Reporters predict first round of NFL Draft


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The 2021 NFL Draft will be held in Cleveland, Ohio this year.

Ben Rosen and Nicholas Rasmusson

     The NFL Draft is taking place in Cleveland between April 29 and May 1. The first round takes place on April 29, the second and third rounds take place on April 30 and rounds four through seven take place on May 1. The Jacksonville Jaguars own the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft because they had the worst record in the league last season at 1-15. The Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs all traded away their first round pick. The Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens have multiple first round picks. 


1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence has been the consensus first overall pick for a while now. This will immediately help the Jaguars at QB and they now have a franchise player to build around.


Team Needs: QB, TE, DL, S, CB, RB

2. New York Jets

Pick: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Trading Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers basically sealed the deal for this pick. The Jets need a franchise QB badly and Wilson is the best available QB at this spot in the draft. 


Team Needs: QB, LB, OL, RB, WR

3. San Francisco 49ers (from Houston Texans via Miami Dolphins)

Pick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The 49ers traded up from Pick #12 to Pick #3 to presumably select a QB in the first round of the draft. This pick originally belonged to the Houston Texans who traded it to the Miami Dolphins in the Laremy Tunsil deal. Ohio State QB Justin Fields is the third best QB in the draft class and one of the most mobile ones as well. Fields is one of those QBs whose arms and legs can make big plays. This pick can give the 49ers their QB of the future as it appears they will trade Jimmy Garoppolo. 


Team Needs: QB, CB, OL, WR

4. Atlanta Falcons

Pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The Falcons could take a QB here to be the Matt Ryan successor or trade back but the most likely scenario is they select Pitts to add another great receiver to their offense. Pitts’ size fits the TE role but he can also line up as a WR. Pitts is the most talented TE entering the draft in a long time and probably the third best player in this draft behind Lawrence and Penei Sewell.


Team Needs: QB, LB, S, TE, CB

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Penei Sewell, OL, Oregon

Last season, the Bengals selected LSU QB Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. Burrow’s season ended prematurely when he tore his ACL and MCL in a game against the Washington Football Team. Burrow found himself in trouble very often this season since the Bengals lacked a solid offensive line. Sewell would help fix this problem. Sewell, who opted out of the 2020 college football season, would bring Burrow some safety off the edge in a division that has multiple premier edge rushers.


Team Needs: OL, WR, TE, EDGE, DL

6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles)

Pick: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The Dolphins need to give QB Tua Tagovailoa another target in the passing game to go along with Will Fuller, who signed with the team in the offseason, and Devante Parker as well as Mike Gesicki. Chase can fill that role and give the Dolphins offense an added dimension in the passing game. 


Team Needs: WR, OL, RB, LB, CB

7. Detroit Lions

Pick: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Lions badly need a WR after seeing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., the teams top two receivers from last season, leave in free agency. Heisman winner Smith can give the Lions much needed help on offense for newly acquired QB Jared Goff. Depending on earlier picks, this is a spot where a potential trade could happen


Team Needs: WR, LB, OL, S, CB, QB

8. Carolina Panthers

Pick: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

The Panthers traded for New York Jets QB Sam Darnold recently to try to improve at that position, so they could end up trading this pick to a team looking to move up and draft a QB. However, the offensive line needs some help so that is why the Panthers select Slater, the second best offensive tackle in the draft class, to give Darnold and QB Teddy Bridgewater some added protection. 


Team Needs: OL, TE, LB, CB, DL, QB

9. Denver Broncos

Pick: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

The Broncos have a big hole to fill on defense at LB and they could fill this hole by selecting Penn State LB Micah Parsons. Parsons is one of the top defensive players in this draft and the top LB in this draft. As Von Miller is getting up there in age and has battled some injuries in recent years the Broncos can use Parsons to pair with Bradley Chubb at outside linebacker or they could play Parsons at inside linebacker. The Broncos could select a QB here but expect them to trade for one instead.


Team Needs: LB, EDGE, QB, S, RB

10. Dallas Cowboys

Pick: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The Cowboys defense which has been one of the worst defenses in the NFL the last couple of seasons needs some major improvements. By selecting Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II the Cowboys can start to rebuild their defense by drafting the top defensive back in the draft.


Team Needs: CB, DL, OL, EDGE, S

11. Minnesota Vikings (from New York Giants)**

Pick: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

First of two projected trades in this mock draft has the Vikings trading up from Pick #14 to Pick #11 to select North Dakota State QB Trey Lance. Current Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is entering the last year of his contract and has underperformed compared to the expectations when he signed with the Vikings. CBS Sports reporter Pete Prisco said that he is hearing from executives around the league that there is a decent possibility the Vikings take a QB in Round 1 and have the Vikings selecting Lance in one of his most recent mock drafts. Even though New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman has never traded back in the first round of the NFL Draft expect them to trade Pick #11 to a team that is looking to draft a QB like in this scenario.


Team Needs: OL, S, TE, DL, EDGE, QB

12. Philadelphia Eagles (from San Francisco 49ers via Miami Dolphins)

Pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

The Eagles badly need a top WR and have failed at drafting good receivers in the last couple of drafts. This time they hope to get it right by selecting Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle, one of the top receivers in the draft who can be a playmaker in the passing game and on special teams as a kick and punt returner.


Team Needs: WR, CB, TE, LB, OL

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

The Chargers have a major hole to fill on the OL at left tackle. They improved the OL in the offseason by signing Corey Linsley. By adding Vera-Tucker they are adding a player that is the most versatile offensive lineman in the draft class and can play at tackle and guard. This pick will help improve the protection for Justin Herbert by being able to fill the one hole remaining in the Chargers OL. 


Team Needs: OL, TE, EDGE, CB, LB, WR

14. New York Giants (from Minnesota Vikings)**

Pick: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

Paye is one of the most raw talents in the 2021 draft class. Despite this, he has great potential and could be one of the top players to come out of this draft class. Paye is a force off the edge and will get to the QB quickly, which will help the Giants in a division that contains multiple mobile QBs.


Team Needs: EDGE, OL, WR, LB

15. New England Patriots

Pick: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

The Patriots are in dire need of a QB, especially after the shaky season Cam Newton had last year. Enter Mac Jones. Jones enters the league after one full season as the starting QB at Alabama, and in that season he won the Davey O’Brien Award (Nation’s Best QB) and a national championship.


Team Needs: WR, QB, LB, CB, RB

16. Arizona Cardinals

Pick: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

The departure of Patrick Peterson who signed with the Vikings this offseason leaves the Cardinals with a hole to fill at CB. To fill this hole they select South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn, the son of former NFL WR Joe Horn. Horn is the second best defensive back in the draft class behind Surtain II.


Team Needs: CB, DL, OL, TE, LB

17. New Orleans Saints (from Las Vegas Raiders)**

Pick: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

Second of two projected trades in this mock draft has the Saints trading up from Pick #28 to Pick #17 to select Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II. The Saints could use some help in the secondary, Selecting Newsome II, who was named to the All-Big Ten first team during the 2020 season, will give Saints CB Marshon Lattimore some help and ensure that he does not have to carry the load in pass coverage.


Team Needs: CB, WR, LB, DL, TE, QB

18. Miami Dolphins

Pick: Christian Darrisaw, OL, Virginia Tech

The Dolphins will fill their second major need with Pick #18. With their first pick they selected a WR to fill that need, and now they select Christian Darrisaw, one of the top offensive lineman in the draft. The addition of Darrisaw will be an upgrade for the Dolphins offensive line in their quest to protect QB Tua Tagovailoa.


Team Needs: See Pick No. 6 

19. Washington Football Team

Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Washington will look to improve at the LB position which is one of the team’s biggest needs in the draft. Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will help fill that need and give the Washington defense an additional playmaker that can make an instant impact.


Team Needs: LB, QB, OL, S, WR, CB

20. Chicago Bears

Pick: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

The Bears signed QB Andy Dalton to help replace Mitch Trubisky who signed with the Buffalo Bills in the offseason. But Dalton is not that much of an improvement and likely only a short term fix and Nick Foles is not the same QB he was when he won Super Bowl MVP with the Philadelphia Eagles. That is why the Bears select Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond who broke many Texas A&M school records during his time in College Station and is probably the most underrated QB in this entire draft class. Mond can be the Bears long term solution at QB. 


Team Needs: WR, QB, CB, OL, DL

21. Indianapolis Colts

Pick: Tevin Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma State

After the retirement of Anthony Castonzo, the Colts need some help at the offensive tackle position. Jenkins can help fill that hole and bring some versatility to the Colts offensive line as he can play both tackle positions. New Colts QB Carson Wentz did not have much protection when with the Philadelphia Eagles so the addition of Jenkins to this already good offensive line can help calm some of Wentz’s potential concerns after having been sacked more than any other QB last season.


Team Needs: OL, EDGE, WR, TE, CB

22. Tennessee Titans

Pick: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

After the departure of Malcom Butler in free agency the Titans need to find a replacement at CB. To do this they add Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley to their secondary to help fill the hole left by Butler’s departure. Farley is one of the top defensive backs in the draft and could be selected earlier than Pick #22. 


Team Needs: CB, WR, TE, DL, OL

23. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)

Pick: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

The Jets have plenty of needs to fill in the draft. One of them is at LB which is why they select Tulsa LB Zaven Collins with this pick that they acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in the Jamal Adams trade. Collins is the third best linebacker in the draft class and can be an impact player immediately for the Jets. 


Team Needs: QB, LB, OL, RB, WR

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

After allowing James Conner to sign with the Arizona Cardinals, the Steelers are in need of a three-down RB. Najee Harris is a potential solution to this problem. Harris is a workhorse who is not afraid to run through defenders. Harris is a hard-nosed runner who would be a dangerous weapon to a Steelers offense who ranked last in the NFL in total rushing yards.


Team Needs: RB, OL, CB, EDGE

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams)

Pick: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

With the #1 Pick the Jaguars got their new franchise QB. Now with Pick #25, which they acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in the Jalen Ramsey trade, they will add the top defensive tackle in the draft class Christian Barmore. This pick will help improve the Jaguars’ run defense and pass rush as new Head Coach Urban Meyer looks to rebuild the team.


Team Needs: QB, TE, DL, S, CB, RB

26. Cleveland Browns

Pick: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

With the free agency acquisitions the Browns made they are going to be major contenders in the AFC. They just need another piece or two to put them over the top. The addition of Kentucky LB Jamin Davis, who has skyrocketed up draft boards in recent weeks can help secure the LB position. 


Team Needs: LB, EDGE, DL, WR, CB

27. Baltimore Ravens

Pick: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

The Ravens need to add a weapon to Lamar Jackson’s arsenal, and Rashod Bateman is a potential answer. Bateman is a great route runner who can get open in a hurry.


Team Needs: EDGE, WR, S

28. Las Vegas Raiders (from New Orleans Saints)**

Pick: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

The Raiders defense needs help. They had one of the worst defenses in the league last season. They begin to fix the defense by adding Moehrig, the top player at the safety position in the draft class. If they stay at Pick #17 they could take a LB or a DL depending on who is available at that spot in the draft.


Team Needs: LB, S, OL, CB, DL, WR, QB

29. Green Bay Packers

Pick: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

The Packers selecting Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr. would bring much needed help to the secondary. Jaire Alexander is one of the top corners in the league but he needs someone who can be as dominant on the other side. That is where selecting Samuel Jr., the son of legendary former NFL CB Asante Samuel, comes in. Kevin King, who re-signed on a one year deal this offseason, has proven he is no longer good enough to play on the other side of Alexander and should be moved to covering the slot. Selecting Samuel Jr. can be a major first step in fixing the Packers defense, which tends to struggle when it matters most with the game on the line.


Team Needs: CB, WR, LB, DL, OL, TE

30. Buffalo Bills

Pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

The Bills are one of the best teams in the NFL but still have some holes to fill to reach the level of their top competition in the AFC. To fill one need they select Georgia EDGE rusher Azeez Ojulari, who can play at defensive end or outside linebacker, depending on the defensive scheme. 


Team Needs: CB, EDGE, RB, WR, TE, OL

31. Baltimore Ravens (from Kansas City Chiefs)

Pick: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)

The Ravens acquired this pick from the Kansas City Chiefs in the Orlando Brown Jr. trade that occurred on April 23. With their first pick the Ravens select Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman to help Lamar Jackson on offense. Now they select Miami (FL) EDGE rusher Gregory Rousseau to help improve their pass rush on defense. This pick will help the Ravens fill their biggest need on the defensive side of the ball.

Team Needs: EDGE, WR, S

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pick: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)

The defending champion Buccaneers do not have many needs to fill in the draft. The Buccaneers became the first Super Bowl champion in the salary cap era (since 1994) to return all 22 offensive and defensive starters the following season. However, they could use some of their picks to improve their depth at certain positions. They select Phillips to help build some depth at that particular position group and give them another player to watch out for in the pass-rush department. There is also a potential scenario where the Buccaneers could trade out of the first round and acquire more picks in later rounds and future drafts.


Team Needs: CB, S, DL, EDGE, OL

*All picks made on or prior to April 16, 2021

**Indicates predicted trades of picks between teams


Projected trades

Trade 1 – Minnesota Vikings & New York Giants

Minnesota Vikings Receive: Pick #11

New York Giants Receive: Pick #14, Pick #157, 2022 1st Round Pick 


Trade 2 – New Orleans Saints & Las Vegas Raiders

New Orleans Saints Receive: Pick #17, Pick #80

Las Vegas Raiders Receive: Pick #29, 2022 1st Round Pick, 2022 3rd Round Pick


Teams without a first round pick

Houston Texans

Team Needs: CB, S, EDGE, WR, RB, QB

Seattle Seahawks

Team Needs: OL, EDGE, DL, CB

Los Angeles Rams

Team Needs: LB, EDGE, OL

Kansas City Chiefs

Team Needs: LB, WR, DL, EDGE, OL