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Mock Drafts

Klassen's First-Round Mock Draft

by Derrik Klassen
Updated On: April 28, 2021, 1:39 am ET

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Duh. Next. 

2. New York Jets - Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

If I were making picks for the New York Jets, the draft card for Justin Fields would have been in three months ago. Alas, I am not Joe Douglas. The chatter for months has been that Wilson to the Jets is assumed and I have no information to dispute that. Though I believe Wilson to be a bit more of a risk than most, his accuracy, athleticism, and arm talent give him a good baseline, even if he will need to clean up his processing and pocket management. 

3. San Francisco 49ers - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

No potential QB spot baffles like this one. It feels like the pick is equally as likely to be Trey Lance or Justin Fields, with an off-chance of being Mac Jones. Fields is handily the best of that bunch, though, and would be excellent in Shanahan’s offense. Fields’ pocket presence, arm strength, accuracy, and dual-threat ability make him the total package for the 49ers offense. If Jimmy Garoppolo can play at a Pro Bowl level in that offense, Fields can be an All-Pro. 

4. Atlanta Falcons - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Lance is the ideal fit for the Falcons. Not only can Lance comfortably slot into Arthur Smith’s under center, wide zone play-action scheme, but Matt Ryan already being in place means Lance could take a year to sit on the bench and learn. To be clear, Lance could play right away if need be, but he does have some mechanical issues that may be best sorted out from a backup position for a season. Either way, Lance has sky-high potential as both a runner and a passer, and his floor is significantly higher than he tends to get credit for. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Flip a coin. Heads is Penei Sewell, tails is Ja’Marr Chase. Both picks make sense for different reasons and would be a benefit to Joe Burrow. That said, Burrow is coming off a knee injury and the Bengals should be putting a premium on keeping him upright, especially if we assume his otherworldly accuracy can elevate WR talent anyway. Sewell dominated the PAC-12 at just 19-years-old and may well be one of the league’s best tackles sooner rather than later. However the Bengals decide to sort out playing Sewell and Jonah Williams should not matter. Having an abundance of quality tackles is a good problem to have. 

6. Miami Dolphins - Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Who cares about Mike Gesicki. Pitts is the best skill player on the board here and a unicorn tight end prospect. Tight ends with Pitts’ size, elite athleticism, route-running savvy, hands, and blocking chops just do not come around often. Granted, Pitts is not going to be George Kittle in the run game, but he is plenty good as a blocker, and certainly better at it than the people thinking Pitts should be a WR would suggest. Take Pitts and have one of the few elite NFL TEs by year two. 

7. Detroit Lions - Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The Lions’ wide receiver situation is horrendous. Tyrell Williams was signed in free agency, which is a fine pick up, but the rest of the group is barren. Chase gives Jared Goff (presumably) the No.1 wide receiver he is going to need. Chase is a bully on short-to-intermediate routes, and has an uncanny ability to separate late in the rep when working vertically. Goff will probably force plenty of 50-50 balls to him, but thankfully Chase is the kind of player who tips the scale to 65-35. 

8. Carolina Panthers - Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Sam Darnold probably is not the answer for Carolina. However, it would be in the team’s best interest to give Darnold the best shot possible in order to give a clearer picture on that. Slater solidifies Carolina’s left tackle spot with some great strength and steady technique, even despite him measuring in with short arms for the position. Even if Darnold is not the answer at QB, at least Slater helps set things up for the next QB in line. 

9. Denver Broncos - Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jones is the wrong pick here. Despite all the production and positive chatter swirling around him, Jones is a second-round prospect, at best, who benefitted from a wonderful situation. Denver seems desperate to fix their QB situation, though, and Jones’ calculated, weak-armed archetype is the perfect antithesis to Drew Lock’s careless, strong-armed style. Jones may well turn into a decent pro QB, but he maxes out in the Andy Dalton tier in 99 out of 100 simulations of this reality. 

10. Dallas Cowboys - Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Surtain makes too much sense. The Cowboys need a CB and Surtain, to me, is comfortably the best on the board. Surtain plays with silky smooth movements, impressive length, and an uncanny knack for being physical with wide receivers to command the route without ever drawing penalties. Plus, Surtain would get to reunite with college teammate, Trevon Diggs

11. New York Giants - Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

New York has a handful of decent EDGE players, but no real firepower. Paye is not necessarily a special EDGE prospect, but he is going to be their best shot at finding firepower as a pass-rusher in this draft. Paye sprinted to a stunning 4.57 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, as well as leaped to 35.5 inches in the vertical jump. Couple that explosion with Paye’s raw strength and aggressive mentality, and the Giants should net themselves a quality starting EDGE in year one. 

12. Philadelphia Eagles - DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Eagles need someone who can get open. Plain and simple. Right now, the Eagles’ “best” receiver is Jalen Reagor, who struggled running routes for most of last season and was overall quite disappointing. Everything beyond Reagor on the depth chart is even more depressing. Smith is arguably the best wide receiver in the class, featuring rare explosion and route-running finesse, as well as sneaky ability at the catch point for a player his size. Taking Smith also has the added bonus of him having some familiarity with QB Jalen Hurts

13. Los Angeles Chargers - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

What the Chargers really need is a left tackle here. However, the possibility of getting Jaylen Waddle playing as the deep threat to open up space for Keenan Allen and Mike Williams is too tantalizing to pass up. Waddle is not limited to being just a deep threat, mind you, but he has elite traits in that area and would serve as the missing element to the Chargers’ wide receiving corps as it stands right now. Giving Justin Herbert three legit stud wide receivers sounds like a terrifying scenario for the rest of the AFC. 

14. Minnesota Vikings - Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Surprise, surprise: the Vikings need offensive line help! With Sewell and Slater off the board, Darrisaw is the next-best option to fill in at left tackle. This may be a smidgen of a reach in some eyes, but Minnesota absolutely cannot go into next season starting Rashod Hill. Darrisaw checks all the size and athleticism boxes, not to mention he was also a four-year starter for the Hokies. Darrisaw also fits perfectly into the wide zone running scheme the Vikings have subscribed to as of late. 

15. New England Patriots - Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

This is, by far, the toughest pick to sort out. Maybe it’s just the way the board happened to shake out here. Either way, New England’s biggest need is wide receiver and Bateman is the best available, even if he is a slight reach here. Being a reach is no issue for Bill Belichick, though, as he has proven time and time again that he will take whoever the hell he wants wherever the hell he wants. Bateman can provide a level of juice and YAC ability that the Patriots roster does not really have right now, which could go a long way in reviving Cam Newton. 

16. Arizona Cardinals - Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Signing Malcolm Butler this offseason was a decent move by the Cardinals, but it will not be enough to fix their cornerback situation. They need a true No.1. Horn, who shows unrivaled aggression at the line of scrimmage and a phenomenal athletic profile, is a good candidate to fill that role. Horn is a long, athletic press man cornerback who could completely overhaul the Cardinals defense, if everything turns out right. Horn’s technique needs some cleaning up, but players with his ball skills, athletic ability, and “go get ‘em” mentality are rare. 

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17. Las Vegas Raiders - Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

Right tackles are generally seen as less valuable than left tackles, but the Raiders are really in the market for someone on the right side. Former free agent signing Trent Brown is now out of town, leaving a sizable vacancy on the right side of Las Vegas’ line. Jenkins can provide a lot of the same big, strong bully tendencies that Brown provided. Quarterback Derek Carr tends to be a quarterback uniquely deterred by pressure, so minimizing opposing pass-rushers should be a priority for the Raiders. 

18. Miami Dolphins - Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

The Dolphins need help off the edge. Emmanuel Ogbah, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Sam Eguavoen make up Miami’s top three right now. Not only does Ojulari fill a need here, but he is a great fit for HC Brian Flores’ Patriots-adjacent defense. Ojulari plays with fantastic strength and technique on the edge as a run defender, while flashing the motor and athletic traits to suggest he can be an impact player in the passing game. 

19. Washington Football Team - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

On talent alone, this is a steal for Parsons, but all the off-field concerns regarding Penn State’s hazing lawsuits leave the former five-star recruit slipping. After a certain point, though, teams are going to start rationalizing the risk, and a team like Washington who is desperate for an upgrade at linebacker seems like a reasonable landing spot. Parsons has outstanding athletic tools, a quick trigger downhill, and underappreciated feel for zone coverage.

20. Chicago Bears - Greg Newsome III, CB, Northwestern

The Bears probably have their two starting cornerbacks in Desmond Trufant and Jaylon Johnson. However, Trufant’s career has been somewhat turbulent the past couple years due to injuries, while Jaylon Johnson battled shoulder issues last year. Newsome, despite some injury issues of his own, has some of the smoothest hips in the class and may have some flexibility to kick inside to the nickel, if need be. 

21. Indianapolis Colts - Jaelen Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)

With Justin Houston’s free agency still up in the air, it makes sense to give the Colts an EDGE here. Phillips is a gamble with regards to injuries (concussions), but on talent alone, he may be the best EDGE in this class. Phillips is a former five-star recruit with good bend, outrageous explosiveness, and enough pass-rush moves in his arsenal to be effective right away. 

22. Tennessee Titans - Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

The Titans roster is a bit of a mess, to be honest. This pick could reasonably be five different positions, including safety, linebacker, wide receiver, and more. Farley may be the most talented player on the board here, though, and fits one of the Titans’ many positions of need. Farley is a long, athletic cornerback who looks like Jalen Ramsey, even if he lacks that same aggressive mentality. Farley is relatively new to playing cornerback, so he has some technique and vision issues to iron out, but the athletic potential is off the charts. 

23. New York Jets - Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

New York’s running back room is a wasteland and they feel like the perfect team to get memed for taking a running back in the first round. Etienne has unrivaled speed and explosion relative to the other top backs in this class, which may help the Jets lean into the explosive offensive play style they are about to lean into by drafting Wilson at quarterback. This is not the Jets’ best bang for their buck, but again, they have no running backs to speak of and feel like a good candidate to get antsy about finding a new running back. 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

This pick could also be Najee Harris or a center. However, the Steelers do need a linebacker, especially with Vince Williams now out of the picture. Collins is a massive linebacker at 6-foot-5 and 260-pounds, which makes him a nice complement to the smaller, faster Devin Bush. Collins, though plenty versed as a “standard” linebacker both against the run and the pass, also provides the Steelers some flexibility to put him on the edge, even if just on third-and-longs. 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

Despite all the speculation that Urban Meyer may want Kadarius Toney here, Moehrig is simply the better player (by a lot) and fills a more pressing need. Moehrig can be whatever safety the Jaguars need him to be. Moehrig shines in coverage, both from split-field zones and when asked to roll down to play man coverage. He excels near the box and in the run game, too, which is an absolute must for a TCU safety. Though less experienced with centerfield work as a single-high safety, Moehrig showed he could also do that thanks to his discipline and adequate range. 

26. Cleveland Browns - Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

Defensive help makes the most sense for Cleveland when just glancing at their depth chart. However, the Browns may sport the best offensive line in football next season and have a quality young quarterback aided by a stellar run game. Why not just index into the offense and try to make a run through the playoffs that way? There is something to be said about teams just committing to what they are good at already. To that end, Marshall is probably the Browns’ best bet here. Though not the most physical wide receiver, Marshall is a shifty route runner to all levels of the field from any alignment and features some enticing YAC traits. 

27. Baltimore Ravens - Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma

A leading factor in Baltimore’s struggles last season was how much worse their offensive line performed. Some of that was injuries, sure, but they still need help, especially along the interior. Humphrey is arguably the best center in the class and a “safer” bet than Landon Dickerson, in the sense that Dickerson comes with potentially damning medical concerns. Humphrey also comes from an Oklahoma offense that ran plenty of gap scheme run concepts, which is perfect for the Baltimore system. 

28. New Orleans Saints - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB/S, Notre Dame

Hopefully the search for someone to put next to Demario Davis ends here. Owusu-Koramoah was not exactly a traditional linebacker in college, but like Isaiah Simmons, that will probably be where he gets kicked to in the league. Owusu-Koramoah plays with a head-on-fire play style, plenty of pop as a hitter, and enough chops in man coverage to handle tight ends and some slot receivers. 

29. Green Bay Packers - Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/OG, USC

There are few things the Packers love more than taking college left tackles and moving them around the offensive line. Technically, they tend to target long-time starters at the position and then convert them, but Vera-Tucker already has plenty of guard experience under his belt. Vera-Tucker played left guard for USC before kicking outside last season, though he excelled at both spots. In Green Bay, Vera-Tucker would play guard, but it would be nice to have him on the roster in the event David Bakhtiari goes down again. 

30. Buffalo Bills - Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama

Dickerson is a potential fix for a number of issues. His natural position is center, where he would be replacing Mitch Morse. Morse had a down season in 2020 and will not hold much of a dead cap penalty after the 2021 season. Dickerson could also slot into right guard to replace Cody Ford. Dickerson played some right guard at Alabama before taking over at center and the Bills desperately need to replace Ford. It would make sense to let Dickerson play guard early before taking the center spot in either 2022 or 2023. 

31. Baltimore Ravens - Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

With Matt Judon out the door in free agency, the Ravens need help off the edge. The pass-rusher class is quite middling, but Ossai could serve as a nice hybrid player, which is something the Ravens tend to covet. Ossai flip-flopped between defensive end and off-ball linebacker at Texas, though he would likely be a defensive end and pass-rushing outside linebacker in Baltimore. Ossai has all the explosion, power, and toughness to be a great fit in the Ravens defense, even if he needs a year or two to iron some things out as a pass-rusher. 

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State

No team is in a better position to swing on a high-upside athlete than the Bucs. The Bucs have no immediate holes on their roster and could be primed to end up in the Super Bowl again, so they do not have to draft for right now. Oweh is an absurd athlete — 90th-percentile or higher in every major athletic testing category — but he does not know how to play football at this point in time. He did not earn a single sack in 2020, and only earned seven over the previous two seasons. Though the production and know-how are not there, Oweh may well be the best athlete in this class, regardless of position. 

Derrik Klassen

Derrik Klassen is an NFL, NFL Draft and college football writer covering CFB and NFL Draft for NBC Sports EDGE. Derrik also covers the NFL for Football Outsiders. Find him on Twitter @QBKlass.