With no NFL Scouting Combine this year for various reasons, the NFL Draft season is a little unorthodox. We’ve already seen some moves happen — most notably, the Jared Goff and Carson Wentz trades and J.J. Watt signing with the Arizona Cardinals. Teams are gearing up for the strangest offseason in years, with an impending cap reduction to boot. Nevertheless, draft season pushes forward. For this one, I’m dropping a full pre-free agency 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
This time the mock is with a twist — trades are included this time around! Many pick swaps and some picks-for-players trades are included. I based some of the trades off of historical precedents but also dealt in some original moves.
If you want to make your own 2021 7-round mock draft after reading this, you can with PFN’s Free Mock Draft Simulator!
2021 7-round NFL Mock Draft | Round One
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
I can only write so much about this pick. The Jaguars are drafting Trevor Lawrence. End of discussion. All of their moves from this point forward are intending to build around him.
With players like D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault Jr. to throw to, Lawrence will have some weapons early on in Jacksonville. I know it’s boring, but this pick is the only one in this 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft that I’m comfortable writing in a Sharpie.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
It’s becoming increasingly likely that Zach Wilson is the second quarterback off the board, based on recent comments from the infamous “anonymous scouts and GMs.” While Zach Wilson has his flaws, he’s the type of quarterback that fits the way the NFL is trending, and he has the best arm in this class.
Mike LaFleur, Rob Calabrese, and Greg Knapp, the Jets’ offensive coordinator, QBs coach, and passing game specialist, respectively, have a history of maximizing their quarterbacks. Wilson lands in a great situation with his coaching staff.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA)*: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Trade! The Philadelphia Eagles trade No. 6 and No. 37 in 2021, a 2022 2nd-round pick, and the 2022 Indianapolis conditional second-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for pick #3.
Swinging big for the first trade in this 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, the Eagles move up to get their guy at quarterback. I based this trade on the Jets’ maneuvering for pick No. 3 in the 2018 NFL Draft, where they inevitably picked Sam Darnold.
With the threat of the Falcons drafting him at No. 4 or a Lions trade up to get Fields, Philly pulls the trigger to get the best quarterback left. Three quarterbacks going 1-2-3 has only happened twice in NFL history, and these guys deserve it.
I love the marriage of Nick Sirianni and Justin Fields. Fields is one of the most accurate quarterbacks I’ve ever scouted and is one of the best quarterback prospects in recent memory. The processing concerns are highly overblown.
The four games of Jalen Hurts were not enough to suggest passing on a quarterback of Fields’ caliber. Fields would be a clear upgrade over what Hurts put on the field in Philadelphia. Many of the perceived “holes” on the Eagles’ roster would look different with good quarterback play and coaching.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
I said above that three quarterbacks going 1-2-3 has only happened twice in NFL history. Not once in the history of the modern NFL era have quarterbacks gone 1-2-3-4. Let’s make it spicy.
Trey Lance in an Arthur Smith offense, with heavy play-action concepts, will make him comfortable early on. Letting him develop and grow behind Matt Ryan for a season to help Lance adjust to the NFL is a prudent move for the Falcons and brings them flexibility with cap space.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
I’ve seen mocks taking Ja’Marr Chase here and reuniting him and Joe Burrow. Yet, I can’t imagine the Bengals watched the film last year, hired a new offensive line coach in the returning of Frank Pollack, and reach the conclusion of drafting a receiver here.
Penei Sewell starts at left tackle right away in Frank Pollack’s scheme and allows the Bengals to move Jonah Williams to right tackle. I’m generally against flipping players, but Williams played right tackle as a freshman at Alabama and has the experience there, unlike Sewell. Sewell and Williams give the Bengals an excellent young tackle duo to protect Joe Burrow.
6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI)*: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Earlier this year, during the Senior Bowl, PFN Insider Benjamin Allbright outlined that the Heisman winner was using the Senior Bowl as a ticket to get in front of the Dolphins’ front office and coaching staff.
With Tua Tagovailoa as the QB for 2021, reuniting him and DeVonta Smith together in Miami would be an ideal upgrade over what Miami rolled out at receiver in 2020. Smith’s size concerns don’t seem to be pushing him down many boards. Trading down and still picking up Smith is a win for Miami.
7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
There are no quarterbacks here for Detroit to move on to after Jared Goff, so they turn to their next need.
The Lions have virtually every wide receiver hitting free agency. Even if they franchise tag Kenny Golladay, the team needs an elite field-stretcher. Jaylen Waddle is the closest prospect we’ve had to Tyreek Hill in years and would be a wise investment for Detroit to replace their departing receivers.
8. Carolina Panthers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Panthers are in a tricky spot here. No quarterbacks are here for them to take (that wouldn’t be a reach and a half) in the top 10. However, a situation opens up for them here. The team is poised to have Taylor Moton and Russell Okung become free agents, potentially losing both starting tackles. It’s far more likely they keep Moton over Okung, so the left tackle spot is wide open.
In a recent article, I declared Christian Darrisaw as my OT2 prospect, primarily because “Darrisaw can make up the ground on Rashawn Slater technically. However, Slater cannot make up the ground on Darrisaw physically. As a result, Darrisaw’s ceiling is much higher.” OL coach Pat Meyer seems to prefer length and athleticism at tackle. Thus, Darrisaw is the pick in this 2021 7-round NFL Mock Draft.
9. Denver Broncos: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Yeah, it’s boring, and it’s the same pick I’ve made frequently. As I’ve stated previously, Caleb Farley is the perfect Vic Fangio corner. I’d be surprised if Farley weren’t the pick for Denver here at No. 9 with the need at corner.
Since my previous mock draft, the team released A.J. Bouye. The team played plenty of youth last year at corner, but none of them can match up with WR1s in the NFL. Farley does so in spades.
10. Minnesota Vikings (via DAL)*: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Trade! The Minnesota Vikings trade picks 14, 78, and 143 to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for picks 10 and 179.
A team has never traded up to take a tight end in the top 10 in the history of the modern draft. Not a single time. It’s a risky move, obviously, but hey, we’re here to party. I based this trade on the 2018 NFL Draft deal between the Raiders and Cardinals.
I’ve had this pick written in for a few days, but recently, the Vikings released long-time TE Kyle Rudolph, further affirming this pick in my mock. Kirk Cousins heavily targets his tight ends, and he’s not had a weapon like Pitts since prime Jordan Reed.
While the Vikings go all-in on Kirk Cousins, an offense boasting Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Irv Smith, and Kyle Pitts is a loaded skill position group to threaten defenses at all levels.
11. New York Giants: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Ja’Marr Chase is a stud weapon on the perimeter. With the Giants moving on from Golden Tate, they will need another weapon to help Daniel Jones. Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard aren’t true WR1s.
Chase’s ability as a receiver will help mitigate Daniel Jones’ accuracy issues and draw attention away from Slayton and Shepard.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, Jamar Taylor, Emmanuel Moseley, Ken Webster.
That’s the list of every San Francisco cornerback set to become a free agent this offseason. Every corner that took a defensive snap for the 49ers is set to be a free agent. Even if the 49ers bring a few of them back, that’s plenty of turnover to experience. The 49ers catch a lucky break with Patrick Surtain II falling to them, as he’ll be a mainstay at corner for them for a long time.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Chargers’ offensive line will undergo some turnover this offseason. They’re searching for answers along the offensive line to protect Justin Herbert.
Rashawn Slater falls right into their lap here at 13th overall. Slater has experience at all five offensive line positions and brings some much-needed versatility to the Chargers. He’s an elite technician who I described as technically well ahead of the curve as a pass protector.
14. Dallas Cowboys (via MIN)*: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
While the Dallas Cowboys twiddle their thumbs on paying their elite quarterback, they can’t afford to neglect their secondary. Trading down and still nabbing an elite corner prospect in Jaycee Horn is an excellent move for Dallas.
Horn is more than a little grabby, but he is a culture-changer. He’s long, physical, and feisty — something the Cowboys have lacked in their corner room.
15. New England Patriots: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Micah Parsons is the epitome of a Patriots linebacker. He fits that mold of hybrid EDGE/off-ball linebacker they have used well for years.
Parsons would be an immediate explosive playmaker to that front-seven that seemed to be lacking from the Patriots’ defense last year. He was handmade for Bill Belichick.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
I had this pick in even before the Cardinals surprisingly signed J.J. Watt. Watt will play a different role than Azeez Ojulari, who is penciled in to replace one or both of Haason Reddick and Markus Golden.
Ojulari is a little raw technically, but he has the opportunity to learn from two of the game’s best pass rushers of the last decade. With much of the focus on Jones and Watt, Ojulari will face plenty of one-on-ones. With his bend and explosiveness, Ojulari could be a menace in Arizona.