2021 NFL Mock Draft: Latest 1st-Round Predictions After 2 Weeks of Free Agency

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 5, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Latest 1st-Round Predictions After 2 Weeks of Free Agency

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    George Frey/Associated Press

    Two weeks into 2021 NFL free agency, several clubs still have glaring holes at the quarterback position.

    Many will look to the upcoming draft to fill them.

    Five quarterbacks feel likely to land in the opening round, and considering the cost of the investment, that means all five will have an opportunity to show whether they are NFL-caliber starting quarterbacks next season.

    With Trevor Lawrence locked in at No. 1 and Zach Wilson something close to cemented at No. 2, we'll follow our mock first round by spotlighting the other three quarterback prospects who make the cut.

2021 NFL Mock Draft

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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

    3. San Francisco 49ers (via MIA/HOU): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

    4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

    5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

    6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI): Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

    7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

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

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

    10. Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

    11. New York Giants: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

    12. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA/SF): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

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

    14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC

    15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

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

    17. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

    18. Miami Dolphins: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

    19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

    20. Chicago Bears: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

    21. Indianapolis Colts: Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

    22. Tennessee Titans: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

    23. New York Jets (via SEA): Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

    24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

    25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

    26. Cleveland Browns: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami

    27. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

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

    29. Green Bay Packers: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

    30. Buffalo Bills: Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina

    31. Kansas City Chiefs: Azeez Ojulari, OLB, Georgia

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

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    The fact that Justin Fields isn't locked in at No. 3 means either my assessment of him is wrong or smokescreen season is doing its job.

    He looks like a budding star, and that's true regardless of whether you're evaluating his production or his drool-worthy pro day performance. In two seasons at Ohio State, he went 396-of-579 (68.4 percent) for 5,373 yards and 63 touchdowns against only nine interceptions. And in case his box scores needed an extra boost, he added 218 rushes for 867 yards and another 15 scores.

    The numbers alone drip in superstar potential. Then Fields breezed through his pro day like he enabled some power boosters before the workout, ripping through a pair of sub-4.5 40-yard dashes (as a 227-pounder) and throwing darts around the field.

    "The ball jumped out of his hand on drive throws," NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah relayed. "On deep throws, was able to layer the ball. He showed you everything you wanted to see within a pro day workout."

    If Fields makes it out of the top three, let alone the top five, someone will have made a mistake.

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    Trey Lance's resume is light on quantity but nevertheless wows with quality.

    He only started 17 games at North Dakota State, an FCS program. He threw 318 passes over his three seasons at the school, or 36 fewer than Fields aired out in 14 games in 2019. No matter how good Lance's numbers are—and some are ridiculous—they have to be digested with several salt grains given the lack of volume and competition level.

    With that disclaimer out of the way, though, his 2019 performance was absurd. He turned 192 completions into 2,786 passing yards. He piled up 28 touchdown passes without a single interception. He added another 14 scores on the ground while rushing for 1,100 yards on 169 attempts.

    This was dual-threat sorcery, and if scouts trust the stats to translate, then Lance's potential is enormous.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Mac Jones' name wasn't buzzing a lot near the top of the draft board until the San Francisco 49ers traded their way into the No. 3 pick. Now it's hard to hear a mention of that selection without hearing something about San Francisco's affinity for Jones.

    Maybe these are smokescreens and the 49ers are just doing an expert job of throwing everyone off of the trail. But that's a ton of smoke for there not to be some fire here.

    Jones is a sharp decision-maker who processes reads quickly. He needs to, of course, because he's statuesque in the pocket, but teams that want their quarterbacks to make rapid reads and fast throws will be drawn to Jones. While he had an embarrassment-of-riches roster around him in Alabama, he still made the throws that resulted in a 77.4 completion percentage, 11.2 passing yards per attempt and 41 touchdowns against four interceptions this past season.

    "What separates me is my preparation and my ability to take what I learn from the coaches' meetings and my meetings and then apply it to the field," Jones told reporters. "I'm going to do exactly what the coach tells me to do. I'm going to play within the framework of the offense."

    Jones seemingly offers the lowest ceiling of the top-five quarterback prospects in this draft because he's the least mobile of the lot—by a mile. Still, he might have one of the higher floors in the group, and while some teams shoot for stardom early in the draft, others might see the appeal of a steady, potentially reliable quarterback who won a ton in college.