Tis’ the season for media hype, as several impressive Pro-Days have already landed prospects in uncharted mock draft positions. The 49ers trade up to #3 has further rolled the dice as quarterbacks will now be taken with the first three overall picks. Where will the others fall in this absolutely – loaded draft class though? Well one thing if for certain with the draft: expect the unexpected.
Questionable Lock presents Mock Draft #3 of the 2021 offseason.
#1. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: QB Trevor Lawrence
Don’t forget about Trevor Lawrence. I mean how could you, really? The media is having a great time shoving BYU QB Zach Wilson highlights down your throat because of his impressive pro-day, but that shouldn’t make you forget about the greatest quarterback draft prospect since Andrew Luck. Lawrence’s 6’6, 220lb frame boasts Stafford-like arm strength, Peyton Manning-esque accuracy, and pre-bodily injury Andrew Luck-like agility. Lawrence is simply a “can’t-miss” selection here as he boasts some of the best intangibles of any quarterback in recent draft history. Lawrence threw for 90 touchdowns to only 17 interceptions, while rushing for 943 yards in his 3-year career at Clemson. With a resume capped off with a national championship over Alabama in his freshman season, it seems evident that T. Law has winning in his DNA and a certain “clutch” gene that NFL coaches constantly look for. Matched up with NCAA coaching legend Urban Meyer, Lawrence has all the tools to be absolutely deadly in Duval right out of the gate.
#2. NEW YORK JETS: QB Zach Wilson
The media hype strikes again! BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is now the current favorite to go #2 in this draft. While the 6’3, 21 year old showcased excellent arm strength, great accuracy, and a quick-fire release in his pro-day, questions remain whether Wilson can hang with the metaphorical “big dogs” in the NFL. Wilson played the “softest” schedule of any available quarterback (except for Trey Lance’s one game played) at this spot, with his toughest competition coming from a no. 14 Coastal Carolina team. Wilson also didn’t face any first round projected defenders in his lone, full-year as a starter at BYU. While Wilson’s fiery and fierce nature may be exactly what new Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh is looking for, there is suitable concern as to whether the Utah native can handle the ‘spotlight’ of playing in New York City. While Wilson may have the highest ceiling of any available quarterback, he also has the highest floor and his bust potential remains high.
#3. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (From MIA): QB Justin Fields
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is the safest option at passer besides “sunshine.” If you don’t know who sunshine is, well, find culture. If you don’t know who Justin Fields is, well know he took down a defensively loaded Clemson team basically by himself in the CFP Sugar Bowl a few months ago. Fields passed for 6 touchdowns and 385 yards on 22-28 passing, while rushing for another 42 yards in that game. On the season, Fields passed for 2,100 yards, 22 TDS, and 6 INTS with 383 yards rushing. While those numbers are all behind that of Zach Wilsons’ – except for in rushing – Fields faced top ranked defenses in no. 18 Penn State, 14 Northwestern, no. 9 Indiana, no. 2 Clemson, and no.1 Alabama. While you could make the case that Fields didn’t perform up to par in two of those games (Indiana & Northwestern), the quarterback still has experience reading and playing elite-level defenders. This, combined with an excellent pro-day where he ran a 4.44 40 yard dash and showcased unrivaled arm strength, makes Fields an excellent fit for a team like the 49ers who certainly need help at the quarterback position. Head coach Kyle Shanahan also knows how to get the best out of his players, as his offensive schemes are built around player strengths. This pairing could be one that absolutely terrifies defensive coordinators next season, as Fields boasts tools which former 49ers CB Richard Sherman labeled as “necessary” to “adding a [new] dynamic to Kyle’s offense.”
#4: ATLANTA FALCONS: TE Kyle Pitts
Note: this is strong TRADE DOWN territory for the Falcons. While the Falcons added Ravens TE Hayden Hurst to their roster last season via way of a 2nd round pick trade, there is a new staff in Atlanta with plenty of flexibility to do whatever they please. With the top three quarterbacks off the board, it doesn’t make sense for Atlanta to use this pick to REACH for a quarterback, especially when Matt Ryan is only 35 in a league where quarterbacks play until their 40s. Look for the Falcons to build towards the future here by taking the best overall prospect on the board with Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. Pitts is a once-in-a-generational type of talent and he is the safest pick in this draft besides Lawrence. With 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, Pitts should be atop all GMs’ draft boards, especially after running a 4.44 unofficial 40 yard dash. Florida’s all-time leader in receiving yards for a tight end, Pitts is a rare talent who could easily be lined up as a receiver in new head coach Aurthur Smith’s offense. In fact, both Pitts and Hurst could thrive in Atlanta’s new offense given that Smith ran dual tight-end sets nearly 50% of the time as offensive coordinator in Tennessee. Pitts could act as an integral building-block for this team moving forward, whether the team rebuilds or attempts a reload.
#5: CINCINNATI BENGALS: WR Ja’Marr Chase
How much sway does franchise-quarterback Joe Burrow truly have? Well – my guess is – a lot. Without Lebron in Cleveland, Burrow is Mr. Ohio now, and he should start to act like it. If Burrow ultimately wants to be reunited with his good friend and best college receiver in LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, then the Bengals organization better do as he pleases and draft the 6’0, 207lb receiver. While more offensive line help is crucial to Burrow’s future success with the team, the Bengals addition of RT Riley Reiff in free agency allows the organization to fill the hole that A.J. Green left behind in his departure to Arizona. Chase could become the number one receiving option on this team from week 1 as current receivers Tee Higgins, Mike Thomas, Auden Tate, and Tyler Boyd do not pose the same type of immediate threat that Chase does. For one thing, the LSU record-holder does not drop passes. He’s quick, strong, and can create separation from the best of defenders. Take for example, Chase’s game against Alabama in 2019 when he recorded 6 receptions for 140 yards (23.3 avg. yard per catch) and a touchdown against future Cowboy Trevon Diggs and projected-first round pick Patrick Surtain II. While he opted out of the 2020 season, Chase’s pro-day was headlined by a blistering 4.38 40 yard dash, 41 inch vertical jump, and an 11-foot broad jump. In any other draft, Chase would be a top-3 pick, but with quarterbacks flying off the boards early in this one, the Bengals get an absolute steal even at pick #5.
#6: MIAMI DOLPHINS (From PHI): OT Rashawn Slater
Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier must have the midas touch. Turning former LT Laremy Tunsil into 4 first round picks, 2 second round picks, and 1 third round pick is something out of a Harry Potter book. While the Dolphins gave up one of those first round picks to move up from their 12th spot from the 49ers to the 6th spot via a trade with the Eagles, the Fins will still get the most out of this pick by selecting OL Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern. While many mock drafts are taking Oregon’s Penei Sewell to be the first tackle taken, Slater’s ability to guard against the likes of proven NFL talent is the reason he goes here. Check out Slater’s tape against NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young in 2019 down below to see what I mean. Slater’s willingness to play guard will further intrigue the Dolphins, who spent a first round pick on Left Tackle Austin Jackson last year. With no real guards to build around, Slater is a necessary pick to help establish this Dolphins’ offensive line around QB Tua Tagovailoa. With Chase going to Cincinnati, I doubt the Dolphins would pick a play-maker like DeVonta Smith, who apparently told scouts he prefers QB Mac Jones over Tua Tagovailoa. This, and the addition of wideout Will Fuller via free agency makes me think the Dolphins give Tua some much-needed protection.
#7: DETROIT LIONS: WR DeVonta Smith
Perhaps the most ridiculous media hoopla so far in this NFL draft ‘parade’ is the idea that DeVonta Smith isn’t a top 10 pick. Call him “too thin” if you’d like too, but Smith is a game-changer and an identity-builder. Coming off of a historical season in which he won the Heisman trophy, Smith will be an excellent addition to a team that completely lacks an identity now. Losing former QB Matt Stafford is a harsh reality, but it becomes less harsh when realizing that this team has enough draft capital to sit and wait for a franchise quarterback. No, you can’t convince me that Trey Lance or Mac Jones is worth-taking here, especially when Jared Goff would beat them for the QB1 spot this year. Goff also isn’t good enough for a rookie quarterback to potentially sit and learn under for a season or two. Instead the Lions should take Smith, who smashed SEC records in 2020 by recording 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns on his way to a national championship. Losing Pro-Bowl WR Kenny Golladay to the Giants also allows the Lions to fill a big need whilst selecting the best available player on the draft board at this spot.
#8: CAROLINA PANTHERS: OT Penei Sewell
While the Panthers made some moves in free agency (team signed OT Pat Elfein and OT Cameron Erving) to shore up their offensive line, it would be wise for Carolina to ensure that new quarterback Sam Darnold has what he lacked in New York in an offensive line. While the future of Teddy Bridgewater is now unclear, this team should capitalize on Sewell – once deemed the best lineman in the draft – falling this far in order to protect whoever starts under center for the Panthers in 2021. While the Oregon product opted out of the 2020 season, he only allowed one sack in 1,376 snaps with QB Justin Herbert under center. With a 95.5 PFF rating in 2019, Sewell has the potential to have an immediate impact on this offensive unit and he should be able to open up plenty of running lanes for running back Christian McCaffery next season. With the offense seemingly built around the run-game, the Panthers will undoubtedly benefit from adding one of the best rush blockers in PAC-12 history to their team.
#9: DENVER BRONCOS: LB Micah Parsons
This is certainly a tough one, as the Broncos could easily be enticed to go quarterback here with North Dakota State’s Trey Lance still on the board. However, with question marks surrounding the status of franchise-cornerstone Von Miller and his future with the team, the Broncos make the safe pick and take Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. This could be a major win for head coach Vic Fangio, who needs to reestablish the Broncos’ identity as a perennial top defense. While the unit was marred by injuries last season, the selection of the best linebacker in the 2021 draft will give the team some flexibility with Von Miller in case the team intends on trading him. Opting out of the 2020 season, Parsons recorded 109 total tackles, 52 solo tackles, 5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles at Penn State in 2019. The do-it-all, freakishly athletic linebacker seems poised to start from day one and if Von Miller is with the team in 2021, then Parsons will have the ability to grow alongside and learn from one of the best linebackers in the league.
#10: DALLAS COWBOYS: CB Jaycee Horn
Another big draft riser, Jaycee Horn – the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn – would be an excellent addition to the Cowboys’ secondary. Covering some of the best wideouts in the SEC this season, including Florida’s Kyle Pitts’ and Ole Miss’s Elijah Moore, Horn is a physical defensive back with unmatched measurables. In his pro-day, Horn’s arms measured 33 inches, while he posted a 41.5 inch vertical and ran for a 4.39 second 40 yard dash. Besting Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II in all of these categories, the Cowboys may look to add the South Carolina 6’1 product, who only allowed a 33% quarterback completion rating in 2020. While Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley was my original pick here, his recent back surgery will ultimately deter the Cowboys from taking him in the top ten. While Surtain II is an excellent option here, expect the Cowboys to buy into the hype that is currently emitting from Horn’s current draft status.
#11 NY GIANTS: WR Jaylen Waddle
#12 PHI EAGLES: CB Patrick Surtain II
#13 LA CHARGERS: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker
#14 MINN VIKINGS: DE Kwity Payne
#15 NE PATRIOTS: QB Trey Lance
#16 AZ CARDINALS: WR Kadrius Toney
#17 LV RAIDERS: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
#18 MIA DOLPHINS: RB Najee Harris
#19 WSH FBT: OT Christian Darrisaw
#20 CHI BEARS: QB Mac Jones
#21 IND COLTS: EDGE Jaelan Phillips
#22 TENN TITANS: CB Greg Newsome II
#23 NY JETS: LB Jamin Davis
#24 PITT STEELERS: OT Teven Jenkins
#25 JAX JAGUARS: S Trevon Moehrig
#26 CLE BROWNS: DE Gregory Rousseau
#27 BAL RAVENS: EDGE Jayson Oweh
#28 NO SAINTS: OLB Zaven Collins
#29 GB PACKERS: CB Caleb Farley
#30 BUFF BILLS: WR Elijah Moore
#31 KC CHIEFS: EDGE Azeez Ojulari
#32 TB BUCS: CB Asante Samuel Jr.