The 2020 NFL season is off to a fast and furious start. Now, six weeks of the season have transpired, and the NFL draft order is starting to come into focus. The New York Jets are the current leaders in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, and it doesn’t appear anyone will be able to challenge them to win the 2021 NFL Draft’s biggest prize. After Lawrence, who will be the next signal-caller to have their name called? Who will be the first non-quarterback selected? My 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft will provide answers to these questions and much more.
7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Round One
1) New York Jets: Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback, Clemson
Trevor Lawrence is one of the most complete quarterback prospects to enter the NFL Draft in decades. You will be hard-pressed to find a draft analyst that doesn’t have Lawrence as the best overall player in the 2021 NFL Draft. He has prototypical size, a rocket-arm, high football intelligence and outstanding athleticism.
Quarterback might not be the Jets’ biggest need, but you can’t pass on a potential generational prospect like Lawrence.
2) Washington Football Team: Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State
After only 11 starts, the Washington Football team decided to give up on quarterback Dwayne Haskins in favor of Kyle Allen. While Washington has glaring needs on the offensive line and in the secondary, they must address the quarterback position first and foremost.
They miss out on the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes yet still land a promising franchise quarterback prospect. Justin Fields is a phenomenal dual-threat player who consistently demonstrates that he can hurt defenses with his arm and his legs. Washington might have just landed the second-coming of Randall Cunningham.
3) New York Giants: Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle, Oregon
The Giants could look to go quarterback here, as Daniel Jones hasn’t shown anything that would allow the franchise to bank on him as the quarterback of the future. Ultimately, they go for the best player on the board in Oregon’s brilliant left tackle Penei Sewell.
If you told me that the Giants would be selecting an offensive tackle in 2021, just one year after spending the fourth overall pick on Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, I would have called you crazy. With that said, Andrew Thomas has been a major disappointment in his inaugural season in New York, and Sewell is one of the best offensive tackle prospects we’ve seen in over a decade.
4) Atlanta Falcons: Micah Parsons, Linebacker, Penn State
Whenever a team is selecting in the top five of a draft, the fan base gravitates towards seeking a quarterback. However, with the top two quarterback prospects off of the board, Atlanta turns their attention to fixing their woeful defense by selecting the best defensive player in the draft.
Not only is Micah Parsons a game-changing linebacker possessing elite sideline-to-sideline ability, but he also doubles down as a violent pass-rushing force. A player like Parsons can be a key building block to revamping a poor Falcons’ defense.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trey Lance, Quarterback, North Dakota State
Gardner Minshew is a fun player and most likely a capable NFL quarterback; however, the Jaguars are not winning and find themselves selecting in the top five of the 2021 NFL Draft.
PFN’s Oliver Hodgkinson on Lance: “A playmaking quarterback who can get the job done by air or by land. Trey Lance has an impressive array of throws in his repertoire but can make magic with his legs when required.”
The Jaguars must consider a dynamic player like Trey Lance here, as the season-long audition for Minshew has indicated that it’s time for a change.
6) Cincinnati Bengals: Patrick Surtain II, Cornerback, Alabama
The smart money would be for the Bengals to utilize this selection on a player that improves Cincinnati’s atrocious offensive line and offers Joe Burrow some protection, but there doesn’t seem to be a prospect from that positional group warranting a selection this high.
Pat Surtain II is “CB1” in the 2021 NFL Draft and instantly gives the Bengals their top cornerback. His size and plus ball skills will translate to the NFL quite well.
7) Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver, Alabama
The Dolphins offense could use a jolt of electricity, and it would be smart to give Tua Tagovailoa a target that he is familiar with. Jaylen Waddle is a big-play waiting to happen, pairing his world-class speed with his ability to create separation to consistently burn defenses.
With Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and now Jaylen Waddle on board, the Dolphins have some legitimate ammunition for Tua Tagovailoa.
8) Minnesota Vikings: Christian Barmore, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
The Vikings could look to replace Kirk Cousins here if one of the top-three quarterback prospects should fail in their lap, but that is highly unlikely. In that case, Minnesota should focus on building in the trenches.
They surely could add some beef to their defensive front. While the sample size is limited, Christian Barmore flashes the ability to cause havoc at the line of scrimmage. Barmore has already tallied two sacks early in the 2020 college football season and could experience a Quinnen Williams-esque rise up draft boards if he continues to play at a high level.
9) Philadelphia Eagles: Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU
The Philadelphia Eagles selected a wide receiver in round one of the 2020 NFL Draft, but unfortunately, they selected the wrong player. With LSU’s Justin Jefferson staring them in the face, Philadelphia decided to select TCU’s Jalen Reagor instead. Although we haven’t gotten to see too much of Reagor given his injuries, Jefferson is among the best rookies in the league.
Ja’Marr Chase opted out of the 2020 season because he simply didn’t have anything to prove. Last season, Chase was Joe Burrow’s favorite target and the best wide receiver in college football, catching 84 passes for 1,780 yards and a staggering 20 touchdowns. He instantly gives Carson Wentz a bona fide number one target and should blossom into one of the NFL’s best wide receivers.
10) Los Angeles Chargers: Alex Leatherwood, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Poor offensive line play has been the Chargers’ Achilles’ heel for quite some time, and with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert looking like the real deal, protecting him must be a priority.
Alex Leatherwood is a battle-tested mauler that would drastically improve the Chargers’ offensive line. Despite playing left tackle for the Crimson Tide this season, Leatherwood’s best fit at the next level is on the interior. He has the makings of being a pro-bowl caliber offensive guard for the next decade. He does offer the versatility to kick outside and play tackle if necessary as well.
11) Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver, Alabama
The Detroit Lions could go many directions with their first-round pick in 2021. Boosting the weapons that surround Matthew Stafford would be wise, and Alabama’s Devonta Smith might be even more polished than Alabama’s 2020 first-round receiver Jerry Jeudy.
Smith has consistently showcased his ability to be a playmaker for Alabama since stepping onto the field at Tuscaloosa. He is a brilliant route runner and is extremely strong at the catch-point.
PFN’s Dalton Miller on Smith: “Smith’s ability to finish is most evident in contested situations and instances of imminent contact over the middle. The amount of concentration and physicality he plays with through contact is ideal. Even Ruggs, who had a ridiculously low drop rate in college, concedes that Smith had the team’s best hands in 2019.”
12) Carolina Panthers: Caleb Farley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
The Carolina Panthers have played better than advertised thus far in 2020, yet their roster still has a litany of holes. Their biggest need is the cornerback position, as the combination of Donte Jackson and Rasul Douglas certainly won’t scare offenses. Finding a skilled cornerback to match up with the divisions’ exceptional receivers, such as Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, and Calvin Ridley, has to be a priority in Carolina.
Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley is an elite athlete, possessing outstanding ball skills and length for the position. He is a high-ceiling player who should instantly become a shutdown cornerback for the Panthers’ defense.
13) Denver Broncos: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE/Defensive Line, Miami
The Denver Broncos have needs in their secondary and along the offensive line, but at this point in the draft, the talented pass-rusher Gregory Rousseau is just too good to pass up. Denver already has a pair of impactful pass-rushers in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, but in this case, the rich get richer.
Rousseau is far from a finished product, but you can’t deny his marvelous production. In 2019, he finished second in the nation with 15.5 sacks, only behind Washington’s rookie phenom Chase Young.
14) Miami Dolphins: Dylan Moses, Linebacker, Alabama
The biggest hole on the Miami Dolphins’ roster is at linebacker. Prior to the 2020 season, they traded incumbent starter Raekwon McMillan to the Las Vegas Raiders, and Elandon Roberts is not a long term answer at the position.
Prior to suffering a season-ending ACL injury in 2019, Dylan Moses was playing like a top 10 pick and as well as any linebacker in college football. He is smart, explosive and demonstrates outstanding coverage skills. Moses is the type of player that Dolphins’ Head Coach Brian Flores will fall in love with.
15) New England Patriots: Marvin Wilson, Defensive Line, Florida State
In typical Patriots’ fashion, they ignore needs at wide receiver and linebacker to add more talent to their defensive line. Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson showcases the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage. He is stout against the run and can provide a strong interior pass-rush. New England could use some upgrades along the defensive front, and Wilson provides that in spades.
16) San Francisco 49ers: Shaun Wade, Cornerback, Ohio State
When it comes to the cornerback position and the San Francisco 49ers, the cupboard is bare. Richard Sherman has been injured most of the 2020 season and isn’t getting any younger.
Shaun Wade offers versatility with the ability to play the boundary or kick inside to play the slot at a high level. He impacts the game in a variety of ways playing a variety of positions, making him a valuable chess piece on the defensive side of the ball.