Free agency always changes things.
I traditionally begin my mock drafts the first week of November. This means I'm almost five months in. I'm starting to hit my groove, and now we finally get to see a glimpse of what these general managers have up their sleeves.
I'm pretty sure the Patriots aren't drafting a tight end this year. I mean, they're signing the top two free agents (Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith) at the position for a combined $87.5 million and drafted two (Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi) in 2020.
This sort of information will come in handy six weeks from now when it's time to project 250-plus picks.
The next half-dozen mock drafts will surely look different. Until then, enjoy the reshuffling of the deck.
The NFL draft has become a nice appetizer before our main course in September. A mock version of said draft is meant to educate, and even entertain. At very least, it helps you pass the time.
This is an attempt at identifying the best players available in this season's draft class, and which teams they match up well with considering the updated draft order (according to NFL.com).
The closer we get to draft day, the more I attempt to match what teams will actually do with their draft picks as opposed to what I believe they should do.
Last season, I was the fourth most accurate (out of 109) NFL draft prognosticator according to The Huddle Report (most accurate in print). I'm seventh over the past five years.
Follow me on Twitter @UTEddieBrown so we can continue the conversation.
Here's my updated 2021 NFL mock draft, now through three rounds with compensatory picks:
1. Jacksonville (1-15) — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson, Jr.
I know this is probably boring, to the point that some are going the contrarian route and saying Lawrence isn't the best quarterback in this draft class. He is though and Urban Meyer isn't taking someone else here. The Heisman runner-up underwent surgery on his left shoulder almost a month ago in California. He remains there — when he's not enjoying a low-key bachelor party in Vegas — and expects to be 100 percent by the time NFL training camps open. Top needs: QB, OT, Edge
2. N.Y. Jets (2-14) — Zach Wilson, QB, BYU, Jr.
Everything I'm seeing indicates the Jets are trying to move Sam Darnold, which means a quarterback will be the pick here, unless they flip the booty gained from Darnold (and a bunch of other assets) for Deshaun Watson. This selection would almost certainly be a part of that deal. There's already been "anonymous" reports questioning Wilson's character and leadership. On the flip side, some teams reportedly have Wilson above Lawrence on their draft board. 'Tis the season. I find his arm talent and improvisational skills equally impressive. I'm also not buying the character or leadership issues at this point. Top needs: QB, Edge, DB
3. Miami from Houston (4-12) — Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU, Jr.
It's scary that a 10-win team with such a good coach and plenty of young talent also has four picks in the top 50. The Dolphins are desperate for wide receivers who can get open. A lot of people are forgetting how good Chase, the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner, actually was during the Tigers national title run as a 19 year old. Remember, Justin Jefferson was considered Robin to Chase's Batman. Top needs: WR, OL, LB
4. Atlanta (4-12) — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio St., Jr.
I imagine new GM Terry Fontenot will want to target Matt Ryan's heir apparent, especially if Wilson or Fields are still available. Last time the Falcons had a top-five pick, they took Ryan third overall in 2008. Fields' heroic performance in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson is more indicative of the player's potential than his questionable decision making against Northwestern and Indiana. Top needs: Edge, S, RB
5. Cincinnati (4-11-1) — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon, Jr.
It could be seen as a personal affront to Joe Burrow if owner/GM Mike Brown doesn't pick an offensive lineman in the first round. Sewell being available here would be a best-case scenario for the Bengals. The 2019 Outland Trophy winner — he opted out last season due to the threat of COVID-19 — isn't flawless, but his ceiling is as high as they come (he'll only be 21 in October). Sewell produced the single highest graded season as a sophomore Pro Football Focus ever recorded for a Power 5 offensive tackle. Top needs: OL, CB, DL
6. Philadelphia (4-11-1) — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama, Jr.
Is it me or does it seem like the Eagles are always in need of help at receiver? I don't suspect Waddle's broken ankle will impact his draft stock much. He's already healed and was off to an incredible start his junior season — 25 receptions, 557 yards and four touchdowns in four games — after showing promise as a sophomore receiver and return man. A healthy Waddle is the most explosive all-around athlete at receiver in this class. Top needs: WR, CB, LB
7. Detroit (5-11) — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn St., Jr.
New head coach Dan Campbell is going to find the cupboard completely bare at linebacker. Parsons is another elite prospect who opted out of the 2020 season, citing "the potential risk to the health and well-being" of his young son. I haven't come across any bitten knee caps in studying Parsons, but I know he makes plays all over the field, tackles anybody within reach and occasionally some who aren't. Top needs: WR, LB, Edge
8. Carolina (5-11) — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota St., So.
The Panthers missed out on Matthew Stafford and are currently trying to pry Watson away from the Texans. A showcase game against Central Arkansas didn't really do Lance's draft stock any favors, but there's too much arm talent and playmaking ability to deny here. A successful pro day last Friday will go a long ways in repairing any damage the lack of a 2020 season may have caused. Top needs: OL, LB, CB
9. Denver (5-11) — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama, Jr.
Ronald Darby is a solid addition at cornerback, but they need more at the position. Surtain, a former five-star recruit, has NFL DNA (father was an All-Pro corner who played 11 seasons) and prototypical traits. Top needs: CB, Edge, OT
10. Dallas (6-10) — Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech, Jr.
Injuries and age are starting to erode what was once the Cowboys greatest strength, it's offensive line. It will need to be addressed to protect their investment in franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. However, the defense was plain awful in 2020. Farley is a physical press corner with elite athleticism and size (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) who didn't play last season due to COVID. Top needs: OL, DB, DT
11. N.Y. Giants (6-10) — DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama, Sr.
Golden Tate was recently released in a cost-cutting move. The Heisman winner took his game to another level after Waddle was sidelined in 2020 — he had 1,300 yards on 72 receptions and 19 touchdowns in his last eight games. The only blemish is his size. Top needs: OL, WR, Edge
12. San Francisco (6-10) — Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern, Sr.
Regardless of who the quarterback is, the interior offensive line needs to be upgraded. Slater opted out this season due to COVID, but handled the mighty Chase Young as a junior while playing left tackle and didn't allow a single sack his last season. He's versatile and talented enough to play all five offensive line positions. He did nothing during his pro day to hurt himself. Top needs: OL, DB, DT
13. L.A. Chargers (7-9) — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida, Jr.
Signing All-Pro center Corey Linsley is a step in the right direction for a very bad offensive line. Slater would be very hard to pass on if he were available here. There's plenty of smoke surrounding Pitts being selected in the top 10. The Mackey Award winner is a matchup nightmare. He's definitely more receiver than complete tight end, but he's a valuable chess piece either way — his 17.9 yards per reception and 12 touchdowns in only eight games are indicative of that. Top needs: OL, CB, Edge
14. Minnesota (7-9) — Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan, Sr.
Coach Mike Zimmer didn't hold back when he called his defense the "worst one I've ever had." Paye is already an impressive run defender against the spread offense, which is becoming increasingly important in the NFL, and there are athletic indicators he will continue to improve as a pass rusher. This could also be an offensive tackle after the release of Riley Reiff. Top needs: DL, S, OL
15. New England (7-9) — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama, Jr.
It was clear Cam Newton isn't the long-term answer at quarterback last season. Jones certainly benefitted from a great supporting cast in Tuscaloosa, but he's an accurate, decisive passer who finished third in the Heisman Trophy race and earned positive reviews for his week of practices at the Senior Bowl. Top needs: QB, OL, DT
16. Arizona (8-8) — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina, Jr.
All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson is a free agent and will likely want another big contract. Horn — his father Joe was a Pro Bowl wide receiver — is a very talented, uber-aggressive press corner with elite speed, good size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and can make plays in run support. Top needs: CB, OL, DT
17. Las Vegas (8-8) — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC, Jr.
The Raiders are hemorrhaging talent on the offensive line after trading Trent Brown and releasing Rodney Hudson. Vera-Tucker was one of the best offensive tackles in the country, but could also shine on the interior in the NFL. Top needs: DT, OL, CB
18. Miami (10-6) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame, Sr.
Jerome Baker needs a running mate at linebacker to help the Dolphins defense become an elite unit. Owusu-Koramoah is an explosive athlete who can make plays from sideline-to-sideline. The ACC Defensive Player of the Year also won the Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker) and was a consensus All-American. Top needs: WR, OL, LB
19. Washington (7-9) — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech, Sr.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Taylor Heinicke isn't the quarterback of the future for the Football Team — or Ryan Fitzpatrick for that matter — but there's not a QB on the board worthy of this pick. Darrisaw could definitely find his way into the top 15 if he tests as well as I believe he will during the draft process — his pro day is March 26. Top needs: QB, WR, LB
20. Chicago (8-8) — Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota, Jr.
Allen Robinson has been franchised, but the Bears still need more talent at receiver. Bateman is a big receiver (6-2, 210) with great hands and an excellent route-runner who was eighth in the country with 20.3 yards per catch in 2019. He also just ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at the EXOS combine. This would allow Darnell Mooney to work primarily out of the slot as well. Top needs: QB, WR, Edge
21. Indianapolis (11-5) — Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia, So.
I expected the Colts to be aggressive seeking their next quarterback in the trade market and they didn't disappoint. The next biggest priority is to continue building their pass rush. Ojulari was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (the nation's top defensive player) with 8.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and 25 quarterback hurries. He's only scratching the surface of his talent. Top needs: Edge, WR, CB
22. Tennessee (11-5) — Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, S, TCU, Jr.
The Titans will need to address their pass rush (only 19 sacks in 2020) and secondary (after releasing Kenny Vaccaro and Malcolm Butler) in a major way this offseason. Moehrig-Woodard's skillset is scheme-proof. He's a hard hitter who led all safeties in pass breakups in each of the past two seasons. Top needs: DL, CB, WR
23. N.Y. Jets from Seattle (12-4) — Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami, Jr.
If past is prologue, once head coach Robert Saleh has his quarterback situation figured out, he'll focus on building a pass rush. Phillips stepped up in Gregory Rousseau's absence after transferring from UCLA. The former highly-touted recruit is a relentless pass rusher who produced eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 10 games as a Hurricane. Top needs: QB, Edge, DB
24. Pittsburgh (12-4) — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama, Sr.
The Steelers are facing difficult decisions at almost every major position after this season, but it was clear they were a one-dimensional offense down the stretch. Harris has evolved into an all-around threat. Of course, he's a powerful runner with his size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds), but he's also developed into a great receiver out of the backfield and he's very capable in pass-protection. Top needs: OT, RB, LB
25. Jacksonville from L.A. Rams (10-6) — Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami, So.
Second-year edge rusher Josh Allen was the only bright spot on a dismal pass rush in 2020. It's been almost two decades since a Hurricane defensive end was taken in the first round (Jerome McDougle in 2003). Rousseau finished with 15.5 sacks in 13 games as a redshirt freshman, but opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Top needs: QB, OT, Edge
26. Cleveland (11-5) — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa, Jr.
The Browns need to upgrade their pass rush outside of Myles Garrett, but they also need to improve their linebacker corps. Collins has the size (6-4, 260), athleticism and positional flexibility that will cause most defensive coordinators to drool. He received the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded by the Football Writers Association of America to the top defensive player in college football. Top needs: LB, S, DT
27. Baltimore (11-5) — Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn St., So.
Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon are gone. Oweh is raw, but explosive and talented enough to be a designated pass rusher on day one. Top needs: Edge, WR, OL
28. New Orleans (12-4) — Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue, So.
Emmanuel Sanders' release and no money for free agency might necessitate this move. Moore would be a nice fit opposite a healthy Michael Thomas. An impressive pro day could be enough to boost him into the back-end of the first round. Top needs: QB, DB, WR
29. Green Bay (13-3) — Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern, Jr.
Free agency will shed a little light on GM Brian Gutekunst's draft strategy. The Packers need a strong perimeter defender to pair with Jaire Alexander, especially if Kevin King signs somewhere else and Gutekunst actually just attended the Wildcats' pro day. Sometimes one plus one equals two. Newsome would be an upgrade even if King stays. Top needs: LB, WR, CB
30. Buffalo (13-3) — Jaylen Mayfield, OL, Michigan, Jr.
Offensive tackle Daryl Williams was resigned, but the Bills still need to address the interior. Mayfield features the versatility and athleticism to thrive in offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's system. Top needs: DL, G, CB
31. Kansas City (14-2) — Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame, Sr.
The greatness of Patrick Mahomes has made up for the mediocrity of his offensive line since he became the starter. Joe Thuney was a nice addition at guard. Eichenberg has one of the highest floors at tackle in this draft class. He hasn't allowed a single sack the past two seasons. Top needs: OL, Edge, LB
32. Tampa Bay (11-5) — Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama, So.
Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon will all be free agents. Most analysts considered Barmore a potential first-rounder on upside alone. He gave everyone a glimpse of that high ceiling by dominating Notre Dame and Ohio State — two of the best offensive lines in the nation — in the College Football Playoffs. He would create a dominant duo for the champs in the middle with Vita Vea. Top needs: DT, Edge, LB
33. Jacksonville — Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa, Jr.
34. N.Y. Jets — Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse, Jr.
35. Atlanta — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson, Sr.
36. Miami from Houston — Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio St., Jr.
37. Philadelphia — Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri, Jr.
38. Cincinnati — Levi Onwuzurike, DL, Washington, Sr.
39. Carolina — Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida St., Jr.
40. Denver — Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas, Jr.
41. Detroit — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida, Sr.
42. N.Y. Giants — Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma St., Sr.
43. San Francisco — Elijah Molden, CB, Washington, Sr.
44. Dallas — Joseph Ossai, Edge, Texas, Jr.
45. Jacksonville from Minnesota — Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn St., Jr.
46. New England — Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee, Sr.
47. L.A. Chargers — Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama, Sr.
Leatherwood was a five-star prospect who was a three-year starter at left tackle and right guard. The Chargers would value his versatility and pedigree. Top needs: OL, CB, Edge
48. Las Vegas — Landon Dickerson, OL, Alabama, Sr.
49. Arizona — Creed Humphrey, OL, Oklahoma, Jr.
50. Miami — Richie Grant, S, Central Florida, Sr.
51. Washington — Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU, Jr.
52. Chicago — Kyle Trask, QB, Florida, Sr.
53. Tennessee — Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss, Jr.
54. Indianapolis — Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia, Jr.
55. Pittsburgh — Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota St., Sr.
56. Seattle — Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington, Jr.
Tryon opted out, but his 2019 tape and production — eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 13 games — plus his versatility and explosiveness could make him a borderline first-rounder. Top needs: Edge, CB, C
57. L.A. Rams — Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky, Jr.
Davis needs more seasoning, but he's a playmaker with the athleticism and elite size/strength combo to make a difference soon. He's already an asset in coverage. Top needs: Edge, LB, OL
58. Baltimore — Quinn Meinerz, OL, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Sr.
59. Cleveland — Alim McNeill, DL, NC State, Jr.
60. New Orleans — Patrick Jones II, Edge, Pittsburgh, Sr.
61. Buffalo — Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia, Jr.
62. Green Bay — Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky, Jr.
63. Kansas City — Ronnie Perkins, Edge, Oklahoma, Jr.
64. Tampa Bay — Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina, Sr.
65. Jacksonville — Jackson Carman, OL, Clemson, Jr.
66. N.Y. Jets — Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina, Jr.
67. Houston — Jevon Holland, S, Oregon, Jr.
The Texans entire defense needs to be overhauled, but their defensive backfield especially needs an influx of talent. Holland is a borderline first-round talent with the athleticism and versatility to play almost anywhere in the secondary, but it wouldn't surprise me if he's being slept on because he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Top needs: Edge, DB, LB
68. Atlanta — Ar'Darius Washington, S, TCU, So.
69. Cincinnati — Aaron Robinson, CB, Central Florida, Sr.
70. Philadelphia — Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio St., Jr.
71. Denver — Carlos Basham Jr., Edge, Wake Forest, Sr.
72. Detroit — Tyler Shelvin, DL, LSU, Jr.
73. Carolina — Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama, Sr.
74. Washington from San Francisco — Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky, So.
75. Dallas — Walker Little, OT, Stanford, Sr.
76. N.Y. Giants — Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse, Jr.
77. New England (pick forfeited)
78. L.A. Chargers — Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford, Sr.
Adebo is a first-round talent who is strong in press coverage and smart in zone. He has prototypical size and plenty of speed to keep up with the burners. Top needs: OL, CB, Edge
79. Minnesota — Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida St., Sr.
80. Arizona — Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami, Jr.
81. Las Vegas — Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida St., Sr.
82. Miami — Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio St., Sr.
83. Washington — Jabril Cox, LB, LSU, Sr.
84. Chicago — Deonte Brown, OL, Alabama, Sr.
85. Philadelphia from Indianapolis — Josh Myers, OL, Ohio St., Jr.
86. Tennessee — Quincy Roche, Edge, Miami, Sr.
87. N.Y. Jets from Seattle — Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina, Jr.
88. Pittsburgh — Baron Browning, LB, Ohio St., Sr.
89. Detroit from L.A. Rams — Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma St., Sr.
90. Cleveland — Ben Cleveland, OL, Georgia, Sr.
91. Minnesota from Baltimore — Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M, Sr.
92. Cleveland from New Orleans — Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC, Jr.
93. Green Bay — D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, W. Michigan, Sr.
94. Buffalo — Aaron Banks, OL, Notre Dame, Sr.
95. Kansas City — Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville, Jr.
96. Tampa Bay — Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis, So.
97. New England — Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan, So.
98. L.A. Chargers — Tommy Togiai, DL, Ohio St., Jr.
Togiai is an early down run-stuffer whose non-stop effort tends to wear down opposing offensive lineman eventually. Top needs: OL, CB, Edge
99. New Orleans — Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon, Sr.
100. Dallas — Jay Tufele, DL, USC, Jr.
101. Tennessee — Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame, So.
102. L.A. Rams — Pete Werner, LB, Ohio St., Sr.
Werner's size and athleticism projects nicely into a three-down role in the NFL. Top needs: Edge, LB, OL
103. San Francisco — Chris Rumph II, Edge, Duke, Jr.
104. L.A. Rams — James Hudson, OL, Cincinnati, Jr.
Hudson features an intriguing blend of athleticism and agility. He's raw, but he could develop into a solid starter at right tackle. Top needs: Edge, LB, OL
105. Baltimore — Rashad Weaver, Edge, Pittsburgh, Sr.
106. New Orleans — Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh, Jr.
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