Skip to main content

2021 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Predictions (Post-Senior Bowl Edition)

2021 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Predictions (Updated)

2021 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Predictions (Updated)

We're still counting down the days to Super Bowl LV but when it comes to the NFL draft, there was far more interest from teams around the league on the comings and goings of prospects down at the Senior Bowl. The numerous practices and the game environment down in Mobile offered most franchises their only chance to see players workout this spring and get some face-to-face time and will mean a bit of scrambling to adjust draft boards accordingly.

With all that in mind, here's a look at who could go where in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

At some point in the long pre-draft process, you'll start to hear buzz that Urban Meyer might like another QB more than Lawrence. That kind of rumor-mongering won't be tolerated in Duval though as the Jags remain firmly locked in on landing Lawrence.

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

As much as the Jets indicate they're committed to Sam Darnold, as they dive deep into the QBs in this draft, the more they're going to fall in love with what Wilson can do. With a new coaching staff comes a reset under center as well.

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans) — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Much of the Dolphins' draft will be focused on landing Tua Tagovailoa some weapons and as tempting as it will be to take one of the big-name receivers, Sewell is too good of a prospect to pass on.

4. Atlanta Falcons — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Arthur Smith and the revamped front office may think that they can extend Matt Ryan's career given his underlying talent but they — and especially ownership — know the opportunity to pick this high and land a top-tier QB only comes along every so often. Enter Fields, an Atlanta-area native who can sit and learn for a season before becoming the guy to build around.

5. Cincinnati Bengals — Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

It will be tempting to remake the offensive line first but Chase's talent as a true No. 1 wideout and his well-established connection to Joe Burrow make this too good of a match to pass up.

6. Philadelphia Eagles — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The best way for the new coaching staff to turn around Carson Wentz' fortunes is to find him a new best friend in the passing game. Pitts is not going to wow anybody as a blocker but he's solid enough in that area and has a catch radius the size of the field to help him land in Philly.

7. Detroit Lions — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Even with the Lions landing Jared Goff in return for Matthew Stafford, the QB position is still unsettled enough to the point where Detroit could look for another option under center. Still, Parsons is the truly elite talent at linebacker in this draft and would be somebody the new staff will love to build around on and off the field.

8. Carolina Panthers — Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

The Panthers' staff got a close look at a ton of players by coaching the Senior Bowl but Slater is going to be tough to pass up at this spot in order to solidify things up front.

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

The Broncos could be a prime candidate to both trade up to land a quarterback based on how active they've been in the market or to move back to gain extra draft capital. If they stay put though, Surtain fills a huge need while also coming in polished enough to be a Day 1 starter in Vic Fangio's system.

10. Dallas Cowboys — Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

The Cowboys can't go wrong with either corner prospect or if one of the elite OT prospects falls to them but don't rule out Jerry Jones trying to make a splash in the draft after such a down year in Big D.

11. New York Giants — DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

General manager Dave Gettleman is normally a lock to target somebody in the trenches but Smith is so good that he'll cause the front office to go a bit outside their comfort zone in order to juice the office with a top-tier playmaker.

12. San Francisco 49ers — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Few teams will have as intriguing an offseason as the 49ers, which have massive holes at corner (among other places) and will have Trent Williams hitting free agency. Enter Darrisaw, who should at least be able to help at either tackle spot.

13. Los Angeles Chargers — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

Since most scouts are staying local, the Chargers might as well head across town for their selection too. Vera-Tucker has shown he can play either guard or tackle and should step in as a Day 1 starter protecting Justin Herbert.

14. Minnesota Vikings — Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

It wouldn't be shocking if some QB-needy team makes a call to trade with the Vikings but if they stay put they can land the best overall edge rusher in the draft.

15. New England Patriots — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Lance won't be thrown to the wolves right away in New England but from Bill Belichick on down they have to think the QB position will be taken care of for the next 15 years with this selection.

16. Arizona Cardinals — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Larry Fitzgerald's retirement status is still TBD but at some point the team will have to replace their legendary wideout. Waddle adds an even more dangerous element to the offense and could be a true No. 2 opposite DeAndre Hopkins.

17. Las Vegas Raiders — Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

Paye is going to tick every box that GM Mike Mayock is looking for in an edge rusher and would provide some really nice juice for a pass rush that has to improve for the team to take the next step.

18. Miami Dolphins — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Toney missed the actual Senior Bowl but going through practices and meetings still allowed him to make a splash in Mobile. His ability to get open out of the slot could make him a dangerous tandem with Tua Tagovailoa in Year 2.

19. Washington Football Team — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Unless they move up, it seems more likely that QB is addressed later on in the draft so it would be a savvy move to nab Horn, who can help make that stellar defensive unit even better as a lockdown corner on the backend.

20. Chicago Bears — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jones benefited from a strong Senior Bowl to cap off a meteoric rise up draft boards and has firmly entered the first-round conversation. Nick Foles can be the bridge QB in 2021 as the head coach and front office hope to stick around a few more years by drafting a new face under center.

21. Indianapolis Colts — Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami

It remains to be seen if the Colts still pick in the first round as they sort out their QB options without somebody like Matthew Stafford but Phillips would be a fantastic addition to a front seven that already flies around the football and loves to pressure opposing backfields.

22. Tennessee Titans — Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

Another season, another pressing need for the Titans to find somebody to apply pressure off the edge. Ojulari fits in with the kind of athlete that the team has been stacking in their front seven and has a chance to carve out a role quickly in Nashville.

23. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) — Jalen Mayfield, OL, Michigan

Mekhi Becton turned out to be a great pick for the Jets in the first round of last year's draft so it might be worth it to find an opposite number who can come in and have a similar impact. Mayfield played on the right side in Ann Arbor and could be a great addition up front in the Big Apple.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

Injuries hit the linebacker spot hard in the Steel City last year and with a few free agent decisions coming, this is a big area of need if the team wants to contend for another season. Collins is versatile enough to fill a number of different roles but really seems like he's cut from the same cloth as his future teammates in Pittsburgh given what he brings to the table.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) — Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

Inconsistency may drive Barmore's value down a bit but in such a weak class along the interior line, there's a good bet to be made that he's one of the guys who can really pan out at the next level after a dominating stretch run to the national title.

26. Cleveland Browns — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Owusu-Koramoah would be another top-tier athlete for the Browns' defense to move around the field but his flexibility to line up in different spots is highlighted by his ability to get past opposing tackles to find the QB almost as well as he covers typical matchup nightmares at tight end.

27. Baltimore Ravens — Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

This is one of those selections where everybody goes "of course Baltimore lands that guy" and Moehrig turns into a multi-year Pro Bowler running the secondary for the Ravens.

28. New Orleans Saints — Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington

Drafting for need is all relative for the Saints since they'll spend the next few weeks and months figuring out how to get out of their salary cap issues before planning how to land an impact player this late in the first round. Onwuzurike has the opportunity to contribute immediately up front as the team re-tools all three levels of their defense.

29. Green Bay Packers — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Aaron Jones is likely out the door via free agency and despite AJ Dillon looking like the future, don't discount how much of an impact Etienne can have by staying on the field for all three downs as a threat to both run between the tackles and be a weapon out of the slot. Finally, Aaron Rodgers gets some help.

30. Buffalo Bills — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Harris' first offensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa was none other than... Bills OC Brian Daboll, who found a number of ways to get the then-freshman the football. Rise and repeat that in colder climates as Buffalo keeps surrounding Josh Allen with weapons.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa

As good as the Bucs have been in getting to their hometown Super Bowl, the front office has some tough decisions coming with a veteran group up front either hitting free agency or aging out of their primes. Nixon is among the best players left on the board and could be an easy swap if Ndamukong Suh chases a paycheck elsewhere.

32. Kansas City Chiefs — Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

Chiefs fans have been clamoring for upgrades to their linebacking corps for several years now and Bolton would do just that with his ability to come downhill and help shut down some of the run games the team sees as opponents try to play keep away from Patrick Mahomes and company.

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.