One of the NFL’s biggest events is almost upon us. NFL owners, general managers, coaches, and fans alike shake with barely concealed excitement as the next generation of NFL players wait to hear the names of their respective NFL homes. While the NFL Draft is always a thrilling, unpredictable rollercoaster that the fans will eagerly strap themselves into, this one is truly unique. The event is live and in-person, a welcome change to last year’s COVID-shackled draft, where the whole event was presented virtually.
Fans, team representatives, prospects, and even the NFL’s infamous commissioner Roger Goodell will come together to celebrate the storied tradition of welcoming the next generation of NFL players. Unfortunately, the fans will have a short wait until the party starts. What do us fans do in the meantime to satiate our relentless anticipation for the draft, you ask?
Create our very own NFL mock draft, of course! I have meticulously weighed my options for every pick in the first round, and after weeks of careful consideration, I have crafted an NFL mock draft that could very well be right in line with each NFL club’s train of thought.
There are league-shattering decisions to be made at pivotal picks; quarterback, offensive line, and cornerback discussions to be had, and bone-headed, Jordan Love-Esque picks to try to comprehend (just kidding, Packers fans). Without further ado, let’s dive into the 2021 first-round NFL Mock Draft.
Jaguars | 1.1 | Trevor Lawrence | QB | Clemson
To begin this 2021 NFL mock draft, the worst-kept secret of the 2021 NFL Draft is finally out of the bag. C’mon, every NFL fan and their mother should know this is who the Jacksonville Jaguars will take number one overall, right? Many NFL scouts and personnel around the league believe the illustrious Trevor Lawrence is the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck. While I wouldn’t personally compare the two, there is no doubt Lawrence is the best QB in this draft.
He can make every throw with pinpoint accuracy, throw with touch into tight coverage, and can improvise on the run with his innate intelligence and his surprisingly big frame. No need to belabor the point: Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has his champion, and the two working together will restore hope to a desperate Jacksonville fanbase.
Jets| 1.2 | Zach Wilson | QB | BYU
While this pick was more of a debate in the early months of January and February, the talk surrounding the Jets pick slowly came to a standstill, cementing Zach Wilson as the second overall pick in this NFL mock draft. I love this pick for the Jets because I believe there is not as much as an insurmountable gap in talent between Wilson and Lawrence.
Wilson is a tough, big-time quarterback who can make tough throws all over the field, similar to Lawrence. Even in Wilson’s worst performance against a stingy Coastal Carolina defense, I came away with a more positive impression than I thought I would. Even though he had a rough night, he made plenty of tough, NFL-level throws, and willed his team to be within striking distance all game. Wilson was the only reason they were in that game.
Some concerns some NFL personnel believe are that Wilson could be more susceptible to injury because of his 214-pound frame, and he needs some work throwing on the run and learning to throw the ball away. Those concerns are minor, however, and the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS will have a promising signal-caller to root for in this NFL mock draft.
49ers | 1.3 | Mac Jones | QB | Alabama
Okay. Deep breath. In. Out. In. Out. Alright, here we go. Mac Jones will be the 49ers‘ next starting QB in this NFL mock draft, and I definitely, certainly, and absolutely have no second thoughts or doubts that that will be the case (could you tell my sarcasm there?). This is one of the hardest picks I had to make here. I like Jones, I really do. He has a fantastic arm, and he can do everything and more than a true NFL pocket passer needs to do. The margin between my number three QB and Jones is slim.
However… my heart tells me this pick should be Justin Fields. While Fields isn’t as pure of a passer Jones is, he’s almost as good, as his arm talent is truly great. Additionally, Fields has a whole other dimension to his game that Jones simply lacks: his running and improvising. Fields is also just as tough and clutch as Jones has been. As I said, the margin is slim between Fields and Jones. Jones just completely lacks Fields’ ability to move in the pocket and escape.
With all that said, in this NFL mock draft, the 49ers will get Alabama’s prolific passer. All reports coming out of the 49ers’ camp the last couple of weeks have been about how much 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan loves Jones, and he thinks that Jones will be able to masterfully carry out the offense’s game plan in a way that current 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo simply cannot. My heart believes that Fields should be the pick here, but I guess that’s why I’m not an NFL general manager, right?
Falcons | 1.4 | Kyle Pitts | TE | Florida
The Atlanta Falcons are in an interesting spot. The positions that they desperately need most lie on the defensive side of the ball: cornerbacks and edge rushers. However, with a draft pick so high, it would be impractical to spend such a valuable pick on a position that isn’t as prolific in this year’s class. If this were an NFL mock draft where trades were available, I’d most likely have the Falcons trading down in the draft, acquiring a more appropriate position for their team needs, while getting extra picks in later rounds.
However, this NFL mock draft is straightforward, where no trades are available. In this circumstance, you go with the best player on the big board, and you draft a generational tight end, Kyle Pitts. Pitts is just… amazing. At everything he does. Many NFL evaluators already have Pitts slated to be just productive as elite tight ends like George Kittle and Travis Kelce. For good reason too: he’s fast, strong, and runs routes and catches like an elite wide receiver.
He’ll be a matchup nightmare against any defense, especially with an offense like the Falcons that boasts talents like Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst. The Falcons clearly think of themselves in a “win now” mindset, so a receiving freak like Pitts would be a huge contributor to that ideology.
Bengals | 1.5 | Penei Sewell | OT | Oregon
This pick hurts me. It really does. How cool would it be to pair a rare talent like LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase with his former LSU QB Joe Burrow? Do you realize how fun that would be?! Alas, I think it’s too good to be true. The masses don’t call the NFL the “No Fun League” for nothing.
However, even though Burrow doesn’t get his chance to reunite with his LSU teammate, Burrow will be thanking his front office as the season goes on with the player I have the Bengals taking. In this NFL mock draft, Penei Sewell is the pick, and Burrow will be more than happy to have such a special talent at tackle being his bodyguard.
Sewell is almost the perfect prospect at tackle: quick, strong, technically sound, has a good anchor and gets in and out of his stance lightning fast. The only knock Sewell has is that he’s inexperienced at the position, but the fact that he’s already so good at the position means he’s only going to get better. AFC North defenders are going to be punching the air knowing they have to go against this monster of a tackle two times a season, as he goes fifth in this NFL mock draft.
Dolphins | 1.6 | Ja’Marr Chase | WR | LSU
This is an easy pick here at number six overall in the NFL mock draft. Ja’Marr Chase will be the guy, and Dolphins fans and Dolphins QB Tua Tagovialoa will be jumping up and down with excitement. Chase is head and shoulders above the rest of the wide receiver prospects in this class, which is impressive, considering this class also boasts dynamic receiver Jaylen Waddle and Heisman trophy winner DeVonta Smith.
There is nothing Chase can’t do: he runs routes with elite footwork, catches the ball aggressively at the point of attack, and is fast and elusive after the catch. The Dolphins have desperately needed a dominant number one wide receiver to make Tua’s life a lot easier, and they get their dynamic pass-catcher here.
Lions | 1.7 | DeVonta Smith | WR | Alabama
The Lions have a lot of holes at several crucial positions, and I promise I’m not saying that because I’m a Bears fan. The Lions have plenty of different avenues they could go here, in this NFL mock draft: tackle could be a position of priority, as well as a linebacker and defensive tackle.
In fact, the Lions can be a prime candidate to trade down and obtain valuable picks in the second and third round that could immediately address some of the more dire positions of need. However, in this NFL mock draft, the Lions are staying right where they are, and getting the explosive and reliable wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first: yes, he’s undersized. He’s 6’1, and is a poultry 171 pounds. I know that that’s a huge concern for fans and NFL clubs. A word of advice though: disregard that. It doesn’t matter. Smith has more than proven himself at the highest level of college competition for multiple years, and his size has NEVER hindered him. He’s tough as nails, never had an injury issue, and consistently and utterly destroyed the best defenses in the SEC. His size will not affect him in the NFL.
Besides his toughness, he fast and efficient off the line of scrimmage, smoothly and effortlessly getting into his routes and creating separation. He tracks the balls perfectly, and he has plenty of lateral quickness and pure speed to get plenty of YAC.
In my NFL mock draft, the Lions get a true number one receiver who will be the most reliable receiving threat the team has had since Calvin Johnson.
Panthers | 1.8 | Rashawn Slater | OT | Northwestern
The Panthers probably would have had more intrigue to NFL fans in this draft if they didn’t make a major transaction in early April. The Carolina Panthers acquired former New York Jets QB Sam Darnold in hopes that his early career woes were simply the result of the incompetence of former Jets head coach Adam Gase.
With the Panthers seemingly content with their QB situation, the Panthers’ draft needs suddenly become less unpredictable and more… fundamental. While linebacker is certainly a position to consider, I believe the Panthers will select tackle Rashawn Slater in this NFL mock draft.
Rashawn Slater is one of the best overall prospects in this draft, with some NFL personnel believing he’s even better than Sewell. There’s good reason for that opinion too: he’s just as fast and athletic, while still having a good amount of strength that keeps him anchored in one on one situations.
One flaw NFL personnel point out is his arm length is shorter than what’s ideal, with some believing he should switch to guard. While that is something to still be determined, in this NFL mock draft, the Panthers cannot go wrong with Slater.
Broncos | 1.9 | Trey Lance | QB | NDSU
Depending on who you are, you either think Lance will be the savior for this promising Broncos team, or he will be the one to plunge it into obscurity. That’s the kind of polarization that Trey Lance draws: you either love his potential, or you hate it. As for me, I’m more in the “I don’t like it” camp. To me, Lance is the fifth-best of the top five QB’s, and it’s a sizeable gap between four and five. Despite that, however, in my NFL mock draft, Trey Lance is heading to Denver.
Why do I have Lance going above Fields, you ask? Well, it must be deja vu all over again, because we’re right back to the 49ers’ situation: the Broncos just seem to really like him, and it is the ideal situation for Lance. Just like the 49ers situation, I believe Fields is the better player.
But I think the Broncos believe he has a higher ceiling than Fields, and they can coax that out of him if they put him in the right situation. I agree with that point; Lance can really ascend if he’s given time to develop his raw, but enticing talents.
The appeal is clear with Lance. He is a likable young quarterback, with a deep ball that amazes, and he’s an absolute bowling ball of a runner. He put up great statistics at NDSU and has many scouts excited because of his clear similarities with Josh Allen. If he’s given a year or two to develop his skills mechanically, as well as his skill to read defenses, then yes, he can be something special.
Contrarily, he has clear limitations when it comes to his accuracy and decision-making, something that is incredibly difficult to fix in the NFL. However, Josh Allen really enticed the NFL on the possibilities of future NFL QB’s miraculously fixing their clear accuracy issues, and in my NFL mock draft, the Broncos will take that gamble and take Trey Lance.
Cowboys | 1.10 | Patrick Surtain ll | CB | Alabama
You know, it’s funny. When I did my very first NFL mock draft, without the influence of my peers and the media, I did have the Cowboys taking a cornerback. But not Patrick Surtain. I actually had South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn going to America’s Team, which is even funnier because he’s not my top corner in this draft. Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley is the best CB on my board.
I saw Horn’s tape, immediately thought of the ‘Boys, and just paired them together. They’re like peanut butter and jelly to me. But as I dug into the Cowboys scheme, I shortly thereafter realized that Surtain is perfect for the Cowboys defensive scheme.
Surtain is the kind of corner that I love: tough, versatile, intelligent, and physical. defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s defense will cater nicely to what Surtain does best. He’ll be able to sit off-ball and read and react to whatever play the design of the offense is and make a play on it. This is an easy pick in this NFL mock draft, and the Cowboys get a much-needed corner to sure up that defense.
Giants | 1.11 | Jaylen Waddle | WR | Alabama
The Giants have done a lot this offseason trying to surround QB Daniel Jones with as much talent and support as possible. They signed former Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, and guard Zach Fulton. They even managed to get the big receiver prize of free agency, Kenny Golladay, a big receiving target that Jones can rely on.
It’s clear that it’s a make-or-break year for Jones, and the Giants want to see whether they truly have a franchise QB. So, of course, the Giants will throw one more piece of kindling into the QB fire and take explosive Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle in this NFL mock draft.
Waddle is the definition of explosive. If the Giants want to get more creative and create big plays, Waddle is tailor-made for that role. Waddle is the closest thing the Giants will ever have to Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill. Waddle can take screens, an end-around, or designed plays for him to the house from any distance.
Don’t be fooled though: Waddle is still a versatile and refined receiver, able to run any route and work from the outside or slot. To give the Giants an edge in this tight NFC East race, they need a player that can break the game open. And at number 11 overall, in my NFL mock draft, the Giants get that player.
Eagles | 1.12 | Jaycee Horn | CB | SC
I know the Eagles are livid at the Giants number 11 selection. A wide receiver to help their young QB Jalen Hurts is exactly what they need, and to pair the former Alabama teammates would’ve been a great reunion. The Eagles are in dire need of a WR, however, as their 2020 draft selection Jalen Reagor had injury issues and generally under performed, Alshon Jeffery is a free agent, and the rest of the receiver room is barren.
The Eagles could potentially take Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman, but this would be a bit of a reach at the number 12 overall pick. They also could address tackle, but I think at this point of this NFL mock draft, the Eagles will get the physically gifted Jaycee Horn to compliment CB Darius Slay, and create a terrifying back four.
Horn is a physical freak: he has top-tier strength and speed, and has a tenacity that all great cornerbacks have innately. Some NFL evaluators had compared his game to that of Jalen Ramsey, an astonishing comparison.
While I have reservations of his mechanics past five yards, where he can get overly physical and rough around with receivers a bit too much, that’s a great issue to have when you go to the gritty and rough Philadelphia Eagles. While the fans will be disappointed that the Eagles couldn’t get one of the top three receivers, fans will soon fall in love with Horn.
Chargers | 1.13 | Christian Darrisaw | OT | VA Tech
Sorry, Chargers fans, no surprise pick here. The Chargers desperately need a tackle to protect their promising QB Justin Herbert, who was hit way too much last season. Christian Darrisaw is deemed by many to be the best pass-blocking tackle in the draft, with immense strength and good lateral speed.
He’s also earned himself a mean streak from his time mauling defenders in college, and that’s a trait that the Chargers need to bring to LA.
Vikings | 1.14 | Micah Parsons | LB | Penn State
Finally, in this NFL mock draft, the quote-unquote “generational” linebacker Micah Parsons gets taken off the board. Interestingly, Parsons is not the best LB on my board: Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the best LB on my board. However, Parsons has really interesting skills, and a disciplined coach like Mike Zimmer is the perfect coach to unearth that hidden potential.
I’m not the biggest fan of Parsons. I do think he’s being a bit overrated as a prospect. He lacks physicality and is not nearly as deadly a pass rusher as the narratives will have you believe. However, he has the potential to grow into all of the deficiencies and more, if molded by a competent coach. That’s why, despite Owusu-Koramoah being higher on my board, Parsons goes here in my NFL mock draft.
Parsons has a really unique set of talents: he’s a physical freak, flying sideline to sideline to stop a ball carrier. When he sees a hole, he attacks with ferocity, often resulting in big, highlight plays. He also flashes in pass coverage, as well as a pass rusher. Despite all of that, he’s raw and had not played the linebacker position for a long time.
That leads to him looking lost on a lot of plays, and him not playing at game speed because he’s thinking through his assignment. Pair that with the character concerns, and you see why NFL teams are concerned about him.
Patriots | 1.15 | Justin Fields | QB | Ohio State
Ding ding ding! The slide is over! The NFL has turned their backs on Fields, and now they will suffer the consequences. In my NFL mock draft, the Patriots select their next franchise QB in Justin Fields, making the rest of the NFL quiver at the knees at the thought of another Patriots dynasty. Get ready for Brady/Belichick all over again.
Okay okay, I’m kidding (kind of). The Patriots could not get their wheels out of the mud without Brady leading the team, and fell well short of expectations. After an encouraging start to the season with QB Cam Newton and recently-retired Julian Edelman lighting fireworks, the magic they displayed ran out, and the Patriots turned into the Patriots of old. Of course, the defense suffered blows because of COVID opt-outs, but the offense had absolutely no one to catch or run the ball, and Cam couldn’t throw a ball accurately past five yards as the season progressed.
That all looks to change after this pick and this past offseason. The Pats got plenty of receivers and tight end help this offseason, and all they need now is a true franchise QB to run the show. Justin Fields is the perfect candidate for that role: incredibly intelligent and tough, a truly great arm that can make any throw, and dynamic runner that can keep defenses off balance.
I have all the confidence in the world that Fields can learn the notoriously hard-to-learn Patriots playbook, and, with time, can help the Patriots become the bane of the NFL for the next decade. It pains me that the Bears couldn’t trade up in this NFL mock draft and get a QB that could make the cold wind blow a little gentler in Chicago, but the Patriots have their fortune’s change for the far foreseeable future with this pick.
Cardinals | 1.16 | Caleb Farley | CB | VT
Caleb Farley going to the Cardinals is one of my favorite picks in this NFL mock draft. Farley is, in my estimation, the best corner prospect in this whole draft. His tape is virtually perfect: he plays loose and fast, flipping his hips in ease to shadow any route intermediate to deep. He can play both press-man coverage and off-ball, his physicality and intelligence making it difficult for receivers to get open on him. He’s also a willing and capable tackler, a good trait you don’t see in a lot of elite prospects.
Why do I have Farley going later than the other two elite corner prospects if he’s my top prospect in this NFL mock draft, you ask? Because he’s been dealing with medical issues the last couple of seasons. He had two back surgeries just in the last two years, and in a recent medical evaluation, he apparently still can’t feel his toes due to the surgery. This will scare any team straight, as back issues are not something that can be easily recovered from, especially at such a young age.
This is a risky selection, no matter how you slice it. In my NFL mock draft, however, I believe the Cardinals address a true position of need after the departure of Patrick Peterson. If everything goes right in Arizona with Farley, they very well could have the talents of the next great NFL corner at their disposal.
Raiders | 1.17 | Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah | LB | Notre Dame
While projecting who teams will potentially pick in this NFL mock draft, you have bread crumbs that you pluck up to give you an indication of where each respective club will lean. The Jaguars need a QB desperately, so they’ll choose the best QB prospect. The Lions desperately need a WR, so they choose the best WR prospect left on the board. Simple, right? Well, it’s not so simple when it comes to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Head coach Jon Gruden is as unpredictable as they come. Honestly, I have NO idea what he could do in this position. He could take a true position of need, like LB, tackle, or corner. He also could go off the wall and draft a WR, QB, or running back. Gruden is just too unpredictable.
However, in this NFL mock draft, Gruden will go the more traditional route and select a true position of need by selecting JOK (his name is just too long, okay?). JOK is easily the best linebacker in this draft, in my opinion. JOK just can do it all: he’s fast and versatile, able to close distance to ball carriers with impressive speed. He’s physical at the point of attack, taking on any blocker and giving them a fight no matter what disadvantage he may be at. And, most importantly to me, he played really well against top-level competition like Alabama and LSU.
The only slight against JOK that NFL teams are concerned about is that he’s undersized as a traditional LB, making some believe he would be better to switch to the safety position. I don’t believe that he’ll struggle at all at LB; in fact, I think he’ll flourish. The NFL is changing, where offenses employ quicker and smaller players to get more explosive.
JOK is the perfect counter to the offense’s decision to go smaller; he can keep up with most receivers in zone or man coverage, and contain tight ends galloping down the middle. JOK goes to the Raiders in the NFL mock draft and becomes a fan favorite for the Raiders faithful.
Dolphins | 1.18 | Jaelan Phillips | EDGE | Miami
The Dolphins get their turn again here at the number 18 overall selection, and they have a couple of interesting paths to travel down. They could go guard or tackle, to give their young QB time in the pocket to go through his reads. While that certainly is a position still in play, in this NFL mock draft, the Dolphins obtain the last piece to truly make this Dolphins defense elite, and draft the immensely talented Jaelan Phillips as an edge rusher.
Phillips is easily the most talented edge in this draft, displaying traits of elite speed and power while firing from the line of scrimmage like a cannon. Phillips, much like Farley, also has a medical history that teams are concerned about. After multiple serious concussions, he had to medically retire from football.
Although he had been cleared to play in the NFL and tested well both physically and health-wise at his Pro Day, to have such a serious injury background gives every NFL team some pause. However, he is a sure-fire first-round talent, and in this NFL mock draft, and the Dolphins will take that risk here and try to add another pass rusher that will push their defense over the top.
Washington | 1.19 | Zaven Collins | LB | Tulsa
Washington is an unfortunate spot in this NFL mock draft. All five of the top QB prospects had already gone off the board, disappointing both their fans and probably their front office as well. If a QB like Mac Jones or Justin Fields fell to number 19, the WFT would absolutely take their guy. In this NFL mock draft, however, the WFT takes their only other true position of need and selects the immensely talented Zaven Collins.
Collins won both the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards that crowned him as the nation’s best defensive player last year. Collins has a rare blend of immense size with the athleticism of an off-ball linebacker, making him a true weapon that WFT head coach Ron Rivera will surely use to spearhead this WFT defense.
Bears | 1.20 | Alijah-Vera-Tucker | OT | USC
We finally get to my favorite, yet tortured franchise. I won’t go too much into this one, since I covered this selection in-depth in my 2021 Bears NFL six Round Mock Draft, but I will convey why you should be excited if you’re a Bears fan. Alijah Vera-Tucker is really the perfect player for the Bears: a big, strong, versatile, and quick tackle that can wash edge rushers away from the pocket with his unexpected quickness and can fill his role wonderfully in this Bears zone-run scheme.
I would like the Bears to trade up to get one of the top five QB prospects, but if they decide to sit pat at 20, the Bears would be more than happy to take Vera-Tucker in this NFL mock draft.
Colts | 1.21 | Teven Jenkins | OT | Oklahoma State
Similar to many teams picking here in the twenties, the Colts don’t have too many weaknesses. One glaring weakness the Colts do have is their offensive line, specifically, tackle. So, the Colts take the next best tackle on this board, and Teven Jenkins has turned into a bit of a fan favorite on NFL mock draft Twitter.
A great run blocker while still a good pass blocker, all while earning himself a bit of a mean-streak from his time at Oklahoma State. The Colts get their tackle of the future with this pick.
Titans | 1.22 | Rashod Bateman | WR | Minnesota
The Titans get a suitable replacement for Corey Davis, who very well could be better than Davis had been for the Titans over his career. The Titans have a few ways they could go here: cornerback is certainly an option, following the loss of Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler.
Another pass rusher could be beneficial too, as the Titans lack of pass rush crippled their defense all of last season. However, in this NFL mock draft, the Titans decide to draft Bateman at 22, and get a complementary piece next to elite wide receiver A.J. Brown and make life easier for their bell-cow back Derrick Henry.
Jets | 1.23 | Greg Newsome ll | CB | Northwestern
The Jets have another first-round pick here in this NFL mock draft, and with a new regime filing into New York, the Jets could greatly revamp their team. They already have their QB of the future who was selected at the top of the draft, so why not draft their CB of the future at the bottom of this draft?
Newsome is a smart, physical, and sticky corner who can run with many receivers down the field, and he has a knack for playing the ball. For a defense that really needs a pick-me-up, drafting Newsome and creating turnovers will certainly accomplish that goal.
Steelers, 1.24 – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The first running back goes off the board and the next great Alabama RB goes to the Steelers…to the surprise of absolutely no one. Najee Harris just fits so well with what Steelers HC Mike Tomlin looks for in a back: a bludgeoning, between-the-tackles runner who has the ability to bounce outside and catch the ball. QB Ben Roethlisberger needs a reliable RB in the backfield to take the load off his aging back, and Harris can easily fill that role and then some.
Jaguars, 1.25 – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Let’s be honest here, the Jaguars need a lot of help everywhere. It’s just part of the process when you have a new regime try to create an identity with a franchise. The Jaguars already took the prestigious Trevor Lawrence at the top of the draft, so now it’s time to look to the defensive side of the ball.
While other positions on defense could certainly be addressed, I believe that in this NFL mock draft, the Jaguars will take a ball-hawking safety in Trevon Moehrig to sure up that defensive backfield. He’s rangy and sticky in coverage, and sure to be an immediate impact player in Jacksonville.
Browns | 1.26 | Kwity Paye | EDGE | Michigan
The Browns won their first playoff game in decades last season, placing them among the NFL’s best. That, of course, means they have to pick later in this NFL mock draft, something that Browns fans won’t be very used to. The Browns don’t have many holes on their team either, but they have a couple of positions they could go here.
Regardless, I believe the Browns will go best player available, and take the energy and skill of edge rusher Kwity Paye. The Michigan standout is a twitchy and fast edge rusher and has plenty of hustle and heart. He will fit nicely with identity of the Browns’ new culture.
Ravens | 1.27 | Terrance Marshall Jr. | WR | LSU
While the Ravens boast a really well-constructed overall team, but to myself and probably most others, they have one huge, glaring need: a wide receiver. Marquise Brown has underperformed so far in his young career, and Miles Boykin is coming along too slowly as a pure receiver.
The Ravens, in this NFL mock draft, will address that need and take a big, skilled WR in Terrance Marshall. Marshall does have some injury concerns, but Marshall is an immediate impact player who will also be a reliable target for years in Baltimore.
Saints | 1.28 | Rondale Moore | WR | Purdue
An interesting selection for sure, but a pick I think it will pay off in the long run. I think most Saints fans would like another cornerback to pair with Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore in this NFL mock draft, but I think head coach Sean Payton would like to add another dimension to his offense and give QB Jameis Winston a dynamic target.
Enter explosive receiver Rondale Moore, who has great speed and release off the line of scrimmage. Winston is the kind of QB who likes to take risks, so having a receiver who can bring down the rocket throws besides WR Michael Thomas is a true need.
Packers | 1.29 | Kadarius Toney | WR | Florida
It pains me to give the Packers another weapon for QB Aaron Rodgers to destroy my beloved Bears defense with, yet here we are. The Packers decide to not throw away their first-round draft pick (like last year), and take Kadarius Toney in this NFL mock draft, a dangerous complementary piece to All-Pro WR Davante Adams.
Toney is slippery and quick off the line scrimmage, while having sure hands that will hold on to the ball through contested throws. Toney is exactly the kind of receiver that Rodgers needs, and could be what he needs to push the Packers over the top.
Bills | 1.30 | Azeez Oijuari | EDGE | Georgia
The Bills ascended past expectations this season, getting all the way to the AFC Championship. While they did have immense success last season, they have a couple of different positions they can address here in this NFL mock draft. Drafting a corner is on the table, with no real talent opposite Tre’Davious White.
They also could go RB here, with springy and elusive RB Travis Etienne on the board. I think the Bills will try to put some pressure on opposing QB’s, and draft promising edge rusher Azeez Oijuari. While they have talent on the back end of their defense, they need to get more of a push on the front four, and getting Azeez can suffocate any space in the pocket. Bills get a solid pass-rusher here at 30.
Ravens | 1.31 | Gregory Rousseau | EDGE | Miami
The Ravens are back on the board here, after acquiring a first-round pick from the Chiefs in exchange for tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Now that they have another selection to bolster their team in a big way, I believe that in this NFL mock draft, they’ll select the incredibly talented Gregory Rousseau to give some help to an aging pass rush room.
A good, explosive pass rusher is all that the Ravens really need on defense (besides another safety maybe), so getting some depth while betting on his explosive talents is a great selection for the Ravens.
Buccaneers | 1.32 | Christian Barmore | DL | Alabama
At long last, this NFL mock draft comes to the close with the reigning Super Bowl champions. The Buccaneers made headlines this offseason, where they managed to somehow bring every starter back from last year’s special squad, a feat no doubt attributed to their legendary QB, Tom Brady. So, with a team with seemingly no holes, who do you draft in the first round?
The Bucs will draft aggressive and strong defensive tackle Christian Barmore, and develop him to be an eventual successor for one of their aging interior lineman. An interior disruptor like with Barmore will only add to the extreme terror that their front four already imposes on opposing offenses.
Thanks for reading my 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft! For more NFL content, follow me @Masonite22 on Twitter, and also follow @OTH_Football for all your football needs.
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