2021 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Order and Latest Projections

Theo SalaunCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Order and Latest Projections

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Just as the Vince Lombardi Trophy safely traversed Tampa Bay's Hillsborough River, the NFL world has left the 2020-21 playoffs and reached 2021 draft season. And, with that jump toward the future, it's time to get deeper into mock drafts and player projections.

    The draft's order is set and so is its date, with teams jockeying to select their preferred prospects starting on April 29. And, just like last year, everyone expects a highly touted quarterback to go first overall.

    According to NFL.com's Adam Maya, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence will have labrum surgery on his non-throwing shoulder just days after conducting a personal workout for Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer.

    Lawrence is expected to go first overall to Jacksonville, but opinions differ in the selections that follow.

2021 NFL Mock Draft

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    1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

    2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

    3. Miami Dolphins (from Texans): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

    4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

    5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

    6. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

    7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

    8. Carolina Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

    9. Denver Broncos: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

    10. Dallas Cowboys: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

    11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

    12. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

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

    14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

    15. New England Patriots: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

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

    17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

    18. Miami Dolphins: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

    19. Washington Football Team: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

    20. Chicago Bears: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

    21. Indianapolis Colts: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

    22. Tennessee Titans: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami

    23. New York Jets (from Seahawks): Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

    24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas

    25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

    26. Cleveland Browns: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

    27. Baltimore Ravens: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

    28. New Orleans Saints: Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

    29. Green Bay Packers: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

    30. Buffalo Bills: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

    31. Kansas City Chiefs: Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest

    32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

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    George Frey/Associated Press

    The first major decision of the day comes immediately after the Lawrence selection, as the Jets can give themselves a rookie signal-caller to prepare if Sam Darnold's woes continue. The question is a difficult one, though: BYU's Zach Wilson or Ohio State's Justin Fields?

    For the Jets, the answer should be Wilson. If the goal is to have a suitable replacement in wait if Darnold continues to be ineffective, then Wilson appears to have the higher floor. While Fields did complete an impressive 70.2 percent of his passes in 2020, Wilson's efficiency far outpaces him.

    Not only did Wilson complete 73.5 percent of his throws in his final college season, he did so with higher yards per attempt (11.0 to Fields's 9.3) and at a much better touchdown-to-interception rate (33-3, compared with Fields's 22-6). Either QB has the potential to outdo Darnold's career 59.8 percent completion rate, but Wilson has the makings of a higher floor as a pure passer. (Of course, his 10 rushing touchdowns in 2020 are an added bonus.)

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    No-nonsense pick for Cincinnati at No. 5. Two years after selecting Alabama's Jonah Williams at No. 11 to shore up the offensive line, the Bengals should ignore the Ja'Marr Chase hype and grab a potentially generational offensive-line prospect in Penei Sewell.

    After franchise cornerstone Joe Burrow told media that he "wouldn't mind" reuniting with Chase, many have imagined the star receiver taking on AJ Green's throne as the true top option in orange and black. But Tee Higgins had a fantastic rookie year, and along with receivers like Tyler Boyd, Green and Auden Tate, Cincinnati has a deep group at the position.

    The team isn't deep along the line, though. And, as Burrow's season-ending injury proved, that's a problem. At 6'6", 331 pounds and possessing a rare blend of pure talent and industriousness, Sewell is the quintessential OT prospect and an easy pick for a forward-looking franchise. 

7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Even if a Burrow reunion doesn't happen, Chase shouldn't last long on the draft board. At No. 7, the Lions can call upon the 6'0" receiver to become a focal point of their offense.

    With both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones entering free agency, it's unlikely that Detroit heads into the upcoming season with both of their top receivers. If either or both leave, then the recently acquired Jared Goff will need another receiving threat outside of the Lions' upsurging tight end, TJ Hockenson.

    The choice would be between Chase and Jaylen Waddle, with both having showcased remarkable college success. If Golladay stays, then Waddle becomes a perfect pick as a complementary, smaller and quicker option. But paying someone of Kenny G's caliber isn't easy to pull off, making a departure seem likely and, therefore, suggesting that the prototypically sized and skilled Chase is best-suited to taking up Detroit's No. 1 mantle.