The NFL has released the list of underclassmen who have been granted early entry to the 2021 NFL Draft, marking the official start to Mock Draft Season! With 97 days until Round 1 kicks off in Cleveland, here’s my first look at how the first 32 picks of the 2021 draft class could play out.
NOTE: The final four spots below were ordered by seed, with regular season record as the tiebreaker. The official order for those slots will be determined by the outcome of the remaining playoff games.
School: Clemson | Year: Junior
The Urban Meyer era begins with one of the most talented quarterbacks to enter the league in the last five years.
School: BYU | Year: Junior
The draft starts at this pick. The Jets have a lot of options, but Wilson’s upside would be tough to pass up.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE HOUSTON TEXANS
School: LSU | Year: Junior
The Dolphins need to add some playmakers around Tua Tagovailoa. Chase is the best pass catcher in the draft.
School: North Dakota State | Year: Sophomore (RS)
This decision will likely come down to Lance versus Ohio State’s Justin Fields. I can make a strong argument for both players, but I’ll stick with Lance because of his advantage as a decision-maker on the field.
School: Northwestern | Year: Senior
Florida TE Kyle Pitts would be tempting right here, but the Bengals must address the offensive line. Slater has five-position flexibility and his tape is outstanding.
School: Alabama | Year: Junior
The Eagles need another wideout, but they’re also desperate for help in the secondary. Surtain would team up with Darius Slay to give Philadelphia’s new staff an outstanding cornerback duo.
School: Alabama | Year: Senior
If the Lions are going to keep Matthew Stafford, they would have a prime opportunity to sell this selection to a QB-needy team. If they stick and pick, Smith will be an immediate-impact player on the outside.
School: Ohio State | Year: Junior
I don’t think Matt Rhule will be picking this high again in the near future. Now is the time to secure the long-term answer at QB.
School: Virginia Tech | Year: Junior (RS)
I think Farley is incredibly talented and he fills a need for Vic Fangio’s defense.
School: Oregon | Year: Junior
Sewell could go as high as No. 3 overall to the Dolphins, but there’s a chance he slips to the Cowboys. They need to get younger and more talented along the offensive line.
School: Alabama | Year: Junior
The Giants are all in with Daniel Jones and now they need to give him some weapons on the outside.
School: USC | Year: Junior (RS)
Vera-Tucker is one of the cleanest players in the draft. He’s played at a high level at both guard and tackle. The Chargers must address the offensive line this offseason.
School: Miami | Year: Sophomore (RS)
I’m a big fan of Rousseau and his potential at the next level. He has elite length and surprising pass rush polish despite his limited experience at the position. The Vikings’ defense took a big step back last year due to an inability to pressure the quarterback.
School: Penn State | Year: Junior
Parsons is an explosive, versatile playmaker, and the Patriots need to get faster on defense.
School: Miami | Year: Junior (RS)
Phillips is the most gifted pass rusher in this year’s draft. He has an excellent get-off, he can bend at the top of his rush and he is a finisher.
School: Notre Dame | Year: Junior (RS)
Owusu-Koramoah is a dynamic athlete at the second level of the defense. He can cover in the slot if needed and he’s an excellent blitzer. The Raiders need to address the pass rush, too, and that could be an option here with this pick.
School: Virginia Tech | Year: Junior
The Dolphins need to devote this offseason to supporting their young QB. Darrisaw is a sound, dependable player and would step right into the starting lineup at right tackle.
School: Florida | Year: Senior
Toney is electric with the ball in his hands, and the Washington Football Team needs more playmakers. I also wouldn’t rule out a trade-up for a quarterback if Washington fails to address the position in free agency.
School: Michigan | Year: Sophomore (RS)
The Bears could use Mayfield at tackle or slide him inside to guard. I love the way he finishes in the run game.
School: Michigan | Year: Senior
The Colts need to address the quarterback spot after Philip Rivers’ retirement. I could see them trading for Sam Darnold or Carson Wentz. I also wouldn’t rule out a trade-up scenario for one of the top four QBs in this draft class. If they stick and pick, I like Paye’s upside as an edge rusher. He’s raw but the talent is there.
School: South Carolina | Year: Junior
The Titans need better cover guys on the backend and Horn has the ability to play at a high level in press or off coverage.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
School: Clemson | Year: Senior
Don’t get caught up in the “we can’t take a running back in the first round” conversation. You need to have playmakers on offense to play winning football. Etienne would add an explosive element as both a runner and receiver.
School: Oklahoma State | Year: Senior (RS)
The Steelers’ inability to run the football last season was a major problem. They could take a runner here (I love North Carolina’s Javonte Williams and Alabama’s Najee Harris) but I think they will address the offensive line instead. Jenkins plays with an edge (see what he did against Texas) and would provide some youth/athleticism to their aging group.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE LOS ANGELES RAMS
School: TCU | Year: Junior
Moehrig is the best safety in the draft class and has the ability to play the deep middle or inside the box. He has a high ceiling and a high floor.
School: Tulsa | Year: Junior (RS)
Collins is very similar to Leighton Vander Esch when he was coming out of Boise State. Collins has the same size, length and athleticism. Cleveland needs to upgrade at the linebacker position.
School: Georgia | Year: Sophomore (RS)
Ojulari is a tough evaluation. He’s a little undersized but he plays with excellent leverage and strength. The Ravens will love his energy and passion.
School: Missouri | Year: Junior
Bolton is a run-and-hit linebacker with outstanding range. The Saints are getting a little older at the second level of their defense and need to add some speed.
School: Washington | Year: Junior (RS)
Tryon is very well regarded around the league. He has size, length and power. He would be a nice fallback option if the Bucs lose Shaq Barrett in free agency.
School: UCF | Year: Senior (RS)
The Bills have built a very complete roster. They could easily trade out of the first round and collect some extra picks. Robinson is a tall, rangy cornerback prospect with the ability to play in the slot or outside.
School: Louisville | Year: Junior
I know the Packers don’t traditionally draft wide receivers in the first round but I love this potential fit. They don’t have anyone with Atwell’s skill set on their offense. He is a blur who can be utilized on jet sweeps and to stretch the field. He would be the perfect complement to Davante Adams and Allen Lazard.
School: Washington | Year: Senior (RS)
The Chiefs have the luxury of simply taking the best available player on their board. I believe Onwuzurike is the best interior defensive lineman in this draft class.