The 2021 NFL Draft, happening in Cleveland, Ohio, is just around the corner – Thursday, April 29th, 2021 – and seeing how my show, The Hoppin’ & Poppin’ Hour covers sports sometimes, it’s only fitting that I do a Mock Draft for the upcoming football season. For now, I’ll cover the first 10 picks.
The Draft is a living and breathing thing from the moment the Draft from the previous year ends right up to the moment the team with the worst record of the season is put on the clock by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
It’s living and breathing because every year, new college prospects are leaving the collegiate level, players retire or are injured, teams lose players to other teams, and thus creating a demand for teams to get better. So the “experts” track all this movement to try to predict what teams will do with their eventual pick in the Draft.
Most “experts” – experts are in quotations because no one really knows what a team is doing at each pick besides the team with the pick. Even then, teams are constantly evaluating and grading talent and prospects, right up to the moment they send in the card- submit “way too early” Mock Drafts days, sometimes hours after the moment Mr. Irrelevant is drafted.
However, Draft buzz dies down eventually; then it’s football season and all the coverage that comes with the regular season. The Super Bowl comes and goes, and Draft season once again gains new life and starts going full steam ahead. From the combine (which didn’t happen this year because of COVID-19) to college pro days, to the start of the new league year (usually happens sometime in March), marking the start of free agency (which happens in waves).
The first wave is usually filled with big-name free agents, the second features smaller names but still valuable players to any NFL roster, and the third, like we saw this year, usually contains some trades and other veteran players that will get simple 1-2 year contracts, then free agency sort of dwindles down marking the “end.”
In this short time of the “end” of free agency up until the Draft, Mock Drafts are all there to talk about in the football world, so without further ado, here is my Mock Draft of the first 10 picks in this years NFL Draft:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)
The Jaguars had the worst record in all of football last season, so they will be picking 1st. Since Joe Burrow beat Clemson in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship, declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, and was picked Number 1 by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020’s Draft, the player that got beat in that game, Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, has been the presumed Number 1 pick for this year’s Draft no matter who was picking. So, with the 1st pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select: Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback, Clemson.
2. New York Jets (2-14)
If I had done this Mock Draft just a week prior, the pick here might have been different, perhaps a WR or TE, but with new Coach Robert Saleh and new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, it was unclear on whether or not they were sold on incumbent QB Sam Darnold and when they signed WR Corey Davis via free-agency he signed with the idea of catching passes from Darnold. However, on Monday, the Jets sent QB Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for a 2021 6th round pick and a pair of picks in next year’s Draft. So, with 2nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select: Zach Wilson, Quarterback, BYU.
3. San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
Originally the 49ers were picking 12, and the Dolphins were picking here via a trade from the Houston Texans a couple of years ago. Still, the 49ers traded up, and given their so-called troubles at the QB position (injuries and poor back-up play), it’s presumed they are looking to grab one of the top QB prospects in the year’s Draft. Too many “experts,” the pick is certainly QB Mac Jones from Alabama cause he “fits” Coach Shanahan’s typical Quarterback. However, to me, you don’t trade what the 49ers traded to pick someone that’s typical. Why not someone that “fits” and also can “unlock” more of Shanahan’s offense. So, with the 3rd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select: Justin Fields, Quarterback, Ohio State.
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
The Falcons might want to take a successor to Matt Ryan here. Still, given how he just got a new head coach who resurrected Tannehill’s career and how quarterbacks are playing way past their prime, the Falcons go a different direction and get some help on defense which they so desperately need. So, with the 4th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select: Patrick Surtain II, Cornerback, Alabama.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
The Bengals needed a QB last year, and they got him, Joe Burrow; unfortunately for them, he was sacked a bunch and got injured, and missed a majority of the season. So in order to protect their franchise quarterback, the Bengals go offensive line here and pick the best one and most versatile in this year’s Draft. So, with the 5th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select: Rashwan Slater, Offensive Line, Northwestern.
6. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
This trade originally belonged to the (4-11-1) Eagles. After the Dolphins traded with the 49ers for 12, they traded that pick and a few others to get back to the 6th. I think the dolphins were comfortable enough to trade picks with the Niners but not comfortable enough to be out of the top 10. They need someone that can help Tua Tagovailoa, their QB, as both a safety valve and in pass protection. So, with the 6th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select: Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida.
7. Detroit Lions (5-11)
The Detroit Lions made the first of the moves in the Quarterback Carousel this offseason when they sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams. In return, they received Quarterback Jared Goff and many future first-round picks, and more. However, the Lions lost their wide receivers to free-agency, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, so who’s Jared Goff going to be throwing to? The best receiver who’s actually a receiver. With the 7th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select: Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU.
8. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
The other team affected by Monday’s big trade; as mentioned in the second overall pick, the Panthers acquired Quarterback Sam Darnold. Many thought the Panthers would go Quarterback here but seeing how they somewhat fixed that problem, I think they’ll hold on to Darnold, evaluate him, and if they need to, will pick a QB next year. Still, for now, they need to help Sam Darnold in ways the Jets never did supply him with weapons that can unlock his potential. So, with the 8th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select: Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver, Alabama.
9. Denver Broncos (5-11)
The Broncos have had many quarterbacks since they landed Peyton Manning back in free-agency 2011. From Trevor Siemien to their latest Drew Lock, who the Broncos thought was the answer, to be fair though he hasn’t really gotten the chance to prove himself, last year he was hurt often and even found himself on the COVID list the year before he barely got the chance to start and had no weapons. However, the Broncos want to protect themselves and their future just in case he doesn’t work out for them. So, with the 9th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select: Trey Lance, Quarterback, North Dakota State.
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
The Dallas Cowboys certainly need help on defense, but seeing how the Falcons took one of the best defensive players off the board 6 picks ago and a player that plays a position they need help at (cornerback), they take their next best option. So, with the 10th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select: Caleb Farley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech.
This concludes the top 10 picks in my Mock Draft. I am in no way saying that I will be right with these picks, but I think, based on my knowledge, that these are the best fits and situations for each team. The Draft is still 3 weeks away, and a lot can happen from now until Thursday, April 29th, 2021. Be on the lookout for my Mock Draft for picks 11-20!
Joey Cobb, known on-air as DJ BeeKay is the host of Hoppin’ and Poppin’ Hour, a music and sports radio show that airs on KSSU (every Thursday at 5PM).
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