Carson Zorn’s 2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0


Carson Zorn, Sports Writer

We are now only three weeks away from one of the most anticipated events of the NFL offseason: The 2021 NFL Draft. Months of scouting and film-watching finally pays off for every NFL team. Just like last year, I will be publishing three mock drafts in the weeks leading up to the actual draft. Obviously, I don’t know what a single one of these NFL GMs are thinking, but I think based on my research, I might be able to predict a semi-accurate draft. Now that all that is out of the way, here is my 2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0.


1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Trevor Lawrence is quite possibly the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck (I personally think Joe Burrow was, but then again, I’m super biased), which makes this pick a clear no brainer for the rebuilding Jaguars. They hired a new coach, Urban Meyer, and spent a boatload of money in Free Agency, all to set the stage for their new face of the franchise: Trevor Lawrence. There’s no way the Jaguars don’t make this pick.


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

After the Sam Darnold trade, there is now no question that the Jets will be taking a QB with this pick. There is some debate between Fields or Wilson, but I think Wilson is the safer pick for the Jets. 


3. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The 49ers pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Dolphins and gave away a lot of picks to move up to number three in this draft. In my mind, there’s no way they traded up all this way to not take a QB. The rumor is that they traded up for Alabama QB Mac Jones, but after Jones’ Pro Day as compared to Fields’, there’s no question which QB they should take here. Fields is an incredibly gifted QB with great speed, a nice deep ball, and most importantly, he has a true winner’s mentality and toughness. He won’t be like other Ohio State QBs of recent years, and will excel in Kyle Shannahan’s system in San Fran.


4. Atlanta Falcons: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

With the top three QBs off the board, the Falcons could go a multitude of ways here, one of which would be drafting Oregon OT Penei Sewell. But, I think Trey Lance’s draft stock has shot up in recent weeks, and while Matt Ryan is still a very good starting QB, the Falcons should look to the future. In the Falcons minds, they won’t be picking this high again for a very long time, so they should grab a QB for the future while they can. Trey Lance is the perfect QB prospect to let develop under Matt Ryan for a year or two, and then make him the starter. Lance is very talented, but needs a little more help developing his skills, but if his skills are developed right, he could end up being the best QB to come out of this draft.


5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Two months ago, if you told me that the Bengals wouldn’t pick Penei Sewell if he was available, I would’ve called you crazy. While Sewell is a very real option here, it has been reported that Joe Burrow is campaigning for the Bengals to reunite him with his old LSU teammate from his Heisman winning season. As a Bengals fan, I am fully on board with drafting Chase. If Burrow really wants Chase over a tackle, go do it. We’re building this team around Burrow, so if he is really outspoken about something, the front office should listen. Three things also make this choice a real possibility for the Bengals. 1) They signed OT Riley Reiff in free agency, which allows for OT to not have to be the pick here. 2) This is a deep O-Line class, and there’s a good chance the Bengals could still get a very good starting tackle at the top of round two. 3) The Eagles traded out of the sixth pick because they are convinced the Bengals are taking Chase. So, I’m all aboard the Chase train, and think it’s a very real possibility for the Bengals.


6. Miami Dolphins: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

While getting an offensive weapon is really important for the Dolphins, it’s not as important since the signing of WR Will Fuller in free agency. They can draft a WR later in the draft, because I’d imagine it’d be pretty hard for them to pass up on the best O-Line prospect in about a decade. The Dolphins rebuilt very quickly, and they just need a couple more additions to their team to be a playoff team, and shoring up the O-Line is definitely a good move. 


7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

After letting both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. hit free agency, the Lions are in desperate need of WR help. Enter DeVonta Smith, the Heisman winner who had over 20 receiving touchdowns last season. If any one of the top receivers is on the board at this point, it should be a no-brainer pick.


8. Carolina Panthers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

After trading for Sam Darnold, the Panthers are in prime position to pick a playmaker here. I toyed with the idea of Jaylen Waddle here, but I think that WR is not a huge need for the Panthers, but Tighe End is, and Kyle Pitts is sitting right here at 8. The Panthers have needed to improve the TE position ever since Greg Olsen left, and they haven’t really been able to. But Kyle Pitts isn’t just a Tight End. He is a versatile weapon that will create mismatches all over the field, and he will be a DB’s worst nightmare. This is a great pick for the Panthers.


9. Denver Broncos: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

The Broncos could go a multitude of ways here, including drafting Mac Jones to compete with Drew Lock, but I have them grabbing some help on the defensive side of the ball. While LB is currently a huge need for the Broncos, Von Miller isn’t getting any younger, and getting an elite replacement for an elite player is a key to long-term success. Parsons will take a year or two to fully develop, but by then, he’ll be able to fill the shoes Von Miller will leave behind.


10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

It’s no secret that the Cowboys’ secondary got torched all of last year, sometimes by the likes of Daniel Jones and Kyle Allen. Drafting Surtain improves the secondary drastically. He was a standout at Alabama and had amazing production for all his years in college. He is probably the only CB that deserves to go Top 10.


11. New York Giants: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami

Before free agency hit, I was almost willing to bet that the Giants would draft a WR here. But, then they signed Kenny Golladay to a megadeal, and it’s kind of not necessary anymore. The Giants are in need of some help getting to the QB, and drafting Phillips will definitely get them there. While I don’t think he’s the best Edge rusher in the draft right out of the gate, I think he may just have the highest upside of any of them. It’s also very possible that the Giants go for some O-Line help here, so there’s many different options on the table.


12. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

While the Eagles traded out of Pick 6 because they believe their guy (Ja’Marr Chase) will be taken at 5, they shouldn’t get too hopeless, because I think there’s a good chance that either Waddle or Smith is here when they pick at 12. The Eagles are in dire need of a WR, and any semblance of a defense, so there’s a couple ways they could go here, but I think if he’s here at 12, Waddle has to be the pick.


13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

While the Chargers don’t have a huge need for O-Line now after their free agency signings, getting a great, young tackle with guard-flexibility should be a no brainer. The Chargers need to protect Justin Herbert at all costs, and this is a great way to do it.


14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC

If the Vikings are going to continue to be a run-dominant team, they need a little more youth on the O-Line, and Vera-Tucker would be the best O-Line prospect on the board at this point. Sure, he’s not a tackle, but could likely easily play at tackle with effectiveness. I’ll be completely honest, this was one of the harder picks for me to make considering the Vikings’ needs and the players that were on the board, but I think Vera-Tucker is a safe and reasonable pick for the Vikings.


15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jones will likely not fall this far in my next two mocks, but for now, I have him going to the Patriots. While the Patriots did resign Cam Newton, my guess is that he’s not their long term plan for QB. Drafting Mac Jones gives the Patriots another legitimate option at QB in case Newton plays just as badly as he did last year. Bill Belichick has recently said that he wants to develop one more Super Bowl winning QB before he retires, and with the Patriots system, he might be able to turn Mac Jones into just that.


16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

I really toyed with the idea of Alabama RB Najee Harris here, and while RBs are still important in the NFL, I don’t know if any of them warrant a Top-20 pick. After the departure of Patrick Peterson the Cardinals really need a new CB1, and Horn could absolutely provide that. Again, not many rookie defenders make a huge impact in their first year on the team, but I think after developing and getting a season or two under his belt, Horn could be viewed as a top-10 corner in the NFL.


17. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

After disbanding almost their entire Offensive line the Raiders are in need of a decent starting O-Lineman. Luckily, they can get that by drafting Darrisaw at 17. Going for a defender is also a real possibility for the Raiders here, but as it stands, O-Line is  a way more pressing need.


18. Miami Dolphins: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

The Dolphins need to get proper weapons in order for Tua to develop properly. Luckily, they can pick Bateman here, and have multiple first round picks over the next couple of years. Bateman is definitely the best of the Tier 2 WRs in this draft, and if he’s here at 18, the Dolphins should run to the podium to pick him.


19. Washington Football Team: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

Defense shouldn’t even be in Washington’s mind here. Their defense is one of the best in the NFL, and focusing on the offensive side of the ball should be the move. Shoring up their O-Line is one way that Washington could instantly approve their already rising offense. With Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel as WRs 1 and 2, and Antonio Gibson out of the backfield, Washington will need to give their QB, whether it’s Fitpatrick or Heinicke, enough time to find those amazing weapons downfield. Jenkins is a strong pass blocker, but does require more development than some of the other guys on the board at this point. However, he has huge upside and could quickly turn into a strong starter in the NFL.


20. Chicago Bears: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Farley was once regarded as the potential best CB in this draft class, but an offseason surgery is sure to tank his draft stock, however I don’t believe he’ll fall out of the first round. The Bears have an immediate hole to fill at CB after releasing Kyle Fuller to make cap room for QB Andy Dalton, and they can fill it by drafting Farley. This pick just makes too much sense, so a part of me thinks the Bears will screw it up.


21. Indianapolis Colts: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas

After the retirement of Anthony Castanzo, the Colts are in need of a new tackle to protect their new QB, Carson Wentz. Cosmi is viewed as a borderline Day 1 pick, but I think he deserves to be regarded as a solid first rounder. He’ll need to improve on his ability to play left tackle, but with a proper offseason, Cosmi could very well be the Colts’ starting LT in Week 1.


22. Tennessee Titans: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

The Titans really need help in the secondary, so they almost have to go with a Defensive back here. Newsome has some injury concerns, but offers elite upside to any team that decides to take a chance on him. He has improved every year of his collegiate career, and should be able to transfer his skills to the NFL easily. If he can stay healthy, this just might be the steal of the draft for the Titans.


23. New York Jets: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

While I believe that Najee Harris is the best RB in this draft, Etienne definitely fits the Jets’ needs more. They need a receiving back who is quick on his feet and reliable down the field. The Jets need to surround Wilson with as many weapons as possible, and getting him a good RB is the way to do it.


24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Azeez Ojulari, DE, Georgia

The Steelers could go a multitude of ways here, including RB, but I think after the offseason departures on the defensive side of the ball, adding depth to the D-Line is key. The Steelers will also need a replacement for QB Ben Roethlisberger, but they can likely address it in next year’s draft. 


25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

Just like the Jets, the Jaguars need to surround their new QB with weapons, and getting him a young, extremely underrated receiver will aid in Lawrence’s progression in the NFL.


26. Cleveland Browns: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

I don’t think Paye will legitimately fall this far in real life, but this is just how it worked out in this mock. But, if Paye is here, the Browns should take him, because I wouldn’t hedge my bets in Takk Mckinley being a relatable starting Edge rusher.


27. Baltimore Ravens: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

The Ravens really need to improve at two positions: Safety and WR. Given that Moehrig is the best safety in this class, I think the Ravens should take him here and try to trade up for a WR in round two, although they do seem set on not getting good WRs for Lamar Jackson to throw to.


28. New Orleans Saints: Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State

With the departure of Trey Hendrickson to Cincinnati, and the fact that Cam Jordan isn’t getting any younger, edge rusher seems to be a no-brainer for the Saints. Oweh’s draft stock is slipping a little more than almost every other first round edge rusher, but that shouldn’t deter the Saints from taking him if he’s here at 28.


29. Green Bay Packers: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

While the Packers organization seems to hate Aaron Rodgers, I think they finally get him a true WR2 in this draft. Toney is a speedster that can be put in multiple positions in formations, including the slot. He deserves the first round grade he has, and hopefully the Packers don’t pass up on him.


30. Buffalo Bills: Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama

While the Bills are a very solid team, and they don’t have any glaring flaws, they need to work on getting to the opposing team’s QB more often. They already have Ed Oliver at DT, and while other starting DT Star Lotulelei is returning, they only have him under contract for one more year, and he is approaching the age of 32. Getting more youth on the D-Line, and letting Barmore have time to develop seems like a great option for the Bills.


31. Kansas City Chiefs: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State

The Chiefs surprisingly cut both of their starting Offensive tackles in the offseason, so they have a clear cut need at this pick. While Radunz is more of an early second round pick, the Chiefs are far back enough in the first round that it wouldn’t be too much of a reach to take him. 


32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Levi Onwuzurike, IDL, Washington

This is another player with more of a second round grade than a first round grade, but the Buccaneers are picking at the very end of the first round, so it’s not a huge difference. The Buccaneers also brought back every single one of their starters from the Super Bowl, so they don’t have any glaring needs, but with Ndamukong Suh already 34 years old, adding some youth to the D-Line could be key for the Buccaneers’ long term success.