With most of 2021 NFL First Round Draft Order Officially Established With 18 non-playoff teams knowing where they’ll all pick in April, it’s time for a new special edition of Sporting News’ mock draft.
As he waits for the playoffs to unfold between the 14 teams still alive for Super Bowl 55 to completely determine the second half of the selections. It’s time to focus on thinking about what the teams already on the clock will think.
From the most obvious at the top to some tricky picks just outside the top 10, here’s a quick look in early January at how the numbers 1-18 might work. The updated preliminary order comes courtesy of Tankathon:
2021 NFL Simulated Draft
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)
- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (6-6, 220 pounds)
Lawrence didn’t have the best finish in his college career, but he lived up to the expectations of being a generational talent at the job, the second in a row after Joe Burrow. He’s a great leader and winner as well as being a passer with strong arms and a capable tough runner. Lawrence will clean up the mess for the Jaguars QB, attached to a new coach, potentially former college big winner Urban Meyer. Lawrence can be successful immediately if the Jaguars have a decent offensive line and top young players like James Robinson, DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault Jr.
2. New York Jets (2-14)
- Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 233 pounds)
Fields wasn’t having the second biggest season for the Buckeyes on the Big Ten play, but he saved his absolute best love in the NFL to light up Clemson and surpass Lawrence with a dazzling performance in the college football playoff semifinal. Sam Darnold may not have gotten the best shake up with things around him that now got Adam Gase fired, but he doesn’t have the kind of roof that Fields has nonetheless. Fields can quickly help New York catch up with the Bills (Josh Allen) and perhaps move on to the Dolphins (Tua Tagovailoa) with his immense natural physical talent.
MORE: Why Trevor Lawrence is a better fit with the Jaguars than the Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (from the Texans by Laremy Tunsil)
- Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (6-1, 208 pounds)
Chase opting out of the LSU mess after Joe Burrow’s season was a good move to preserve his stock as arguably the best receiver in the class, even though he has stiff competition for that state with a duo from Alabama. Chase recorded 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 TDs during the national championship season and may join former teammate Justin Jefferson in lighting up the NFL as a versatile playmaker. The Dolphins could use him as a true major player for Tagovailoa to support DeVante Parker, just as Jefferson played well with Adam Thielen as a rookie.
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
- Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan (6-4, 272 pounds)
The Falcons need to invest heavily in their pass defense (again) in the 2021 draft. They need to hit someone who can chase the quarterback and dominate physically and athletically against offensive tackles. Paye is a freak of nature and has quickly rocketed up the draft boards. It’s hard not to think of a Ziggy Ansah and Jason Pierre-Paul combination in that regard.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
- By Sewell, OT, Oregon (6-5,325 pounds)
Better protecting Burrow while simultaneously boosting the running game up front has to be a priority for Zac Taylor’s team. Sewell is the exact type of rock the Bengals need and they shouldn’t hesitate to jump on him if he’s on the board. After Lawrence to the Jaguars, his availability would make Sewell the easiest pick in the first round.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)
- Micah Parsons, ILB, Penn State (6-3, 245 pounds)
The Eagles got some glimpses from Alex Singleton, but otherwise had glaring defensive weakness in linebacker, struggling both to clean up the run and for second-tier pass coverage. They can stay in the state to get an energetic playmaker at Parsons, looking to match value with need versus being a wide receiver. Parsons is a tough cleaning man and he covers well in the game-changing mold of Luke Kuechly.
MORE: The biggest flops in the history of the NFL Draft
7. Detroit Lions (5-11)
- DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (6-1, 175 pounds)
The Lions got a nice final stretch from Marvin Jones Jr. with Kenny Golladay (hip) on the shelf for most of the season, but Jones is also heading into his 32-year season as a free agent. It makes sense to think of a high-level replacement who can form a great new combination with Golladay for Matthew Stafford (or whoever is at QB for a new coach). Smith has picked up what he left off last season to become Heisman Trophy worthy. He has 105 receptions for 1,641 yards and 20 TDs in 12 games this season.
8. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
- Zach Wilson, QB, BYU (6-3, 210 pounds)
Wilson has had an exceptional season with his precision and downfield passing to emerge as the third-best QB prospect in the draft class after Lawrence and Fields. Teddy Bridgewater did well as a quarterback for the Panthers out of necessity, but there are also indications that they have a limited ceiling with him and should consider replacing him by 2022 with a longer-term solution. Wilson would be a strong brain fit for Joe Brady’s offense.
9. Denver Broncos (5-11)
- Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech (6-2, 207 pounds)
The Broncos had a shaky cornerback game with aging AJ Bouye as their best outside option. They’ll also think about increasing their edge passing speed even more, but they won’t miss any closing potential for the secondary either. Farley was one of the first big prospects to opt out of his final college season. He has a large size and strong coverage skills for the position.
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
- Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama (6-2, 203 pounds)
Surtain, with his pedigree, size, and ball-selling skills, has the potential to be a true close-range player. The Cowboys’ secondary has been terrible without Byron Jones and Surtain would be a good complement to Alabama’s Trevon Diggs product. Jerry Jones needs to focus on propping up the rear end first in the process of fixing the defense.
MORE: Biggest Steals in NFL Draft History
11. New York Giants (6-10)
- Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (6-6, 260 pounds)
The Giants are strong in the middle defensively and look much better at cornerback, but they are in desperate need to hit their old calling card on the edge with Dave Gettleman. Rousseau, who opted out of the Hurricanes season, didn’t really need to play to boost his stock after posting 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles per loss in his only significant final season under defensive-minded head coach Manny Diaz.
12. San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
- Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (6-4, 226 pounds)
Lance is slowly climbing the boards with his huge mouth. As more teams watch tapes from his only statistically brilliant season as a starter (2,786 passing yards, 28 TDs, no interceptor, 1,100 rushing yards, 14 TDs), it’s harder to ignore the impressive physical and athletic abilities he displayed in his first season. complete. of action. The 49ers can get out of Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract and need to target the QB roof to better dominate with their array of offensive talent, including George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Lance’s run would add a dangerous new element to Kyle Shanahan’s scheme and he has the head, the quick release, and the precision to handle passing accuracy.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9)
Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech (6-5, 314 pounds)
The Chargers know they have a potentially special quarterback in Justin Herbert and they have pretty good skill players to back him up. But it’s imperative that they upgrade their lead pass protection to their already established young franchise passer. Darrisaw has entered the first-round mix as of late with outstanding athleticism that can help him become a long-term smooth and agile pass protector in the NFL.
14. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
- Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwest (6-4, 315 pounds)
The Vikings should think about saving money at left tackle and also replacing Riley Reifff with an improvement that can help both Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook. Slater, who opted out of his final season with the Wildcats, is rapidly climbing back up the boards with his overall skill set receiving more attention. He held more than his against Washington defensive rookie of the year Chase Young in a college matchup.
MORE: The Most Painful NFL Draft Slides of the Last 20 Years
15. New England Patriots (7-9)
- Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (5-10, 182 pounds)
Waddle played just four games before his season-ending ankle injury and still recorded 25 receptions for 557 yards and 4 TDs. The Patriots have had a tough time with wide receivers, except for Jakobi Meyers, and they need a big hit at position. Taking advantage of Nick Saban and Alabama is usually good for Bill Belichick and he can’t afford to go back and forth in search of playmakers to power up whoever his next quarterback is.
16. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8)
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame (6-2, 216 pounds)
The Raiders invested in linebackers with big money deals for Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski in free agency, but they still need to be more active and versatile at the second level to help their struggling defense in every way. Owusu-Koramoah covers like a defensive back and has room to become a physical running stopper.
17. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
- Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (6-6, 246 pounds)
The Cardinals got a very good play from Dan Arnold down the stretch for Kyler Murray, but with Larry Fitzgerald on the brink of retirement, they need a true youngster in midfield to play well against DeAndre Hopkins. Pitts, a wide receiver hybrid, would be ideal, with the potential to be to Murray what Mark Andrews is to Lamar Jackson. Pitts recorded 770 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 43 receptions, a rare field stretcher for the position, as well as a dominant force in the red zone.
18. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
- Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State (6-4, 315 pounds)
The Dolphins need to be more athletic and shore up their inside pass protection while gaining an asset with considerable advantage as run blockers. Davis may be an elite inside blocker in the NFL and has already shown a lot along the way to pave the way for the Buckeyes’ prolific running game before deciding to return to what could be a national championship-winning season.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.