This is the final mock draft that I have to offer you fine people. I appreciate all of the support over my career, and I’m always so happy to get the feedback from you guys, good and bad, because it continues to make me better at ignoring the bad and being grateful for the good.
This is a predictive mock. I think draft day is going to be hectic. Looking forward to seeing how the action unfolds Thursday night. I know you all reading this are too.
Vogel’s 2021 NFL Mock Drafts (links)
Here are the previous mock drafts that I have done over the last couple of months, for your observation.
Let’s not waste any more time. Let’s get into it!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Trevor Lawrence is the obvious pick, the foregone conclusion over the last several months in NFL circles. He’s the best prospect I’ve scouted coming out of school in my six years doing this (third-year full time). He has everything that you want in a prospect; the big arm, the leadership, the football intellect. Recently an article was published in Sports Illustrated where Lawrence talked about not having a chip on his shoulder and not trying to create one. That’s healthy for him, and I’m okay with that.
The real question mark is how will Jacksonville look to utilize him in their offense. There’s a lot of unknowns to what the Jaguars will look schematically this season. Regardless, they’re stock-piling weapons and preparing for a big year from their rookie quarterback. The question is now where is the plateau for this team this season and what can we reasonably expect from Jacksonville in year one of a new era?
2. New York Jets – QB Zach Wilson, BYU
Zach Wilson solidified himself with the second pick at his pro day. Between what he did in his breakout campaign and the big arm he displayed, Wilson fits the New York gunslinger style that fans crave. His playmaking ability at BYU earned him the nickname “The Morman Manziel.” Wilson survived attempts from the media to cancel him surrounding his pro-MAGA family during the cycle as well.
It’s hard not to want a guy who can create in the ways that Wilson does. His teammates and coaches speak of his infectious personality, displaying the intangibles that not many players can bring to the table. The question that remains with Wilson is how his spread/air-raid style scheme will translate to the NFL level. The BYU offense played mostly in mesh, quick out, and vertical-Seattle concepts. This fits the LaFleur style, and with the lack of quality weapons amassed in New York currently, it’s going to be interesting to see how Wilson fares immediately.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Dolphins through Texans) – QB Mac Jones, Alabama
Mac Jones is the very unpopular pick at the third overall pick, especially considering that the 49ers gave up three first-round picks to move up to the spot. You also have to take into consideration the media publicizing his DUI his freshman season as well as the picture that circulated of Jones dressed in a “Nobama” costume in 2012. His past has created a taste of disdain in the eyes of the media and many fans. Regardless, Jones appears to be the pick and the proper scheme fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Jones has some arm limitations compared to the other quarterbacks in this class. However, he’s displayed the Joe Burrow-like ability to naturally feel the pocket and move well inside of it. His accuracy was uncanny at Alabama this season. His pro days certainly weren’t like other quarterbacks in the class, but Jones tested well and continued to impress in interviews. It’s not the popular pick that 49ers fans want. However, I cannot recall the last time John Lynch and Shanahan cared about fans’ opinions.
4. Atlanta Falcons – TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
The Falcons reportedly love Trey Lance, but in this instance they pass on him and select tight end Kyle Pitts from Florida. Pitts is a wide receiver in a tight ends body. He shows the ability to dominate against both linebackers and cornerbacks. His massive frame and God given athleticism gives him an outstanding catch radius to be another big playmaker. It’s unclear what Julio Jones future with the team will be, so it makes sense that the Falcons would snatch Pitts. If Jones stays in Atlanta, the Jones/Calvin Ridley/Pitts tandem would be fearsome to say the least.
The Falcons haven’t ever really used a vertical threat at the tight end in recent memory. Instead, they’ve relied on possession guys who are good blockers to run with power. This is a new era in Atlanta, however, with former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, who utilized Jonnu Smith in his offense behind Derrick Henry. Pitts would add another level to that scheme style, especially with the perimeter weapons that the Falcons have already. It’s a solid “win now” pick while Atlanta is stuck with the Matt Ryan and Julio Jones contracts.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
“Protect Joe Burrow” has been the mantra from Cincinnati following the injury to Burrow that removed him from the rest of the season. Even with the release of the new Bengals uniforms, the grizzly scar on Burrows leg serves as a potent reminder for what the Bengals really need to do. While Burrow has reportedly pushed for wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, his collegiate teammate, the Bengals front office wants the best tackle they can get their hands on and they love Sewell. What’s not to like? He has massive size and strength and is fairly athletic with the size he has.
Sewell plugs into the left tackle spot that was before held by Jonah Williams. However, it’s not a lack of talent that kicks him from this spot. Williams has been unable to stay healthy in his first couple of years in the league. With his talent, the Bengals can’t waste him and will move him inside to left guard. Sewell could be a guy who anchors your left side for a decade, and the Bengals can’t pass on that opportunity.
6. Miami Dolphins (from Eagles) – WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
The Dolphins have moved around with their draft capitol, and are obviously building for the 2022 draft to overload their roster with the incoming deep class. Now it’s time to get their future, Tua Tagovailoa, more consistent and reliable weapons on the outside. Enter Ja’Marr Chase, the standout receiver from LSU. Chase outdid himself at his pro day, posting solid numbers athletically and really removed any questions about his ability to be fast enough. Those whispers came from the fact that Chase didn’t show a lot of separation as a route runner at LSU, rather waiting to get that separation until he’s late in the route. That’s what makes him so difficult to cover – he has another gear that he gets into once the ball is headed his way.
The Dolphins have done a masterful job building their roster over the last year. Last season, they missed the playoffs by a game. With projected growth from their draft picks from last year and the deep capital that they own this year, it can be assumed that the Dolphins will be major contenders for the 2021 season. My best guess says that Chase takes his place as their X receiver, while DeVonta Parker moves to a Z/big slot role, not unlike what the Steelers did with Chase Claypool last season.
7. New England Patriots (projected from Lions) – QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
The Patriots have been extremely aggressive this season and they continue that with a trade up into seven. They select their future of the franchise, Trey Lance, who will have the opportunity to sit for a season behind Cam Newton and really grow into his role. This is an ideal situation for Lance, who plays a lot like Newton in some aspects. Lance isn’t quite ready to play his first year, lacking some mechanics in his passing game. However, between his two pro days, Lance showed a lot of improvement in his release and his footwork especially. This should be enough to remove any doubt regarding his ability to grow into his role at the next level.
The Patriots’ offense lacked the necessary weapons last season to really help Newton to thrive. Instead, they were forced to rely on his legs and their deep stable of running backs. It wasn’t a winning formula. Now, with weapons galore, the Patriots will use Newton as the bridge for Lance while reloading their roster with the necessary talent. It’s looking very promising for the Patriots who have done a good job on paper getting these talents.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (projected from Panthers) – OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
The Chargers are very happy with Justin Herbert and realize that he needs to be protected as well. The Chargers have arguably one of the worst offensive lines currently in football. This creates the need to move up and get their guy, Rashawn Slater, who can play across the offensive line. People were concerned about his lack of ability to play outside because of his size. However, he’s the most pro-ready offensive tackle in this class. While he doesn’t offer as much upside as Penei Sewell, he can plug and play left tackle. The Chargers need this.
9. Washington Football Team (projected from Broncos) – QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
The Washington Football Team have built a solid roster and the only real position remaining to be addressed in quarterback. With whispers of the Eagles potentially targeting a quarterback at 12, Washington eliminates all doubt and selects Justin Fields to be the future of their franchise. Fields has been criticized throughout the cycle after entering the year as the clear cut #2 quarterback, mostly based on his scheme and a few rough games during the 2020 season. He has a good arm, outstanding athleticism, and mostly looks to extend plays with his feet to throw rather than to run.
Head coach Ron Rivera spent the better part of a decade working with Cam Newton and knows how to implement athletic quarterbacks into the league effectively. The addition of the experienced journeyman, Ryan Fitzpatrick, certainly helps the growth of a young quarterback on the team. Fields would be a fit in Washington, no doubt.
10. Dallas Cowboys – CB Patrick Surtain, Alabama
Rumors have circulated about the Cowboys wanting to move up to get Kyle Pitts. I don’t foresee a logical way the Cowboys get it done, so instead, they continue to build on the weak point of their team – the secondary. Surtain is a STAR-style defender who can play boundary cornerback as well as some deep safety. With his versatility, it gives Dallas options on how to approach his implementation to the squad. I’d see him playing closer to the line of scrimmage a lot, and being the key defender in disguised coverage sets.
Vogel’s Scouting Notes on Patrick Surtain
11. New York Giants – WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
The Giants have reportedly loved DeVonta Smith all throughout the cycle. Even with the addition of Kenny Golladay, there is room to slide Smith into the lineup as the Z receiver, and move Sterling Shepard to the slot. The Giants are completing their attempt to build around quarterback Daniel Jones in hope that the 6th overall pick from 2019 is not a bust.
Smith himself has taken a lot of criticism this process, especially after he weighed in at 166 pounds in Indianapolis last week. Still, there is no denying his ability on the football field. Smith became the first wide receiver since Desmond Howard to win the Heisman Trophy. No wide receiver had previously won the award during this millennium. He’s a smooth route runner and incredibly athletic. The question now becomes just how well he holds up against the physicality of the professional level.
On a side note, I think it’s wild to think that likely two teammates to the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner come off of the board before he does. It’s been a crazy year, after all.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins) – CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Jaycee Horn makes a lot of sense for the Eagles, who are looking for someone to play opposite of former Lions quarterback Darius Slay. He can fill in the number two spot immediately, can play man and press very well, and brings an element of physicality to the boundary.
Vogel’s Scouting Notes on Jaycee Horn
13. Carolina Panthers (projected from Chargers) – OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
The Panthers move back, building 2022 draft capitol, and still get a high level tackle to help protect Sam Darnold. Christian Darrisaw is the most athletic, in my opinion, on tape out of the top several offensive tackles in the class. His value is in his immense upside as his fundamentals are still a little raw and in need of some fine tuning. Regardless, this is a good pick for the future health of the backfield in Carolina, who also suffered the loss is running back Christian McCaffrey last season.
14. Minnesota Vikings – OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
The one factor that prohibited the Vikings from being as competitive as they could have been last year was the offensive line. The Vikings are a team that likes to rely on their running game and make reading the field easier for Kirk Cousins. However, last year the offensive line dropped the bar, so to speak, and weren’t able to hold up as well as they have in recent memory. Enter Alijah Vera-Tucker. AVT is an interior prospect who held up surprisingly well at left tackle last season for USC. I think that the Vikings want to ensure their front is built for the future. AVT brings that to the table pretty much immediately, and is my second highest graded prospect on the board.
15. Detroit Lions (projected from Patriots) – EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan
The Detroit Lions have passed on the main quarterback market thus far, and elected to go back into roster building. The biggest problem with the team right now is everywhere – the Lions could use an upgrade at about every key position. With the way that they have attacked their coaching staff and hired aggressively building an all former-players staff, these guys will be relying on their ability to develop talent. In this case, Kwity Paye is a great pick for Detroit.
Paye is good and has an immense upside with his aggression and immense athletic ability. The biggest deal is getting him coached on the finer points of pass-rushing. The Lions are betting that they can develop Paye and snatch him here in hopes of making him an All-Pro relatively soon.
16. Arizona Cardinals – WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Arizona selected Kyle Murray with the first overall selection of 2019 with the hopes that he would develop much like Michael Vick did upon his entrance to the league. In this case, Murray showed signs of immense improvement and upside his sophomore season. Now entering his third year, the Cardinals are absorbing the loss of longtime superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who has retired from the league. Even though this is a position that the Cardinals have attacked aggressively over the last couple of years, it’s not one that has developed well outside of the star talent that’s been brought in.
This is why I can see Jaylen Waddle coming off of the board here. The Cardinals are hoping that they land a DeSean Jackson type of player in Waddle, who stretches the field with incredible speed and ability. Waddle has speed and route-running savvy. This, combined with the DeAndre Hopkins/Christian Kirk set and Murray throwing the ball, could put the Cardinals at a new level of offense. It’s an interesting thought for a team that needs to win now.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
Micah Parsons slides a little bit more than most people anticipated due to the personality concerns that have risen about his conduct at Penn State. However, the Raiders are one of the few teams who are more than willing to take a chance with players like that, and they capitalize at a much needed position. Parsons is a hell of an athlete. He brings an aggressive mentality to the defense on the field and can drop into pass coverage as needed. Parsons also boasts one of the better body types at the position.
With the Raiders needing help all in their linebacker group, Parsons brings some level of flexibility to how the Raiders want to approach the position as a whole. He can play inside but is better suited outside as a weakside linebacker. It’s a good chance for him to show that the concerns aren’t going to be a problem for him at the next level.
18. Miami Dolphins – RB Najee Harris, Alabama
A lot of people have the Dolphins addressing the defense with this pick. However, I’m not sure that I see it going that way. With the lack of truly great defenders in this class, why would they want to use a first on a side of the ball that was their strength?
I think the Dolphins want to breed a level of familiarity with Tagovailoa, who struggled to adjust to the NFL level last season. Instead, they take a running back – one that can do everything that is asked of him and more. Najee Harris is the most complete running back prospect I’ve ever seen. He’s a great receiver out of the backfield, he runs with both power and speed, and he is an excellent pass protector. The Dolphins would be doing Tagovailoa a service by selecting Harris here while adding the final key weapon to their offense.
19. Denver Broncos (projected from Football Team) – DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
The Broncos took the trade back here knowing that they could build capital for 2022. I’m telling you now – people are building capitol for 2022 if they are uncertain about the upcoming season with what they have. The next class is gearing up to be the deepest class in NFL history.
It’s been proven time and time again that the winning formula in the league is in the trenches. The Broncos continue that trend and take the best defensive tackle off the board in Christian Barmore. By no means a finished product, Barmore is very athletic and needs to clean up some of his technique. The Broncos have a bunch of seasoned veterans on that side of the ball to help Barmore get to speed and it should end up being a very productive pick.
20. Chicago Bears – OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
The Chicago Bears are focused on the line of scrimmage as well, this time protecting the quarterback. Teven Jenkins has the upside to be a very good tackle in the league but struggled against some of the better pass rushers in the Big 12. I think his footwork is a little bit sketchy, and some of his handwork could use some work, but the NFL really likes him and the Bears beat the Colts and the Titans to the punch, who both have expressed a lot of interest in him.
Vogel’s Scouting Notes on Teven Jenkins
21. Indianapolis Colts – OT Dillon Radunz Jr, North Dakota State
Dillon Radunz proved that he belonged at the NFL level in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, when he was awarded practice player of the week. Radunz already has the strength and the athleticism to be a solid left tackle in the league and his frame offers room for improvement. The Colts need to replace the sudden retirement of Anthony Castonzo. Radunz here makes a lot of sense.
22. Tennessee Titans – EDGE Jaelen Phillips, Miami
The Titans had the worst pass rush unit in the NFL last year. They’re going hard to address that with the addition of Bud Dupree in free agency, and then an edge rusher here. Jaelen Phillips is a speed rusher to the core, one of the better prospects to come through in recent memory. He retired briefly from college football in 2019 after a series of concussions, but returned for the 2020 season and transferred to Miami. He wrecked havoc in the ACC last year, and his pro day solidified him as a first round pick – as long as teams aren’t too concerned with his medicals.
23. New York Jets (from Seahawks) – EDGE Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
The Jets got their quarterback of the future. Now they go get Robert Sallah’s guy and my best guess is that guy is Carlos Basham from Wake Forest. Basham is a very versatile pass rusher in the sense that he can do a lot that is requested of him. He plays several techs and can win in a variety of ways. The Jets have a potential stud here at 23 and they don’t want to blow it.
Vogel’s Scouting Notes on Carlos Basham
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – IOL Landon Dickerson, Alabama
The retirement of Mike Pouncey really messed up the Steelers off-season plans. However, lucky for them, they have a guy in Landon Dickerson who can be a stud teammate as well as a stud center. Dickerson makes a lot of sense here, even coming off of a knee injury. He’s a strong run blocker, and suitable pass protector. Plus, he offers some athleticism to play a variety of assignments. I like the idea of Dickerson here and I’ll bet the Steelers do too.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams) – LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
The Jaguars addressed a lot of positions in free agency, but one of the positions that they left alone was the linebacker group. Zaven Collins would be a great fit in the Jacksonville defense. Often mentioned as a little bit passive, I thought Collins offered immense versatility as a zone pass defender, a space defender, and even as a pass rusher. I had him graded slightly ahead of Parsons, who went 17th overall in this mock.
26. Cleveland Browns – EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
The Browns grab one of the NFL darlings who recently entered the attention of the media, Joe Tryon from Washington. With the recent addition of Jadevion Clowney, it seems that the Browns are up to a non-traditional approach to their defensive front. Tryon is not a traditional edge prospect, possessing the skill set more akin to a STAR defender, but with a bigger body type and more pass-rushing ability. He’s definitely an interesting prospect to keep an eye on, and the Browns will use him as a rotational piece behind Clowney.
Vogel’s Scouting Notes on EDGE Joe Tryon
27. Baltimore Ravens – OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
The Ravens just sent their left tackle, Orlando Brown, to the Chiefs for several picks. It would make sense for Baltimore with this pick to nab their new left tackle, one that better fits the level of athleticism that they want on their front. Liam Eichenberg fits that billing and he’s available right here. Eichenberg was solid at Notre Dame, and hasn’t received a lot of attention in the media this Draft cycle. Regardless, he’s one of the finer tuned prospects at the position and makes a lot of sense right here to protect Lamar Jackson’s blindside.
28. New Orleans Saints – LB Nick Bolton, Missouri
If you go watch the Saints playoff loss to the Buccaneers, you’ll notice that the weak point on the roster was linebacker Alex Anzelone. The Buccaneers picked mercilessly at him all game and he wasn’t able to hold up. Now the Saints enter an era post Drew Brees, and will have to rely more on their defense. In this case, they get the hard nosed downhill backer in Nick Bolton. Bolton was a stud at Missouri. Known for his aggressive play style and strong tackling ability, Bolton offers some ability as a pass coverage linebacker but will be best served as a run defender between the tackles.
29. Green Bay Packers – WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Elijah Moore to the Packers here just makes a lot of sense. The Packers have left quarterback Aaron Rodgers without real weapons for a long, long time. Moore is arguably the best receiver at the line of scrimmage, boasting an impressive collection of releases. His hands are the strongest I’ve seen in the class. Moore reminds me a lot of a young Antonio Brown. The Packers plug him into the Z, move Equinamious St. Brown to the slot, and that’s a formidable offense.
30. Buffalo Bills – EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas
The Bills really like Joe Tryon and Najee Harris. However, both are off of the board. They settle for Joseph Ossai, the versatile pass rusher out of Texas. Ossai offers a lot of upside as a strong pass rusher as well as a good run defender. He’s still a little bit raw when engaging and learning how to get an advantage in the trenches, but the versatility he can offer the Bills defense is valuable by itself.
31. Baltimore Ravens (from Chiefs) – WR Kadarius Toney, Florida
The Ravens snatch a playmaker for Lamar Jackson, the electric Kadarius Toney from Florida. The trade with the Chiefs that acquired this pick for Baltimore has opened the door to a lot of opportunity for the Ravens. Snatching a receiver before the start of the second round is huge, while replacing your left tackle you sent away for the pick. It’s a great deal for both sides. Toney, meanwhile, can play out of the slot as well as the Z. He was used in both roles to some extent by the Gators. His after the catch ability is special and makes this a good pick.
32. Atlanta Falcons (from Buccaneers) – QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
The Falcons trade up four spots to select their future, Kellen Mond. Rumors have begun circulating that the Texas A&M product will be going first round. Now that he’s made it this far, the Falcons feel that they’re in a good spot to trade back into the first round, give up a good bit extra to their divisional rivals, and develop him behind Matt Ryan. The biggest thing with Mond is going to be getting him to look less mechanical and flow more natural. Jumbo Fisher coaches the tight release in the elbow, something that makes Mond look very uncomfortable. They’ve got a couple of years to undo that from Mond and can leave this draft feeling very comfortable with their future.