The order for this 2021 NFL Mock Draft is determined based on current odds to win the Super Bowl, adjusted to ensure that the playoff format would be valid in reality.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence (QB/Clemson)
Although 2019 was considered a letdown for Lawrence, he is still the top player available in this draft class and Clemson is the favorite to win the national championship this season. Jacksonville appears to be rolling the dice with Gardner Minshew this season and while he is a fan favorite, he did not show that he is the answer at quarterback for the Jaguars. The team has quickly fallen back to earth after a surprise appearance in the AFC Championship Game in 2017 and they are now in the midst of a full-on rebuild, making them the early favorites to land the top pick in the draft.
2. Washington Redskins – Penei Sewell (OT/Oregon)
After a year of trade demands, dissatisfaction and refusal to show up, Trent Williams finally got his wish as Washington traded him to the 49ers during the draft. Now, Washington needs to find a new blindside protector. Ultimately, I don’t think the Redskins pick this high in 2021, but do expect them to still select somewhere in the top 10.
3. Cincinnati Bengals – Gregory Rosseau (EDGE/Miami)
I don’t think Cincinnati winds up with this high of a pick, but Rosseau is the top available player who could terrorize Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield. He was the only freshman with more than seven sacks last season, ending with 15.5, including four in a game where he completely dominated Florida State.
4. New York Giants – Justyn Ross (WR/Clemson)
New York would’ve loved to land Rosseau, but alas, he is not available in this mock draft. Instead, they can pivot to wide receiver, a position of need in a draft class that has a lot of talent in the position. Ross, Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle are expected to compete heavily this season to become the top receiver selected. Darius Slayton was a pleasant surprise for the Giants last season, but they’re thin talent-wise aside from him.
5. Miami Dolphins – Ja’Marr Chase (WR/LSU)
Miami filled a lot of holes in their draft last week, but one position they did not address until their final pick was wide receiver. DeVante Parker finally broke out, but there isn’t much else talent-wise behind him. Chase set the SEC on fire last season, setting conference records with a nation-leading 20 touchdowns and 1,780 receiving yards.
6. New York Jets – Jaylen Waddle (WR/Alabama)
New York took Denzel Mims in the second round of last week’s draft, but Breshad Perriman was signed for just one year and Jamison Crowder enters his contract year in 2021. Waddle averaged an impressive 17.0 yards per reception while playing behind Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy and could be the next great Crimson Tide receiver.
7. Carolina Panthers – Justin Fields (QB/Ohio State)
Carolina signed Teddy Bridgewater to be the starter, but if they end up drafting in the top 10 again, I’d expect them to find his replacement. Expect Fields to be a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy this year.
8. Detroit Lions – Trey Lance (QB/North Dakota State)
Detroit can save $14 million in cap space by releasing Matthew Stafford next offseason, something that is int he realm of possibility given his injury history. Should they do this, a quarterback would practically have to be the draft pick.
9. Las Vegas Raiders – Jamie Newman (QB/Georgia)
Las Vegas would clear nearly $20 million in cap space by releasing Derek Carr next offseason, so unless he shows significant improvement, I can’t see him entering 2021 as their starter. Marcus Mariota has no guaranteed money in his deal next season either so if Las Vegas is picking this low, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see them completely purge all quarterbacks on their roster. Newsman transfers to Georgia from Wake Forest and with a big frame (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and athleticism, his stock could keep rising.
10. Denver Broncos – Patrick Surtain II (CB/Alabama)
Denver gets the best player available, getting a shutdown cornerback who was a top recruit coming out of high school. Surtain’s father, of course, is Patrick Surtain, who was a two-time All-Pro as a cornerback.
11. Arizona Cardinals – Samuel Cosmi (OT/Texas)
While D.J. Humphries returned to Arizona on a three-year deal, Marcus Gilbert only got a one-year “prove it” offer. Arizona could take Cosmi and have him play right tackle for his rookie season and eventually take over on the blindside in 2022.
12. Miami Dolphins – Xavier Thomas (EDGE/Clemson)
Miami double-dipped at tackle early in last week’s draft, so despite some 2021 NFL mock drafts pegging the team to take another tackle early, I don’t see it happening. Instead, they split their first-round picks between the offense and defense, adding a much-needed edge rusher here. Thomas is a former five-star recruit who was able to consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks when he was on the field last season – even if it did not result in a sack.
13. Atlanta Falcons – Marvin Wilson (DT/Florida State)
Grady Jarrett continues to be elite, but Atlanta would benefit from adding more talent next to him. Wilson has the physical tools and is stout against the run.
14. Chicago Bears – Walker Little (OT/Stanford)
With Bobby Massie and Charles Leno approaching 30 years of age, Chicago needs to think about a long-term answer at tackle. Little would have been a top 10 pick last week if it wasn’t for a season-ending injury.
15. Cleveland Browns – Dylan Moses (LB/Alabama)
Cleveland could stand to upgrade the heart of the defense, where B.J. Goodson was signed to a one-year deal. Moses was a coveted draft prospect last season before his season ended due to a preseason ACL tear.
16. Los Angeles Chargers – Liam Eichenberg (OT/Notre Dame)
After signing Bryan Bulaga, the Chargers did not draft an offensive tackle. Bulaga is currently penciled in to be the right tackle with the underwhelming Sam Tevi on the blindside. Eichenberg’s long frame helps him put speed rushers in their place.
17. Tennessee Titans – Pat Freiermuth (TE/Penn State)
Tennessee would’ve loved to have landed an edge rusher here, but with the top two guys taken, they have to pivot to another position. Jonnu Smith has shown promise, but he is in his contract year. This draft class has some top-heavy talent at tight end.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars – Alex Leatherwood (OT/Alabama)
The Jaguars waited until round four to take a tackle last week, but with Cam Robinson entering free agency, I don’t think they wait long to find protection for Trevor Lawrence. Leatherwood was getting first-round buzz before deciding to return to Tuscaloosa.
19. Minnesota Vikings – Jay Tufele (DT/USC)
Minnesota let Linval Joseph walk in free agency and only added the sub-300 pound James Lynch in the draft. Here is a proper replacement.
20. Seattle Seahawks – Israel Mukuamu (CB/South Carolina)
The tall, lanky cornerback Seattle has been looking for since Richard Sherman went to San Francisco. Then again, he isn’t a third-round prospect so who knows if Seattle will be interested.
21. Green Bay Packers – Micah Parsons (LB/Penn State)
A lot of other mock drafts have pegged the Packers to select a wide receiver, but Green Bay has made it abundantly clear that they have no intention to ever use a first-round pick on an offensive skill position outside of quarterback. Instead, they get a defensive chess piece in Parsons who is drawing comparisons to Isaiah Simmons due to his versatility.
22. Buffalo Bills – Paulson Adebo (CB/Stanford)
Buffalo signed Josh Norman, but he is nothing more than a band-aid at this point of his career. Adebo will line up across from Tre’Davious White and ultimately replace him in 2022 if Buffalo fails to re-sign him.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers – Brock Purdy (QB/Iowa State)
Ben Roethlisberger inches closer and closer towards retirement each year and last season showed that the Steelers do not have his heir on their roster. While Purdy is an intriguing prospect with a high football IQ, his arm strength may scare some teams away.
24. Philadelphia Eagles – JaCoby Stevens (S/LSU)
Jalen Mills is in the final year of his contract and is a player Philadelphia should definitely let walk.
25. Indianapolis Colts – Caden Sterns (S/Texas)
Malik Hooker is reportedly on the trading block and Indianapolis is undecided on exercising his fifth-year options. Here is a replacement if they move on from the talented but oft-injured safety.
26. New England Patriots – Trey Smith (G/Tennessee)
Joe Thuney signed his franchise tender, but New England has not signed him to a long-term deal yet. Quarterback would definitely be in play here if they selected earlier (which I think they will) or one fell to them.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Brevin Jordan (TE/Miami)
Dallas still hasn’t replaced Jason Witten, who is now in Las Vegas.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Travis Etienne (RB/Clemson)
Bruce Arians loves pass-catching backs, so Etienne could be a dynamic playmaker in this offense.
29. New Orleans Saints – Rondale Moore (WR/Purdue)
Quarterback is in play too, but Jameis Winston could be the heir if Sean Payton likes what he sees out of the former Buc this season – specifically at practice or in the film room. Out of position to take a top quarterback, they instead get more weapons for the offense. Chuba Hubbard is an option here too if the Saints don’t pay Alvin Kamara.
30. Baltimore Ravens – Jalen Redmond (DE/DT/Oklahoma)
Redmond entered Stillwater a measly 233 pounds and had added 40 pounds since emerging as one of the top defensive linemen in the country. Matthew Judon is playing on a franchise tag this season and even if he was retained, the Ravens still need to add more to the defensive line.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Creed Humphrey (C/Oklahoma)
Weston Richburg tore his patellar tendon, a death sentence injury in the NFL. Despite this, the 49ers didn’t add a center in last week’s draft.
32. Kansas City Chiefs – Chris Olave (WR/Ohio State)
With Patrick Mahome’s soon-to-be record-breaking contract looming, the Chiefs will need to save money elsewhere, making Sammy Watkins and even Tyreek Hill could be expendable.