NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be standing at the podium in six weeks to introduce the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft; presumably Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. The draft is an opportunity to alter a franchise's fortunes and inspire hope to the fan base. Five teams are expected to commit to the ultimate investment of a new quarterback in the first round and the dream that player may one day lead them to a Super Bowl.
Without further ado, let's kick this off!
Round 1 - Pick 2
Zach Wilson QB
BYU • 6'2" / 214 lbs
The Jets are rebuilding and one of the most important assets in a rebuild is money. Sam Darnold is still on his rookie contract but the end is near. By drafting Zach Wilson, New York starts the clock over with five more years of a quarterback on his rookie deal. As part of the decision, they can flip Darnold for at least a second-round pick. At this point, I would not be opposed to Washington taking a chance on him. San Francisco has been regarded as the most likely suitor, however.
Mock Trade from Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ohio State • 6'3" / 227 lbs
If anyone lands Deshaun Watson, it will be Carolina. I do not see Watson playing another down for the Texans but banking on Houston operating as a functional team is a losing wager. The hope was that a change at general manager would right the course but I do not like what they have done in free agency. In the event that the Panthers do not get Watson, they move up and select the next best option: Justin Fields.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Northwestern • 6'4" / 315 lbs
I have been stubborn in my belief that Atlanta will take a quarterback but I've moved off that after seeing Matt Ryan's contract restructure. It was done in a manner that suggests he will be on the team for at least two more years. I think not taking a quarterback is the wrong decision but it is not my call. Rashawn Slater has five-position flexibility along the offensive line and could strengthen a unit that allowed Ryan to be sacked fifth-most in 2020.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Penei Sewell OL
Oregon • 6'5" / 331 lbs
Penei Sewell is still young and developing. Cincinnati has to target its offensive line in the draft now because it struck out in free agency. By bringing in Sewell, Cincinnati can slide Jonah Williams inside or flip him to right tackle. Either way, the team is upgrading two positions in its protection of Joe Burrow.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Kyle Pitts TE
Florida • 6'6" / 245 lbs
Zach Ertz is going to be traded at some point: it is just time for both parties to move on. Philadelphia has been looking to upgrade its pass attack and everyone's mind immediately races to wide receiver. The Colts spent a modest 21% of snaps in 12 personnel (1 running back, 2 tight ends) last season but they did not have two performers like Dallas Goedert and Pitts. I think the Eagles could find a lot of success working off play-action in 12 personnel with Miles Sanders in the backfield.
Round 1 - Pick 7
LSU • 6'0" / 201 lbs
Ja'Marr Chase is the first wide receiver off the board to a Detroit team that has essentially shown everyone the door. The Lions signed Tyrell Williams but Marvin Jones is gone and Kenny Golladay will soon be. Jared Goff needs more weapons in the passing game.
Mock Trade from Carolina Panthers
Round 1 - Pick 8
Round 1 - Pick 9
Penn State • 6'3" / 248 lbs
It was a bit of a surprise to see Denver keep Von Miller at that price but it keeps a potentially special second unit intact this season. Bradley Chubb, Micah Parsons and Miller are a group to be reckoned with but the defensive line in front of them needs to be patched as well.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Alabama • 6'2" / 202 lbs
With Kyle Pitts off the board, Dallas is not torn to make a difficult decision. The secondary has to be the move here and Patrick Surtain II is a smooth criminal. He is really polished in his game and can make an immediate impact.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Gregory Rousseau EDGE
Miami (FL) • 6'6" / 266 lbs
Gregory Rousseau went into a tunnel when he opted out. No one has seen him enough to alter his evaluation since he went into that tunnel. I have a gut feeling he comes out on the other side a much better player. He could be a special player by adding some refinement to that natural athletic ability.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Trey Lance QB
NFL Draft • 6'4" / 226 lbs
Kyle Shanahan knows there is a ceiling on his offense with Jimmy Garoppolo, who has not been able to stay healthy. By bringing in Trey Lance, he adds more mobility and even more versatility to play designs.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Virginia Tech • 6'5" / 315 lbs
Los Angeles' effort to build up the offensive line with the additions of Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler is admirable. The interior offensive line has certainly improved but Christian Darrisaw would give them a pair of reliable bookends as well.
Round 1 - Pick 14
USC • 6'5" / 308 lbs
Minnesota needs another edge rusher but opts to take the best player available, which happens to be an offensive lineman. Vera-Tucker is better suited to play inside but could play tackle in a pinch.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Mac Jones QB
Alabama • 6'3" / 214 lbs
New England has invested heavily in the offensive skill talent but quarterback remains a concern. Bill Belichick had his first taste of disappointment in quite some time and it was not met favorably. Mac Jones would give the coach a quarterback that he can trust to get the ball out quickly and make the right decisions on the field. In this scenario, Jimmy Garoppolo would also be available. Jones offers more upside at a reduced rate.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Round 1 - Pick 17
Alabama • 6'0" / 170 lbs
Tyrell Williams and Nelson Agholor are gone so that clears a path for the team to add another wide receiver like Smith. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden are drawn toward college football's elite programs such as Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama. For the second consecutive year, a Crimson Tide pass-catcher joins the Raiders.
Round 1 - Pick 18
TCU • 6'2" / 202 lbs
Miami has done a great job of addressing needs through free agency and trades to the point where little is a necessity. Safety is one area where it could improve and Trevon Moehrig offers the versatility to fill a few roles.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Oklahoma State • 6'6" / 320 lbs
Teven Jenkins fortifies the offensive line and brings an attitude to the unit. Realistically, Chicago is not going to be much of a threat downfield in the current state so it is imperative that the running game is on point.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Jaycee Horn CB
South Carolina • 6'1" / 200 lbs
Tennessee has parted with Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson. Tennessee was looking for more physicality at the position and Jaycee Horn embodies that trait. At times, he is a little too aggressive downfield.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Michigan • 6'5" / 319 lbs
Maurkice Pouncey retired, Alejandro Villanueva is a free agent and Matt Feiler signed with the Chargers. An already unimpressive offensive line could need three starters. Mayfield can play on the edge or inside.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 25
Round 1 - Pick 26
Miami (FL) • 6'5" / 266 lbs
Cleveland found the free agent edge-rush market to be too rich for its blood. Although the Browns signed Takk McKinley, they still need a reliable long-term fit at the position. Phillips is still developing as a player but learning opposite Myles Garrett will certainly make life easier.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Georgia • 6'3" / 240 lbs
Baltimore is typically drawn toward length but it needs pass-rush help after losing Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue. The Ravens could press their luck with Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee but Ojulari is too good to pass up.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Tulsa • 6'4" / 260 lbs
Collins can run and drop into coverage. He is a well-rounded player that will strengthen Green Bay's defense up the middle. If the right wide receiver had been available, I would have considered that position as well.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Round 1 - Pick 31
NFL Draft • 6'8" / 311 lbs
Brown is not a popular pick in the first round but I'm buying stock. With his athleticism, the sky is the limit. Kansas City has backed itself into a corner after parting ways with Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher. The interior offensive line has been significantly upgraded with Joe Thuney and Kyle Long but there is work to be done on the edge.
Round 1 - Pick 32
North Carolina • 5'10" / 220 lbs
Tampa Bay has essentially retained all of its key players and are prepping for another run to the Super Bowl. A running back of Williams' caliber would add another dimension of play-making ability to that offense.