Dave Birkett's 2021 NFL mock draft 1.0: Will Detroit Lions take QB at No. 7?

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press

The Super Bowl is over, free agency is a month away and the quarterback shuffling has begun.

Which quarterbacks go where will have a significant influence on what teams do in April's 2021 NFL draft, but now seems like as good a time as any for my first mock draft of the season.

The Detroit Lions had their first set of draft meetings under new general manager Brad Holmes, and this year's top prospects are coming into focus.

A lot will change over the next two months, but for now the draft looks strong on the offensive side, particularly at quarterback, wide receiver and offensive tackle.

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Here's my first mock draft, taking a crack at how the first round plays out April 29:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Lawrence has been a lock to go No. 1 since his magnificent freshman season at Clemson.

2. New York Jets

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson looks down field against Texas State, Oct. 24, 2020, in Provo, Utah.

I still think the Jets will make a run at Deshaun Watson, but whoever owns the No. 2 pick is taking a quarterback. 

3. Miami Dolphins

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

I am not projecting trades in my early mocks, but if I were, the Dolphins would be a prime trade-down candidate.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Fields has been too picked-over as a prospect. He was a very good player in college, and the Falcons need to start planning for their future.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

One of Sewell or Slater should be the pick here as the Bengals must protect their investment in Joe Burrow.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

DeVonta Smith won the Heisman, but Chase is the best receiver in this class.

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7. Detroit Lions

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

North Dakota quarterback Trey Lance is tackled at the goal line by James Madison linebacker Dimitri Holloway in the first quarter Jan. 11, 2020 in Frisco, Texas.

Don’t think for a second the Lions are out of the quarterback market because they acquired Jared Goff. The extra draft capital they have is nice, but it won’t mean a thing if they don’t get the quarterback position right. Lance has the tools to be a star. He’s not ready to play yet, and in Detroit, he can sit a season and take over in 2022.

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8. Carolina Panthers

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The Panthers will get a quarterback somehow this offseason, perhaps in the draft. But in this scenario, none of the top four fall to No. 8; and no one in the next group is worth taking this high.

9. Denver Broncos

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Another team that misses out on a quarterback in my no-trade mock. The Broncos took receivers with their top two picks last season. Here, they get the best defensive player in the draft.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami 

This might be a tick high for Rousseau based on his college production, but the traits are undeniable and Dallas will need some pass-rush help if Aldon Smith leaves in free agency.

11. New York Giants

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith scores a TD against LSU in 2019.

There are three potential top-10 receivers in this class. The Giants would be wise to get one for young quarterback Daniel Jones.

12. San Francisco 49ers

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

This cornerback class does not get high marks, but the 49ers have a lot of work to do in their secondary, and Farley has the size and length to fit that defense.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Nothing wrong with getting stud quarterback Justin Herbert another weapon.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

I don’t see Anthony Harris returning, and even if he does, Harrison Smith is 32 years old.

15. New England Patriots

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama 

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16. Arizona Cardinals

Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia

If Haason Reddick bolts in free agency after his breakout 12.5-sack season, Ojulari would be a nice replacement.

17. Las Vegas Raiders

OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

The Raiders whiffed on Trent Brown in free agency. Darrisaw could be his replacement.

18. Miami Dolphins

CB Patrick Surtain Jr., Alabama

Surtain’s father made three Pro Bowls with the Dolphins as a player, so this would be a homecoming of sorts.

19. Washington

OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

New Washington GM Martin Mayhew made two picks in the bottom half of the first round as Lions GM. He took offensive linemen both times.

20. Chicago Bears

DL Christian Barmore, Alabama

This is not a good year to need interior defensive line help in the draft, but the Bears will be in that position if Akiem Hicks is a cap casualty. 

21. Indianapolis Colts 

DE Kwity Paye, Michigan

Kwity Paye celebrates a sack in 2019.

If the Colts trade for rehab project Carson Wentz without surrendering this pick, they can use it to add more firepower to their defense.

22. Tennessee Titans 

CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

Desmond King will be a free agent in March and Adoree’ Jackson next year. It makes sense for the Titans to start planning ahead in the secondary.

23. New York Jets

DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

After taking a quarterback at No. 2, the Jets can get new coach Robert Saleh pass rush help.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

RB Najee Harris, Alabama

Harris seems like a Steelers running back.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

OT Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State

Radunz was practice player of the week at the Senior Bowl, and the Jaguars cannot let Lawrence take a beating as a rookie.

26. Cleveland Browns 

LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

The Bucs showed in the Super Bowl how much value there is in a good linebacking corps. Owusu-Koramoah will not get out of the first round.

27. Baltimore Ravens

C Landon Dickerson, Alabama

Dickerson might not be ready to start the season after tearing his ACL, but the Ravens’ problems at center were on display in the playoffs.

28. New Orleans Saints

WR Kadarius Toney, Florida

Coach Sean Payton should have fun scheming up plays for Toney.

29. Green Bay Packers

WR Rondale Moore, Purdue

Aaron Rodgers rejoices, though Moore’s size and injury history are a concern.

30. Buffalo Bills

CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State

Wade was not at his best in the weird 2020 season, but looked like a first-round pick as a slot defender in 2019, and will be solid in that role in the NFL.

31. Kansas City Chiefs

OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

Eric Fisher won’t be back until late in the 2021 season if at all. Taking best offensive lineman available seems like a wise idea.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

Another piece for coordinator Todd Bowles to wreak havoc with on defense.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.