We are just four weeks into the 2020 season, and the fans of bad NFL teams are already looking toward the 2021 NFL Draft. New York Jets fans will recognise that familiar Week 5 feeling. The season is over before Halloween, and the never-ending rebuilding process continues. Teams still without a win can begin to at least consider tanking for Trevor. Whichever franchise that has the #1 overall pick is taking him. Of that, there is no doubt.
Way back in August, when it looked like college football wouldn’t be played at all, I completed my first 2021 Mock Draft. Since then, football has returned to our lives, and teams’ fortunes have changed. Remember when Jacksonville was definitely going to be the worst team in football? Not anymore.
As with last time, the draft order has been taken from TDN. If you don’t like where your team is picking, then you’ll just have to get over it. The picks? They’re all me. If you hate them, you know where to find me.
Kwity Paye and Trey Smith make their way into the First Round, as does NDSU left tackle Dillon Radunz and Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The players to miss out on a Day One selection this time are safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, wide receiver Sage Surratt, lineman Jackson Carmon and cornerback Paulson Adebo.
Let’s get to it. It is my pleasure to declare my 2021 NFL Mock Draft fictitiously open.
2021 Mock Draft 2.0
#1 – New York Jets – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Whichever team is picking first overall is taking Trevor Lawrence. It really is that simple.
The only way in which Sunshine doesn’t go #1 overall is if he doesn’t declare for the Draft until 2022. Who would blame Lawrence for going back to South Carolina for his Senior year? If two terrible New York teams head the race for the first overall pick, it might not be such a terrible move to see out his Senior year. Could you blame him?
The career of Sam Darnold is heading for a premature decline. Through little fault of his own, the Jets will be moving on from him after this year. Please, Football Gods, don’t let the same thing happen to Trevor Lawrence.
Joe Douglas cannot stake his reputation on being the GM that passed on Lawrence. The risk of him achieving greatness elsewhere is just too high.
#2, New York Giants – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Giants offense has been putrid since Saquon Barkley’s season-ending injury. Daniel Jones has shown little signs of progression so far this year. Longstanding question marks over his fumbling issues remain. He has thrown just 2 touchdowns to 5 interceptions in 2020.
Justin Fields was explosive in Ohio last year. The delay of the Big Ten season has not helped his cause, but his 41 touchdowns in 2019 speak for themselves. Dave Gettleman rolls the dice again at the quarterback position, but he could be a contender for trading back. The Giants have holes all across the roster, and would benefit from more picks in April.
#3, Washington Football Team – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Washington misses out on the top quarterback talent, but picks up the best player in the draft in offensive tackle Penei Sewell.
The Football Team seems to have aborted the Dwayne Haskins experience. They may be inclined to tempt the Giants into giving up their pick at #2 overall.
If they sit and wait, Sewell should provide sweet relief. He has the size, technique and athleticism to be one of the league’s best left tackles. It has taken twelve months, but Washington finally replace Trent Williams.
#4, Miami Dolphins – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The rebuilding project in Miami has shown some promise to this point. The offense is young and promising. Brian Flores has been patient enough to let his future QB sit and learn in his rookie year. In the long term, Miami’s offense is trending upwards.
One area where the Dolphins are in need of improvement is at the line-backer position. Parsons will immediately elevate a poor pass rush in Miami.
They may be tempted to pick in-state, and take Hurricanes pass rusher Gregory Rousseau. Either way, they will be reinforcing the defensive front with one of their 2021 first round draft picks.
#5, Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Joe Burrow. Ja’Marr Chase. Cincinnati, you’re welcome.
#6, Denver Broncos – Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Dylan Moses is a top ten pick if he can prove that he is over the knee surgery he undertook in 2019 to repair a torn ACL. So far, so good. Moses is the heartbeat of a fearsome Alabama defense.
The Broncos invested heavily in their offense last year. It makes perfect sense to invest in some premium defensive talent this time out.
#7, Jacksonville Jaguars – Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
The Jaguars were supposed to be hot garbage this season, but Gardner Minshew II seems to have other ideas. Trey Lance may be an option here, but there is a feeling in Duval county that Minshew is their man for the long haul.
Rousseau is the best player in his position group, and the Jaguars need to replace the recently departed Yannick Ngakoue. Opting out of the 2020 season shouldn’t hurt the draft stock of a pass rusher with double digit sacks in his sophomore year.
#8, Carolina Panthers – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Carolina follows in the footsteps of the Jaguars here by picking a blue chip talent that opted out of the 2020 season.
Caleb Farley was the first college player to opt out way back in the summer. His positional rivals have the opportunity to add to their scouting tape. Farley is already preparing for life in the NFL.
This is another franchise that could pick up Lance if they love what they see. For now, his slide continues.
#9, Miami Dolphins (via Texans) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Brian Flores takes a leaf out of Zac Taylor’s book with the Dolphins’ second pick of the first round. The Bengals pair their second year quarterback with his old buddy at WR. Why can’t the Dolphins?
Tua Tagovailoa will be the Miami QB in 2021 and beyond. What better way to support him than bringing in his favourite target in the college game?
Some may have questions over Waddle’s size. Others look to Super Bowl winner Tyreek Hill as a pro comparison for Alabama’s best wideout.
#10, Atlanta Falcons – Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
Atlanta rounds off the top ten by fixing a huge hole on their roster. The 2020 offense knows it must score 25+ points a game to offset its horrible defense.
Surtain should be an immediate plug and play starter on a defensive backfield that leaks points.
Georgia’s Tyson Campbell and Ohio’s Shaun Wade may be graded ahead of Surtain by the Atlanta scouting team. Either way, they need to take a corner. On this occasion, the best CB in the SEC makes the short trip to Georgia for his first taste of the pros.
#11, Minnesota Vikings – Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
It’s not been a great start for either the Vikings or the Sooners in 2020. Both sides were expected to top their division, but find themselves with a losing record.
Creed Humphrey is a superb interior lineman, and can aid his quarterback in diagnosing defensive formations.
Pick #11 may be too high a price to pay for a centre. Who knows, could the Vikings be the team to take the gamble on Lance? Kirk Cousins’ contract has him tied up to play in 2021, but after that, who knows?
#12, Los Angeles Chargers – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Leatherwood has played across the line for the Crimson Tide. His versatility is a big plus point, although he is yet to make any one position his own.
The Chargers have their quarterback of the future. It’s time to protect him.
#13, Detroit Lions – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Bateman returned to the college game last week with Minnesota. He has all the tools to make it in the NFL, and a strong showing in the Big Ten will help his stock rise. He had 1,200+ yards and 11 TDs as a Golden Gopher in 2019. More of the same in 2020, and his status as a first round draft pick is all but confirmed.
The Lions have been better than most predicted so far this year. Bateman could add some spice to a Matt Patricia side that seems to be coming to life.
#14, Philadelphia Eagles – Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Eagles fans may be angry that they’ve passed on a WR here. With the top three guys gone, it may be worth trying to trade back and pick up some draft capital.
The Philly secondary is showing no signs of improvement in 2020. Wade is a physical corner that doesn’t shy from a heavy hit. It will be interesting to whether he hits the ground running when the Buckeyes return at the end of October.
#15, Las Vegas Raiders –Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
The Trey Lance slide ends here. In all likelihood, a team will be trading up to get him if he falls this far. Who knows, one of those teams could be the Raiders?
John Gruden will be certain that he can polish Lance’s passing ability to match his powerful running game. Derek Carr is on borrowed time in Vegas, it seems.
Under Carr the Raiders can be good, but never great. If Gruden wants a Super Bowl ring, he might need to take a gamble with the QB position.
#16, Cleveland Browns – Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
What a steal for the Browns! Barmore has shown elite potential in his short college career. He isn’t quite at the level that Quinnen Williams was in 2018, which is why he falls to #16 overall.
The Browns have one of the best pass rushers in the game, Myles Garrett, tied up to a long term deal. Adding Barmore through the middle of that D line could make the Cleveland front 7 a nightmare to fight off.
#17, Chicago Bears – Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
Sam Cosmi is a UNIT. Standing at over 300 lbs, pass rushers have a hard time getting past the Texas Longhorn. There are some concerns over his footwork, but the raw talent is there for the Bears to take the risk here at #17.
Nick Foles is too expensive to move on from in 2021 for Matt Nagy. It could be that the Bears start protecting their QB of the future before they know who he is.
#18, Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Jaguars have had 4 first round picks in the last two drafts. So far, they’ve taken a defensive player with the first three. It’s time they took someone on offense.
Pitts has been one of the highlights of the college season so far. He is a nightmare for SEC defenders. Pitts is too big, too strong, too agile, too quick for both line-backers and DBs. He has built a telepathic understanding with Florida QB Kyle Trask, and some see him as a top 10 pick. His 6 TDs in 6 quarters of football this season has the attention of draft analysts everywhere.
Gardner Minshew II has a great understanding with DJ Chark. Add Kyle Pitts alongside sophomore WR Leviska Shenault, and you’ve got an exciting offense for 2021.
#19, Indianapolis Colt –Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
Tyson Campbell has been a standout player on a mean Georgia defense so far this season. In fact, many Bulldogs fans will be enraged to see Campbell taken after Alabama’s Patrick Surtain and Ohio State’s Shaun Wade. At present, there is very little separating the three.
The Colts could go a number of ways with this pick. Their WR room is in need of freshening up, and they could take a wideout here.
#20, Arizona Cardinals – Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State
Last time out we had the Cardinals taking Creed Humphrey at #15 overall. Arizona is too good to be picking as high as that in the 2021 Draft. Unfortunately, a Sooner reunion for Humphrey and Kyler Murray is no longer on the cards.
They do still need to protect their quarterback, though. The next best interior offensive lineman is Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis, who will likely fit in at guard. Kliff Kingsbury’s offense needs a line that can give Murray time in the pocket, and space to exploit gaps in the defensive line. It’s a tough ask, but Davis is up to the task.
#21, Tennessee Titans – Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
Marvin Wilson was mocked #14 overall last time, but Florida State’s poor season has seen the defensive lineman fall into the back end of the first round. It’s good news for a Titans team that needs to keep opposing offenses under control. Tennessee likes to run the ball and eat the clock. When their opponents are on the field, Mike Vrabel needs to stifle their attack and keep teams out of the end zone.
Wilson’s 2019 tape is enough to keep NFL franchises interested. With 8.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles last time out, the tape is there to suggest he can flourish in the NFL.
#22, New England Patriots – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
This is one pick that has stayed the same from the last mock. Yes, there are injury concerns – Moore started just 4 games in 2019.
The Patriots don’t tend to take receivers on Day One. If we can question Bill Belichick’s talent evaluation at all, it’s the WR position. However, New England can’t continue to rely on an aging Julian Edelman in the slot.
A healthy Cam Newton needs more talent around him on offense. Moore should be able to get on the other end of short throws. His YAC ability is one of the best in the college game. With Rondale Moore a 6 yard completion can quite easily become a 20+ yard gain.
#23, Dallas Cowboys – Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
It is hard to see the Cowboys taking an offensive player here. Dallas is scoring points for fun, but it is their defense that is costing them wins at the moment.
For now, let’s give them the best defensive player available on the board. Kwity Paye is a high ceiling prospect that can bring some balance to the Cowboys’ pass rush. A lot will depend on how he plays once the Big Ten returns. Paye is the bright spot of an average Michigan team. If he is the leading light for the Wolverines in 2020, he’s a sure fire Round One pick.
#24, Buffalo Bills – Dillon Radunz, OT, NDSU
It’s hard to see exactly where the Bills are weak at the moment.
That said, an NFL offensive line can never be good enough. Radunz has protected a running QB in Trey Lance for the last two seasons. Although Josh Allen has been tempted to throw the ball more often this year, his feet can still devastate a defensive game plan.
A lot will depend on how Radunz gets on at the Senior Bowl. The week in Mobile will be crucial to a player that has only come up against FCS talent in his career. A week against FBS pass rushers will have a huge impact on his draft stock.
#25, Pittsburgh Steelers – Jalen Twyman, DL, Pittsburgh
In the NFL, good teams build strength on strength. Pittsburgh has a quandary at quarterback that they will need to solve in the coming years, but 2021 is too soon to recruit Big Ben’s replacement. Defensive tackle Jalen Twyman can slot into a Steelers’ defense that is already one of the most feared in the NFL.
At 6’2” and 290 lbs, Twyman is a deceptively strong lineman that can fit through the smallest of gaps in opposing offensive lines. He had a huge 2019, enjoying 10.5 sacks. He has been compared to Rams’ DT Aaron Donald, which could tempt a team higher up in the draft order to take the plunge. For now, the Steelers draft from in-state and strengthen an already impressive defensive front.
#26, New Orleans Saints – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
In my Mock Draft 1.0, I had Smith taken ahead of teammate Jalen Waddle. However, this year Waddle has overtaken Smith as the WR1 in Tuscaloosa. In 2019, DeVonta Smith had 1,200+ yards and 14 TDs in an offense alongside Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy. This is enough to suggest that the Saints should boost their WR ranks early in the Draft.
You can’t guard Mike. But with Michael Thomas out injured, New Orleans has been overly-reliant on Alvin Kamara. Dare I say it, it’s almost been predictable. It’s time to increase the weapons around the QB and make NFL defenses think twice.
#27, San Francisco 49ers – Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee
Trey Smith has had his own health issues to contend with. When doctors found blood clots on his lungs, he was side-lined indefinitely. Thankfully, he is back on the field on one of the best offensive lines in college football.
Tennessee’s run-heavy offense will help Smith transition to the 49ers. Kyle Shanahan has worked wonders with the running game in San Francisco, and Smith would slot right in on that O-line.
#28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
It is quite the fall for the best running back in college football. Maybe my bias against drafting RBs in the first round is showing?
Etienne can do it all. If by some minor miracle he falls to the second round, the Jets must reunite him with his quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. Unfortunately, he is too good to fall that far. Etienne is coming off back-to-back 1,600+ yard seasons, and is on course to put similar numbers up again in 2020. He adds extra value with his pass-catching ability.
The Buccs have Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in their backfield. None can provide the game-changing ability that Etienne does. When Old Man Brady hits the Tampa retirement home, Bruce Arians can build a team around an elite running back.
#29, Green Bay Packers – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Owusu-Koramoah is a new entry in the first round. Coming into the season, many considered him a third round pick. After a promising start in 2020, he could sneak into the conversation for a Day One pick. In 2019, he had 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. He is already on track to eclipse that in his Senior year. He already has a sack on the year, but has faced lowly opposition in the form of Duke and USF. Upcoming games against Clemson and UNC will be huge for his draft stock.
Will the Packers finally placate their fanbase with a rookie WR? Not this time. Maybe in Mock Draft 3.0.
#30, Baltimore Ravens – Quincy Roche, DE, Miami
Roche had 23 sacks and 6 forced fumbles in his time at Temple. So far since his transfer to Miami, he’s added another 2 to his career total. The last mock draft had Roche picked as high as #17 He’s done very little wrong to justify this slide, but it works out well in the end for the Ravens.
Baltimore stocked up on offensive talent in the 2020 Draft. Their defense is currently greater than the sum of its parts, but is held up by an impressive secondary. They have pressured QBs on just 15% of snaps so far this year. Roche can beef up a defensive front that is in quiet need of bolstering.
#31, New York Jets (via Seahawks) – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
In the Mock Draft 1.0, Freiermuth was picked up at the same spot, but for the New Orleans Saints. Poor Pat. Joe Douglas can provide his new franchise QB with a Tight End that can do it all. Pitts is the superior pass catcher, but Freiermuth offers more when blocking opposing pass rushers.
Baby Gronk will be following his namesake into the AFC East. Rob Gronkowski was drafted by the Patriot dynasty at precisely the right time, whereas Freiermuth becomes a New York Jet at their time of need. The Jets could take an edge rusher with their bonus first rounder, or a receiver. Or a defensive back. Let’s face it, there are so very many holes to fill.
#32, Kansas City Chiefs – Carlos Basham Jnr, DE, Wake Forest
Kansas City seems pretty set on offense. If they’re picking here at #32, then the Andy Reid experience has led the Chiefs to another Super Bowl victory. Right now, they rely on out-scoring every team they face.
On a team as good as the Chiefs, it is hard to pinpoint precisely where they will go in April. Taking a high-value position like edge rusher or cornerback might be a wise move for a team that is heavily weighted towards the offense.
Basham had 11 sacks in 2019. He already has 3 this year. Basham Jnr is the best player on either side of the ball for the Demon Deacons. His production in his Senior year could be enough to see him taken on Day One.
Catch us over @5yardcollege