The 2020 NFL Draft is officially in our rearview mirror! The next phase is watching these guys (hopefully) play this fall and seeing who’s a star and who’s a bust. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t start looking towards next year’s NFL Draft. So, let’s take a glimpse at the next class of stars and dive into our 2021 NFL Mock Draft!
*Note: This mock was done using The Draft Network’s mock draft machine, the order of this mock is based on their 2021 projections.
1 – Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
The Jacksonville Jaguars are poised to be this years Miami Dolphins. They look like the biggest dumpster fire and they are still in sell mode with players like Leonard Fournette on the trade block. The Jags have tried time and time again to get a franchise Quarterback, but their biggest hope has so far come in the form of 6th-round superstar Gardner Minshew. Since he has been dubbed “mediocre Minshew” it’s safe to say he’s yet to show he can be a franchise QB. Though, we still have all of 2020 ahead of us.
Since Lawrence joined Clemson, we’ve been talking about him as the future No. 1 pick. It’s amazing that he has been able to keep up that stature for 2 years. Once again, we still have 2020 ahead of us, and Justin Fields will certainly make his case, but as of now Lawrence is the top QB of this class, which makes him the number one pick in this 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
2 – Washington Redskins
The Pick: CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State
This pick is a toss up between Wade and Oregon Offensive Tackle Penei Sewell, but CB is their biggest need. The Redskins secondary is still in shambles, but grabbing another Ohio State defensive superstar at second overall will set them on the right track. The Redskins didn’t really address their CB’s in the 2020 NFL Draft, most likely meaning they have their sights set on the future class.
Wade is as good, or even better than this year’s lock-down Ohio State Cornerback Jeff Okudah. It’s crazy to think they were playing alongside each other just last year. Wade is arguably the best defensive player in this class and will be the leader of this Redskins secondary needs.
3 – Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
The Bengals claimed the top prize in QB Joe Burrow this year. If they get the chance, next year should be all about protecting him. The Bengals selected Offensive Tackle Jonah Williams from Alabama a year ago, so getting another franchise tackle like Sewell will make Burrow VERY happy.
One of the greatest reasons Justin Herbert was so successful at Oregon was his amazing offensive line. Shane Lemieux and Jake Hanson were both drafted in 2020, but the best player will wait a year. Sewell is a sure fire beast, and giving Burrow this kind of protection could make Cincinnati very serious contenders.
4 – Carolina Panthers
The Pick: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
If an entirely defensive draft is any indication about the Panthers belief in Teddy Bridgewater, it’s not good. Either they have all the faith in him or he is just a bridge QB for the upcoming 2021 class. Either way, it’s unlikely Bridgewater is the answer. With future Hall of Famers like Drew Brees and Tom Brady on their last legs and Matt Ryan getting up there in age, a new generation of NFC South QB’s is coming. The Panthers should set off this new era with another fantastic Ohio State QB.
Justin Fields looked excellent in his first year as a starter, if he can repeat his 2019 in 2020, then Fields is as much of a slam dunk as anyone. If 2020 was all about the defense, imagine a 2021 draft all about the offense, lead by Fields. Now, that would be scary.
5 – New York Jets
The Pick: EDGE Gregory Rosseau, Miami (FL)
The Jets went towards the offensive side of the trenches in round one of the 2020 NFL Draft. Next year, flip the sides. The Jets have lacked a true presence on the edge since Leonard Williams didn’t fully pan out.
Rosseau’s 2019 season was spectacular, leading a Miami Hurricanes defense that took major strides in becoming one of the better defenses in the nation. Rosseau makes a strong candidate for best defensive player in this class, but the Jets snag him here.
6 – New York Giants
The Pick: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
The 2021 draft appears to be loaded with secondary stars. Allowing the Giants to finally secure a true number one Corner. Deandre Baker has promise and Bradberry was a good pickup, but the Giants still don’t have a lock-down player to intimidate opposing receivers.
Surtain and the aforementioned Shaun Wade will both make their case to be this classes’ top corner, though Wade has the edge after his fantastic 2019 campaign. The Giants could establish a truly great trio with Surtain, Baker and Bradberry if all works out.
7 – Detroit Lions
The Pick: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
This pick very much could be a QB, depending on how much the Lions front office believe in Matthew Stafford and can sell that he isn’t to blame for Detroit’s offensive woes. With their 2020 draft stacking him up with new talent, Stafford has no excuses this year. With that being said, the Lions defense still needs some fixing up.
The Lions secured their franchise CB and an awesome EDGE player in Julian Okwara. They’ve tried time and time again to secure a great middle linebacker, though Jarrad Davis and Jahlani Tavai have proven unsuccessful thus far. Parsons is an exceptionally rare talent, and could answer Detroit’s prayers for an all-around amazing linebacker.
8 – Miami Dolphins
The Pick: S Jevon Holland, Oregon
The Dolphins stripped their team to the roots this offseason and constructed the foundation of the future with their massive haul in the 2020 NFL Draft. Now, they continue to build their future kingdom with this elite play-maker.
Reshad Jones was a Miami legend, but with the Dolphins moving on from him and his $15.61 Million cap hit, they have a vital need at safety. Plus, with the young direction Miami is heading, Jones is simply not in their future plans. Holland has racked up 9 picks and over 100 tackles in his time at Oregon, and a big 2020 will land him in the next phase of Miami’s rebuild.
9 – Miami Dolphins (Via Texans)
The Pick: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Hey! The spoils of the Laremy Tunsil trade continue to bolster Miami’s future in stunning ways. Tua will be helped in 2020 by great weapons such as a rebounding DeVante Parker, a rising star in Mike Geisicki, and a surprise rookie phenom in Preston Williams. However, Ja’Marr Chase is a true superstar who will bring flash to Miami. Parker and Williams provided an interesting 1-2 punch, but neither are true number one Receivers.
Chase was a big reason Joe Burrow was so successful last season. Justin Jefferson (who went 22nd overall this year) was merely the tip of the iceberg in an electric deep threat attack lead by Chase. Coming off a sensational 2019, it’ll be interesting to see how good Chase can be without Burrow, but his true talent should shine through no matter what, becoming the first WR off the board in our 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
Read up on where Chase’s former teammate Justin Jefferson ended up and what to expect here!
10 – Denver Broncos
The Pick: OT Walker Little, Stanford
Had a brutal season ending injury not occurred to Little in Stanford’s season opener, Walker Little would’ve been at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft boards. However, Little will return for his senior season in order to maintain his stock at the top of the draft.
The Broncos stole the NFL Draft by stacking up their offense with tons of talent for Drew Lock. Garrett Bolles has been inconsistent as a starter at Left Tackle, and Ja’Wuan James is a mediocre option at Right Tackle, despite signing a 4-year, $51 Million deal with Denver in 2019. The Broncos clearly won’t settle for anything but the best for Lock, and mediocre play won’t save either of these players from being replaced by a star like Little.
11 – Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
The Falcons used their 2020 draft to bolster the defensive side of the ball. One of their biggest misses was not getting a speedy running back to help ease the load for Todd Gurley (unfortunately, pretty much all the RB’s that could have filled this role were gone before they picked in the middle rounds).
Atlanta loves their Clemson players, and Etienne could’ve been the top RB in the 2020 class had he declared. Gurley is currently only signed to a 1-year deal, which means that he might not remain a Falcon past 2020. This could become a more pressing need if Gurley has a great 2020 and wants a big contract. Something of which the Falcons aren’t at liberty to be handing out. Etienne can become their franchise back going forward, bringing energy, speed and a winning attitude to an already electric offense. 2020 had only one RB drafted in the first round and it was with the last pick, but our 2021 NFL Mock Draft has one going early.
12 – Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
After acquiring DeAndre Hopkins and drafting Josh Jones, the Cardinals are set at WR and O-Line for the time being. However, they lack a standout tight end. Pitts is a red-zone machine, giving Kyler a legit scoring threat in the short field areas. Giving him as many weapons as possible could be the route Arizona goes, much like Denver did for Lock this year. Unlike 2020, our 2021 NFL Mock Draft features a first round TE, and he might not be the only one.
13 – Chicago Bears
The Pick: C/G Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
One of the biggest reasons Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts were so good in college was the protection they got at Oklahoma. Humphrey was the anchor that made the O-Line so great. He could’ve been a top offensive linemen pick in 2020, but he decided to return for his Junior season. Humphrey will cash in as an almost certain top 15 pick.
The Bears had Kyle Long retire, but still didn’t really acknowledge that hole in their O-Line. It’ll come back to bite them, and they’ll buy in on player that can fit in as either a center or a guard, giving whoever their QB is the ultimate protection.
14 – Las Vegas Raiders
The Pick: DL Marvin Wilson, Florida State
While the Raiders will most likely select the strangest player wherever they pick, we can dream they’ll be somewhat sensible. Wilson is a top ten prospect who slides out due to lack of good fits. However, Vegas is a perfect spot for him.
The Raiders didn’t acknowledge the defensive line in this year’s draft, so expect them to snag one of the best defensive tackles from 2019. He is a monster of a man who stuffs the stat sheet with sacks, TFL’s and forcing/recovering fumbles. He is a name to watch in 2020 as he is one of the best players who could make his name even bigger come 2021.
15 – Cleveland Browns
The Pick: LB Dylan Moses, Alabama
The Browns absolutely knocked their 2020 draft out of the park!
It’s hard to see any glaring holes on this roster, though getting more linebackers never hurts. They drafted Jacob Phillips in the third round out of LSU, but unless he excels in 2020, they could get him some more help. Moses and Phillips will lead a young LB corps in Cleveland, with Mack Wilson in tow, giving Cleveland’s defense another great playmaker.
If it’s not Moses, then Cleveland could also look for a corner. But, in our 2021 NFL mock Draft, any cornerbacks left are quite a reach.
16 – Tennessee Titans
The Pick: WR Justyn Ross, Clemson
It’s true that the Titans badly need an edge rusher. However, at this spot, the best pass rusher is Carlos Basham, and he is a reach at this spot.
So, let’s continue to add weapons to the already dynamic Titans offense with Clemson’s top play-maker from 2019. Much like the previously mentioned Chase and Jefferson from LSU, Ross was the Ja’Marr Chase to Tee Higgins‘ Justin Jefferson. Higgins found himself a comfy new home as Joe Burrow’s new weapon in Cincinnati. Now, Ross will find himself a divisional rival to his soon-to-be former QB Trevor Lawrence.
A.J. Brown was a steal in the second round of the 2019 draft, leading the Titans in most of their receiving categories. Meanwhile, the rest of the Titans wideouts were either serviceable, mediocre, or in Corey Davis‘ case, underwhelming. Ross and Brown will become the excellent WR pairing every team needs, whether it’s for Tannehill or someone new.
17 – Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Rams)
The Pick: RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
It appears as though Leonard Fournette will be on his way out of Jacksonville soon. The Jags unsuccessfully tried trading him during the draft, but it seems he will be on the move one way or another. That being said, the Jags lack any solid RBs behind him.
They won’t be able to rely on Lawrence to carry their whole offense immediately, so grabbing an amazing workhorse like Hubbard will give the Jags the long desired spark they need. He can take the load off of Lawrence while he adapts to the NFL, as well as helping round out a young, but promising Jaguars offense.
18 – Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: G/C Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
The Vikings found themselves among the winners of the 2020 NFL Draft. They got an amazing haul, thanks in part to the plethora of picks they acquired from Buffalo in the Stefon Diggs trade. However, they did skip over a top interior offensive lineman.
Davis was a part of a fantastic Ohio State offensive line, in fact, he was arguably the best part of it. He’ll find himself in the first round conversation if he can maintain that level of success in 2020. The Vikings can continue to retool their disastrous offensive line with a star like Davis.
19 – Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: OL Trey Smith, Tennessee
A monster of a man, Smith is already NFL ready in terms of build and physicality. That alone makes him a special talent, but his massive upside as an elite pass blocker means he SHOULD be a top pick in this years draft.
But alas, nothing is that simple, unfortunately.
Smith was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs back in October of 2019 and hasn’t taken a snap since. Thus sending his stock down from a top-5 candidate to maybe a first rounder. However, once he is cleared, we will likely see every reason he will be a top pass blocker in the NFL.
While Smith works as a tackle for Tennessee, he will likely be an interior guard or center in the NFL. His versatility to play all 5 spots will be a welcomed addition to any NFL roster.
The Chargers get a steal here, as they can plug and play him anywhere along their line, giving their new franchise QB the time he’ll need to unleash that massive arm of his.
20 – Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: QB Jamie Newman, Georgia
Two years in a row, Georgia will produce a top QB talent. Though, unlike Jake Fromm, Newman will hopefully hold his first round status. Newman was excellent at Wake Forest, but felt under-appreciated. Kirby Smart and his staff felt Newman could easily fill in the hole left by Fromm for the 2020 season.
Big Ben’s time in the NFL will likely come to an end soon. After a season ending elbow injury in his throwing arm in 2020, Roethlisberger may be heading towards the sunset with his contract set to expire in 2021. If he does only have one or two years left, Newman could work as either someone to step in immediately with his experience as a red-shirt senior or be a student behind one of the greats from the last two decades. Newman becomes the third quarterback off the board in our 2021 NFL Mock Draft and he won’t be the last.
21 – Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
Much like the Vikings, the Colts got a great haul of players but ignored one glaring hole on their roster. A cornerback.
They even sent one away; Quincy Wilson, for a 6th rounder.
The Colts could also take a look at this interesting QB class considering they only invested a fourth round pick into Jacob Eason, but it may be smart just to wait on a high round QB when you’re in a win-now mode. (*ahem* Green Bay.)
Adebo could’ve been a top draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but decided he would return for one more run with Stanford. While his stock may not improve, he may land in a better spot with the Colts who are looking to win while Rivers can still stand.
22 – New England Patriots
The Pick: QB Brock Purdy, Iowa State
The Patriots didn’t draft a QB at all in the 2020 draft despite moving on from Tom Brady. That leaves Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as the most likely QBs to start in 2020. Stidham might not be quite ready for the NFL, meaning Hoyer might be the week one starter. Depending on how well he plays, Stidham might not get a lot of time. Or it could be the complete opposite; it’s all a great mystery with Bellichick.
Either way, neither possess the true passing ability that Purdy does. Unless Stidham proves he is the future (not a safe bet) the Patriots should be eyeing up a fantastic QB class in 2021. Purdy will only be 21 when the draft rolls around next year, meaning Stidham can still get a chance in 2020 and 2021 as Purdy will need a year to develop. It could be a fierce QB battle, but the future is a great big question mark for the Patriots.
23 – Buffalo Bills
The Pick: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Man, ‘Bama just doesn’t stop producing great wideouts.
The Bills traded their 2020 first rounder (among a vast amount of other picks) for Vikings WR Stefon Diggs. Waddle is not going to be taking Diggs down, but will likely replace the Bills top WR from 2019. John Brown is 30 right now, meaning his expiration date as a WR may be rearing it’s ugly head. The Bills also drafted a great deep threat/slot WR in UCF’s Gabriel Davis.
However, making sure Josh Allen/Jake Fromm/Matt Barkley have a great array of weapons is key to the Bills maintaining their success. Waddle, Diggs, and Davis are all great play-makers that will help the Bills take over the AFC.
24 – Green Bay Packers
The Pick: WR Devonta Smith, Alabama
If this is what happens, Packers fan (and Aaron Rodgers) will rightfully be angry. But hey! Back to back Alabama wideouts!
It’s crazy to think that the Crimson Tide’s offense last year featured Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle AND Devonta Smith.
However, all four of those guys will likely find new homes far away from each other, the last of which being Smith in Wisconsin.
Alright, in all seriousness, the Packers will likely be “fine” this year, but if they want to get to the Super Bowl and handle a team like the Chiefs, they’re going to need weapons that can take over the game in one play. Getting Smith would be huge, as his elite speed is exactly what the Packers need to blend with Adams’ spectacular route running and physicality.
25 – Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: EDGE Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest
Brandon Graham is currently signed on through 2021, but it’s safe to assume his days as an every down rusher are coming to an end.
Enter Carlos Basham.
Ironically enough, the Demon Deacons power rusher plays like the previously mentioned Graham. Meaning a year to play behind/with Graham could prove fruitful for his future success. The Eagles are built on a fantastic defense and a hole at EDGE rusher could be devastating, especially with Barnett yet to take his game to the next level.
26 – Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: OT Samuel Cosmi, Texas
You can only go so many years ignoring an offensive line in desperate need of elite talent. The past few years have been dreadful for Seahawks fans who have watched their team reach on players at positions they don’t really need, while passing on offensive tackles, guards and centers.
Hopefully, the upside of Cosmi will change Seattle’s mind.
A fantastic pass blocker, Cosmi’s power is exactly the anchor Seattle needs on Wilson’s blindside. Speaking of which, Wilson is starting to get into his early-to-mid 30’s and his body won’t appreciate being destroyed week after week for much longer, especially if has to endure another 51 sack season.
27 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: DB Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State
There’s a chance the Bucs could go QB here, considering 2021 will likely be Brady’s final season. However, with that being said, Tampa Bay has to continue with the idea that they have to find win now players who are all in on a title run.
Continuing to build off a strong 2020 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers still have a lot to work on defensively. However, in-state star Nasirildeen will help answer their woes in the secondary. He lacks a natural position, though that may benefit the Bucs, who have needs at SS and CB. They did draft Antoine Winfield Jr. to be their starting FS, but if he needs help, Nasirildeen can help there too.
28 – Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: TE Brevin Jordan, Miami (FL)
The Jason Witten era is officially over in Dallas – for good this time.
Despite the uncertainty of Dak Prescott‘s contract, this isn’t a 2021 offseason prediction, so just assume Dak will be the Dallas QB in 2021.
After the Cowboys loaded up their offense with CeeDee Lamb in 2020, they now load it up even more with Jordan in 2021. They badly need a starting TE and that’ll be evident this season. Jordan’s smooth athleticism will be a welcomed addition to Dak and the Cowboys.
29 – New Orleans Saints
The Pick: QB D’Eriq King, Miami (FL)
Taysom Hill may have signed a 2-year, $21 million deal to become the second highest paid backup in the NFL, but this further points to the idea that New Orleans are not convinced Hill is the answer at QB.
Hill has scored both rushing and receiving touchdowns, but he has thrown 0 touchdowns since entering the NFL.
As such, it’s hard to believe the Saints will just hand him the keys to the kingdom after Brees leaves for retirement. His new contract works more as a one year prove it deal, since Brees will be playing in 2020.
And no, Jameis isn’t the answer either.
Check out our thoughts on the Jameis Winston signing here!
But, with an electric talent like King still around, the Saints will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on him. King is equally electrifying as he is unproven. Taking over the lead signal caller spot at Miami will help cement a lot of the pros and cons King brings. But, he will have to work for his spot as much as Hill will.
As previously mentioned, the Saint’s won’t just give Hill a free ride to becoming the franchise QB, and King will have a lot to say about that.
30 – San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: S Andre Cisco, Syracuse
One of the biggest reasons the 49ers couldn’t contain Mahomes and the Chiefs offense was a lack of safety help over the top. Being able stop a player like Tyreek Hill is near impossible when your safety blanket is blown away.
Locking down the centerfield with a player like Cisco is more important than a lockdown CB ever will be. There are few players that will ever be able to lock down Hill, but they need someone who can pick up players like the Chiefs wideout and all the new speedsters in the NFL. A speedy, physical force like Cisco is what the Niners need.
31 – Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: EDGE Quincy Roche, Miami (FL)
Miami could have a fantastic collection of first round prospects similar to LSU in 2020. The only thing scarier than Gregory Rosseau coming off the edge is the fact that they added Temple standout Quincy Roche opposite him. Miami’s defensive line is not one anyone will be happy to see.
Roche was no slouch at Temple, as he was AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. He could have an even better 2020 considering the fact he isn’t the best EDGE rusher on his team, and opposing team’s focuses will not be on him.
32 – Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: DL Christian Barmore, Alabama
With the uncertainty of Chris Jones‘ situation in Kansas, the Chiefs could look to add a fantastic defensive linemen to replace him. Much like Dak in Dallas, it could go either way with how said situation plays out. Either way, having two defensive tackles is a good option. Barmore is the best defensive player on the board and a physical presence up front.
It’s all about the defense for Kansas from this point on after finding their workhorse RB in Clye Edwards-Helaire in this year’s draft. So, Barmore currently stacks up as the best available and a great fit.
It’s as easy as that…
So that does it for this way too early 2021 NFL Mock Draft! While team’s needs were considered, this was mostly to show you all what’s coming up next year. If you would like to find out when I post something new, be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
Also be sure to listen to my podcast called “Institute of Drafting” where I talk about all things related to the draft, prospects and rookies.