Stephen Polacheck’s 2021 NFL Mock Draft

by Stephen Polacheck · NFL

We’re under the three-day mark until the Jacksonville Jaguars go on the clock to begin the 2021 NFL Draft. Reports coming out are a healthy mix of both truth and smokescreens, but I’m here to help dissect and predict how the first two nights of the draft will go.

I included a few trades in the first round, based on recent trade values.


Round 1

No. 1 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence – QB – Clemson

This couldn’t be closer to being locked in (yet they’ll still use the whole 10-minute clock).

No. 2 – New York Jets – Zach Wilson – QB – BYU

If I were Joe Douglas, I’d select Justin Fields. However, I’m not, so I will make the decision that sounds like it has been finalized. He’s got a lot of risk having only one year of success.

Zach Wilson College Stats

No. 3 – San Francisco 49ers – Justin Fields – QB – Ohio State

I am convinced the San Francisco 49ers did not give up three first-rounders to select a replica of Jimmy Garoppolo. Just because pocket passers have always been Kyle Shanahan’s quarterbacks, doesn’t mean that is all he wants. Fields brings all the desirable traits of a top quarterback, from sustained success at a top program to the intangibles and production metrics. We had no idea San Fran was moving up to No. 3, why do we think we know their pick will be Mac Jones?

No. 4 – Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts – TE – Florida

With the reports growing that Arthur Smith is fond of using Matt Ryan, and his contract status being locked to Atlanta, the Falcons can add another offensive weapon for Ryan to lean on as they try and win through their rebuild. Pitts is a matchup nightmare.

No. 5 – Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell – OT- Oregon

Zac Taylor has been bullish on using Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff as their tackles this season. That may mean they want to deploy Sewell at guard instead. Regardless, the priority has to be keeping Joe Burrow protected, and the Bengals did select a WR at No. 33 overall last year in Tee Higgins.

No. 6 – Miami Dolphins – Ja’Marr Chase – WR – LSU

I don’t think there will be a trade in the cards for Miami here, they likely don’t want to trade with New England or fall back to 19 with Washington. Instead, they opt for the best player on their board. Chase brings elite athleticism matched with absurd production.

Ja’Marr Chase Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

No. 7 – New England Patriots – Trey Lance – QB – North Dakota State

TRADE: New England gives pick No. 15, No. 46, and a 2022 second-rounder; Detroit gives pick No. 7 and a 2022 sixth-rounder

While history suggests Bill Belichick doesn’t like trading up, history also suggested the Patriots weren’t going to spend big in free agency. We have yet to see him chase a QB since he’s had Tom Brady for years. It’s a perfect fit. Lance can spend a year learning from Cam Newton, a very similar player, since his lack of experience forces him into the “project quarterback” role.

No. 8 – Carolina Panthers – Patrick Surtain – CB – Alabama

With a new quarterback on the roster in Sam Darnold, the Panthers give themselves flexibility in their picks. Head coach Matt Rhule used all his selections on defense last year, clearly stressing their priority. Surtain is an excellent all-around corner who’s been tested against the best, where Carolina is desperate for one with a depth chart of only Donte Jackson and A.J. Bouye.

No. 9 – Denver Broncos – Mac Jones – QB – Alabama

I’m not sure if Denver likes Jones or not. What I do know is they are interested in bringing in competition for Drew Lock, as well as use their well-built roster to try and win right away. Jones presents the ability to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers, something Denver has a lot of in Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, Melvin Gordon, and Noah Fant.

No. 10 – Dallas Cowboys – Jaycee Horn – CB – South Carolina

Dallas’ defense was a disaster last year. In reinventing the entire unit, Horn brings swagger, confidence, lock-up coverage skills, and a fantastic athletic profile to Dallas. Think Jalen Ramsey and Richard Sherman.

No. 11 – New York Giants – Rashawn Slater – OT – New York Giants

Slater is a fundamentally sound tackle from Northwestern, whose versatility will allow the Giants to start their best five linemen, with Slater filling the gap. It’s no secret this OL needs work but has good pieces within, one being last year’s No. 4 pick Andrew Thomas.

No. 12 – Philadelphia Eagles – Jaylen Waddle – WR – Alabama

Waddle brings electric speed, and “scoring on any play” type of ability. Philadelphia can’t give Jalen Hurts a fair shot at auditioning for the QB role if his only weapons are Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, and Quez Watkins.

No. 13 – Los Angeles Chargers – Christian Darrisaw – OT – Virginia Tech

A very popular pick in mock drafts, Darrisaw’s dominance at Virginia Tech gives the Chargers confidence he can protect Justin Herbert‘s blindside on a re-invented Chargers offensive line.

No. 14 – Minnesota Vikings – Jaelan Phillips – EDGE – Miami

Minnesota has been searching for an elite edge rusher since trading for Yannick Ngakoue. Phillips comes with a great athletic profile and excellent tape. Only question marks are on his health.

No. 15 – Detroit Lions – Micah Parsons – LB – Penn State

Parsons is a game-changing linebacker who has the excellent ability to cover space, speed in pursuit, and anticipate plays. He’s a defensive weapon who matches up closest to Roquan Smith. He’s the type of player a team wants to build around, and that’s the Lions.

No. 16 – Arizona Cardinals – Zaven Collins – LB – Tulsa

Collins is a dynamic linebacker with great speed and explosiveness. He was dominant for Tulsa, and will fit in nicely on a defense that needs speed and youth. Reportedly the Cardinals are very high on him.

No. 17 – Las Vegas Raiders – Alijah Vera-Tucker – IOL – USC

Vera-Tucker being available is a perfect draft scenario for Vegas. They gutted their offensive line and are looking for a complete reset. AVT is versatile, athletic, and dominant.

No. 18 – Tennessee Titans – Devonta Smith – WR – Alabama

TRADE: Titans give pick No. 22, No. 126; Dolphins give pick No. 18 and No. 156

I believe Devonta Smith will be a fantastic NFL player. However, I see the oversaturated WR market allowing him to be available this far back. CeeDee Lamb was drafted at pick No. 17 last year. The Titans are looking for a second WR to pair with A.J. Brown, and Smith is the perfect complement, trading above Washington and Chicago to do so.

No. 19 – Washington Football Team – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – LB – Notre Dame

Owusu-Koramoah is a missile on the field. He’s got a rare blend of speed and power, and Washington will likely look to bolster the defense that carried them to the playoffs last year. It’s Fitzmagic time in D.C.

No. 20 – Chicago Bears – Teven Jenkins – OT – Oklahoma State

Head Coach Matt Nagy is in a “prove it” year. To help Andy Dalton, the Bears select a tackle who’s film is similar to Mekhi Becton‘s. Superior power and aggressiveness.

No. 21 – Indianapolis Colts – Alex Leatherwood – OT – Alabama

Leatherwood is a bully with exceptional strength and size. We know from 2020 that if QB Carson Wentz doesn’t have sound protection, he will struggle. Anthony Castonzo‘s retirement forces the hands of the Colts.

No. 22 – Miami Dolphins – Kwity Paye – EDGE – Michigan

Paye is an elite athlete who tested with a Speed Score that ranks in the 89th-percentile among qualified edge rushers. He’s got techniques to work on, but the upside is there for a team lacking a pass rusher.

No. 23 – New York Jets – Caleb Farley – CB – Virginia Tech

A borderline top-10 pick, Caleb Farley slides down the board due to injury concerns in his back. New head coach Robert Saleh can afford to be patient and wait for Farley to be 100-percent before letting him take the duties as the lockdown CB1.

No. 24 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Landon Dickerson – IOL – Alabama

Simply put, Najee Harris would be a great addition, but no running back goes anywhere without an offensive line (see Saquon Barkley in 2020 vs Pittsburgh). Dickerson is seemingly fully healthy:

No. 25 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Azeez Ojulari – EDGE – Georgia

The Jaguars want to rebuild Sacksonville. Ojulari immediately brings more power to a defensive line infused with youth and speed.

No. 26 – Cleveland Browns – Samuel Cosmi – OT – Texas

Don’t look now, but the Browns have built a very solid and capable roster in Cleveland. Cosmi is a developmental piece that can be molded to fit wherever Cleveland decides to place him, as not every offensive lineman of theirs can get paid big.

No. 27 – Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman – WR – Minnesota

The Ravens can’t seem to land any WRs in free agency, so they have to choose one in the draft. Bateman is complete, and profiles similarly to Stefon Diggs. Lamar Jackson needs pass-catching weapons if Baltimore wants to have a more dynamic offensive attack.

No. 28 – New Orleans Saints – Greg Newsome – CB – Northwestern

The Saints have limited picks in the draft, so cannot afford to make luxury selections. Newsome is a well-rounded corner whos not afraid to be physical.

No. 29 – Green Bay Packers – Eric Stokes – CB – Georgia

The real reason why Green Bay lost to Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship was a lack of coverage ability behind Jaire Alexander. Stokes helps fix that hole, bringing a 96th-percentile Speed Score and 4.36 (97th-percentile) 40-yard Dash.

Eric Stokes Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

No. 30 – Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau – EDGE – Miami

Buffalo needs an edge rusher, and we know they aren’t afraid to take a developmental player. Rousseau is rising up media draft boards, with reports that he’s been told he will be a first round pick. I can’t see that happening until at least here.

No. 31 – Baltimore Ravens – Trevon Moehrig – S – TCU

Moehrig is an impact safety who’d fill a void in the Baltimore secondary. He can do a bit of everything, including generate turnovers.

No. 32 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Christian Barmore – IDL – Alabama

The rich get richer. Barmore is the lone standout of a weak IDL class, and presents more depth to the unit that carried the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory.

Round 2

No. 33 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Liam Eichenberg – OT – Notre Dame

Eichenberg is a plug and play LT, who allows Jacksonville the ability to preserve cap by letting Cam Robinson walk next offseason. Trevor Lawrence‘s protection is the No. 1 objective.

No. 34 – New York Jets – Travis Etienne – RB – Clemson

Etienne is a home-run hitting running back, who has production that raises the questions of why he wasn’t a first round pick. Jonathan Taylor was also a second-rounder. Etienne fits Robert Saleh and the Jets, who are desperate for an RB.

Travis Etienne College Stats

No. 35 – Atlanta Falcons – Asante Samuel – CB – Florida State

Any WR that faced the Falcons defense last season went straight into my fantasy lineup. That tells you all you need to know. Asante Samuel fits a big need for Atlanta.

No. 36 – Miami Dolphins – Najee Harris – RB – Alabama

After spending the Senior Bowl with the Miami staff, Harris got incredible exposure to that coaching group. While Miami may not prioritize drafting RBs, they have a huge hole and he fits the offense perfectly, even reuniting with his college quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in this scenario.

No. 37 – Philadelphia Eagles – Baron Browning – LB – Ohio State

Browning brings elite athleticism to a linebacking unit that has historically lacked. Even if the front office doesn’t like investing in the position, Browning’s profile is too good to pass up as a space-covering tackle machine.

Baron Browning Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

No. 38 – Cincinnati Bengals – Terrace Marshall – WR – LSU

There is a huge push for Joe Burrow to reunite with his college WRs, but what if I told you there was a second one with a great profile and sustained success with Burrow? That’s right, Terrace Marshall. If the Bengals really do want an A.J. Green replacement, Marshall fills that void.

No. 39 – Carolina Panthers – Jalen Mayfield – OT – Michigan

The Panthers need a tackle, regardless of who is playing quarterback, now Sam Darnold. Mayfield is athletic and has a lot of upside, yet has some room to grow, which knocks him into round 2.

No. 40 – Denver Broncos – Jamin Davis – LB – Kentucky

This feels like a perfect fit. The Broncos get a dynamic chess piece to sculpt into the LB they desire. Davis showed excellent upside but lacks a lot of experience.

No. 41 – Detroit Lions – Elijah Moore – WR – Mississippi

Elijah Moore has a very intriguing profile, he was stuck behind D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown, but then broke out at a young 19.4 years old. His profile is most similar to Tyler Lockett, and Detroit’s lack of talent at WR makes this a must-pick.

No. 42 – New York Giants – Jayson Oweh – EDGE – Penn State

Have you seen Oweh’s pro day? If not, it’s a masterclass in athleticism. The Giants are looking for an edge rusher, and Oweh’s freak athleticism gives them a high-upside impact player.

No. 43 – San Francisco 49ers – Tyson Campbell – CB – Georgia

The 49ers need corner depth. Campbell has shown flashes and played in the SEC, he can thrive in San Francisco where not asked to be a lockdown No. 1 corner.

No. 44 – Dallas Cowboys – Joe Tryon – EDGE – Washington

Defense, defense, defense. The Cowboys prioritize defense after adding Jaycee Horn in the first.

No. 45 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Pat Freiermuth – TE – Penn State

Yes, I’m a Jaguars fan and Penn State grad, let me dream! Freiermuth is a red zone monster who fits the modern day mold of an NFL tight end. As of now, the best Jaguars rostered TE is Chris Manhertz. Yes, they need one.

No. 46 – Detroit Lions – Dyami Brown – WR – North Carolina

Detroit needs WRs this bad. Doubling up, and taking a larger profile receiver in Dyami Brown.

No. 47 – Los Angeles Chargers – Jevon Holland – S – Oregon

The Chargers need a more free-flowing safety to pair with Derwin James. Holland is my favorite safety in the class, who is well-rounded in coverage and physicality, he separates himself being able to cover WRs one-on-one.

No. 48 – Las Vegas Raiders – Dillon Radunz – OT – North Dakota State

A Senior Bowl standout, Radunz showed he can hang with top competition. The Raiders might draft OL all weekend.

No. 49 – Arizona Cardinals – Kadarius Toney – WR – Florida

The Cardinals love to play 4 WR sets, yet lack four WRs. Toney brings a speedy upside that is unmatched by anyone on the Arizona depth chart. He won’t be a target hog, but will help draw attention and bring some big boom plays.

No. 50 – Miami Dolphins – Joseph Ossai – EDGE – Texas

Miami dips back into the edge rusher pool, taking another high upside athletic prospect in Ossai. One of him and Paye should pay off.

No. 51 – Washington Football Team – James Hudson – OT – Cincinnati

Hudson is a project offensive tackle. He’s huge and has had some dominating success, but is new to the position. Washington gives him room to grow with Ryan Fitzpatrick behind him.

No. 52 – Chicago Bears – Rondale Moore – WR – Purdue

The Bears need WR options for the future, and Moore brings a new element to the offense. He’s an elite athlete and fantastic playmaker, he’s just short and has been hurt.

Rondale Moore Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

No. 53 – Tennessee Titans – Ifeatu Melifonwu – CB – Syracuse

The Titans got a WR, now can prioritize the defense. Melifonwu comes with great length and ball skills.

No. 54 – Indianapolis Colts – Amon-Ra St. Brown – WR – USC

Brother of Equanimeous St. Brown, Amon-Ra is a do-it-all WR with fantastic tracking ability and crisp routes. He would pair well with his former teammate, Michael Pittman.

No. 55 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Javonte Williams – RB – North Carolina

Steelers fans, tired of watching Nick Chubb run the football against you? Here, the Steelers take the next version of him. Williams is a bruiser and would fit the Pittsburgh mold well.

No. 56 – Seattle Seahawks – Creed Humphrey – IOL – Oklahoma

Russell Wilson has asked for offensive line help. Seattle gives it to him in their only selection in the first two nights. Big trade-back candidate pick here.

No. 57 – Los Angeles Rams – Brady Christensen – OT – BYU

Zach Wilson‘s tremendous blocker, and the heir to the tackle throne behind Andrew Whitworth.

No. 58 – Kansas City Chiefs – Nico Collins – WR – Michigan

Kansas City has been searching for a WR to pair with Tyreek Hill, one with good size on the outside. Collins brings athleticism and size on top of that at 6-4, 215-pounds.

No. 59 – Cleveland Browns – Carlos Basham – EDGE – Wake Forest

Jadeveon Clowney isn’t a long term fix. Basham is a rotational player in Year 1 with the ability to dominate opposite Myles Garrett in Year 2.

No. 60 – New Orleans Saints – Amari Rodgers – WR – Clemson

Another big need for New Orleans, taking a speedy WR to complement Michael Thomas.

No. 61 – Buffalo Bills – Aaron Robinson – CB – UCF

The Bills are looking to add to their corner depth behind Tre’Davious White.

No. 62 – Green Bay Packers – Tylan Wallace – WR – Oklahoma State

I couldn’t NOT select a WR here. Tylan Wallace fits the mold for a Packers WR2.

No. 63 – Kansas City Chiefs – Wyatt Davis – IOL – Ohio State

Re: The Chiefs OL was exposed in the Super Bowl. Davis brings depth to the interior.

No. 64 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kelvin Joseph – CB – Kentucky

A developmental player for a CB unit who could use a star. Hard to pick players for a roster that seems flawless.

Round 3

No. 65 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Hamsah Nasirildeen – S – Florida State

No. 66 – New York Jets – Ronnie Perkins – EDGE – Oklahoma

No. 67 – Houston Texans – Paulson Adebo – CB – Stanford

No. 68 -Atlanta Falcons – Josh Myers – IOL – Ohio State

No. 69 – Cincinnati Bengals – Tommy Tremble – TE – Notre Dame

No. 70 – Philadelphia Eagles – Elijah Molden – CB – Washington

No. 71 – Denver Broncos – Levi Onwuzurike – IDL – Washington

No. 72 – Detroit Lions – Jackson Carman – OT – Clemson

No. 73 – Carolina Panthers – Hunter Long – TE – Boston College

No. 74 – Washington Football Team – Richie Grant – S – UCF

No. 75 – Dallas Cowboys – Spencer Brown – OT – Northern Iowa

No. 76 – New York Giants – D’Wayne Eskridge – WR – Western Michigan

No. 77 – Los Angeles Chargers – Janarius Robinson – EDGE – Florida State

No. 78 – Minnesota Vikings – Quinn Meinerz – IOL – Wisconsin-Whitewater

No. 79 – Las Vegas Raiders – Nick Bolton – LB – Missouri

No. 80 – Las Vegas Raiders – Payton Turner – EDGE – Houston

No. 81 – Miami Dolphins – Cameron McGrone – LB – Michigan

No. 82 – Washington Football Team – Seth Williams – WR – Auburn

No. 83 – Chicago Bears – Kyle Trask – QB – Florida

No. 84 – Philadelphia Eagles – Trey Smith – IOL – Tennessee

No. 85 – Tennessee Titans – Jamar Johnson – S – Indiana

No. 86 – New York Jets – Jabril Cox – LB – LSU

No. 87 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Israel Mukuamu – CB – South Carolina

No. 88 – Los Angeles Rams – Andre Cisco – S – Syracuse

No. 89 – Cleveland Browns – Daviyon Nixon – IDL – Iowa

No. 90 – Minnesota Vikings – Brevin Jordan – TE – Miami

No. 91 – Cleveland Browns – Chazz Surratt – LB – North Carolina

No. 92 – Green Bay Packers – Robert Hainsey – OT – Notre Dame

No. 93 – Buffalo Bills – Trey Sermon – RB – Ohio State

No. 94 – Baltimore Ravens – Quincy Roche – EDGE – Miami

No. 95 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Davis Mills – QB – Stanford

No. 96 – New England Patriots – Kenny Gainwell – RB – Memphis

No. 97 – Los Angeles Chargers – Benjamin St. Juste – CB – Minnesota

No. 98 – New Orleans Saints – Tommy Togiai – IDL – Ohio State

No. 99 – Dallas Cowboys – Ben Cleveland – IOL – Georgia

No. 100 – Tennessee Titans – Chuba Hubbard – RB – Oklahoma State

No. 101 – Detroit Lions – Milton Williams – IDL – Louisiana Tech

No. 102 – San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Jones – EDGE – Pittsburgh

No. 103 – Los Angeles Rams – Deonte Brown – IOL – Alabama

No. 104 – Baltimore Ravens – Hamilcar Rashed – EDGE – Oregon State

No. 105 – New Orleans Saints – Michael Carter – RB – North Carolina