Although he still has plenty of unfinished college business, the 2021 NFL draft is quickly approaching for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence is the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in next spring’s NFL draft. Some of college football’s other top players, including Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Florida signal-caller Kyle Trask, are on pace to be selected in the first round.
Over halfway into the 2020 NFL season and with only a few weeks left in the college campaign, here is Sportscasting.com’s initial 2021 NFL mock draft.
Trevor Lawrence should be among the first five players taken
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence leads the players who should be selected within the 2021 NFL draft’s first five picks.
1. New York Jets: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Lawrence family. At least he likely won’t be playing under Adam Gase.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: Fields has become a star at Ohio State over the last two years. Jacksonville hasn’t had the best luck with first-round quarterbacks, but Fields inherits some intriguing offensive weapons, including running back James Robinson.
3. Dallas Cowboys: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon: Injuries depleted the Cowboys’ offensive line this year, and Tyron Smith could retire soon. Sewell is so dominant that he earned a first-place Heisman Trophy vote last season.
4. Washington Football Team: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State: Ron Rivera has all but helped Dwayne Haskins pack his bags. Lance could use some more time to develop, and Rivera could bring back Kyle Allen and Alex Smith.
5. Los Angeles Chargers: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: The Chargers couldn’t officially use this pick on “how to close games.” Drafting Surtain, son of the former Pro Bowl cornerback, is almost just as nice.
The next few picks after Trevor Lawrence will be interesting
With Trevor Lawrence off the board, the following players should be taken within the next 10 picks.
6. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State: Miami has its franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. Parsons is the versatile and impactful defensive player that Dolphins head coach Brian Flores eagerly seeks out.
7. Cincinnati Bengals: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami: Rousseau lit the ACC on fire last season. He has the talent and skill set to do the same in the AFC North Division.
8. New York Giants: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: Daniel Jones saved Thanksgiving, but he still needs an elite wideout. With Rousseau off the board, Joe Judge pivots to receiver and adds Chase.
9. Carolina Panthers: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech: Carolina had some of its best seasons in the 2010s with an imposing defense. Fairley has elite size at 6 feet 2 inches and 207 pounds, and his vision in the secondary would be a big boost to the Panthers.
10. Atlanta Falcons: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan: If the Falcons didn’t owe Matt Ryan so much money, maybe Zach Wilson would be the pick here. Instead, Atlanta adds one of the draft’s top pass-rushers to aid a defense in need of playmakers.
11. Denver Broncos: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia: Denver head coach Vic Fangio sounds committed to Drew Lock at quarterback. For now, Fangio gets an impactful pass-rusher and he can add competition for Lock in other ways.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina: Richard Sherman has played at a high level in San Francisco, but he’s missed most of this season with a calf injury and turns 33 in March. Horn would be a more than adequate replacement.
13. Detroit Lions: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama: Kenny Galloday is a free agent after this year. Detroit needs receiver depth regardless of where Galloway plays next year, and Smith makes perfect sense.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech: Kirk Cousins is not the long-term answer at quarterback, but Minnesota owes him a lot of money going forward. Darrisaw will shore up the offensive line and be a needed body in the trenches.
15. New England Patriots: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota: Could the Patriots draft a quarterback? Of course. But the quarterback needs weapons, and Bateman is an elite receiving prospect.
Keep an eye on the middle of the NFL draft’s first round
The middle of the 2021 NFL draft’s first round is here. Who will be taken next?
16. Chicago Bears: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU: Things are so bad for the Bears at quarterback that Tyler Bray played in Week 10. Enter Zach Wilson, who should earn Heisman Trophy votes this season.
17. Cleveland Browns: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama: Moses has had an inconsistent 2020 season in his return from a torn ACL. Talent could win out here, though, however, and he is a versatile player who would be a great fit in Cleveland.
18. Tennessee Titans: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State: The Jadeveon Clowney experiment has failed miserably in Tennessee. It’s time for Jayson Oweh to suit up for the Titans.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Derion Kendrick, CB, Clemson: The Philadelphia Eagles have various holes to address, but they can also afford to go with the best player available here. Kendrick is a heat-seeking missile at cornerback.
20. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks): Raashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota: Denzel Mims, the rookie from Baylor, has impressed when healthy. Breshad Perriman is a free agent, though, and the Jets should draft Bateman with their second first-round pick.
21. Arizona Cardinals: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State: Asante Samuel Sr. had two interceptions in his career against the Cardinals. His son will have an opportunity to do the opposite.
22. Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama: Waddle suffered a broken ankle earlier this season, but AL.com recently reported he is making excellent progress in his recovery. Miami could reunite Waddle with Tua Tagovailoa.
23. Indianapolis Colts: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern: Whoever plays quarterback for the Colts next year needs protection. With veteran Anthony Castonzo possibly nearing retirement, the Colts would be wise to add Rashawn Slater.
24. Baltimore Ravens: Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami: Baltimore can afford to go ‘BPA’ here, and Roche is a stellar defensive talent.
Who will go in the last part of the NFL draft’s first round?
Some of the NFL’s top stars, including Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, were taken in the final picks of the 2021 NFL draft’s first round.
The following players would be wise to follow in Jackson’s footsteps.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams): Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida: A duo of Justin Fields throwing to Kyle Pitts is as sexy as it sounds.
26. Las Vegas Raiders: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan: Las Vegas has holes to address on both sides of the trenches. Hutchinson could be a developmental prospect in Year 1 as he recovers from a fractured leg.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas: The Longhorns haven’t had a player selected in the first round since 2015. If the Buccaneers don’t draft Tom Brady’s successor, Ossai is a perfect fit here.
28. Buffalo Bills: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State: Although the idea of Buffalo drafting Clemson running back Travis Etienne is tempting, the Bills need secondary help.
29. Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue: Aaron Rodgers is looking at this pick and grinning. Green Bay needs to finally give Rodgers a first-round receiver.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame: Former No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher is entering the final year of his contract in 2021. Eichenberg is a smart and safe selection.
31. New Orleans Saints: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida: In a draft with trades, Trask would go off the board much sooner. Here, though, the New Orleans Saints add Drew Brees’ replacement at the end of the first round.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas: It never hurts to have a young tackle waiting in the mix, especially with Alejandro Villanueva set to hit free agency after the season.
The 2021 NFL draft is scheduled to begin on April 29, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio. Barring any setbacks, the draft will run through May 1.