. Philadelphia just spent its 2020 first-round pick on Jalen Reagor, a dangerous vertical threat. Smith operates everywhere else, always creating separation from cornerbacks and getting open.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Shaun Wade, CB, Arizona
Viewed as a top-15 prospect coming into the college football season, Wade’s stock has slipped a bit since moving to outside cornerback. It’s far too early to right him off at that spot, especially since he’s immensely talented and will soon be working with NFL coaches. Even if he has to begin his career in the slot, Arizona’s secondary would welcome his coverage skills.
2021 NFL mock draft: Projecting first-round picks 21-32
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
After drafting Justin Fields, Jacksonville immediately looks to protect him. Cosmi is one of the best linemen in the country and is stellar in pass protection. He’d be ready to start at left tackle in Week 1, replacing Cam Robinson (22 pressures allowed). Give Fields a clean pocket and watch him make magic with James Robinson, D.J. Chark and Keelan Cole.
22. Las Vegas Raiders: Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
An edge rusher from a Power 5 conference with great tape, stellar numbers (28.5 career sacks) and explosiveness. Yeah, Mike Mayock will sign up for that. Las Vegas needs to prioritize upgrading its pass rush this offseason and while Roche hasn’t been outstanding for the Hurricanes, he is still a first-round caliber prospect.
23. Cleveland Browns: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
Cleveland needs edge rushers to help Myles Garrett, but Ossai is more than your average edge rusher. Throughout his college career, he’s shown impressive versatility. This season at Texas, turning his raw traits into outstanding production and game film. With great length and explosiveness off the edge, Assai can get to the quarterback and even box in the running game.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
While this might not be their greatest need, the Colts can’t pass on Waddle’s talent. A fractured ankle is a big reason why he slips to this spot, but his speed is insane and his route-running ability is close behind. Whoever is at quarterback for Indianapolis in 2021, they will love having Waddle and Michael Pittman Jr.
25. New York Jets (via SEA): Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
If Trevor Lawrence is going to play for the Jets, they need to make it worth his while. It will start with bringing in a superior coaching staff, including a head coach who can actually develop quarterbacks. New York also needs to put some playmakers around Lawrence. Bateman makes plays after the catch, can grab 50-50 balls and boasts an impressive catch radius. He can be Lawrence’s go-to target and the Jets’ first Pro Bowl receiver in years.
26. Tennessee Titans: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
There is no greater need on Tennesse’s roster than an edge rusher. Jadeveon Clowney played well but landed on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Vic Beasley was a total bust. Let us introduce you to Jayson Oweh, an edge rusher with an unthinkable 4.33 40-yard dash time. He will explode at the NFL Scouting Combine, and everyone will be raving about his upside because it will be among the highest in this draft class.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Tom Brady, maybe more than any other NFL quarterback, needs a clean pocket to be successful. Donovan Smith (29 pressures allowed, nine penalties) isn’t getting it done on the left side. The outcome here is simple. Tampa Bay spends its first-round pick on Slater, who can start immediately in 2021, and cut Smith to create $14.25 million in cap space.
28. Buffalo Bills: Derion Kendrick, CB, Clemson
Tre’Davious White is an outstanding cornerback, but opponents won’t respect your secondary when your No. 2 cornerback allows a 121.1 quarterback rating. Kendrick, a former receiver, looks like a natural in only his second year at the position. He’s got all the physical tools to be a playmaking cornerback, but he is still a bit raw. With the right coaching, he could one day be an interception machine.
29. Green Bay Packers: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
The Packers boast an impressive offensive line, even while dealing with injuries to David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley. They’ve rewarded their All-Pro left tackle with a record-setting contract. Linsley, the best center in football, will be the top priority this offseason. For a team tight on cap space, cutting Billy Turner might have to happen. It only creates $3.5 million in cap room, but that money can go elsewhere and Eichenberg will be better and cheaper.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Creed Humphrey, iOL, Oklahoma
When making a $500 million investment in a single asset, it’s critical to get insurance. For the Chiefs, that means devoting top picks to the offensive line. Humphrey is physical, thrives in pass protection and projects to be a versatile lineman in the NFL. That’s valuable, especially for an organization that has had to move linemen around.
31. New Orleans Saints: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
New Orleans could be $100 million over the salary cap next offseason. Big cuts are coming, it’s the only way this team can even navigate its way to some kind of reasonable cap number. Before tearing his ACL in 2019, Moses was an outstanding linebacker with impressive athleticism and range. He’s showing that ability again this season and with the ability to become a three-down linebacker. Moses would also be a lot cheaper than Kwon Alexander.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Pittsburgh could go in a variety of directions with this pick. Offensive tackle will be a need this offseason and there’s a real benefit in drafting a developmental quarterback now for the fifth-year team option. With James Conner set to hit free agency and no other running back on this depth chart impressing, Etienne lands at the final pick of our NFL mock draft.
He is one of the best running backs in college football history. The moment Etienne touches the football, that play can go the distance. With over 4,672 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns in his collegiate career, Etienne’s game-changing abilities as a runner are obvious. In 2020, he’s proven to be just as dangerous catching the football. This would be a great add to Pittsburgh’s offense.