Three. More. Days. That’s how long we have until the real-life, actual 2021 NFL Draft occurs in Cleveland. The Bucs will pick 32nd in the draft order for the first time in franchise history on Thursday night. Until then, you’ll have to settle for my final mock draft, as I project all 32 picks with several trades. Five quarterbacks come off the board in the Top 10.
Remember, this is a predictive mock draft, not necessarily what I would do. Armed with that knowledge, give me all of your hate.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Jacksonville came out and selected a different quarterback? A move like that would immediately make this the most dramatic draft ever. It won’t happen though, as Lawrence is far too talented to pass on, even if there are still areas he can improve.
2. New York Jets – BYU QB Zach Wilson
This is another situation where a pivot to Justin Fields would be humorous, although Wilson appears to be the obvious selection for the Jets. There is no denying Wilson’s talent due to impressive accuracy, arm strength and a terrific deep ball, but he will need to improve his mental processing and maintain consistent mechanics from the pocket in order to reach his peak in the NFL. I think he’s more boom or bust than many are talking about right now. But working with Mike LaFleur could be huge for his development in the NFL.
3. San Francisco 49ers – North Dakota State QB Trey Lance
North Dakota State QB Trey Lance – Photo by: USA Today
I refuse to believe the 49ers gave up all that they did in order to draft Mac Jones. He is a good prospect without a great ceiling. Yet it also appears the 49ers are no longer considering Justin Fields at No. 3, so I’ll split the difference with Lance heading to San Francisco. The North Dakota State signal caller has been praised for his smarts, arm strength, athleticism and leadership abilities. But in order to make this pick look good, it will be his accuracy that needs to improve. Lance has never really had to carry a team, nor has he faced much great competition. So the NFL will be a big step up for him. It’s a huge risk for the 49ers over the more sure thing in Fields, but Lance is talented enough to make it pay off.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Florida TE Kyle Pitts
The Falcons will consider Fields at No. 4. But I think they might want to try to crack open the win-now window one more time with Matt Ryan before they move on. Adding Kyle Pitts, arguably the best player in the draft, to a group that features Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst is a pretty good start to setting Ryan up for success.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase
It’s fair to say Cincinnati should consider an offensive tackle at No. 5, but it’s a deeper class at tackle than receiver. Reuniting Chase with Joe Burrow seems like a dream scenario. The things Chase was doing to future No. 1 NFL cornerbacks in the SEC at 19 years old should be more revered than they are. He’s a great prospect and the perfect pick for Cincy at No. 5. They can come back and help the offensive line in Round 2.
6. Miami Dolphins – Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle
The Dolphins can also reunite their quarterback with one of his favorite college targets. Waddle joins a group that includes Devante Parker, Preston Williams and Will Fuller (on a one-year deal). Waddle can take the top off a defense with or without the ball in his hands. He’s already a little more polished than he’s given credit for. He should be an instant impact player if the Dolphins offense can step up around him.
7. **TRADE** New England Patriots – Ohio State QB Justin Fields
Patriots Trade No. 15 (1st), No. 96 (3rd) and a 2022 1st to the Detroit Lions for No. 7 (1st)
Ohio State QB Justin Fields – Photo by: USA Today
I strongly believe the Patriots will not sit idly by while Fields slides down the board. Nor will they be the only suitors to move up to No. 7 or No. 8. New England already set its franchise up at several key positions by spending a ton of money in free agency. But Cam Newton is in the twilight of his career, and Fields has all the tools to be a star. Giving up next year’s first-rounder and a late third-rounder is a no-brainer for this kind of value.
8. **TRADE** Los Angeles Chargers – South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
Chargers trade No. 13, No. 77 (3rd) and No. 118 (4th) to Panthers for No. 8 (1st)
Chargers GM Tom Telesco has traded up four times since he joined Los Angeles. I think he’s going to be aggressive for a cornerback in this draft. As much as they have struggled over the years, the Chargers have always prioritized their secondary, which is hurting right now after a miserable season. Pairing Horn with a healthy Derwin James would give the Chargers the defensive backfield they have tried to create for years. It would also give new head coach Brandon Staley an alpha cornerback in the same mold as Jalen Ramsey, who he used brilliantly during his one year as defensive coordinator with the Rams.
Some will think the Chargers could make the jump up for Penei Sewell, and they may choose to reunite the left tackle with Justin Herbert. But if L.A. can pull off this trade and still hang onto the No. 47 pick in a deep tackle class, I think that would be their preference.
9. Denver Broncos – Alabama QB Mac Jones
The Broncos could move up for Jones, but will they need to? If Jones gets past San Francisco, I can’t see a team stopping his fall unless New England prefers him to Justin Fields – which I doubt. Jones is a good quarterback with impressive mental processing and the ability to play with anticipation. That’s a vital trait considering his lack of athleticism and arm strength don’t give him much room for error. He’s an upgrade over Drew Lock, but Denver should be aggressive for a better quarterback.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Alabama CB Patrick Surtain Jr.
I know there are reports the Cowboys could move back a few spots, but with five quarterbacks off the board in the first nine picks, interest has waned from other teams. Also, Dallas might not want to move back behind teams that could take Surtain, Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater – their three likely targets at No. 10. If they stay at No. 10, I think it’s a decision between Surtain and Slater. In the end, their need at cornerback is much greater. And the opportunity to pair Trevon Diggs with his college running mate is one Dallas doesn’t want to pass on.
11. New York Giants – Alabama WR Devonta Smith
I’m still not completely certain the Giants select Smith. Their receiving corps of Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard is pretty strong. But they can move on from Shepard at anytime and Slayton is still an unknown. Maybe Daniel Jones is the answer, maybe not. The best way to find out in time for next year’s draft is to give him an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver, and adding Smith definitely does that.
12. Philadelphia Eagles – Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater
The Eagles need to start getting younger, healthier and better on their offensive line. Slater could compete with Andre Dillard to start at left tackle, or take over for Isaac Seumalo at left guard. Philly’s O-line has struggled to stay healthy. And they can’t afford to be caught with a broken down unit during a critical year in Jalen Hurts’ development. With Surtain, Horn and the top offensive weapons off the board, this is an easy choice for G.M. Howie Roseman.
13. **TRADE** Carolina Panthers – Oregon OT Penei Sewell
Chargers trade No. 13, No. 77 (3rd) and No. 118 (4th) to Panthers for No. 8 (1st)
The Panthers played the odds, moved back five spots in the draft and still got a player they would have been happy with at No. 8 in Sewell. No, Sewell isn’t a finished product. The NFL will be a big step up from most of the pass rushers he saw in the PAC-12. But he’s an exceptional talent with the upside to be special considering he won’t turn 21 for several months. Sewell should step into the starting lineup immediately opposite Taylor Moton.
14. Minnesota Vikings – USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker
The Vikings might be disappointed they missed out on Sewell and Slater by a couple picks, but trade opportunities dried up when five quarterbacks were drafted in the first nine picks. That led to a bunch of premier players at other positions sliding into the early teens. One of which is Vera-Tucker, who might be the best offensive lineman in the draft. He could play a number of spots on Minnesota’s offensive line, but why not try him at left tackle first? If the Vikings don’t share that feeling, Vera-Tucker can slide in at left guard, too.
15. **TRADE** Detroit Lions – Notre Dame SS-LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Patriots Trade No. 15 (1st), No. 96 (3rd) and a 2022 1st to the Detroit Lions for No. 7 (1st)
I have no clue who the Lions are going to take if the draft unfolds this way over the first 14 picks. But I feel strongly that it will be a wild card selection. This is high for a player whose full-time role is hard to pin down. But Owusu-Koramoah is a culture-changing type of player who will make an impact as a slot defender, blitzer and ferocious overhang run defender while learning how to play as a stacked linebacker. Brad Holmes hails from a Los Angeles Rams organization that wanted linebackers that could run and hit over being elite off-ball run defenders. Just a hunch, but I think he’ll really like Owusu-Koramoah in a trade-back situation.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley
Farley’s stock has seesawed with his medical reports this offseason, as a back injury and a 2020 season opt-out could have him sliding down the board for many teams. But Farley is too talented to fall far. And Arizona is desperate for a cornerback opposite Byron Murphy in Vance Joseph’s defense. Malcolm Butler is a stopgap option and Farley has an elite ceiling thanks to his athletic traits and ball skills. He needs some seasoning, which he can get before being thrown to the wolves in Arizona.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Alabama DT Christian Barmore
Alabama DT Christian Barmore – Photo by: USA Today
This is a popular mock draft pick right now, and one look at the Raiders depth chart should tell you why. Their top three defensive tackles are Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson and Johnathan Hankins. Barmore is a risk the Raiders really need to pay off, especially as a pass rusher.
18. Miami Dolphins – Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye
The Dolphins are a complete enigma when it comes to pass rushers, showing little regard for the position during the Chris Grier-Brian Flores regime of the past couple years. That has to change moving forward. However, as right now their pass rush is in the hands of Emmanuel Ogbah, Andrew Van Ginkel and Brennan Scarlett. This is the NFL, and that just isn’t going to fly. Paye is raw, but the Dolphins will need him to grow up fast. He’s physical and highly athletic, which bodes well for his future if he can get good coaching.
19. Washington – Tulsa LB Zaven Collins
This is another popular mock draft pick that makes a lot of sense to me. I think Washington is more comfortable with its offensive line than outsiders are. And they have a few weapons in place for Ryan Fitzpatrick. The defense is set outside of linebacker, and Collins can provide them with their missing link on the second level for years to come. Collins can also feast as a blitzer behind Washington’s ferocious front four. And he should be a perfect asset in coverage for Ron Rivera’s zone-heavy defense.
20. Chicago Bears – Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins
I wouldn’t rule out this landing spot for receiver Elijah Moore or cornerback Greg Newsome. But if the Bears can fill their hole at right tackle with a player like Jenkins, it would be hard to pass on him at No. 20. Jenkins’ 2020 tape is outstanding. If things don’t work out at tackle, he can be an elite right guard in the NFL, where the Bears also have question marks.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw
The Colts make it five offensive linemen in the last 10 picks, selecting Darrisaw with the 21st pick. Darrisaw has all the talent in the world and can destroy opponents with his quickness and power – when he wants to. I think the Colts trust their young leaders in Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelly to get the most out of Darrisaw’s elite traits. There’s some risk in this pick, but the Colts are the right culture for Darrisaw to step into.
22. Tennessee Titans – Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore
How about reuniting A.J. Brown with his old college teammate in Moore? The 4.4 speedster has some of the best hands in the draft. Moore is one of the best prospects despite his size, consistently dominating top-tier competition in the SEC as an inside or outside receiver.
23. New York Jets – Northwestern CB Greg Newsome
Northwestern CB Greg Newsome – Photo by: USA Today
The Jets have one of the worst cornerback rooms I’ve ever seen at this point in an offseason. Otherwise I would be very temped to stop Micah Parsons’ slide here. Newsome is a fiesty competitor with scheme versatility, ball skills and toughness. This would be a terrific pick for the Jets at No. 23, provided Newsome can stay healthy.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alabama RB Najee Harris
I’m open to the board falling differently in this mock draft and Pittsburgh selecting one of the best remaining offensive linemen in the draft or a cornerback at No. 24. But with the top four corners gone and the consensus top five offensive linemen also off the board in this mock draft, the options are few. Everything about Harris screams Pittsburgh Steeler, from his running style to his size to his personality. The smart move would be to trade back if the board fell this way, but I don’t see G.M. Kevin Colbert doing that.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars – TCU S Trevon Moehrig
The Jaguars desperately need upgrades at safety, and Moehrig can provide that while also being able to step into the slot. Jacksonville’s defense is suddenly full of talent as they try to return to their recently-held glory, but the unit is still in desperate need of development this season.
26. Cleveland Browns – Penn State LB Micah Parsons
Parsons is an immense talent who most will be shocked to see fall this far, but there are alleged character concerns at a position that isn’t typically valued that high anyway. It only takes one team to take the risk, so maybe Parsons goes off the board higher than this mock draft has him on Thursday. But if he slides, Cleveland might be willing to take the risk given where they feel their culture is heading under Kevin Stefanski. Parsons’ ceiling is through the roof, but he does need to be kept clean or he could struggle as a run defender early in his career.
27. Baltimore Ravens – Miami EDGE Jaelan Phillips
Miami EDGE Jaelan Phillips – Photo courtesy of Miami
The Ravens always seem to do this, huh? Watching great players slide right to them. In this mock draft Baltimore sits at No. 27 and gets the best pass rusher in the draft. If Phillips’ character and past injuries check out, this could be the steal of the first round.
28. New Orleans Saints – Georgia CB Eric Stokes
The Saints have a desperate need at CB2 and WR2, and my guess is they’ll give draft priority to the secondary. New Orleans relies on having a ton of talent in their man-coverage heavy secondary, so adding Stokes makes a lot of sense. Although the Georgia corner could struggle with hard-breaking routes until he cleans up his footwork, it is extremely difficult to beat Stokes deep thanks to his speed and length at the catch point.
29. Green Bay Packers – LSU WR Terrace Marshall
This is it. After defying logic with their recent drafts, the Packers come back strong in 2021 and finally get Aaron Rodgers another legit weapon in the first round. Marshall is an impressive combination of size, length, speed and flashes of ball skills, but consistency and polish are needed. Rodgers and Davante Adams are probably a good duo to play with in order to become detail-oriented at your craft.
30. Buffalo Bills – Clemson RB Travis Etienne
We can clamor for the Bills to prioritize the pass rush or their no. 2 cornerback spot all we want. But I still think they are going running back in Round 1 in this mock draft. Etienne is a home-run threat out of the backfield who can also catch the ball at a high level in the passing game. He should provide a welcome underneath target for Allen in the passing game and a willing blocker in pass protection, too.
31. Baltimore Ravens – Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey
The Ravens could go right tackle, wide receiver or even cornerback at No. 31 in this mock draft, but I think they’ll fortify the interior offensive line with the addition of Humphrey. The Oklahoma stud is ultra-physical with a high football IQ, two things Baltimore prioritizes in its front five. Humphrey could step into the starting lineup as a rookie starter in the Ravens’ run-heavy offense.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Washington EDGE Joe Tryon
Washington OLB Joe Tryon – Photo courtesy of Washington
I’m not bullish on Tryon, but landing with the Bucs gives him a much better chance to succeed than most spots in the NFL. In Tampa Bay, Tryon can continue to develop behind Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, earning playing time sparingly as a much-needed No. 3 edge rusher. For the next year or two, Tryon’s presence could be a welcome depth addition. The question is if he’ll reach his ceiling in time to be a desirable full-time starter in the NFL.
Other players the Bucs could consider if the board falls like this mock draft: Georgia CB Tyson Campbell, Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh, Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman, Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg (to move to guard), UNC RB Javonte Williams and Alabama C Landon Dickerson, if his health checks out.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.