The first-round draft can make or break a season for any NFL franchise – and this year it’s more important than ever. Because, let’s face it, the less said about 2020 the better. But there are a ton of exciting prospects for 2021, and we think we know who’s going where. Yup, we’ve used the NFL Mock Draft Database to analyze the pick predictions of NFL experts up and down the country. And these are the top choices for what will surely be another unforgettable season. Hut hut!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars set a franchise record in 2020… for most losses in a single season. And considering the team’s 15 defeats came in one big morale-shattering run, they really had to hurt. But the Jags’ terrible 1-15 record does mean that the franchise picks first in the draft. So fans can look forward to watching Trevor Lawrence in action this year.
What’s not to love? Clemson University’s Lawrence stands at an impressive 6 foot 6 inches tall and weighs 221 pounds. The quarterback has an on-the-pitch record to back up his monster physique, too. This includes bagging a USA Today Player of the Year trophy as a high school senior. The signal-caller also earned an ACC Offensive Player of the Year gong in 2020.
2. New York Jets
The New York Jets get the second pick thanks to a couple of late-season victories. But the 2020 season was still pretty much a write-off for the franchise. After all, the Jets started the year with 13 straight losses – setting an unwanted record for longest losing streak. So they’ll be counting on Zach Wilson for a boost in 2021.
Wilson, from Brigham Young University, had an excellent season in 2020. Just look at the quarterback’s stand-out statistics. His 73.5 percent completion rate clinched second place in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) rankings – and he took third for 33 passing touchdowns. Wilson also threw for 3,692 passing yards. The Jets will look forward to profiting from his strong arm this year.
3. Miami Dolphins
There are reasons to be cheerful if you’re a Miami Dolphins fan. The 2020 season saw the Dolphins post five more wins than in 2019, for one thing. And its 10-6 finish means the franchise has two first-round picks in the draft. The consensus is that the Dolphins will go for Louisiana State University’s Ja’Marr Chase as the team’s number-one choice.
Chase is a wide receiver for the LSU Tigers. He didn’t actually play in 2020, so the Dolphins will be hoping he can replicate his 2019 form. We’re talking 1,780 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns. Chase also scored a Biletnikoff Award and a National Championships title. Pretty good! But can the Dolphins capitalize on his incredible speed?
4. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons finished the 2020 season with a disappointing 4-12 record. Head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff both lost their jobs part-way through the year, too. So the Falcons will be looking to rebuild and recover in 2021. Could Ohio State’s Justin Fields be the guy they need?
In 2020 quarterback Fields scored the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year trophy for the second consecutive year. He comes from good footballing stock, too. His dad – Ivant “Pablo” Fields – was a linebacker during his college days as well. But Fields is set to overtake his pops and take the NFL by storm this season.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals started the 2020 season with a bang – but finished with a whimper. That meant a final record of 6-10 and another year – the third in a row – with no playoff place. Worse still, quarterback Joe Burrow couldn’t even finish the year because of injury. But Penei Sewell could be the answer to their problems.
The appeal of Sewell for the Bengals is easy to see. This dude is 6 foot 6 inches tall and a mighty 325 pounds! What more could you want from a guy playing offensive tackle? But Sewell has the talent to back up his size. In 2019 the University of Oregon student became the first sophomore offensive lineman to take home the Outland Trophy.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
Hopes might have been high for the Philadelphia Eagles going into 2020 – but reality soon brought them crashing back down to Earth. The franchise finished with a 4-11-1 record and suffered plenty of other disappointments along the way. Much of the team got injured, for instance, and star quarterback Carson Wentz lived up to most of his surname and went – he left for the Indianapolis Colts. So where does DeVonta Smith come in?
Well, 2020 proved to be a break-out year for Smith. The University of Alabama wide receiver basically wiped the floor with his competitors when it came time to dish out awards. Yup, he can count winning the Heisman Trophy, the Biletnikoff Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award among his 2020 achievements.
7. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions lost a lot in 2020. The team lost 11 games and also said goodbye to its head coach and general manager. But Dan Campbell has stepped into the head coach position for 2021 and the first-round draft is approaching. So what could Micah Parsons add to the Lions roster?
In January 2021 Campbell was pretty clear about what he wanted from his team this year. “We’re going to kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back, we’re going to smile at you,” he said. And Penn State linebacker Parsons could embody that role perfectly – as his previous Linebacker of the Year win proves.
8. Carolina Panthers
The Caroline Panthers repeated its lackluster 5-11 performance from 2019 in the 2020 season. So head coach Matt Rhule will be looking for improvements coming into 2021. One way to do this could be snapping up North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. The analysts reckon he’s the fourth-best player in that position in this year’s draft.
9. Denver Broncos
Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley has plenty to offer the Denver Broncos. And we don’t just mean his 6-foot-1, 207-pound frame. No, Farley is also rated as the best cornerback in the 2021 draft. That’s the kind of stability the Broncos need. After all, considering the number of injuries on its roster in 2020, the Broncos’ 5-11 finish was not that bad.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Patrick Surtain II
Patrick Surtain II will be hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps with a long career in the NFL. But while Surtain Senior played seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Surtain II could be on his way to the Dallas Cowboys. The Alabama cornerback could bolster the Cowboys’ defensive line after its dissatisfying 6-10 finish in 2020.
11. New York Giants
An injury-struck New York Giants limped home to a 6-10 record in 2020. So the franchise will use the offseason to bolster its roster going into 2021. Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle could be a good offensive pick. Waddle is a wide receiver who – despite a broken ankle earlier in the season – helped the Tide claim the 2020 National Championships.
12. San Francisco 49ers
A bottom-place finish in NFC West was heartbreaking for 2019 Super Bowl runners-up the San Francisco 49ers. The franchise suffered from a long list of injuries and ended the year with a 6-10 record. But South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn could add some much-needed depth to the roster. He was a second-team All-Conference pick after the 2020 season.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
New head coach Brandon Staley will have his own ideas about improving the Los Angeles Chargers’ 7-9 record in 2020. But the experts believe offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw could be included in those plans. The Virginia Tech junior had a stellar year in 2020, with many calling him one of the best tackles in the nation.
14. Minnesota Vikings
In December 2020 Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer knew he had a defense problem. “This is a bad defense,” Zimmer told ESPN. “Worst one I’ve ever had.” So perhaps that’s why the Vikings recorded a 7-9 finish in 2020. But at 6 foot 4 inches tall and 272 pounds, Kwity Paye – an edge from Michigan – could help to stem the tide of points conceded.
15. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots struggled without Tom Brady in 2020. But to combat its poor 7-9 performance, the Patriots have spent an incredible $162.5 million in the offseason. So is there still room for Florida tight end Kyle Pitts? Well, Pitts is the John Mackey Award-winning star of 2020, so the franchise might want to make room!
16. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals missed out on the 2020 playoffs with an 8-8 finish. But its plans for 2021 are firmly under way. General manager Steve Keim has already acquired players in the offseason to boost his offensive line. USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker could be another welcome addition to the pack. His hulking 315-pound frame is certainly formidable!
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – a senior linebacker at Notre Dame – was named a unanimous All-American for his 2020 season. He’d be a welcome addition to any NFL franchise, then, but the experts have him going to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders are in the market for defensive players after an 8-8 finish last year.
18. Miami Dolphins
Najee Harris made headlines in March 2020 after driving nine hours just to cheer on his teammates at the Alabama Pro Day. So Harris’ locker-room presence is not in doubt – and neither is his talent at running back. He did take home the Doak Walker Award in 2020, after all. The Miami Dolphins would be happy to snap him up.
19. Washington Football Team
Alabama’s Mac Jones comes into the 2021 draft having been crowned Quarterback of the Year at the Davey O’Brien Awards. That’s good news for the Washington Football Team. Because despite a solid 7-9, first-place finish in NFC East, Football Team lacked a reliable QB for much of the 2020 season. Could this be a match made in heaven?
20. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears finished 2020 with an 8-8 record, which was enough to keep Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace in their jobs. But if the Bears want to improve this season, Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman could be a good bet. The wide receiver was named MVP in 2019 as well as a Big Ten Receiver of the Year.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Offensive tackle Sam Cosmi took his freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin to bulk up from 260 pounds. Now weighing a monster 314 pounds, Cosmi is ready for the NFL. And as luck would have it, the Indianapolis Colts need a left tackle following Anthony Castonzo’s departure. The Colts finished 11-5 in 2020.
22. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans took the AFC South top spot with a tidy 11-5 record in 2020. But the franchise fell to the Baltimore Ravens in the postseason and will want to improve in 2021. The University of Georgia’s edge Azeez Ojulari could help with this. He impressed in the Peach Bowl and could fit nicely into the Titans’ front seven.
23. New York Jets
Travis Etienne has been proposed for the New York Jets’ second first-round selection. The reasoning is that the Clemson running back has the speed and skill to slot right into offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s plans. Etienne has certainly proved himself at college level. His record is 70 touchdowns and 4,952 yards on 686 carries.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
An AFC North title and a first-round playoff exit came after the Pittsburgh Steelers finished the regular season with a 12-4 record. But the Steelers still have a lack of depth at offensive tackle. That’s why experts reckon the franchise will pick Oklahoma State’s OT Teven Jenkins. Jenkins earned a first-team All-Conference spot in 2020 and is one tough cookie.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Experts have the Jacksonville Jaguars plumping for Christian Barmore as its second first-round pick. We know the Jags struggled defensively in the 2020 season, so adding defensive tackle Barmore to the roster makes perfect sense. The Alabama draft prospect is hotly tipped to excel in 2021 after an electric finish – five sacks in five consecutive games – to the 2020 season.
26. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns advanced to the divisional-round playoffs after an 11-5 finish last year. So the analysts have the team going for linebacker Zaven Collins for their first-round pick. In 2020 Tulsa’s Collins was lauded as the country’s greatest defensive player with his Nagurski Award win. That’s perfect for a team hoping to bolster their defensive front seven.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Terrace Marshall Jr.
The Baltimore Ravens secured a run to the divisional-round playoffs after an 11-5 finish in the regular season. But the experts believe head coach John Harbaugh will want a wide receiver to complement QB Lamar Jackson. LSU’s Terrace Marshall could be the man for the job. His average of 15.2 yards per catch in 2020 has people talking.
28. New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints clinched the NFC South crown with a 12-4 record in 2020. But the franchise fell to Super Bowl winners the Buccaneers in the divisional-round playoffs. Perhaps that’s why many say the team needs Nick Bolton to boost its defense. The Missouri Tigers’ linebacker currently leads the SEC in tackles resulting in a loss of yardage for opponents.
29. Green Bay Packers
A 13-3 finish and a shot at the NFC Championship game wasn’t enough to convince some that the Green Bay Packers don’t need a wide receiver. Purdue’s WR Rondale Moore could be the team’s answer to these critics. Moore’s 2018 season – catching 74 percent of passes for 1,258 yards – was frankly legendary.
30. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills won the AFC East with a 13-3 record in 2020. And despite falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, things are looking good. For the draft, then, the experts think Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield could be the Bills’ first-round pick. Mayfield is a promising offensive tackle who could protect QB Josh Allen.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl runners-up the Kansas City Chiefs recorded an impressive 14-2 in the regular 2020 season. But analysts reckon the franchise is still lacking in the guard department. And that’s why Ohio State offensive guard Wyatt Davis could prove a smart first-round pick. Davis is a 2020 unanimous All-American whose zone-blocking game fits well with the Chiefs.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winning the Super Bowl is great – but it does mean you get the final pick in the first-round draft. That makes it tricky to predict who champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have left to choose. But the experts are going with Daviyon Nixon. The Iowa defensive tackle made first-team Associated Press All-American last season and could boost the Buccaneers’ interior roster.