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2021 NFL Draft: Nate Gonzo’s First Round Mock

1. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

Not really much else to say here since we witnessed a race to the bottom to see which team would have the privilege of drafting the best QB prospect in this draft. The real question is how Urban Meyer will handle his transition to the professional level as the next captain of this rudderless boat of a franchise. Speaking of which…

2. NEW YORK JETS – Zach Wilson (QB, Brigham Young)

Even if they are settling for second best in this scenario, the Jets will once again have a young, talented QB prospect. Normally I’d be skeptical of this, since I’ve seen it play out too many times before but given the fact that they seem to have a competent head coach now, I have a little faith he’ll fare better than poor Sam Darnold did.

3. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (MIA) – Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)

If the 49ers are truly going to draft a QB, it’ll have to be Fields, who has started for two years at a marquee program and can start from day one in Shanahan’s offense if Jimmy G is traded.

4. ATLANTA FALCONS – Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)

While Matt Ryan is 36, he is also still on the books for the next three seasons and frankly doesn’t look too bad for someone with his mileage. It would be too costly for the team to move on from him. It would also give his eventual successor a new weapon in the arsenal when the time comes.

5. CINCINNATI BENGALS – Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)

If the Bengals don’t want Joe Burrow to end up like the next RG3, they need to give him some blind-side protection. A new head coach wouldn’t hurt either.

6. MIAMI DOLPHINS (PHI) – Micah Parsons (LB, Penn St.)

I know this class is deep at receiver, which is why I think the Dolphins can wait until their second pick (18) to take one. A defensive minded coach like Brian Flores would appreciate a linebacker with such a freakish combination of size and speed.

7. DETROIT LIONS – Ja’Marr Chase (WR, Louisiana St.)

Chase has a good combination of size and speed, setting new records for receiving yards and touchdowns in the SEC in 2019. He would give Jared Goff a reliable target to smooth his transition to a new team.

8. CAROLINA PANTHERS – Rashawn Slater (OT, Northwestern)

While they can still draft a QB at this spot, Sam Darnold is in a unique position where he is still young (23) and has some starting experience on his resume, so the focus then turns to maximizing their returns on this investment. Boosting the offensive line so he doesn’t see any ghosts would help.

9. DENVER BRONCOS – Christian Darrisaw (OT, Virginia Tech)

Drew Lock has shown promise and I’m willing to forgive any player who struggled last season due to the haphazard scheduling. Instead, the Broncos should try to fortify their offensive line opposite Garett Bolles, which wouldn’t be bad if they decide to get a new QB next year.

10. DALLAS COWBOYS – Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)

Surtain is a physical corner with size and discipline that could add some much needed help to the defense. Starting opposite of Trevon Diggs could give Mike McCarthy a viable duo in the secondary.

11. NEW YORK GIANTS – Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)

An athletic prospect, Paye has a lot of potential to improve in the fundamentals, which makes him an exciting player to watch.

12. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (SF) – Devonta Smith (WR, Alabama)

Smith has experience playing with Jalen Hurts and while there may be concerns about his slim physical stature, he is perhaps the most versatile receiver in this draft.

13. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)

Disruptive in coverage, Horn isn’t afraid to use his physical frame to fight with receivers for every yard. A developmental pick with high upside if given the coaching needed to help him better his fundamentals.

14. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Alijah Vera-Tucker (OT, Southern California)

Another year, another offensive line selection. Tucker played left tackle at USC this past season but has exceptional athleticism to play along the interior of the line as well. He is an athletic blank slate that the Vikings could plug in anywhere.

15. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota St.)

Since I don’t predict trades, it may seem improbable that Trey Lance would be here at this pick. But for such an impressive raw talent, where better to go than New England? He can sit behind Cam Newton for a year and learn from one of the best coaches in the game.

16. ARIZONA CARDINALS – Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)

Farley is an athletic corner who also brings unique experience as a WR to the position. However, he was had some injury issues, so the question is if he can stay healthy to excel at the professional level.

17. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)

Corey Littleton has not had the impact on defense that the team hoped for and they already boosted the pass rush with the signing of Yannick Ngakoue.

18. MIAMI DOLPHINS – Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)

His speed and vision serve him well, making up for his short stature, he is versatile enough to line up anywhere. Also has prior chemistry with Tua.

19. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM – Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)

While I am not buying the hype surrounding Jones, I do think he is a solid passer who can develop into a starting quarterback, given if the support is enough. A year behind Ryan Fitzpatrick wouldn’t hurt.

20. CHICAGO BEARS – Teven Jenkins (OT, Oklahoma St.)

Jenkins lined up at guard and tackle on both sides in college but played mainly as a right tackle. A physical blocker with a high motor could be just what the Bears need for their new QB.

21. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – Dillon Radnuz (OT, North Dakota St.)

Radnuz played left tackle in college, possessing good athleticism and excelled in run-scheme blocking, but still leaves plenty of room to develop as a lineman.

22. TENNESSEE TITANS – Greg Newsome II (CB, Northwestern)

An athletic corner with strong ball skills, Newsome thrives on the perimeter of coverage and vs the run.

23. NEW YORK JETS (SEA) – Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)

With exceptional route running and ball skills, he more than makes up for his lack of overall speed and could easily become Zach Wilson’s favorite target.

24. PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)

Demonstrates a combination of power and elusiveness that can make him a threat rushing the gaps or running on the perimeter of the line, as well as strong pass catching abilities out of the backfield.

25. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (LAR) – Trevon Moehrig (S, Texas Christian)

Moehrig was a stud at TCU, flowing effortlessly in the secondary with strength as a consistent disruptor. Would be a good piece to add to a depleted Jags defense as Meyer looks to rebuild.

26. CLEVELAND BROWNS – Baron Browning (LB, Ohio St.)

Browning is an athletic specimen who has demonstrated strong play in coverage, which could work well in Joe Woods’ 4-2-5 scheme.

27. BALTIMORE RAVENS – Liam Eichenberg (OT, Notre Dame)

While I would’ve put WR as their need here, the loss of Orlando Brown Jr. must be addressed. Incredibly athletic, the Ravens will need to be patient with his development as a player.

28. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami-FL)

Three years after moving up to draft Marcus Davenport, I think its safe to say the Saints are ready to once again address the pass rush. Rousseau’s versatility along the edge would be a great boost to the pass rush.

29. GREEN BAY PACKERS – Eric Stokes (CB, Georgia)

A raw prospect who was a turnover machine at Georgia, but still needs work on the fundamental aspects of his game. Packers are thin at corner and only signed Kevin King to a one-year deal, indicating they could move on from him after this season.

30. BUFFALO BILLS – Jaelan Phillips (DE, Miami-FL)

Phillips possesses an enticing combination of size, power, and technique with plenty of room to develop, either as a defensive end or outside linebacker. If it were not for the injuries he suffered, he would’ve been off the board sooner.

31. BALTIMORE RAVENS (KC) – Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)

The loss of Matthew Judon needs to be addressed. Ojulari can line up in a similar outside linebacker position that Judon was able to line up in, with enough power to set the edge and has an even stronger motor.

32. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)

Leonard Fournette, Giovanni Bernard, and Ronald Jones are set to all be free agents in 2022. Etienne is capable of being the big-play, all-around back that the Bucs would want going forward for the Post-Brady era.

(Cover Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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