Cody Carpentier’s 2021 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

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With Pro Days kicking off this weekend, NFL trades/free agent signings picking up and the Senior Bowl in the rearview mirror, here is my version of how Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft will go.

This mock features a trade between the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, with Denver moving from the No. 9 pick to No. 2 in order to make a move for a quarterback. 

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No. 1 –  Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence – QB – Clemson

Trevor Lawrence was 38-2 at Clemson, finishing with an impressive 10,098 passing yards, 90 passing touchdowns, with just 17 interceptions. 

No. 2 – Denver Broncos – Zach Wilson – QB – BYU

With ongoing rumors of distrust in Drew Lock leaking from the Broncos organization, a trade is on the horizon. Denver leaps into the No. 2 pick hoping to finally put their quarterback issues to rest after five long years.

No. 3 – Miami Dolphins – Penei Sewell – OT – Oregon

Part of being a smart organization is understanding position scarcity. Miami won’t make the same mistake Las Vegas made last year in passing on Tristan Wirfs in favor of Henry Ruggs. The Dolphins take the blue-chip offensive tackle and circle back to the wide receiver position in the second round.

No. 4 – Atlanta Falcons – Justin Fields – QB – Ohio State

New head coach Arthur Smith looks to rebuild an already potent Falcons offense on the fly. With Matt Ryan carrying a $40 million cap hit in 2021 and a $41 million cap hit in 2022, Atlanta grabs their future shot caller, forcing Ryan’s hand to trade out of Atlanta.

No. 5 – Cincinnati Bengals – Christian Darrisaw – OT – Virginia Tech

Protecting Joe Burrow is the only option for the Bengals. A promising career start was halted by a torn ACL, and after landing another top-five pick, Cincinnati takes an offensive lineman in the first round for the fourth time in seven years.

No. 6 – Philadelphia Eagles – Caleb Farley – CB – Virginia Tech

After spending in free agency on wide receiver, the Eagles shore up their defensive backfield with the most pro-ready cornerback in the draft. Farley, an ex-quarterback and wide receiver, was clocked at 4.24 while running a 40 at the Exos Pro Day Combine in February.

No. 7 – Detroit Lions – Ja’Marr Chase – WR – LSU

The Lions are no stranger to drafting prolific collegiate wide receivers in the top-10, selecting Charles Rogers at No. 2 in 2003, Roy Williams at No. 7 in 2004, and Calvin Johnson at No. 2 in 2007. Detroit opts for the most talented WR prospect since Megatron in Ja’Marr Chase.

No. 8 – Carolina Panthers – Trey Lance – QB – NDSU

Teddy Bridgewater has an out in his contract after 2021, giving Trey Lance a full season to learn from the savvy veteran. Lance started in just 16 games at NDSU and has only played in one exhibition game since their National Championship win on January 11th, 2020.

No. 9 – New York Jets – Patrick Surtain II – CB – Alabama

Since 2012, the Jets have used eight of 10 first round picks on defense. That trend continues in 2021 with Patrick Surtain.

No. 10 – Dallas Cowboys – Gregory Rousseau – DE – Miami

After finishing bottom-five in points allowed (29.6) and averaging only 1.9 sacks per game in 2020, the Cowboys bolster their defensive line with the Miami big man. The 6-7 Rousseau finished his redshirt freshman campaign with 19.5 TFL’s and 15.5 sacks before opting out of the 2020 season. Having only played in 14 college games, his versatility along the defensive line makes up for his lack of experience.

No. 11 – New York Giants – Rashawn Slater – OL – Northwestern

There are those who see Slater as an interior offensive lineman, but he likely starts his career on the outside. New York needs help along the line after a 2020 season where Daniel Jones was frequently injured and Saquon Barkley tore his ACL.

No. 12 – San Francisco 49ers – Mac Jones – QB – Alabama

The 49ers can move on from Jimmy Garoppolo before June 1st and save nearly $24 million in cap space while accruing only $2.8 million in dead cap. Kyle Shanahan brings in the 2021 version of Joe Burrow to pair with Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle.

No. 13 – Los Angeles Chargers – Kyle Pitts – TE – Florida

With Hunter Henry leaving in free agency, the tight end room is looking scarce for the first time in almost 20 years for the Chargers. Pairing Kyle Pitts with Justin Herbert is like pairing Philip Rivers with Antonio Gates. It just works.

No. 14 – Minnesota Vikings – Devonta Smith – WR – Alabama

Adam Thielen is entering his age 31 season, and the Vikings are building for the future with back-to-back first round picks being used on SEC star wide receivers. This would create the best trio in the NFL, reminiscent of the late 90’s Viking trio of Randy Moss, Chris Carter, and Jake Reed.

No. 15 – New England Patriots – Jaylen Waddle – WR – Alabama

The best deep threat in the draft falls right into New England’s lap. After much of 2020 was spent targeting Damiere Byrd, whomever is the Patriots quarterback in 2021 will have a top talent out wide.

No. 16 – Arizona Cardinals – Jaycee Horn – CB – South Carolina

Patrick Peterson finished outside the top-50 in Yards per Target Allowed, Coverage Rating, Passer Rating Allowed, and Catch Rate Allowed in 2020. Arizona needs help in the defensive backfield, and the son of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn is here to help.

No. 17 – Las Vegas Raiders – Micah Parsons – LB – Penn State

The value of Parsons at pick No. 17 is ridiculous. Let’s pray Mike Mayock doesn’t mess this one up.

No. 18 – Miami Dolphins – Jaelan Phillips – EDGE – Miami

In a COVID-affected season with limited live scouting, the Dolphins didn’t have to go far to watch Jaelan Phillips. He transferred to Miami in 2019, finishing with 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 10 games.

No. 19 – Washington Football Team – Rashod Bateman – WR – Minnesota

With a top-five defense, Washington needs to focus on surrounding whoever plays quarterback with talent. Rashod Bateman brings an 88th-percentile College Dominator Rating and 95th-percentile Breakout Age to the table. Posting him up outside with Terry McLaurin would give opposing defenses fits.

No. 20 – Chicago Bears – Samuel Cosmi – OT – Texas

After Kyle Long‘s early retirement in 2020, Chicago was stuck with Bobby Massie at right tackle. Samuel Cosmi is a lean offensive lineman at 300-pounds, but playing next to the veteran Massie will help pace his learning curve. He started 34 of 35 games at Texas, playing both left and right tackle.

No. 21 – Indianapolis Colts – Dillon Radunz – OT – NDSU

Since 2017, GM Chris Ballard has only made two picks in Round 1. Losing Anthony Castonzo after the season will force his hand to take Dillon Radunz out of North Dakota State in the first to protect Carson Wentz’s blindside. 

No. 22 – Tennessee Titans – Jeremiah Owuso-Koramoah – LB – Notre Dame

With Jayon Brown and Jadeveon Clowney free agents, Mike Vrabel will pound the table for one of the most athletic linebackers in the draft. Owuso-Koramoah lines up all over the field, blitzing from the middle, covering in the slot, or rushing the passer from the edge.

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No. 23 – New York Jets – Kwity Paye – EDGE – Michigan

The athletic, raw talent out of Michigan falls to the 23rd pick after only playing in four games last season. Paye would be the fifth first-round defensive lineman drafted by the Jets since 2012.

No. 24 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Alijah Vera-Tucker – OL – USC

Pittsburgh has spent their first pick on defense for eight straight seasons. With Maurkice Pouncey retiring, the Steelers opt for the versatile interior lineman who played both tackle and guard at USC. 

No. 25 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Ifeatu Melifonwu – CB – Syracuse

The 6-2, 210-pound brother of ex-NFL safety Obi Melifonwu, Ifeatu looks to fill in Jacksonville’s empty alpha cornerback role opposite of C.J. Henderson. Melifonwu finished with 19 pass deflections and 88 tackles in three seasons.

No. 26 – Cleveland Browns – Zaven Collins – LB – Tulsa

The Browns will be reloading the front seven in 2021 with Larry Ogunjobi, B.J. Goodson, and Olivier Vernon entering free agency. If Zaven Collins played at Ohio State or Alabama, we would be talking about a top-five pick. In three seasons at Tulsa, Collins finished with five interceptions, 7.5 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, and 236 tackles.

No. 27 – Baltimore Ravens – Rondale Moore – WR – Purdue

Rondale Moore checks every box athletically and on the field, having logged 2,215 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2018. Here, he goes to one of the few NFL teams that uses advanced stats and metrics in their process.

No. 28 – New Orleans Saints – Trevon Moehrig – S – TCU

With limited cap space to work with, Malcolm Jenkins turning 33, and both Marcus Williams and P.J. Williams hitting free agency, New Orleans has few options. Trevon Moehrig is the best player available on the board at No. 28 and would help New Orleans’ top-three scoring defense stay near the top of the NFC.

No. 29 – Green Bay Packers – Kadarius Toney – WR – Florida

The Packers finally address the wide receiver room, but they take the wrong receiver. 

No. 30 – Buffalo Bills – Jalen Mayfield – OT – Michigan

Big, strong, and mean. In the most Buffalo pick of the draft, the Bills take Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield to replace Daryl Williams at right tackle.

No. 31 – Kansas City Chiefs – Trey Smith – OG – Tennessee

Losing four interior linemen to free agency ruins Kansas City’s chances at a weapon like Terrace Marshall. Trey Smith, the former five-star recruit, allowed one sack over his last two seasons while earning All-American and All-SEC honors in 2020.

No. 32 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Pat Freiermuth – TE – Penn State

A leisure pick for the Buccaneers. Rob Gronkowski is a free agent, and O.J. Howard will begin the final year of his contract recovering from a torn Achilles. Tom Brady gets who many refer to as “Baby Gronk,” a hyper athlete out of Penn State.