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Final 2021 NFL mock draft: 49ers make controversial pick at 3, Justin Fields slips

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The 2021 NFL draft finally has arrived.

It will be tough to beat the 2020 draft’s unexpectedly great theater, but five quarterbacks populating the upper reaches of this year’s Round 1 absolutely creates some early drama.

In our final mock draft, we have a few big developments — namely two possible first-rounders – Alabama C-OG Landon Dickerson and LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr. – sliding out of Round 1 because of medical concerns. 

How much trade action will there be? That’s also a huge storyline as we plunge head-first into Round 1. Happy holidays, fellow draft nerds. We’ve made it.

(Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)
(Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence

This pick has been made for months. The Jaguars' second first-rounder, however, remains a mystery worth sticking around for.

2. New York Jets

BYU QB Zach Wilson

We’ll see if this is the right call, but Jets fans are going to be treated to an exciting brand of ball. And perhaps a few hiccups along the way.

3. San Francisco 49ers (from Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans)

Alabama QB Mac Jones

Willing to go down with the ship here. If Trey Lance is the selection, at least we can say that Lance was our initial guess when the trade first went down.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Florida TE Kyle Pitts

Not sure there’s a connection to the Julio Jones trade reports and this pick, other than the fact that Pitts could help offset Jones’ potential loss. Pitts is truly a unicorn.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase

We’re told it’s Mike Brown’s call here — he’s the owner, duh — and that Chase is the favorite. The Bengals can double back for OL help in Round 2 and beyond.

6. Miami Dolphins

Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle

There has been chatter Miami could try to slide up for Pitts or move back (and still get DeVonta Smith). But here they add some serious juice and another YAC threat for Tua.

7. Detroit Lions

Penn State LB Micah Parsons

Another fork-in-the-road pick. Passing up Penei Sewell would be tough, so we’ll hedge and say new Lions GM Brad Holmes trades back and still gets Parsons. Just a wild hunch, nothing more.

8. Carolina Panthers

North Dakota State QB Trey Lance

Following the Teddy Bridgewater trade, the Panthers likely wouldn't be taking Lance (with Sam Darnold on board), but they have been in trade-down mindset for a bit, so perhaps another team slides up to grab him or Justin Fields here.

9. Denver Broncos

Oregon OT Penei Sewell

Landing Bridgewater eliminates the need to draft a QB here. Sewell could be the starting right tackle Day 1, with Ja’Wuan James doing nothing of note the past two seasons.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II

A safe, smart, sound pick to upgrade a defense. This has felt too obvious for some time, which scares us a tad. But it’s the right call.

11. New York Giants

South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn

Head coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham hope Horn is the Gamecocks’ next iteration of Stephon Gilmore, whom Judge coached in New England.

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Alabama WR DeVonta Smith

Wild: The Eagles have drafted one Bama player (WR Freddie Milons, 2002) since 1996. Smith would be a fascinating addition to Jalen Hurts’ offense.

13. Los Angeles Chargers

Northwestern OT-OG Rashawn Slater

Maybe they go Christian Darrisaw if size is an issue, but the Chargers have good intel on Slater, who stood out at left tackle in 2019.

14. Minnesota Vikings

Miami EDGE Jaelen Phillips

Danielle Hunter doesn’t have a new contract or a running mate. Phillips could solve issue No. 2 if Mike Zimmer is convinced he can stay dialed in.

15. New England Patriots

Ohio State QB Justin Fields

Being honest here, this scenario still feels super unlikely. Fields likely goes a few slots higher via trade up, with the Patriots, Bears, WFT and Saints all lurking.

If Justin Fields falls in the first round, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots could scoop him up. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
If Justin Fields falls in the first round, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots could scoop him up. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

16. Arizona Cardinals

Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II

Trading up for a receiver would not be a stunner. Newsome makes sense and fills a need, but this team feels like it’s up to something (even without a lot of 2021 picks to deal).

17. Las Vegas Raiders

Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins

Trading down and getting Jenkins would be a coup, but GM Mike Mayock won’t veer from his approach just because fans say he reaches with his first-rounders.

18. Miami Dolphins

Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye

This might not be the fireworks pick some are hoping for, but Paye would help boost the rush and fits the profile of what head coach Brian Flores wants.

19. Washington Football Team

USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker

Over Darrisaw? Maybe. Vera-Tucker could at least be tried at left tackle and has more snarl in his game than his OL counterpart.

20. Chicago Bears

Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw

It would stand to reason that the Bears at least try to make a run at Justin Fields if he gets past a certain point. But adding a left tackle isn’t a terrible Plan B.

21. Indianapolis Colts

Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari

The Colts might want a tackle, but the mini-OL run forces a pivot. Ojulari makes a lot of sense for them with his pass-rush upside if his right knee cleared medical checks.

22. Tennessee Titans

Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore

Another team that might want to trade back and get their man (Moore), but a team such as the Saints could be eyeing him, too.

23. Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)

Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh

This would be the brass-balls first round for the Jets, fueled on pure upside. If Wilson and Oweh reach their peaks ... goodness gracious.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood

His Bama teammate, RB Najee Harris, is the chic pick here. But Leatherwood fills a bigger hole.

25. Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams)

Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Urban Meyer says he wants the fastest team he can field. Adding JOK would help get started toward that end on defense.

26. Cleveland Browns

Washington EDGE Joe Tryon

It wouldn’t be shocking to see Tryon land in this range. He’d be a perfect stash-and-groom pick and serve as Jadevon Clowney insurance.

27. Baltimore Ravens

Tulsa LB Zaven Collins

Tough spot here, but I could see the Ravens valuing Collins highly enough. They’ve not shied away from bigger, athletic linebackers with pass-rush value.

28. New Orleans Saints

Georgia CB Tyson Campbell

Sean Payton said “corner is an area that we have to address,” and they do so here with the long, athletic Campbell.

29. Green Bay Packers

Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley

The Packers are known as a fairly conservative team, medically speaking, but Farley might be too good to pass here.

30. Buffalo Bills

Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau

Maybe they try to move down here, but Rousseau could be an interesting project. They were middle of the pack in pass rush metrics.

31. Ravens (from Kansas City Chiefs)

Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman

Trading back is a possibility, and TCU S Trevon Moehrig also makes sense. But Bateman could give Lamar Jackson a real outside threat.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Alabama RB Najee Harris

It’s possible they take Harris as a luxury pick or go with his Bama teammate, DT Christian Barmore, as a high-upside flier. The champs get richer either way.

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