Martin McConnell’s Final 2021 NFL Mock Draft

9. Denver Broncos- Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

The Broncos stay right where they are and still manage to get one of the draft’s top quarterbacks. Sure, it’s the fifth quarterback off the board in just nine picks, but it’s a quarterback nonetheless. I myself am not a huge Mac Jones fan, but to me, he reads as the perfect “rebound relationship” from their current quarterback, Drew Lock. Where Lock was risky and inaccurate, Alabama’s Jones is poised and cerebral, even if he’s not very physically talented. Alabama isn’t exactly known for their incredible quarterbacks, but Jones led one of the most efficient offensive units in the history of college football in 2020. If nothing else, he’s definitely worth the shot as a Kirk Cousins-style of quarterback.

10. Dallas Cowboys- Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

The Cowboys need defensive help in the worst way. Normally, I’d have them taking Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II here, but with a flashy athlete like Micah Parsons on the board at No. 10, I don’t think Jerry Jones can resist. Parsons is a phenomenal athlete and playmaker, but it seems that rumors of off the field problems have scared him off the board for quite a few teams. Sound familiar? This is absolutely a Cowboys move.

11. New York Giants- DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

I’m not sure I buy into the theory that Jaylen Waddle will be the first Alabama receiver taken off the board. DeVonta Smith might be dangerously skinny at just 166 pounds, but his physical gifts are perhaps the best in this class. Smith’s talent as a receiver cannot be overlooked, and with a struggling young quarterback like Daniel Jones, that type of consistent talent at receiver could be a lifesaver. Smith is going to have to avoid getting ripped in half at the professional level, but if he can bulk up even a little bit, he could blossom into one of the NFL’s best at the position.

12. Philadelphia Eagles- Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

The Eagles fall just one spot short of drafting DeVonta Smith, clearly the apple of their eye since they tanked for the No. 6 pick in the final regular season game of 2020. The Eagles sorely missed on their first-round pick at receiver last year, as they took the underwhelming Jalen Reagor while LSU’s Justin Jefferson was still on the board. Now they’ll get another chance at a wide receiver with a very similar name, taking Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle. Waddle was white-hot before he got injured last season and DeVonta Smith took over as Alabama’s top guy. If he can fully heal that ankle injury, he could be a fantastic talent for Philly, and a steal at No. 12 overall.

13. Los Angeles Chargers- Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

A third straight Alabama player off the board, and the fourth in five picks, as the Chargers receive the gift of Patrick Surtain II falling to them. There is no earthly reason for Surtain to fall this far, but should the board break this way, the Chargers will be sprinting to turn this draft card in to the commissioner’s office. Los Angeles already fixed their biggest need this offseason by snatching up Corey Linsley, so they can afford to grab a partner in the defensive backfield for Derwin James. Surtain has elite ball skills, and combined with his size, he has the potential to be a top cornerback in the AFC, alongside Tre’Davious White, Denzel Ward, and Marlon Humphrey.

14. Minnesota Vikings- Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC

The Vikings have a massive, gaping hole on the inside of their offensive line and it’s completely hampering their offensive unit as a whole. Dalvin Cook can’t really hit a hole made by the offensive line when it’s being immediately swallowed up by interior pressure. Alijah Vera-Tucker could easily remedy that, and help get Minnesota’s offense back on track. I’ll admit, this is a bit of a reach for Vera-Tucker at this spot, but with such a sore need on the interior of the line, I can’t help but think of it as a necessary evil to make this pick this early. Vera-Tucker needs some development, but he can be a plug and play guy at a position of need for the Vikes.

15. Detroit Lions- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

I’ve thought that the ceiling for Owusu-Koramoah was probably about No. 17 with the Raiders, but in this situation, I’m just not sure. The Lions need an off-ball linebacker, as well as a safety, and probably a backup cornerback as well across from Jeff Okudah. JOK could easily fill all those roles. I’m not exactly sure where he projects as the NFL level; likely as a safety, but he could also slide into the tackle box as an small yet explosive linebacker. Owusu-Koramoah is one of my personal favorite prospects in this draft, and Detroit should be very happy with this acquisition, even after trading down.

16. Arizona Cardinals- Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

I’m tempted to have someone come up for a cornerback here, but the Cardinals need a star cornerback so badly now that Patrick Peterson has left for the colder pastures of Minnesota. Horn has lots of experience in man coverage, and I think he’ll make a great starter for the Cards in their scheme. He uses his size to his advantage, and even if he doesn’t have the production of an electrifying defensive playmaker, he will definitely make for a solid improvement in an Arizona defense that needs serious help on the back end aside from Budda Baker.

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