2021 NFL Draft
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Lander 2021 NFL Mock Draft: The One and Only

Every year, I make only one mock draft. While some analysts make a few different ones, revising them as the draft cycle plays out, I make only one the day of the draft. So here it is:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

No surprises here. Quarterbacks like Lawrence don’t come around very often and Jacksonville is in desperate need of some talent. The Jaguars get their quarterback of the future.

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

If it was me, I’d be picking Fields here. It seems all but confirmed that the Jets will take Wilson here, though. Much like the Jags, the Jets will look to secure the quarterback position by picking the one-year wonder, Wilson.

3. San Fransisco 49ers (via Miami): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

In a previous article, I laid out exactly why I think Shanahan is gonna go with the somewhat controversial pick here. Fans may prefer Lance or Fields here, but Shanahan’s history would suggest that Mac Jones fits better. While he may not be as flashy, I think that Shanahan believes that he can make Jones a top-shelf QB.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Now, this mock draft assumes that there will be no trades, which is obviously not going to be the case. Atlanta has been pretty open about their talks to trade down from here. That being said, if it is Atlanta here, the pick is Kyle Pitts. Pitts is an incredible talent and some would even go so far as to say he’s the best player in this year’s draft. This pick might be traded though, so be on the lookout for New England or New Orleans (there’s been some talk of that today too) to move up here.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Sorry Bengals fans, you’re not gonna get your guy here. As badly as Bengals fans want Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals front office will be more concerned with protecting their prized young quarterback, Joe Burrow. In ten games, Burrow was sacked 32 times and had his season ended by an awful knee injury. If I had just invested the first overall pick on a quarterback who is coming off a torn ACL, I would be looking to get a guy who can protect him. While I’ve argued that Slater is better than Sewell, most analysts don’t share my point of view. The Bengals grab Sewell here in hopes of protecting the former first overall pick.

6. Miami Dolphins (via Philadelphia): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Unless you specifically need to fill another spot, it’s hard to pass up on Chase here. The Dolphins could use some electric receiving threats, and Chase would fit into that role quite nicely. If the Bengals pick Ja’Marr Chase at 5, look for Jaylen Waddle here instead.

7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Detroit is in desperate need of talent on both sides of the ball. I could see the Lions trading down from here, but if they do pick at 7, they will go with either Waddle or Smith (though I have read that they like Waddle better).

8. Carolina Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Much like the 4th and 7th pick, this pick has been highlighted as a potential spot to look for a trade. If I had to bet on the Patriots trading up, this would be the spot. That being said, if the Panthers do end up picking here, Rashawn Slater could be an attractive prospect for a team that is looking to break in a new quarterback this year. Slater is very consistent and this pick could help Darnold have a smoother transition into Carolina. Some people have suggested that the Panthers may go QB here, which doesn’t make sense when one considers the perception that Darnold still has a huge upside and was just in a bad situation with the Jets. Make no mistake, Darnold will be the guy for now.

9. Denver Broncos: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

I’m not sure how anybody thinks that Denver is still gonna trade up for a QB or even pick one here. It is common knowledge that they love Drew Lock and they traded for Teddy Bridgewater yesterday to push him. With two veterans already in the QB room, why would they spend such a high pick on a guy that may very well be third on the depth chart? The Broncos take Parsons here to sure up the inside linebacker position.

10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Another year, another bad Cowboys secondary. Patrick Surtain II is a stud and could definitely help to improve one of the worst pass defences in the league from 2020. I’ve seen some say that Dallas may look to improve their offensive line, but with Slater and Sewell off the board, Surtain II makes more sense.

11. New York Giants: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Giants have added a bunch of talent to their roster this offseason. They’re in a position where they can really take the best player available since it isn’t a quarterback or a running back. Smith would be a pretty great pick here, I think. I’ve also seen Jaelan Phillips placed here, but if Smith is around, the Heisman winner may be to hard to pass on.

12. Philadelphia Eagles: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

Full disclosure, I’m a Big Ten homer. I’ve been high on Paye for a long time because I’m a huge Michigan fan. If you think about it though, this pick would make a lotta sense. The Eagles are at their best when they have at four of five big-time pass rushers. Kwity Paye fits well into their system and could look to take some pressure off of Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, both of whom aren’t getting any younger. The Eagles front could be pretty scary with a rotation that includes Barnett, Cox, Graham and Paye. We could also see Waddle here, or even a trade down, but I would take Paye if I was them.

13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

This offensive tackle class is relatively top heavy. It seems as though it’s Sewell, then Slater, then everybody else. This is a bit of a reach here, but it never hurts to get guys to protect your young quarterback, especially one that looks like he’s gonna be as good as Justin Herbert.

14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/OG, USC

Honestly, I think this pick will come down to who they like more; the best offensive lineman available or the best pass rusher available. Personally, I think I would pick Vera-Tucker over both Oweh and Phillips, so I’m rolling the dice on this one. With Kwity Paye off the board, I think it would be a big reach to take either of the remaining top pass-rushers here.

15. New England Patriots: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

If Fields is here (which I doubt he will be, somebody will trade up and get him before 15, maybe even the Patriots), expect Coach Bill to pull the trigger. Fields is such a steal at this point in the draft that is may be impossible not to take him. If the Patriots do pick here, and Fields is around, they will cap off their off-brand offseason by getting their quarterback of the future.

16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Some would say that Horn is better than Surtain II. While I disagree, this pick would be the best one for the Cardinals at this point in the draft. In a division that now has Russell Wilson and Matt Stafford, pass coverage will definitely be at a premium in the NFC West. I’ve also seen Zaven Collins placed here (who I think is a stud) but given the fact that Isaiah Simmons was drafted in the first round last year, I think it makes more sense for the Cardinals to draft a corner here.

17. Oakland Raiders: Alex Leatherwood, OG/OT, Alabama

This is such a difficult pick to bet on. Not only do the Raiders need to address legitimately every level of their defence, they are also known to evaluate players quite differently that other teams. For all we know, they could take an absolute flyer on a guy that has no business being drafted this high and shock the world. For now though, since the Raiders dumped about 60% of their offensive line, it makes sense that they would draft a versatile guard/tackle hybrid that fit in pretty nicely on an offensive line that will go through some growing pains.

18. Miami Dolphins: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

While they could go running back here, I don’t think that Etienne or Harris really warrants this 18th overall pick. If they really want an RB, they’ll likely trade down. If they do pick here, Collins seems like the perfect fit in Flores’ system and I think he could be a great pickup for Miami as a whole.

19. Washington Football Team: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Terry Mclaurin, Curtis Samuel and Rashod Bateman would be a pretty spectacular receiving group, no? Bateman has the ability to step in and contribute early with his spectacular route-running skills. Fitzmagic is great and everything, but my guess is that they’re trying to give as much help as possible.

20. Chicago Bears: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

If you were the Bears, would you excited if your options at right tackle were Germain Ifedi or Elijah Wilkinson? Absolutely not. Teven Jenkins is possibly the most underrated offensive lineman in this class. Watch the film. The kid is nasty. The Bears get their RT.

21. Indianapolis Colts: Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami

This is such a bad pick, but somebody is going to make it. As I’ve said before, Jaelan Phillips is Dion Jordan 2.0. He’s gonna be a huge bust. Teams will want to get a piece of his freaky athleticism, but I find it unlikely that it will be worth it. The Colts are looking for a pass rusher and they get one.

22. Tennessee Titans: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

If you were looking for a corner at pick 22, would you go with a guy who just had a major surgery or the guy that just ran 4.2 in the 40 and went up against the best receivers in the country all year? Pretty easy choice for me….

23. New York Jets (via Seattle): Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

As I said in the pick before this one, Farley worries me a little bit because of the fact that he had a major surgery just a few weeks ago. That being said, he is an incredible athlete, and had it not been for that surgery, he may be right up there with Surtain II and Horn as far as rankings go. The Jets also have a lot to consider in terms of their division, where they have to play 2 games a year against Steffon Diggs and 2 games against Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Parker. The AFC East is going to have some nasty pass offences in 2021, and the Jets must adapt.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

The Steelers get their next workhorse. The first round has always felt like a reach to me for Harris or Etienne, but the Steelers want a bellcow and Harris fits the bill. Is it me? Or does he kind of remind you of Le’Veon Bell (before he sucked)?

25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jayson Oweh, DE/LB, Penn State

Drafting Oweh could give the Jags a pretty great pass-rushing duo. Urban Meyer also recruited Oweh, meaning that he may have see something in him despite the fact that he is very raw.

26. Cleveland Browns: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

I think that the Browns would prefer a pass-rusher here, but Owusu-Koramoah would be a pretty huge steal here. I’ve always thought he was a tad small, but the versatile linebacker would allow Cleveland’s offence to work with latitude. Owusu-Koramoah and Grant Delpit in the box would probably be pretty scary, especially in such a physical division.

27. Baltimore Ravens: Azeez Ojulari, DE/LB, Georgia

Some people have Ojulari ranked higher, but I think this is about where he’ll end up. With Matthew Judon leaving for the Patriots, the Ravens will look to fill that role with the best pass-rusher available.

28. New Orleans Saints: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern

There have been some rumours today that New Orleans might trade inside the top-ten. To be honest, I think that would be a mistake. With Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, both of whom the Saints are already spending a pretty penny on, it doesn’t make sense to me that they would want to invest even more in a quarterback. Newsome is a great pick here. He has great size and speed and he could help the Saints against some very good NFC South passing offences. Him and Lattimore together would be a very good combo in the New Orleans secondary.

29. Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

Rondale Moore is electric. This is a value pick to me. Aaron Rodgers could use another legitimate receiving threat to take some pressure off of Adams and help this Packers offence build on a great 2020 season offensively. I’ve seen a lot of Elijah Moore being tied to this pick, but I simply think that Elijah Moore fits better into what the Packers want. Elijah Moore played the majority of his college snaps in the slot, whereas Rondale was a little more versatile. This would allow him to compliment Adams a little better than Elijah Moore.

30. Buffalo Bills: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

If you can’t beat em’, join em’. The Bills need to think about how they are going to compete for a Super Bowl when all roads seem to lead through Kansas City. Elijah Moore is dynamic and could help the Bills compete with the Chiefs’ high octane offence. Kadarius Toney, who is really good as well, could also be picked here, but I think they’ll be attracted to Ole Miss’ dynamic slot receiver.

31. Baltimore Ravens (via Kansas City): Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

The Ravens, like the Bills, have to think about how they are going to compete with KC. They already have Hollywood Brown, but they don’t have much in the way of a dependable receiver that can make contested catches and run good routes play in and play out. Marshall would be good complement to Hollywood and a great option for Lamar Jackson.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quinn Meinerz, C/OG, Wisconsin-Whitewater

Ok, what do the Bucs really need? They’re literally returning their entire starting lineup from their Super Bowl run. For that reason, this is what I call a luxury pick. If I had to bet, I would say that investing in a talented interior offensive lineman would be smart considering the cap situation. The Bucs may not have a whole lot of money to re-sign their offensive lineman. The reason I chose Meinerz here is because of his dominant Senior Bowl performance as well as the Bucs’ success with developing offensive lineman from a lower division in college (Ali Marpet). Meinerz is as good, if not better than Marpet was coming out, so this pick would make a lot of sense to me especially when one considers that there wouldn’t be too much pressure on him to start right away.