With a little more than three months remaining until the 2021 NFL Draft, I like to use these mock draft scenarios to explore some hypotheticals and how certain decisions could affect what other teams do on draft day. The draft has grown in popularity because it offers more choices than a Sonic drink order. Fans are drawn to the unknown and crave a variety of outcomes for their favorite team.
In today's exercise, the Jets and Texans conduct business, which ultimately leads to the trade of Sam Darnold. It is still viewed as unlikely Houston trades Deshaun Watson but unexpected moves happen more and more each offseason. One trade could set the course of three teams to solve its quarterback dilemma long-term.
Without further ado, let's kick this off!
Round 1 - Pick 1
Clemson • Jr • 6'6" / 220 lbs
There is little intrigue surrounding the No. 1 overall selection. Trevor Lawrence to Jacksonville is essentially a done deal and there is little point in considering other options. Although it would be quite entertaining to see Urban Meyer strong arm the selection of an Ohio State quarterback - Justin Fields.
Mock Trade from New York Jets
Round 1 - Pick 2
Zach Wilson QB
BYU • Jr • 6'3" / 210 lbs
New York acquires Deshaun Watson in exchange for the No. 2 overall selection, the No. 23 overall selection and future compensation. Hypothetically, Houston would have had the No. 3 overall selection if they had never made the Laremy Tunsil trade. Possessing two of the top three picks would have been quite the way to start a rebuild, which is the direction in which it appears the Texans are headed.
From Houston Texans
Round 1 - Pick 3
LSU • Jr • 6'0" / 208 lbs
Miami looks to add some stability to the wide receiver room in the form of Ja'Marr Chase. It seems unlikely that the Dolphins would part with Tua Tagovailoa this soon so it is imperative that they work to surround him with the talent necessary to achieve success.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Ohio State • Jr • 6'3" / 228 lbs
The home state hero returns to deliver Atlanta from mediocrity. He could sit for a year behind Matt Ryan but the idea of selecting a franchise quarterback was likely appealing to first year head coach Arthur Smith.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Penei Sewell OL
Oregon • Jr • 6'6" / 330 lbs
Cincinnati is the strategist in WarZone waiting as two others duel to the death before swooping in to end the short-lived celebration. The Bengals watch as teams before them jockey to snatch up quarterbacks as they lay in the weeds anxiously awaiting Penei Sewell.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Alabama • Jr • 6'1" / 175 lbs
Philadelphia is about to undergo wholesale changes to the wide receiver room. Devonta Smith is slight in frame but his game is polished. It would be a surprise if he were a total bust. The Eagles are committed to Carson Wentz and, with Jalen Reagor, Wentz now has a few options to target.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Alabama • Jr • 5'10" / 182 lbs
Detroit's wide receiver room could look entirely different next season as the entirety of the current group is scheduled to hit free agency. Jaylen Waddle is a field-stretching presence for veteran Matthew Stafford.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Kyle Pitts TE
Florida • Jr • 6'6" / 240 lbs
It would take a lot of convincing to believe that Teddy Bridgewater is the future at quarterback. It appears to be their reality in the short-term, however. The Panthers strengthen that offense by picking up one of the draft's biggest mismatches.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Penn State • Jr • 6'3" / 244 lbs
Von Miller's future in Denver is certainly in question. It would make a lot of sense for the Broncos to draft and plug Micah Parsons between Bradley Chubb and Miller. They may need another edge rusher depending on what happens with Miller though.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Round 1 - Pick 12
San Francisco has been non-committal with Jimmy Garoppolo for obvious reasons. My 49ers friends have been scouting the incoming quarterback class for months and it comes to fruition. Trey Lance is still a bit raw but his skill set in Kyle Shanahan's offense would be exciting.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Virginia Tech • Jr • 6'5" / 314 lbs
Rashawn Slater is a better player but I have questions about him playing left tackle in the NFL. Christian Darrisaw is the next best option at the position and gives Justin Herbert an upgrade in protection.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Round 1 - Pick 16
Jaycee Horn CB
South Carolina • Jr • 6'1" / 205 lbs
Arizona secures its likely replacement for veteran Patrick Peterson. Jaycee Horn is a confident, physical player that will serve as another building block to that young infrastructure in Phoenix.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Round 1 - Pick 18
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'1" / 215 lbs
Brian Flores adds another piece to an already overachieving defense. He has proven to be one of the most promising young coaches in the game and players like Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah will only help the cause.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Round 1 - Pick 20
USC • Jr • 6'4" / 315 lbs
Alijah Vera-Tucker may have earned himself some money proving that he could play left tackle this season but I still believe his future is best served inside. The addition ensures that David Montgomery continues the solid play that he displayed down the stretch.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Gregory Rousseau EDGE
Miami (FL) • Soph • 6'7" / 265 lbs
Indianapolis is obviously in a position to add a quarterback following Philip Rivers' retirement but the options available at No. 21 overall do not exactly have Chris Ballard rushing to the podium. Instead, they build towards the future and add another young pass rusher.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Mock Trade from New York Jets
Round 1 - Pick 23
Oklahoma State • Sr • 6'0" / 185 lbs
Previously, this selection would have been earmarked for Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave but he elected to return to school. Tylan Wallace plays with great strength and is capable of making plays downfield for Zach Wilson.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Michigan's Jalen Mayfield would be another candidate for this spot but I believe Spencer Brown's best playing days are ahead of him. He is an uber-athletic lineman that should have the polish after working out with former 49ers All-Pro Joe Staley for months.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 25
Clemson • Jr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
Jacksonville has some other needs at this spot but the value did not meet the need. The Jaguars land the second Clemson Tiger in the first round and pair him with last year's first-round selection C.J. Henderson.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Miami (FL) • Jr • 6'5" / 266 lbs
The Browns are drafting No. 26 overall and it is not the result of a trade. Cleveland has some needs on the defensive side of the ball and that is the expectation with the team's first pick. Jaelan Phillips is a high end player that could learn a lot from Myles Garrett.
Round 1 - Pick 27
LSU • Jr • 6'4" / 200 lbs
Baltimore adds a little more size to pair with Marquise Brown, who performed well down the stretch. The Ravens arsenal should be set but now they need to focus on supplementing the walls to the castle.
Mock Trade from New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 28
Joseph Ossai LB
Texas • Jr • 6'4" / 253 lbs
New York trades Sam Darnold to New Orleans in exchange for a late first-round pick. The Jets might have to send a mid-round pick in return but do not get caught up in the small details. They suddenly have Deshaun Watson in this scenario and Darnold is no longer of need. The Saints are ushering in the post-Drew Brees era and Sean Payton does not want to do that with Jameis Winston. Joe Douglas adds a pass rusher with his newfound pick.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Jayson Oweh EDGE
Penn State • Soph • 6'5" / 253 lbs
The rush on rushers continues. Whether price or age is the issue, it would not be unexpected for Tampa Bay to move on from Jason Pierre-Paul or Shaq Barrett. In that event, they need a replacement. Jayson Oweh is the best on the board.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Florida • Sr • 6'0" / 193 lbs
Green Bay could theoretically win the Super Bowl with just Davante Adams at wide receiver but it is not ideal. The Packers have given time to its other players at the position and it has not worked. It is time to move on and add another reliable weapon.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Wyatt Davis OL
Ohio State • Soph • 6'4" / 313 lbs
Kansas City has not devoted many assets to its INTERIOR (I left that point of context out last time) offensive line in recent years and it is time for that to change with a half billion dollar investment in the backfield.