This is my first NFL mock draft since February heading into Free Agency. The two teams that I was looking at to win the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes back in May of 2020 were the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville went on to lose fifteen consecutive games after a 1-0 start locking up the first pick prior to Christmas Eve.
Jacksonville gets a generational talent at quarterback as well as the top signal-caller in this draft with Trevor Lawrence. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterbacks coach Brian Schotenheimer finally get Jacksonville a franchise quarterback with this pick. To read our Trevor Lawrence SWOT repot, click the link with Trevor Lawrence's name on it. You can also play our interactive 2021 NFL Draft Game in the link below.
I posted a film cut of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence VS Wake Forest. Lawrence dominated the first half in this road win over Wake Forest.
New York's front office even came out and said they will not make a decision on Darnold or any of the quarterbacks in this draft until they go to all of the Pro Days. This turned out to be a lie as Maury Povich would say because the Jets decided they were locked in on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson at 2 following his Pro Day. Zach Wilson will break Jim McMahon and Ziggy Ansah's record for being the highest NFL draft pick in BYU history.
New York traded Sam Darnold to Carolina so Zach Wilson my third best quarterback if you click the quarterback rankings above is probably going to be picked second overall by the New York Jets. Zach Wilson will start right away in week 1 just like Trevor Lawrence will start right away in Jacksonville.
I posted a film cut of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson VS Boise State. Zach dominated this game.
San Francisco gave up three first round picks in the next three NFL Drafts to move from 12 to 3. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan went to both of Mac Jones Pro Days where he struggled after scouting him and Zach Wilson heavily during the regular season. The duo of Lynch and Shanahan didn't attend Justin Fields first Pro Day where he tied Trevor Lawrence for fewest incompletions because his first Pro Day was on the same day as Mac Jones second Pro Day. If Justin Fields last throw wasn't an incompletion he would have had the best Pro Day among any quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. Fields even agreed to do a second Pro Day in front of the San Francisco 49ers and impressed in that Pro Day to the point where he was once the odds on favorite to go third overall. Trey Lance had a good second Pro Day, but it wasn't on par with Fields Pro Day in my personal opinion.
On Monday Ian Rappaport reported that San Francisco narrowed this pick down to Alabama quarterback Mac Jones who I have a second round grade on and North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. Using process of elimination, I say San Francisco grabs Trey Lance here at 3.
I posted a film cut of North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance VS Central Arkansas. Trey Lance struggled in this game, but delivered when it mattered.
With three of the top four quarterbacks off the board. Atlanta either deals this pick for a Kings Ransom to Denver or New England for Justin Fields. The other option is Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts who is the highest graded tight end I've ever scouted. Atlanta interviewed Pitts on four seperate occasions.
The best thing about this pick is Atlanta has a blue chip tight end in Kyle Pitts who compliments Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley at wide receiver. This is how Kansas City built their offense when they drafted Travis Kelce before getting Tyreek Hill.
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Heading into Free Agency, I heard reports that the Bengals were targeting five offensive players. Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell, Northwestern left tackle Rashawn Slater, Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, LSU wide receiver Ja'Maar Chase, and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. The same sources that told me these were the five players in consideration for Cincinnati at 5 now believe this pick has been narrowed down to two players in Penei Sewell out of Oregon and Ja'Maar Chase out of LSU.
There are more ways to get this right by taking Sewell at 5 then there are for taking Chase at 5. Here are two examples below. You can go Sewell, Terrace Marshall Jr. the other receiver besides Chase at LSU to play with Burrow, and take the top guard on your board in round 3 to play with Jonah Williams. You can also go Sewell, Wyatt Davis my top ranked guard in this draft, and Tylan Wallace in round 3 by fixing the offensive line first.
Taking Sewell at 5 just makes too much damn sense no matter how you spin it. In fact, I'm only giving the Bengals an A+ grade if they take Sewell at 5. If they take Chase it's either going to be an A or A- grade.
Former Cincinnati Bengals left tackle All-Time great Anthony Munoz came out and recently endorsed Penei Sewell to be the fifth pick. You got Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Auden Tate at wide receiver. Joe Burrow has a scar on one of his knees in the photos of the Cincinnati Bengals new uniforms which look awesome. Common sense says take Penei Sewell fifth overall.
However, recent reports have revealed that Cincinnati is leaning Chase and I have three different sources all telling me the same thing. DeVonta Smith is my top ranked receiver with Chase graded slightly lower than him on my wide receiver rankings, but this is what I'm hearing.
One source told me that their scouting department is 50/50 on Penei Sewell and Ja'Maar Chase. That source stated the Bengals are leaning Chase in a landslide. A second source told me exactly what the first source told me except they added that Owner/General Manager Mike Brown and Director Of Player Personnel Duke Tobin will make the official selection at 5. The third source told me that the Bengals believe that this is an average wide receiver class after the top of the draft and a excptional offensive line group at offensive tackle, guard, and center.
I got thirty wide receivers, thirteen offensive tackles, eight guards, and six centers graded as players with the upside to be starters in the NFL from the 2021 NFL Draft. However, I'm not making this pick at 5. Cincinnati can honestly go either way with Sewell or Chase at 5 and they should still be able to have a good draft.
While those three sources did play a role in influencing my decision. There is another rumor stating that Duke Tobin has decided that both Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff will be the teams starting offensive tackles at both left tackle and right tackle in 2021.
If this is the case than Ja'Maar Chase gets to catch touchdowns from Joe Burrow in 2021 with Tee Higgins next to Chase with Tyler Boyd moving inside to the slot. It also means this entire mock is gonna be completely altered because of the fucking Bengals. If Joe Burrow gets good protection from Williams and Reiff this can make the Bengals offense extremely deadly in the short-term. This doesn't change the fact that I think the Bengals need to draft Penei Sewell and the fan in me is hoping that my sources are wrong.
Pro Football Network not Pro Football Talk was the first to report that a team in the top ten is not interested in taking players that opted out due to Covid-19. SPOILER ALERT! That team is the Miami Dolphins, which means no Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Ja'Maar Chase, Micah Parsons, or Caleb Farley at 6. This means that Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith are the only viable options at 6 by process of elimination after moving from 12 to 6 following their first trade with the San Francisco 49ers.
Miami uses this pick from Philadelphia to draft the 2020 Billetnikoff Award Winner as well as the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner sixth overall. The 6-1 175 lb DeVonta Smith had 68 receptions, 1,256 receiving yards, and 14 receiving touchdowns in 2019 next to Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and Jaylen Waddle. Smith improved on that in 2020 after Waddle got injured with 117 receptions, 1,856 receiving yards, 23 receiving touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown, and 24 total touchdowns on a 13-0 Alabama team that was best in the Nation. DeVonta Smith re-unites with Tua Tagovailoa, Miami's 2020 first round pick at quarterback here as Smith can pretty much run all 30 different routes on tape. One more thing Smith has is the most 40+ yard receptions with 17.
This gives Tua Tagovailoa Devonta Smith and DeVante Parker as the teams two main weapons. Will Fuller is the slot receiver when he returns from his suspension with Mike Gesicki at tight end. Preston Williams would begin in the slot until Fuller returns from his two game suspension to begin 2021.
Detroit lost Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola to Free Agency in 2021 so taking Ja'Maar Chase here is an option if he makes it to 7. The Lions also lost Jarrad Davis and Reggie Ragland at middle linebacker in Free Agency and did not get a middle linebacker through Free Agency.
When Brad Holmes was Director of College Scouting with the Rams, they took receivers in the second round very frequently. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, and Van Jefferson were all day 2 picks when Brad Holmes was in charge of scouting with the Rams.
Detroit only has six draft picks. New England has ten. That's why I honestly believe New England may make a trade with Detroit for Justin Fields at 7. I don't do trades in mocks though. The best fit for Detroit is Micah Parsons if they stay put at 7.
That's my reasoning for giving Detroit Micah Parsons at 7 since he interviewed with Detroit. Detroit has also interviewed Penei Sewell so he could be in play as a right tackle next to left tackle Taylor Decker if Cincinnati takes Chase at 5, but a friend of mine told me Detroit has 4 offensive tackles on the roster. Detroit also scouted Trey Lance heavily before trading Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff and two first round picks in 2022 and 2023, but Lance is gone here unless San Francisco takes Mac Jones at 3. Even though I'm mocking Parsons at 7, Sewell, Fields, and Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle could also be options at 7.
Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman interviewed lots of NHL Draft prospects like Cole Perfetti, Jamie Drysdale, and Marco Rossi three times and still took the best guy on his board Lucas Raymond fourth overall over the players he interviewed during the 2020 NHL Draft, so Ja'Maar Chase or DeVonta Smith could still be in play if Brad Holmes takes the same internal approach that Yzerman took when it comes to evaluating prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Micah Parsons was a five star recruit three years ago when I set up a HS page for the class of 2018. Parsons was a pass rusher coming out of High School before transitioning to linebacker at Penn State.
The 6-3 244 lb Micah Parsons 48 solo tackles, 35 assisted tackles, and 83 total tackles in limited action as a true freshman in 2018. Parsons had 52 solo tackles, 57 assisted tackles, 109 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, and 5 deflections from pass breakups. Parsons showed the versatility to play 4-3 right outside linebacker, 4-3 middle linebacker, 4-3 left outside linebacker, 3-4 right outside linebacker, 3-4 middle linebacker, and 3-4 left outside linebacker with his versatility. Only one player in this draft missed fewer tackles than Micah Parsons who missed tackles on only 5 percent of his plays.
Micah Parsons has some off the field concerns from reports and allegations. His character concerns may rival his strengths. Detroit needs a middle linebacker and Parsons gives Detroit a star on their defense. Perhaps the first star on Detroit's front 7 since Ndamukong Suh. Detroit is one team that may look past Parsons concerns since they need two middle linebackers not one. Also, Micah Parsons is my highest graded defensive player in this draft despite his character concerns.
Carolina does what the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals should have done in this mock. Draft Penei Sewell at 8 which is a huge steal here.
The 6-6 324 lb Penei Sewell was not only the top run blocker in the PAC 12 as a true freshman after previously playing right guard in High School. Bradlee Anae called Sewell his toughest opponent as Sewell has the pass blocking by protecting quarterback Justin Herbert's blindside, the run blocking by run blocking for C.J. Verdell, and the zone blocking that you expect from the top left tackle prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.
He still needs to fix his mechanics on some blocks despite allowing 0 sacks or quarterback hurries on the stat sheet, but outside of improving his efficiency on blocks along with his hand movement on blocks, he's the most complete offensive tackle prospect in this draft class.
He can develop into a Jonathan Odgen type of left tackle if he fixes his mechanics at the next level because he looked amazing in every game on tape in 2019 outside of the road contest against Washington. Right now he maintains blocks for 3-5 seconds, but can maintain blocks for 7-10 seconds if he fixes his mechanics by improving his efficiency and hand placement.
Short arms 33 1/4, concerns about his maturity, and the Bengals loving Ja'Maar Chase are the only reasons why Sewell dropped to 8. Greg Little their 2019 second round pick has 6 starts in two seasons, but Penei Sewell is a clear upgrade over Little. Sam Darnold having Penei Sewell and Taylor Moton as his offensive tackles should purify him of seeing any ghosts from this point forward.
Denver traded a sixth round pick for Teddy Bridgewater. This gives Denver two quarterbacks which means they will likely pass on a quarterback at 9. The next biggest need for the Denver Broncos is the right tackle position.
The 6-3 305 lb Rashawn Slater is versatile enough to play left tackle or right tackle spending his first two seasons at right tackle before moving over to the blindside role at left tackle in 2019. Rashawn Slater has the best mechanics in terms of hand placement along with the best foot speed of any offensive tackle in this draft. Yes, his foot speed is better than Sewell which is why he may be the first offensive tackle drafted.
Rashawn Slater only maintains blocks for 3-5 seconds and only maintains blocks for 1-3 seconds on his worse plays. He held his own against Chase Young at left tackle in 2019. He needs to get stronger.
Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater's offensive line looks like this. You got Garrett Bolles at left tackle, Dalton Risner at left guard, Lloyd Cushenberry III at center, Graham Glasgow at right guard, and Rashawn Slater at right tackle. That's a better offensive line than what Bridgewater had in Carolina giving Denver a fun quarterback competiton between Lock and Bridgewater.
Dallas has one good cornerback in Trevon Diggs who had 14 deflections as a rookie. They need to replace Anthony Brown by getting a cornerback to compliment Diggs. Caleb Farley is my favorite cornerback in this draft, but something tells me Dallas grabs Trevon Diggs cornerback teammate from Alabama in Patrick Surtain II with this pick. Here at ten, they get Diggs old teammate at Alabama Patrick Surtain II, the son of former Miami Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain.
The 6-2 203 lb Patrick Surtain II had 7 deflections from pass breakups after being a five star recruit after being my top ranked cornerback from American Heritage High School in 2018. Patrick Surtain II had 8 delfections from pass breakups in 2019 improving on his 2018 season as he has the man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage to play in the NFL. Understands cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4 schemes. With Trevon Diggs gone, Patrick Surtain II entered 2020 as Alabama's top ranked cornerback.
Patrick Surtain II improved his number of deflections from 7 to 12 while giving up 0.52 yards per coverage snap which was third among cornerbacks in 2020. The downside is his zone coverage regressed in 2020 after showing promise to dominate in this category during his sophomore year in 2019. Patrick Surtain II gets beat by fast receivers on tape sometimes. He gave up 3 touchdowns and only had 1 interception in 2020.
His tackling and ability to win blocks is better than any cornerback in this draft. With Caleb Farley's injury you can argue he's the top cornerback in this draft despite his weakness in zone coverage against speedy receivers which NFL Network blatantly masked when talking about Patrick Surtain II on Path To The Draft.
Dave Gettleman better be running up to the podium like Sonic the Hedgehog if Devonta Smith, Ja'Maar Chase, or Kyle Pitts drops out of the top 10 and slips to 11 because all of those top 10 prospects are blue chip weapons that can take pressure off of running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones. All of those weapons take pressure of their newest Free Agent signing Kenny Golladay at wide receiver too.
Unfortunately in this mock. We're not going to see Dave Gettleman run up to the podium like Sonic while Goodell stares at him like Dr. Robotnik. Instead the Giants are going to take a defensive player because I've heard the Giants have narrowed their draft down to six different players.
The eleventh best player on my draft game is Georgia 3-4 right outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari. He's also the second best defender on my personal big board behind Micah Parsons.
The 6-3 240 lb Azeez Ojulari dominated on film against Alex Leatherwood in one-on-one situations pass rushing quarterback Mac Jones. Azeez Ojulari had 21 solo tackles, 9 assisted tackles, 30 total tackles, 16 quarterback hurries, 11.5 tackles for a loss, and 8.5 sacks. He may not have the production of a sack artist, but he has better twitch and hip movement than Gregory Rosseau. His production in the SEC makes me believe he can give the New York Giants one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL moving forward starting in 2021.
Philadelphia could go with a wide receiver, cornerback, or linebacker at 12. The player with the highest grade on my board at those three positions is Jaylen Waddle out of Alabama.
The 5-10 183 lb Jaylen Waddle had 100 receiving yards in each of his starts in 2020 before getting injured against Tennessee. He'd be another weapon for Jalen Hurts and could possibly be the to Hurts what Henry Ruggs III is to Derek Carr.
Waddle outperfromed Smith in 2018 as his 45 receptions, 848 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns bested Smith's 42 receptions, 693 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns in 2018. Waddle only had 33 receptions, 560 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns in 2019 averaging 17 yards per reception on Alabama last season.
Waddle has fantastic speed. He catches the ball when its thrown his way. He's an elite route runner who can run all 30 routes effectively at this point, last year he only ran 15 routes effectively, but took a huge leap in 2020 before his injury. Jaylen Waddle reminds me of Tyreek Hill with a better attitude, but less durability than Hill had coming out of college.
Los Angeles gets a blindside for Justin Herbert and if they cannot trade up for Penei Sewell, Herbert's left tackle at Oregon, then I think they take the best left tackle on the board at 13. The 6-5 314 lb Christian Darrisaw can pass block, run block, and zone block effectively. Maintains blocks for 5-7 seconds. Has the pass blocking footwork, run blocking footwork, pass blocking strength, and run blocking strength to dominate at the next level. This guy played left tackle in High School and won the left tackle job as a freshman and has three years of experience as Virginia Tech's blindside.
Justin Herbert's offensive line on the Los Angeles Chargers should look like this. Christian Darrisaw at left tackle, Matt Feiler at left guard, Cory Linsley at center, and Bryan Bulaga at right tackle.
Minnesota surprises everyone and gets a third linebacker to compliment Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks at 14. The Vikings end up drafting Zaven Collins the stud linebacker out ot Tulsa at 14.
The 6-4 260 lb Zaven Collins can play everywhere at linebacker just like Micah Parsons. Collins showed the versatility to play 4-3 right outside linebacker, 4-3 middle linebacker, 4-3 left outside linebacker, 3-4 right outside linebacker, 3-4 middle linebacker, and 3-4 left outside linebacker with his versatility. Zaven Collins will thrive in Mike Zimmer's defense.
Zaven Collins pass rushes like an edge rusher at defensive end and covers like a safety that dominates in zone coverage. He can pass rush and stop the run with his speed. Improving his coverage in play action and his man coverage would probably help Collins boost his stock.
Four people that watch game film with me that are avid readers of Draft Utopia called him the best defensive player in the entire draft. That's a pretty strong comment from our readers and after watching his film against Central Florida, I believe he's the best defensive player outside of Micah Parsons and Azeez Ojulari who are both off the board.
There are some reports with Zaven Collins that he's not well liked by his teammates. Micah Parsons has the same concerns, but the talent level and skill set Collins provides is too great for the Minnesota Vikigns to ignore if all of the left tackle prospects are off the board.
I have Justin Fields as my second best quarterback in this draft behind Trevor Lawrence. New England loves Justin Fields too, and it looks like they will get him either by trading up or waiting for him to be picked at 15 assuming he drops.
I have no clue why Justin Fields is sliding to be completely honest. If Justin Fields last throw wasn't an incompletion he would have had the best Pro Day among any quarterback. He even agreed to do a second Pro Day in front of the San Francisco 49ers and impressed in that Pro Day to the point where he was once the odds on favorite to go third overall.
New England will either trade up for Justin Fields, draft him at 15, or trade 46 for Jimmy Garoppolo if one of the top four quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, or Trey Lance is off the board. I also heard a report that New England only has three of the quarterbacks in this draft with first round grades so if that's true my guess would be that Fields is the third quarterback they have a first round grade on.
I posted a film cut of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields VS Penn State. Justin Fields picked apart Penn State pretty easily. Micah Parsons didn't play in this game despite Penn State having some talented players on the defensive side of the ball.
Arizona lost Patrick Peterson. They got Malcolm Butler to replace Dre Kirkpatrick. Byron Murphy started his rookie season as the number two cornerback on the outside next to Peterson, but split reps at nickel cornerback with Dre Kirkpatrick in 2020. Byron Murphy is gonna remain the nickel cornerback in 2021 which means Arizona drafts a cornerback at 16.
Caleb Farley is a cornerback that warrants an A grade in man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. I feel he's the most well rounded cornerback in this draft. In his worst game against Notre Dame in 2019, he had 20 good plays to 5 bad plays. The 6-2 207 lb cornerback opted out in 2020 after leading the ACC with 16 deflections as a sophomore redshirt in 2019. Understands cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4 schemes.
I have Caleb Farley graded higher than Patrick Surtain II. I just do not see Dallas passing on Surtain II at 10 which is why Farley fell a few spots.