Michael Gaither’s Official 2021 NFL Mock Draft

Michael Gaither


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, CBS 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 the site of the well-renounced Pro Football Focus to pull all of these sources into my official first-round, 32-pick prediction for what NFL teams could do in the upcoming NFL Draft. 

 

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 only 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 – DeVonta Smith: WR, Alabama – The top of the Detroit WR depth chart currently consists of Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams. Need I say more? There may be concerns with Smith’s slight 166-pound frame, but he is one of the most complete wide receiver prospects to enter the league in some time. He will be fresh off a Heisman Trophy-winning season that saw him shatter the Pro Football Focus college record for the highest single-season receiving grade ever earned by a wideout (95.8).

8. Carolina Panthers – RaShawn Slater: OT, Northwestern – The Panthers will give Sam Darnold every opportunity to be their starting quarterback for the long term by beefing up the protection around him.

9. Denver Broncos – 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. Broncos star linebacker and former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller didn’t play at all last season because of a torn ACL, and there is a possibility that the Broncos would trade him before the draft. Parsons has the ceiling to fill his shoes right away for a defense in Denver that struggled this season with a lot of young talent.

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 – Jalen Waddle: WR, Alabama – The Giants’ offense hasn’t been the same since they traded WR Odell Beckam, Jr. Waddle gives the G-Men an explosive weapon to round out the team’s revamped receiving corps.

12. Philadelphia Eagles – Jaycee Horn: CB, South Carolina – The Eagles have sniffed around on moving up, in front of Dallas, for a corner—so I think this would be a really nice scenario for GM Howie Roseman, and a gift to the new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, whose roots in Mike Zimmer’s aggressive scheme could come back to life with a top bookend for Darius Slay.

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 – Trey Lance: QB, North Dakota State – The North Dakota State product gives Bill Belicheck a raw — but talented — dual-threat playmaker who has tremendous upside.

16. Arizona Cardinals – Zaven Collins: LB, Tulsa – The Cardinals had major issues defensively. Defeating quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford will be difficult if the Cardinals can’t generate a great pass rush or cover the middle of the field, which Zaven Collins can do.

17. Las Vegas Raiders – Christain Barmore: DT, Alabama – Quarterback Derek Carr and tight end Darren Waller are the team’s two best players, but neither is enough to carry a no-name defensive roster learning a new system under Gus Bradley. And that doesn’t even cover the team’s holes along the offensive line and a young receiving corps that lacks polish (or any level of consistent success). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers attacked a need at offensive tackle and hit big with Tristan Wirfs knowing they were in a Super Bowl window with Tom Brady under center. Brady ain’t walking through those Las Vegas doors, so any pressing need the Raiders have at offensive tackle shouldn’t keep them from drafting the best prospect available to the team at No. 17. In this case, it’s Alabama’s Christain Barmore.

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 – Mac Jones: QB, Alabama – Head coach Ron Rivera and the WFT could take the Alabama passer to be their franchise quarterback of the future. Jones is a distributor with the intelligence and managerial skills needed to win games from the pocket.

20. Chicago Bears – Tevin Jenkins: OT, Oklahoma State – Chicago’s offensive line has declined in recent years, so that should be addressed early in the 2021 NFL Draft. Given the run on tackles, the Bears could be pressured to address the position at this spot if none of the quarterbacks fall to them.

21. Indianapolis Colts – Jaelan Phillips: DE, Miami – The Colts lost some defensive linemen this offseason, so they could stand to upgrade their pass rush in order to beat Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs. Jaelan Phillips had a monster year in replacing the opted-out Gregory Rousseau. Injury concerns could cause him to fall.

22. Tennessee Titans – Trevon Moehrig: S, TCU – The ball-hawking safety would add another versatile defender to the roster. Moehrig would team with Kevin Byard to give the Titans a solid safety tandem to protect the middle of the field.

23. New York Jets – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah: LB, Notre Dame – I’ve heard that head coach Robert Saleh would love to add another edge rusher to the mix here. But the way I have things falling, I’d guess Owusu-Koramoah would intrigue the Jets as the sort of safety/linebacker hybrid that could either play a Kam Chancellor or Kwon Alexander sort of role in Saleh’s defense.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Greg Newsome II: CB, Northwestern – All of the focus has been on the offensive line and running back in Pittsburgh. But the addition of a corner would be fairly valuable to this team, and Greg Newsome adds value to this team. The Northwestern cornerback is coming off an outstanding 2020 season in which he allowed fewer than 100 yards into his coverage all year. Cornerback has also quietly become one of the biggest needs on the Steelers roster after the departures of Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton to go along with 32-year-old Joe Haden entering the final year of his contract.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jayson Oweh: DE, Penn State – Jags head coach Urban Meyer recruited Oweh out of high school; Oweh has the measurables Meyer covets and General Manager Trent Baalke loves to add at this position.

26. Cleveland Browns – Asante Samuel, Jr: CB, Florida State – Cleveland could still heavily invest in the secondary, and they do that in Samuel.

27. Baltimore Ravens – Azeez Ojulari: DE, Georgia – Replacing Matt Judon with an explosive pass rusher possessing A+ athleticism tops general manager Eric DeCosta’s to-do list.

28. New Orleans Saints – Caleb Farley: CB, Virginia Tech – Farley’s back issues cause him to drop to a Saints team needing to replace Janoris Jenkins.

29. Green Bay Packers – Elijah Moore: WR, Ole Miss – Packers fans rejoice! Finally, a high draft resource committed to the receiver position. Moore is a stud route runner with high-end productivity in the SEC — and he had one of the more impressive pro-day performances of the season. I love this pick as a complement to Davante Adams.

30. Buffalo Bills – Rondale Moore: WR, Purdue – Strengthen a strength. Josh Allen‘s breakout season came with a much improved receiving corps, and that should not be a surprise to anyone. Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley are not long-term options, and Beasley’s injury hurt the Bills last season. Moore is a physical specimen who can win all over the field. 

31. Baltimore Ravens – Dillion Radunz: OT, North Dakota State – With the Ravens acquiring this pick in the Orlando Brown trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, I have Radunz going here. 

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Gregory Rousseau: DE, Miami – The Bucs could prepare for Jason Pierre-Paul’s potential departure next March by taking his clone at the end of Round 1. The Miami standout is an intriguing pass rusher with the length and athleticism to give blockers problems off the edge and inside.

 

The draft this year will take place in Cleveland, Ohio, and this is where college football’s top prospects will be selected. The draft has 7 rounds and 256 picks snd it will take over three days, and you can catch all of the coverage on ESPN, including round 1 at 8 pm Thursday, April 29th, rounds 2 and 3 on Friday, April 30th, at 7 pm, and round 4-7 on Saturday, May 1st, at 12 pm.