NFL mock drafts are always difficult to create with accuracy, especially when there are likely to be draft day trades that few see coming. One of the reasons I do one mock draft a year is for the fun of creating my own draft board to see how it plays out. This is just the second mock draft I've done for CBSSports.com, so feel free to criticize me ... or rip it to shreds!
To my surprise, last year I actually got five of the first six picks right (including the top three quarterbacks) and somehow got Henry Ruggs on the Raiders, Justin Jefferson on the Vikings, and Brandon Aiyuk on the 49ers. Not bad for someone who doesn't do mock drafts very often.
These mocks are a lot of fun and I'm curious to see where the top quarterbacks go. I also will be interested to see where the top-three wide receivers land in this draft and which players drop as the board plays out.
The same rules apply as last year: There will be no trades (my mock, my rules) and I'm not going by positions of need with every first-round selection, but rather with the best player available on my board. That's how these teams are going to draft.
Saddle up everyone. Let's have some fun.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Clemson • Jr • 6'6" / 220 lbs
Even the Jaguars can't screw this pick up. They get their franchise quarterback in Lawrence and start the process of building a winner in Jacksonville. Gone are the top-10 quarterback busts that have plagued the franchise (looking at you, Blaine Gabbert).
Round 1 - Pick 2
Zach Wilson QB
BYU • Jr • 6'3" / 210 lbs
The Jets will have a decision to make with the No. 2 pick, but let's make this simple. Wilson is the pick here as the franchise hits the reset button at quarterback. Wilson could thrive in a zone-run scheme with Mike LaFleur as his offensive coordinator, as the Jets won't rely on him to throw 35 times a game -- at least right away.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 228 lbs
Fields is a perfect fit in San Francisco. He can make the throws on the run -- and can carry the football himself -- and has thrived on the intermediate throws (vital in the 49ers offense). The potential to be great is why the 49ers traded up to select a franchise changer at the position. Fields is the big-game quarterback the 49ers covet as the team will develop him to succeed under Kyle Shanahan.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Kyle Pitts TE
Florida • Jr • 6'6" / 240 lbs
Hard to pass up a quarterback at No. 4 (and the Falcons will have offers), but how can a team that needs a tight end pass up on a generational talent like Pitts? Imagine a pass-catching unit with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Pitts as the top three targets? That's just an embarrassment of riches for Matt Ryan in 2021 and beyond. Atlanta isn't ready to draft Ryan's successor yet.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Penei Sewell OL
Oregon • Jr • 6'6" / 330 lbs
The Bengals need someone to protect Joe Burrow, who was hit way too much in his rookie season. If the Bengals want to have Burrow throw over 30 times a game, fine. Draft the best tackle in the draft to protect him. Cincinnati has its left tackle for the next decade to pair with the generational quarterback.
From Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 6
LSU • Jr • 6'0" / 208 lbs
The Dolphins traded back from No. 3 to No. 12, traded up from No. 12 to No. 6, got two first-round picks, and still get the receiver they want in Chase. Tua Tagovailoa has an embarrassment of riches to throw to with Chase, DeVante Parker and Will Fuller.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Alabama • Jr • 6'1" / 175 lbs
The Lions need a top wide receiver and find their man in Smith. He can fit in any offense while creating a glaring mismatch in the slot. Jared Goff has his No. 1 wideout that offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will utilize all over the field in his rookie season. Expect Smith to have a big year in Detroit.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Trey Lance QB
North Dakota State • Soph • 6'4" / 226 lbs
The Panthers are able to land their quarterback at No. 8. Lance in a Joe Brady offense could be downright scary, even if there are some question marks to his game. He won't turn 21 until May, so there's plenty to time to develop him. Carolina will be very pleased if they are able to get Lance here.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Mac Jones QB
Alabama • Jr • 6'3" / 214 lbs
Denver is able to take its quarterback in Jones, the fifth QB selected in the top 10. Jones is still a good prospect and could thrive with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and K.J. Hamler as his top four wideouts. The Broncos are a quarterback away from competing for a playoff spot -- and Jones will get them in position to compete in December.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Alabama • Jr • 6'2" / 203 lbs
Easy decision for the Cowboys to take the best cornerback on the board, especially after having an embarrassing secondary last year. Surtain is the boundary corner Dallas needs if defensive coordinator Dan Quinn decides to be primarily in Cover 3. The Cowboys will be extremely pleased with this pick.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Penn State • Jr • 6'3" / 244 lbs
Parsons is a perfect fit for Patrick Graham's defense and will thrive in New York, which needs a linebacker after addressing the skill position players in free agency. The Giants leave offensive tackle Rashawn Slater on the board in order to grab Parsons, an early favorite for defensive rookie of the year.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 12
Alabama • Jr • 5'10" / 182 lbs
Brilliant move by Howie Roseman to move down and acquire a future first-round pick -- still getting one of the top three wide receivers in the draft in Waddle. Immediately the No. 1 wide receiver in Philadelphia, Waddle is a game-breaking talent with the speed the Eagles covet at the position. The Eagles land a star for years to come.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Northwestern • Jr • 6'3" / 305 lbs
The Chargers rush to the podium when Slater falls to them. Slater can line up at left tackle opposite of Bryan Bulaga and Los Angeles has two bookends to protect Justin Herbert for the the next several years.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Virginia Tech • Jr • 6'5" / 314 lbs
The Vikings continue the run of offensive linemen with Darrisaw going off the board. Darrisaw is an upgrade over Rashod Hill or Brian O'Neill. He should be able to start Week 1 at one of the tackle spots.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Kwity Paye DL
Michigan • Sr • 6'4" / 272 lbs
With all the top quarterbacks off the board, the Patriots take the best player available to help their defense. Paye is a traditional defensive end who has incredible explosiveness off the edge and makes an immediate impact for their pass rush. He's raw, but can blossom into a star.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Jaycee Horn CB
South Carolina • Jr • 6'1" / 205 lbs
The Cardinals need a cornerback in the worst way and Horn falls to them, filling the vacant No. 1 cornerback spot the team created when they allowed Patrick Peterson to walk. A physical defensive back, Arizona plays Horn immediately as a man corner in Vance Joseph's defense.
Round 1 - Pick 17
USC • Jr • 6'4" / 315 lbs
The Raiders could use a tackle on the right side after trading away Trent Brown. This isn't normally Vegas' way of thinking, but it's hard to pass up Vera-Tucker if he falls to the middle of the first round. Carr has protection on both sides of the line.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Clemson • Sr • 5'10" / 205 lbs
Miami's roster is strong enough that it can afford to select Etienne with its other first-round pick. The Dolphins landed their No. 1 wide receiver in Chase and get their No. 1 running back in Etienne. The breakout season from Tua Tagovailoa is coming.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Caleb Farley CB
Virginia Tech • Jr • 6'2" / 207 lbs
Adding more pass catchers for Ryan Fitzpatrick is tempting, but Washington can't pass on adding Farley here. Washington's need at cornerback is paramount to pair with its incredible defensive front. Farley is the game-changing, ball-hawking cornerback who will make the defense elite.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Minnesota • Soph • 6'2" / 210 lbs
Bateman stays in the Midwest as another receiving option for Andy Dalton, who the Bears desperately need to succeed in 2021. Chicago loads up at wide receiver, even though it needs help on the offensive line and at quarterback (shocking, right?).
Round 1 - Pick 21
Jayson Oweh EDGE
Penn State • Soph • 6'5" / 253 lbs
Oweh and the Colts are a perfect match. Indianapolis has little pass rush to begin with and Oweh is an athletic freak for his position. The Colts can line him up as a pass-rushing linebacker or stick his hand in the dirt. This pick may be the steal of the draft, which is fitting for a team that drafts well.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Purdue • Soph • 5'9" / 180 lbs
The Titans need a receiver to replace Corey Davis and they find one in Moore. He fits the Mike Vrabel mold of toughness in a player and has the explosiveness to dominate in the slot with A.J. Brown on the outside. Moore can make an instant impact in Tennessee.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 23
Florida State • Jr • 5'10" / 184 lbs
The Jets use their other first-round pick at cornerback, filling a desperate need with a playmaker in Samuel. Jets head coach Robert Saleh will adjust the defense to fit Samuel's excellent skills in man coverage, as he's a player highly capable of playing single-high in Cover 3, should New York go that route.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Georgia • Soph • 6'3" / 240 lbs
The Steelers continue their tradition of finding good linebackers as Ojulari falls to them at No. 24. Pittsburgh has needs on the offensive line, but the opportunity to select a NFL-ready 3-4 linebacker is a dream come true. Ojulari's athleticism alone is worth the selection.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 25
Florida • Sr • 6'0" / 193 lbs
The Jaguars get Lawrence a wide receiver with their second pick in the first round, someone for the uber rookie to develop with over the next several years. Toney's speed will work very well for Urban Meyer.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Miami (FL) • Jr • 6'5" / 266 lbs
Phillips' versatility to line up on in the interior and the edge will be beneficial for a Browns defensive line that could use some help for Myles Garrett and Sheldon Richardson. With Garrett getting all the attention, Phillips can eat on the opposite side in passing down situations.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Elijah Moore WR
Ole Miss • Jr • 5'9" / 185 lbs
The top six receivers are off the board for the Ravens, but this isn't a reach with Elijah Moore. Baltimore desperately needs to improve at wideout for Lamar Jackson to lead this team to the Super Bowl and Moore can use his quickness underneath for big-play potential. Moore can be Jackson's security blanket for years to come.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Gregory Rousseau EDGE
Miami (FL) • Soph • 6'7" / 265 lbs
New Orleans replaces Trey Hendrickson on the edge with Rousseau, who will help take the pressure off Cameron Jordan in his rookie season. The Saints can afford to develop Rousseau, who needs to add strength to be a consistent pass rusher.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'1" / 215 lbs
Aaron Rodgers is disappointed the Packers don't draft a wide receiver in the first round (again), but at least this isn't a quarterback. Owusu-Koramoah has the explosiveness to made an instant impact in a 3-4 defense, specifically in the pass rush. Green Bay needs help on defense and this is the move.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Penn State • Jr • 6'5" / 259 lbs
The Bills may be taking Freiermuth a bit early here, but he has first-round talent -- not to mention he would immediately become the No. 1 tight end in Buffalo. Freiermuth needs to be better at getting separation, but his strength in this offense will be in the red zone -- at least for 2021.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Oklahoma State • Sr • 6'6" / 320 lbs
The Chiefs run to the podium and select Jenkins, who starts at one of the tackle spots and protects Patrick Mahomes for the next several years. Jenkins can play both tackle and guard, as the tape shows he is an NFL-ready prospect.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Najee Harris RB
Alabama • Sr • 6'2" / 230 lbs
For a team that returns all 22 starters from the Super Bowl team, Tampa Bay doesn't need much. The Buccaneers add to their embarrassment of riches by adding Harris to an already stacked running back group. He could be the primary ball carrier come January.