2021 NFL Mock Draft: Preseason Editionby Brady Podloski September 9, 2020 0 comments
The 2020 NFL season is Here. With that said, draft season never ends. From preliminary scouting reports, the quarterback, wide receiver, safety, and linebacker classes are going to be strong this year. Moreover, with many players opting out of the season there will be some strong candidates to rise and fall throughout the process.
For the projections, I have switched up the draft order to keep things interesting by randomizing three groups – draft positions: one to nine, ten to fifteen, then sixteen to twenty-two. For the playoff teams, I made their orders using the Vegas draft odds to win the Super Bowl. With that said, here is my first 2021 NFL mock draft.
1. Carolina Panthers, Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
A real change up from seeing Jacksonville here. The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater but he’s not a long term starter. On the other hand, Lawrence is the best prospect since Andrew Luck at the quarterback position. He’s reminiscent of ‘Sunshine’ from Remember the Titans, standing at 6’6” and 220 lbs with beautiful locks of hair, but boy, can he sling the ball. He threw for 3,665 yards and 36 touchdowns, while only having eight interceptions in 2019. Lawrence’s potentials is something out of a movie, and he is a generational prospect for a number of reasons. The main traits are his accuracy, intelligence, quick decision-making, and leadership. He’ll be the number one player taken barring anything crazy happening or an injury.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars, Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Let’s say Gardner Minshew entrenches himself as the starter and carries the team to 5-6 wins and that the team isn’t sold on Fields. Caldwell then determines to build the roster around Minshew. The team then gets to finally get a franchise left tackle. Sewell is arguably the best prospect beside Lawrence and Justin Fields. He’s got the movement skills of a tight end, only 60 lbs heavier, and dominates one-on-one blocks. He would solidify the offensive line for Jacksonville for years to come.
3. New York Giants, Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Giants at number three is an interesting dilemma, as they could choose to replace Daniel Jones if they’re picking this high, but still have some significant gaps in their defense. So they take a generational prospect in Parsons here. While it’s unheard of to see a linebacker in the top three, there are no better defensive prospects. Parsons has the talent to change the chemistry of a defense. He excels at making reads and quickly diagnosing plays while having freakish athleticism. Arguably, Parsons is the best linebacking prospect since Luke Kuechly.
4. Cincinnati Bengals, Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
This is the easiest fit, as Tee Higgins, Auden Tate, and Tyler Boyd will be the remaining receivers on the squad after this year. Moreover, they’re not the type of receivers that Joe Burrow has had success with in the past. He played with receivers that separate, break with anticipation, and have high levels of body control. In short, Chase is the most physical and dominant wide receiver over the past three years, but also has a rapport with Burrow. Moreover, Chase is special, and corrects errant and inaccurate throws, while being a dominant contested-catch player who can separate with his route running. He’s a rare player that will make Burrow a better quarterback.
5. New York Jets, Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
The biggest threat the Jets have right now is Le’Veon Bell. Without a dominant wide receiver, Sam Darnold may not be able to drive the ball downfield. The NFL is moving to a more run after the catch, versatile open space game where players have the opportunity to generate yardage on their own. Moore is a star on a poor Purdue offense. This past year he missed four games due to a hamstring injury, but in 2018 as an 18-year-old he put up 114 receptions, 1,258 yards, and 12 touchdowns. While he’s 5’9”, 180 pounds, he is almost impossible to bring down. He excels with his run after the catch ability and separating.
6. Washington Redskins, Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Cornerbacks who can dominate one on one without safety help are rare, which is why you see a cornerback going sixth overall. Farley is one of the cornerbacks who chose to opt-out, and for good reason – his film is that of a quality first-round pick. It is his traits that make him a top 10 player. Farley is 6’2″ and 207 lbs which allow him to stay with larger wide receivers. However, his change of pace and speed are unnatural for his size. Both allow him to recover when he makes a mistake, and make plays on the ball in which other corners would not.
7. Detroit Lions, Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
The Lions have significant issues at linebacker even with Jamie Collins’ on the roster. The linebacking core also plays a significant role in the Lions defense with the amount of man to man coverage – which means the linebackers have extra responsibility in stopping the run. Moses has top 10 potential, but a devastating injury (torn ACL) last year could hinder his development. Regardless, he’s a force when stopping the run, and plays extremely well in coverage.
8. Miami Dolphins, Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The NFL is moving to a more run after the catch, versatile open space game where players have the opportunity to generate yardage on their own. Waddle is slender, but an absolute weapon with the ball in his hand. I wouldn’t be surprised if Waddle is a top 10 pick come April 2021 with his 40 time and highlight-reel plays. Plain and simple, he’s a weapon that is perfect for the 21st century of football. He also fits a need the Dolphins have a slot wide receiver, for someone who can get open every play.
9. Las Vegas Raiders, Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
To be honest, Rousseau isn’t a top 10 player, largely because of how raw he is at the edge position. However, he’s still the top edge prospect going into the draft due to tools and athleticism. The potential comes mostly from his 6’7”, 250 lb frame, and extremely long arms, making his potential as an edge rusher limitless. Rousseau notched 15 sacks from multiple positions on the defensive line in the 2019 season and he has the power to take on guards and tackles, and the quickness to counter his power.
10. Chicago Bears, Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Mitchell Turbisky shouldn’t be the starter next year, and Nick Foles is a placeholder. The team needs to bring in the next franchise quarterback. Realistically with trades and the hype of an offseason, Fields should be the second overall pick. Fields has the athleticism and running ability to have a Cam Newton or Lamar Jackson run style of offense designed around him. He would also excel in a zone read system where he isn’t the primary runner. Yet, while Fields has athleticism, he doesn’t get enough recognition for his throwing ability. He’s ultra-accurate and makes good decisions with the football, throwing for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns. Fields’ best trait is that he doesn’t make mistakes, demonstrated in his low interceptions rate with only three in 2019.
11. Atlanta Falcons, Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
Since the Super Bowl, Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff have had a rough go with injuries. This pick is contingent on two factors with only one needing to occur. Both the general manager and head coach get fired and a new regime is installed (likely); or Matt Ryan, aged 37, starts to decline (less likely). Regardless, Lance is easily a top 10 prospect this year with his tools. He’s large at 6’6” but has excellent mobility allowing him to make runs similar to Newton. While he doesn’t have Newton’s exact running ability, he is much more accurate throwing for an impressive 28 touchdowns to zero interceptions. If he improves another level this year, he could be a top-five selection.
12. Minnesota Vikings, Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Surtain is a long corner who is dominant in a press zone scheme and an excellent tackler – something Mike Zimmer wants in his cornerbacks. If he has over the top help, he’ll be a dominant corner. Surtain is a long cornerback who excels with zone and press coverage. Arguably he’s a better version of Trevon Diggs, with similar concerns about long speed. Other than the speed, he’s got the makeup of an elite corner.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams), Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
Jordan is a supersized wide receiver right now. His best trait is running after the catch, where he turns into a running back who can’t be brought down. He doesn’t block very well, but in his 6’3″, 250 lbs frame, he has the body control of an elite receiver. He needs to learn to catch and break off his routes, but once he does that, he’ll be dominant. Minshew would be able to excel with a cast of his receiving core reminiscent of the antagonists from Space Jam – all 6’3″ monsters with the ability to separate and go to the rim for the ball.
14. Denver Broncos, Samuel Cosmi, OL, Texas
The Broncos need to replace Garrett Bolles with someone else for the long term. The Broncos need to take a chance on a tackle even one as unproven as Cosmi. Currently, Cosmi has lots of work to do to be known as a first-round pick. He has the size, balance, and mobility, but is very inconsistent.
15. New England Patriots, Marvin Wilson, DT, FSU
Wilson fills the obvious need at defensive tackle for the Patriots who love to draft in the trenches. If Wilson wasn’t a nose tackle, he might have a chance to be the first defensive player to come off the board with his dominant pass rushing and effort play in and out. He’s a truck at 6’5 311lbs, but he’s quick, making it difficult for defenders to get their hands on him. While his run defense could use work, he notched five quality sacks this past year and had chances to get more.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers, Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The current starting tight end is Eric Ebron, who has gone from team to team. Some have suggested the next tight end will be Chase Claypool, but he’s more of a receiver than tight end. The Steelers need a dominant tight end to round out the offense. Pitts has the movement skills of a small wide receiver, except he’s 6’6”, 240 lbs. He’s arguably the best tight end prospect this year.
17. Los Angeles Chargers, Trey Smith, IOL, Tennessee
The Chargers still have holes on the offensive line and need the most pro ready offensive line. Smith has the potential of a pro bowler, but health is a concern. He’s a massive and powerful people-mover, and he could very well be the best interior offensive lineman in the 2021 draft. He’s got the movement skills of a man 60 lbs lighter, even though he’s 6’6”, 325 lb.
18. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans), Hamilcar Rashed Jr., EDGE, Oregon State
Miami’s biggest hole after wide receiver is linebacker, however, there isn’t a linebacker with a top 20 pick available. So the Dolphins elect to get a high upside pass rusher who is boom or bust. Rashed is a bendy edge, who is somewhat raw right now. Once he further develops a counter move and a speed to power move, he’s got the tools to become an eight or more sack per year player.
19. Cleveland Browns, Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest.
In a division where you have to stop two top tier running teams, a strong side defensive end Basham would be a good fit as an interior 3-4 pass rusher. He could play three tech or five tech and be dominant in the run. Some plays he plays like Cameron Jordan and others he disappears. If he gets more consistent, he can be a dominant player in the league.
20. Philadelphia Eagles, Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Ideally, Wade would take on the nickel role, but he may have to play outside some. With the Cowboys having three dominant wide receivers, the Eagles need to restock at corner. He’s a physical press man corner who will thrive in the underneath zone scheme. He has the ability to tackle and his game will translate to the NFL.
21. Tennessee Titans, Tamorrion Terry, WR, FSU
Corey Davis is in the last year of his contract and never lived up to the billing of a fifth overall pick. While Terry is by no means a finished prospect, his raw tools will make some team fall in love with him. He’s 6’4”, 210 lbs with rare deep speed, and contested catchability. If Terry improves his hands he’ll be a top 40 player. Terry reminds me of an unpolished 2013 Josh Gordon, who has the ability to take over a game.
22. Buffalo Bills, Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
Campbell sticks out on film for all the right reasons, a 6’2″ cornerback who looks like he could play in the box. While he’s going to be better outside than in the box, his tackling skills means he has the ability to fill in the run. Campbell is one of those plates that steadily rises through the season and who could be a top 20 pick.
23. Green Bay Packers, Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Packers didn’t draft a wide receiver last year and still do not have a compliment to Davante Adams. However, they land Bateman, one of the most eye-catching receiver prospects in the upcoming draft. One comparison is to Allen Robinson who consistently separates but has the ability to make contested catches. While there are questions about his long speed, his acceleration and ability to control/manipulate his speed is rare for his size. Along with a reliable pair of hands, he’s a top receiver in the upcoming draft.
24. Indianapolis Colts, Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Freiermuth isn’t the third best tight end, this pick is all about his style of play. However, there aren’t many holes in the roster so taking a player who can be a pro bowl tight end is always a good idea. Freiermuth has been compared to Rob Gronkowski, largely with his run after catch ability and body control when catching the ball. He’s got reliable hands with only one drop this past year. His size (6’5”, 259 lbs) and movement skills are what make him a mismatch for defenders.
25. Arizona Cardinals, Jay Tufele, DT, USC
Cardinals need to build their interior defense and stop the dominant running games in the NFC West. An absolute wrecking ball with freakish speed and quickness for his size at 6’3, 315 lbs. Tufele might be one defensive player you’ve never heard of, it’s largely a result of the production. As a defensive tackle, he’s constantly in the backfield – disrupting plays and pressuring the quarterback – but he doesn’t have the sacks. It’s not concerning as the pressure generated up the middle allows the edge rushers to make plays on the ball.
26. Seattle Seahawks, Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Seahawks need to realize their ability to stop the run, but also need someone who can penetrate on passing downs. Barmore is the next great defensive tackle from the pipeline of Alabama. Watching more of his film on his limited snaps, he’s quicker then one would think a freshman should be. He could return to college for the 2021 season, but if he does declare, he will be a first-round pick due to his ability to get into the backfield.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pitt
Raiders still have needs for their interior defensive line, especially for a pocket pusher. Twyman can be a force as an interior pass rusher as he had 10.5 sacks this past year. Twyman could replace the pass rushing force Gerald McCoy brought for years, he just lacks consistency against the run game.
28. Dallas Cowboys, Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon
Without Byron Jones, the Cowboys secondary looks average. Holland is a ball-hawking safety and slot corner who can be a turnover machine at the next level. Holland’s best skills are his play recognition and intelligence, both of which allow him to make plays other safeties and cornerbacks can not. Moreover, he has good man to man coverage skills allowing him to be effective as a slot cornerback.
29. New Orlean Saints, Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
Purdy is a solid ball player, who makes plays that are unthinkable. He’s constantly committed to getting the first down by taking an extra hit. His ability to throw on the run and play-action are excellent and he’s an underrated runner. He could compete with Jameis Winston for the starting job if Drew Brees retires next year. However, there are some significant concerns about consistency. If he is consistent and accurate this year, he could also be a first-rounder.
30. San Francisco 49ers, Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
A strong playmaker who will excel in a zone scheme. He has adequate man to man skills which should improve. If there is an improvement to the man to man skills, Adebo will be a first-rounder if a zone heavy scheme likes him.
31. Baltimore Ravens, Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
Oweh is a complete projection right now, but at 6”6’, 240 lbs he has the athleticism and tools to become an elite pass rusher. Rumor has it he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at 260 lbs, which speaks to the athletic profile, but when watching him get around tackles, he’s difficult to stop. Right now he’s very raw and would most likely take a full year to adapt to the NFL.
32. Kansas City Chiefs, Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, FSU
Nasirideen could be the player who makes the secondary imposing and could pair with Tyrann Mathieu, as he’s a well put together safety at 6’4”, 220 lbs. He’s basically a linebacker with the movement skills of a cornerback. Expect him in a Jamal Adams role where he could roam the underneath zones and stop the run. His man to man coverage skills are getting better each year, so expect to see Nasirildeen’s name called in the first round.
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