NFL Draft: 2021 Mock Draft Selections From 1 Through 8
With the NFL regular season only two weeks away from ending, there are a good amount of fanbases looking forward to the draft. Starting off the mock drafts early is always something fun to do as it gets people thinking about who their team could take. With that said, I will be starting my 2021 mock draft 1.0 here and now. In this article, I will be going over my first 8 picks for the teams. The picks are respective to the order prior to week 16. I will be basing picks on a few things, such as:
- Team Needs: The biggest part of drafting in my opinion. Fulfilling the positions your team needs with young college prospects is always something teams should be leaping to do during draft night.
- Projected ranking: If a team does not have a giant hole to fill or has a few needs, I will use prospect rankings to take the best available player who fits some sort of need for that franchise.
- Scheme fits: This is something that while less important than the first two, is something to consider. I will do my best to fit players with teams that can help them thrive due to either coaching or style of game.
With those out of the way, let us begin.
Pick 1 (Jacksonville Jaguars): Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence has been the consensus NFL No. 1 pick for ages now. Except now he has a new landing destination in Florida. It has been hard to find a fault in Trevor’s game this year, in fact almost impossible to do so. He is one of the most well rounded and physically gifted quarterback prospects to come out of college in recent memory. At 6’6” and 220 pounds, he is pretty much the perfect body type for a quarterback in the NFL. The change from the New York Jets to the Jaguars could be one that benefits him in the long run. With the Jaguars already having offensive weapons in James Robinson, D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr, this is a solid spot for him to go to provided there are no surprise wins in the Jags’ future.
With time we should see Lawrence become a franchise QB for this team. Gardner Minshew II will likely stay to backup Lawrence at least for a year or two. If he does not want to, maybe they trade him for some draft capital to get pieces around Trevor. As long as the Jaguars can build well
Pick 2 (New York Jets): Ohio State University QB Justin Fields
Another relatively obvious NFL pick, while not as much so as the first pick. The New York Jets ruined the tank this Sunday by beating out the Los Angeles Rams. Their prize? A Lower pick. Justin Fields is nothing to scoff at though and definitely could end up being a franchise QB for the Jets. The issue people are starting to see is that he is inconsistent in his game. In some games like against Penn State he will put up 318 passing yards on 82% completion. Then in other games like last week against Northwestern, he will put up 114 yards and 2 interceptions on 44% completion.
Overall he is a little bit raw in terms of consistency. However, he is definitely warranted to be the #2 pick this year. His mobility outside the pocket is something teams are starting to more and more see as useful and is more catered to the modern QB style.
Pick 3 (Cincinnati Bengals): Oregon OT Penei Sewell
Another NFL consensus pick here with arguably the best non-QB in this class. Even after sitting out this season due to Covid, he is still easily a top 5 pick. As long as the Bengals stay here, I doubt he falls past pick 3. As we all saw this year, the Bengals quarterback of the future Joe Burrow was injured mid-way through the season. Getting someone to protect him in Penei Sewell would hugely benefit both Burrow and the team’s success in the future. He is extremely strong in his upper body but has room to improve in his leg strength. If he can improve the leg strength and learn how to use it, he could be more of an anchor than he is now. As only a junior this year, his potential is very high as he is only 20 years of age.
He is also relatively versatile positionally. He can play both tackles proficiently and even has some guard under his belt as well. This will be great for Cincinnati as they can move him around with their other lineman and see who fits where best. It will also help if he ends up at LT so that he can be Joe Burrow’s blindside blocker. There are very few linemen that can be trusted with the task of protecting the franchise QB’s blindside. If it’s Penei? You have nothing to worry about if you’re Joe.
Pick 4 (Carolina Panthers): Penn State LB Micah Parsons
I know there has been a lot of people following the Zach Wilson to Carolina trend, which is fine. But that really is not the Panthers’ weakest point, and realistically should not be the target of their #4 pick. Filling one of their biggest needs since Luke Keuchly left, we have Micah Parsons. Micah opted out this season as well due to Covid, but we have two seasons worth of film to go off of with him.
He seemingly was the captain or anchor of the Penn State defense, as without him this year they have been in rough shape. Parsons is extremely athletic and explodes into plays once they start to develop. He is exceptional at reading plays and blowing them up. With some time, he should be able to be the captain of the Panthers’ defense. His only weakness so far has been at the second level. However, he can work on it due to being another young prospect. He will add a surefire playmaker to the Panthers rebuilding defense, alongside last year’s addition in safety Jeremy Chinn.
Pick 5 (Atlanta Falcons): Miami Edge Gregory Rousseau
With the Atlanta Falcons failing to find an edge rusher that is consistent at a high level, they should look this year to Gregory Rousseau. After cutting their 2017 first-round pick edge Takkarist McKinley this year, they need someone to fill that void. Gregory is a fantastic block shedder and gets his hands and body away from the offensive tackle very quickly. His extreme length makes for fantastic tackling and sacking ability. Something he could do to develop his game at a higher level is to learn more pass rush moves over time. This is something the Falcons should look to teach him, but this is only his redshirt freshman year so he has time to develop. With time, he could be an absolutely lethal addition to the Falcons front 7. Alongside Grady Jarrett, he will become a very viable player in the NFC South with time.
Pick 6 (Miami Dolphins): LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase
This pick is a little less of a consensus and more of a mix of things. Ja’Marr Chase fills all three of the criteria I mentioned before for draft picks. He is a positional need, good value for the pick, and is a fantastic scheme fit. Chase is an absolutely fantastic receiver in pretty much every facet of his game. He is a strong route runner, he finds open space, can improvise if needed and gets physical when he should.
He has something everyone wants in an NFL wide receiver which is elusiveness and can slip through contact to get the ball. Even during route running he seems almost not affected by contact from corners and other players. He will most definitely be a valuable asset to the Dolphins offense which is finally finding its own as a unit. Pair him up with players like Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, and Myles Gaskin and you have a very strong offense to put in front of Tua Tagovailoa
Pick 7 (Philadelphia Eagles): Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle
Some may argue this NFL pick should be the other Alabama wide receiver in DeVonta Smith…I do not agree. While Smith has had a breakout year as the WR1 this year, many have forgotten that Jaylen Waddle was having a career year as well. Waddle has missed all but 4 games due to an ankle injury, which may have hurt his draft stock a little bit. But realistically he’s still a top 10 pick. Waddle is another Alabama receiver, similar to Henry Ruggs III from last year, that has burning speed.
Running an unofficial 4.27 second 40-yard dash, that ties the speed of Henry as well. The difference with Jaylen is that he has an absolutely massive catch radius, if you can throw the pass anywhere near him he will catch it more than likely. An insane stat from this year about him is his yards per reception, which is abnormally high. He had 25 receptions for 557 yards and 4 touchdowns in only those 4 games so far this year. That sets him at just over 22 yards per reception (22.3 to be exact), which is massive. His burning speed and amazing catch ability should mix into an insane combination in the NFL as long as he stays healthy. Giving new QB Jalen Hurts a reliable and speedy weapon to throw to.
Pick 8 (Dallas Cowboys): Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II
Rounding out the first quarter of this NFL mock draft, we have Patrick Surtain II. Patrick is likely going to be the first CB off the board come April, due to his amazing awareness. He is a rare type of player who does not immediately engage and try to block wide receivers. Instead, he sits back for a second or two and watches the route develop and lets the receiver give away their route before engaging in the play. He is proficient at creating extremely small windows for the QB to throw into, and leaving the smallest room for success possible to complete a pass.
Patrick is also capable of punching the ball out from ball carriers and forcing fumbles. He is pretty quick, having a projected 4.5 second 40-yard dash time. Something he needs to work on is his mentality when tackling and putting his body into a tackle. He occasionally tries to shy away from contact, and is more of a drag down tackler than a hit and drop tackler. Overall, he would be a fantastic addition to the Dallas Cowboys secondary which has been needing a leader ever since Byron Jones left last year. Pairing Surtain II with Chidobe Awuzie and Aldon Smith will be a good secondary trio to work with.
Who do you think the first 8 picks should be? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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