2021 NFL Mock Draft 5.0 From Ryan McCrystal

With the NFL draft less than three weeks away and most pro days completed, the draft picture is starting to come more into focus. 

To keep things simple, I won’t project any trades in this mock draft, but I will mention a few teams who may consider a move up to land a specific target.

Pick #1 Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Previous Mock Draft Selection: Lawrence

Urban Meyer confirmed his interest in Lawrence to NBC Sports’ Peter King last week. This pick is locked in. 

Pick #2 New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Previous pick: Wilson

With Sam Darnold out of the way, it’s now clear New York is taking a quarterback. Wilson’s combination of accuracy and mobility has made him the presumed selection all along. 

Pick #3 San Francisco 49ers – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Previous pick: Justin Fields, QB

It’s difficult to believe the 49ers invested three first-round picks in Mac Jones, but this rumor only continues to gain steam. ESPN’s Adam Schefter emphatically stated Jones would be the pick in a recent interview. Schefter’s draft reports aren’t infallible, but it’s not common to hear any reporter speak with such conviction about an outcome without a strong source in the organization. 

Pick #4 Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Previous pick: Pitts

I’ve switched this pick a couple times (Patrick Surtain appeared in one version, Pitts in all the others) but I remain steady in predicting them to pass on the quarterbacks. This has been based on owner Arthur Blank’s stated commitment to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones early this offseason. It sounds as though he’s not interested in rebuilding. 

Pick #5 Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Previous pick: Chase

According to ESPN’s Ben Baby, Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin (their de facto GM) recently said the team has “starter grades” on offensive tackles likely to be Day 2 picks. That statement, coupled with the recent addition of Riley Reiff, likely points to Cincinnati targeting a pass-catcher rather than an offensive lineman with this pick. 

Pick #6 Miami Dolphins – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Previous pick: Sewell 

GM Chris Grier demonstrated how he values elite talent at offensive line in 2016 when he gambled on Laremy Tunsil despite Tunsil’s draft day social media blunder. While Miami has invested lower picks in the offensive line in recent years, this is Grier’s first opportunity to add an elite prospect to the offensive line since Tunsil. 

Pick #7 Detroit Lions – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Previous pick: Patrick Surtain, CB

I have not paired the Lions with a quarterback in any of my previous mock drafts. But based on Carolina’s addition of Darnold and San Francisco’s presumed interest in Jones, it’s looking like Justin Fields might be on the board. This is a scenario Detroit probably wasn’t anticipating a few weeks ago, and they could take advantage of the surprising opportunity.

Pick #8 Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Previous pick: Trey Lance, QB

All seven of Carolina’s draft picks were on the defensive side of the ball in 2020. This year could potentially be the reverse. With a short-term commitment made to Darnold, Carolina needs to bolster the talent around him. 

Pick #9 Denver Broncos – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Previous pick: Mac Jones, QB

The Broncos have been operating like a team trying to win now—keeping Von Miller, pursuing Matthew Stafford, signing Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. And we haven’t heard any concrete rumors about an attempt to move up in the draft for a quarterback. So maybe they’ll pass on Trey Lance, or whichever quarterback falls to them. Offensive tackle might be a need to address, due to Ja’Wuan James only playing 63 snaps over the last two seasons. 

Pick #10 Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Previous pick: Rashawn Slater, OT

According to Sports Info Solutions, Dallas allowed 8.5 yards per target to receivers lined up wide, which ranked 24th in the league. Despite these struggles, the only change to the cornerback depth chart has been allowing Chidobe Awuzie to walk. 

Pick #11 New York Giants – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Previous pick: Kwity Paye, EDGE

As I addressed in our news and rumors recently, there’s a growing sense that GM Dave Gettleman isn’t satisfied with the addition of Kenny Golladay alone and will still consider adding another weapon with this selection. Since Gettleman’s job security is likely tied to the success of QB Daniel Jones, it’s easy to understand why he might want more talent at the position. 

Pick #12 Philadelphia Eagles – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Previous pick: DeVonta Smith, WR

The Eagles are in a good position at No. 12 to address massive holes at either receiver or cornerback. Since they’re building around a young quarterback, the edge probably goes to the receivers at this selection. 

Pick #13 Los Angeles Chargers – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Previous pick: Christian Darrisaw, OT 

32-year-old Chris Harris, who played just nine games due to injury last year, is the only proven cornerback on the Chargers’ roster. The team might prefer one of the top offensive tackles, but in this scenario with Sewell, Slater, and Darrisaw off the board, turning their attention to cornerback would be a likely outcome. 

Pick #14 Minnesota Vikings – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami FL

Previous pick: Phillips

The Vikings’ defense generated a pressure rate of 31.7%, ranking 30th in the league according to Sports Info Solutions. GM Rick Spielman hasn’t been shy about taking raw but talented defensive players, such as Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter. The coaching staff’s success developing those players probably makes him even more comfortable selecting Phillips. 

Pick #15 New England Patriots – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Previous pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB 

The Patriots might consider trading up for Lance, but the Panthers’ acquisition of Darnold also increases the chances one of the quarterbacks falls outside the top 10. 

Pick #16 Arizona Cardinals – Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

Previous pick: Jaylen Waddle, CB

The Cardinals are likely to take one of the top receivers or cornerbacks, but what if they’re all gone? GM Steve Keim does not have a history of reaching to fill needs, so landing an impact player for the defensive line seems like the more likely option in this scenario. 

Pick #17 Las Vegas Raiders – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

Previous pick: Jenkins

Brandon Parker is currently the Raiders’ most experienced right tackle and yet he was a healthy scratch from the lineup multiple times late in the 2020 season. It’s hard to imagine the team now views him as a starter, so another right tackle is likely on the way. 

Pick #18 Miami Dolphins – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

Previous pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE

The Dolphins have yet to sign a pass-rusher in free agency, despite losing a combined 84 QB pressures from Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy. Kwity Paye will be downgraded by some teams for his size (6’3”, 33” arms) but that likely isn’t an issue for Miami GM Chris Grier. In 2017, Grier drafted Charles Harris in the first round (6’3”, 32 3/8” arms).

Pick #19 Washington Football Team – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

Previous pick: Rashod Bateman, WR

Washington probably doesn’t plan to start the season with Cole Holcomb, Jon Bostic, and Khaleke Hudson as their starting linebackers. Zaven Collins’s combination of size and athleticism makes him a versatile weapon and could potentially be moved around to multiple roles in Washington. 

Pick #20 Chicago Bears – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

Previous pick: Jaycee Horn, CB

The Bears are reportedly shopping Anthony Miller, which would further deplete an already mediocre receiving corps and put even more pressure on Allen Robinson. Elijah Moore could potentially be an upgrade over Miller in the slot. 

Pick #21 Indianapolis Colts – Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas

Previous pick: Cosmi

According to Sports Info Solutions, Carson Wentz posted a QB rating of 46.9 when facing pressure last season, ranking 30th out of 32 qualifiers. It’s tough to imagine Indy feeling comfortable protecting him with Sam Tevi or Julie’n Davenport at left tackle. 

Pick #22 Tennessee Titans – Greg Newsome II, CB, Nonwestern

Previous pick: Newsome

With Adoree’ Jackson and Malcolm Butler gone, the Titans are rebuilding their secondary. Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson should help, but some youth to build around is clearly needed. 

Pick #23 New York Jets – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Previous pick: Parsons

Due to bullying and sexual assault allegations during his time at Penn State, it’s tough to place Micah Parsons in a mock draft. Certain teams are likely to pass over him because owners don’t want to answer those types of questions about their new high-profile player. But at some point, an owner will be convinced the value is too great to pass up. 

Pick #24 Pittsburgh Steelers – Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama

Previous pick: Dickerson

With Maurkice Pouncey now retired, there’s a critical hole in the middle of Pittsburgh’s offensive line. And with a 39-year-old immobile quarterback, the Steelers can’t afford to have their offensive line struggle in 2021. 

Pick #25 Jacksonville Jaguars – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Previous pick: Trevon Moehrig, S

Owusu-Koramoah is a safety-linebacker hybrid, and Urban Meyer had success utilizing those types of players at Ohio State. Most notably, Darron Lee (although he was a bust NFL) was a critical piece of Ohio State’s 2014 championship team, as a linebacker playing both in the box and in coverage in the slot. 

Pick #26 Cleveland Browns – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Previous pick: Farley

The Browns have been willing to gamble on players who fall in the draft (for example, safety Grant Delpit last year) and they have a need for improved depth in the secondary. 

Pick #27 Baltimore Ravens – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

Previous pick: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

Baltimore’s defense is built around versatile athletes and the 6’3”, 240-pound Ojulari definitely fits the mold. His size and strength would allow him to line up on the edge, but he’s also athletic enough to drop in coverage. 

Pick #28 New Orleans Saints – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Previous pick: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR 

Tre’Quan Smith, who’s never seen more than 50 targets in his three years in New Orleans, is the Saints’ No. 2 receiver right now. He might prove to be fine in that role, but his job will be a lot easier if there’s a third weapon added to the mix. 

Pick #29 Green Bay Packers – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

Previous pick: Elijah Moore, WR 

Davante Adams caught 55.6% of his passes targeted at least 20 yards downfield, while the rest of Green Bay’s receiving corps caught 42.6%, according to Sports Info Solutions. Aaron Rodgers deserves another weapon he can connect with down the field. 

Pick #30 Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami FL

Previous pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL

Bills top pass-rushers Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison will be 33 and 34 years old, respectively, this season. So while this may not appear to be a glaring immediate need, Buffalo would be wise to add some depth and think about the future of the position. 

Pick #31 Kansas City Chiefs – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

Previous pick: Levi Onwuzurike, DL 

The Chiefs aren’t done rebuilding their offensive line and left tackle is probably one of the positions left to fill. Their best left tackle at the moment appears to be Martinas Rankin, who has spent most of his two years in Kansas City on the IR. 

Pick #32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Rondale Moore, WR

Previous pick: Christian Barmore, DT

As a head coach, Bruce Arians has drafted seven wide receivers. None of them were clocked slower than 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash and four of them (Scotty Miller, JJ Nelson, Ryan Swope, and John Brown) ran sub-4.4. Arians will undoubtedly love Rondale Moore’s speed and his skill set would be a nice complement to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.