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NFL Mock Draft 2021: Edition 3

Mac Jones, No. 3 to San Francisco

With the college basketball season now officially in the books, it's time to turn our attention to the next major sporting event on the calendar: the NFL Draft. It has been over two months since my last mock draft, and plenty of shuffling has occurred. San Francisco swapped spots with Miami to take pick No. 3, with the Dolphins then moving back up by swapping with Philadelphia. Sam Darnold has been dealt away from New York to Carolina, making it fairly obvious the Jets will be taking a new signal-caller at No. 2. Plus, pro days across the landscape have both helped and hurt the draft stocks of certain players. In short, there's plenty to update, so here we are.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

While we often have a good indication of who the No. 1 overall pick will be the closer we get to the NFL Draft, it's rarely this plainly obvious. There is absolutely no way Jacksonville doesn't draft Trevor Lawrence with the first pick, concluding a storyline that has persisted around Lawrence since his freshman year of college. Whether or not Urban Meyer was the right pick for the Jaguar head coach job, he gets a premier prize to work with right away.

2. New York Jets

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

It's beginning to look more and more like a foregone conclusion that Zach Wilson will be the second quarterback taken here. Sam Darnold is now officially gone, and Wilson helped his draft stock with an impressive showing at his pro day. I'm not as high on Wilson as others, but I do think he checks a lot of boxes as an accurate, athletic QB with loads of upside.

3. San Francisco 49ers

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

San Francisco's decision to move up from pick No. 12 wasn't altogether shocking, but it made the Draft a whole lot more interesting. The Niners are firmly expected to go quarterback with this selection, but will it be Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones? All the current rumors seem to point to Jones being the guy, and he is fresh off a historical 2020 campaign. He might not have the upside of others at the top of this cycle, but he has a much higher floor.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Atlanta would love to take a long-term replacement for Matt Ryan in this Draft but with the top three off the board, I get a feeling that won't happen. A trade seems more likely but if they choose to stay put, Kyle Pitts is the move. The dynamic tight end was the first at his position in decades to receive Heisman votes, and he put up freaky numbers at his pro day, likely cementing him as a Top 10 pick.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Penei Sewell, OL, Oregon

Recent scuttlebutt indicates that wide receiver may be in play for Cincinnati at pick five, but I still think that Penei Sewell is too good to pass up. The Oregon product is one of the most dominant O-Linemen prospects I can remember and he'd be a lock to go in the Top 3 in just about any other draft. The Bengals need to keep Joe Burrow upright and healthy, making this is a top priority.

6. Miami Dolphins

Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The decision by Miami to move back up to pick No. 6 seems to indicate they are hunting for a pass-catcher. Either Ja'Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith make sense, but Chase seems to be trending as the move here. The former Biletnikoff Award winner has all the tools to be a dominant wide out in the NFL, and his catch radius is superhuman.

7. Detroit Lions

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

I'm amazed at the fact that Justin Fields' stock seems to be trending in the wrong direction. This is still my second favorite QB prospect this cycle, and I think people have been quick to forget just how absolutely dominant he was during the full 2019 season. However, if he does drop, Detroit gets a great chance to get their QB of the future, as Fields has more long-term upside than newly acquired Jared Goff.

8. Carolina Panthers

Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

Does Carolina make Trey Lance the fifth QB taken in the top eight picks? Perhaps, but they gave up quite a bit to acquire Darnold, seeming to indicate they might want to see what he has first. Instead, the Panthers go with offensive line, where Rashawn Slater offers quality value at No. 8. Although he opted out of 2020, Slater has a proven pedigree and should be a Top 10 selection.

9. Denver Broncos

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Another potential landing spot for Lance is just one pick later with Denver at nine, but I believe they'll give Drew Lock one more season. If that's the case, Denver turns to linebacker, where they lack athleticism to keep up with evolving NFL offenses. Micah Parsons should probably go higher based on his ability to impact the game, but the Broncos will be just fine if he slides to them at nine.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

All signs indicate that Dallas will either go offensive line or corner with the final selection of the first round. With both Sewell and Slater off the board, corner seems the most likely route. Patrick Surtain was a three-year contributor at Alabama who often played well beyond his years. At 6'2" and a shade over 200 pounds, he has ideal size for the cornerback position.

11. New York Giants

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Giants are at a really interesting spot at pick No. 11. They have a few notable needs, from pass rusher to linebacker, as well as offensive line. However, it's not everyday a prospect of DeVonta Smith's caliber slips down this far. While New York upgraded their receiver corps by bringing on Kenny Golladay, Smith can be the long-term option at the position for Daniel Jones.

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Receiver is a position Philadelphia has been mocked throughout the pre-Draft process, but their decision to move down might indicate they aren't putting a major emphasis on the position. Instead, they choose to focus on another key concern: cornerback. If Patrick Surtain were to last to them he'd be the pick, but Jaycee Horn is not a bad consolation. He continues to rise up draft boards, and there's a good chance he could sneak into the Top 10.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC

The Chargers have a massive hole at left tackle they'll need to address some time in this Draft. One would suspect they will do it early on, even with Sewell and Slater off the board. I suspect Los Angeles stays in the area to snag Vera-Tucker from USC. The former Trojan won the Morris Trophy in 2020, given to the Pac-12's best linemen on either offense or defense.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

The recent incident involving former first-rounder Jeff Gladney makes cornerback a possibility here, but I still suspect the Vikings go offensive line. Christian Darrisaw doesn't have the name recognition of other linemen at the top of this Draft, but he was a multi-year contributor at Virginia Tech and one of the most consistent blockers in all of college football.

15. New England Patriots

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

I think there's probably a good chance that Trey Lance goes much higher than this, with a QB-needy team likely to move up to grab him. But if not, this has the feeling of a typical New England draft pick, snatching up a sliding talent. While the Patriots brought back Cam Newton for 2021, he clearly is not the long-term answer. With his athleticism and arm strength, Lance could be.

16. Arizona Cardinals

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

I contemplated Jaylen Waddle going here because of his fit in that explosive Arizona offense, but the more likely scenario is at cornerback. The Cardinals really struggled to defend the pass in 2020 and they reside in a division that now includes Russell Wilson and Matt Stafford. Caleb Farley makes the most sense, as a high-upside talent that can work in a variety of different defenses.

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

I get the feeling that Las Vegas will either go offensive line or pass rusher here. There are plenty of options available at both spots, but Teven Jenkins' rise up draft boards makes him a superb candidate. The physical blocker played primarily tackle in college but could shift inside to guard at the next level. Either way, Jenkins is the type of mauler Jon Gruden would love to have leading his rush offense.

18. Miami Dolphins

Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (FL)

I'm split on Gregory Rousseau and what he projects to be at the next level. On one hand, he was incredibly productive during his time at Miami, and has ideal NFL size. On the other, he really only played one full season for the Hurricanes, and his pro day showing was less than ideal. He should still land in the Top 20 somewhere, and why not stay in the area by adding to the Dolphin pass rush?

19. Washington Football Team

Zaven Collins, DE/LB, Tulsa

Chase Young and Washington's D-Line is tremendous, but they lack the type of athletes at linebacker needed to really make this front seven formidable. Enter Zaven Collins, one of the most impactful defenders available in the first round. A former high school quarterback, Collins put together a historical Tulsa career that concluded with him taking home the Nagurski and Bednarik Awards as the nation's best defender.

20. Chicago Bears

Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas

I'm never quite sure what Chicago's game-plan is entering the NFL Draft, and that's especially true in 2021. Andy Dalton is not the future guy at QB, but it's highly unlikely they trade up for one of the top five at this point. They need help at corner as well, but the top three at that position are also off the board. That makes offensive line sort of a default selection right now, although it could use an upgrade. Samuel Cosmi is a tremendous athlete who stands 6'7".

21. Indianapolis Colts

Kwity Paye, DL, Michigan

Indianapolis is yet another team with a variety of different needs. Either offensive line or defensive line could be in play, as well as cornerback. Kwity Paye is one of the best players available here, and adds a dynamic pass rusher to the Colts roster. Paye is one of the best athletes at his position in this Draft, and still made his impact felt in 2020, despite only playing in four games.

22. Tennessee Titans

Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

Adoree' Jackson signed a big contract with New York a few weeks ago, opening up a hole in Tennessee's secondary. They would obviously love if one of the bigger-name corners were to drop to them at this spot, but Asante Samuel Jr. is still worthy of this selection. Although he was extremely inconsistent while at Florida State, he flashed NFL speed and ball skills.

23. New York Jets

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

It's difficult to project where Jaylen Waddle will land in this Draft. He's the consensus No. 3 WR prospect behind Chase and Smith, but could go anywhere from Top 10 to the bottom of the first round. His speed and versatility are a major plus, but you wonder if his ankle injury in 2020 could scare some teams away. The Jets should be willing to take a chance on him at this pick, opening up a new target for Zach Wilson.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

James Conner is still a free agent at the time of publishing, and it's likely that Pittsburgh chooses to move on at the position. Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland have shown flashes, but I doubt that they will be the workhorse back Mike Tomlin covets. Najee Harris proved he could be an every-down option with Alabama, and he's fresh off a dominant 2020 that was overshadowed by teammates DeVonta Smith and Mac Jones.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama

With Trevor Lawrence in the fold, Jacksonville does the classic NFL Draft move of using their next selection to protect him. Most of the bigger name offensive linemen should be long gone by the time the Jaguars make this pick, but Alex Leatherwood still offers great value. He likely would have been a first-rounder in 2020, but decided to stay for one more year in Tuscaloosca.

26. Cleveland Browns

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Linebacker was a major weak spot for Cleveland in 2020 and they'll likely address it early on in this Draft. There are a wide variety of options available, but few are as impactful as Notre Dame product Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He had a breakout 2020 with the Irish, winning the Butkus Award given to the nation's best linebacker.

27. Baltimore Ravens

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Pass rusher could be in contention at pick 27 for Baltimore considering Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon are gone, but it will be difficult to pass up Rashod Bateman. The former Golden Gopher was 2019's Big Ten Receiver of the Year, and his ball skills and route running are already at NFL levels. Bateman is a Top 15 talent in just about every draft but this one, which is absolutely loaded at wide out.

28. New Orleans Saints

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

With Drew Brees officially retired, New Orleans will turn to either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston at QB. For a team that has Super Bowl aspirations, neither choice is very promising. The Saints can remedy the situation by bringing in further receiver help. Enter Kadarius Toney, a dynamic playmaker who reminds me a lot of Percy Harvin when he was coming out of Gainesville.

29. Green Bay Packers

Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

Picking which direction Green Bay chooses to go in the Draft is always difficult, and that's the case once more in 2021. Receiver, O-Line and corner should all be in play, but Nick Bolton is a tremendous value play at this spot. Bolton is slightly undersized, which could drop him to the late first or early second, but he was incredibly productive at Missouri and you can't teach his natural instincts.

30. Buffalo Bills

Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami (FL)

Buffalo's draft strategy the last few seasons has been all about "best player available" wherever they are, and I suspect that strategy will be utilized in 2021. Jaelan Phillips is undoubtedly a first-rounder, but he could slide slightly based on how many quality pass rushers are available in this Draft. He's a former high-profile recruit who transferred from UCLA and had eight sacks in the shortened 2020 campaign.

31. Kansas City Chiefs

Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

The struggles by Kansas City's offensive line in the Super Bowl likely moved the position group up on their priority list and that was before Eric Fischer and Mitchell Schwartz were cut. Ideally, a guy like Cosmi or Leatherwood would slide to the bottom of the first, but Jalen Mayfield is instead the selection. Mayfield's incredibly young, just 20, and a little bit of a project, but the upside is there.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jayson Oweh, DE/LB, Penn State

Even though the Buccaneers choose to resign Shaq Barrett, edge rusher is always at a premium in the late first round. Jayson Oweh is a really interesting prospect; he's an athletic freak that will blow you away with some of the stuff he does. However, his production never quite matched his talent while at Penn State, and he will need to land in the right situation to really get going.

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