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Kevin Hanson's 2021 NFL Mock Draft (Final)

Updated: Thursday, April 29th

Kevin Hanson's mock drafts have been among the most accurate:
- 2020: #14 of 210 mock drafts
- 2019: #6 of 138 mocks
- 2018: #5 of 137 mocks
The Huddle Report
- #4 in 5-year accuracy (2016-2020)
- Mock Draft Champion in 2015

Less than 24 hours until the start of the 2021 NFL Draft, projecting how the first round will play out is as difficult of an exercise as ever.

Not only will this be the first QB-QB-QB start to a draft since 1999, but it's possible we will see five quarterbacks off the board in the first 10 picks.

While the 49ers have already traded up to No. 3, there's a reasonable chance that teams trade up to draft QB4 and QB5 as well.

Identical to my 2021 NFL Mock Draft 9.0, I have the Broncos and Patriots trading up a few spots for a quarterback. While the Broncos trade up to No. 6 (like Mock 9.0), the Patriots trade up only to No. 13 in this iteration.

It's certainly possible that the Patriots will need to trade up higher than the 13th pick in the real draft.

In both scenarios, however, I believe the prospect I have projected to the Dolphins at No. 9 and the Chargers at No. 15 are prospects they would likely select if they didn't move back a few spots.

With that said, here's my final 2021 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

No prospect is a "sure thing," but mocking Lawrence to the Jags is about as easy as it gets. The wire-to-wire top pick checks all of the boxes with elite arm talent, mobility and leadership. Not only will the Urban Meyer era begin with the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck, but the team has a treasure trove of draft capital -- five top-65 picks and nine picks in the first five rounds (top 170) -- to give the overall roster a major boost.

2. New York Jets - Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Talented enough to be the No. 1 pick in most years, the BYU quarterback's meteoric rise this draft cycle has been similar to Joe Burrow's in last year's draft. While the franchise didn't put a strong supporting cast around Sam Darnold, they are loaded with draft picks over the next two years to put Wilson in a better position (than Darnold had) to flourish. In the 2021/2022 drafts combined, the Jets have 10 picks in the first three rounds -- four first-rounders, three second-rounders and three third-rounders.

3. San Francisco 49ers - Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

The position (quarterback) is a certainty, but the actual quarterback prospect is less of a certainty. A strong case could be made for the upside of Justin Fields or Trey Lance, but Jones remains the most likely pick due to his accuracy and ability to process quickly.

4. Atlanta Falcons - Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The 20-year-old Pitts may be listed as a tight end (as the winner of the John Mackey Award), but he profiles as a player capable of dominating any defender lined up across from him.

5. Cincinnati Bengals - Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

A case could be made for Penei Sewell or Chase, but the Bengals are fortunate that the talent in the OT and WR classes could land them a Round 1-caliber prospect in the second round at the position they don't address at No. 5. Former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson is coming off a 1,400-yard rookie season in 2020, but it was Chase that operated as the alpha in LSU's receiving corps when the duo last played together. In fact, the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner would have been the WR1 as a 19-year-old true sophomore had he been eligible to join last year's talent-laden crop of wide receivers.

6. Denver Broncos - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Proposed trade: DEN sends No. 9 overall and their 2022 second-rounder to MIA to move up to No. 6.

If the Falcons pass on a quarterback and Fields falls to this point, it makes sense for George Paton to move up despite trading for Teddy Bridgewater. Even if 2020 was a bit of an up-and-down season for Fields, who at times tried to do too much, he showed tremendous toughness and leadership in Ohio State's semifinal win over Clemson as he threw for 385 yards and six touchdowns. A two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, the dual-threat quarterback accounted for 78 total touchdowns -- 63 passing and 15 rushing -- while throwing only nine interceptions over 22 games as Ohio State's starter.

7. Detroit Lions - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Wide receiver may be the team's biggest need, but it may be difficult for the team to pass up Sewell, the best player available. While Sewell opted out of the 2020 season, the 2019 first-team AP All-American was dominant in his true-sophomore campaign and won't turn 21 until October.

8. Carolina Panthers - Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

The Panthers used their franchise tag on right tackle Taylor Moton and Russell Okung, last year's starting left tackle, is currently a 32-year-old free agent. Slater's critics may point to his lack of ideal size or length, but if you watch Slater's tape against (former) Ohio State (and current WFT) edge rusher Chase Young, it's easy to project his ability to hold his own outside against NFL-caliber edge rushers. In addition, he has the versatility to play anywhere on the offensive line.

9. Miami Dolphins - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Proposed trade: DEN sends No. 9 overall and their 2022 second-rounder to MIA to move up to No. 6.

Not the biggest receiver, Waddle is one of the most explosive athletes in the draft and extremely dynamic in the open field. With Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs off to the NFL, Waddle started the year with four 100-yard games before breaking his ankle. In fact, Waddle (557 receiving yards) outgained (the eventual Heisman Trophy winner) DeVonta Smith (483) through the first four games of the season.

10. Dallas Cowboys - Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

If the draft plays out this way, the Cowboys would have their choice of defensive prospects and they would make history in the process. Since 1967 (common draft era), the latest the first defensive prospect has ever been selected in a given draft was 1999 (Champ Bailey, seventh).

While the defense needs upgrades at all three levels, Surtain could be the top-ranked defensive prospect on the Cowboys board (as he is on our NFL Draft Big Board). A three-year starter and the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Surtain II is a technically sound and patient cornerback with NFL bloodlines as well as the size (6-2, 208), length and ball skills that new coordinator Dan Quinn will covet.

11. New York Giants - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

While I also considered Kwity Paye here, it's possible that Parsons is the top-ranked player on Gettleman's board at this spot. Parsons is a versatile, three-down linebacker that uses his athleticism (sub-4.4 forty at 246 pounds), length and instincts to impact the game against the run, in coverage and as a blitzer.

12. Philadelphia Eagles - Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

The son of former Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee excels in press-man coverage due to his size, physical playing style (perhaps too physical at times?) and competitive demeanor. He helped his case with a strong performance at South Carolina's Pro Day -- 4.39 forty, 41.5" vertical and 11'1" broad jump.

13. New England Patriots - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Proposed trade: NE sends No. 15 and No. 96 overall to LAC to move up to No. 13.

Bill Belichick has hinted at a willingness to move up a few spots if someone (most likely a quarterback) falls further than they expect. The Patriots re-signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal, but Lance provides Belichick, Josh McDaniels & Co. with a long-term option that may need a year to adjust to the jump in competition. While Lance played only one game in 2020 and all 17 of his career starts were against FCS-level competition, the dual-threat quarterback accounted for 48 touchdowns -- 30 passing and 18 rushing -- and threw only one interception in his collegiate career and he arguably has as much upside as any quarterback in this draft class.

14. Minnesota Vikings - Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (FL)

Trading for Yannick Ngakoue before the 2020 season, the Vikings should have had a dynamic 1-2 pass-rush duo with Danielle Hunter and Ngakoue. Not only did Hunter miss all of 2020, but the Vikings traded away Ngakoue only six games into his Minnesota tenure. Even so, the Ngakoue still led the team with five sacks and Hunter is unhappy with his contract.

It was an atypical journey for Phillips from the nation's top high school recruit to potential first-round pick. After briefly "retiring" from football and transferring to Miami from UCLA, everything came together for the gifted edge rusher as he recorded eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss over 10 games in his lone season in Coral Gables.

15. Los Angeles Chargers - Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Proposed trade: NE sends No. 15 and No. 96 overall to LAC to move up to No. 13.

The Chargers hit a home run with Justin Herbert, reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but the team's offensive line has been a perennial issue. In fact, no team ranked lower than the Chargers (32nd) in PFF's end-of-season offensive line rankings.

Signing Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi in free agency is a good start to address the problem. In a strong offensive tackle class, it wouldn't be a surprise if they used this pick (or their second-rounder) on a tackle. Darrisaw is a three-year starter that had his best season as a junior.

16. Arizona Cardinals - DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Other than his slight frame (6-0, 166), what is not to like about Smith? An outstanding route-runner, the sure-handed receiver has been been uber-productive the past two years.

If Smith had declared last year, he would have joined Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy as first-round receivers. This year, he'll join teammate Jaylen Waddle as a first-rounder. Despite the star-studded receiving corps in Tuscaloosa, it was Smith that led the team in receiving yards (1,256) and touchdowns (14) last season. This year, the Heisman Trophy winner really stepped up with the injury to Waddle as he led the FBS in receptions (117) and yards (1,856) and was second in touchdowns (23).

Continue to 2021 NFL Mock Draft 10.0: Picks 17-32

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