The Super Bowl matchup is set, but while many eyes have turned towards Tampa Bay where Tom Brady's Buccaneers will take on Patrick Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs, some are already focusing on the 2021 NFL Draft. Yes, 30 teams are already locked in and focusing on the upcoming draft. With that in mind, here's our first 2021 NFL mock draft. (One note, we're doing a no-trades mock.)
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This is a no-brainer. Let’s keep this simple: Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect I’ve ever scouted and has been projected as the top pick in the 2021 draft since he stepped on campus at Clemson. All he’s done in the meantime is lead the Tigers to the College Football Playoff three times, reaching two national title games and winning one. He’s built for this, at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, with a cannon for an arm, good mobility and accuracy. The Jacksonville Jaguars badly need to turn the page under center and Urban Meyer's NFL experiment gets a huge jump start with Lawrence at quarterback.
2. New York Jets: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
This assumes the Jets stick it out with Sam Darnold -- which is far from certain. This is an obvious spot for a trade-down, but in a no-trades mock they stay put and fill their biggest need. Sewell sat out the 2020 season but it didn’t hurt his stock one bit. He gave up only one sack in his college career and won the Outland Trophy as college football’s best lineman in 2019. At 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, he’s a massive left tackle, with power in the run game and enough agility and size to dominate in pass protection. He's the best lineman to hit the NFL in a long time.
3. Miami Dolphins (via HOU): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa garnered mixed reviews during his rookie season. Now it’s time for the Miami Dolphins to get him help on the perimeter. DeVonta Smith is an incredibly polished wideout who started his time at Alabama as strictly a deep threat. He has incredible hands and the ability to turn short passes into big plays. Undersized at 6-feet and 170 pounds, he plays much bigger than his listed size. It will help that he and Tagovailoa are familiar with each other, as they arrived at Alabama in the same recruiting class. They also hooked up on a pretty memorable play:
4. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Falcons find Matt Ryan’s successor here. Zach Wilson entered 2020 as a potential first-round pick and has now firmly established himself as the second-best quarterback in this class. He led BYU to an 11-1 record, while completing 73.5 percent of his passes for 3,692 yards with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions. He averaged an absurd 11.0 yards per attempt. A tough kid with a a big, accurate arm, Wilson can extend plays as well as anyone. His film was reminiscent of a young Aaron Rodgers.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Rashawn Slater, C, Northwestern
The Bengals need to rebuild their entire offensive line if they want to keep Joe Burrow upright and healthy. That process starts here. They miss out on Sewell with this pick, but add the draft’s most versatile lineman. While Slater is listed as a center, he played left and right tackle during his career. He opted out of the 2020 season, but it hasn’t hurt his stock. He’s a beast, with excellent technique in all phases. He’ll likely play inside in the NFL, at either guard or center, but at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, he can do it all.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Philadelphia Eagles have big needs at linebacker, along the offensive line and in the secondary, but wide receiver has been a huge problem for the franchise for years. It’s time to get whoever is at quarterback in Philly a bona fide No. 1 target. Ja’Marr Chase fits that description. The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner sat out 2020 after setting SEC records in receiving yards (1,780) and touchdowns (20) during a national championship season in 2019. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, he’s got good size and athleticism. With excellent hands, route-running skills and above-average speed, he’s in a dead-heat with Smith as the top receiver in the class.
7. Detroit Lions: Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami
Receiver is a big need for the Lions, but with the top two wideouts gone, it’s time to lean defense. The Lions badly need to upgrade a pass rush that only generated 24 sacks in 2020. Gregory Rousseau is another player who opted out in 2020 but, again, it hasn’t hurt his stock. In 2019 he had 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-7 and 253 pounds (with room to grow) he’s a beast off the edge and has enough athleticism to be scheme-versatile. He’s strong, with excellent power and upfield burst. He possesses tremendous upside and would pair well with fellow edge rusher Romeo Okwara.
8. Carolina Panthers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Carolina Panthers could consider a quarterback here or they could add another offensive weapon. I’m banking on them trying to either stick with Teddy Bridgewater or test the free agency waters at quarterback. If that’s the case they could grab arguably this draft’s biggest matchup-buster in Kyle Pitts. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound tight end is a problem for defenses given his size, speed and ability to make plays down the field. Pitts has excellent hands and should be a threat on every down in the red zone. An offense with Pitts and Christian McCaffrey will make any quarterback's life much easier.
9. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Broncos could look for a quarterback here but if they’re sticking with Drew Lock, then cornerback is the team’s biggest need. Luckily, Patrick Surtain II is still on the board and he’s the best shutdown corner the draft has to offer. Surtain has excellent size at 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, while also having enough speed to run with any receiver. He uses his size and strength well to push receivers off their desired routes. An instinctual defender, he can make plays on the ball, though he never racked up a ton of interceptions -- mostly because opposing quarterbacks refused to throw at his side of the field. He'd be a huge addition in Denver.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Cowboys need help all over the defense, but cornerback is likely the biggest area of concern. They fix that by adding Farley here, who has established himself as the second-best cover guy in this draft class. Another opt-out from the 2020 season, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound corner has a great combination of size and speed, with excellent ball skills. He’s a heady player who uses his instincts to read routes and break on balls. He had 12 passes broken up in 2019.
11. New York Giants: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Giants have lacked a big-play threat since they traded Odell Beckham Jr. away, they fix that here. Jaylen Waddle is undersized at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, but man can he make plays. If his ankle injury is fully healed, Waddle is a game-breaker who can turn short plays into highlight-reel touchdowns. An explosive return man, his moves, vision and speed make him a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. He'll need some polish, but you can't teach the kind of speed and elusiveness Waddle possesses.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
When you don't have single cornerback under contract for 2021, you need to fill that need. The 49ers do that here, selecting another 2020 opt-out who had nothing left to prove. Jaycee Horn is a 6-foot-1, 200-pound corner with excellent strength, good recognition skills and is a willing tackler. He’s a physical corner who will fit right in to what the Niners do defensively.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
The Chargers have had terrible offensive lines for the better part of a decade, so it’s time to change that and protect Justin Herbert. Mayfield is a big-upside play here, and other than Sewell, he might have the highest ceiling at tackle in the draft. At 6-foot-5 and 319 pounds, the redshirt sophomore is big and athletic with room to grow. Used primarily at right tackle at Michigan, he has the ability to play on the left side and that’s likely where he’s headed in the NFL. Mayfield fought Chase Young to a standstill in 2019 and that's tape scouts will be reviewing heavily as the draft approaches. It shows just how good he can be.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
The Vikings badly need to improve their defensive front, particularly at the tackle position. Daviyon Nixon is the best tackle in the class. He is shockingly athletic for his 6-foot-3, 305-pound frame. He is quick, smart and an excellent tackler. In 2020 Nixon earned All-America honors while being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He led the Big Ten in tackles for loss (13.5), tied for the lead in sacks (5.5) and led the conference’s defensive linemen in tackles (45). The big man can move for his size and is as disruptive as any tackle in the draft class.
15. New England Patriots: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Bill Belichick finally gets his quarterback to build with here, as the Patriots begin a new chapter. Justin Fields had an incredible career at Ohio State, accounting for 78 touchdowns in 22 starts while going 20-2 as a starter. He has a strong, accurate arm and the mobility to extend plays. He does need some polish, and he struggled against some of the better defenses he faced (Indiana and Alabama) but there is a lot to like here.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami
The Cardinals could use another pass rusher to complement Haason Reddick off the edge, and they get an exceptionally gifted one here. Phillips is a former top recruit who washed out at UCLA after suffering several injuries. He rejuvenated his career as a transfer at Miami and might be the best pure pass rusher in this draft. An athletic, 6-foot-5 and 266-pound force on the edge, Phillips earned All-America honors this season with eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. He’s a stud who is just tapping into his immense potential.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Defense wins championships and if the Raiders want a prayer at competing for one, they need to improve the second level on that side of the ball. With Phillips gone, they’ll attempt to fix the middle of the D first. Owusu-Koramoah is incredibly quick and can diagnose plays in an instant. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, he’s a bit undersized but doesn’t play like it. The 2020 Butkus Award winner and First Team All-American is fast, excellent in coverage and can get to the quarterback on blitzes. He’d be a playmaker at the center of the Raiders' defense.
18. Miami Dolphins: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
With a receiver already on board, the Dolphins need to improve the interior of their defense. They get a massive steal here. Based on pure talent, Micah Parsons should be a top 5 pick, but given the needs of teams ahead of this selection, he’s my pick to fall in this year's draft. Opting out in 2020 may have led some teams to forget just how good he is. Parsons is an explosive athlete at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. He racked up 109 tackles in 2019 with 14 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. He’s good in coverage, has long arms and is a good tackler. He can blitz and get to the quarterback, has the strength to hold up against the run and should give Miami an elite middle linebacker from Day 1.
19. Washington Football Team: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Washington needs to figure out the future at quarterback after the disastrous Dwayne Haskins era. They get another chance to get things right here, with Trey Lance. Lance has all the tools to develop into a really good quarterback, but he sat out most of 2020 and will be making the jump from North Dakota State, so he’ll need to be surrounded by talent and developed properly. If he is, he could be fantastic. He checks a lot of the necessary boxes with great size (6-foot-3, 224 pounds), a really good, accurate arm, poise in the pocket, mobility (ran for 1,100 yards in 2019) and he doesn’t make mistakes with the ball (no interceptions in 2019). Development will ultimately determine what Lance becomes, but there’s a lot to like.
20. Chicago Bears: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
The Bears have a need at quarterback, but they also desperately need to add talent along the offensive line. Alijah Vera-Tucker is a great value at 20. At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Vera-Tucker is big, strong, and athletic. He’s also versatile, having played both guard and tackle during his career. A First Team All-Pac-12 pick in 2020 at left tackle, he also won the Morris Trophy given to the conference’s best lineman. A smart, savvy player, Vera-Tucker will give the Bears a boost up front.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
With Anthony Castonzo’s retirement, the Colts need to find a new left tackle. Christian Darrisaw is the best available at this point in the draft and he could wind up being among the most solid players from this class. Darrisaw is a tank at 6-foot-5 and 314 pounds, and has plenty of experience, starting 34 games at left tackle in his career. He’s really good in pass protection, allowing only three sacks in the past two seasons, while also being solid as a run blocker. He’ll need some polishing but he looks like a long-term solution for the Colts on the blind side.
22. Tennessee Titans: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
The Titans need to improve their defensive front, either off the edge or at tackle. They go tackle here, grabbing Alabama defensive force Christian Barmore. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound defensive tackle is a monster on the interior. An All-American, Barmore had eight sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles during a breakout 2020 campaign. The redshirt sophomore is only getting better and there’s plenty more talent to mine here as he improves technique and fundamentals.
23. New York Jets (via SEA): Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Jets got their quarterback some protection at No. 2, now it’s time to get him a weapon. New York doesn’t have a true No. 1 wideout, and it likely lands one here in Rashod Bateman. Bateman opted out of the 2020 season after five games because he had nothing left to prove. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, the Georgia native has size, open-field ability and great hands. He’s not a burner, but uses his route-running ability to create separation. He finished his three-year career with 147 catches for 2,395 yards and 19 touchdowns. He’ll be a valuable target to whichever quarterback is throwing to him.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Steelers must find long-term solutions at quarterback and running back soon. With the top four signal-callers gone, they’ll solve the rushing problem here. Travis Etienne fits exactly what Pittsburgh loves in a running back: versatility. He can run between the tackles or outside and has developed into much better receiver. He’s not the biggest guy (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) but he takes hits well and can even deliver them. He’s tough to tackle, has a nose for the end zone and can make something out of nothing, turning short runs into big plays. James Conner is hitting free agency and Etienne would be the perfect replacement.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The Jaguars already have their quarterback of the future, now they need to go about protecting him. Jawaan Taylor had a rough 2020 season after a solid rookie campaign in 2019 and looks limited at tackle. Meanwhile, left tackle Cam Robinson is about to hit free agency. Here’s a chance to add a rock solid replacement for one of them. At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, Teven Jenkins is a big, physical tackle who could play on either side of the line. He has played right tackle in college, but his skills translate to the left side as well. Either way he'll add talent to a line that will need to protect Trevor Lawrence at all costs.
26. Cleveland Browns: Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa
The Browns took a big step forward in 2020, but they could use more playmakers on defense, especially at linebacker. Zaven Collins won the Nagurski and Bednarik awards and was a unanimous All-American for Tulsa this season. At 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, he's built like a straight edge rusher, but I think he can do much more than that. Cleveland runs a 4-3 but mixes its fronts well and defensive coordinator Joe Woods has run a 3-4 before. I think Collins is versatile enough to fit the system and Woods will scheme ways to maximize his talents.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
In the postseason it became clear the Ravens need to rework their offense and find another weapon for Lamar Jackson. They do that here by landing Terrace Marshall, a receiver who stepped up with Ja’Marr Chase sitting out in 2020. Marshall is a big wideout at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, and has explosive ability after the catch. Despite quarterback issues at LSU, he hauled in 48 catches for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns before opting out after seven games. He’ll be a big, rangy target for Jackson to pair with the speedy Marquise Brown and the always reliable Mark Andrews.
28. New Orleans Saints: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
The Saints have a ton of issues to sort out this offseason, especially at quarterback and in the secondary. Here they add some youth and thump to a weak linebacking corps. Despite being a bit undersized at 6-feet and 232 pounds, Bolton is a two-time First Team All-SEC pick and was a Second Team All-American in 2020. He’s a hard-hitter, an excellent tackler and holds up well in coverage. He’ll immediately add a boost to the middle of the Saints’ defense.
29. Green Bay Packers: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
The Packers still need to address the wide receiver position and find someone who can do something than the guys already on the roster. Elijah Moore is undersized at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, but he’s remarkably productive. He caught 86 passes in 2020 for 1,193 yards while showing toughness, excellent route-running stills and the burst to run away from defenders. Moore can get behind defenders, and run past them in the open field. He’d be a great complement to Davante Adams and Allen Lazard.
30. Buffalo Bills: Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF
If the Bills want to get past the Chiefs in the AFC they will need to upgrade their secondary, that’s where this pick comes in. Robinson spent his freshman year at Alabama before transferring to UCF and turning into an excellent corner. At 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds, he has good size and excellent quickness. He rarely gets beaten off the line, though he’ll need to get smoother in order to shut down separation. He has a lot of great tools that will need to be developed but the upside is there.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia
With Shaq Barrett hitting free agency this offseason, edge rusher is at the top of Tampa’s “needs” list during the draft. Azeez Ojulari is a bit undersized at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, but the redshirt sophomore has plenty of room to grow. He’s incredibly strong for his size and he plays with a relentless motor. That showed this season when he racked up 8.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. He improved as the year went along, capping it off with a three-sack performance in the Peach Bowl. Ojulari is a flat-out playmaker, something the Bucs will need if they lose Barrett.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
The Chiefs desperately need to improve the interior of their offensive line, in fact, they’ve needed to do it since last year. Now they can at 32 by taking Trey Smith. A former left tackle, Smith moved to guard in 2019 and it’s clear that’s where he’s meant to play. At 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, he’s massive for the position and is a road grader in the run game. He is solid in pass protection but it’s his ability to maul defenders on running plays that will make him his money.