Evan Winter’s Final 2021 First-Round Mock Draft


We are just a few days away from the NFL Draft. So, of course that means it’s time to turn in the final first-round mock draft for the 2021 season.

A lot has changed since my first mock from a few weeks ago. How did said changes affect things this time around?

Well, there’s only one way to find out.

Let’s dive in.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson Tigers
Previous pick: Trevor Lawrence

Put the mortgage on this one. If Lawrence doesn’t go to the Jags, it will be one of the first round’s biggest surprises in NFL Draft history.

2. New York Jets

QB Zach Wilson, BYU Cougars
Previous pick: Zach Wilson

Sam Darnold is gone. That means the Jets are 1,000% in on drafting a quarterback this year. Wilson is used to a heavy RPO/play-action scheme, which makes him perfect for offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

3. San Francisco 49ers

QB Justin Fields, Ohio State Buckeyes
Previous pick: Justin Fields

I just can’t buy into the Mac Jones/Trey Lance hype at No. 3. It’s just way too soon to pick either one of those guys. Whatever issues come with Fields can be corrected just like Lance, except Fields will be more ready to start if Jimmy G gets hurt again.

4. Atlanta Falcons

TE Kyle Pitts, Florida Gators
Previous pick: Kyle Pitts

Atlanta could easily trade back, but the subsequent 10 teams aren’t desperate for quarterback help. Matt Ryan will play in Atlanta for two more years, so you may as well get him more help.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

T Penei Sewell, Oregon Ducks
Previous pick: Penei Sewell

This is the Bengals’ chance to prove that they are serious about building this team the right way. Ja’Marr Chase could easily go here, but it should be Sewell, despite the addition of Riley Reiff.

6. Miami Dolphins

WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU Tigers
Previous pick: Micah Parsons

Chase’s Pro Day and his tape instantly make him a top-10 pick, even top-5, but the Bengals just need a tackle more. The Dolphins have no problem adding another weapon to Tua’s arsenal.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (from DET)

T Rashawn Slater, Northwestern Wildcats
Previous pick: Ja’Marr Chase (Detroit)

TRADE: The Lions trade the No. 7 overall pick to the Los Angeles Chargers for picks No. 13, No. 47, and a 2022 second-round pick

The first trade of the draft. The Lions are desperate to get their $30 million quarterback in Jared Goff help at wide receiver. But they aren’t desperate enough to take one of the Alabama wideouts in the top-10. Therefore, they trade back with the Chargers. Los Angeles jumps Carolina in order to get Justin Herbert his blindside protector.

8. Carolina Panthers

CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina Gamecocks
Previous pick: Rashawn Slater

The Panthers were just screwed out of their dream scenario in the first round of this mock draft, but it’s OK because they get arguably the best cornerback in the draft. The Panthers need help at corner, especially when you consider the division they play in.

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Jaycee Horn is going to be a superstar in the NFL. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

9. Philadelphia Eagles (from DEN)

CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous pick: Jaycee Horn (Denver)

TRADE: The Broncos trade the No. 9 overall pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for picks No. 12 and No. 84, and a 2022 third-round pick. 

Wouldn’t this just send Cowboy fans into a tizzy? After seeing Horn go, the Eagles know they have to jump their division rival in order to get their oh-so-desired help at corner. They’re able to get past the Cowboys thanks to the pick sent over from the Colts via the Carson Wentz trade.

10. Dallas Cowboys

CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern Wildcats
Previous pick: Patrick Surtain II

This first-round mock draft is just pissing people off. First, the Panthers lose out on their guy, then the Cowboys miss out on both Horn and Surtain. But this time, the Cowboys aren’t saved by an elite player like the Panthers. And they aren’t saved by a trade partner, either. Instead they have to reach for Newsome. That’s OK, though, because he should be a very good fit for Dann Quinn’s Cover 3 scheme. It just depends on how quickly he can get accustomed to it.

11. New York Giants 

G Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC Trojans
Previous pick: DeVonta Smith

The Giants get their guy in AVT, who is one of the safer picks in the draft. He’ll immediately come in and start at guard, which will knock Zach Fulton into a depth role. New York’s offense becomes legitimate with this pick.

12. Miami Dolphins (from DEN via PHI)

LB Micah Parsons, Penn State Nittany Lions
Previous pick: Jaylen Waddle (Philadelphia)

TRADE: The Broncos trade picks No. 12 and No. 114 to the Dolphins for picks No. 18, No. 81, and a 2022 fourth-round selection. 

There’s a report out there that Brian Flores loves him some Micah Parsons. This makes a ton of sense considering the fact that the Dolphins released Kyle Van Noy earlier this year. The Broncos now have three third-round picks and the Dolphins are able to get a 2021 fourth-round draft pick out of the deal, as well as Parsons.

13. Detroit Lions (from LAC)

WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker (Chargers)

Sometimes the board works in your favor. Especially if you play it smart. The Lions have been jaded by first-round receivers in the past, but Waddle fits both a top need and the best player available criteria. Goff receives much-needed help with this pick.

14. Minnesota Vikings

EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan Wolverines
Previous pick: Christian Darrisaw

The Vikings need help along the offensive line. Badly. But this draft is deep enough to where they can find some help later on. Mike Zimmer can’t resist going defense, here. Paye gives them an instant boost opposite Danielle Hunter.

15. New England Patriots

QB Mac Jones, Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous pick: Caleb Farley

New England survives the supposed hype around Mac Jones in this first-round mock draft. He falls right into their lap and immediately becomes the backup to Cam Newton.

Fun fact: The Patriots have drafted a quarterback in the first round just one time over the last 36 years. That was Drew Bledsoe back in 1993.

16. Arizona Cardinals

WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous pick: Jaelan Phillips

With the run on corners early and the recent questions with Caleb Farley, the Cardinals decide to stick to what they know – offense. Apparently they’re very interested in one of the top receivers in the draft.

17. Las Vegas Raiders

T Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech Hokies
Previous pick: Greg Newsome II

It would make a ton of sense to go with either Farley or one of the premier linebackers, but Oakland instead chooses to refortify the offensive line that was stripped down earlier in the year.

18. Denver Broncos (from MIA)

T Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Previous pick: Elijah Moore (Dolphins)

Simply put: Denver’s offensive line was bad in 2020. A lot of it had to do with injury and some of it had to do with ability, but regardless, Denver needs both upgrades and depth up front. The Broncos play this draft smart by loading up on picks this year and next while still filling a major need with one of the top players at his position.

19. New Orleans Saints (from WAS)

CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech Hokies
Previous pick: Mac Jones (Washington)

TRADE: The Washington Football team trades pick No. 19 to the Saints for picks No. 28, No. 98, and a 2022 third-round pick.

I’m riding with Charles Robinson instead of Benjamin Allbright on this one. Farley’s back issues are real, but they’re not to the point where they’re going to completely derail his career nor keep him off the field in the early going. The Saints need cheap contracts, but they’re willing to sacrifice a pick or two for Farley.

20. Chicago Bears

QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State Bison
Previous pick: Azeez Ojulari

The slide has stopped! Lance will learn behind “QB1” Andy Dalton while he develops. Matt Nagy couldn’t develop Mitchell Trubisky. Will he be able to have different results with Lance?

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Trey Lance has tremendous upside, but who’s going to move up to get him? Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP Photo

21. Green Bay Packers (from IND)

WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss Rebels
Previous pick: Alex Leatherwood (Colts)

TRADE: The Colts trade pick No. 21 to the Packers for picks No. 29, No. 92, and No. 142. 

One year after Green Bay notoriously pissed of Aaron Rodgers by trading up to draft Jordan Love, they decide to do the complete opposite this year. Rodgers finally gets the first-round receiver he has desperately craved during his career and the Colts – who have six draft picks– get back into the third round.

22. Tennessee Titans

EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia Bulldogs
Previous pick: EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan Wolverines

The Titans would prefer a corner or even a wide receiver, but they still have questions in regard to their abysmal pass rush. Ojulari will be a nice complement to Bud Dupree and could be a replacement option in case Harold Landry underperforms again.

23. New York Jets 

LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Previous pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

This guy is just too versatile to pass up. Robert Saleh could really use a chess piece like OK. It’s a perfect fit and makes sense in this final first-round mock draft.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers 

RB Najee Harris, Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous pick: Najee Harris

The Steelers need help on the offensive line, but the draft is deep enough at the position to where they can take Harris at No. 24. To be honest -and this feels crazy to say- but I’d want Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball as little as possible in 2021. Harris will help that mentality.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

S Tre’Von Moehrig, TCU Horned Frogs
Previous pick: Tre’Von Moehrig

This is your monthly reminder that the Jaguars have absolutely no one at safety. Moehrig instantly fixes this issue.

26. Cleveland Browns

DL Christian Barmore, Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous pick: Gregory Rosseau

Barmore is still developing. But damn, a team with him on the interior and then Myles Garrett on the edge is scary. Jadaveon Clowney is also in the mix, but he has a lot to prove after a turbulent year in Tennessee. Barmore makes a ton of sense in this final first-round mock draft.

27. Baltimore Ravens

EDGE Jason Oweh, Penn State Nittany Lions
Previous pick: Rashod Bateman

His lack of production in 2020 is scary, but Oweh has too much talent for the Ravens to pass up. He can develop behind Pernell McPhee, but will also be impactful enough to get on the field often in 2021.

28. Washington Football Team (from NO)

T Alex Leatherwood, Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous pick: Christian Barmore (Saints)

The Football Team trades back and still gets some help on the offensive line. Leatherwood is a good candidate to solidify the left tackle position. No one has been able to take over since Trent Williams left. Washington finally fixes that in this final first-round mock draft.

29. Denver Broncos (from IND)

LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Previous pick: Landon Dickerson (Packers)

TRADE: The Colts trade pick No. 29 to the Broncos for picks No. 40 and No. 84. 

The Colts are pissed they just missed out on their guy, so they decide to trade back and grab another second-round pick. The Broncos need a linebacker like Collins who is versatile and can help on the inside while Von Miller and Bradley Chubb man the outside. Denver has three third-round picks at this point, so there’s no issue in spending one to fill a need with one of the best players available.

30. Buffalo Bills

CB Eric Stokes, Georgia Bulldogs
Previous pick: Javonte Williams

Stokes length, athleticism, and speed are too good to pass up. He helps bolster a secondary that is already a top-12 unit in the league.

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Could Eric Stokes be a Bill by the end of the first round? Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

31. Baltimore Ravens (from KC)

WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Previous pick: Teven Jenkins (Kansas City)

The Ravens need help at receiver and Bateman is the best available. Lamar Jackson is a happy man.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington Huskies
Previous pick: Joe Tryon 

I have Tampa Bay trading back to No. 37 to obtain Tryon in my final seven-round Bucs mock draft, but there is so much uncertainty with this draft that it may be better for the Bucs to stay put and not risk losing their guy. Either way, I’m nearly 100% sold Tryon is the pick, evidenced by my quadrupling-down on his selection. He immediately adds solid depth and could eventually take over for JPP down the line.

What do you think of this final first-round mock draft? Let us know in the comments below!