Free agency is just around the corner, and then? The 2021 NFL Draft arrives. And boy, do we have some drama to sort through across the league. A half-dozen teams, if not more, are still on the hunt for new and long-term quarterbacks. No one's quite sure what's going to happen beyond the Jaguars' No. 1 pick. And there's a plethora of heralded receiver prospects who could come off the board within the first 10 to 15 picks. In other words, we've got a wild draft ahead of us, and the only thing crazier than considering all the possibilities is predicting how they'll unfold.
With that said, let's jump right into our first-round projection. Below, you'll find all 32 mock selections, plus a handful of projected veteran and draft-pick trades:
- Eagles acquire No. 3 from Dolphins for No. 6, 2021 second-rounder, 2022 third-rounder, 2022 fifth-rounder
- Panthers acquire QB Deshaun Watson, 2022 fourth-rounder from Texans for QB Teddy Bridgewater, No. 8, 2022 first-rounder, 2022 second-rounder, 2021 third-rounder, 2022 third-rounder
- Bears acquire QB Sam Darnold from Jets for conditional 2022 second-round pick
- Patriots acquire No. 12 from 49ers for No. 15, 2021 fourth-rounder, 2022 fourth-rounder
- Patriots acquire No. 31 from Chiefs for No. 46, 2021 third-rounder
- Browns acquire CB Stephon Gilmore from Patriots for 2021 third-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick
Round 1 - Pick 1
Clemson • Jr • 6'6" / 220 lbs
Don't overthink it. The Jags need a new face of the franchise, and Lawrence is the consensus top QB of the class, if not the last few classes. Urban Meyer gets his guy for Jacksonville's major face lift.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Zach Wilson QB
BYU • Jr • 6'3" / 210 lbs
Some Jets players and coaches may like Sam Darnold, but is Joe Douglas really going to pass on the chance to finally get his own guy with such a premium pick? Wilson has the pizzazz to be a play-maker from Day One.
Mock Trade from Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 228 lbs
The Eagles don't pick this high very often, and they know it. They've also been more willing to stock up at QB than almost any team (sometimes to their detriment). With Carson Wentz out the door and Jalen Hurts still an unknown, Howie Roseman goes big for the dynamic Fields -- his second swing at unearthing a top rookie QB.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Trey Lance QB
NFL Draft • Soph • 6'4" / 226 lbs
Can Arthur Smith breathe new life into Matt Ryan in 2021? It's very possible. But it's hard to see an entirely new regime ignoring the future of its QB room with a rare top-five selection here. Lance's upside is worth the gamble.
Mock Trade from Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 6
Round 1 - Pick 7
Penn State • Jr • 6'3" / 244 lbs
A receiver makes sense, especially if/when Kenny Golladay departs. But Dan Campbell is going to have a hard time passing on a tough, athletic defender like Parsons. He'd help reshape a defense desperately in need of a new leader.
Mock Trade from Carolina Panthers
Round 1 - Pick 8
Kyle Pitts TE
Florida • Jr • 6'6" / 240 lbs
The Texans use their first pick from the major Deshaun Watson haul to get a shiny new toy for their overhauled offense. Pitts gives them an instant upgrade at both TE and out wide -- a perfect weapon for whomever the long-term QB ends up being.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Northwestern • Jr • 6'3" / 305 lbs
The Cowboys need to re-invest up front, where guys like Tyron Smith just aren't holding up anymore. They tend to do well developing in the trenches, and Slater has the makings of a future Pro Bowl bookend.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Alabama • Jr • 5'10" / 182 lbs
Dave Gettleman is going to be drooling at OL and DL prospects, but he's also got to help Daniel Jones. Waddle would give New York an explosive weapon unlike any other currently on the roster.
Mock Trade from San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 12
Alabama • Jr • 6'1" / 175 lbs
The 49ers move down to collect more picks as they battle cap-strapped turnover. The Patriots, meanwhile, finally infuse some talent on the offensive side of the ball with a trade up for arguably the best route-running wideout of the class.
Round 1 - Pick 14
USC • Jr • 6'4" / 315 lbs
Minnesota is going to be hunting for edge help, but it also needs to address the offensive front. (Don't we say this every year?) Vera-Tucker would be a rock-solid addition either inside or outside.
Mock Trade from New England Patriots
Round 1 - Pick 15
Round 1 - Pick 16
Kwity Paye DL
Michigan • Sr • 6'4" / 272 lbs
Chandler Jones is aging on a big deal, and Haason Reddick could cash in elsewhere. In other words, the Cardinals need pass rushers. In Paye, they get a big, elite-upside option they can move around.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Gregory Rousseau EDGE
Miami (FL) • Soph • 6'7" / 265 lbs
Clelin Ferrell might give Mike Mayock pause when it comes to gambling on first-round pass rushers, but the reality is the Raiders need help there. Rousseau's potential makes him one of the highest-upside defenders of the class.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'1" / 215 lbs
The Dolphins could easily invest in the trenches, but Brian Flores cares a lot about his play-making defense, too, and Owusu-Koramoah offers the kind of rangy athleticism that can be moved all around the field.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Round 1 - Pick 21
Jaycee Horn CB
South Carolina • Jr • 6'1" / 205 lbs
Xavier Rhodes finished strong on his one-year deal in 2020, but the Colts still need long-term pieces at corner. After presumably filling offensive needs in free agency, they shore up the secondary here.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Miami (FL) • Jr • 6'5" / 266 lbs
The Titans are clearly after a defensive chess piece after whiffing on Vic Beasley and experimenting with Jadeveon Clowney. In Phillips, they get a guy who can line up both inside and outside.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Clemson • Sr • 5'10" / 205 lbs
The Steelers feel like an organization more likely to invest at OT here, but they're also entering a do-or-die year with Big Ben back under center. Etienne would be an instant (and more dynamic) fill-in for James Conner.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 25
Round 1 - Pick 28
Alabama • Soph • 6'5" / 310 lbs
Don't rule out a WR here. As for Mac Jones, maybe the Saints believe he's a perfect quick-strike arm for their offense. But Barmore is also their kind of pick -- a plug-and-play big man for the middle of their vaunted defense.
Mock Trade from Kansas City Chiefs
Round 1 - Pick 31
Mac Jones QB
Alabama • Jr • 6'3" / 214 lbs
You thought the Patriots were done?! They go big once again to move up and secure their QB of the future -- a smart, if unspectacular, Alabama product who'll have a brand new WR (Crimson Tide teammate DeVonta Smith) to throw to.