NFL Mock Draft 2021: Predictions, Analysis for Pro Day Stars and Top Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2021

NFL Mock Draft 2021: Predictions, Analysis for Pro Day Stars and Top Prospects

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The NFL offseason is fluid, especially when it comes to the draft.

    Back in 2018, the New York Jets traded up to the No. 3 pick in the draft in March, more than a month before the actual event. They were after a quarterback and, presumably, were eventually happy to land a player widely regarded as one of the draft's top three signal-callers, USC's Sam Darnold. Now Darnold could be replaced with the No. 2 selection this year.

    On Friday, the San Francisco 49ers made an eerily similar move. Despite not knowing who might be available in the No. 3 slot, the 49ers acquired it from the Miami Dolphins—and they're likely targeting a quarterback.

    San Francisco's move completely changed the predraft landscape. Things look far different than they did before the trade, and more dominoes could fall as a result of it. The Dolphins subsequently traded back up to the Philadelphia Eagles' No. 6 spot, while star performances at pro days have helped established certain prospects as top draft targets.

    Here, we'll examine the potential repercussions, the updated draft order and predictions for the first round of next month's draft. 

2021 NFL Mock Draft, Round 1

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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

    3. San Francisco 49ers (from Houston, via Miami): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

    4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

    5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

    6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia): Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

    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. Philadelphia Eagles (from San Francisco, via Miami): 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

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    One thing hasn't changed. The Jacksonville Jaguars are still probably taking Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick.

    Lawrence is widely considered a generational talent and a can't-miss quarterback prospect. The Jaguars need a new franchise signal-caller, and Lawrence is there for the taking.

    There will likely be some discussions in Jacksonville's war room, though, as BYU's Zach Wilson is on the rise. Wilson was already a rising prospect before Brigham Young's pro day, and he wowed there.

    "You saw him drive the football with pace, velocity and accuracy. There were some misses down the field; I wouldn't read too much into that. ... It was more movement from a quarterback than I think we've ever seen for a pro day," NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah said, per's Chase Goodbread.

    Lawrence will probably still be the pick at No. 1, but it's not a guarantee.

3. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    We mentioned the Jets' 2018 pre-draft trade because it's relevant here. If New York decides to stick by Darnold, the 49ers could have a crack at Wilson with the No. 3 selection.

    However, the Jets aren't passing on Wilson in this mock, which leaves San Francisco with the third quarterback selected.

    There isn't a consensus on who the 49ers are targeting, but we'll pair them here with Ohio State gunslinger Justin Fields. While Wilson is starting to take some of the spotlight, Fields is still a premier quarterback prospect.

    "Fields operates with a quiet confidence and has experience overcoming adversity. He should continue to improve and become a solid NFL starter within a couple of seasons," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote.

    If San Francisco did move up for a quarterback, it should be happy to walk away with Fields.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

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    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    Even with Matt Ryan on the roster, the Atlanta Falcons could be in on a quarterback of the future at No. 4. Here, though, they scoop up arguably the best non-quarterback in the draft in Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.

    Pitts also shined at his pro day, running a remarkable 4.46-second 40-yard dash at 6'6" and 240 pounds.

    Pitts should be considered a top pass-catching prospect along with Alabama's DeVonta Smith and LSU's Ja'Marr Chase. While the Falcons aren't exactly hurting for pass-catching talent, Pitts may simply be too strong of a talent to pass over.

    "Imagine the 6'6" Pitts—a touchdown-scoring machine at Florida—in Arthur Smith's offense with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst. Remember, Pitts is not your average tight end," Matthew Tabeek of the Falcons' official website wrote in a mock draft.

    If the Falcons don't take a quarterback at No. 4, it will set up the Cincinnati Bengals with a prime trading position at No. 5. There, the draft landscape could significantly change once again.