2021 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Order and Predictions After Super Bowl 55February 8, 2021
2021 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Order and Predictions After Super Bowl 55
The 2020 NFL season is officially complete, and the offseason begins Monday.
Free agency will be the first major step once the new league year commences March 17. Then comes the first night of the 2021 draft April 29.
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' decisive victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, the draft order is now set.
Here's a look at the first round and three questions that will loom over the next two months and change.
2021 Mock Draft: 1st Round
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
2. New York Jets: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans): Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
4. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
8. Carolina Panthers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
9. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
10. Dallas Cowboys: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
11. New York Giants: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
12. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
14. Minnesota Vikings: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Vikings
15. New England Patriots: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
16. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
18. Miami Dolphins: Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State
19. Washington Football Team: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/OG, USC
20. Chicago Bears: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
21. Indianapolis Colts: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
22. Tennessee Titans: Patrick Jones II, DE, Pitt
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks): Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams): Derion Kendrick, CB, Clemson
26. Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
27. Baltimore Ravens: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
28. New Orleans Saints: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
29. Green Bay Packers: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
30. Buffalo Bills: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
Draft order via Tankathon
How Much Will the QB Trade Market Impact 1st Round?
In a typical offseason, the draft is generally the easiest place for a franchise to address the quarterback position.
Quality signal-callers usually aren't available in trades, and those that hit free agency carry a steep cost because it's always a seller's market. That's how Nick Foles ends up getting a four-year, $88 million contract from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This offseason is an outlier, though, thanks to the quarterbacks who already are or might be available via trade.
The Detroit Lions traded Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and a package of draft picks.
The Houston Texans continue to hold firm on Deshaun Watson, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Jan. 28 the hiring of David Culley as head coach didn't change the quarterback's desire to leave.
Likewise, The MMQB's Albert Breer reported Carson Wentz "isn't exactly pleased" to still be a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported his departure could be imminent.
It's impossible to predict how the Aaron Rodgers situation will unfold. The Green Bay Packers don't have to trade him right now, but the 37-year-old can change that in an instance if he wants out.
Watson is obviously the top prize, and the Texans have the opportunity to really alter the draft landscape if they move him before April 29.
Even if he remains in Houston by then, some teams that would otherwise be in the market for a quarterback on draft night could look instead to a more sure thing to help their offense.
Do the Jets Keep the No. 2 Pick?
Few teams are better poised to make a run at Watson than the New York Jets.
They have two first-round picks, including this year's second overall selection, in 2021 and 2022. They could package multiple first-rounders together with Sam Darnold or whatever else to give the Texans as good a haul as they can reasonably expect.
The last few decades of New York's history offer a compelling reason why general manager Joe Douglas should sacrifice the franchise's future. Ken O'Brien might be the Jets' last true franchise quarterback, and they have searched futilely for a worthy successor.
Rather than hoping Justin Fields or Zach Wilson is the guy, it makes sense to get Watson instead.
Even if Douglas isn't keen on a move of that magnitude, he'd be smart to use the Jets' bounty of draft assets to reinforce the roster with proven talent.
The Miami Dolphins are on the rise, and Josh Allen flourished in his third season with the Buffalo Bills. The gap between New York and the best of the AFC East could widen even further in 2021.
Landing a Pro Bowler in a trade would be a signal Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh want to make a quick turnaround, which could then entice more players to come aboard.
Will Pro Days Shake Up Draft Boards?
No mock draft is ever perfect, and no expert ever has a totally accurate read on how teams will ultimately value certain prospects. Based on how the next few months will unfold, it seems fair to wonder how much the general narratives around incoming draftees will shift, though.
In January, the NFL laid out how it was effectively canceling the combine.
Instead, players will work out at their respective schools, with teams limited to sending three representatives. Team personnel will also have to conduct the typical predraft interviews remotely and are prohibited from bringing a player in for a visit at its facility.
Chase Goodbread of NFL.com wrote in June how the COVID-19 pandemic was already making it tougher to fully evaluate a 2021 draft-eligible player. Some stars opted out, the season was truncated, and scouts were generally unable to travel to big games to get a firsthand look at anybody on their radar.
Having pro days in any form is a slight improvement compared to last year. The combine went on as scheduled, but only a small number of schools staged a pro day before the pandemic took those off the table.
Getting to see a player work out on film and interviewing him remotely isn't the same as watching and interacting with him in person. This year's process at least provides teams with more access than they were afforded in 2020.
Still, it might be tough for a prospect not widely considered to be a Day 1 talent to shoot up draft boards.