2021 NFL Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Predictions After Week 1 of Free Agency

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Predictions After Week 1 of Free Agency

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    The first full week of 2021 NFL free agency is complete. With the "legal tampering" window opening March 15, teams have had seven days to reach agreements with players. Unsurprisingly, most of the top names are off the board.

    Cap spaces are also dwindling around the league, with only seven franchises having $20 million or more available. This means that heading into the second wave of free agency, many teams will be examining budget options as others turn the page to the NFL draft almost entirely.

    The draft is the next major event in the NFL offseason and is set to kick off April 29.

    Here you will find the current draft order, along with full first-round predictions and a look at some selections that could be influenced by what has transpired since the start of the new league year.

2021 NFL Mock Draft, Round 1

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

    2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young

    3. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

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

    5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

    6. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Pitts, QB, Florida

    7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

    8. Carolina Panthers: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

    9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

    10. Dallas Cowboys: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

    11. New York Giants: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

    12. San Francisco 49ers: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

    13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

    14. Minnesota Vikings: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

    15. New England Patriots: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

    16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

    17. Las Vegas Raiders: Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan

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

    19. Washington Football Team: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

    20. Chicago Bears: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

    21. Indianapolis Colts: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

    22. Tennessee Titans: Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

    23. New York Jets (from Seattle): Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

    24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

    25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi

    26. Cleveland Browns: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

    27. Baltimore Ravens: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami

    28. New Orleans Saints: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

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

    30. Buffalo Bills: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

    31. Kansas City Chiefs: Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma State

    32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia

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

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    The New York Jets have been relatively active in free agency, bringing in the likes of wideout Corey Davis, tight end Tyler Kroft, linebacker Jarrad Davis and edge-rusher Carl Lawson. They haven't, however, made a major move at quarterback.

    This doesn't mean that the Jets are sticking with Sam Darnold, however. New head coach Robert Saleh has no ties to Darnold, and general manager Joe Douglas has no reason to rush a decision.

    "The reason they're waiting, though, is because Douglas is committed to a full evaluation of the 2021 quarterback class," SNY's Ralph Vacchiano wrote. "The suspicion around the league is his favorite is BYU's Zach Wilson, but there are other quarterbacks he plans to see and meet."

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are widely expected to take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall, which would leave Wilson there for the taking at No. 2. And New York pulls the trigger in this mock.

    The Jets have used free agency to put solid veteran pieces around their quarterback. Just don't expect that signal-caller to be Darnold over the long term.

7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions have undergone quite the offensive makeover this offseason. Quarterback Jared Goff replaces Matthew Stafford thanks to a trade that was agreed upon before free agency. Detroit also signed running back Jamaal Williams, wideout Tyrell Williams and wideout Breshad Perriman.

    The Lions also lost No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay to the New York Giants. While Williams and Perriman are solid complementary pieces, neither is the sort of top target Golladay was in Detroit. Here the Lions find that player by taking reigning Heisman winner DeVonta Smith.

    Smith was nothing short of spectacular in 2020. In 13 games, he racked up 1,856 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. He also found the end zone as a runner and a punt-returner.

    Pairing Smith with Williams, Perriman and tight end T.J. Hockenson would give Goff plenty of firepower with which to prove himself. If Detroit's new quarterback cannot be successful with that group, Detroit will have to start considering quarterback options in the 2022 draft.

11. New York Giants: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Golladay's addition should affect the Giants' draft strategy quite significantly. New York was in a prime position to target a much-needed No. 1 receiver, but Golladay should fill the role of top target and mentor to quarterback Daniel Jones.

    "[Jones] is still kind of fresh in the league, a little bit,"  Golladay said, per Art Stapleton of Northjersey.com. "I kinda wanna grow with him. I'm still growing as a player, and I feel like me and him can do some good things."

    With Golladay in the fold, the Giants instead turn their draft attention to the offensive line. Versatile USC product Alijah Vera-Tucker could be an ideal fit as New York continues trying to build around Jones. Having played both guard and tackle for the Trojans, Vera-Tucker could fill multiple roles for the Giants.

    One role that needs to be filled is at guard, where Kevin Zeitler previously started. He was dumped before the start of free agency as a cap casualty and subsequently signed with the Baltimore Ravens.

    New York could use all the help as it can get along the offensive line. Jones was sacked a whopping 45 times in 2020, despite only playing in 14 games.


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