NFL Mock Draft 4.0
By Jason McIntyre
The NFL season is upon us — thankfully — so what better time to take a look at our latest mock draft?
Because let's be honest: while every fan base wants to enter a new campaign with Super Bowl wishes, some franchises already have their eyes set on the prize of the No. 1 overall draft pick. And what a prize it will be.
2021 is shaping up as a far better QB draft than 2020, and the defensive back class has the potential to be one of the best in several years. Here's how I see things shaking out as we look forward to Week 1.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (Previous rank: 1)
2019 season stats: 3,665 passing yards, 36 passing TDs, 65.8 completion percentage
The Jaguars are the favorites to win the fewest games in the NFL this season, and it’d be a huge victory to secure the No. 1 pick and then be able to make a run at Lawrence’s college coach, Dabo Swinney.
2. Miami Dolphins – Penei Sewell, LT, Oregon (2)
A prime trade candidate if the Dolphins are this bad, since they already drafted their franchise QB in 2019 (Tua). As a sophomore, Sewell won the Morris and Outland trophy as the best lineman in college football.
3. New York Giants – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (3)
2019 season stats: 3,273 passing yards, 41 passing TDs, 67.2 completion percentage
Giants coach Joe Judge will have a full season to evaluate 2019 1st round pick Daniel Jones, but if it goes poorly and New York is drafting this high, they cannot pass on Fields.
4. Chicago Bears – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (4)
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
Mitchell Trubisky barely beat out Nick Foles for the starting job, and the if the Bears have as bad of a season as I think they will, they’ll be drafting a QB early. North Dakota State’s season was postponed, but Lance will get a showcase game in October.
5. Carolina Panthers – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (5)
2019 season stats: 84 receptions, 1,780 receiving yards, 20 receiving TDs
The Panthers spent all seven draft picks in 2020 on defense; they’ll go offense first in 2021. Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady reunites with Chase, and the last time they were together in 2019, it produced the most prolific offense in SEC history.
6. Cincinnati Bengals – Walker Little, OT, Stanford (6)
The Bengals have two new starters on the offensive line this year, and if the rebuilt group can protect Joe Burrow – Cincinnati QBs were sacked 48 times last year – then this pick is an impact defender.
7. Las Vegas Raiders – Patrick Surtain Jr, CB, Alabama (11)
2019 season stats: 2 INTs, 3 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovered, 42 total tackles
If they’re drafting this high, it might mean that Derek Carr is off Jon Gruden’s Christmas card list, and they need a new franchise savior. But I believe it’ll be the defense letting them down, and grabbing the best CB in the draft should be the top priority.
8. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans) – Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami (8)
2019 season stats: 15.5 sacks, 54 total tackles, 2 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovered
The Dolphins spent lavishly in free agency in 2019, but they are devoid of edge rushers unless Emmanuel Ogbah (3rd team in three years) has a big year. Rousseau, who opted out for this season, has Top 5 potential.
9. Washington Football Team – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State (12)
2019 season stats: 5.0 sacks, 109 total tackles, 4 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovered, 5 passes defended
Ron Rivera’s front four will be dynamite, and there are needs on offense, but this is a much deeper draft at receiver than it is at franchise linebacker. Rivera gets his new Luke Kuechly.
10. Tennessee Titans – Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State (10)
2019 season stats: 5.0 sacks, 1 fumble forced, 1 fumble recovered, 44 tackles
Is Jadeveon Clowney just making a pit stop, or would he like to stay longer? That decision will radically impact next year’s draft. The secondary is a concern, but so is the defensive line.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) – Kwity Paye, DL, Michigan (NR)
2019 season stats: 6.5 sacks, 50 total tackles
A 3-star recruit out of high school in Rhode Island, Paye has put on 50 pounds of muscle, and the late bloomer had 12.5 tackles-for-loss and 6.5 sacks as a junior. Paye opposite Josh Allen is a spicy pass rush.
12. New England Patriots – Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State (14)
2019 season stats: 1 INT, 7 passes defended, 26 tackles, 2 fumbles forced
If the Patriots fall this far, does Bill Belichick draft the heir apparent to Tom Brady? Their 2nd CB, Jason McCourty is a free agent. A tandem of Wade and Stephon Gilmore would flummox AFC East QBs for years.
13. Minnesota Vikings – Samuel Cosmi, LT, Texas (13)
It’s a pivotal year for the Vikings offensive line, as two starters (Dozier, Elflein) are free agents in 2021. They have to pay Dalvin Cook, Anthony Harris, and Yannick Ngakoue, among others.
14. Atlanta Falcons – Carlos Basham Jr., Edge, Wake Forest (NR)
2019 season stats: 10.0 sacks, 3 fumbles forced, 57 total tackles
A terror off the edge, Basham’s power and speed led to 10 sacks last year, and three forced fumbles. The Falcons haven’t had a player register double digit sacks since 2016.
15. New York Jets – Caden Sterns, DB, Texas (15)
2019 season stats: 1 pass defended, 1.0 sack, 59 tackles
Has the ability to play corner or safety, which is something Jets DC Gregg Williams will love. At some point the Jets will need to get Sam Darnold some weapons, but it’s a deep draft at receiver.
16. Denver Broncos – Elijah Molden, CB, Washington (17)
2019 season stats: 4 INTs, 12 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovered, 79 total tackles
The son of former NFL CB Alex Molden, Elijah was the MVP of the Las Vegas bowl and is a physical corner — he was a star high school running back in Oregon.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama (16)
2019 season stats: 1 INT, 3 passes defended, 1 fumble recovered, 28 tackles
The Cowboys are young at corner and this pick screams defensive line or cornerback, unless they move to bolster the not-as-strong-as-2016 offensive line.
18. Green Bay Packers – Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama (18)
2019 season stats: 68 receptions, 1,256 receiving yards, 14 receiving TDs
Hopefully it’s not a year too late, and Aaron Rodgers isn’t so upset by the 1st round QB decision in 2020 that finding him help on the outside keeps the franchise happy.
19. Buffalo Bills – Creed Humphrey, OL, Oklahoma (19)
Missing the playoffs might mean that Josh Allen is in trouble, but they can move to push him in free agency. One starter on the OL and the top two reserves are all free agents in 2021.
20. Detroit Lions – Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State (23)
2019 season stats: 2 INTs, 3 passes defended, 3 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovered, 1.0 sack, 101 tackles
Matt Patricia gets to stick around after getting the Lions to the playoffs, and he moves to bolster a secondary that still needs work after drafting Jeff Okudah last year.
21. Los Angeles Chargers – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama (22)
The Chargers line has struggled in recent years, struggling to keep linemen healthy and finding the mix of young and old. It’s kind of important before putting Justin Herbert under center.
22. Tampa Bay Bucs – Eric Stokes, DB, Georgia (27)
2019 season stats: 9 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1.0 sack, 38 total tackles
The Bucs defense is on the uptick, but the secondary will struggle this season.
23. Cleveland Browns – Jevon Holland, S, Oregon (24)
2019 season stats: 4 INTs, 4 passes defended, 66 total tackles
Holland is a preseason All-American, although the Ducks probably aren’t going to be playing until the spring. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Holland has nine interceptions in two seasons.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame (20)
The Cardinals are a playoff team in 2020, but the biggest question remains the offensive line. A rookie is going to start at RT (Josh Jones), and Eichenberg could start at guard as a rookie in 2021.
25. Indianapolis Colts – Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State (NR)
2019 season stats: 5.0 sacks, 2.0 fumbles forced, 21 total tackles
As a backup last year had five sacks, but projections are sky-high for the 6-foot-5 defensive end who had high school aspirations to play in the NBA.
26. New York Jets (via Seattle) - Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU (NR)
2019 season stats: 39 total tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 2 passes defended
It's been a rocky college experience for Shelvin, who took an academic redshirt year in 2017, then had weight issues and was suspended for two weeks in 2018 before taking on a starring role in 2019. A preseason All-American in 2020, Shelvin opted-out of the season and is firmly in the 1st round mix for 2021.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers – Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State (7)
2019 season stats: 3,982 passing yards, 27 passing TDs, 65.7 completion percentage
Ben Roethlisberger is 38, and his two backups were below average last year. Purdy was a 3-star recruit who has blossomed into a pro and is poised for a big season in Ames.
28. Philadelphia Eagles – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (28)
2019 season stats: 60 receptions, 1,219 receiving yards, 11 receiving TDs
The cluster injuries for the Eagles were a problem in 2019, and they’re starting before the 2020 season is underway.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – Joshua Kaindoh, Edge, FSU (NR)
2019 season stats: 1.0 sack, 9 total tackles (only 3 games played)
The Chiefs may cycle through pass rushers to compliment Frank Clark, or they could target Kaindoh, who is looking to bounce-back from a foot injury to be one of the best pass rushers the ACC.
30. New Orleans Saints – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame (30)
2019 season stats: 5.5 sacks, 80 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumbles recovered, 4 passes defended
If there’s a weakness on the most complete roster in the NFL, it’s at linebacker, where the Saints picked up Zach Braun in the 2020 draft, and will go again to get the versatile JOW, who had 13.5 tackles for loss last year.
31. Baltimore Ravens – Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford (32)
2019 season stats: 4 INTs, 10 passes defended, 33 tackles
The Ravens have the second most expensive defense in the NFL, which is a luxury with a QB on a rookie deal. They didn’t draft a CB in 2020, but it’ll be a position of focus in the 2021 draft.
32. San Francisco 49ers – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (21)
2019 season stats: 33 receptions, 560 receiving yards, 6 receiving TDs
The 49ers didn’t move in free agency to replace Emmanuel Sanders, but did draft Brandon Aiyuk in the first round. Injuries will test their depth early, which is why it should once again be a priority in the draft.