With the 2021 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, fan bases of every franchise are filled with hope as their team looks to bolster their roster with fresh, new talent from the college football world. Every team except the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, and Seattle Seahawks have a first-round pick, while the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets have two selections in the top 32 draft slots. I’ll be executing picks 1-10 here, starting with the Jaguars and ending with the Dallas Cowboys.
In this 2021 NFL mock draft, I’ll be taking the place of every general manager in the league and throw out their ideologies about how to build a team with them! I’ll evaluate the talent on the roster right now, make a selection based on the depth of the roster and the caliber of player available, and do my best to pair talent with tutelage to make the team more competitive than it is right now.
That being said, not every pick will be a big position of need or a position of need at all! I’m going to make every football team better with the player that presents himself available at that point in the 2021 NFL Draft. So no, there will be no trades in this exercise! Some picks will be harder than others, and I will notate if I think the team could trade the pick, but a pick will be made regardless. I’ll be breaking this down into three segments as we countdown to draft day April 29th in Cleveland Ohio! Let’s get to the first 10 picks!
Mark’s Mock 2021 NFL Draft: Selections 1-10
Jacksonville Jaguars | Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson
Easily the biggest no-brainer pick in this 2021 NFL draft, Trevor Lawrence is the combination of the traditional, iconic quarterback physique with the futuristic, elite athleticism we covet in today’s NFL. Scouts have been drooling over him as a prospect since his senior year of high school. At 6’6″ 215 pounds, he’s a big presence on whichever field he’s on. He has the capacity to get a little bigger, as his playing weight was between 220 to 223. Every trait imaginable for MY stud quarterback to have, this guy has. The ability to read deep into the progression. An NFL caliber arm. Decisiveness and confidence when running out of the pocket. The ability to upgrade the players around him. Andrew Luck comes to mind.
New York Jets | Zach Wilson QB BYU
Though Justin Fields’ second pro-day definitely raised his stock, I still take Zach Wilson here for the New York Jets. The offensive line isn’t that great and will be a priority in the 2021 NFL Draft. That being said, as Sam Darnold was running for his life last year, we need someone who can make those off-platform throws and still be accurate. He’s endured players under-performing at positions in the offense, and still found ways to succeed. If I’m going to turn this franchise around with one draft, Zach will be the cornerstone we build the foundation around. The passing game is a necessity and we’ve finished last in points scored the last two years.
San Francisco 49ers | Justin Fields QB Ohio State
Selling Mac Jones has been really hard! It’s lunacy when people think of Kyle Shanahan‘s system and the athleticism and playmaking ability that’s requested, and people think of Mac instead of Justin Fields?! Here I can pick Kyle’s dream prospect and let him sit behind Jimmy Garoppolo and learn the offense unscathed. Justin answered Zach Wilson’s pro day and basically said “Anything you can do, I can do better”. It was at the very least just as good as any wow throw Wilson made, and at its very best an overwhelming argument that we’re getting the better player at #3.
Atlanta Falcons | Kyle Pitts TE Florida
Possible Trade Pick | Potential Suitors: Picks 7-10
This is the pick that the quarterback-seekers will be vying for in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Dallas Cowboys all have a player they could justify trading up for. The Lions would take Ja’Marr Chase from LSU to bolster the receiving corps as Jared Goff becomes the franchise quarterback for the next two seasons. The Broncos would take Mac Jones in that pick, thinking the Patriots or Washington Football Team would leapfrog them at Pick No. 9 to select him if they could. The Panthers and Cowboys are prime suspects to go get Pitts here, as he would be a gigantic upgrade over their current options.
Too bad for those guys. Matt Ryan deserves this. With his twilight years nearing, the 35-year-old needs another Tony Gonzalez to have another option at the short to intermediate level. Also giving the defense their choice of poison will inherently make Matt Ryan better. Building the inside of the line can be done later in the draft where the value meets the pick. In this case, lavishing Matty Ice with an embarrassment of riches has done well for the Falcons so far.
Cincinnati Bengals | Ja’Marr Chase WR LSU
Oh, I know what conventional wisdom says. Protect Joe Burrow, whose knee stunt doubled as a fragmentation grenade in Week 9 against the Washington Football Team. I will do that, I promise! Just not when Joe’s favorite player is still on the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. Ja’Marr Chase is probably still his favorite target from his glorious days at LSU. After A.J. Green left for greener (actually browner) pastures in Arizona, a premier pass catcher is sorely needed to keep the team in contention in a stacked AFC North. Giving Joe Burrow a familiar friend to look for on the field will only be a positive as we get our offensive line to be less offensive.
Miami Dolphins | Micah Parsons LB Penn State
Possible Trade Pick | Potential Suitors: DEN, DAL, NE, WSH, CHI
This pick will be a prime landing spot for any of the teams listed to take their quarterback of the future and leapfrog the others, excluding Dallas who would be trading up for… Yep. Penei Sewell. Tyron Smith is showing wear and tear. He’s covered in so many braces each year that I actually thought he was half-man, half-machine. If Sewell fell to 6, I wouldn’t put it past Jerry Jones to move up and get the next 10-year tackle for Dak Prescott. What better way to show faith?
If the 2021 NFL Draft is to be filled with surprises, let this be a mild one. The Dolphins need a guard, not a tackle, in a bad way with Ereck Flowers manning left guard and Solomon Kindley on the right. Yet with the departure of Kyle Van Noy back to the New England Patriots, a chasm has opened in the middle of Brian Flores‘ defense. A do-it-all linebacker like Micah Parsons would erase the sour taste in our fan’s mouths after we had to make a budget cut at the expense of Van Noy’s job. Sliding him into either the weakside or SAM spot would be a massive upgrade over the talent on the roster.
Detroit Lions | Penei Sewell T Oregon
Since they can’t do it, we will! The Lions head coach is an old-school guy, so I’m going to get him an aggressive left tackle who excels in the run game. With Jared Goff heading our offense, for now, keeping him off his back will be essential to any semblance of success. This pick ensures a roster spot that you won’t have to replace for the next 10 drafts. Sure there are some flashier players here, but we’re building a foundation for the franchise to move forward from. Penei Sewell is the first piece. Not to mention, Sewell has been taking reps at right tackle to be fully available for play.
Carolina Panthers | DeVonta Smith WR Alabama
I wanted to trade up with Atlanta to get Kyle Pitts in the 2021 NFL Draft. I couldn’t get him, but I can get DeVonta Smith. The best pure route runner in the draft, he will be Carolina’s version of Calvin Ridley. I can grab a guard in the second round, I can’t get this caliber of receiver there. Giving Sam Darnold/Teddy Bridgewater as many options as possible to move the ball down the field is an investment we have needed to make. The last Heisman Trophy winner we selected was pretty good too.
Denver Broncos | Mac Jones QB Alabama
The last three quarterbacks we’ve selected in the draft have been “developmental” projects. Well, I’m done with that! I want a well-coached, consistent quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. He looks like Alex Smith 3.0, with a better arm, better mobility, and a willingness to throw the deep pass. Coaching him to read third and fourth receiver options won’t be a task too tall for the 6’3″ 220-pounder. We have the receiving corps to give him what he had at Alabama, and as he gets bigger and stronger, so will the wins.
Dallas Cowboys | Patrick Surtain II CB
Well shucks, we couldn’t get up there to get Kyle Pitts. No matter, I’m completely fine with getting the best cornerback in the 2021 NFL draft, and a pick that no one will question the validity of. I’ll take Patrick Surtain II and pair him with Trevon Diggs and have one of the top-5 defensive back duos in the league! An easy, solid choice to keep the scores down so Dak Prescott doesn’t have to score 40 points every game.
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Thank you for reading my article on who I would pick as the GM of every team in the 2021 NFL Draft! I’ll have picks 11-21 coming out shortly, with picks 22-32 coming out just before the draft! I’m always learning, and I hope to learn from you! Be sure to follow us @OTH_Football and @Mark_H_Miller1!