The 2020 NFL Draft is a thing of the past, with media and fans alike breaking down how accurate their mock drafts were. While teams shift their attention to next season, people that are addicted to producing mock drafts will begin looking forward to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Seeing that the 2021 NFL Draft isn’t until next April, trying to guess where players are taken is similar to throwing a dart while blindfolded. Nevertheless, why not attempt to pinpoint where certain prospects could land in next year’s draft? After all, besides catching up on shows on Netflix, there aren’t many better ways to waste time while being quarantined inside.
In this early mock draft, the draft order will be decided by the odds of each team making the playoffs in 2020, per Bovada. With that in mind, here is a way-too-early first-round projection of the 2021 NFL Draft.
No. 1 — Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
The Jaguars are the odds-on favorite to land the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Unless Gardner Minshew wins the NFL’s MVP Award, Trevor Lawrence would be Jacksonville’s obvious choice. In reality, Lawrence is arguably the most coveted quarterback prospect since maybe Andrew Luck.
No. 2 — Cincinnati Bengals: Gregory Rousseau (Edge, Miami)
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Bengals were able to select Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick, giving them their quarterback of the future. Now, with the No. 2 pick in next year’s draft, Cincinnati can select Gregory Rousseau. Following a season where he amassed 15.5 sacks, Rousseau is considered the No. 1 edge prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.
No. 3 — Washington Redskins: Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)
After trading Trent Williams, Washington is left with a void at left tackle. If Dwayne Haskins is still under center, the Redskins are going to need someone like Penei Sewell to protect his blindside. At the same time, even if Haskins isn’t the answer, Washington can’t afford to pass on a surefire talent like Sewell.
No. 4 — Carolina Panthers: Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
Regardless of their decision to sign Teddy Bridgewater in free agency, the Panthers need to find their long-term solution at quarterback. With the No. 4 pick, Carolina selects Justin Fields out of Ohio State. After all, Fields contributed 41 touchdowns and just three interceptions for the Buckeyes in 2019.
No. 5 — Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
Following a season where Justin Jefferson went in the first round of the draft, his running mate, Ja’Marr Chase should also be a first-round selection. After taking Tua Tagovailoa in this year’s draft, the Dolphins give him a much-needed weapon in the passing game. Chase won the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 2019, an award given to the best wide receiver in the nation.
No. 6 — New York Jets: Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
Besides Jamal Adams, the Jets don’t have many reliable defensive backs in their secondary. Luckily for them, they could wind up with Patrick Surtain II in next year’s draft. Surtain, like his father was in the NFL, is a lockdown corner that has three interceptions and 15 deflections in his first two years at Alabama.
No. 7 — New York Giants: Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
The Giants are attempting to rebuild their defense as fast as possible under Joe Judge. What better way to achieve that than taking the best linebacker available in the 2021 NFL Draft, Micah Parsons. Just this past season, Parsons notched 109 tackles, five sacks, and four forced fumbles.
No. 8 — Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
In this scenario, Detroit decides to move forward with Matthew Stafford as their starting quarterback for another season in 2021. With that in mind, giving him a dynamic playmaker like Jaylen Waddle out of Alabama seems like a good idea. While Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs got the spotlight, Waddle was the forgotten man in 2019.
No. 9 — Atlanta Falcons: Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
The Falcons chose to sign Todd Gurley this offseason and avoid drafting a running back. Regardless of whether or not Gurley returns, Atlanta could have their sights on an explosive running back like Travis Etienne in the first round.
No. 10 — Arizona Cardinals: Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
In just a short amount of time, Arizona has built a remarkable offense around Kyler Murray. Seeing that Larry Fitzgerald could be entering his final season, pairing an electric player like Rondale Moore with DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk would be ideal.
No. 11 — Las Vegas Raiders: Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
There’s no doubt that the Raiders are heading into a pivotal year, needing to make a decision on Derek Carr. Unless Carr has an MVP season, Las Vegas could be taking Trey Lance, who tossed 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 2019.
No. 12 — Chicago Bears: Brock Purdy (QB, Iowa State)
Similar to the Raiders, the Bears have to make a decision on Mitchell Trubisky following the 2019 season. In all likeliness, Chicago will likely be in the market for a quarterback, taking Brock Purdy out of Iowa State.
No. 13 — Los Angeles Chargers: Walker Little (OT, Stanford)
With Justin Herbert as their hopeful successor to Philip Rivers, Los Angeles needs to make sure they keep him upright. Besides signing Bryan Bulaga at right tackle this offseason, the Chargers could look to draft Walker Little out of Stanford next offseason.
No. 14 — Denver Broncos: Marvin Wilson (IDL, Florida State)
Under Vic Fangio, the Broncos are focused on becoming an elite defense again. After the acquisition of Jurrell Casey via trade, they could pair him with Marvin Wilson out of Florida State. who recorded five sacks in 2019. In the event that Denver lands Wilson, their defensive front is going to be quite the frightening group.
No. 15 — Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams): Justyn Ross (WR, Clemson)
With the pick they receive from the Rams, the Jaguars could find a weapon for Lawrence. Why not add the wide receiver that Lawrence has grown accustomed to at Clemson, Justyn Ross? As a matter of fact, Ross and Lawrence have connected on 17 touchdowns in their two seasons together.
No. 16 — Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Samuel Cosmi (OT, Texas)
Even with Miami taking Austin Jackson in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they could use another offensive tackle to protect Tagovailoa. Fortunately for them, Samuel Cosmi out of Texas could be available for them next year.
No. 17 — Cleveland Browns: Devonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
Taking a look at Cleveland’s moves this offseason, it’s evident that they want to give Baker Mayfield the best chance to succeed. Despite having Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry already on the roster, inserting Devonta Smith would give them an even deadlier receiving corps. At the same time, Alabama would have two wide receivers taken in the first round for the second straight year.
No. 18 — Minnesota Vikings: Xavier Thomas (Edge, Clemson)
It appears that Minnesota is going to play the 2020 season without finding a definitive replacement for Everson Griffen. Nevertheless, they could find themselves taking Xavier Thomas in the first round of next year’s draft.
No. 19 — Indianapolis Colts: Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
Even if Philip Rivers remains under center for the Colts in 2021, Indianapolis could continue bolstering their arsenal of offensive skill players. In addition to Michael Pittman Jr. this year, the Colts could better the receiving corps even further with Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota.
No. 20 — Pittsburgh Steelers: Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
Joe Haden is entering the final year of his contract with the Steelers and he turns 32 years old this year. In light of that, Pittsburgh could look to draft his replacement in 2021, taking Shaun Wade out of Ohio State.
No. 21 — Tennessee Titans: Creed Humphrey (IOL, Oklahoma)
It’s apparent that Tennessee would prefer to have a run-oriented offense coupled with a stout defense. To help improve their offensive line, the Titans could grab Creed Humphrey out of Oklahoma. Also, Humphrey brings some versatility on the offensive line, having the ability to play center or guard.
No. 22 — Seattle Seahawks: Paulson Adebo (CB, Stanford)
While Seattle has struggled to return to the Super Bowl in recent seasons, the secondary has been arguably their weakest link on defense. Therefore, Paulson Adebo out of Stanford makes a ton of sense for the Seahawks next offseason.
No. 23 — Green Bay Packers: Seth Williams (WR, Auburn)
Of course, to the dismay of fans in Green Bay, the Packers didn’t give Aaron Rodgers much immediate help this offseason. As a matter of fact, they actually took his possible replacement in Jordan Love. In an attempt to give him some more firepower on offense, Green Bay doesn’t ignore the receiver position and takes Seth Williams out of Auburn.
No. 24 — New England Patriots: Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
If Dylan Moses didn’t get injured in 2019, he would’ve been talked about as a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Nonetheless, the Patriots swoop in and select the Alabama linebacker in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Then again, New England is a team that could probably turn Moses into an All-Pro linebacker.
No. 25 — Dallas Cowboys: Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse)
For years, the Cowboys have been lacking a playmaker on the backend of their secondary. Albeit, they could have a chance to select Andre Cisco, who’s corraled 12 interceptions in his first two seasons at Syracuse. Not only is he able to create turnovers, but he’s also able to defend the run, totaling 125 tackles since 2018.
No. 26 — Buffalo Bills: Quincy Roche (Edge, Miami)
If everything goes as planned, Miami could have two edge rushers that are selected in the first round. After seeing Rousseau taken early in the first round, Quincy Roche could be someone that the Bills target in next year’s draft. Above all, Roche should be able to thrive alongside Rousseau at Miami in 2020, making him an intriguing name to watch in the 2021 NFL Draft.
No. 27 — Philadelphia Eagles: Israel Mukuamu (CB, South Carolina)
Regardless of the trade for Darius Slay, Philadelphia still needs to strengthen their secondary. That makes a cornerback like Israel Mukuamu out of South Carolina a perfect choice in the first round for them. Instead of sticking with the options they have, the Eagles would be wise to address the cornerback position in 2021.
No. 28 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Richard LeCounte (S, Georgia)
The Buccaneers have done a remarkable job rebuilding their offense, adding Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to an already loaded group of skill players. On the other hand, Tampa Bay could address the defense, selecting Richard LeCounte.
No. 29 — New Orleans Saints: Tamorrion Terry (WR, Florida State)
New Orleans was able to ink a deal with Emmanuel Sanders this offseason, but he isn’t a long-term solution at wide receiver. In that case, taking Tamorrion Terry out of Florida State could give the heir apparent to Drew Brees a big-play wideout that averaged 20.3 yards per reception in his first two collegiate seasons.
No. 30 — Baltimore Ravens: Hamsah Nasirildeen (S, Florida State)
Every single year, Baltimore seems to select gritty and tough-nosed players that fit how their team is structured. Provided that, Hamsah Nasirildeen could be a viable choice, giving the Ravens a possible replacement for Earl Thomas.
No. 31 — San Francisco 49ers: Wyatt Davis (IOL, Ohio State)
The weakest aspect of San Francisco’s offense in 2019 was the interior of their offensive line. Seeing that, Wyatt Davis out of Ohio State would give them an immediate boost in the trenches next year.
No. 32 — Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Barmore (IDL, Alabama)
The Chiefs are going to have to make some tough decisions in the future, including possibly letting Chris Jones walk in free agency in 2021. In an attempt to replace Jones, Kansas City could select Christian Barmore out of Alabama. If Barmore puts together an impressive year in 2020, he could decide to leave school a year early as a redshirt sophomore.