Harrison Final 4.0 NFL Mock Draft: Don’t Overthink It
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said the confidence level for his final mock draft is pretty low. I'm kind of in the same boat.
This year's draft is primed for chaos with three serious choke points at picks three through six. Add in the fact that seven teams are interested in five quarterbacks, this one is gonna get ugly.
Still, mock drafts aren't meant to be 100% accurate. No, instead they're a gauge for us all to get an idea of what might happen. That's what I aim to do here with my final mock draft.
I analyzed the rumors, the mock drafts and the reports, separated smoke screens from truth and have given my final, best guess at the 2021 NFL Draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
New head coach Urban Meyer can act like he weighed his options, but he didn't leave that sweet gig at FOX Sports for anyone other than Trevor Lawrence.
Instead of leaving this pick as a one sentence joke of analysis though, Lawrence really is the guy for Jacksonville. Suffice to say, this is a team that has found playoff success recently and can build a team quickly. There are young pieces in place and the weaker positions have formidable players in place.
Yes, the Jags only won a single game last year, but if Meyer and company make the most of its share of draft picks, the Jags could be right back in the thick of it with Lawrence.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
It doesn't have to make sense, but it is the pick. Hell, even Jets fans themselves have fooled themselves into believing Zach Wilson will break a longstanding tradition of overwhelmingly disappointing draft picks.
Still, if there's a guy that can do it, Wilson checks a lot of boxes to make a case to be that guy. The Jets made solid offseason moves this year, and Robert Saleh shapes up to be the kind of coach to bring this team together.
If ever there was a wait and see pick in this draft, this is it.
3. San Francisco 49ers (From MIA via HOU): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
I stand firm in my belief that the San Francisco 49ers have pulled off one of the greatest smoke screens in NFL Draft history. Justin Fields is the second best quarterback in the draft and head coach Kyle Shanahan knows it.
If I am wrong and it is Mac Jones, though, this draft will be chaotic as teams scramble to get Fields.
Regardless of which quarterback it is, he will be going to the best situation any rookie quarterback can ask for. No one will argue about that.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Sometimes all you can do is take the best player in the draft that doesn't play quarterback and hope it doesn't blow up in your face. The Falcons probably don't feel quite as half empty as that first sentence, but it doesn't change the fact that they have an incredibly difficult decision to make.
If they want to compete now without giving up the fourth overall pick though, this is the only way to do it.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
This makes three teams in the top five where what they will do makes little sense against what they should do, but the decision is still understandable from abroad perspective.
The Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow love Ja'Marr Chase, and who could blame them? Cincy can get away with this one because the offensive line class is so deep. The front office should strongly consider trading back into the first round to secure an offensive lineman if this is the pick.
6. Miami Dolphins (From PHI): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
It's foolish to overthink DeVonta Smith. The Miami Dolphins are out of the foolish business. The team is high on him, and Tua Tagovailoa already has a relationship with the guy.
Don't overthink it.
7. Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Former Lions quarterback and ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky publicly pleaded with the Detroit front office to not take a wide receiver, but to instead select an offensive lineman. I hear those cries and agree.
Dan Campbell is a rough and tough dude and Penei Sewell fits that gritty attitude the new head coach is bringing to the Motor City.
8. Carolina Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Carolina isn't tied down long term to either Sam Darnold or Teddy Bridgewater (obviously, as he was traded just before I published the mock.) Regardless of what the 49ers do, the Panthers need to walk out of this draft with the quarterback of the future. Reportedly, the Panthers love Fields, so keep an eye out if the 49ers go Jones or Lance.
However, Trey Lance is not a consolation prize. He gets the chance to sit and learn uninterrupted from Joe Brady on how to be an NFL quarterback. With the kind of tools Lance brings to the table, one season with Brady in the lab will bring out the best in the young gunslinger.
9. Denver Broncos: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
This is where I save myself if the 49ers do take Mac Jones by saying I at least got the quarterback needy teams right by position.
All jokes aside, John Elway has been burned enough by bad quarterbacks. He has an inside scoop on Jones from Jerry Jeudy and is the kind of evaluator who would magnetize himself to Jones's intelligence, which has been all the rage here lately.
For what it's worth, this pick was made before the Broncos traded for Teddy Bridgewater, but published afterward. According to Adam Schefter, the Broncos may still be in the quarterback game on night one, similar to the Carolina Panthers.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
It's this simple for Dallas: take the best defensive player on the board. Wildly, the best defender doesn't come off the board until 10!
Patrick Surtain and Trevon Diggs will shut down the NFC East receivers collectively.
11. New York Giants: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Giants's defense played surprisingly well last year, but it's still missing commanding leadership and game-changing playmaking ability. Micah Parsons brings that and more to the linebacker position.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (From MIA via SF): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
One more for the run on defensive stars. Jaycee Horn is a stud and the Eagles will be happy to take him at 12, as tempting as Jaylen Waddle may be. Solid talent can be found in the second round to assist Jalen Hurts in the passing game. Now is the time to solidify a defensive backfield that can slow down the elite receivers in the NFC East.
13. Baltimore Ravens: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
TRADE: Baltimore trades its 27th, 94th, 2022 1st and 2022 4th picks to the Los Angeles Chargers for the 13th overall pick.
I kept kicking myself for not having a trade yet and then continued to kick myself for having the Chargers trade back to 27 with Rashawn Slater on the board. The best way to rationalize this move is taking notice at how well Justin Herbert played last year. With another year of production and a true training camp, Herbert has the ability to overcome some of the shortcomings in LA's offense.
Meanwhile, the Ravens didn't acquire the 31st overall pick from Kansas City to not make use of one of its late first-rounders to move up and take a playmaker. While Jaylen Waddle isn't the traditional number one Baltimore eyed in free agency, he is a playmaker that will open up the field for Lamar Jackson and company. At the very least, it's one more threat on a lethal offense that can score at any given moment.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Minnesota can wait on a pass rusher as plenty of options will be available in round two. Rashawn Slater is a top-10 talent that the Vikings would rush to the podium to select.
15. New England Patriots: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
If there's anything I've learned through this year's draft coverage, it's that Bill Belichick is even more unpredictable than he usually is. If Fields isn't the third overall pick, then I won't be surprised to see the Patriots move up to No. 4.
But, since I don't believe that to be the case, New England fails to move at all. Having felt the scorn of poor wide receiver selections in the past, it's best for Belichick to do what he does best: take the guy that everyone is scared to touch and coach him into the elite talent he can be. Christian Barmore would thrive under Belichick.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Arizona supposedly wants to trade up, but the capital just isn't there. Still, if grabbing an elusive playmaker is the plan, there are much worse consolation prizes than Elijah Moore. He's shifty and explosive and adds a dynamic piece to an already dangerous offense.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
While the linebackers Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Zaven Collins are very enticing to the Las Vegas Raiders, that offensive line needs serious help. Alijah Vera-Tucker can fit into multiple spots on the line and get to work immediately opening up holes for running back Josh Jacobs.
18. Miami Dolphins: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Miami Dolphins signed DJ Fluker, traded Ereck Flowers, and are reportedly moving right tackle Robert Hunt to guard. While it's been said in jest these moves were to shake up the Cincinnati Bengals plans at pick five, there's no doubt the Dolphins need offensive line help. Christian Darrisaw steps in easily at right tackle and becomes the blind side protector for Tua Tagovailoa.
19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Washington Football Team needs offensive help, most importantly at quarterback. However, in my final mock there weren't any teams willing to move. Washington already has an incredible defense, and adding a versatile weapon like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah won't be frowned upon.
Going this route does mean WFT needs to be more careful with its offensive selections in later rounds.
20. Chicago Bears: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Teven Jenkins is a mean dude and the Chicago Bears offense is short on mean dudes. Jenkins won't solve all of the problems on the offensive line, but he's about as good of a first step as Da Bears can ask for.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
This is the first time I'm mocking Samuel Cosmi in the first round, so I've got to preface this pick by saying the Colts need a tackle. Whether it's trading up for a true left tackle or taking a right tackle and moving Braden Smith from right to left there are no other options here for Indy.
Cosmi falls on the later, plugging in at right tackle. There are plenty of questions on Cosmi, but at this tier of offensive tackles it'll all come down to how the team sees these prospects.
22. Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Man, Caleb Farley can't catch a break. A top-15 prospect with two back surgeries and now he's caught COVID-19 and has to quarantine for the draft. When this guy gets healthy, he's going to wreck the football world. He's an incredible talent, and any cornerback needy team that passes on him will regret it.
23. New York Jets (From SEA): Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey has a quiet stock, but I think there's a reason behind it. There are literally no red flags on the guy and he is neck and neck with Landon Dickerson. Without the injury concerns that Dickerson has, I could see Humphrey slide into the first round.
New York is a great home with a rich tradition at center. When this team has a great center, it's traditionally pretty good. Starting another rebuild, it'd be wise to put the right center in front of the right quarterback.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
It's not like I'm not going to mock Najee Harris to the Steelers.
In all seriousness, Harris is a perfect fit for the Steelers in a variety of ways. Whether it's Matt Canada's new offensive scheme, the trends in recent drafts, or his leadership capabilities, if Harris is on the board at 24, he won't wait a moment longer to hear his name.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (From LAR): Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Like I said earlier, the Jaguars have capable pieces at most positions to begin this rebuild. The most glaring hole on the defense is safety, and this is the opening for the window to draft the best safety in the class, Trevon Moehrig.
26. Cleveland Browns: Rashad Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Rashad Bateman has the goods to be drafted much sooner than 26th overall. He also has the goods to go to a team that needs his services immediately. Cleveland doesn't have many needs, and will likely select the best player on the board. That's Bateman by a wide margin. One more weapon for Baker Mayfield helps close the gap between the Browns and the top of the AFC.
27. Los Angeles Chargers (From BAL): Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
I've seen edge rushers, cornerbacks, wide receivers and linebackers mocked to the Chargers. This team needs an offensive tackle. Each of these positions are relatively deep, so the Chargers can find some value by trading back and stocking up on picks.
Dillon Radunz is a versatile guy that can play anywhere on the line if needed, but he's good enough to try his hand at left tackle.
28. New Orleans Saints: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Greg Newsome is a great prospect, but he'd no doubt enjoy the opportunity to play alongside one of the best in the league. Marshon Lattimore can bring out the best in Newsome, and while Newsome will have to take on the bulk of the targets, he's good enough to handle it and grow as a player.
29. Green Bay Packers: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
The Packers have to draft a wide receiver eventually. Terrace Marshall is a solid option to pair with Davante Adams. Aaron Rodgers is coming off an MVP year without a great receiving corp just to spite his front office. This team is on the verge of being a Super Bowl winner, if the front office would just get behind its legendary quarterback.
30. Buffalo Bills: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
I always try to get Zaven Collins much higher in the draft, but it never seems to pan out. I see him going much higher than 30. Still, should the chips fall this way, Collins is a nasty addition to an already imposing defense. He can help off the ball and off the edge, freeing up many of the established playmakers in Buffalo's defense.
31. Baltimore Ravens (From KC): Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Pretty bold to wait until pick 31 for the first true edge rusher to come off the board, but the fact of the matter is that this edge class is hard to gauge. None stand above the rest and all come with red flags. The second round will be full of these guys though, and the edge rush needy teams are right here with Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Kwity Paye is the safest edge rusher in my book, so he's here for Baltimore.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
While I wouldn't be shocked to see the Buccaneers trade back, but should Tampa Bay stay put, depth on the defensive front is the way to go. Jaelen Phillips is the best edge rusher if not for injuries. Him being a reserve on this defense makes the pick a bit more safe.
And there we have it, the final mock draft of the 2021 season. I'm surprised I only found one trade after finding so many in my first three. However, reports seem to indicate a lot of teams are happy right where they are.
As for the Crimson Tide, this is also the first time I haven't mocked a record-breaking seven Alabama alumni in the first round. I do think tying the record is the most likely scenario this year, unfortunately.
We'll watch it unfold Thursday night though. And you can watch or listen along with us at Tide 100.9 for a special edition of Tidal Talk with James Ludeman, Tommy Paradise and myself for an 2021 NFL Draft special where we'll follow the draft and react in real time. So tune in to Tide 100.9 Thursday night starting at 6 p.m. for all the triumph and heartbreak.
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