National Football League

Draft Day: Rob Rang's final three-round mock draft

April 29

By Rob Rang
FOX Sports NFL Draft Analyst

With a handful of clear-cut first-round picks completely opting out on the season, and the slate of all-star games and the annual NFL Combine altered significantly, the time-honored procedures scouts previously relied upon to complete their grades were eliminated.

That makes the 2021 NFL Draft even more of a crapshoot than ever – which from a fan perspective, should make it that much more entertaining.

What will be readily apparent throughout the first round is that the 2021 crop is loaded on offense, with the quarterbacks, of course, taking center stage. Five passers are projected to be selected among the top nine picks in my final mock draft with more than half of the first 32 picks being dedicated to offense, something that has happened just twice on draft day since 2006.

Here's our final projection of the 2021 NFL Draft, covering Rounds 1-3.

FIRST ROUND

1. Jacksonville JaguarsTrevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson, 6-6, 213 

Even amongst No. 1 overall picks, this one is a slam dunk. With the coaching staff and supporting cast in place, Lawrence should prove an immediate difference-maker for a team that has only reached the playoffs three times since the turn of the century.

2. New York JetsZach Wilson, QB, BYU, 6-2, 214 

With a lightning-quick release and terrific accuracy from the pocket and on the move, Wilson has a chance to be special. To live up to his potential, though, the Jets must protect better than they did Sam Darnold.

3. San Francisco 49ers (from Miami Dolphins): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama, 6-3, 217 

On paper, a more athletic quarterback would seemingly make more sense in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but decision-making and accuracy are most important, especially in an offense with the 49ers’ talent. This pick might come down to San Francisco’s ability to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. If the veteran isn’t moved, San Francisco might opt to gamble on North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and let him learn from the sidelines for a year. Though they have the same number of collegiate starts (17), Jones’ elite football IQ and success at the highest level make him better suited to play immediately – at least, it seems, in the 49ers’ opinion.

4. Atlanta FalconsKyle Pitts, TE, Florida, 6-6, 245 

Ultimately, Pitts is just too good to pass up, though the idea of drafting a young quarterback or trading down has to be tempting to new GM Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith. The 6-6, 240-pound Pitts’ presence should extend the glory days for both Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.

5. Cincinnati BengalsJa’Marr Chase, WR, LSU, 6-0, 201

Like the Falcons a pick earlier, the Bengals ultimately recognize that surrounding their quarterback with elite pass-catchers is the best way to win in today’s NFL. Reuniting Chase and Joe Burrow just makes too much sense, especially with the offensive tackle depth in this class.

6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles): Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon, 6-6, 325 

Paired with last year’s "other" first-round pick, Austin Jackson, the ground-breaking Sewell should give the Dolphins the bookend tackles to help Tua Tagovailoa take the next step in his second season.

7. Detroit LionsDeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama, 6-0, 170 

The Lions need playmakers for Jared Goff, and Smith is the kind of football junkie that all of the Lions’ top brass can believe in.

8. *Projected Trade: New England Patriots (from Carolina Panthers): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State, 6-3, 227

Whether they move up for a rookie or trade for former Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo, Bill Belichick’s aggressive offseason will likely continue on draft day by netting New England a quarterback. More accurate and intelligent than his critics suggest and the ultimate competitor, Fields (or the similarly gifted Trey Lance) would make a lot of sense in New England.

9. Denver BroncosTrey Lance, QB, North Dakota State, 6-4, 224 

Teddy Bridgewater might be the eyes on the sideline needed to tutor Drew Lock and help him live up to his rocket-armed potential. But if the Broncos aren’t convinced of that and the even rarer talent, Lance, is available, the Broncos shouldn’t hesitate.

10. Dallas CowboysJaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina, 6-1, 205 

The Cowboys appear to be in the perfect position to nab one of the top two cornerbacks in this draft – an obvious need. If the Cowboys do, indeed, plan to play more man-to-man in 2021, Horn’s elite speed and agility would be a terrific schematic fit.

11. New York GiantsMicah Parsons, LB, Penn State, 6-3, 246 

There have been plenty of critics of Dave Gettleman’s recent first-round picks. No one is going to question the selection of Parsons – the best defender in this class – when he earns Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers): Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama, 6-2, 208

An NFL legacy and three-year starter at Alabama, Surtain is the perfect running mate opposite Darius Slay – as he has the maturity and talent to handle all of the passes that will be coming his way. 

13. Los Angeles ChargersJaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama, 5-10, 180 

Can you imagine how much more effective Justin Herbert would be with an electric playmaker like Waddle complementing big-bodied possession receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams? Yeah, so can the Chargers.

14. Minnesota VikingsKwity Paye, DE, Michigan, 6-3, 261 

Just the return to health of star defensive end Danielle Hunter will turn around Minnesota’s moribund pass rush, but with Paye, Mike Zimmer’s defense could jump back up to a strength immediately. 

15. *Projected Trade: Carolina Panthers (from New England Patriots): Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern, 6-4, 304

Recouping some of the picks sent to New York in the trade for Sam Darnold, the Panthers drop down and are still in position to get a top tackle to further protect their investment.

16. Arizona CardinalsAsante Samuel, Jr., CB, Florida State, 5-10, 180 

There is a legitimate arms race happening in the NFC West. The Cardinals would be wise to build up their secondary in preparation with the light-footed Samuel steadily moving up draft boards in recent weeks.

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, OLB, Notre Dame, 6-1, 215 

The Raiders’ lack of speed at the second level is almost as obvious as their need to add big bodies along the offensive line. Given the offensive firepower in the AFC West, the Raiders can’t afford to let the dynamic JOK slip by.

18. Miami Dolphins: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama, 6-1, 232 

Perhaps the Dolphins can look past their marginal backfield should they get Tagovoiloa a playmaker at No. 6 but after nabbing the draft’s top offensive lineman in Sewell, bouncing back with their quarterback’s former Alabama teammate just makes too much sense here.

19. Washington Football Team: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech, 6-4, 314 

Even with the addition of burly blocker Ereck Flowers, Washington shouldn’t ignore the chance to add a premium talent at left tackle should Darrisaw still be on the board.

20. Chicago BearsCaleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech, 6-1, 207 

While quarterback remains the Bears’ biggest concern, cornerback is a close second. Farley has All-Pro potential and GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy might feel that they need to swing big to save their job. On a related note, if the draft played out like this projection, Denver’s Drew Lock (or San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo) might be available via trade.

21. Indianapolis Colts:  Joseph Ossai, OLB/DE, Texas, 6-4, 256

With 15.5 sacks walking out the door with Justin Houston and Denico Autry, the Colts will be looking for edge help. Ossai might not possess the eye-popping traits of some of this year’s rushers, but he’s gritty and plays hard – exactly like GM Chris Ballard expects. 

22. Tennessee TitansTeven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State, 6-6, 313 

Perhaps the sting of cutting bait on last year’s top pick Isaiah Wilson is too fresh, but in a run-heavy offense like Tennessee’s a brawler like Jenkins would seem like a perfect fit.

23. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, Southern California, 6-5, 308 

There is no point in drafting a quarterback early if he isn’t protected. Pairing Vera-Tucker with one of the league’s better young tackles, Mekhi Becton, would give the Jets the offensive line to give Zach Wilson his best chance at success.

24. Pittsburgh SteelersTravis Etienne, RB, Clemson, 5-10, 215 

The quickest way to revive Ben Roethlisberger? Get him a running back with the juice to turn 5-yard runs into breakaway touchdowns.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams): Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami, 6-6, 260 

A myriad of medical and off-field concerns make Phillips one of the draft’s true wildcards, but Urban Meyer might push for the ultra-talented pass rusher, who just a few years ago was the No. 1 overall prep recruit in the entire country.

26. Cleveland BrownsJamin Davis, ILB, Kentucky, 6-4, 234 

Free agent Anthony Walker is a solid middle linebacker but he doesn’t have the upside (or contract) to suggest the Browns should let an ascending talent like Davis slip by.

27. Baltimore RavensZaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa, 6-5, 259 

A size-speed combo who could be long off the board, the Ravens might see Collins as an even more versatile defender than free-agent defections Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue.

28. New Orleans SaintsGreg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern, 6-0, 192 

Marshon Lattimore is one of the better young cornerbacks in the league, but the Saints need more bodies at the position. Newsome’s tape is good enough that he, too, should be long gone, but his durability has teams concerned.

29. Green Bay PackersDillon Radunz, OL, North Dakota State

As long as Aaron Rodgers is in town, protecting the league’s MVP should be priority No. 1. A 32-game starter at left tackle with the size, arm length and temperament to play up and down the line, Radunz would give the Packers flexibility, especially with incumbent starter David Bakhtiari coming off a torn ACL late last season.

30. Buffalo BillsChristian Barmore, DT, Alabama, 6-4, 310

Only five teams surrendered more rushing touchdowns than the Bills a year ago (21) and none of those clubs qualified for the playoffs. The 2021 defensive tackle class is below average, but most see the massive (and still ascending) Barmore as the best of the bunch.

31. Baltimore Ravens (from Kansas City Chiefs): Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

In typical Ravens fashion, do not be surprised at all if Baltimore replaces Orlando Brown Jr. with a similarly built and talented blocker with the exact pick acquired in the deal.

32. Tampa Bay BuccaneersGregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (Fla.), 6-7, 266 

If the draft falls this way, general manager Jason Licht might be very nearly as excited on draft day as he was with the Bucs winning the Super Bowl. Rousseau is certainly raw, but he’s also supremely gifted and would have time to learn behind a similarly-built and talented (but aging) Jason Pierre-Paul.

SECOND ROUND

33. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU, 6-1, 202

Urban Meyer has always prioritized speed and ball skills among his defensive backs, and Moehrig, the reigning Thorpe Award winner, has both.

34. New York Jets: Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi, 5-10, 178 

Corey Davis was signed to be the Jets’ top pass catcher but adding an electric slot like Moore to complement would just make Zach Wilson’s start in New York that much smoother.

35. Atlanta Falcons: Azeez Ojulari, OLB, Georgia, 6-2, 249

An explosive edge rusher whose inconsistent tape and medical could cause a slip down the board, this Georgia Bulldog could have a soft landing spot with the Falcons at the top of the second round.

36. Miami Dolphins (from Houston Texans):  Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State, 6-5, 257 

Boasting multiple first-round picks the next couple of years, the Dolphins can afford to gamble on an edge rusher with much more potential than production.

37. Philadelphia Eagles: Davis Mills, QB, Stanford

Jalen Hurts might very well be the Eagles’ long-term answer, but new coach Nick Sirianni does not have any ties to him and might want to add some young competition.

38. Cincinnati Bengals: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame, 6-5, 302 

A rock at left tackle for the Irish, Eichenberg’s lack of ideal arm length could push him out of the first round – but the Bengals shouldn’t mind.

39. Carolina Panthers: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia, 6-1, 194

Pairing the speedy, long-armed Stokes with Donte Jackson would give the Panthers one of the league’s swiftest cornerback duos.

40. Denver Broncos: Richie Grant, S, Central Florida, 6-0, 200

Slapping the franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons won’t do much good without more juice for a running mate.

41. Detroit Lions: Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington, 6-3, 290

Expiring contracts for several defensive linemen the next two years will have Motown looking for both muscle and disruption. Onwuzurike offers both.

42. New York Giants: Carlos Basham, DE, Wake Forest, 6-3, 281

The Giants’ 40 sacks a year ago were respectable, but inflated by Leonard Williams’ 11.5. Adding a proven, productive and reliable edge rusher like "Boogie" at this point feels like stealing.  

43. San Francisco 49ers: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia, 6-1, 193  

Long and fast, Campbell would fit in perfectly in a San Francisco secondary looking to replace two of their top corners last year in Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon.

44. Dallas Cowboys: Payton Turner, DE, Houston, 6-5, 270 

Adding a twitchy edge rusher to pair with Demarcus Lawrence would do wonders for Dallas’ defense.

45. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Minnesota Vikings): Jevon Holland, S, Oregon, 6-1, 196

While skill position players earned most of the attention, Meyer boasted some of the best secondaries in college football. He’ll need to mimic that to be as successful in the NFL.

46. *Projected Trade: Carolina Panthers (from New England Patriots): Joe Tryon, DE, Washington

As part of the deal that allows New England to move up for their quarterback, the Panthers nab an edge rusher to attack opposing passers. New Panthers’ GM Scott Fitterer will know the University of Washington products well after his time in Seattle, and Tryon is just scratching the surface of his potential.

47. Los Angeles Chargers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas, 6-6, 314

After nabbing star quarterback Justin Herbert a dynamic pass catcher in the first round, the Chargers opt for a highly durable, self-made blocker in Cosmi.

48. Las Vegas Raiders: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma, 6-4, 302

After trading away three of their starting five offensive linemen, the Raiders will be looking to the draft for reinforcements. Humphrey never allowed a single sack at Oklahoma.

49. Arizona Cardinals: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida, 5-11, 189 

Off-field concerns and inconsistent tape could push Toney out of the first round, but his talent is undeniable – and his fit in this offense could be scary.

50. Miami Dolphins: Landon Dickerson, OL, Alabama, 6-6, 333

The Crimson Tide pipeline to Miami continues with the most talented interior lineman in the class, albeit one coming off a torn ACL.  

51. Washington Football Team: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

Ron Rivera has proven he can win a division with average quarterback play, but to make this club THE Football Team, they’ll need an upgrade at the game’s most important position.

52. Chicago Bears: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota, 6-0, 190

With Allen Robinson slapped with the franchise tag (but not yet signed to a long-term extension) and Anthony Miller apparently on the outs, the Bears would be wise to nab a star like Bateman here.

53. Tennessee Titans:  Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State, 6-5, 251 

Replacing free-agent defection Jonnu Smith with an even bigger and more versatile tight end like Freiermuth would make a lot of sense.

54. Indianapolis Colts: Stone Forsyth, OT, Florida

Massive and battle-tested, Forsyth could be the Colts’ answer to the loss of longtime starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo.

55. Pittsburgh Steelers: Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa

Built like longtime Steelers’ starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva (but a much better athlete), Brown would check a lot of boxes for Pittsburgh.

56. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Myers, C/OG, Ohio State

With their first pick of the 2021 draft, the Seahawks should try to keep their quarterback happy with one of this year’s biggest, nastiest blockers.

57. Los Angeles Rams: Terrace Marshall, Jr., WR, LSU

With Matthew Stafford now delivering the passes, the Rams should look for a big, vertical target to complement his strong arm.

58. Kansas City Chiefs: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

With only two receivers signed past 2021, the Chiefs would be wise to protect for the future. Moore is precisely the type of high-octane playmaker who makes this offense so difficult to defend.

59. Cleveland Browns: Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa

The Browns adequately replaced Larry Ogunjobi with veteran Malik Jackson but the club has just one defensive tackle signed past next year and Nixon’s upside is exciting.

60. New Orleans Saints: Milton Williams, DL, Louisiana Tech

Adding the pass-rushing presence Williams would provide inside would help ease the sting of losing former first-round pick Sheldon Rankins in free agency.

61. Buffalo Bills: Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina, 5-10, 220

Possessing the best contact balance of any back in this draft, Williams could be long off the board. The Bills likely wouldn’t complain, however, if the burly finisher fell to them.

62. Green Bay Packers: Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina

The Packers do not have a single wide receiver signed past 2021, and Brown has the sweet feet and sticky hands to earn Aaron Rodgers’ trust quickly.

63. Kansas City Chiefs: Quinn Meinerz, OG/C, Wisconsin-Whitewater

A former offensive line coach like Andy Reid might appreciate the grit, physicality and versatility Meinerz provides as much as anyone.

64. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

Tom Brady might be the G.O.A.T., but he isn’t going to play forever. The Bucs would be wise to start grooming a replacement now, and teams love Trask’s decision-making.

THIRD ROUND

65. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jabril Cox, OLB, LSU

66. New York Jets: Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State

67. Houston Texans: Nick Bolton, ILB, Missouri

68. Atlanta Falcons: Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas

69. Cincinnati Bengals: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami

70. Philadelphia Eagles: Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson

71. Denver Broncos: Alim McNeil, DT, North Carolina State

72. Detroit Lions: Patrick Jones II, DE, Pittsburgh

73. Carolina Panthers: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan

74. Washington Football Team: Chazz Surratt, OLB, North Carolina

75. Dallas Cowboys: Osa Odighizuwa, DL, UCLA

76. New York Giants: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

77. Los Angeles Chargers: Jay Tufele, DT, Southern California

78. Minnesota Vikings: Aaron Robinson, CB, Central Florida

79. Las Vegas Raiders: Jalen Mayfield, OL, Michigan

80. Las Vegas Raiders: Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford

81. Miami Dolphins: Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

82. Washington Football Team: Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse

83. Chicago Bears: Aaron Banks, OG, Notre Dame

84. Philadelphia Eagles: Drew Dalman, C, Stanford

85. Tennessee Titans: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Southern California

86. New York Jets: Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan

87. Pittsburgh Steelers: Elijah Molden, CB, Washington

88. Los Angeles Rams: Kendrick Green, OG/C, Illinois

89. Cleveland Browns: Baron Browning, OLB, Ohio State

90. Minnesota Vikings: Hamsah Nasirildeen, SS/OLB, Florida State

91. Cleveland Browns: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky

92. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU

93. Buffalo Bills: Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee

94. Kansas City Chiefs: Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina

95. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ben Cleveland, OG, Georgia

96. New England Patriots: Dayo Odeyingbo, DL, Vanderbilt

97. Los Angeles Chargers: Thomas Graham, CB, Oregon

98. New Orleans Saints: D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina

99. Dallas Cowboys: Hunter Long, TE, Boston College

100. Tennessee Titans: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State

101. Detroit Lions: Nico Collins, WR, Michigan

102. San Francisco 49ers: James Hudson, OL, Cincinnati

103. Los Angeles Rams: Walker Little, OT, Stanford

104. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, Southern California

105. New Orleans Saints: Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn

One of the most recognized names in the industry, Rang has been covering the NFL draft for over 20 years with his work found at FOX, Sports Illustrated, CBSSports.com, USA Today, Yahoo, NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com, among others. 


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