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2021 NFL Mock Draft: Post-free agency

The 2021 NFL Draft will take place in Cleveland from April 29-May 1.

CLEVELAND —
Editor’s note: the video in the player above is from March 3, 2021.

With just more than one week of free agency in the books, teams across the NFL find themselves with new strengths, as well as new needs. That calls for a new projection of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft with our latest mock draft.

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1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

This pick has been set in stone since the 2020 season ended. Urban Meyer begins his NFL coaching career by drafting arguably the top quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012.


2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

I’d go with Justin Fields, but all indications seem to be that the Jets have their hearts set on Zach Wilson. The BYU product could either start right away or spend a year behind Sam Darnold.


3. Miami Dolphins (via HOU) – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Signing Will Fuller V to a one-year contract shouldn’t take Miami out of the running to take a wide receiver in the first round. Adding Ja’Marr Chase could help turn the Dolphins’ receiving corps from one of the worst in the NFL to one of the best.


4. Atlanta Falcons – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Matt Ryan will be the Falcons’ starting quarterback in 2021 but his future in Atlanta beyond that is unclear. The Falcons would be wise to use their top-five pick to select the 2016 MVP’s successor — especially with a quarterback as talented as Justin Fields on the board.


5. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Simply put, the Bengals can’t afford to let Joe Burrow get as beat up as he did last season. Drafting the top offensive tackle in this year’s draft, Penei Sewell, would not only help address that issue but give Cincinnati some flexibility with free agent signee Riley Reiff.


6. Philadelphia Eagles – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

There may not be a more wide receiver-needy team in the league than the Eagles. While DeVonta Smith may have had the more productive college career, Jaylen Waddle seems to be the Alabama receiver with the most NFL buzz.


7. Detroit Lions – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Arguably the NFL team that’s most clearly rebuilding, the Lions could go a number of directions. One of the draft’s top defensive players, Micah Parsons seems like the type of player new head coach Dan Campbell would view as a building block.


8. Carolina Panthers – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Much like Detroit, Carolina appears to be in true “best player available” mode. And there aren’t many players in this year’s draft more talented than Kyle Pitts.


9. Denver Broncos – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

It’s hard for me to imagine — or at least understand — the Broncos being committed to Drew Lock. Trey Lance falling to ninth could change that.


10. Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The Cowboys’ needs in their secondary are obvious. Patrick Surtain II could provide an instant upgrade — and star power.


11. New York Giants – Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan

The Giants’ free-agent spending spree leaves them with some flexibility. Kwity Paye could give New York the premiere pass-rusher it currently lacks.


12. San Francisco 49ers – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

The likely departures of cornerback Richard Sherman and nickel K’Waun Williams in free agency leave San Francisco with a significant void in its secondary. Already one of the draft’s early risers, Jacyee Horn has the versatility and physicality to fill either role.


13. Los Angeles Chargers – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

While their front-seven is plenty impressive, the Chargers’ secondary could use some help. Caleb Farley was considered the top cornerback prospect in this year’s class before sitting out the 2020 season.


14. Minnesota Vikings – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Vikings’ don’t have a glaring need at wide receiver one year after selecting Justin Jefferson. Still, adding DeVonta Smith would give Minnesota one of the most talented 3-man sets in the league while helping prevent opponents from exposing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner’s size.


15. New England Patriots – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

New England was uncharacteristically one of the NFL’s biggest spenders in free agency, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a more conservative approach in the draft. The draft’s top interior defensive lineman, Christian Barmore could add talent and versatility to a Patriots defense in need of both.


16. Arizona Cardinals – Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

The Cardinals seemed like a lock to use their first-round pick on an offensive lineman last year before ultimately opting for defensive Swiss army knife Isaiah Simmons. Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater is considered one of the top offensive linemen in this year’s draft and possesses the versatility to play either tackle or guard.


17. Las Vegas Raiders – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

Despite having spent multiple first-round picks on it in recent years, the Raiders’ secondary remains shaky. The top safety in this year’s class, Trevon Moehrig could breathe new life into Las Vegas’ defense.


18. Miami Dolphins – Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami (Fla.)

After using their first first-round pick on offense, the Dolphins turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball. In doing so, they look to their own backyard to nab Gregory Rosseau to be the athletic pass-rusher Brian Flores’ unit currently lacks.


19. Washington Football Team – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Dwayne Haskins early exit in Washington left the Football Team without a quarterback of the future. Mac Jones could fill that void, while spending a year learning behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.


20. Chicago Bears – Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami (Fla.)

Chicago has one of the league’s top pass-rushers in Khalil Mack but could use another player at the position to help take attention of the attention he commands. A former 5-star prospect, Jaelan Phillips is one of the most talented pass-rushers in this year’s draft.


21. Indianapolis Colts – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Anthony Costanzo’s retirement left the Colts with a glaring hole at left tackle. A 2020 All-ACC selection, 6-foot-5, 314-pound Christian Darrisaw could fix that problem.


22. Tennessee Titans – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Corey Davis’ departure in free agency could allow opposing defenses to key in on A.J. Brown. Adding the speedy Kadarius Toney could change that.


23. New York Jets (via SEA) – Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State

The Jets’ big spending in free agency gives them even more versatility than usual with their second first-round pick. Jayson Oweh’s upside would pair nicely across from prized free-agent signee Carl Lawson.


24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

The Steelers’ cap issues left them unable to replace most of their key offseason departures. Zaven Collins would add a versatile playmaker to a front-seven that just lost Bud Dupree.


25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR) – Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia

Between his time at Florida and Ohio State, Urban Meyer had a knack for attracting freak pass-rushers. If he wants to continue that trend in the NFL, he can do worse than pairing Azeez Ojulari opposite Josh Allen.


26. Cleveland Browns – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

Thus far, the Browns have spent most of free agency focused on defense and that trend could continue into the draft. The son of a four-time Pro Bowl selection, Asante Samuel Jr.’ possesses both the athleticism and versatility typically coveted by Cleveland’s front office.


27. Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

It’s no secret that Baltimore needs to surround Lamar Jackson with more weapons. Rashod Bateman’s precision would make for a nice fit opposite Marquise Brown’s speed.


28. New Orleans Saints – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

Tre’Quan Smith is currently penciled in as the Saints’ starting wide receiver opposite Michael Thomas. If Drew Brees’ successor is going to have a chance, he’s going to need more weapons, and the speedy Elijah Moore can help provide just that.


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

The Packers finally show some commitment to Aaron Rodgers, adding 6-foot-3 Terrace Marshall Jr. to a wide receiving corps that already includes Davante Adams.


30. Buffalo Bills – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is too talented to be drafted this low, but his tweener position makes him a tough projection. In Buffalo, head coach Sean McDermott could take advantage of his versatility and ability in coverage.


31. Kansas City Chiefs – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

Having let go of both of their starting offensive tackles, the Chiefs’ most obvious needs are upfront. With the ability to play tackle or guard, USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker could be used as a puzzle piece to fill multiple voids.


32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Thanks in large part to Tom Brady restructuring his contract, Tampa Bay is essentially bringing back the entire starting lineup from its Super Bowl-winning team. Even if Tampa Bay re-signs Leonard Fournette, Najee Harris could make an immediate impact in what would be a classic example of the rich getting richer.


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