By John Burke ‘23
With the 2021 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, football fans across the country are clamoring to know which young prospect will be taken by their teams. With one of the most notable quarterback classes in recent memory coupled with a deep wide receiver corps, teams with offensive needs are salivating at the chance to draft some of these potentially franchise altering weapons. In addition, cornerbacks reign supreme, with a plethora of edge rushers coming in the second half of the first round.
Pick 1 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB – Clemson
The best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, maybe even Peyton Manning. A bonafide superstar with a championship pedigree, and a slam dunk choice for coach Urban Meyer in his first season in the professional ranks.
Pick 2 – New York Jets – Zack Wilson, QB – BYU
The New York Jets have been in a state of perpetual mediocrity for the last several seasons, and
the best place to change the fortunes of a team is at the QB position. After dealing former 3rd
overall pick Sam Darnold in the offseason, the Jets will look to kickstart their rebuild with the
smart, savvy, polished prospect out of Brigham Young University.
Pick 3 – San Francisco 49ers – Mac Jones, QB – Alabama
Though prospect Justin Fields may have higher upside, 49ers’ coach Kyle Shanahan will value
Jones’ championship winning resume and quick decision making in the pocket. Jones may not be
a star athlete, but the 49ers talented roster is in win now mode and Jones will plug in
immediately and help San Francisco contend.
Pick 4 – Atlanta Falcons – Justin Fields, QB – Ohio State
Veteran Matt Ryan might have a few more seasons left in the tank, giving the Falcons a nice
opportunity to develop Fields under a former MVP winner. Maybe Fields will eventually be able
to hold onto a 28-3 lead.
Pick 5 – Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OL – Oregon
Protecting Joe Burrow should be priority number one for the Bengals, and Sewell is a monster
who should be protecting his blindside for years to come.
Pick 6 – Miami Dolphins – Ja’Marr Chase, WR – LSU
Tua Tagovailoa may not have had the most impressive rookie campaign, but it’s still too early to
close the book on him. Adding a top tier receiver should help the young quarterback’s prospects
for his sophomore season.
Pick 7 – Detroit Lions – Patrick Surtain II, CB – Alabama
The Lions need all the help they can get on the defensive side of the ball, and many have Surtain
II as the best defensive player in this draft. The Alabama cornerback should continue a legacy of
dominant Crimson Tide players who continue to excel on Sundays.
Pick 8 – Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater, OL – Northwestern
If the Panthers are serious about new quarterback Sam Darnold, they will need a young talent to
protect him. If they are going to run it back with Teddy Bridgewater, they will need a young
talent to protect him. Either way, the offensive line is going to be a priority in Charlotte.
Pick 9 – Denver Broncos – Micah Parsons, LB – Penn State
Micah Parsons is a do it all linebacker and a freak athlete; pairing him in Denver with Von Miller will invigorate the defense and give John Elway & company a great young piece for years to
Pick 10 – Dallas Cowboys – Kyle Pitts, TE – Florida
The Cowboys have glaring needs all over the defensive side of the ball, but leave it to Jerry
Jones to pick up another weapon to put the Cowboy’s offense in the spotlight so all eyes are on
Pick 11 – New York Giants – Christian Darrisaw, OL – Virginia Tech
Protecting Daniel Jones is the name of the game for the Giants, plain and simple. They can’t be a
competitive team if their young quarterback is continually running for his life.
Pick 12 – Philadelphia Eagles – Jaylen Waddle, WR – Alabama
The Eagles are desperate for offensive weapons, but not for a lack of trying. Maybe this
will finally be the year they draft a successful pass catcher for young quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Pick 13 – Los Angeles Chargers – Kwity Paye, DL – Michigan
The Chargers should be going for the best available player here, and Paye was a monster in
college. Pairing him on the defensive line with Joey Bosa could inspire fear in AFC West
quarterbacks for years to come.
Pick 14 – Minnesota Vikings – Jaycee Horn, CB – South Carolina
The best defensive player on the board at this point, Horn’s 6’1”, 206 pound frame measures
great for the pros, and he projects to step into an already good Minnesota secondary and sure up
any issues they may have.
Pick 15 – New England Patriots – Trey Lance, QB – North Dakota State
Having made a big splash in free agency, it seems unlikely that the Pats go for another wide
receiver such as Devonta Smith. Instead, Bill Belichick goes for a quarterback, hoping he has
found the one to replace Tom Brady and to finish out his illustrious career competing for yet
another Super Bowl ring.
Pick 16 – Arizona Cardinals – Caleb Farley, CB – Virginia Tech
Some had Farley as the best cornerback in this draft before he underwent a procedure on his
back. The Cardinals take a shot on the 6’2” defender, hoping he can help against the onslaught of
talented receivers in the NFC West.
Pick 17 – Las Vegas Raiders – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE – Miami (FL)
Jon Gruden elects for a pass rusher here, hoping Phillips is someone who can slow down QBs
like Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert as the Raiders try to win their division.
Pick 18 – Miami Dolphins – Zaven Collins, EDGE – Tulsa
With their second pick of the first round, Miami looks to improve on the defensive side of the
ball. Collins being available at 18 works out perfectly for the Dolphins, as the freak athlete with
good size is a prospect any team would be happy to have.
Pick 19 – Washington Football Team – Devonta Smith, WR – Alabama
The Heisman trophy winner finally comes off the board, after slipping further that many
expected him to. Washington can not pass up on the value of getting Smith at 19, and elect to
take him over a defensive prospect.
Pick 20 – Chicago Bears – Greg Newsome II, CB – Northwestern
Chicago is heartbroken that Smith went one pick before them, and with the top five quarterbacks
all gone, the Bears decide to keep Newsome playing in Chicago while bolstering their already
Pick 21 – Indianapolis Colts – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL – USC
The rich get richer as the Colts get to improve its already phenomenal offensive line. With the
retirement of Anthony Castonzo, Vera-Tucker will have the chance to be a week one starter who
will hopefully help Carson Wentz resurrect his career behind this brick wall of pass protection.
Pick 22 – Tennessee Titans – Carlos Basham Jr, EDGE – Wake Forest
The Tennessee Titans are going to be right in thick of the AFC South race next season, and
upgrading a premium position to go after opposing quarterbacks is always a good choice for a
Pick 23 – New York Jets – Teven Jenkins, OL – Oklahoma State
They got their franchise QB at two, now they’ll prioritize protecting him with the 320 pound
monster out of Oklahoma State.
Pick 24 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE – Georgia
The Steelers have several needs, including running back and secondary help; however, they opt to pair a young pass rusher up with TJ Watt in hopes of terrorizing the young quarterbacks of the
Pick 25 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Kadarius Toney, WR – Florida
When you draft the best quarterback prospect in a decade with the first overall pick, finding a talented receiver for him to develop with is never a bad idea.
Pick 26 – Cleveland Browns – Christian Barmore, DL – Alabama
Cleveland has one of the more talented rosters on both sides of the ball, but the interior defensive
line is an area they could look to improve. Alabama has a history of talented defensive linemen,
and Barmore will look to continue this tradition.
Pick 27 – Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman, WR – Minnesota
Lamar Jackson might be the most explosive playmaker in football, but his lack of receiving
targets shows. Bateman offers good size for a receiver at 6’2”, and might be exactly what the
young quarterback needs.
Pick 28 – New Orleans Saints – Kellen Mond, QB – Texas A&M
Jameis Winston will be the starting quarterback in New Orleans next season, but it is unlikely
that he is the future of the franchise. Mond offers coach Sean Payton a nice project to develop
while their talented roster will continue to compete at a high level.
Pick 29 – Green Bay Packers – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB – Notre Dame
The hybrid linebacker will be able to play all over the field, being solid in both run and pass
Pick 30 – Buffalo Bills – Najee Harris, RB – Alabama
The Bills do not have many weaknesses, but the run game is an area they can definitely improve.
The Alabama standout will be very pleasing to Buffalo fans and fantasy football players alike.
Pick 31 – Kansas City Chiefs – Jayson Oweh, EDGE – Penn State
The reigning AFC Champions need help in the trenches on both sides of the ball, but elect to go
defense over offense and bring in the massive pass rusher with huge upside.
Pick 32 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Asante Samuel Jr, CB – Florida State
Tampa Bay is bringing back every starter from both sides of a Super Bowl winning roster, but
improving depth in the secondary will help them against the talented receiving corps of the NFC
Graphic Courtesy of USA Today