Photo Credits – Dan Kadar / SBNation
The fact that we have made it this far into the NFL season without any cancellations is truly a miracle. Some games have been rescheduled and teams have shifted their bye weeks, but the season rolls on. Unfortunately, the NCAA season has seen a few more ups and downs. There have been cancellations, postponements and a growing number of opt-outs. We are witnessing the most unique football season to date and I expect this to continue on to the 2021 NFL Draft. For now, we take it day by day and analyze the current situation as it is. With that have a look at my 2021 NFL Mock Draft 2.0.
1) New York Jets – Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson
This is the “no-brainer” of the draft. The Jets have the opportunity to draft the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck. Trevor Lawrence has been the projected top pick in his draft class since early in high school. It hasn’t worked with Sam Darnold running the team. He’s talented, but he would be best suited in a new city. No matter the coaching situation looks like at the end of the season, Jets take the best guy in the draft.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Fields QB Ohio State
The Jaguars have an opportunity with the second pick to take an organization changing QB. Gardner Minshew has struggled this season after having a solid end to the 2019 season. He’s an average NFL QB at this point. Justin Fields has completed 70 percent of his passes for 4,809 yards and 58 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions in his college career. This year his passer rating is 202.1. The Jags have some offensive pieces to pair with Fields for the future.
3) Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell OT Oregon
Rookie QB Joe Burrow was breaking NFL rookie records almost every week leading up to the last play. Taken down awkwardly, Burrow suffered multiple knee injuries costing him the season. The Bengals have to protect the rookie sensation. Sewell is one of the most well balance tackle prospect in the class. He can step in and play right away which might catapult this offense to new levels in 2021.
4) Dallas Cowboys – Micah Parsons LB Penn State
2020 was a lost season for the Cowboys when Dak Prescott went down with an ankle injury in Week 5. The offense has played with three different QBs since then. The defense has struggled this year, but there are some young pieces that have gotten valuable playing time. Micah Parsons would given an immediate boost to this defense. His ability to fly around the field paired with Leighton Vander Esch could lead to one of the best LB duos in the league. Dallas should be right back to the top of the league offensively if they can stay healthy in 2021.
5) Los Angeles Chargers – Patrick Surtain II CB Alabama
The Chargers have really struggled in close games recently. They are 3-15 in one score games since the beginning of the 2019 NFL season. Their offense has looked great with the emergence of rookie QB Justin Herbert and the connection he has made with Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. This defense could use an athletic cover corner who provides help against some of the talented WRs in this division. Patrick Surtain II brings experience and talent that help this defense out right away.
6) Philadelphia Eagles – Caleb Farley CB Virginia Tech
Depending on what happens with the QB situation in Philadelphia, this pick could get interesting. The Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round of last year. He deserves a chance to showcase what he can do. Will he get that this year or next? Philly really needs help defensively. Caleb Farley decided to opt-out of the 2020 NCAA season due to concerns with the virus. He is still one of the most talented CBs in this draft and can work along Darius Slay. Farley will impress with pre-draft workouts so he will climb back up team’s boards once again.
7) Carolina Panthers – Wyatt Davis IOL Ohio State
Originally opting out, but once the season was reinstated Wyatt Davis opted back into the 2020 NCAA season. He has looked great on the interior of the Ohio State offensive line. The Panthers need help up front protecting Christian McCaffrey and company so Davis is the perfect fit. He is by far the best interior offensive lineman in this draft and is capable of immediately starting on this Panther offensive line. They used all their picks in 2020 on defense so starting with offense here is crucial to the second year coaching staff.
8) Washington FT – Zach Wilson QB BYU
Dwayne Haskins seems to be another young QB in the wrong city. He has been through a lot in his first two seasons in Washington which includes three different head coaches. Haskins hasn’t performed to the level his superiors are looking for so it might be best for them to move on from him. Zach Wilson has exploded up draft boards with his play this year. Head coach Ron Rivera will have an opportunity to use Wilson’s skillset with the young stars they have on offense. Washington’s defense has gotten much better since Week 1 so it’s the offense that gets first priority.
9) Detroit Lions – Ja’Marr Chase WR LSU
As of right now, the Lions have not signed Kenny Golladay to a long term deal. The WR room is pretty bleak with Marvin Jones Jr and Danny Amendola on the backsides of their careers, Marvin Hall and rookie Quintez Cephus. Adding a guy like Ja’Marr Chase to this offense would give Matt Stafford another option if Golladay decides to leave. If Golladay stays, Chase could be the missing piece to an offense that tends to throw a lot. A new coaching staff will ultimately make the decision with where they want this team to go.
10) Atlanta Falcons – Gregory Rousseau EDGE Miami
The Falcons are looking at a couple options here. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are aging and we don’t know how many more years they will play. One of their biggest weaknesses is the pass rush. Gregory Rousseau is a beastly man who can disrupt any offensive line. Rushing the passer will help a secondary that could use some work as well. Rousseau provides length and athleticism that could produce double digit sacks in the future.
11) Miami Dolphins (via HOU) – Jaylen Waddle WR Alabama
Tua to Waddle. Sound familiar? Maybe this is too cliché, but it could happen. Tua has looked pretty promising in his first year for the Dolphins. The defense has looked improved and they have a chance to make the playoffs this year. Injuries have slowed them down slightly, however new players have had to step up. Adding a gamebreaker like Waddle who can take a slant route for 80 yards could open up this offense even more. Defenses will have to game plan for Tua’s ability to get the ball out quickly to the speedy Waddle.
12) Denver Broncos – Kwity Paye EDGE Michigan
Von Miller is still dominant, but he is getting a little older and missed the whole season due to injury. Bradley Chubb is a stud on the other side of the ball and is in the prime of his career. Kwity Paye can step in and learn from two of the games best pass rushers. He has a high motor and is an athletic freak that provides depth to the Bronco defense. The offense has a lot to improve on, but there are a lot of young guys getting playing time this year. Hopefully Drew Lock can improve and stay healthy to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers.
13) Chicago Bears – Trey Lance QB North Dakota State
Before the season, Trey Lance was in the conversation of Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence. He was always listed third, but his sophomore year at North Dakota State was so good that some scouts had him very close to Fields. Scouts would have loved to see him play this year, however his season was postponed. The Bears need help at QB. Currently they are juggling Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles. Neither of them are consistently performing. Trey Lance posted 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions last year. He also added 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing. The versatility Lance brings allows Matt Nagy to open up the playbook.
14) Minnesota Vikings – Alijah Vera-Tucker IOL USC
If you didn’t already know, the Vikings are a run heavy team. Giving Dalvin Cook 20+ carries every week means they had a successful week. They use play-action off the runs to throw downfield to Adam Thielan and Justin Jefferson. Protecting this philosophy is why they draft Alijah Vera-Tucker with this pick. Vera-Tucker played guard in 2019 and is playing left tackle in 2020 for USC. This gives the Vikings a versatile piece to it’s offensive line. He has put together two great seasons and has seen his draft stock rise dramatically. With Kirk Cousins on a huge contract it might be smart to keep him safe too.
15) New England Patriots – Kyle Pitts TE Florida
Now this seems a little too easy here. Kyle Pitts could be the new Gronkowski for the Patriots. The real question is who will be playing QB? The big four names are off the board and historically the Patriots haven’t taken a QB in the first round since Belichick has been there. Pitts has dominated defenses in the SEC this year and can be lined up anywhere on the field. The Patriots defense should be back in order after they had a large number of players opt out due to virus concerns. The offense could use a playmaker like Pitts.
16) San Francisco 49ers – Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina
Injuries shook the 49ers harder than most teams in 2020. Losing big names early in the season forced young guys to step up. With Richard Sherman getting older, they could use some more depth in the secondary. Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas will return in 2021 along with Fred Warner in the middle. Jaycee Horn played extremely well this season before opting out. He provides size and length on the outside to a defense that faces some high powered offenses throughout the year. There are some questions about the QB situation, but I think the 49ers will give it one more year before they make a decision.
17) Las Vegas Raiders – Joseph Ossai EDGE Texas
Ossai fits the Gruden mentality of tough, physical football players and the Raiders could use a hand on defense. Derek Carr and the offense have looked pretty good this year. The young talent of Josh Jacobs, Henry Ruggs III, and Darren Waller allow Las Vegas to focus on defense with their first pick. Joseph Ossai is one of the best edge rushers in the draft and his ability to win with speed and power allows him to be all over the field. He has a chance to be one of Gruden’s favorite players.
18) Baltimore Ravens – Devonta Smith WR Alabama
The Ravens came back down to earth this season, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Lamar Jackson is still playing at a high level, but this offense isn’t blowing teams out like they should. The connection between Jackson and Marquise Brown hasn’t happened this year. Brown is a field stretcher who can outrun most defenders. The Ravens need an underneath threat that runs routes exceptionally well for all the RPOs. Devonta Smith is just another elite WR coming out of Alabama and can be the guy Baltimore needs. Smooth, fluid movements with explosive speed makes Smith very intriguing.
19) New York Giants – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB Notre Dame
With the Giants currently leading the division they land at the 19th pick. The offense couldn’t stay healthy this year, but there is a ton of talent there. Saquon Barkley went down for the year, Daniel Jones was in and out of the lineup, and a number of other skill guys missed time. The defense has played a handful of decent games, but adding a force like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will immediately allow this defense to enter attack mode. He’s an aggressive, down-hill LB that has experience as a DB in the past. He will be a hard nosed player that Joe Judge will love.
20) Arizona Cardinals – Eric Stokes CB Georgia
Kliff Kingsbury has surprised some people this year. In his second year, he is currently 6-5 and making a playoff push. Kyler Murray looks as good as advertised and the addition of All Pro DeAndre Hopkins has helped the offense take a leap. On the defense, Patrick Peterson isn’t quite at the level he once was. Drafting a talent like Eric Stokes will allow the transition from Peterson to happen gradually. There are a number of high power offenses in this division so adding talent to the secondary is key.
21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jay Tufele IDL USC
The Buccaneers have been one of the more interesting teams in 2020. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette were added to the offense. The obvious push is to win now with this team. They have been at the top of the league in rush defense even after they lost Vita Vea to injury. Jay Tufele plays both the 1 and 3 technique for USC and should see playing time at both in the NFL. He can add to the dominant Bucs defensive line and put pressure on opposing defenses.
22) Miami Dolphins – Rashawn Slater OT Northwestern
What the Dolphins are putting together with draft classes over the last few years is truly impressive. They have their franchise QB, they have RBs with talent, they added a WR to a decent room, and now they help protect all those. Rashawn Slater can play both OG and OT and will provide a huge boost to this offense. Slater could very well be the best OT prospect in this class so Miami would be getting a steal with him falling to 22. The young guys on this team could be the foundation to a special team.
23) Indianapolis Colts – Kyle Trask QB Florida
The Colts need to find their new franchise QB. Phillip Rivers is definitely slowing down and we don’t know how many more seasons he will play considering he is on a one-year deal with Indy. Kyle Trask went from being a backup to a star in the SEC. He has taken Florida back into National Championship contention and proved his worth. The Colts have a great offensive line, talented skill players and a defensive that is much improved. Trask could step in right away if they decide to add him.
24) Cleveland Browns – Shaun Wade CB Ohio State
Cleveland is on pace to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Their RB duo is one of the most talented in the whole NFL. Odell Beckham Jr went down with an ACL injury earlier this year, but it hasn’t stopped the Browns from running the ball. Controlling the flow of the game can be manipulated from both sides of the ball. Shaun Wade hasn’t played the greatest football of his life this year, however he still is very talented. Cleveland needs help in the secondary and Wade has the experience to help. The front seven is led by Myles Garrett who puts tons of pressure on opposing QBs which leads to errant throws. Wade has the ability to make plays on the ball and would help slow down the passing attacks of division opponents.
25) Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR) – Rashod Bateman WR Minnesota
Draft your franchise QB then draft a number one WR. The Jaguars are adding one of the most well rounded WRs in the draft. He is an extremely savvy route runner who can open up defenses for Justin Fields and this offense. Rashod Bateman paired with DJ Chark and James Robinson will allow Fields to settle in with numerous weapons. The coaching situation could be very different for Jacksonville next year, but lots of young talent makes this job interesting for prospective coaches.
26) New York Jets (via SEA) – Terrace Marshall Jr WR LSU
The Jets are following suite here by adding their franchise QB and a number one WR in the same draft. They are very similar to Jacksonville in terms of there could be a new coaching staff in 2021. Terrance Marshall Jr is a big bodied WR on the outside and will be a great target for Trevor Lawrence to look for. The WR room currently contains Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman among others, so Marshall Jr would come in and get playing time right away. He has been great in his time at LSU and there’s no reason he won’t continue into the NFL.
27) Tennessee Titans – Creed Humphrey IOL Oklahoma
Creed Humphrey started 2020 as arguably the best IOL in this class. He has seen his stock drop slightly, but he’s still a first round talent. The Titans have a game plan to feed their 250lb RB and they need people to block for him. Humphrey is very cerebral and has been the centerpiece of the Oklahoma offensive line for the past couple years. His wrestling background allows him to maneuver defenders confidently and slide off to get to the second level. The interior of the Titans line could use a boost.
28) Buffalo Bills – Christian Darrisaw OT Virginia Tech
Luckily for the Bills, Josh Allen took the next step in being a great NFL QB. There are still plenty of things to work on, but he is progressing in the right direction. They could use some help protecting their franchise QB, though. Darrisaw provides length and durability to this offensive line. The Bills will need to improve their run game in 2021 if they truly want their offense to make the next step. Counting on Allen to drop back and make plans will work, but not every time.
29) Green Bay Packers – Samuel Cosmi OT Texas
The Packers should probably do something here to help Aaron Rodgers out. He has looked great in 2020, but we know his years are coming to an end eventually. The going story is the Packers have never done anything to help Rodgers in terms of adding skill players. Last year they drafted a QB in the first round. He could really use another weapon on the outside, but Matt LeFleur wants to control the clock and run the ball. Samuel Cosmi would step into the OT role on the other side of David Bakhtiari and help protect Rodgers for as many years as he’s got left.
30) Kansas City Chiefs – Zaven Collins LB Tulsa
The Andy Reid – Patrick Mahomes duo in Kansas City is the most dangerous offensive unit in the league. Teams know they have to score in order to keep up with the Chiefs. Kansas City also knows this which is why they address defense in the first round. Zaven Collins brings tenacity and playmaking ability to a defense that includes Chris Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, and Frank Clark. Collins style of play meshes with the attacking scheme in Kansas City.
31) New Orleans Saints – Azeez Ojulari EDGE Georgia
Like a lot of teams this year, New Orleans has had some interesting roster decisions to make. Drew Brees has hinted at this being his last year. Behind him awaits Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. There are a number of playmakers on the offense that just need someone to get the ball to them. With 5 QBs off the board already, the Saints add more to the defense. Azeeze Ojulari is a speedy, flexible edge rusher that is a little raw. His ability to put pressure on QBs will help this Saints defense slow down opposing teams.
32) Pittsburgh Steelers – Jaylen Mayfield OTMichigan
The ageless Big Ben missed most of 2019 with an elbow injury, but has come back in 2020 without missing a beat. The Steelers are currently the only undefeated team in the league and are looking for a deep playoff run. The defense has sustained some tough injuries, but yet they continue to dominate. The main focus seems to be keeping Big Ben healthy so adding a big body like Jaylen Mayfield is where the Steelers go. Mayfield was on the same offensive line at Michigan that had 4 guys get drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.