Pre-Free Agency 2021 NFL Mock Draft

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been crowned Super Bowl champions. Tom Brady has won his seventh Lombardi Trophy, and at 43 years old, still refuses to pass the torch to Patrick Mahomes, or anyone else, for that matter. But much more important than any silly trophy for any silly NFL team is, of course, the upcoming NFL Draft. You see, Super Bowl reigns only last one year. But draft season is forever. With free agency looming over the football landscape, I figured it might be time for another mock draft. If you’d like, you can read my previous mock here. This mock draft might be completely outdated by the end of March due to major free agency moves, but isn’t that just part of the fun? Let’s jump right in, while we still can.

NOTE: This mock draft is purely subjective, and any resemblance to other mock drafts, living or dead, is purely incidental. Not only is it my mock draft, but it’s also a mock draft detailing, more often than not, what I would do if I were a team’s general manager, not what I think those teams will actually do.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

I’m going to copy and paste this selection into every mock draft I write for the 2021 draft season, so I have to make sure it can’t be outdated. Now that the Jaguars are locked into the No. 1 pick in the draft, I can safely say that they’ll be picking Clemson prodigy Trevor Lawrence. No one else is in the running, and it’s going to stay that way (barring completely unforeseen events). Depending on who you ask, Lawrence is either the most completely quarterback prospect of the last eight years, or the last thirty-eight years. Both mentally and physically, “Sunshine” has it all, and he’ll be a perfect fit for the Sunshine State.

2. New York Jets- Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

The rise of Zach Wilson has been steady throughout the college football season, and now he finds himself at the ceiling of that rise. Instead of taking Justin Fields, who might be more ready for professional football, or a rock-solid tackle prospect in Penei Sewell, the Jets seem to be leaning towards BYU gunslinger Zach Wilson, and I can’t blame them. He may not be Trevor Lawrence, but this is what the Jets agreed to when they defeated the Rams and Browns this past season. Wilson’s pure potential and arm talent make him an eyebrow-raising prospect, and the Jets seem to have the beginnings of a nice foundation for him to grow into.

3. Miami Dolphins- DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Personally, I think it’s hilarious that the Eagles very clearly tanked so that they could get a top-flight receiver, specifically DeVonta Smith, and he’s not even going to be there when they pick. If you’re the Dolphins, and you believe in Tua, this type of explosive player is exactly what you need. Miami is still a couple steps away from being a contender, but their defense is set. If they can make sure their young quarterback is comfortable and give him a system to operate that’s highlighted by DeVonta Smith’s speed and skill, they’ll be dangerous for years to come.

4. Atlanta Falcons- Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Fret not, Justin Fields; you won’t fall too far. I’ve seen mock draft that have Fields dropping all the way to No. 8 with the Carolina Panthers, and one which flung him even further down the board, to the Steelers at No. 24. While I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons roll the dice on Trey Lance here, I’m much more inclined to think they’ll want to take more of a “sure thing” with Justin Fields. Fields’ pocket presence and awareness needs some work, but his accuracy and processing speed give him a relatively high floor at the next level. I’m not sure he’s Cam Newton or Dak Prescott like some have projected, but he could certainly get to that level.

5. Cincinnati Bengals- Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

The love for Penei Sewell seemingly never stops, and this spot is his absolute floor. Sewell has very few flaws in his technique, both in the pass and the run. He has solid size at 6-6, 330 pounds, and he displays the mix of quickness and speed that NFL scouts love to see in left tackles. This is a home run for the Bengals if Sewell falls into their lap at No. 5. The only real question Cincy has to answer about this pick is, “Is he even going to be there for us?” I could see any of the teams with picks No. 2 through No. 4 going after Sewell.

6. Philadelphia Eagles- Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The Eagles will have to settle for Ja’Marr Chase in their quest to draft DeVonta Smith. I’ve already spoken on how hilarious I think this is in the Dolphins section of the mock, so I’ll spare Philly fans even further mockery. And lucky for them, I actually love a lot of what Chase brings to the table. I’ve watched quite a few outlets compare Chase to Larry Fitzgerald, and after reviewing his skillset, I can absolutely see it. Chase will need the luck of the draw to become as well-known and beloved as Fitzgerald, but his sure hands and body control will keep him in the NFL for quite some time. You win this round, Philadelphia, but I won’t let you keep getting away with this.

7. Detroit Lions- Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

In my last mock draft, I had Parsons mocked a bit higher, going in the No. 4 slot to the Chargers. His draft hype seems to have significantly cooled for now, and if that keeps up, I definitely think he could end up in Detroit at No. 7. Despite missing the 2020 season after he opted out due to the pandemic, Parsons is still considered the best linebacker in this class by a pretty sizable margin. His physical ability is second to none, and his mental capacity for the game of football is just as great. The Lions are getting a versatile piece here that can plug in and play on day one.

8. Carolina Panthers- Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

I would absolutely love it if the Panthers traded for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, but since they haven’t done that yet, I’m getting them the next best thing. Despite playing at an FCS school, Trey Lance has drawn near-constant comparisons to Deshaun Watson. I’ve seen much of the “Panthers taking a QB at No. 8” hype go away, but I’m willing to go down with this ship. I cannot, in good conscience, let the Panthers take anything other than a quarterback here. It just so happens that Lance would be a pretty nice fit under Matt Rhule. Just sayin’.

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