2021 NFL mock draft: 1st-round projections with big surprises

Luke Easterling
·2 min read

It’s a bit early in the process to truly be shocked by any mock draft, but there are still a handful of early surprises among some of the most recent projections out there.

The latest 2021 NFL mock draft from The Sporting News is one example, though it’s no surprise that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence takes the No. 1 overall spot, heading to the New York Jets.

No, the surprise picks start at No. 2, where this projection has the Washington Football team passing on Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields for Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.

Parsons is a stud prospect in his own right, for sure, but is he worth the No. 2 pick, especially considering Washington’s need for a franchise left tackle, and the recent demoting of Dwayne Haskins?

It’s also surprising to see the Atlanta Falcons pass on Fields at No. 4 overall, instead opting for Miami edge defender Gregory Rousseau. Rousseau fills a more immediate need, but passing on the chance to take a blue-chip quarterback process who could sit and learn behind Matt Ryan is an odd decision, especially with a new head coach coming this offseason.

Other top prospects who go later than expected in this mock include a trio of talented pass-catchers: LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase (No. 7 overall, Miami Dolphins), Alabama’s wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (No. 25 overall, Chicago Bears), and Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman (No. 32 overall, Kansas City Chiefs).

One surprising name most fans might not expect to see in the first round is Pitt edge defender Patrick Jones II, who climbs the board all the way up to the Miami Dolphins at No. 14 overall in this mock.

To check out the full first-round forecast at The Sporting News, click here.