Mock Draft V. 1.0 – Harrison Sends Mac Jones Northeast
In a little over a month, March 17 to be exact, free agency will be open in the NFL. Until then, there's little more going on than mock drafts projecting where the next stars of the NFL will be selected.
The Alabama Crimson Tide year in and year out expect to have multiple first-round picks and 2021 is no different. Well, that is, except for the fact that most mock drafts are calling six Crimson Tide prospects' names in the first 32 picks. Should that projection come to fruition, Alabama will tie Miami's record for most first-rounders in a single draft.
My first mock expects nothing different.
So, without further ado, here's my first 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
The Jacksonville Jaguars have likely already filled out its draft card in preparations. Trevor Lawrence will be the first pick in the draft.
Sorry, Brett Favre, DeVonta Smith is going to have to wait for a few picks.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The 2021 NFL Draft unofficially begins with the second overall pick, and the New York Jets have a much harder decision on its hands than the Jaguars.
While selecting DeVonta Smith or Penei Sewell would be perfectly reasonable should Gang Green decide to stick with Sam Darnold, this pick would be better served to give both the Jets and Darnold a chance at a restart.
Still, the Jets have to make wiser decisions from this pick forward, otherwise, a similar fate awaits the exciting Zach Wilson.
3. Miami Dolphins: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa needs help. While the defense was a major factor, the league should really take notice of the fact that Tagovailoa led the Miami Dolphins to a 6-3 record as a starter despite having a consistently injured and otherwise awful assortment of skill players around him.
Regardless, this pick isn't just made because of the reuniting of Tagovailoa with the man who caught the game-winning pass in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, DeVonta Smith. Nor does it have much to do with Smith getting to know the Dolphins coaching staff quite well at the Senior Bowl.
No, this one is much more simple: Smith is the best receiver in the draft.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Scanning over the Atlanta Falcons roster, it just doesn't make sense why this team was so horrendous in 2020.
The team isn't one player away at any one position to fix its immediate problems. The rebuild starts now, even if the roster won't reflect it in 2021.
Though there is little reason to believe Atlanta won't be right back in this position in 2022, now is the best time to grab the quarterback of the future. Yes Fields has the hometown connection, and that's all well and good. But the fact remains that Fields could be a day one starter if the Falcons could move on from Matt Ryan. Instead, he'll get to learn from the former league MVP and takeover after the Falcons can release Ryan with its club option next offseason.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Cincinnati Bengals have exactly one serviceable lineman: Jonah Williams. Joe Burrow's stats, winning percentage and left knee can all attest to that fact.
This one is a no-brainer for the Bengals. Sewell is the best lineman in the draft by quite a stretch. At the very least, Burrow will be able to take a slight sigh of relief when he sees Williams and Sewell book-ending his offensive line.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Much like his former teammate, Jalen Hurts needs help. The Philadelphia Eagles wide receiving corp has been decimated by injuries for the past two seasons and now those starters are likely headed to free agency.
Enter Ja'Marr Chase who steps into the building as the immediate number one option for a rebuilding offense.
7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Much like the Eagles in the previous pick, there's just no telling who will be returning to the Lions receiving corp to catch passes from Jared Goff.
Should the Lions at the very least hold onto number one option Kenny Golladay, then Waddle assumes his normal role of an athletic slot that creates his own opportunities.
If not, his speed and athleticism will have to carry him as Goff's top target.
8. Carolina Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Many a mock draft projects the Carolina Panthers selecting a quarterback because of Teddy Brisgewater's underwhelming first season. While that's fair, he did go without Christian McCaffery for nearly the entire season.
I say protect Bridgewater better so he can find his speedy receivers downfield.
Rashawn Slater has been climbing and climbing draft boards for weeks now and for good reason. His excellent balance of size and athleticism lends him to be a franchise tackle wherever he goes.
9. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The only way the Broncos take a quarterback is if the front office- A. doesn't trade for Deshaun Watson or B. trades up for one of the top three guys. The team has invested too much not to give Drew Lock a long look in the offense.
The offensive investments have begun to rear their head defensively though. The Broncos have already released AJ Bouye and could lose more on the corner.
Patrick Surtain is an instant starter in the Mile High City and helps aleviate some of the emerging problems on the defensive side of the ball.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This is peek Jerry Jones. Don't get me wrong, Kyle Pitts is an excellent player and deserves this selection. On top of that, the Cowboys still need to find a reliable starting tight end.
I just mean to say this team needs so much help defensively, but the idea of Jones calling in from his yacht for a second straight year to take the best offensive player available is just too much to pass up.
11. New York Giants: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
12. San Francisco 49ers: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
14. Minnesota Vikings: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
As good as it sounds, I'm not totally sold on Mac Jones being a day one starter for New England. Many of his other projected landing spots: New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis? Sure.
While the Bellicheck and Saban connection makes sense and the comparisons to Tom Brady himself are glaring, the fact remains that the offense's failing in 2020 was not all on Cam Newton. The offensive line is aging, the running back corp doesn't strike fear and the pass-catching options, well, there aren't any.
Folks in the draft scene on Twitter want to see Mac Jones succeed without heeps of talent, though, and I can't think of a better place to go in that regard.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
18. Miami Dolphins: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Okay, this one is about the reuniting of Crimson Tide stars and getting to know the Dolphins coaching staff in Mobile.
It sounds too good to be true, but what should a team do? Just not take a guy because of familiarity? With so many Alabama players in the NFL (68 to be exact) why not bring them together to replicate their previous successes when the opportunity presents itself?
The Miami Dolphins currently have a makeshift backfield full of misfit toys, sans Matt Breida, should Miami bring him back. If that becomes the case, pairing the power of Harris with the speed of Breida helps ease some of the questions surrounding the Crimson Tide's all-time leading rusher.
19. Washington Football Team: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
20. Chicago Bears: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
21. Indianapolis Colts: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
22. Tennessee Titans: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
23. New York Jets: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
26. Cleveland Browns: Jaelen Philips, EDGE, Miami
27. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
28. New Orleans Saints: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
29. Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
30. Buffalo Bills: Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
Todd McShay likes this fit so much he did it twice, and I agree. With so many players on the defensive front headed to market, the Buccaneers could still walk out of the 2021 NFL Draft with the best interior defensive lineman in the class.
The rich get richer.
While Tampa could return the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Shaq Barrett, who better to mold Barmore around? Once he is ready to contribute at full speed, his pairing with Veta Vea will be a nightmare for the rest of the NFL.