Post-Super Bowl Mock Draft: QBs fly off the board early

Photo illustration by Nick Roy / theScore

With the 2020 campaign officially concluded, it's the ideal time to look ahead to one of the most exciting days on the NFL calendar.

Below, theScore's Mike Alessandrini, Dane Belbeck, and Dan Wilkins project how the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft could shake out.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Lawrence has been atop 2021 draft projections since early in his Clemson career, and he didn't do anything over the past few years to change that. Getting the No. 1 pick in this draft is a franchise-changing opportunity for the Jaguars. - Wilkins

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

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If the Jets don't trade for Deshaun Watson, they'll target the second-best quarterback come April. Whether that's Wilson or Justin Fields isn't locked in right now, though the BYU product offers more upside, and he profiles as a better fit for new head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. - Alessandrini

3. Miami Dolphins (from HOUSTON) - Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The possibility of DeVonta Smith being reunited with his college teammate Tua Tagovailoa in Miami is getting the headlines, but here the Dolphins select the explosive Chase at No. 3 instead. The LSU star sat out the 2020 season after winning the Biletnikoff Award as college football's best receiver in 2019. He'd instantly provide a much-needed jolt to Miami's passing attack. - Belbeck

4. Atlanta Falcons - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

It doesn't seem like Matt Ryan is going anywhere yet, but the Falcons still need to capitalize on the rare opportunity to draft a top quarterback. Fields could be developed slowly behind the veteran passer before leading this organization into the future. - Wilkins

5. Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

With Chase off the board, Cincinnati can look to upgrade an offensive line that once again underperformed in 2020. The Bengals drafted Jonah Williams two years ago, but Sewell is too talented to pass on in 2021. One of the two can move to the right side for the upcoming campaign. - Alessandrini

6. Philadelphia Eagles - Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

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The Eagles haven't selected a cornerback in the first round since 2002, and that streak ends with Surtain out of Alabama. The son of a former NFL All-Pro, Surtain is a rock-solid prospect who should immediately shore up a secondary that allowed the league's fifth-highest opposing passer rating in 2020. - Belbeck

7. Detroit Lions - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

The Lions getting additional draft capital in the Matthew Stafford deal to take on Jared Goff tells us everything we need to know about the latter's status in Detroit. The former Rams signal-caller will be given a chance to prove himself, but that shouldn't (and likely won't) stop the Lions from hedging their bet and bringing in another young quarterback to compete. - Wilkins

8. Carolina Panthers - Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

One of the premier offensive prospects in this class regardless of position, Pitts would be an exciting addition to Joe Brady's offense in Carolina. Tight ends aren't often top-10 picks, but the former Gator possesses all the tools to be an early-round selection after a productive collegiate career. Pitts fills a major need for the Panthers, too. - Alessandrini

9. Denver Broncos - Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

The Broncos desperately need cornerback help, and Farley fits the bill perfectly. Vic Fangio loves tall, rangy players at the position, and the 6-foot-2, 207-pounder will slide right in to Denver's secondary. His toughness will be a major asset for a Broncos team that faces Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr twice each year. - Belbeck

10. Dallas Cowboys - Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

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The Cowboys need help throughout a defense that finished bottom-five in points allowed this past season. Rousseau is a versatile pass-rusher who could line up opposite DeMarcus Lawrence - and even get interior reps in sub packages - while significantly upgrading Dallas' front four. - Wilkins

11. New York Giants - DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Receiver won't be pegged as New York's biggest need this offseason, but Dave Gettleman and Co. would be hard-pressed to pass on a player with Smith's pedigree. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner could easily become a top-10 selection, which means this is an excellent value pick. - Alessandrini

12. San Francisco 49ers - Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

If Trent Williams doesn't return to San Francisco next season, Slater would be an excellent fit on the 49ers' offensive line. Kyle Shanahan would love the Northwestern product's versatility, as Slater is adept at playing either tackle or guard. - Belbeck

13. Los Angeles Chargers - Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

It feels like we say this every year, but the Chargers' roster actually features more talent than you think - especially with the quarterback position now settled. Addressing the offensive line with a pro-ready prospect like Vera-Tucker could go a long way toward expediting the club's rebuilding process. - Wilkins

14. Minnesota Vikings - Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan

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Although they were missing Danielle Hunter this past season, the Vikings' pass-rush could use a major boost after mustering just 23 sacks. Armed with size, strength, and athleticism, Paye's upside is likely the greatest among edge defenders in his class. - Alessandrini

15. New England Patriots - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

The Patriots' passing attack was borderline unwatchable after Tom Brady departed for Tampa Bay. Waddle will add game-breaking ability and become a major weapon for whoever is the team's passer next season. - Belbeck

16. Arizona Cardinals - Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

With Larry Fitzgerald possibly retiring, receiver would be tempting here. But a defensive lineman remains a far greater need for the Cardinals. Barmore is the latest top-tier lineman to come out of Alabama, and he'd give Arizona a potential every-down contributor up front. - Wilkins

17. Las Vegas Raiders - Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Kolton Miller and Trent Brown are currently penciled in as the Raiders' starting offensive tackles, but the latter could be cut this offseason to save $14 million against the cap. Brown has missed 16 games over the last two years, and Darrisaw would be a cheaper and more reliable right tackle. - Alessandrini

18. Miami Dolphins - Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

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After adding Chase at No. 3, Miami can stockpile offensive weapons and call Etienne's name. The Clemson star is one of the most productive collegiate running backs of all time, and his breakaway speed and big-play ability will instantly make him a fan favorite in south Florida. - Belbeck

19. Washington - Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Bateman isn't generating as much hype as some of the other top pass-catchers in this draft, but he's very much in that conversation. Adding him opposite Terry McLaurin would put Washington's new quarterback - whoever that ends up being - in a position to succeed. - Wilkins

20. Chicago Bears - Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Chicago is involved in the Carson Wentz sweepstakes. If the Bears don't land the disgruntled Eagles quarterback, they could select a passer in the first round. Jones' stock is rising, and he might become a first-round pick after the four other top quarterbacks are off the board. - Alessandrini

21. Indianapolis Colts - Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

The Colts need a tackle following Anthony Castonzo's retirement. Enter Mayfield from Michigan, a multi-faceted offensive lineman who can play either tackle or guard. - Belbeck

22. Tennessee Titans - Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami

Tennessee's efforts to upgrade its pass rush last offseason didn't work out, with Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley both flopping after being major signings. The position remains a major area of need heading into this offseason, and Phillips would step in as another athletic edge rusher alongside Harold Landry. - Wilkins

23. New York Jets (from SEA) - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

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Parsons is widely viewed as one of the top overall prospects in this year's class, but he could slide down the board due to character and off-field concerns. The Penn State product still looks like a first-rounder, so the Jets could end up with a steal here. - Alessandrini

24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

If the Steelers are really rolling with Big Ben for another season, keeping the aging, statuesque quarterback upright is a must. Jenkins would add desperately needed youth to Pittsburgh's offensive line. He'd also become the third Oklahoma State player on the Steelers' roster. - Belbeck

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR) - Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

After taking care of the quarterback spot with the No. 1 pick, there are still plenty of needs for the Jaguars to address. Why not select one of the most well-rounded defenders in the draft next? Moehrig could be a foundation piece on the back end as Jacksonville looks to rebuild its defense. - Wilkins

26. Cleveland Browns - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Owusu-Koramoah enjoyed a breakout 2020 campaign while emerging as one of college football's elite linebackers. His instincts, quick-twitch athleticism, and versatility could land him inside the top 20, so the Browns filling arguably their greatest need with the former Fighting Irish star is a match made in heaven. - Alessandrini

27. Baltimore Ravens - Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia

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This pick seems almost too perfect for the Ravens. Ojulari showed flashes of top-10 talent, but he's a little undersized and needs more consistency. Plugging his skill into Baltimore's system could pay off significantly. - Belbeck

28. New Orleans Saints - Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Drew Brees' potential retirement makes quarterback the main focus in New Orleans, but there aren't many desirable options for a contending team this late in the first round. A unique talent like Toney - whose playmaking ability can be used all over the field - might be just what the Saints need to ease the transition with Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston under center. - Wilkins

29. Green Bay Packers - Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

The Packers need to sort out their issues at cornerback beyond Jaire Alexander in 2021. Kevin King is a free agent, though he also performed poorly toward the end of this past season and the playoffs. Regardless of what Green Bay does with King, selecting a player of Horn's caliber at a critical position would be a great move. - Alessandrini

30. Buffalo Bills - Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington

The Bills' roster is pretty solid from top to bottom, allowing them to take the best available talent in this spot. This pick likely comes down to Alabama running back Najee Harris or Onwuzurike. The Washington product gets the nod, and he'll add much-wanted depth to the Bills' defensive line. - Belbeck

31. Kansas City Chiefs - Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

With Eric Fisher likely to miss most of the 2021 campaign due to a torn Achilles, the Chiefs fill an immediate need at the end of Round 1 while also looking to the future. Leatherwood has logged experience at guard, too, so he'd upgrade a position elsewhere if Fisher were to return early. - Alessandrini

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

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After nailing their pick of Antoine Winfield Jr. in the second round of last year's draft, the Bucs go right back to the NFL bloodlines well. Samuel would continue the youth movement in Tampa Bay's secondary, giving Todd Bowles yet another playmaker to deploy. - Wilkins

Post-Super Bowl Mock Draft: QBs fly off the board early
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