With the summer scouting season well underway, draftniks everywhere are beginning to feel out the 2021 NFL Draft class. Although it’s still far too early to ascertain who will be round one locks come next April. This a time to get an early feel on who could potentially have an impactful season (providing the season starts on time). That said, here is an early look into the players who are being discussed as early-round favorites for the 2021 NFL Draft.
**This draft order was determined using Vegas Betting Odds for the 2020 NFL Season**
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence- QB – Clemson
For the upcoming 2020 NFL season, one of the league-wide questions that will be answered is if Gardner Minshew’s hot rookie campaign a flash in the pan. Taking over for an injured Nick Foles, Minshew threw for over 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns to just six interceptions while completing 60% of his passes. If he manages to recreate and improve upon his rookie season, then the selection of Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence could be moot.
Lawrence is the nation’s top QB prospect, boasting an impressive arm and high football IQ. Should Minshew falter in 2020, then Jacksonville could wind up with a shiny new signal caller to lead them through their rebuild.
2. Washington Redskins – Penei Sewell – OT – Oregon
On day three of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins dealt franchise offensive tackle Trent Williams to the San Francisco 49ers. The move came after a year-long stalemate between the two parties, Williams and the Washington brass that is, where the former expressed his disinterest in playing. As such he was dealt to San Francisco and Washington drafted his potential replacement in LSU’s Saahdiq Charles.
That said, Charles has been regarded as an athletic project and his selection in the fourth-round doesn’t mean Washington is attached to his hip. Should he struggle in his rookie campaign, Washington may look to address the position early next April.
3. Cincinnati Bengals – Gregory Rousseau – EDGE – Miami
Coming out of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals managed to secure their quarterback of the future in LSU’s Joe Burrow. Additionally they managed to plug a few holes on their defense after drafting three off-ball linebackers and adding some much needed pass rush depth.
Speaking of the pass rush, this is where Miami edge Gregory Rousseau comes in. With veteran Carlos Dunlap continuing to age and inching closer to the end of his contract. Plus with Carl Lawson’s health in question, Cincinnati could look at long term option opposite Sam Hubbard. Rousseau is an athletically gifted yet technically raw player who could, in his current state, use a year to learn from vets such as Dunlap and Hubbard to refine his craft
4. Miami Dolphins – Ja’Marr Chase – WR – LSU
As with the Bengals, the Miami Dolphins got their quarterback for the future in Alabama’ Tua Tagovailoa. In the same the draft, the Dolphins took steps to ensure that their young QB stays healthy in the pocket with the selection of three offensive lineman. The next step, find Tua a true number one receiver.
While Devante Parker’s breakout season in 2019 was a nice sight for Dolphins fans. The question remains is can he replicate the same success in 2020. LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase is one of the more refined receivers to come out in the last few years. Chase is a quality route runner from early film study, and could be a favorite for Tua in Miami.
5. Carolina Panthers – Micah Parsons – LB – Penn State
The sudden retirement of veteran linebacker Luke Kuechly came as a shock to many, leaving a void on the interior of the Panthers defense. While Shaq Thompson is a fine starter in his own right and Tahir Whitehead adds another veteran presence. Adding a young and electric such as Penn State Micah Parsons could add a bit of energy to Phil Snow’s defense. Parsons is an athletic and versatile chess piece who has the potential to be a key contributor for Carolina.
6. New York Jets – Patrick Surtain II – CB – Alabama
This offseason, the New York Jets dumped Trumaine Johnsons’ contract and brought over veteran Pierre Desir from the Indianapolis Colts. During the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jets secured Virginia corner Bryce Hall as part of their effort to rebuild their defensive secondary.
Here they continue that rebuild with Alabama’ Patrick Surtain II. Long time NFL fans will recognize the name Surtain and the legacy it carries with it. While the Surtain may not be his father, his ability to physically mirror and match against the nations top receivers should not go unnoticed.
7. New York Giants – Rashod Bateman – WR – Minnesota
While corner and pass rusher could be a consideration here, the New York Giants would be better off finding a proper replacement for Odell Beckham Jr. Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman blends size and speed in addition to smooth route-running ability and would give Daniel Jones a true No. 1 at the position.
8. Detroit Lions – Samuel Cosmi – OT – Texas
This offseason the Detroit Lions cut veteran Ricky Wagner and proceeded to sign former Eagles backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai to start at right tackle. With Vaitai signed to a major deal based on limited reps, should he falter the decision to take Texas offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi becomes more important. Cosmi is an athletic tackle who displays good technique in pass protection and awareness.
9. Los Angeles Chargers – Trey Smith – OL – Tennessee
In the 2020 NFL Draft the Los Angeles Chargers got their quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert. Going forward, their top priority on the offensive side of the ball is keep their young QB upright. Tennessee’s Trey Smith has experience at both guard and offensive tackle, bringing outstanding physical toughness and demeanor to his game. Smith can offer the Chargers positional versatility and potential stability along the offensive line.
10. Las Vegas Raiders – Trey Lance – QB – North Dakota State
Since his MVP-caliber season in 2016, Derek Carr hasn’t been quite the same player that he was. And despite having the support of his head coach, the now Las Vegas Raiders could move on from him should they see a more enticing route to take. NDSU’s Trey Lance was one of the most exciting players in 2019 and has become the darling of many draft analysts. Lance displays incredible mobility, poise in the pocket, and ball placement that could cause Vegas to potentially make the change at the position.
11. Miami Dolphins (via HOU) – Creed Humphrey – C – Oklahoma
As mentioned previously, the Miami Dolphins took three offensive lineman in the 2020 NFL Draft to protect their young quarterback. In 2019, the Dolphins offensive line ranked 28th according to Football Outsiders allowing 58 sacks on the season. To further fix their offensive, here they select Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey with their second, first-round pick. Humphrey is a stout offensive lineman, bringing power to a line that needs an infusion of stability.
12. Arizona Cardinals – Kyle Pitts – TE – Florida
This offseason, the Arizona Cardinals added players such as Deandre Hopkins in order to build around quarterback Kyler Murray. While their wide receiver room looks great on paper, their tight end group on the other hand has room from improvement. Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the perfect tight end for Kliff Kingsbury, possessing the receiving traits and speed that would allow him to thrive in an air raid system.
13. Denver Broncos – Shaun Wade – CB – Ohio State
The Denver Broncos cut ties with franchise veteran Chris Harris Jr this offseason. Playing both outside and nickel corner during his time in Denver, his departure is a bit of a blow despite GM John Elway bringing A.J. Bouye and Michael Ojemudia. Ohio State’s Shaun Wade is similar to Harris in that he also has experience at both outside and inside corner. Displaying fluid hips and sound awareness, Wade can come in day one and be a quality starter for this Denver defense.
14. Atlanta Falcons – Dylan Moses – LB – Alabama
The Atlanta Falcons linebacker group, outside of Pro Bowler Deion Jones looks considerably weak when in comparison to other areas of their defense. Having traded Duke Riley during the 2019 season and De’Vondre Campbell leaving for Arizona, the Falcons have a clear need at the position. This spring, they took linebacker Mykal Walker out of Fresno State but we have yet to see how he’ll perform at the pro level. Despite his health concerns, Alabama’s Dylan Moses would offer Atlanta a potentially more reliable starter out of the gate.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR) – Asante Samuel Jr. – CB – Florida State
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars took Florida corner C.J. Henderson as the replacement for Jalen Ramsey. With this pick, they find their heir apparent for A.J Bouye, whom they traded to the Denver Broncos for a day three selection. Here, they once again dip their hand into the in-state well and select Asante Samuel Jr. Like with Surtain, Samuel Jr. comes from an NFL family, but his natural talents on the field allows him to stand out on his own.
16. Cleveland Browns – Patrick Jones III – EDGE – Pittsburgh
Oliver Vernon will be a free agent after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL season, and the Cleveland Browns don’t have many enticing in-house options to replace him. Pitt edge Patrick Jones III is one of the better pass rushers in the nations, displaying good initial burst off the snap and good hand use to corner. Jones can come in and be a good running mate to Myles Garrett.
17. Chicago Bears – Justin Fields – QB – Ohio State
This offseason the Chicago Bears took on Nick Foles massive contract via trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to provide competition for Mitchell Trubisky. After three seasons of play, the former UNC quarterback hasn’t quite lived up to his No. 2 overall selection. Justin Fields, despite having some of his own shortcomings, works well off script and displays quality arm talent. While there’s always some inherent risk when taking on a new QB, one could do a lot worse than this BIG 10 passer.
18. Tennessee Titans – Jayson Oweh – EDGE – Penn State
2018 second-round pick Harold Landry looks to be blossoming into capable NFL starter. In his first two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Landry has 13.5 sacks to his name, with 9 of them coming in 2019. That said Tennessee lacks a proper running mate for Landry, which is where Penn State’s Jayson Oweh comes in. Despite not starting a full season, Oweh displays the raw athletic talent and potential as a pass rusher could warrant an early-round selection.
19. Minnesota Vikings – Jaylen Twyman – DT – Pittsburgh
This past offseason the Minnesota Vikings cut ties with veteran defensive tackle Linval Joseph. In Joseph’s place, GM Rick Spielman signed former Baltimore nose tackle Michael Pierce. While Pierce is a quality player, he doesn’t quite offer a significant interior pass rush. Jaylen Twyman on the other hand, had 10.5 sacks during his redshirt sophomore season, showing good hand technique and a relentless motor.
20. Indianapolis Colts – Nick Bolton – LB – Missouri
Despite already possessing talented players such as Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke, one might not consider linebacker to be a major need for the Indianapolis Colts. That said, they may want to upgrade their MIKE linebacker position once Anthony Walker hits free agency in 2021. Missouri’s Nick Bolton could be a proper replacement for Walker, as he’s made a name for himself amongst the scouting community for his hard-hitting yet incredibly smart playing style.
21. Buffalo Bills – Marvin Wilson – DT – Florida State
Addressing the defensive line early for a third year in a row may seem redundant for the Buffalo Bills. However, 2018 third-round pick Harrison Phillips hasn’t quite lived up to his draft pick and Star Lotulelei could be a cap casualty after this season. FSU’s Marvin Wilson would be a good compliment to 2019 first rounder Ed Oliver, bringing his run game talents to an already well rounded defensive line.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alex Leatherwood – OT – Alabama
Once the 2020 NFL season concludes, the Pittsburgh Steelers may need to find themselves a new face at left tackle. If he isn’t re-signed, Pro Bowl Alejandro Villanueva will become a free agent in 2021. If they opt not to bring Villanueva back, Alex Leatherwood could be an enticing option at this point in the 2021 NFL Draft.
23. Green Bay Packers – Jaylen Waddle – WR – Alabama
After the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft, many Green Bay Packers fans took to social media to voice their displeasure over the lack of wide receivers taken. Many had hoped GM Brian Gutekunst would bring in another playmaker for Aaron Rodgers who could also take the pressure off of Devante Adams. In this mock, the Packers take Jaylen Waddle, the blazing-fast receiver from Alabama. With prowess in both the passing and return game, Waddle gives Green Bay a weapon that can torch opponents.
24. Seattle Seahawks – Devonta Smith – WR – Alabama
With Phillip Dorsett on a one-year prove-it deal, the Seattle Seahawks may look to address the slot after the 2020 NFL season. Alabama’s Devonta Smith was apart of a four-headed monster last season, and will now be one of “the guys” along with Jaylen Waddle. Smith is a smooth route runner who can also take the top off of a defense.
25. Dallas Cowboys – Paris Ford – S – Pittsburgh
A similar situation to that of Dorsett in Seattle, Dallas Cowboys safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is currently signed to a one-year deal. Should he not return for the 2021 season, Dallas is faced with a need on the back end of their defense. If that comes to fruition, the Cowboys need to find a long term option at the position. Paris Ford is a fluid safety prospect who can offer a lot vs the run in addition to his coverage abilities.
26. New England Patriots – Rondale Moore – WR – Purdue
What the New England Patriots due with their first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is largely contingent on how Jarrett Stidham performs in 2020. Should he falter, this pick would more than likely be a quarterback. If not, then wide receiver could definitely be on the table. If Stidham truly is their guy for the foreseeable future, then surrounding him with more talent like Rondale Moore is a must.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Christian Baremore – DT – Alabama
The general consensus is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are entering a “win now” mode with Tom Brady now in their camp. While they could go offensive line once again in order to provide Brady with added protection, here they address the defensive trenches with Alabama’s Christian Baremore. Despite only playing limited snaps in 2019, Baremore’s raw talent has caught the eyes of many. And should he have a big season this fall, then a first-round bid may just be in the cards for him.
28. Philadelphia Eagles – Caleb Farley – CB – Virginia Tech
After securing a true No. 1 corner in Darius Slay via trade, the Philadelphia Eagles come back in the 2021 NFL Draft and take Caleb Farley with their first-round pick. Farley is an impressive athletic, who’s fluidity in his hips allows him to closely stick to opponents.
29. New Orleans Saints – Amon-Ra St. Brown – WR – USC
With Michael Thomas breaking single-season receptions record, the need for another option in New Orleans is paramount. To take the pressure off of their star wide receiver, the Saints brass could realistically add a young wide receiver to pair with Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Amon-Ra St. Brown is one of the most exciting slot receivers in college football, displaying good vertical speed and slippery route-running ability.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Jaycee Horn – CB – South Carolina
The San Francisco 49ers came up just short of a Superbowl victory back February, with their secondary struggling late in the game to stop Kansas City’s passing game. Richard Sherman won’t be around forever and Ahkello Witherspoon has been hot and cold at best.
Jaycee Horn, son of former New Orleans Saints Joe Horn, is a member of one of the better cornerback tandems in college football along with teammate Israel Mukuamu. Horn shows great hips that lead to smooth transitions and plays a fairly physical style of ball. Should he declare and more importantly if San Francisco were to select him, Horn has the potential to be a fine starter in the NFL.
31. Baltimore Ravens – Shaka Toney – EDGE – Penn State
In the weeks leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, many a mock draft had the Baltimore Ravens selecting an edge rush at some point during the weekend. Ultimately Baltimore opted to subvert media expectations and key on the offensive line, inside linebacker and skill positions.
In this early mock, Baltimore selects Shaka Toney from Penn State. Toney, who went mostly under the radar while sharing the field with Yetur Gross-Matos has a chance to shine in a more pronounced role this fall. Toney displays impressive athletic ability and hand use vs the pass. While he’ll need more refinement vs the run, Toney could be a quality running mate for Matthew Judon.
32. Kansas City Chiefs – Wyatt Davis – OG – Ohio State
The Kansas City Chiefs lost Kendall Fuller to free agency this past offseason and did little to address the cornerback position in general. Additionally, their offensive interior, who will roster Nick Allegretti and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as its starters could be addressed as well.
As such, the Chiefs ultimately go with the guard here with the final pick in this 2021 NFL Draft mock. Wyatt Davis possesses good movement skills, matched with solid placement and power in his lower half. As of this early evaluation, Davis could be a day one starter for Kansas City.
- 2021 NFL Draft: Price’s Early Summer Round One Mock Draft - June 28, 2020
- Baltimore Ravens: Three UDFAs That Could Make The Final Roster - May 30, 2020
- 2021 NFL Draft Player Profile: USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown - May 19, 2020