The Buccaneers’ dominant Super Bowl win on Sunday closed the 2020 NFL season and swung open the door on what promises to be an eventful and unusual offseason — which of course includes the 2021 NFL draft. The Tampa Bay defense showcased what smart drafting can do for a team, with recent early-round picks Devin White and Antoine Winfield Jr. each hauling in an interception. Which team will make savvy moves in this year’s draft to take the next step? Let’s predict how all 32 selections of the first round will play out on April 29.
Despite the lack of a traditional combine this year, there is still plenty of time for movement on draft boards. Interviews, medicals, pro day workouts and more digging into the game tape lie ahead. Likewise, much has changed in just one month since my last mock after an exciting College Football Playoff national title game and the annual Senior Bowl week. We are still more than two months out and have much to learn about this talented class — including how the quarterbacks and playmakers stack up.
But with the draft order locked in after Game No. 269 on the season and plenty of talent in this year’s class to be excited about, here is my post-Super Bowl projection of the opening 32 picks of the 2021 NFL draft, starting with a no-brainer at No. 1. And surprise — we have two mock trades in this edition.
Note: For more, check out our SportsCenter Special at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday (ESPN2), in which I’ll discuss each team’s picks.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Another mock draft, another Lawrence-to-Jacksonville projection. You won’t be seeing much of anything else, and for good reason. The 6-foot-6 big-armed quarterback has all the traits you want in a franchise guy, and he would be the focal point of what new coach Urban Meyer hopes to build. Only Washington has a lower Total QBR over the past three seasons than the Jaguars’ 41.6, but Lawrence has finished in the top 10 among all FBS quarterbacks in that category in every season of his college career. He will throw for scouts on Friday ahead of surgery on his non-throwing shoulder this spring, but consider him a lock for the top pick at this point.