The holiday season is here. With everything going on in the world, we all need some joy in our lives. I hope that this time for you and yours brings nothing but laughter and happiness.
It’s hard to believe we are entering Week 12 of the NFL season. Things are really starting to take shape and teams around the League will begin to see drastic changes to their organizations in the coming months, both good and bad.
As we get closer to the 2021 NFL Draft, certain names in college football will continue to separate themselves from the pack. Like every year, there will be players who come out of nowhere and rocket up big boards.
This is version 1.0 of my 2021 NFL Mock Draft. There are lots of familiar names, but maybe some that aren’t. I hope you enjoy this piece and plan to do more as the season progresses. The order of the mock can be found at Tankathon.
1.) New York Jets: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson University
It’s simple; Trevor Lawrence is good at football, at the most important position in sports. The Jets need a good football player at this most important position in sports. That’s it. Sam Darnold deserves a fresh start with a competent organization. Time to start over, again in Florham Park.
2.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State University
The Jaguars seem like they’re stuck in QB purgatory. Gardner Minshew is not a terrible player, but he’s not the answer. Fields is coming off a shaky week against Indiana, but should still be considered a top-tier talent in this class. Will there finally be a new regime in Duval after what may turn out to be a disastrous season? Time will tell, but the cupboard isn’t completely bare in Jacksonville for the next era.
3.) Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, LT, University of Oregon
Save Joe Burrow, at all costs. The top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft suffered a brutal knee injury against Washington this past week. If Cincinnati has any hopes of becoming a legitimate contender with Burrow and company, the offensive line must be drastically upgraded. Is Penei Sewell the next Joe Thomas? Absolutely not. That being said, the former Oregon Duck is the consensus top offensive tackle and can be a building block for the Queen City franchise.
4.) Dallas Cowboys: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, University of Miami (FL)
In a season filled with injuries to star players, Dallas may have suffered the most: Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Leighton Vander Esch, and more. Although the pass-rush has been boosted by a bit of a renaissance from former All-Pro Aldon Smith, Dallas could use another dynamic defender. Rousseau is raw, but the tools are all there.
5.) Washington Football Team: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Dwayne Haskins has been buried, Kyle Allen suffered a season-ending ankle injury, and Alex Smith is a 36-year old veteran who almost lost his life due to a gruesome leg injury. Ron Rivera and Jason Wright are doing their best to change the culture in D.C. Zach Wilson would bring an exciting brand of football to The District with his gunslinging style.
6.) Los Angeles Chargers: Patrick Surtain II, CB, University of Alabama
Justin Herbert has made this Chargers team a must-watch every week. Although the priority should be shoring up a suspect offensive line, the value isn’t there at that position at this point in the Draft. With Michael Davis set to become a free agent and Desmond King already being shipped to Tennessee, the Chargers will be left with holes in their secondary. Surtain has the length and ball skills to become a top NFL cover-man.
7.) New York Giants: Kwity Paye, EDGE, University of Michigan
An interesting note from Dan Parr of NFL.com, more than half of the Giants’ sack production comes from players due to reach free agency this offseason. Paye provides an upgrade to this unit for the Giants and gives them a legitimate talent to a defense that is lacking.
8.) Atlanta Falcons: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
With the top EDGE rushers off the board, Atlanta continues to improve a secondary in a continuing to evolve pass-happy NFL. With a new GM and Head Coach set to lead the Falcon organization, I could easily see a QB (Trey Lance anyone?) be the choice here. Caleb Farley shows the length and athleticism to succeed at the next level. Opt-out of not, Farley will continue to be in the conversation for CB1.
9.) Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State University
This is a Dolphins team headed in the right direction. Coach Brian Flores has done an outstanding job with a rebuilt roster in his two seasons in Miami. Micah Parsons gives this organization their version of Dont’a Hightower.
10.) Carolina Panthers: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
After going all defense with their 2020 class, the Panthers get the top WR on the board for whoever is at QB in Charlotte going forward. Adding to a potential group of DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel (pending free agent, and Robby Anderson; would elevate Carolina to the top-tier of NFL wide receiver rooms.
11.) Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, University of Alabama
The Lions must make resigning star WR Kenny Golladay this offseason. If this franchise is going to continue to rely on Matthew Stafford as their QB, they must give him weapons. Waddle has mind-bending speed and playmaking ability. Of course, the ankle injury will be a concern. This guy is a difference-maker though. The combination of Stafford’s huge arm and Waddle’s elite burst is too tempting to pass.
12.) Minnesota Vikings: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, University of Texas
This is a raw prospect, but so was Danielle Hunter. The Vikings have been pedestrian at best when it comes to sacking the QB in 2020. The Yannick Ngakoue experiment did not work. Ossai would give Minnesota a high-upside pass-rusher to pair with Hunter, once he is back healthy.
13.) New England Patriots: Kyle Pitts, TE, University of Florida
To say that this team is lacking offensive playmakers is an understatement. New England was at their best when they had dynamic players at the TE position dominating the middle of the field. Pitts is a jack-of-all-trades type of player, a true chess piece on offense. Whoever is leading the Patriot offense going forward, Pitts provides a special type of skillset in an offense.
14.) San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State University
What does San Francisco do with Jimmy Garoppolo? It’s been an up and down tenure for Jimmy G on the West coast. Kyle Shanahan is arguably the top play-caller in the NFL today, and a top-five Head Coach. Lance is not ready for a day one starting job by any means. That being said, the NDSU QB shows great poise and awareness for a young signal-caller and could end up being the best QB in this class.
15.) Denver Broncos: Christian Darrisaw, LT, Virginia Tech
Garrett Bolles has been solid at LT this season. Could this be fool’s gold? Possibly. Darrisaw has been excellent for the Hokies this season. If Denver is going to continue with Drew Lock as their QB of the future/present, he must be protected. John Elway is building a potent offense in Denver, this would be another step in the right direction.
16.) Chicago Bears: Kyle Trask, QB, University of Florida
The Bears have backed themselves into a bit of a corner. The Khalil Mack trade signified that they were all-in for a Super Bowl run. Then the Mitchell Trubisky experiment came back down to Earth. Kyle Trask burst on the scene after Feleipe Franks went down for the Gators. Trask is a legitimate Heisman contender this season and should see his stock continue to rise.
17.) Miami Dolphins: Devonta Smith, WR, University of Alabama
Reunited and it feels so good. Tua Tagovailoa gets one of his college weapons back. Smith will not wow you with speed or size, but will do everything else very well. Coach Flores and the Dolphins staff is building a solid foundation to be a contender in the AFC East for years to come.
18.) Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
It seems like Marquise Brown is regressing at a rapid rate in 2020, and being outspoken about his lack of involvement in the offense. Terrace Marshall is a height/weight/speed monster. He should test off the charts and has the tape to back it up. Marshall has played “behind” guys like Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase during his career but has shown his ability to be an alpha receiver himself.
19.) Philadelphia Eagles: Wyatt Davis, RG, Ohio State University
The Eagles have been woefully awful during the 2020 season. Yet still have a legitimate shot to win the NFC East and host a playoff game. Carson Wentz has been bad. The offensive line has been worse. Wyatt Davis upgrades the interior line and brings a bully mentality to a stagnant rushing attack.
20.) Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, University of South Carolina
Patrick Peterson is on the other side of a potential Hall of Fame career, but he is not getting any younger. The Cardinals and Vance Joseph need to find a running-mate on the other side for the present and potential replacement for the future. Jaycee Horn, the son of former New Orleans Saints WR Joe Horn, is a long, aggressive CB. Arizona needs to strike while the iron is hot.
21.) Las Vegas Raiders: Jay Tufele, DT, USC
The Raiders have been a pleasant surprise this season. This is a team that is a fringe-playoff contender in the AFC and can be very dangerous. For a man of his size, Tufele possesses superb athleticism and is quick off the snap. Las Vegas is building a solid roster under Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. The addition of a potential game-changer upfront will only validate that.
22.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, University of Georgia
The Bucs pass-rush has not been as ferocious as the 2019 version. Can/will the team bring back vetern Shaq Barrett? Ojulari brings a nice bend and an NFL-ready body. The redshirt sophomore has shown ability to play with his hand in the dirt or as a stand-up EDGE. The biggest knock on Ojulari’s game is against the run. That being said, Todd Bowles could get very creative with the young defender in his scheme.
23.) Indianapolis Colts: Eric Stokes, CB, University of Georgia
This Colts defense has quietly been the best in the NFL so far in 2020. With Philip Rivers leading a young offense to an AFC South leading 7-3 record. The secondary features two young stars in Rock Ya-Sin and Julian Blackmon. Stokes brings excellent size and length at the position and should be a matchup nightmare for pass-catchers in the red zone.
24.) Cleveland Browns: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, University of Notre Dame
Is it ever going to stop raining in Cleveland? The Browns have bonafide superstars in the front-four (Myles Garrett) and secondary (Denzel Ward). Adding the JOKer would give this defense a “positinless” athlete that can roam the field and make plays. Although a bit undersized for a true LB, Owusu-Koramoah is a playmaker that flashes on tape.
25.) New York Jets: Patrick Jones II , EDGE, University of Pittsburgh
The Jets have not had a player with 10.0+ sacks since 2015 (Muhammad Wilkerson – 12.0). Jones II is second in the NCAA (as of 11/18/20) with 8.0 sacks. The Pitt DE is long, rangy, and quick off the snap. The Jets are not anywhere near contending in their division, let alone for a Super Bowl. For a defense with holes at every level, this could be a good start.
26.) Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue University
This feels like a match too good to pass up in my opinion. Aaron Rodgers is playing at an All-Pro and MVP level in 2020 and doesn’t look anywhere close to hanging his cleats up. Rodgers helped Randall Cobb thrive during his time in Green Bay and Moore could be used in a similar role. Once the ball is in this player’s hands, magic happens. I could see the Packers staff and Rodgers making beautiful music with this player.
27.) Tennessee Titans: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State University
Jadeveon Clowney has been a bust during his inaugural season in Tennessee. Although Clowney has never been a dominant pass-rusher, he has been almost non-existent in that department. The same could be said about third-year defender Harold Landry III, who has 13.5 career sacks to his name. Oweh is as raw as they come, but the skills and NFL-ready build are apparent.
28.) Buffalo Bills: Derion Kendrick, CB, University of Clemson
Tre’Davious White is in the conversation as the best CB in the NFL. Imagine what Sean McDermott and his staff could do with another top-tier player on the outside of the secondary. Kendrick is new to the position, being a former WR, but has been dominant at times in 2020. Buffalo would be a great place for a player still developing at the position.
29.) Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams): Samuel Cosmi, LT, University of Texas
New QB, new protection. Jacksonville gets Justin Fields a blind-side protector who is also strong in the run game. Cosmi anchors the Longhorn attack and possesses great size and strength for the position.
30.) Kansas City Chiefs: Rashod Bateman, WR, University of Minnesota
It this the biggest need for the Chiefs? Probably not. That being said, both Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are scheduled to hit free agency this offseason. That would leave minimal depth behind Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. Bateman is not a burner and is not going to overmatch you with size; but the Gopher WR does everything very well. I could see Bateman becoming a Pro-Bowl receiver playing out of the slot with Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball and Andy Reid running the offense.
31.) New Orleans Saints: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State University
Marshon Lattimore is back to playing at a high-level. Alvin Kamara is having an MVP type season. Demario Davis is continuing to be one of the most underrated players in the NFL. Oh, and Taysom Hill is making plays all over the field (and not being a disaster at QB). The Saints are marching their way to another division title and a possible Super Bowl run. Asante Samuel Jr. is a ball-magnet in the secondary and could provide another chess-piece for defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
32.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Liam Eichenberg, LT, University of Notre Dame
Starting LT Alejandro Villanueva will be a free agent after the 2020 season and will be 33 early in the 2021 season. I would expect Pittsburgh to try and bring the veteran back on a team-friendly deal if they can navigate their shaky cap situation. Liam Eichenberg can be the LT of the future for Mike Tomlin and the next-generation Steelers.