With the NFL heading into the quarter point of the 2020 season, it’s time for another new Sporting News mock draft. With college football slowly returning to full Power 5 force, some prospects are still staying out, fully focused on the 2021 NFL Draft. Others are using the opportunity to compete to try to build their stock.
From SN’s previous mock draft in late August, much has changed. The biggest things is some teams look much better or much worse than we thought they were, which shakes up the prospects’ destinations based on talent and need.
Working from an order determined by our latest SN NFL power rankings — with second-half adjustments based on what 14 teams would make the playoffs — here’s how we see the first round playing out in 2021.
NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD:
Top 50 players in the 2021 draft class
NFL mock draft 2021
1. New York Jets
- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (6-6, 220 pounds)
With Sam Darnold breaking down and not living up to his first-round promise, even with limited help, the Jets will find it hard to pass on this generational talent, a can’t-miss QB prospect in the echelon of Andrew Luck and Joe Burrow. Lawrence isn’t just a great passer and athletic, he’s an accomplished leader and winner, just like those other two.
MORE: The 10 best fits for Trevor Lawrence in the NFL
2. New York Giants
- Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (6-5, 325 pounds)
The Giants may consider QB, too, but are less likely to do so with Daniel Jones only in Year 2. Sewell’s strong, sturdy presence would fit nicely operating opposite 2020 first-rounder Andrew Thomas at right tackle, helping to better block for Saquon Barkley and better protect Jones.
3. Denver Broncos
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (6-3, 233 pounds)
Fields is getting his desired second college starting season to help build his stock and push Lawrence, confirming the dynamic dual threat has his eyes on the draft. The Broncos should have eyes on him after John Elway has seen Drew Lock unable to stay healthy. Fields has much higher upside to help bridge the gap to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
MORE: Each team’s worst-ever NFL Draft regret
4. Atlanta Falcons
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (6-6, 260 pounds)
The Falcons keep having issues rushing the passer so they should want to try again for Dan Quinn or whoever else is coaching them in 2021. The ACC and the Hurricanes are playing, but Rousseau didn’t really need to play to boost his stock after posting 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his lone significant and final season under defensive-minded head coach Manny Diaz.
5. Minnesota Vikings
- Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (6-3, 225 pounds)
The Vikings extended Kirk Cousins until 2022 but their undesired results so far in 2020 is slowly leading them down this path. Lance, a Minnesota native, has decided not to play for a bigger, non-FCS school with the mighty Bison program that produced Carson Wentz sidelined this season, with the exception of a showcase game this weekend. Lance keeps gaining steam thanks to the impressive physical and athletic skills he displayed in his first full season of action (2,786 yards passing, 28 TDs, zero INTs, 1,100 yards rushing, 14 more TDs). His name is only a few letters different from Trevor Lawrence and there is little dropoff.
6. Cincinnati Bengals
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama (6-2, 203 pounds)
Surtain, with his pedigree, size and ballhawking skills, has the potential to be a true shutdown player in Lou Anarumo’s defense. The Bengals added former Vikings Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander to their secondary in free agency but need to consider a replacement for disappointing 2016 first-rounder William Jackson, unsigned for 2021.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
Micah Parsons, ILB, Penn State (6-3, 245 pounds)
The Eagles invested a lot at defensive line and secondary in the offseason, but ther linebacker weaknesses have been glaring, desperate for a rangy, do-everything cleanup man. Parsons, ahead of his opt-out from conference play which stands through the Big Ten returning. had 109 total tackles including 5 sacks last season for the Nittany Lions.
8. Miami Dolphins (from Texans for Laremy Tunsil)
The Dolphins gave DeVante Parker a new deal and like Preston Williams working opposite him in Chan Gailey’s spread offense, but they are thin behind them after not investing their ample draft capital at the position in 2020. Chase, opting out of LSU’s action, is coming off a big final season with Joe Burrow (84 catches, 1,780 yards, 20 TDs) and would be an excellent additional big playmaker to pair with Tua Tagovailoa.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State (6-5, 311 pounds)
The Jaguars strongly considered linebacker, edge rusher and secondary in the 2020 draft, so it follows they would be more into this defensive position in 2021, looking to give third-round rookie Davon Hamilton a strong complement. Wilson easily could have come out and gone in the first round this year coming off a highly disruptive 5-sack season for the Seminoles.
MORE: The biggest busts in NFL Draft history
10. Miami Dolphins
Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest (6-5, 275 pounds)
The Dolphins also need some more help for Brian Flores’ front in getting after the quarterback. The explosive Basham is looking to build on his 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss for the Demon Deacons last season.
11. Los Angeles Chargers
- Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama (6-6, 310 pounds)
The Chargers signed Bryan Bulaga for right tackle but stuck with weak Sam Tevi, a pending 2021 free agent, on the left side. Leatherwood would be a fine replacement and upgrade. He is an elite athlete who can become a top overall blocker should he keep working on his strength and technique.
12. Carolina Panthers
Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State (6-1, 194 pounds)
The Panthers have been shaky at cornerback after losing James Bradberry to the Giants in free agency with Donte Jackson disappointing. Wade has nice size and like former Buckeyes teammate Jeffrey Okudah, is active and instinctive in coverage.
13. Washington Football Team
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (6-1, 175 pounds)
Smith and Jaylen Waddle should be next year’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III in the first round. Smith has picked up from he left off last season, posting 68 catches for 1,256 yards and 14 TDs, making his big share of big plays all over the field in another loaded receiving corps. Washington desperately needs to pair Terry McLaurin with a dynamic No. 2 who can stretch the field.
14. Detroit Lions
Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas (6-7, 300 pounds)
The Lions locked up solid left tackle Taylor Decker, who just turned 27, before his unrestricted free agency in 2021. But they have been shaky on the right side where free-agent addition Haalipoulivaati Vatai has been hurt and needed at guard. Cosmi is a massive prospect for the position with nimble feet to match.
15. New Orleans Saints
Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh (6-2, 290 pounds)
The Saints have some concerns up front in 2021 with Sheldon Rankins, Mario Edwards Jr. and Margus Hunt heading into free agency. Twyman, with some Aaron Donald upside out of Pitt, too, ripped through offensive lines for 10.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 2019.
MORE: The biggest steals in NFL Draft history
16. Indianapolis Colts
- Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech (6-2, 207 pounds)
The Colts will need to address cornerback early next year after not doing so in 2020. Farley has developed into a sound cover man and uses both his hands and big frame well to make plays on the ball. He made a wise decision to opt out after what turned out to be a big final season with the Hokies.
17. Cleveland Browns
Dylan Moses, ILB, Alabama (6-3, 235 pounds)
The Browns did their best to replace Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey on the second level, but with other positions taking precedence this year before a flyer on Jacob Phillips, they should be in the market for an active, rangy playmaker next year. Moses, rangy, instinctive and ideal for Joe Woods’ defense, easily would have gone in the 2020 first round without the knee injury that wiped out his entire 2019 season in Tuscaloosa. Two seasons ago, Moses posted 86 tackles with 3.5 sacks.
18. Arizona Cardinals
Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State (6-4, 315 pounds)
The Cardinals need to replace J.R. Sweezy, a pending 2021 free agent, to further upgrade the offensive line in front of Kyler Murray and Kenyan Drake. Davis is ideal to be an elite right guard next to rookie right tackle Josh Jones and already has showed plenty in the way of paving the way for the Buckeyes’ prolific rushing attack before deciding to opt in back into the season.
19. Las Vegas Raiders
Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama (6-3, 310 pounds)
The Raiders drafted well at defensive end and cornerback and invested heavily in linebacker in free agency. The missing ingredient is a linchpin up front against the run. Barmore combines strength and power with great technique and is someone to watch to keep shooting up the board.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams for Jalen Ramsey)
Jevon Holland, S, Oregon (6-1, 200 pounds)
The Jaguars have some of the worst safety play in the NFL, not far removed from the great combination of Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church. Holland is coming off a very impressive season where he had 4.5 tackles for loss and four interceptions. He has nice size and a well-rounded skill set to play either spot.
21. San Francisco 49ers
- Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern (6-4, 315 pounds)
Trent Williams was acquired as a short-term fill-in for retiring Joe Staley. The 49ers need an athletic, versatile lineman to consider on the left side and Slater, who will remain out of his final season with the Wildcats, is quickly rising up the boards with his all-around skill set getting more attention.
22. New England Patriots
- Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford (6-1, 184 pounds)
The Patriots have Stephon Gilmore but Jason McCourty is aging at 33 and fading on the other side ahead of his free agency. Adebo, who offers great ball skills and instincts to develop into a shutdown player. He has had 8 interceptions in only 22 college games.
MORE: Most painful NFL Draft slides of last 20 years
23. Chicago Bears
- Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (5-10, 182 pounds)
It’s getting clear Allen Robinson won’t be re-signing with the team in 2021. The Bears then need more pop in their offense and it would be hard to pass on up Waddle as they likely try push their offense forward with a new QB.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Creed Humphrey, G/C, Oklahoma (6-4, 312 pounds)
The Steelers need to think about their interior line next to David DeCastro with Matt Feiler heading into free agency and Maurkice Pouncey aging. Humphrey combines athleticism with a mean hand punch. He remains a first-rounder after opting to return to school.
25. Dallas Cowboys
- Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia (6-2, 185 pounds)
The Cowboys could use big cornerback help after not adequately replacing Byron Jones in 2020. Campbell is a very quick, athletic prospect for his frame with the ability to develop into a technically sound shutdown type.
26. Tennessee Titans
- Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (5-9, 180 pounds)
The Titans just hit on A.J. Brown but took a major whiff with pending free agent Corey Davis. Moore is a versatile athlete and an explosive catch or carry waiting to happen. He would be a dynamic big-play replacement to complement Brown.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jay Tufele, DT, USC (6-3, 305 pounds)
The Bucs are getting one more season from aging and still effective Ndamukong Suth but they need to think of getting a younger explosive, disruptive presence at the position. Tufele posted 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss with the Trojans last season.
28. Buffalo Bills
- Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State (6-5, 257 pounds)
Jerry Hughes is getting up there and Trent Murphy is a pending free agent for Sean McDermott. Oweh is the classic freakish athlete in the Jason Pierre-Paul mode who has the potential to be an explosive and productive rusher for a long time.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Chris Rumph II, EDGE, Duke (6-3, 225 pounds)
Rumph is another ACC pass rusher trying to build on a strong 2019 season with his league in action, trying to catch up to the opting-out Rousseau. Rumph posted 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in a big jump from a solid debut season in Durham. The Ravens should be interested in Rumph in this range as Matthew Judon remains difficult to sign for the long term.
BIGGEST NFL DRAFT STEALS:
Round 4 | Round 5 | Round 6 | Round 7
30. Green Bay Packers
- Walker Little, OT, Stanford (6-7, 309 pounds)
The Packers lost Bryan Bulaga in free agency and haven’t re-signed David Bakhtiari in his contract year. Little, who opted out of his final season with the Cardinal, is a solid all-around tackle with great natural size.
31. New York Jets (from Seahawks for Jamal Adams)
- Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (6-5, 239 pounds)
The Jets, regardless of making a quarterback change, need to clean up from the overrrated mess of Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin with this dynamic wide receiver hybrid. Pitts is dominating already SEC play this season with 8 catches, 170 yards and 4 TDs — in one game vs Ole Miss — with rising QB prospect Kyle Trask.
32. Kansas City Chiefs
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (6-2, 210 pounds)
The Chiefs will be looking for wideout help to support Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman for Patrick Mahomes with Sammy Watkins and DeMarcus Robinson unsigned for 2021. Bateman, who opted back in for 2020, put up 60 catches for 1,201 yards and !1 TDs working opposite Buccaneers draft pick Tyler Johnson in 2019.