I know all of you were probably worried I wasn’t gonna do a way-too-early mock draft like every other site does this time of year, but have no fear. Is it a disease to do a mock draft this early? Absolutely. But here it is anyway.
If you don’t think any of this can come true, let me remind you that it doesn’t matter and that we don’t know anything right now about the 2021 NFL Draft. Look at the first overall picks each of the past two drafts. Keep your mind open and think more about the player-team fits than who is going ahead of who.
Also, the draft order is based on the current Super Bowl odds. So I don’t hate your team as much as logic and math hate your team. Be angry with them – not me.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
I’m not saying I think Fields is better than Trevor Lawrence, because I don’t. I’m saying there might be a legitimate contingency in the NFL that would prefer the Ohio State quarterback to his ACC counterpart. Fields is mobile with good tools and accuracy for the position, but in order to assure NFL scouts that he can carry an offense, Ohio State needs to open up their passing game into more complicated concepts in 2021.
2. Washington Redskins: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Sewell was crowned as an elite prospect almost as fast as Trevor Lawrence was at quarterback, but like the Clemson signal caller, there are still technique and consistency issues to be worked out. Sewell’s physical and athletic tools for the position are rare though, and his peak plays are among the best you’ll see in an offensive tackle.
3. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
A.J. Green’s contract will be up after this season, and the Bengals would be wise to stock up on weapons for Burrow. Reuniting young quarterback Joe Burrow with his favorite college target would be awesome. How about Chase playing the role of Chase and Tyler Boyd playing the role of Justin Jefferson in Cincinnati’s new offense – with Tee Higgins in the third spot? Not too shabby.
4. New York Giants: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Rousseau did a lot of his best work as an interior rusher this past season, where his length, power and ability to play with leverage – despite being 6-foot-6 – brutalized guards and centers. I still have questions about his burst and speed up the arc, but Rousseau has the kind of physical tools and production that typically get selected high in the draft.
5. Miami Dolphins: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
I know people are having a hard time seeing Smith regarded this highly as a prospect, but the guy has been totally unstoppable against even top-tier competition the past two seasons. As much as I love Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, and both may be better prospects, no Alabama receiver was as good as Smith in 2019. Now he takes his elite route-running, speed and ball skills to reunite with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami.
6. New York Jets: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
The Jets really need cornerback help, and Wade is capable of playing inside and out at the next level. His decision to go back to school surprised some people, but I still think he can find his way into the first round next season.
7. Carolina Panthers: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Obviously Lawrence is going to be selected much higher than this, and if he makes it to the second overall pick, some team will risk it all for him. But since I’m not doing trades in this mock, Lawrence goes to the second QB-needy team on the list in Carolina. His tools and peak plays are among the best we’ve ever seen at the quarterback position, but Lawrence was plagued by bouts of inaccuracy and poor decision-making last season that must be rectified if he’s going to return to his true freshman form.
8. Detroit Lions: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Lions have endured horrendous linebacker play for years now, but Parsons is the player that can change all that. Few defensive players impressed me more last season than Parsons, who has the size and range teams covet at the next level.
9. Las Vegas Raiders: Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia
It remains to be seen what Newman is going to look like in a new offense against SEC competition, but everything we saw at Wake Forest gives us reason to set the bar high. His level of competition may be increasing, but Newman will also have weapons he never could have dreamed of with the Bulldogs.
10. Denver Broncos: Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
Denver might need a replacement for Garrett Bolles after this season, and Cosmi has been one of the best left tackles in college football for two years now. There might be questions about his length at the next level, but Cosmi’s has faced plenty of great pass rushers without getting beat very often, which bodes well for his hopes to stick at tackle.
11. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
To be honest, I’m little bit skeptical of Surtain’s pro prospects, as he got beaten in man coverage far more than you’d like to see last season. Still, he has size, speed and ball skills, which usually result in a high draft choice. If he has a bounce back season in 2020, the Top 10 could be within reach.
12. Miami Dolphins (from HOU): Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Freiermuth might be the best tight end in college football, and he could also be the missing ingredient to Miami’s passing attack. The Dolphins have not gotten what they expected out of Mike Gesicki so far, and if he can’t step up in 2020, they could be prioritizing his replacement in the 2021 draft.
13. Atlanta Falcons: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Etienne’s recent growth as a pass catcher is reason to be excited about his upside in that key area in 2020. He’s already a known commodity as a runner, with rare burst, acceleration and power for the position. He could be the replacement for Todd Gurley.
14. Chicago Bears: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Bears better hope they finish worse than this in 2020 so they can have a shot at one of the top quarterbacks in the class. There has been a lot of buzz around Lance’s stock since this past season when he threw 28 touchdowns and no interceptions, and the recent quarterback pedigree out of NDSU should only help his cause.
15. Cleveland Browns: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Waddle has elite speed and separation ability, and now he gets to move to the forefront of the Alabama passing attack along with Devonta Smith. It would not surprise me if he ends up being a Top 10 pick next spring due to his explosiveness.
16. Los Angeles Chargers: Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa
After passing on Jackson’s teammate Tristan Wirfs in this year’s draft, the Chargers come back and select the older Iowa tackle with their first round pick in 2021. Unless Trey Pipkins can prove he wasn’t a third-round reach in the 2019 draft, it would be shocking to see the Chargers fail to invest in offensive tackle next offseason.
17. Tennessee Titans: Jalen Twyman, DT, Pitt
Few interior pass rushers in college football have Twyman’s hands and ability to work to the edge of blockers on passing downs. He’s not overly explosive, but he knows how to attack offensive lineman and has unbelievable power to bulldoze his way to the pocket.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars (From Los Angeles Rams): Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Watch even a little of Bolton’s tape and you’ll see his coverage skills consistently on display. He’s a lean, lightweight linebacker, but the Jaguars have had that type of linebacker before in Telvin Smith, and Myles Jack may not be long for Jacksonville with the way they are jettisoning top players.
19. Minnesota Vikings: Carlos Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest
Basham was highly productive last season, but a lack of elite athletic traits may keep his stock down come draft time. This is a big season for Basham, as the NFL could be enduring a drought of edge rushing talent for the second straight offseason if players like Basham and others can’t take the next step in their games.
20. Buffalo Bills: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
I’m really not sure what to make of Adebo just yet, as he has flashes of high-end play, but I question his athleticism at the position. The Bills don’t care about that as much as some other teams do, and they may need a new running mate for Tre White next offseason.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Steelers haven’t utilized the draft to address the tight end position in a long time, but 2021 is when they finally stop messing around and find themselves an offensive weapon for the future. Pitts exploded onto the scene last season, but Florida’s offense could keep his full potential neutered until he gets to the NFL.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
Wilson is an absolute powerhouse of a defensive tackle, with elite power and better quickness than you’d expect given his size. His pass rush has started to improve, but can it take the next leap in 2020? The Colts made a big move to acquire DeForest Buckner, but the talent around him on the interior needs to be upgraded.
23. New England Patriots: Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
I don’t really have any idea what New England is going to do at quarterback, but I’m not comfortable mocking another one in the first round. The Patriots need to continue to add offensive weapons, and Ross has rare ball skills with more separation ability than New England got in N’Keal Harry in 2019.
24. Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
The Packers need to rebound from one of the worst drafts these eyes have ever seen, and Moore can be a big part of that. Run-after-catch options are sorely lacking in Green Bay, and few are better in that area than Moore.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee
An offensive lineman selection in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks that isn’t a reach? What world is this? Smith’s pass protection needs to take the next step in 2020, but in the run game, few in college football are better.
26. Philadelphia Eagles: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Jason Kelce will be 33 in November, and retirement could be on the horizon for the veteran center. Humphrey surprisingly returned to school for the 2020 season, but could be one of the highest-rated interior offensive linemen in the class next year.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
The Cowboys need versatility and ball skills in their secondary, and Holland brings both to the table. He’d be a great fit for the Cowboys’ ascending roster, if he lasts this long.
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Well, would you look at the Bucs all the way down here! While the interior offensive line and a quarterback of the future could be priorities, Barmore could fill a crucial need at defensive tackle next to Vita Vea. The Bucs desperately need more talent on the interior defensive line, and if Barmore puts together a standout season in a more full-time role at Alabama, they may need to trade up to get him.
29. New Orleans Saints: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Bateman will face speed concerns throughout the pre-draft process, but he’s an excellent route runner with elite ball skills. That’ll sell in the NFL, especially if he dominates college football in 2020 the same way he did in 2019.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
More ball production is needed from Horn in 2020, but his traits show up on tape consistently, and he’s a trendy pick for a big breakout year, much like Jeffrey Okudah had this past season for Ohio State. Horn isn’t as highly regarded, but the 49ers won’t mind nabbing him here as they search for more talent at cornerback.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Ravens have the weirdest group of wide receivers in the NFL, and if Marquise Brown continues to struggle to stay healthy, they’ll be in desperate need of some high-end talent next offseason. Olave has the route-running, length and ball skills on the outside that their current group lacks. Can he put on some muscle this offseason and take off in that Ohio State passing offense?
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Farley has gotten better every year at Virginia Tech, and 2020 might be the season that locks him into Round 1. The Chiefs are so talented on offense it might not matter, but they are playing a dangerous game putting such little talent out on the field at cornerback. Farley can help change that.