As Tom Brady and the Tampa Buccaneers celebrate their Super Bowl victory the Sideline Squib staff takes some time and has a little fun projecting a way too early mock draft! These five writers were placed in a randomizer along with the teams to determine who will be drafting for which franchise. Below is the first take mock draft from the team based off of personal research and intuition. As all predictions are merely predictions we hope you enjoy our first take of the 2021 mock draft and follow up with us as we break down individual players reports in the near future as we dive deeper into the collegiate incoming class.
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#1 - Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawerence, QB, Clemson
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Draft season is officially upon us. This off-season will be vastly different than in years past. No official combine, and no NFL sponsored events. Makes this year's mock drafts even more "hot-takey" than normal. Not this mock draft though. Well, at least not the first pick.
Trevor Lawerence is and has been the bonafide #1 prospect for the last 3 years. I refuse to believe that Urban Meyer and the new Jaguars front office want to be known for passing on Trevor Freakin' Lawerence. This pick has already been submitted to Roger Goodell. At least it should be.
#2 - New York Jets - Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
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There are two debates here, keep Sam Darnold and go with a different position, or draft a quarterback. Then there is the debate of Zach Wilson vs. Justin Fields. And to me it's Wilson. Wilson has the prototypical size for a quarterback, has the arm strength to make every throw, the speed to evade defenses, but most importantly he has shown to be a good decision maker only throwing 3 interceptions in 2020 while being 3rd in the country in yards.
#3 - Miami Dolphins - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
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The Dolphins ended the 2020 season on a sour note. They controlled their own playoff destiny in week 17, yet fell short of the post-season. However, they find themselves in a unique position of picking in the top 5 of the 2021 draft despite their success. Penei Sewell directly replaces Laremy Tunsil, who they traded to Houston for the #3 overall pick, plus Houston's 2021 first-round pick. Sewell is a franchise left tackle that is primed to protect the "blind-side" of any NFL franchise's Quarterback. Tua, being a left-handed passer, makes for a unique situation in which Sewell could potentially play at right tackle instead. Protecting all sides of the franchise QB is a top priority.
#4 - Atlanta Falcons - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State University
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Justin Fields is the future of the Atlanta Falcons at the quarterback position if he falls to the number four overall pick. The Falcons do have Matt Ryan under contract through the 2023 season, however there is a potential out after the 2021 season, not to mention the ongoing rumors the Falcons could be willing to shop Ryan this off season. Ryan isn't getting any younger, and won't be getting any better with Julio Jones heading towards the end of his career. Fields will be the best quarterback prospect the Falcons will come across for quite some time. The Falcons have a lot of needs, but Fields is the clear answer if he is still on the board at number four.
#5 - Cincinnati Bengals - Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
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The Bengals offensive line ranked as the 31st best offensive line in 2020 by Pro Football Focus; that is...less than ideal. It is an absolute NECESSITY for the Bengals to build up the offensive line around Joe Burrow, especially after the catastrophic knee injury that he suffered during the 2020 season. Jonah Williams will be back in 2021 and Cincinnati should be targeting multiple offensive linemen in free agency. An addition of a talented offensive lineman in free agency and Rashawn Slater in the draft would go a long way in building up a good offensive line to protect Joe Burrow.
#6 - Philadelphia Eagles – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Louisiana State University
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The Eagles receivers aren’t shaping out to be what Head Coach Doug Pederson and Executive Vice President Howie Roseman had hoped for after another disappointing 2020 season. The 2019 Fred Bilentnikoff award winner and nations top receiver will have fresh legs and a rested body after opting out of his Junior season under the coronavirus stipulations. Standing six feet tall, 210 pounds (unofficial) the 20 year old receiver that led all of college football in receiving yards and touchdowns will be expected to, join a team in much need of star talent and, produce day one. Current rostered wide receivers, Alshon Jeffery (31 years old/12MM 2022) and DeSean Jackson (35 years old/9 MM 2022) are due to see their tenure in Philly wash away and in turn reward the front office with a sizable amount of cap space next season. With the glaring needs on both sides of the ball Roseman has his options, although a talent like this doesn’t come around too often. Get your long term receiver and give your young quarterback a weapon to build a strong chemistry with from the get go. In my opinion, Wentz could be moved before he is due his signing bonus this year in early March for pieces to fill voids on the defensive side of the ball. Whichever way the coaching staff heads with their quarterback room, neither Carson Wentz nor Jalen Hurts would be upset about this pick.
#7 - Detroit Lions - DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
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The Lions will most likely be losing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones this offseason to free agency. This offense will be in desperate need of playmakers for Jared Goff to get the ball to. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has had doubts because of his size, but his talent is undeniable, and too good to pass on here.
#8 - Carolina Panthers - Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
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Patrick Surtain II stands at 6' 2" and weighs 202 pounds. He played 15 games as a true freshman on a LOADED Crimson Tide defense. He would go on to start all three years at Alabama. There are a few cornerbacks to choose from at #8 for Carolina. As long as Carolina selects either Surtain, Jaycee Horn, or Caleb Farley, the Panthers will have come away with an elite addition to their pass defense that allowed the 13th most passing yards per game in 2020. The offensive side of the ball has been stellar and should continue to trend in that direction in 2021 under Matt Rhule. However, the Panthers play in a division loaded with pass catchers. Slant Boy, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Calvin Ridley to name a few. They desperately need to find a replacement for James Bradberry who they lost in free agency to the Giants. Drafting Surtain II will go a long way in doing just that.
#9 - Denver Broncos - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
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This pick is simply taking the best player available. Micah Parsons has the talent to be a top 3 pick, and Vic Fangio loves having freak athletes run his defense. It's a pick made in heaven for Fangio.
#10 - Dallas Cowboys - Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
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What hurt the Dallas Cowboys most in 2020 was not losing Dak for the season, it was losing Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La'el Collins. It was not having a replacement for Travis Frederick. It was the offensive line that was the biggest issue. Alijah Vera-Tucker is extremely versatile that can play four different spots on the line.
#11 - New York Giants – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
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What was the smart move for young athletes deemed top of their class when it came to playing this season or opting out for safety concerns? The answer was clear for Farley as he opted out the 2020 season to prepare and train for the NFL. The former wide receiver converted to defensive back primarily lined up on the outside but when tasked to slide in he succeeded just as well. The 3 star wide receiver recruit coming out of high school turned himself into a stellar coverage corner landing himself a first team All-ACC selection in 2019 with the most votes of all defensive backs. Size and recovery speed are a few strengths Farley possesses, which will fit in nicely to the Giants defensive scheme. Facing off against receivers such as Terry McLaurin, CeeDee Lamb, and incoming rookie JaMarr Chase twice a year these traits will come in handy in shutting down the opposition. With work still to be done overall within the Giants organization, locking down a star corner is the first step in stopping the rest of the NFC East from scoring so much while a healthy Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley get back to work.
#12 - San Fransisco 49ers - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota St.
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Jimmy Garoppolo has shown that he is not the long term answer. Trey Lance will not be ready to start day one after sitting out most of 2020, and not playing top level competition in college. San Francisco gives Lance the opportunity to sit for a year or two before being ready to be the guy for the foreseeable future.
#13 - Los Angeles Chargers - Christian Darrisaw, OT, Va Tech
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Just look into the eyes of that man right there! Seriously. Christian Darrisaw looks like a man possessed, with one goal on the mind, punishing whoever gets in his way.
For the second year in a row, the Dolphins and Chargers have similar draft needs. Just as the Dolphins drafted who they hope to be their franchise quarterback's best friend, so do the Chargers of LA. Darrisaw started as a true freshman for the Hokies and never looked back. He showed tremendous growth at the position from year to year, reaching his peak in 2020. He showed his size, length, and mobility throughout the season and looks every bit the part of an NFL franchise left-tackle. New head coach Brandon Staley and Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert have to be ecstatic to land such a load here at 13.
#14 - Minnesota Vikings - Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
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The Vikings pass rush was one of the worst in the NFL in 2020, and despite sitting out 2020 Rousseau is a day one impact rush defender.
#15 - New England Patriots – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
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While Bill Belichick sat back in his Nantucket compound during Super Bowl Sunday he watched his former quarterback tight end tandem win yet another ring, this time without him. While I fully expect Belichick to address the quarterback situation with a veteran via trade/free agency this leaves the door open during the draft to land a top 15 player. One of the highest draft picks in the Belichick era, assuming a quarterback is secure, should be the best player available. Kyle Pitts could instantly be placed in the realm of talks associated with the words “Kelce, Kittle, Waller”. When week one comes in 2021 Pitts will still only be 20 years old, while still growing into his 6 foot 6 inch 246 pound frame! Most athletes with these size indicators leave room for error when it comes to speed, quickness, agility, and flexibility, Pitts on the other hand looks as if he floating down the field in his own special world. Exceptional route running of the NFL tree throughout his college career will bind the learning curve during his first professional practice. Whoever the quarterback may be in New England this upcoming season, Pitts will instantly become their favorite target in route to a special rookie season, mark my words.
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#16 - Arizona Cardinals - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
This one is just too much fun. Jaylen Waddle paired up with Kyler Murray seems too good to be true. The dynamic playmaker from Alabama will thrive in Kliff Kingsbury's system. The offense is designed to get the ball to its elite weapons as quickly as possible and let them work in space. Coincidently, that's precisely what Waddle thrives at. He's one of the most electrifying players with the ball in his hands. He fits the system as a "do-it-all" chess piece that Kingsbury can move all over the field to create mismatches. As long as Kyler Murray remains a rushing threat and DeAndre Hopkins forces double teams, the ancillary weapons in Arizona are going to be left one-on-one. That's bad news for cornerbacks standing across Jaylen Waddle.
#17 Las Vegas Raiders - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
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The Raiders have seen their offense mold into a core they may see over the next few years with the exception of the man under center. If coach John Gruden and draft guru slash general manager Mike Mayock can lock down a quarterback for the future via trade, this pick in the middle of the first round becomes very one sided. That side being defense. Owusu-Koramoah may not be the best overall linebacker in this draft class thanks to the freak athlete in Michah Parsons, previously selected, but he is the most athletic. Hybrid skills at both linebacker and safety adds that extra value to a lackluster defense that needs a field general manning the middle of the field week in and week out. With a creative defense coordinator this young linebacker can shine and allow his playmaker abilities to show front and center.
#18 - Miami Dolphins - Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida University
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The Miami Dolphins desperately need some offensive weapons to add around their young franchise quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. Toney might not be the best wide receiver prospect on the board, but he fits in very well with the current Dolphins receiving group. Toney dealt with some drop issues at the senior bowl during practice week, but Toney only had 3 from 155 targets. Toney would be a good complimentary piece to Davante Parker and Mike Gesicki. Toney would be a very good slot receiver in the right offense and the Dolphins would be a great fit, especially with all the draft capital the Dolphins have.
#19 - Washington Football Team - Terrace Marshall, WR, Louisiana State University
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Terrace Marshall is the prefect fit for an outside weapon that Washington desperately needs to go alongside Terry Mclaurin. Washington made the playoffs in 2020-21 and is a quarterback away from being super bowl contenders. The quarterback issue should be addressed during the offseason via trade, or free agency, allowing the team to capitalize on the available talent of Marshall filling a big void of a redzone target.
#20 - Chicago Bears - Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
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The Chicago Bears got a good boost over the last stretch of the 2020 season from offensive guard Cody Whitehair. Whitehair's emergence should help improve the offensive line headed into 2021 with James Daniels occupying the other guard position after his return from injury. Offensive tackle is the primary position that needs addressing for the Bears and Jalen Mayfield would be a great fit to plug in at right or left tackle. Mayfield has great size, plenty of athleticism, and showed phenomenal growth from year one to year two as a starter at Michigan. Mayfield would be a solid selection for the Chicago Bears to strengthen their offensive line.
#21 - Indianapolis Colts - Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina University
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The Indianapolis Colts have a very good all around team with a few missing holes. One of the major needs is a quarterback, but expect them to address this need with the available salary cap they have and go after a bigger name option via trade. Horn is a very edgy player, which is exactly what the Colts defense needs. Horn is a great press corner and has big upside with a great value this late in the first round. Horn will make a big impact on the Colts defense right away.
#22 Tennessee Titans - Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami University
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The Titans want to solidify their defensive line and the once number one rated recruit, according to espn, will fit in nicely to the Tennessee defensive line. Once retired from the UCLA program and a year removed from football, Phillips came back with a vengeance when transferring to Miami and earning First Team honors. This type of mindset is exactly what Coach Mike Vrabel and the defense coaching staff will be looking for as the later end of the draft approaches them.
#23 - New York Jets - Najee Harris, Running Back, Alabama
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The Mike Lafluer offense is predicated off the play action game, but the only way to have an effective play action game, is with a productive running back. The Jets lack weapons throughout the offense, and why not help your rookie quarterback with an elite talent at running back.
#24 - Pittsburgh Steelers - Tevin Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State University
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The Steelers are aging quickly as a team and this pick will be the the start of a rebuilding process the Steelers need to start addressing. With Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, this would be a good year to get Jenkins a lot of reps. Ben gets rid of the ball very quick, which should help Jenkins boost his confidence as a rookie. Jenkins will be going from one pass happy offense, to another which should also help with the transition to the next level.
#25 - Jacksonville Jaguars - Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan
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Urban Meyer has his work cut out for him as the new head coach in Jacksonville. He'll need to put his pride aside and ignore the bright yellow "M" on Kwity Paye's helmet when reviewing his game film. Paye is a certified stud. He can be considered a game wrecker and will force opposing offensive lineman and running backs left in pass protection to be aware of where he is at all times. Kwity Paye is football's version of the popular "meme stock" GameStop. His ceiling is *literally* "TO THE MOON". Paye uses his strong hands, elite athleticism, and relentless energy to eliminate angles and create havoc in the backfield. As Meyer looks to establish a winning culture in Jacksonville, he will need leaders in the locker room to help keep players accountable. He will have two pillars of leadership after the first round in the 2021 NFL draft in Trevor Lawerence and Kwity Paye.
#26 - Cleveland Browns - Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
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The Cleveland Browns had an exciting 2020 season, but have one glaring hole on their team at the linebacker position. Current starters Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips, and BJ Goodson were very average in their performance in 2020 and none of those players have the necessary athleticism to be elite in the NFL. Zaven Collins has a very rare skill set, with his ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage. Collins would be a day one starter on the Cleveland Browns defense and fills a massive hole in the Browns linebacker core.
#27 - Baltimore Ravens - Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State University
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For a team that loves to run the ball, losing stud offensive guard Marshall Yanda should naturally put this run heavy offensive in a "catch up" phase from the start. Luckily for Baltimore this five star recruit who helped lead Ohio State to the third best scoring offense in the country and fifth best rushing offense falls right in their lap. With football bleeding throughout his family tree, Davis has an extremely high standard of excellence in community service, education and athletic distinction according to the U.S. Army Glenn Davis Award counsel. Although these traits may see as a question to the average fan, you will soon learn that this talents and skills will be put to the test of a John Harbaugh coached team. Rule one, protect Lamar Jackson, rule two, create large holes for J.K. Dobbins to run though. Check & Check.
#28 - New Orleans Saints - Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF
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Outside of Marshon Lattimore, the New Orleans Saints lack any other long term options at the cornerback position. Patrick Robinson is 33 years old and has one year left on his contract. Janoris Jenkins is 32 years old and has two years remaining on his contract. Aaron Robinson has the ideal size and skill set to be an effective slot corner in the NFL and should be able to step into that position in year one. The Saints pass defense ranked 16th in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) in 2020 and selecting Robinson towards the end of the first round would help to improve that ranking.
#29 - Green Bay Packer - Rashod Batemon, WR, Minnesota
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Green Bay doesn't make the same mistake two off seasons in a row. Get Aaron Rodgers help. Batemon, after opting out the 2020 season has prepared all year long for the NFL. As a top reeiver in the nation the six foot two wide receiver has the potential to make a big splash and be the perfect one two punch with fellow receiver Davante Adams.
#30 - Buffalo Bills - Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
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Matt Milano is a pending free agent following the 2020 season and the Buffalo Bills defense struggled throughout 2020 and particularly in the games that Milano missed due to injury. With Josh Allen's impending extension in the next couple of years, the Bills will need to start saving some money elsewhere. Should they decide to let Milano walk, drafting his replacement in the first round of the NFL draft seems like a likely move the front office would make. Nick Bolton fits that mold perfectly. With Bolton's ability to drop into coverage and attack between the tackles, Bolton has the skill set to be effective on all three downs. Having a starting linebacker core with Tremaine Edmunds and Nick Bolton would be a great pairing to set up the Bills defense to be good for the foreseeable future.
#31 - Kansas City Chiefs - Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
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Listen, I'd be lying to you if I was fully recovered from the Super Bowl performance by my beloved Kansas City Chiefs. I also understand the GLARING need for offensive line help. It's actually more and more unlikely that the Chiefs use another "luxury" pick in the first round after last season's selection of Clyde Edwards-Helaire garnered so much criticism.
The fan in me just can't pass up this opportunity to add another playmaker to this already stacked offense. Rondale Moore is a threat to take it to the house with every touch. Andy Reid loves versatile players with elite YAC ability and Rondale has that and MOORE. It would actually require fewer characters to tell you what Moore can't do versus what he's proven he can do. His ideal fit is one where he's able to utilize his unique skill-set by getting the ball by any means necessary. His usage will need to be calculated to help preserve his health, given his size and injury history. I have faith in Andy Reid as a play-caller/designer to dial-up easy touches for someone as dynamic as Moore is. The Chiefs have excelled at putting immense pressure on opposing defenses. Drafting this Boilermaker will allow Reid and Bieniemy to turn up the heat even Moore...
#32 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama.
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The Buccaneers will add another weapon to help protect their ageless quarterback, in Tom Brady. Leatherwood wasn't the most productive while he was at Alabama, but he has the size and athleticism to be able to move around on the offensive line if need be. With Leatherwood's versatility he probably wouldn't be starting right away, but it would allow him to learn from the veterans and gain some reps at backup positions when injuries occur. Leatherwood is a very good depth piece to the offensive line of the Buccaneers.