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2021 Final Mock Draft

NFL Christmas is upon us! Who will the Bengals—or your favorite team—find waiting under the tree tonight? I have your answers!

NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

We’re just hours away from the 2021 NFL Draft officially beginning, so now’s the time to release one final mock draft.

As with any mock, the key is the rules by which the picks are made. The first rule is I am assuming no trades. We know that won’t happen and I will immediately throw my mock into disarray, but for the purposes of this mock, we are pretending everyone stays where they are.

Also, key to this mock, I am not necessarily picking who I would take if I were the GM, but rather I am trying to guess who I think the teams will take. Therefore, these are my predictions for each pick, not necessarily who I would pick in each spot. With the rules laid out, let’s dig in!

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

That’s the pick.

2. New York Jets

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

A little less sure than the Lawrence pick, but nearly 100%. Do I think he is the second best player? Nope. But I think he will be the second player taken.

3. San Francisco 49ers (from Mia)

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Here is where it gets interesting. All the insiders believe the pick is Mac Jones. I just don’t see a team giving up that much capital for Jones. I don’t know a lot about Lance, but I do know he threw 287 passes in 2019 without throwing a pick, and protecting the ball is big in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and many think if Lance stayed in school this year, he would be the No. 1 pick next year. That is the type of player I think a team trades up for. I am not sold on Lance being a star, but I think he is the pick here.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The Falcons could take their quarterback of the future here, and it will be tempting, but, assuming they stay at pick four—a very big assumption—I think the pick is Pitts. Paired with their wide receiving corps and Matt Ryan, this could be a tough offense to stop.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Alright Bengals fans, I am Team Chase! Early in the year, I was Team Sewell, but this pick for me is about the best player available AND at a spot of need. I know they need to protect Joe Burrow, but:

  1. They now have two quality NFL tackles,
  2. They have a much improved offensive line coach
  3. Drafting Sewell (or any lineman for that matter) does not guarantee Joe not getting hurt
  4. The draft is more than one round and they can improve the line in round two and three
  5. They also need a No. 1 wide receiver...and speed!

As much as I love Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate, none of them are true do-it-all receivers and speed is not their strength. What the Bengals lacked last year was the deep ball. Chase is the best receiver in this stacked class by far, and we know he and Joe work well together...particularly on the deep ball! If Chase is there at five, I run to the podium and start looking to grab some solid interior lineman in rounds two and three.

6. Miami Dolphins (from Phi)

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

I could see the Dolphins taking Sewell here and a wide receiver later in round one if Pitts and Chase are gone, especially with them trading Ereck Flowers and moving Robert Hunt to guard, but I am sticking with a weapon for Tua Tagovailoa. I think the pick is close between Waddle and Smith, but in the end, I think they go for the explosive, big play potential of Waddle over the smooth reliability of Smith.

7. Detroit Lions

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Lions need a ton of help and it would probably behoove them to trade down and pick up picks, but, if they stay here, I think they are choosing between Smith and Justin Fields. In the end, I think they give Jared Goff a weapon so they can figure out whether or not they want to move forward and build around Goff, or start looking for a quarterback next year.

8. Carolina Panthers

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

The Panthers would be ecstatic if Sewell is one more so than Sam Darnold. If the Panthers want to see if Darnold is their guy, they can’t have Cameron Erving protecting his blindside.

9. Denver Broncos

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

I don’t believe the trade for Teddy Bridgewater will deter the Broncos from taking a first round quarterback. Rather than trade up, I think they made that trade for insurance in case one of the top five quarterbacks did not fall to them. In this scenario, I think they cut Lock and let Fields sit a year behind Bridgewater.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

I would be shocked if the Cowboys don’t go defense in the first round and at pick 10, they get the top defensive player on the board and help at the cornerback position, something they sorely need.

11. New York Giants

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

The Giants are another pivot point in this draft. If a receiver falls, I can see them going that direction. I could also see them looking for help on the defensive side of the ball. However, after letting Kevin Zeitler go and getting less than stellar play from last year’s top pick (Andrew Thomas), I think the Giants take Slater. Slater will start, it will just be a matter of where. Maybe he kicks inside, maybe Thomas kicks inside. Either way, this pick helps their line.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Mia)

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

The Eagles trading back this year was odd to me; especially since they aren’t willing to commit (at least publicly) to Jalen Hurts. They also are in dire need of a playmaker. At six, they could have either gotten a top quarterback or a big time playmaker. At 12, the top four receiving options are gone. I like Bateman and think he could end up being the second best receiver in this class, but it feels like they are reaching here and not helping Hurts as much as they could have.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

The Chargers have their franchise quarterback, but they need someone to protect his blind side. The experts seem to think Darrisaw is the best pass blocking tackle in this deep class, and who am I to argue? Seems like a perfect match here.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami

The Vikings were terrible pass protecting last season. They released one of their best pass protectors, Riley Reiff, and watched him later join the Bengals, so they could really use help on the offensive line. But with Sewell, Slater and Darrisaw gone, the next lineman on my board would be Alijah Vera-Tucker, and most think he is a guard and the other tackles seem like a reach here. We know Mike Zimmer is going to lean defense, and I think if they are debating between an edge guy and offensive lineman, they end up going edge.

15. New England Patriots

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jones seems like the perfect quarterback for Bill Belichick and low and behold, after all the talk of him going third or the Patriots trading up to get a quarterback, I have him falling right into their laps at 15!

16. Arizona Cardinals

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

With the loss of Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick, the Cardinals are in desperate need of help at the cornerback position and this year the board falls perfectly for them.

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

The Raider could use a lot, including offensive lineman, but with this pick, I think it comes down to a play making safety and a play making linebacker. Micah Parsons would also be a great fit for the Raiders and incredible value at 17, but a first round safety just seems to fit the Raiders MO.

18. Miami Dolphins

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

The Dolphins could use some help on the offensive line or an edge rusher, but with Parson still on the board, I think he is too good to pass up at this point. And they definitely could use a linebacker.

19. Washington Football Team

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Another team that could go offensive line, but, I think Ron Rivera goes defense here and takes the approach that this team is going to win with defense.

20. Chicago Bears

Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

There is not a quarterback at pick 20 who is going to be better than Andy Dalton, so that leaves three spots to look at: Offensive line, wide receiver, and cornerback. I think the most value at this point is at the cornerback position. That being said, we know that Dalton needs weapons and a clean pocket to succeed, so the Bears go with the lineman to try and give themselves the best shot at winning with Dalton.

21. Indianapolis Colts

Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State

The Colts could really use an edge rusher here and they could get some great value here at the edge position, but, with Anthony Castonzo retiring and Carson Wentz coming over shell-shocked from Philadelphia, the Colts have to try and protect his blind side. I think Radunz is a reach here, but he has potential and he is probably their best hope of finding a left tackle at this point of the draft and off season.

22. Tennessee Titans

Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi

To me, the Titans are going to be looking at corners and receivers at this spot, but after losing Corey Davis and Adam Humphries and having next to nothing behind A.J. Brown, they go with the receiver.

23. New York Jets (from Sea)

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

After the failure of the Sam Darnold era, I think the Jets are going to do all they can to surround their young quarterback with talent—something they never did with Darnold. I like the idea of taking a lineman here, but giving Wilson a big, explosive back like Harris, who can also catch out of the backfield, is a huge win... plus many have the Steelers taking Harris with next pick.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

It seems like everyone has the Steelers taking Harris with this pick, but even if he is on the board, I don’t see it. Yes their run game was terrible last year, but that was equally the result of a bad line as it was the running backs...a bad line that lost three starters! Drafting a running back in round one doesn’t fit the Steelers MO, and it leaves them with a rookie running back and old quarterback behind an even worse line. To me, this pick is between offensive line and edge rusher to replace Bud Dupree.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams)

Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

Getting the best defensive tackle in the draft at pick 25 just seems to good to pass up.

26. Cleveland Browns

Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan

I think the Browns will be going defense round one, the question is, will it be a corner to try and blanket the receivers they are likely to face in the AFC North, or another pass rusher to try and stop the other AFC North quarterbacks? I think they go with whomever they have as the top rated edger guy at this spot.

27. Baltimore Ravens

Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State

The Ravens need an offensive tackle and a wide receiver, but they can get one of those with their next pick and they could also use help on the edge. Baltimore taking an edge rusher with one of these two picks seems to make too much sense.

28. New Orleans Saints

Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

They could use a receiver here to pair with Michael Thomas, but the value at this point is with the corners. Rarely do you get starting-caliber corners outside of the first round. You can find quality No. 2 receivers later in this draft.

29. Green Bay Packers

Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

The Packers could use a receiver, but they seem opposed to ever give Aaron Rodgers a first-round weapon, so I am not going to break the streak this year. While Caleb Farley may be the better corner, selecting a guy coming off back surgery and putting him up in that cold seems like a risky pick to me.

30. Buffalo Bills

Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia

The Bills need help on the edge and at corner, but I think they go with the value at the edge position here.

31. Baltimore Ravens (from KC)

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

The Ravens aren’t going to be able to attract free agent receivers to Baltimore with that offense, so they are going to have to draft them. The explosiveness that a weapon like Toney could bring to an offense with Lamar Jackson could be scary.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

The Bucs don’t really have any holes, so they could go anywhere with this pick—including quarterback—but they have the luxury of taking a guy like Farley and letting him sit and slowly come back from his back surgery. Farley may very well be the best cornerback in this draft and getting him with the last pick of the first round is a steal.