National Football League

NFL Mock Draft 2.0

December 8, 2020

By Jason McIntyre
FOX Sports betting analyst

The 2020 NFL regular season is entering its stretch run, and the choppy college football season is nearly over. Feels like a great time for the 2021 NFL Mock Draft, version 2.0.

Between COVID, opt-outs, and teams playing few games, the run up to the 2021 Draft will be challenging and fun, as teams try to get a grip on players who have had the most abnormal season in the sport’s history. To the picks!

1. New York Jets – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (Previous rank: 1)
2020 season stats: 2,431 passing yards, 20 passing TDs, 69.2 completion percentage

Lawrence’s 36-1 mark at Clemson – with the lone defeat to one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport – isn’t as impressive as the fact that he’s increased year-over-year in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and QB rating.

Best NFL QB prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. Finally, the Jets will have a franchise QB.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (3)
2020 season stats: 1,407 passing yards, 15 passing TDs, 70.8 completion percentage

Not a bad consolation prize for the Jaguars, who will use their other four picks in the first three rounds – and more salary cap space than anyone – to bolster the OL and defense. 

3. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (2)

Joe Burrow had a terrific rookie year before suffering a severe knee injury against Washington. He was sacked 32 times in 11 games. Sewell, who started as a true freshman, will kick 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams to RT, and the Bengals OL should quickly be formidable. 

4. Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern (NR)

Just as the Bengals have to protect their asset, the Chargers must do the same for their franchise QB, Justin Herbert. Slater didn’t allow a sack in 11 starts last season. Pro Football Focus doesn’t have one Chargers lineman rated in the Top 25 at his position.

5. Dallas Cowboys – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU (NR)
2020 season stats: 2,964 passing yards, 27 passing TDs, 73.0 completion percentage

Wilson has made a quantum leap as a junior with the Cougars, with 26 TD passes through nine games; he had 23 in his first 16 career starts. His size (6-foot-3), accuracy, and scrambling ability remind me a little bit of DeShaun Watson.

6. Philadelphia Eagles – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC (NR)

The Eagles line has been beset by injuries the last two years, partially contributing to Carson Wentz’s struggles. This may be high on Vera-Tucker, who started his career at guard, but he’s allowed zero pressures allowed through his first 113 pass-blocking snaps in 2020.

7. Carolina Panthers – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (4)
2020 season stats: N/A (only one exhibition game played)
2019 season stats: 2,786 passing yards, 28 passing TDs, 66.9 completion percentage; 1,100 rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry, 14 rushing TDs 

Difficult to project Lance at this point given he only has 17 FCS starts in his career, but the talent is undeniable, and the production is off the charts (46 TDs, 3 INTs).

Teddy Bridgewater has graded out as just the 25th best QB per Pro Football Focus, and 15th by Football Outsiders, for the Panthers.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami (8)
2020 season stats: N/A (opted out of the season)
2019 season stats: 15.5 sacks, 54 total tackles, 2 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovered

The Falcons defense has improved in the second-half of the season under Raheem Morris, but it’s still devoid of a pass rusher. Rousseau opposite Dante Fowler, with Grady Jarrett in the middle, might finally make this a playoff team again.

9. Miami Dolphins (via Houston) – Micah Parsons, LB, Las Vegas (9)
2020 season stats: N/A (opted out of the season)
2019 season stats: 5.0 sacks, 109 total tackles, 4 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovered, 5 passes defended

Brian Flores has the Dolphins on track to be a real playoff contender next year, but he must fortify a porous run defense that is really the team’s only major weakness. Parsons is a tackling machine.

10. Denver Broncos – Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan (11)
2020 season stats: 2 sacks, 16 total tackles

The Broncos talent level outside of QB - the most important position! - is very strong. With five starters on IR, it’s impossible to get a gauge of this team’s ceiling. Maybe the answer is Sam Darnold in free agency, but there isn’t a QB available here, so it’s grab the best on board.

11. Washington Football Team – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (5)
2020 season stats: N/A (opted out of the season)
2019 season stats: 84 receptions, 1,780 receiving yards, 20 receiving TDs

It’d make sense to draft a QB here for Ron Rivera, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens if they win the division with Alex Smith. It appears Dwyane Haskins will be elsewhere next year, and we know Rivera likes Kyle Allen.

The back end of the defense needs help, but given the recent success of LSU receivers and Chase’s ridiculous skill set, this pick makes a lot of sense to boost the offense.

12. Detroit Lions – Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama (7)
2020 season stats: 2 sacks, 16 total tackles

They have no GM or coach, so the future of the franchise is up in the air. For now, we’ll go best-on-board. Detroit is stacked with talent on offense and defense, but the schemes didn’t fit the talent. If Robert Saleh is the new coach, we know he’ll lobby to fortify the secondary, which ranked 28th in efficiency.

13. Chicago Bears – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (18)
2020 season stats: 80 receptions, 1,305 receiving yards, 15 receiving TDs 

The Bears front office and coaching staff could be completely different next year, but we know this much: They’re going to be in the market for a QB. There’s also a glaring need for a defensive tackle next to Akiem Hicks, because as good as Khalil Mack is, Hicks is the key to the defense.

For now, we’ll go best on board.

14. San Francisco 49ers – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech (NR)
2020 season stats: N/A (opted out of the season)
2019 season stats: 4 INTs, 1 TD, 20 total tackles 

Kyle Shanahan has proven he can take skill position players in any round fit them into his creative schemes. But the secondary has been exposed in 2020. Eight 49ers CBs under contract are set to hit free agency in 2021, including Richard Sherman. Farley, 6-foot-2, opted out in 2020, but his size and toughness have had him compared to Baltimore’s Jimmy Smith. 

15. Arizona Cardinals – Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama (NR)
2020 season stats: 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 passes defended, 19 total tackles

Injuries to the defensive line chipped away at a promising unit, but a healthy group next year plus Barmore could hep lead this team to a division crown. And adding one more weapon for Kyler Murray isn’t a bad idea, either.

16. New England Patriots – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (NR)
2020 season stats: 36 receptions, 641 receiving yards, 11 receiving TDs 

As usual, the Patriots are a wildcard. The COVID opt-outs really hurt the defense in 2020, which makes that side difficult to break down, so we’ll look to the offense. Do they package picks to move up for a QB?

Either way, Pitts has star written all over him, and he’ll be a massive help to whoever is QB1 in New England next year.

17. Baltimore Ravens – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State (NR)
2020 season stats: 23 receptions, 310 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

The Ravens went from 14-2 to maybe out of the playoffs, and a big reason is the offensive regression. They need receivers badly, but the loss of Hayden Hurst to Atlanta followed by the injury to Nick Boyle has hurt blocking as well as pass-catching.

18. Las Vegas Raiders – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame (30)
2020 season stats: 1.5 sacks, 48 total tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumbles recovered, 3 passes defended

The Raiders are second in missed tackles, and 30th in the NFL in stopping the run. Las Vegas has let opponents score 30+ points seven times in 11 games. JOK has risen from scout team as a freshman to starting as a junior and being a preseason All-American as a senior.

19. New York Giants – Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee (NR)

The defense was shockingly good this year, but given the Deandre Baker fiasco, there’s a big need at CB. A big spend there in free agency makes more sense than finding a rookie, especially for a playoff team. The offensive line has been musical chairs after Nate Solder opted out, and it’s unclear if he’ll get a second contract with the Giants.

20. Minnesota Vikings – Derion Kendrick, CB Clemson (NR)
2020 season stats: 1 INT, 1 fumble recovered, 13 total tackles

The Vikings had massive overhaul on the defense, and it was atrocious in the 1st half of 2020. The secondary was particularly bad, but it was young, too. The Vikings have needs on the OL and all over the defense, particularly on the edge. 

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Carlos Basham Jr., Edge, Wake Forest (14)
2020 season stats: 5 sacks, 1 fumble forced, 28 total tackles

When you’ve got a Super Bowl roster, you’re drafting for luxury. Who knows what Tom Brady will perform like at age 44, but he’ll be surrounded by talent. 

22. Miami Dolphins – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (32)
2020 season stats: 25 receptions, 557 receiving yards, 4 receiving TDs (only played 4 games before suffering a season-ending injury)
2019 season stats: 33 receptions, 560 receiving yards, 6 receiving TDs

Electrifying talent at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Waddle suffered a broken ankle against Tennessee which limited him to just 25 catches in 2020.

With two first-round picks, Miami can address the run defense and add a weapon for their franchise QB.

23. Indianapolis Colts – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (28)
2020 season stats: 36 receptions, 472 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs 

If a top-notch cornerback fell to the Colts here, they’d pounce, but Bateman makes a ton of sense given the age/injury history of Ty Hilton. A QB could be in play later in the draft, or in free agency or via trade with the Jets for Sam Darnold.

24. Tennessee Titans – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (NR)
2020 season stats: 2 INTs, 6 passes defended, 16 total tackles

Defense. More defense. Could be an all-defense draft for the Titans. Horn, whose father is former NFL receiver Joe Horn. started all 29 games in his career, and he has a frame similar to that of former Gamecock star Stephon Gilmore.

25. New York Jets (via Seattle) – Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State (NR)

The Jets have a foundational piece in Mekhi Becton at left tackle, and snagging another likely 10-year starter in Davis would be smart. Jets fans will scream for skill position players here, but the line is the top priority to protect Lawrence. 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) – Samuel Cosmi, LT, Texas (13)

The Jaguars offensive line hasn’t been terrible this year, but the interior linemen have performed much better than the tackles. Both were second-round picks, in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Between James Robinson, DJ Chark, and Laviska Shenault, there’s some talent here.

27. Cleveland Browns – Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State (10)
2020 season stats: 1 sack, 17 total tackles

The Browns must improve their defense, and there are needs at every level. They may lose four or five defensive contributors in free agency, including two on the line. 

28. Buffalo Bills – Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern (NR)
2019 season stats: 58 total tackles, 1 fumble forced, 1 fumble recovered, 1 INT

The talented senior has had an up-and-down career. This feels ambitious for the 6-foot-4 tackling machine, but the Bills are going to need someone on the DL or at LB to shore up what has suddenly become a bad defense.

29. Green Bay Packers – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa (NR)
2020 season stats: 4 sacks, 52 total tackles, 2 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovered, 2 passes defended

It’s not a receiver, so Aaron Rodgers won’t be thrilled, but the Packers defense is probably going to hold them back from winning a Super Bowl. Collins was a gymnast growing up, and played QB and safety in high school, and he’s become a ball-hawking linebacker.

30. Kansas City Chiefs – Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State (NR)
2020 season stats: 1 pass defended, 38 total tackles
2019 season stats: 5.0 sacks, 2.0 fumbles forced, 21 total tackles

The Nittany Lions stink this season, and Oweh is not having an impact, but he’s going to test off the charts at the Combine, and he’ll instantly help the Chiefs bolster their front four.

31. New Orleans Saints – Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State (12)
2019 season stats: 5.0 sacks, 2.0 fumbles forced, 21 total tackles 

Wade was very high in the initial 2021 Mock Draft, then opted out of the season before opting back in. He’s struggled at times on the outside after a fantastic sophomore season (playing nickel alongside two early-round 2020 picks in Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette).

He’s still too talented – and could turn into a hybrid safety – to drop out of the first round.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech (NR)

The Steelers offensive line is aging, with star LT Alejandro Villanueva now 32. Ben Roethlisberger has recovered nicely from his elbow surgery, but his mobility is basically gone. Offensive line is the biggest need on a loaded roster. 


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