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The 2021 Senior Bowl concluded today in Mobile with the National team winning 27-24 over the American team. Now that portion of the draft process is complete, and we can take what we have learned and apply it to how we think things will shake out in the draft come April.
This is the first of a two-part mock draft, highlighting picks Nos. 1 through 16. If you want to check out Part II, you can find that below.
*Note: There are no projected trades in this mock.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Jacksonville is reportedly kicking the tires on other quarterbacks, but it’s a formality at this point. Trevor Lawrence will be a Jaguar, so now it’s a matter of building around him. It’s a good thing they’ve got another first-round pick coming up.
2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
This pick could very well end up being traded to the Houston Texans as part of a deal to bring in Deshaun Watson. If the Jets can’t get that deal done, Zach Wilson is a strong option if the franchise still chooses to move away from fourth-year quarterback Sam Darnold.
3. Miami Dolphins – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Yes, Jaylen Waddle is the first receiver taken in this particular mock draft. Whether it’s Waddle, DeVonta Smith or Ja’Marr Chase, this is the type of reliability Tua Tagovailoa needs around him. Concerns over Smith’s lean build pushes Miami in the direction of his teammate.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Justin Fields ends back up in Georgia, after all. The Jets will give him some consideration, but I currently view him as the No. 3 quarterback in this class — and it’s possible that he could move to No. 4. He’s a much different style than Matt Ryan, but a new coaching staff led by Arthur Smith won’t mind the mobility.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
If there’s one thing we learned about the Bengals in 2020, it’s that they desperately need to put more protection in front of franchise quarterback Joe Burrow. Rashawn Slater will be considered here, but Sewell ultimately wins out. This selection could allow Cincinnati to get creative with Jonah Williams, or Sewell can shift to right tackle.
6. Philadelphia Eagles – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Eagles screwed up by passing on Justin Jefferson in favor of Jalen Reagor in the last draft, but they won’t make that mistake again. Yes, there are size concerns, but Smith instantly gives either Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts a reliable WR1.
7. Detroit Lions – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Lions might need to move up in order to ensure Trey Lance lands in Detroit. The team has officially moved on from longtime starter Matthew Stafford, which now affords them that ammunition. But Lance falling to No. 7 in this mock allows them to put those accumulated picks towards other needs.
8. Carolina Panthers – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Carolina barely missed out on the top four quarterbacks in this draft class. The coaching staff got an up-close look at Mac Jones, and they seemed to come away impressed. That makes the Alabama quarterback a viable option here at No. 8, but we’re going best player available … for now. Jones to Carolina could become a popular pick.
9. Denver Broncos – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Broncos desperately need more talent at the cornerback spot. A.J. Bouye and Michael Ojemudia are decent options, but Patrick Surtain II is the best player available at his position. If John Elway and company choose to pass on more protection for Drew Lock, this is one of the likely alternatives. Back-to-back ‘Bama boys for Denver.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Dallas used to have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Due to injuries and early retirements, that is no longer the case. Assuming the team re-signs Dak Prescott, the need reload that wall in front of him remains. Slater could easily go top-5, and it’s hard to imagine him making it out of the top-10. For the second year in a row, Dallas gets great value with its first-round pick.
11. New York Giants – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Ja’Marr Chase is worthy of a top-10 pick. We should probably assume that he’ll end up in there somewhere, but in this scenario, he makes it to No. 11 for the Giants. This is an offense that sorely misses Odell Beckham Jr., and they really need to figure out what they have in Daniel Jones. Give him a top weapon and see how things land. If it goes south, look for his replacement that will have a top option ready to go in Chase.
12. San Francisco 49ers – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The 49ers have work to do at cornerback. The group isn’t bad, but Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett and multiple others are all slated to hit the free agent market. Farley has size and length (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) as well as an ability to play press and man coverage, making him a nice fit in San Francisco.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Justin Herbert is oozing with potential, but another tackle is needed in Los Angeles. Forget all the rest of the holes on the other side of the football, this is the direction they need to take at No. 13. Christian Darrisaw is still developing his ability as a pass-protector, but there’s a high ceiling here. Plus, it fills a huge need. Imagine Herbert with more time to throw.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The edge presence on Minnesota’s defense was lacking this season. Everson Griffen moved on, Danielle Hunter got hurt and Yannick Ngakoue turned out to only be a six-game rental. At 6-4, 270-plus pounds, Kwity Paye is an explosive player on the edge who can make a Day 1 impact getting after quarterbacks and stopping the run.
15. New England Patriots – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Mac Jones really climbed my board here. Prior to the Senior Bowl, I was concerned about how teams would view his time in Tuscaloosa. But he thrived this week without all that surrounding talent, and I believe the Nick Saban-Bill Belichick relationship could factor into the decision here. The Patriots are used to building around a immobile quarterback, and Cam Newton/Jarrett Stidham aren’t the long-term answer.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Cardinals could go in a number of directions with this pick. Kyler Murray could use more help up front, but the defense has been searching for a corner to play opposite Patrick Peterson for awhile now. Jaycee Horn is one of the top available players, and he fills a void. It’s a win-win situation for a team on the rise. Plus, they could use more help to stop Russell Wilson and Stafford in the division.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.