Michael Gaither’s 2021 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

Over the last several days, I have been pulling out NFL draft analysis from some of the best and most commonly used sports sites in the world, including ESPN, CBS Sports and NBC Sports, Sports Illustrated, and Pro Football Focus. In my mock draft for the 2020 NFL draft, out of the first 10 picks, I got 7 of them correct. I used a site called the Draft Network to pull all of these sources into a first-round, 32-pick prediction for what NFL teams could do in the upcoming NFL Draft. So, here is my 2021 NFL Mock Draft 2.0.


1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawerence: QB, Clemson – Barring a crazy trade, this may be the only no-brainer pick in this draft. 6’6”, 220 with a cannon for an arm and underrated mobility, he’s the best prospect to enter the NFL Draft since former Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck.


2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson: QB, BYU – Even though he has had some injury and character troubles in the past, Zach Wilson can make every throw in the book, is a very good athlete, and plays with arrogance and the moxie of a franchise QB.


3. San Francisco 49ers – Justin Fields: QB, Ohio State – Justin Fields will eventually be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. He can make every throw and he’s arguably the most athletic QB in this draft, even with his inconsistencies in some of his games this past season, i.e Indiana and Northwestern. San Francisco traded up with the Miami Dolphins for a simple reason: they want a new franchise quarterback, and Justin Fields fits that mold perfectly.


4. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts: TE, Florida – Although Kyle Pitts is listed as a tight end, he really should be listed as a FLEX, which means you can put him anywhere in an offensive formation. At 6’6” he plays just as big as his size indicates. Although Matt Ryan is in his late 30s, he isn’t the reason Atlanta hasn’t been to the playoffs in 4 years, so Atlanta should give him another weapon in Pitts.


5. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell: OT, Oregon – Penei Sewell is arguably the best offensive lineman in this draft, which is especially evident in the run game, and he’s not too shabby at pass blocking. The Bengals had the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft and took last year’s Heisman winner, Joe Burrow. Because of how bad Burrow’s o-line was, he tore his ACL midway through the season last year. If Sewell falls to them, this pick would make all the sense in the world.


6. Miami Dolphins – Jamar Chase: WR, LSU – Ja’Marr Chase was Heisman Trophy winner and 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow’s go-to target in LSU’s record-breaking offense in 2019. Although he doesn’t run all that fast, Chase has good size and he’s a good 50-50 ball catcher. He should be a valuable target for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins.


7. Detroit Lions – Jaylen Waddle: WR, Alabama – Jaylen Waddle is a do-it-all type of player on offense. Easily the fastest player in this draft, he plays the game with a jetpack and makes defenders look like they’re running in slow motion. Like his college teammate DeVonta Smith, he’s also a return specialist. Even though Waddle only played in four games during the 2020 season due to a fractured right ankle, he will be back and ready to roll for this Lions offense and new QB Jared Goff.


8. Carolina Panthers – Jaycee Horn: CB, South Carolina – The son of four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee Horn entered the NFL draft after demonstrating consistent growth at South Carolina. Horn has a long frame that is built for competing with the opposing team’s best receiver. Carolina has a need at corner, and now that they’ve solved their QB issue, they grab Horn, who’s quickly becoming one of the best corners in this draft.


9. Denver Broncos – RaShawn Slater: OT, Northwestern – If the Broncos want to give Drew Lock a fair chance to be a starting QB in this league, they need to give him some more protection. Rashawn Slater’s diversity as an o-lineman is what has made him a high riser on most draft boards, and he will be a valuable asset for this interesting Denver team.


10. Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II: CB, Alabama – Patrick Surtain II is a highly touted cornerback from the Crimson Tide. He is the son of former Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs corner Patrick Surtain, which means he has the genes of a former successful NFL player. His length and his discipline, which is a word you hear a lot from a team coached by Nick Saban, are his best attributes. This Cowboys’ defense was horrid last year, and Surtain will immediately improve this defense.


11. New York Giants – Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah: LB, Notre Dame – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will be an immediate impact defender in the NFL. He’s a versatile linebacker who can cover multiple positions on offense. The Giants already have one of the better defenses in the NFL, but could use some more depth, which is what JOK will provide.


12. Philadelphia Eagles – Devonta Smith: WR, Alabama – Although he’s a slender wideout who has body dimensions that are maxed out in both his upper and lower halves, he plays much bigger than his frail structure indicates. Because of his sure hands and body control, he has no trouble making catches in traffic. Smith also has value on special teams, as he proved to be a dangerous punt returner this past season. Serving as the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 option in 2020, he proved to be one of the most valuable and explosive players in the country, taking home the Heisman trophy in the process. 


13. Los Angeles Chargers – Christain Darrisaw: OT, Virginia Tech – The No. 1 priority for the LA Chargers with this pick is rather simple: get your franchise quarterback his blindside protection. Darrisaw improved every season during his time with the Hokies and checks every box when it comes to what NFL people want from an offensive lineman.


14. Minnesota Vikings – Alijah Vera-Tucker: OG, USC – Alijah Vera-Tucker has aligned predominantly at left tackle for the USC Trojans offense, but he can play a little guard as well. The interior of the Vikings’ offensive and defensive lines was downright terrible this past season, so don’t be surprised if they take a player from either one of those positions within the first two rounds of the draft.


15. New England Patriots – Mac Jones: QB, Alabama – Even though he isn’t very athletic, Mac Jones is a clear leader and very smart player at the position, who understands right away where all of his options are. Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick has a great relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, and their current QB, Cam Newton, has looked like a shell of his former self, so this pick would make a lot of sense for New England.


16. Arizona Cardinals – Greg Newsome II: CB, Northwestern – Greg Newsome is one of the better corners in this draft class. Arizona Cardinal All-Pro corner Patrick Peterson is a free agent, so plugging in Newsome will be the most ideal play for a Cardinals team that just missed the postseason this past year.


17. Las Vegas Raiders – Sam Cosmi: OT, Texas – Cosmi is one of the better offensive linemen in this draft, and if the Raiders truly believe in QB Derrick Carr, then they need to prove him with more protection.


18. Miami Dolphins – Kwity Paye: DE, Michigan – Kwity Paye is arguably the best defensive end in this draft, and his raw potential still has room to be tapped. Miami has a few needs that can be filled, and they will do that with their second pick in this first round.


19. Washington Football Team –  Tevin Jenkins: OT, Oklahoma State – Tevin Jenkins is an experienced offensive lineman who can play multiple positions of the offensive line. Adding Jenkins for his already solid O-line will make the Washington Football Team more likely to repeat as NFC East Champs, for whatever that’s worth.


20. Chicago Bears – Trey Lance: QB, North Dakota State – Next to Justin Fields, Trey Lance could make an argument that he’s the most athletic quarterback in the draft. The Panthers have been involved in trade talks for both Matthew Stafford, who is now a Los Angeles Ram, and Deshawn Waston, who, as of right now, is still with the Houston Texans, and dealing with his own issues that we won’t get into. They added Andy Dalton in free agency, but they will most likely take a quarterback if one falls to them, which in this case is Trey Lance.


21. Indianapolis Colts – Dillian Radunz: OT, North Dakota State – Dillian Radunz is one of the better offensive linemen in this draft and will be very valuable to a Colts team that already has one of the better rosters in the NFL.


22. Tennessee Titans – Azeez Ojulari: DE, Georgia – Ojulari has great athleticism and consistently demonstrated good quickness, effort, and body control. He can play linebacker in the NFL as well. The Titans’ defense needed massive turnover on defense to be a top contender in the AFC, and Ojulari would be a great asset to this Titans roster.


23. New York Jets – Caleb Farley: CB, Virginia Tech – Farley brings a rare blend of size, length, quickness, and athleticism that makes him an exciting NFL prospect. His injury history is concerning, but for a team that needs to get better on defense, I would be shocked if the Jets didn’t take the best player available when they make this pick.


24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Najee Harris: RB, Alabama – Harris is a versatile back that has the value as a runner and as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Harris is that rare blend of power and determination, that allowed him to lead in the nation in rushing touchdowns this past season. Pittsburgh has a huge running back issue, and they fill that need with Harris.


25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Travis Etienne: RB, Clemson – Travis Etienne enters the NFL after leaving Clemson as the ACC’s all-time leading rusher. His burst and body control make him a big-play back that is capable of scoring from any part of the field. Although running back James Robinson was very good for the Jags last season, adding Etienne to this team would make some sense.


26. Cleveland Browns – Jaelan Phillips: DE, Miami(Fla.) – Even though he’s had some injury issues, Jaelan Phillips is a playmaker against the run and he can rush the passer with his blend of size, length, power, technique, and athleticism. The Cleveland Browns make some improvements this past season, but they still need help on the defensive side of the ball. Phillips is a guy that they can develop over time into an important piece to their team.


27. Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman: WR, Minnesota – Rashod Bateman is one of the better receivers in this draft class and reminds a lot of people of Steelers pro bowl receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Ravens have been looking for a number one wide receiver for a while now, and I think they find him in Bateman.


28. New Orleans Saints – Rondale Moore: WR, Purdue – Rondale Moore should be considered one of the NFL Draft’s most electric prospects but he’s also one of the biggest wildcards because of his injury issues. When healthy, Moore is a multi-purpose weapon who can break open a football game with any touch of the football, which includes special teams plays. If you give a great offensive mind like Sean Payton a guy like Moore, the possibilities on offense are endless.


29. Green Bay Packers – Kadarius Toney: WR, Florida – What is it with Florida and swiss army knives? Kadarius Toney could make the argument that not only could he be the fastest player in this draft, but could also be the most valuable chess piece. Toney, like his former teammate Kyle Pitts, can be lined up anywhere in an offensive formation. Unlike his former teammate, he is valuable in the return game. Adding Toney to a Packers team that already has solid pieces on offense firmly puts them in Super Bowl contention.


30. Buffalo Bills – Eric Stokes: CB, Georgia – The Buffalo Bills don’t have a lot of needs on their roster, and adding corner depth is something that all teams should do, so Stokes would be a nice addition here.


31. Kansas City Chiefs – Jayson Oweh: DE, Penn State – With a rare length and a surplus of amazing athletic tools, Jason Oweh has a very high ceiling. It’ll be good if he is drafted by Kansas City because he still needs time to develop, and why not develop with a solid defense that is fresh off two consecutive super bowl appearances.


32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Micah Parsons: LB, Penn State – Micah Parsons will be a dynamic player in the NFL just as he was at Penn State. His combination of size and explosiveness allow him to consistently destroy ball carriers and blockers to the football. It’ll be good if he is drafted by Tampa Bay, a team that doesn’t have any huge needs and an elite defense that is fresh off a super bowl victory.