This is my first NFL mock draft since February heading into Free Agency. The two teams that I was looking at to win the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes back in May of 2020 were the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville went on to lose fifteen consecutive games after a 1-0 start locking up the first pick prior to Christmas Eve.
Jacksonville gets a generational talent at quarterback as well as the top signal-caller in this draft with Trevor Lawrence. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterbacks coach Brian Schotenheimer finally get Jacksonville a franchise quarterback with this pick. To read our Trevor Lawrence SWOT repot, click the link with Trevor Lawrence's name on it. You can also play our interactive 2021 NFL Draft Game in the link below.
I posted a film cut of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence VS Wake Forest. Lawrence dominated the first half in this road win over Wake Forest.
New York's front office even came out and said they will not make a decision on Darnold or any of the quarterbacks in this draft until they go to all of the Pro Days. This turned out to be a lie as Maury Povich would say because the Jets decided they were locked in on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson at 2 following his Pro Day. Zach Wilson will break Jim McMahon and Ziggy Ansah's record for being the highest NFL draft pick in BYU history.
New York traded Sam Darnold to Carolina so Zach Wilson my third best quarterback if you click the quarterback rankings above is probably going to be picked second overall by the New York Jets. Zach Wilson will start right away in week 1 for the New York Jets just like Trevor Lawrence will start right away in Jacksonville. I gave this an A grade instead of an A+ grade because I think the quarterback with the highest ceiling after Trevor Lawrence is Justin Fields, however you can also make the case that the quarterback with the best floor after Lawrence is Zach Wilson.
I posted a film cut of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson VS Boise State. Zach dominated this game.
Tony Mario and myself have the exact same top 2 with Lawrence at 1, Zach Wilson at 2. Our first disagreement is at 3. Tony Mario's 2021 7 Round Mock Draft is in the link below. You can find out if Tony took Mac Jones or Justin Fields at 3.
I gave the Los Angeles Rams an A- grade when they traded up for Jared Goff in 2016 even though they gave up a lot because he was my top quarterback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. I also gave the Kansas City Chiefs an A- grade for giving up 27 and a 2018 first round pick for Patrick Mahomes who was my favorite quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft. San Francisco gave up three first round picks in the next three NFL Drafts to move from 12 to 3 which is the biggest reason they got a B- grade here, which coincidentally is the same grade I handed the Philadelphia Eagles when they moved up for Carson Wentz because Wentz missed a majority of his senior season before dominating the draft process leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft.
Trey Lance is more durable than Carson Wentz and if you believe Lance has a Pro Bowl ceiling like Carson Wentz did coming out of College this is the worst grade you can give San Francisco because many people feel Lance has the best throwing power and velocity of any quarterback despite only making 1 or 2 progressions on film, but if Lance gets the 49ers to a Super Bowl like Goff or Mahomes did then John Lynch made the correct decision to move up with Miami Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier.
On Monday Ian Rappaport reported that San Francisco narrowed this pick down to Alabama quarterback Mac Jones who I have a second round grade on and North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. Using process of elimination, I say San Francisco grabs Trey Lance here at 3.
The San Francisco 49ers keeping Jimmy Garoppolo leads me to believe that Trey Lance is the pick at 3. I probably would have gave this an A- grade if they took Justin Fields, and I would have certainly handed San Francisco a DUI grade if they followed through on their plan to take Mac Jones third overall according to lots of reports within the media.
Trey Lance has a better floor than Justin Fields and he's the guy San Francisco's scouting department loved. Also, San Francisco 49ers General Manager John Lynch raved about Texas Tech's Pro Day when Patrick Mahomes threw in the wind during Super Bowl 55. This may have been the first hint that San Francisco was leaning towards Trey Lance since many mocks had Trey Lance going to San Francisco around this time.
As of 2:23 PM EST, less than six hours until the 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance is now the unanimous favorite to go third overall. I gave the Eagles a B- grade when they traded up for Carson Wentz. San Francisco gave up a lot more capital wise which is why you can argue that I should change this pick to a C+ or C grade, but I'm going to stick with the B- grade because Trey Lance is far more durable than Carson Wentz was coming out of North Dakota State as those injuries caught up to Wentz before Philadelphia traded him to Indianapolis this offseason.
Honestly, I want to see what Miami does in this draft too as this grade could be adjusted based on that. Also, this grade could be adjusted if the 49ers end up surprising everyone by taking Justin Fields or Mac Jones at 3.
I posted a film cut of North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance VS Central Arkansas. Trey Lance struggled in this game, but delivered when it mattered.
With three of the top four quarterbacks off the board. Atlanta either deals this pick for a Kings Ransom to Denver or New England for Justin Fields. The other option is Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts who is the highest graded tight end I've ever scouted. Atlanta interviewed Pitts on four seperate occasions and I honestly don't see them dealing four unless they get four first round picks in return from a quarterback needy team. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is on board with the GM's decision to keep Matt Ryan for another year. ESPN's Dianna Russini reported that the Atlanta Falcons are locked in on Kyle Pitts if they stay at 4. There are reports that Atlanta already sent Kyle Pitts his jersey and this is an A+ grade since he's got the best floor of any player in this entire draft outside of Trevor Lawrence.
The best thing about this pick is Atlanta has a blue chip tight end in Kyle Pitts who compliments Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley at wide receiver. This is how Kansas City built their offense when they drafted Travis Kelce before getting Tyreek Hill.
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Heading into Free Agency, I heard reports that the Bengals were targeting five offensive players. Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell, Northwestern left tackle Rashawn Slater, Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, LSU wide receiver Ja'Maar Chase, and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. The same sources that told me these were the five players in consideration for Cincinnati at 5 now believe this pick has been narrowed down to two players in Penei Sewell out of Oregon and Ja'Maar Chase out of LSU.
There are more ways to get this right by taking Sewell at 5 then there are for taking Chase at 5. Here are two examples below. You can go Sewell, Terrace Marshall Jr. the other receiver besides Chase at LSU to play with Burrow, and take the top guard on your board in round 3 to play with Jonah Williams. You can also go Sewell, Wyatt Davis my top ranked guard in this draft, and Tylan Wallace in round 3 by fixing the offensive line first.
Taking Sewell at 5 just makes too much damn sense no matter how you spin it. In fact, I'm only giving the Bengals an A+ grade if they take Sewell at 5. If they take Chase it's either going to be an A or A- grade from a value standpoint. Jason Bantle the die hard Bengals fan at Draft Utopia told me he'd give this a C- grade saying that he only wants Pitts the non quarterback with the best floor in the draft or Sewell the non quarterback with the best ceiling in the draft. Taking this into consideration, you could argue this is a B- grade because Cincinnati's need to improve their offensive line to protect second-year quarterback Joe Burrow is far greater than their need to improve wide receiver. At the same time when you consider that Cincinnati addressed other needs on day 2 and day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft, you can argue that this grade warrants an A- grade.
Former Cincinnati Bengals left tackle All-Time great Anthony Munoz came out and recently endorsed Penei Sewell to be the fifth pick. You got Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Auden Tate at wide receiver, which are three decent weapons for quarterback Joe Burrow. Joe Burrow has a scar on one of his knees in the photos of the Cincinnati Bengals new uniforms which look awesome. Common sense says take Penei Sewell fifth overall.
However, recent reports have revealed that Cincinnati is leaning Chase and I have three different sources all telling me the same thing. DeVonta Smith is my top ranked receiver with Chase graded slightly lower than him on my wide receiver rankings, but this is what I'm hearing. Also a lot of boards in the mainstream media still have Chase as the top receiver on their boards.
One source told me that their scouting department is 50/50 on Penei Sewell and Ja'Maar Chase. That source stated the Bengals are leaning Chase in a landslide. A second source told me exactly what the first source told me except they added that Owner/General Manager Mike Brown and Director Of Player Personnel Duke Tobin will make the official selection at 5. The third source told me that the Bengals believe that this is an average wide receiver class after the top of the draft and a excptional offensive line group at offensive tackle, guard, and center.
I got thirty wide receivers, thirteen offensive tackles, eight guards, and six centers graded as players with the upside to be starters in the NFL from the 2021 NFL Draft. However, I'm not making this pick at 5. Cincinnati can honestly go either way with Sewell or Chase at 5 and they should still be able to have a good draft.
While those three sources did play a role in influencing my decision. There is another rumor stating that Duke Tobin has decided that both Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff will be the teams starting offensive tackles at both left tackle and right tackle in 2021.
If this is the case than Ja'Maar Chase gets to catch touchdowns from Joe Burrow in 2021 with Tee Higgins next to Chase with Tyler Boyd moving inside to the slot. It also means this entire mock is gonna be completely altered because of the fucking Bengals. If Joe Burrow gets good protection from Williams and Reiff this can make the Bengals offense extremely deadly in the short-term. This doesn't change the fact that I think the Bengals need to draft Penei Sewell and the fan in me is hoping that my sources are wrong.
The 5-10 183 lb Jaylen Waddle had 100 receiving yards in each of his starts in 2020 before getting injured against Tennessee. He'd be another weapon for Jalen Hurts and could possibly be the to Hurts what Henry Ruggs III is to Derek Carr.
Waddle outperfromed Smith in 2018 as his 45 receptions, 848 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns bested Smith's 42 receptions, 693 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns in 2018. Waddle only had 33 receptions, 560 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns in 2019 averaging 17 yards per reception on Alabama last season.
Waddle has fantastic speed. He catches the ball when its thrown his way. He's an elite route runner who can run all 30 routes effectively at this point, last year he only ran 15 routes effectively, but took a huge leap in 2020 before his injury. Jaylen Waddle reminds me of Tyreek Hill with a better attitude, but less durability than Hill had coming out of college.
This gives Tua Tagovailoa Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker as the teams two main weapons. Will Fuller is the slot receiver when he returns from his suspension with Mike Gesicki at tight end. Preston Williams would begin in the slot until Fuller returns from his two game suspension to begin 2021. Jaylen Waddle is a slot receiver and I just view Smith as a better fit for an outside wide receiver or a number one target that Miami is looking for.
Detroit gets a right tackle to compliment left tackle Taylor Decker. They draft Penei Sewell the top offensive tackle in the entire draft despite having four offensive tackles on their depth chart. Fantastic pick by Detroit.
The 6-6 324 lb Penei Sewell was not only the top run blocker in the PAC 12 as a true freshman after previously playing right guard in High School. Bradlee Anae called Sewell his toughest opponent as Sewell has the pass blocking by protecting quarterback Justin Herbert's blindside, the run blocking by run blocking for C.J. Verdell, and the zone blocking that you expect from the top left tackle prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.
He still needs to fix his mechanics on some blocks despite allowing 0 sacks or quarterback hurries on the stat sheet, but outside of improving his efficiency on blocks along with his hand movement on blocks, he's the most complete offensive tackle prospect in this draft class.
He can develop into a Jonathan Odgen type of left tackle if he fixes his mechanics at the next level because he looked amazing in every game on tape in 2019 outside of the road contest against Washington. Right now he maintains blocks for 3-5 seconds, but can maintain blocks for 7-10 seconds if he fixes his mechanics by improving his efficiency and hand placement.
Short arms 33 1/4, concerns about his maturity, and the Bengals loving Ja'Maar Chase are the only reasons why Sewell dropped to 8. Greg Little their 2019 second round pick has 6 starts in two seasons, but Penei Sewell is a clear upgrade over Little. Sam Darnold having Penei Sewell and Taylor Moton as his offensive tackles should purify him of seeing any ghosts from this point forward.
Jaycee Horn was my third best cornerback behind Caleb Farley and Patrick Surtain II. Love his man dnd press coverage which are A+ calier. His zone coverage needs to improve and Carolina runs a lot of zone coverage.
Carolina has a good lockdown duo at cornerback with Jaycee Horn as the field cornerback and A.J. Bouye as the boundary cornerback with Donte Jackson now moving inside to nickel cornerback. This should be an effective cornerback trio in the NFC South Division as these cornerbacks make things easier for Brian Burns and Yetur Gross-Matos.
The 6-2 203 lb Patrick Surtain II had 7 deflections from pass breakups after being a five star recruit after being my top ranked cornerback from American Heritage High School in 2018. Patrick Surtain II had 8 delfections from pass breakups in 2019 improving on his 2018 season as he has the man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage to play in the NFL. Understands cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, and cover 4 schemes. With Trevon Diggs gone, Patrick Surtain II entered 2020 as Alabama's top ranked cornerback.
Patrick Surtain II improved his number of deflections from 7 to 12 while giving up 0.52 yards per coverage snap which was third among cornerbacks in 2020. The downside is his zone coverage regressed in 2020 after showing promise to dominate in this category during his sophomore year in 2019. Patrick Surtain II gets beat by fast receivers on tape sometimes. He gave up 3 touchdowns and only had 1 interception in 2020.
His tackling and ability to win blocks is better than any cornerback in this draft. With Caleb Farley's injury you can argue he's the top cornerback in this draft despite his weakness in zone coverage against speedy receivers which NFL Network blatantly masked when talking about Patrick Surtain II on Path To The Draft.
Denver now has Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, and Patrick Surtain II in the nickel. Tony Mario called this pick in his 7 round mock draft.
Philadelphia got my best ranked receiver at 10. They gave up picks 12 and 84. Perhaps even more picks. I don't have all the details of the trade, but the Giants wanted DeVonta Smith the Heisman Trophy Winner at 11, so this was a great trade for Philadelphia.
The 6-1 175 lb DeVonta Smith had 68 receptions, 1,256 receiving yards, and 14 receiving touchdowns in 2019 next to Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and Jaylen Waddle. Smith improved on that in 2020 after Waddle got injured with 117 receptions, 1,856 receiving yards, 23 receiving touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown, and 24 total touchdowns on a 13-0 Alabama team that was best in the Nation. DeVonta Smith re-unites with Jalen Hurts and will become the go-to-guy for Hurts in Philadelphia.
I have Justin Fields as my second best quarterback in this draft behind Trevor Lawrence. Chicago gave up a 2022 first round pick. However they get an A- grade here because Chicago gave up 20, a 2022 first rounder, and a 2022 fourth rounder. This was the same grade I gave the Rams for Goff and same grade I gave the Chiefs for Mahomes.
Chicago got an upgrade over Andy Dalton and Nick Foles in this draft. Now you just need to build an offense aroudn Justin Fields.
I posted a film cut of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields VS Penn State. Justin Fields picked apart Penn State pretty easily. Micah Parsons didn't play in this game despite Penn State having some talented players on the defensive side of the ball.
Dallas gets a replacement to Sean Lee. You got Jaylon Smith at 4-3 right outside linebacker, Leighton Vander Esch at 4-3 middle linebacker, and Micah Parsons at 4-3 left outside linebacker. Dallas gets the fourth A+ grade based on talent and value.
Micah Parsons was a five star recruit three years ago when I set up a HS page for the class of 2018. Parsons was a pass rusher coming out of High School before transitioning to linebacker at Penn State.
The 6-3 244 lb Micah Parsons 48 solo tackles, 35 assisted tackles, and 83 total tackles in limited action as a true freshman in 2018. Parsons had 52 solo tackles, 57 assisted tackles, 109 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, and 5 deflections from pass breakups. Parsons showed the versatility to play 4-3 right outside linebacker, 4-3 middle linebacker, 4-3 left outside linebacker, 3-4 right outside linebacker, 3-4 middle linebacker, and 3-4 left outside linebacker with his versatility. Only one player in this draft missed fewer tackles than Micah Parsons who missed tackles on only 5 percent of his plays.
Micah Parsons has some off the field concerns from reports and allegations. His character concerns may rival his strengths. Also, Micah Parsons is my highest graded defensive player in this draft despite his character concerns.
The 6-3 305 lb Rashawn Slater is versatile enough to play left tackle or right tackle spending his first two seasons at right tackle before moving over to the blindside role at left tackle in 2019. Rashawn Slater has the best mechanics in terms of hand placement along with the best foot speed of any offensive tackle in this draft. Yes, his foot speed is better than Sewell which is why he may be the first offensive tackle drafted.
Rashawn Slater only maintains blocks for 3-5 seconds and only maintains blocks for 1-3 seconds on his worse plays. He held his own against Chase Young at left tackle in 2019. He needs to get stronger.
Los Angeles now has Rashawn Slater at left tackle, Matt Feiler at left guard, Cory Linsley at center, and Bryan Bulaga at right tackle. Not a bad group to build around quarterback Justin Herbert.
The 6-4 315 lb Alijah Vera-Tucker played left tackle at USC, but he's better suited to play guard in the NFL after struggling in the 2020 PAC 12 Championship. Alijah Vera-Tucker is a great run blocker. He's better at run blocking than he is at pass blocking which is why I have him ranked lower than most. He was my second best guard behind Wyatt Davis. New York gave up 23 and both of their third round picks to get a guy who is my second best guard who I had a second round grade which is why the Jets got a D grade.
I got a second round grade on Mac Jones. However, he was the best quarterback on the board and the only quarterback left on my board with a starter grade. He was also the last player to leave the field after Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice.
Mac Jones goes to New England at 15 one year after New England chose to let Tom Brady pursue other opportunities. It's just I have a second round grade on Mac Jones. In fact I have a lower potential grade on him than I did on former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts. He's the last quarterback that has a starter grade at quarterback in this draft so maybe he puts everything together in New England and does well because you can make the argument that Jones has the best floor among any quarterback in this draft.
A reporter asked Devonta Smith whether Tua Tagovailoa or Mac Jones was better. Smith answered Jones before the reporter could finish the question.
I posted a film cut of Alabama quarterback Mac Jones VS Florida. Mac Jones managed the game well during the 2020 SEC Championship Game.
Here is our interview of Mac Jones from the 2021 Reese's Senior Bowl. You can click the link below to listen to that recorded press conference of Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
Arizona gets an edge rusher next to Chandler Jones. You got Isaiah Simmons last year as a 3-4 middle linebacker. Zaven Collins is a great pick to pair with Chandler Jones at 16.
The 6-4 260 lb Zaven Collins can play everywhere at linebacker just like Micah Parsons. Collins showed the versatility to play 4-3 right outside linebacker, 4-3 middle linebacker, 4-3 left outside linebacker, 3-4 right outside linebacker, 3-4 middle linebacker, and 3-4 left outside linebacker with his versatility. Zaven Collins will thrive in Mike Zimmer's defense.
Zaven Collins pass rushes like an edge rusher at defensive end and covers like a safety that dominates in zone coverage. He can pass rush and stop the run with his speed. Improving his coverage in play action and his man coverage would probably help Collins boost his stock.
Four people that watch game film with me that are avid readers of Draft Utopia called him the best defensive player in the entire draft. That's a pretty strong comment from our readers and after watching his film against Central Florida, I believe he's the best defensive player outside of Micah Parsons and Azeez Ojulari who are both off the board.
There are some reports with Zaven Collins that he's not well liked by his teammates. Micah Parsons has the same concerns, but the talent level and skill set Collins provides is too great for the Arizona Cardinals at 16.