2021 NFL Mock Draft: Will the Pats land a QB in Round 1?


Maybe this is, for you, the worst-case scenario. I'd call it realistic. But, really, it's January. No one has any smidgen of a hint of an inkling of an idea of how 32 first-round picks will play out. So why not begin to explore the infinite number of possibilities with this one? Even if it, y'know, ticks you off?The Patriots are currently scheduled to pick 15th in the 2021 draft. The optimist's view: That's one of the earliest selections Bill Belichick has had in his Patriots tenure, and he doesn't miss early. The pessimist's view: That's late enough to miss out on the very best players at quarterback, receiver and tigh -- why, God? Why?It's true, there's a real possibility that the Patriots aren't able to upgrade their receiving corps with one of the top-three pass-catchers in the class by picking at 15th. And, yes, there's a chance the top four quarterbacks are gone by then as well.The Patriots could always trade up, but we don't have them doing that here . . . and, still, they land a very good player. It just might not be the player you wanted.Let's get to the mocking.

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So what if he and Clemson teammates laid an egg in the College Football Playoff semifinal? There's no way the Jaguars are going anywhere else but here.


Here's where it starts to get interesting. Whatever the Jets choose -- whether it'll be Fields or BYU's Zach Wilson -- could hinge on who heads to Jersey to take the reins as head coach. If it's a read-option coach who wants to lean heavily on a quarterback running game, Fields should be the choice. If there's more under-center work, if it's a bootleg-style offense, then maybe it's Wilson.

Can't go wrong either way. Fields has been as accurate as anyone and showed against Clemson that he has plenty of toughness to boot.



This isn't reactionary. This isn't recency bias. Tua Tagovailoa simply hasn't grabbed the starting job in Miami convincingly enough to warrant the Dolphins passing on another promising passer here. Because they don't know if the top-five pick on their roster already is a franchise guy, their best bet is to increase their odds of hitting on one.

Taking Wilson is a bit of a risk, sure. But in a league where traits at the quarterback position seem to matter more than ever . . . he has 'em. With this selection, the team has two young quarterbacks who can battle it out for the starting gig. Whoever loses will still have enough value somewhere to earn a decent return in a trade. It won't be the same return the Dolphins invested initially, but if that's the cost of giving themselves the best possible chance of finding a franchise quarterback, it's a price they should be willing to pay.


Atlanta shouldn't hesitate to turn this one in. Matt Ryan is The Guy for right now, but he'll be 36 to start next season. And, yes, he's on the books for huge cap figures over the next two seasons. But this is a bad team. They will not be a good team over the next two years no matter who they take at No. 3. Time to start planning ahead.

Lance can sling it and he'll provide tons of value with the ability to threaten defenses with designed quarterback runs. The rebuild is on, and they have their centerpiece in Lance.


With the top of the draft going quarterback crazy, the best offensive lineman in the class fell into the laps of the offensive-line desperate Bengals. Joe Burrow was battered as a rookie in part because his protection was atrocious. This selection should give him a dependable blind-side protector for at least the next half-decade.


This is another spot where a team with a young quarterback on the roster could dip back into the passer pool. But Mac Jones just doesn't possess the same kind of physical talent the top four in the class do.

No matter. They'll end up with the top receiver in the class instead. Pair him with a strong tight end room and a burner like 2020 rookie Jalen Reagor, and Jalen Hurts will have all kinds of weapons around him to help him succeed.



Kenny Golladay might get the franchise tag. If he doesn't, he'll have plenty of lucrative offers to end up elsewhere. Marvin Jones is closer to the end than the beginning. Detroit was needy enough at this spot that it signed Mohamed Sanu.

In Waddle, they get a burner and a punt-returner extraordinaire. No matter who is coaching the team next season, Waddle will be a welcome addition for Matthew Stafford and this offense.


This fit just makes too much sense at the moment. Maybe it's because Carolina has been so synonymous with good linebacker play over the course of the last decade. But regardless of the linebacker lineage there, Parsons is one of the best players in the draft. He plays a position that may not carry the value it once did, but he'll be Matt Rhule's defensive quarterback for the foreseeable future as soon as he lands in Charlotte.



Here's another team that has a young quarterback on the roster. But is he the quarterback? Mac Jones doesn't seem like he'd have the traits sought by John Elway so Denver passes on a passer here and goes with one of the two best corners in the draft. Pedigree. Performance. Physical skill. Surtain looks destined to be a top-12 pick.


A rare athlete who reportedly ran a sub 6.5-second three-cone drill at Ann Arbor, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder will be able to do whatever the Cowboys ask him to do up front. Guys his size and with his athletic ability don't usually fall out of the top 10.


Joe Judge should get a pretty good recommendation from his old boss Nick Saban on this one. Smith is atypically slight at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds. But his combination of explosiveness, soft hands and savvy route-running make him worthy of going this early.


Richard Sherman has basically come out and said that it doesn't look like the Niners will be able to keep him with plenty of other (younger) teammates to pay this offseason. Farley probably won't be able to fill that void immediately, but he brings size and range to the position that should give Kyle Shanahan a more than capable player at that all-important spot to start the 2021 season.


Hunter Henry is set to hit free agency. After playing on the tag in 2020, the Chargers can't be all that thrilled about the prospect of tagging him again and giving him the raise that would come with that designation. At the same time, they'd probably like to hand their young quarterback another playmaker at the position who can work all areas of the field and be the young money-down pass-catcher Justin Herbert grows up alongside.


Minnesota basically has one year remaining with Kirk Cousins before he becomes a candidate to be released for cap purposes. Mac Jones would give Minnesota a Cousins-like presence on the bench for 2021 before taking over the following season, allowing the Vikings all kinds of money to spend elsewhere on the roster.

Jones is accurate and an anticipatory thrower. While he's not the most athletic quarterback available, he's athletic enough to run Gary Kubiak's bootleg play-action scheme in which Cousins has posted big numbers.


This isn't what you were hoping for. You know it. I know it. But look at how the board fell. All five of the top quarterbacks are gone. All three of the top receivers are gone. The top tight end in the class is gone. The top two corners are gone. The top edge defender is gone.

Miami edge Greg Rousseau could be an option here, potentially. Maybe receivers Rashod Bateman of Minnesota or Rondale Moore of Purdue would make sense. But there's risk associated with all three of those in terms of how they'll translate to the next level. 

A seemingly safer option here would be the 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle out of Blacksburg, who is a mauling run-blocker and plenty athletic to be considered a long-term starter at left tackle. Darrisaw dominated good opponents when facing Miami and Pitt this year, and according to Pro Football Focus, he did not allow a sack this season.

Like it or not, tackle is a need for the Patriots. Follow the dominos: Joe Thuney could depart via free agency; Michael Onwenu could kick inside to left guard; Marcus Cannon's future is uncertain. And not only is there little clarity at right tackle for 2021, there's little clarity at left tackle for 2022 and beyond as Isaiah Wynn is scheduled to become a free agent after next season. Darrisaw has been starting at left tackle since his true freshman season, but perhaps he could play on the right side next season and then move back to his natural spot. 

The Patriots will get a good player at No. 15. It just might not be a player at the position you want. 


Son of flip-phone wielding Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee has all kinds of God-given ability. At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and unafraid of contact, he looks like the kind of big-bodied corner that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph would love to have at his disposal. With Patrick Peterson getting close to the end, Horn's addition would be a welcome infusion of youth.


With length for days, Rousseau is the kind of prospect who could have Jon Gruden salivating. That's the Jon Gruden who famously said, "It's hard to find a great one," when it comes to pass-rushers. That was after trading Khalil Mack. In Rousseau, Gruden will have someone who can spell Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby and who might be able to develop into a "great one" given his traits.


The Dolphins have tried to turn Raiders cast-off Lynn Bowden into a regular for them in 2020, but in drafting Toney they'll have themselves a souped-up version. He was used all over for the Gators -- including Wildcat quarterback -- and could be a weapon in the slot with DeVante Parker outside and Mike Gesicki running down the seams. Zach Wilson will be thrilled. Or Tua Tagovailoa. Either one.


He opted out of the 2020 season, but he's still one of the top tackles in the class. So long as Ron Rivera and his staff believe Slater can get back to his 2019 form -- and better -- after a year off, he looks like a plug-and-play guy. He didn't allow a pressure in any of his final five games of 2019, per PFF. Slater could even kick inside if needed. The only question now is who will Slater be protecting?


Mini-run on tackles here. Nothing mini about Cosmi, though, who's a good athlete and checks in at 6-foot-7 and about 300 pounds. Might be a little reminiscent of Nate Solder for some. But he plays with a mean streak that'll eventually make him a favorite in his new city. The Bears are going to need to protect their post-Mitch Trubisky franchise passer. Now they just have to figure out who that'll be.


He's undersized, but like his dad, he's a very good athlete with good coverage instincts. The 5-foot-10, 184-pounder will be part of a young corner duo in Jacksonville (along with 2020 No. 9 overall choice CJ Henderson) that'll help prop up a porous defense. Matching up Trevor Lawrence with a talented pass-catcher at this spot will be enticing, but there will be talent to be had in later rounds.


The Colts are another one of those teams that need to start prepping for whatever's next at the quarterback spot. Philip Rivers clearly isn't the long-term answer so they might as well take a shot on someone early. Trask has his flaws. They were on full display in the Cotton Bowl when he threw three picks in the first quarter. But he has enough arm, and he's accurate enough to warrant consideration here.


A freaky athlete at 6-foot-5, 257 pounds, his life as a rookie will be made a lot easier by the fact that he'll be playing opposite one of the game's premier pass-rushers. He's raw, but if protection schemes slide away from Oweh, he's gifted enough to make an impact right away in a brutally tough AFC North.


A gift dropped from the heavens, like a Ryan Tannehill play-action deep ball. Bateman is one of the top wideouts in this class despite not having game-breaking speed. He'll be able to fill the shoes of Corey Davis (set to hit free agency) and give Tannehill a big (6-foot-1, 210), physical target to align opposite A.J. Brown. 


Set to lose Shaq Barrett via free agency, the Bucs could use a shiny new (and cost-effective) edge rusher to prop up their defense. Enter Ojulari, who was named defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl with three sacks against Cincinnati. He checks in at just 240 pounds, but Todd Bowles will have no problem figuring out how to use him.


Lamar Jackson needs some help. The running game in Baltimore is tremendous. That's established. But Hollywood Brown hasn't lived up to his first-round billing. And after him, there's not much to get anyone excited about the Ravens passing game. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Marshall gives Jackson someone with some size to win jump balls and compete in contested situations. 


The Jets went out and got their franchise quarterback with the No. 2 pick. With this pick, general manager Joe Douglas is trying to get a trigger man for his defense for the foreseeable future. Bolton isn't huge, he checks in at under 240 pounds, but he can hit. Douglas wants to win with physicality, and Bolton brings exactly that.


With Alejandro Villanueva about to hit the free-agent market, makes sense for the Steelers to nab a tackle here. All those clean pockets from which you've seen Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones distribute these last few years? Leatherwood played a big role in making those happen. He was named a first-team AP All-American and first-team All-SEC honoree this season. 


This is the new age linebacker in the NFL. At 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, Owusu-Koramoah is plenty physical but will make his money in coverage on backs and tight ends.


The Bills have to be able to cover if they're going to keep up with the Chiefs in the AFC. They were 24th in the league in success rate allowed, and 19th in success rate allowed per dropback. Campbell is a former five-star recruit with the size (6-foot-2, 190) to match up with a variety of targets. The Bills aren't bad in the secondary with Tre'Davious White and Levi Wallace. But you can never have too many corners.


Aaron Rodgers needs some help. OK, maybe not. He's about to be named MVP. But that's made all the more impressive by the fact that outside of Devante Adams, his weapons are pedestrian. Moore plays like he's shot out of a cannon. While he doesn't have much of a frame for Rodgers to target at 5-foot-9, he'll be a catch-and-run monster and a vertical option out of the slot in Matt LaFleur's offense. A very good passing game just got even better.


Time to protect that half-a-billion-dollar investment you've made at the quarterback position, Kansas City. Davis isn't going to excite the masses, but at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds and with enough athleticism to handle being put on the move, he'll help Patrick Mahomes sleep a little easier at night.

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