I love college football – maybe even more than the NFL. On Saturday I can be that overemotional maniac, screaming on Twitter, criticizing and cursing 19-year old kids who jump offsides and cost my Noles five yards. But I don’t go nuts trying to over-analyze the job of NFL scouts and G.M.s by watching a bunch of YouTube highlights.
So here we go with Cook’s first-round mock draft for 2021. Let’s see if I can keep my roll going from 2020.
Yeah, probably not.
1. Jaguars – Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
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No-brainer. Lawrence to the Jaguars to watch his career flounder or flourish in Jacksonville while being coached by Urban Meyer. I don’t have a lot of confidence that Meyer is the right guy, but Lawrence is the right pick here.
2. Jets – BYU QB Zach Wilson
Another pick that isn’t a surprise. The Jets are a bad franchise and a place that quarterbacks go to die. Well, not die, but certainly not prosper. Maybe Wilson makes it in the Big Apple.
There will be a lot of discussion in the war from in Atlanta next Thursday night. G.M. Terry Fontenot wants a QB while head coach Arthur Smith would prefer to address other positions. While it could be Mac Jones or Trey Lance, the smart play here is Pitts, who might be the best player in the draft.
5. Bengals – Oregon LT Penei Sewell
While not a sexy pick, keeping Joe Burrow upright needs to be the priority of the Bengals, who already saw Chase Young knock Burrow out of commission before his rookie season ended.
6. Dolphins – LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase
The Dolphins will strongly consider adding another Alabama first-rounder to team up with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but go with Chase, possibly most complete receiver in this draft.
7. Lions – Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle
Another season, another Top 10 pick for the Lions. Detroit needs help everywhere but chooses a weapon for new QB Jared Goff. Waddle can fly.
8. Panthers – North Dakota State QB Trey Lance
The Panthers bailed on Teddy Bridgewater after one season, and might bail on Sam Darnold before the season starts as they see Trey Lance and Mac Jones on the board still. Rhule wants a dynamic player under center and Lance will be the pick.
9. Broncos – Alabama QB Mac Jones
Jones ends up being the fifth quarterback taken in the Top 10, proving how desperate teams are to find the next Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes. He’ll battle Drew Luck for the starting job, and likely win.
10. Cowboys – Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II
The Cowboys need help in a lot of areas, but this pick will make new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn very happy. Dallas needs a cover corner.
11. Giants – Alabama WR DeVonta Smith
The Giants are firmly committed to Daniel Jones at QB – at least for one more year. So why not give him one of the top play-makers in college football?
12. Eagles – Penn State LB Micah Parsons
Despite some NFL teams questioning his character, Parsons is a heat-seeking missile to the football and the Eagles take a gamble here.
13. Chargers – Virginia Tech LT Christian Darrisaw
L.A. found its franchise quarterback last season. Now the Chargers have to find a way to protect him. Darrisaw fills that need.
14. Vikings – Miami EDGE Jaelan Phillips
This isn’t an overly strong class for edge rushers, so teams probably draft them earlier than rankings. Phillips is one of the best and the Vikings need the help.
15. Patriots – Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye
The Patriots wanted a quarterback out of this draft but couldn’t convince a team to give up an earlier pick. So they’ll settle for a pass rusher and Paye’s a good one. New England will opt to address the QB position on Day 2.
16. Cardinals – Northwestern OL Rashawn Slater
The Cardinals desperately need a tight end. But with Pitts gone, they settle for an offensive lineman. Slater can play guard or tackle. They will cross their fingers the second round gifts them Pat Freiermuth.
17. Raiders – Tulsa LB Zaven Collins
The Gruden-Mayock experiment isn’t going exactly as planned in Las Vegas, as they have been all over the place with their drafts. Collins is another interesting pick, but it does fill a need for a defense that wasn’t very physical or athletic last season.
18. Dolphins – Alabama RB Najee Harris
The Dolphins continue to surround Tua with weapons and in a surprising pick, they take Harris over Clemson running back Travis Etienne.
19. Washinton Football Team – TCU S Trevon Moehrig
Ron Rivera is a defensive-minded coach that wants physical play on that side of the ball. The Washington Football team addresses that with Moehrig who fills a need in the secondary.
20. Bears – Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore
Another year, another new quarterback under center in Chicago. This time it’s the “Rooster” Andy Dalton, who needs weapons to throw the ball to. Matt Nagy needs a Hail Mary to keep his job and hopes Moore provides that.
21. Colts – Oklahoma State RT Teven Jenkins
The Colts know they need to protect new starter Carson Wentz and get better at tackle with Jenkins, who steps right in as an immediate starter.
22. Titans – South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
Horn is arguably the best corner in the draft and the Titans can’t believe he falls to Tennessee at No.22.
23. Jets – Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh
Perhaps one of the best defensive athletes in the entire draft, the talent-starved Jets take Oweh despite the fact he recorded zero sacks in 2020.
24. Steelers – Clemson RB Travis Etienne
The Dolphins may regret not taking Etienne but the Steelers are happy to see him available. Adding Etienne gives the Pittsburgh offense a big boost.
25. Jaguars – Florida RB/WR Kadarius Toney
You can take the coach out of Ganesville but you can’t … well you get the picture. Meyer heads an hour down the road and nabs the talented and versatile Toney.
26. Browns – Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II
The Browns have a very solid roster even before the draft, but get even better by adding Newsome to their defensive backfield.
27. Ravens – USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker
Versatile and solid, Vera-Tucker gives the Ravens a big physical body to help keep Lamar Jackson healthy.
The Saints need a cornerback but see their top choices gone. So they take another need position with a talented linebacker-safety hybrid in Owusu-Koramoah.
29. Packers – Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley
This pick is a bit of a gamble as there are some concerns about Farley’s health but not his talent. Farley is one of the best corners in the draft and the Packers are jumping up and down to see him still on the board.
30. Bills – Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr.
After a strong run of cornerbacks, the Bills are left with Samuel as the best one left on the board and welcome the former FSU standout to Buffalo.
31. Ravens – Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari
The Ravens could use an edge rusher after losing both Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon in free agency. Ojulari will need to step in right away and rush the passer as a rookie.
32. Buccaneers – Kentucky ILB Jamin Davis
While I think there is a good chance the Bucs trade out of the first round, for the sake of this article I have them sticking to their guns and drafting the best player available. Taking Davis here fortifies a not-so-deep linebacker unit. Davis only had 11 starts in college, but won’t be pressed into duty right away, allowing for time to develop and learn Todd Bowles scheme. The fast and athletic Davis is great in coverage and will be the heir apparent to Lavonte David in Tampa Bay.
Rest of The Bucs’ Picks
Round 2, Pick 64 – Alabama C Landon Dickerson
If not for his injury history, Dickerson would have been a Top 20 pick. The Bucs are thrilled to see the Alabama leader and mauler still available and will let him fully recover from an ACL sitting behind Ryan Jensen in 2021.
Round 3, Pick 95 – Stanford QB Davis Mills
Tampa Bay eventually has to start thinking about the future under center and Mills is the pick here. Mills will have at least a year – probably two – before he even has to think about seeing the field. That gives Mills time to learn and develop, while giving the Buccaneers time to evaluate what they have.
Round 4, Pick 137 – Miami OLB Quincy Roche
The Bucs need another edge rusher and find one in Roche, who doesn’t wow anyone with his measureables 6-3, 245, 4.68). But the former Temple star was highly productive in the backfield with 54 tackles for loss, 30.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles in his career.
Round 5, Pick 176 – Texas A&M DT Bobby Brown III
Defensive tackle pickings are slim in the 2021 draft, but the Bucs hope they found a diamond in the rough with Brown. The Aggies standout has a super quick get off and ideal size and can work his way into a few reps as the season progresses.
Round 6, Pick 217 – UCF WR Jacob Harris
Harris is 6-5, 219 pounds but has deceptive speed that can lull defenders into thinking he isn’t as fast as he really is. While far from a polished product, Harris averaged a whopping 20.1 yards per catch over his last two seasons at UCF.
Round 7, Pick 251 – Stanford OL Drew Dalman
Dalman played both guard positions and center for Stanford, so his versatility will be attractive for teams looking for line depth. Dalman is probably more suited for a zone-blocking scheme so he could have a difficult time transitioning to Tampa Bay’s power scheme.
Round 7, Pick 259 – BYU TE Matt Bushman
Bushman led BYU in receiving for two seasons before an Achilles injury derailed his final year. He is a developmental prospect with plenty to work on but his game tape shows excellent hands and a solid ability to settle into zones.