Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
If there’s one thing we can predict about the 2021 NFL Draft with some certainty, it’s that we don’t know exactly how things will unfold.
A year ago, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looked like a consensus No. 1 pick. Months later, however, he lost that position due to a significant hip injury and the surprise emergence of LSU’s Joe Burrow.
Similarly, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence appears to be the likely No. 1 pick right now—but that could quickly change depending on how other prospects perform and which team lands the first overall selection.
The good news is that the 2021 draft class is loaded with top-tier talent. So, teams can’t know exactly who they’ll be targeting early next April, they do know that those players should be worthy of being selected.
A lot has yet to transpire, but here’s an early look at how the 2021 draft might unfold. Draft order is based on the latest Super Bowl odds from Caesars Palace in reverse order with coin flips used to break ties.
2021 NFL Mock Draft
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (250-1 odds): Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
2. Washington (150-1): Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
3. Carolina Panthers (125-1): Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
4. New York Jets (100-1): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
5. Miami Dolphins (100-1): Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami
6. Cincinnati Bengals (100-1): Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
7. Arizona Cardinals (60-1): Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
8. Detroit Lions (60-1): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
9. Atlanta Falcons (60-1): Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
10. Miami Dolphins [from Houston] (55-1): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
11. Denver Broncos (50-1): Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
12. Chicago Bears (50-1): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
13. New York Giants (50-1): Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
14. Los Angeles Chargers (45-1): Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
15. Cleveland Browns (35-1): Tyler Shelvin, DL, LSU
16. Las Vegas Raiders (30-1): Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia
17. Tennessee Titans (30-1): Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
18. Jacksonville Jaguars [from Rams] (30-1): Walker Little, OT, Stanford
19. Minnesota Vikings (28-1): Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
20. Indianapolis Colts (25-1): JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (25-1): Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
22. Buffalo Bills (25-1): Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
23. New England Patriots (20-1): LaBryan Ray, DL, Alabama
24. Philadelphia Eagles (20-1): Jay Tufele, DT, USC
25. Green Bay Packers (16-1): Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
26. Dallas Cowboys (13-1): Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
27. New Orleans Saints (13-1): Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia
28. Seattle Seahawks (12-1): Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-1): Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
30. San Francisco 49ers (15-2): Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
31. Baltimore Ravens (7-1): Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma
32. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1): Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
2. Washington: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
John Bazemore/Associated Press
There’s a very real chance that Washington will pull the trigger on a quarterback if it lands another top-five election. Picking that high will likely mean that second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins struggled to show the qualities of a franchise quarterback.
If Haskins is being given the benefit of the doubt, however, it makes a ton of sense for Washington to go with an offensive tackle instead. Trent Williams was traded to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, and a top-tier tackle would help make Haskins’ continued development much easier.
For now, Oregon’s Penei Sewell could be the top tackle in the upcoming draft class—though it’s worth noting that this isn’t the consensus, according to Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
As I dig in and evaluated OTs this summer, one thing I heard often (much more than expected) from scouts is that Penei Sewell isn’t entrenched as OT1. Sources pointed to lack of length and play strength as concerns.
Sewell was certainly the most accomplished tackle this past season, winning the Outland Trophy, the Morris Trophy and being a unanimous first-team All-American. Another strong season could cement Sewell’s spot as the top tackle, though the pre-draft process will also play a large role.
Should concerns about Sewell’s size and strength persist, prospects like Texas’ Samuel Cosmi and Stanford’s Walker Little could enter the equation here.
8. Detroit Lions: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Detroit Lions will be an interesting team to watch when it comes to quarterbacks. They have a Hall-of-Fame-caliber passer in Matthew Stafford, but they have continuously underachieved during his tenure. Another down season could be enough for Detroit and Stafford both to want to move on.
NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported back in February that some around the leave believed that Stafford was looking to be traded:
Michael Silver @MikeSilver
Finally, in my @nflnetwork segment, I said this in reference to the Matthew Stafford trade rumors: some GMs and coaches around the league believe Stafford is the one who wants the Lions to move him… an interesting twist on this story. Stay tuned.
Trading Stafford this offseason was never a realistic option for Detroit, though, as he $32 million in dead money remaining on his contract. That number drops to $19 million next offseason, which will be easier to swallow and/or convince another team to absorb.
Should Detroit move on from Stafford, Ohio State’s Justin Fields would become an enticing target. He was the best pure pocket passer in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus, and his skill set would allow the Lions to replace what they had in Stafford.
“The greatest strength of the second-year quarterback is his pocket passing,” Anthony Treash of PFF wrote. “…Fields’ patience in the pocket shines, and pressure doesn’t throw him off his game like most other quarterbacks due to his elite athleticism.”
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Sean Rayford/Associated Press
We have to move down the draft board a bit to get into running back prospects, though this could change. There doesn’t appear to be a Saquon Barkley-caliber back in this draft class, but a phenomenal season could catapult a runner in the top half of Round 1.
Miller mocked Etienne at No. 11 to the Miami Dolphins in his early 2021 mock draft back in April.
Much will depend on where running-back-needy teams land in the draft order too, and the Pittsburgh Steelers could be just such a team. James Conner failed to follow up a strong 2018 campaign, and a back like Clemson’s Travis Etienne could help round out a potent Pittsburgh offense.
A two-time ACC Player of the Year, Etienne might have been one of the top backs taken in the 2020 draft, but he decided to return for his senior season. From a skill-set standpoint, he would be a perfect fit for what the Steelers like to do offensively.
Etienne is capable as both a runner and a receiver. He finished the 2019 season with 1,614 rushing yards, 432 receiving yards and 23 total touchdowns. He could be the dangerous dual-threat back the Steelers had in Le’Veon Bell a few short years ago.
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