NFL Mock Draft 2021: Complete 1st-Round Predictions Before NFL Honors

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2021

NFL Mock Draft 2021: Complete 1st-Round Predictions Before NFL Honors

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    On Saturday night, some of today's biggest stars in football will be crowned during the 10th annual NFL Honors awards program.

    But we have a thing about always looking forward. The shiny, new object just perpetually intrigues us, you know?

    So, while we're all for the celebration of the present's top performers, we can't stop thinking about football's future and the players who will direct it.

    Several of them will arrive during the 2021 NFL draft, which we're forecasting with a mock first round and a breakdown of three of the prospects with the most star potential.

2021 NFL Mock Draft

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    George Frey/Associated Press

    1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

    2. New York Jets: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

    3. Miami Dolphins (via HOU): Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

    4. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

    5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

    6. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

    7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

    8. Carolina Panthers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

    9. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

    10. Dallas Cowboys: Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan

    11. New York Giants: Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

    12. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

    13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

    14. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Barmore, DE/DT, Alabama

    15. New England Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

    16. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

    17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami

    18. Miami Dolphins: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

    19. Washington Football Team: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

    20. Chicago Bears: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC

    21. Indianapolis Colts: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

    22. Tennessee Titans: Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia

    23. New York Jets (via SEA): Carlos Basham Jr., Edge, Wake Forest

    24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

    25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

    26. Cleveland Browns: Joseph Ossai, LB, Texas

    27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

    28. New Orleans Saints: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

    29. Green Bay Packers: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

    30. Buffalo Bills: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

    31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa

    32. Kansas City Chiefs: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    In some drafts, the question marks start right at the top. This is not one of those drafts.

    Trevor Lawrence has been perched atop this talent grab eons, or at least it feels that way. His college career reads like something out of football mythology—an undefeated, national championship season as a true freshman, a 34-2 record as a starter—and his skill set has had scouts drooling for a hot minute.

    "Lawrence has everything NFL teams look for in a franchise signal-caller," ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. wrote. "At 6'6", he can make every throw with accuracy. He rarely makes mistakes. He can move around the pocket and throw on the run. Lawrence is the guy in this class."

    Lawrence is such a tremendous talent that he might work instant miracles in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have a ton of holes on their roster, but a lot of issues can get cleared up quickly with a generational talent under center. Lawrence, by all accounts, could be that type of player.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    DeVonta Smith could've left Alabama last year and landed in the draft's first round. But by sticking around in Tuscaloosa for his senior season, Smith cemented himself as the best prospect at his position—and captured the second college football title of his career.

    The lopsided score of that contest, a 52-24 drubbing of Ohio State, masks his importance in the outcome. It wasn't a runaway victory until he decided it should be. The 6'1" receiver scored three touchdowns during a second quarter in which Alabama turned a 7-7 tie into a 35-17 advantage. A finger injury forced him off the field early in the third quarter, and he was still named Offensive MVP with 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns.

    "Heaven knows what he would have done if he played the whole game," Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters.

    Smith has tremendous burst off the line and is a crisp runner. If a pass is thrown anywhere in his vicinity, he's probably coming down with it. There wasn't a more electric player in college football this past season—and he has the Heisman Trophy to prove it—and he could give that same jolt to an NFL attack.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Kyle Pitts could make the short list of the draft's top wide receivers, only he's not a wideout. He has wide receiver-quality speed, shiftiness, hands, burst, ball-tracking and run-after-catch explosiveness, but he's a 6'6", 246-pound tight end—and every bit the matchup problem that sounds like.'s Charlie Campbell broke down Pitts' strengths and weaknesses in a scouting report. Campbell listed 30 strengths for Pitts, including words like "excellent," "rare," "tremendous" and "phenomenal," plus the drool-worthy phrase "never truly covered." Campbell came up with just one weakness "not a forceful blocker," though "willing blocker" appeared in the strengths column.

    Pitts is essentially a one-man wrecking crew.

    "I don't think it's far-fetched to say he is the most difficult guy to cover in college football this season because of his size, separation ability and hands," ESPN's Todd McShay wrote. "... Pitts is special."

    Over the past two seasons, Pitts gave the Gators 97 receptions for 1,419 yards and 17 touchdowns. With the right target share and quarterback, he could make a serious push for the Pro Bowl already as a rookie.