When it comes time to perform a Mock Draft, it's easy to fall foul to a lack of confidence and to push one's gut instincts aside in favor of what Mel Kiper said, or what the guys and girls on GoodMorningFootball did with their most recent picks. It's perfectly normal.
Numerous draft picks appear nailed every year, and this year is no different. If you listen to any analyst, they will tell you that Trevor Lawrence is going to the Jaguars; Zach Wilson is going to the Jets, and Penei Sewell is going to the Bengals, and so on...
The thing is, though, the draft doesn't always play out exactly as analysts might expect. In fact, it rarely does! There will be heaps of draft picks that have pundits scratching their heads come Thursday -- myself included -- just as there always is.
On that note, let's throw caution to the wind and go with our guts, as we cast an eye over...
5 bold predictions for the NFL Draft 2021
(in no particular order)
1. New York Jets draft QB Justin Fields over QB Zach Wilson
I've said all along that I rank Justin Fields as a superior QB to Zach Wilson and I'm going to go down with that ship.
Zach Wilson enjoyed an incredible season with BYU in 2020, throwing 33 TDs and just three interceptions. There is no doubting that the former Cougar has enough talent to succeed at the elite level in the NFL.
But let's go back to 2019 a moment!
In 2019, Justin Fields ran Chase Young, Joe Burrow, and Jalen Hurts pretty close in the running for the Heisman award, throwing 41 TDs to just three picks and rushing for 484-yards and 10 TDs. These are incredible numbers, and the Sooner did it in a tougher division than Wilson did!
For my money, Fields is the best option for coach Saleh at No.2, so don't be surprised if he takes the Oklahoma man over the Brigham Young starlet.
2. Cincinnati Bengals draft WR Ja'Marr Chase over OT Penei Sewell
Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase are old buddies from LSU and, boy, did they have some connection, especially during Burrow's Heisman award-winning senior year? In fact, 1,780 of the 5,671-yards that Joe Burrow posted that year were directly into the hands of the consensus agreed No.1 ranked receiver in this year's draft.
Everyone knows that the Bengals need to strengthen their OL: it's a glaring weakness and a partial culprit for Burrow's season-ending ACL/MCL injury suffered midway through the team's 2020 campaign. As such, Oregon's Penei Sewell seems like a nailed on No.5 pick for Cincinnati.
But prior to the injury, the deep ball was another issue for Burrow. He completed just one pass of 20+-yards in his first four appearances with the Bengals and is on record as fancying a reunion with Chase, stating in a recent interview:
"I wouldn't mind. Ja'Marr's a really good player, it’s pretty easy to throw to him when he has five yards of separation every snap," Burrow said. "He’s an exciting player and a great guy and a friend as well. He was fun to play with."
3. Los Angeles Chargers trade up the board to draft OT Penei Sewell
I'll keep this one short since predicting which teams will trade up and for whom at the draft is like trying to guess next week's lottery numbers. But Chargers QB Justin Herbert somehow managed to win Rookie-of-the-Year last season, despite being stuck behind the NFL's most permeable offensive line.
Herbert had far better protection while under center in Oregon during his college career, and who was his main man? That's right, Penei Sewell.
In a recent interview with the NFL network, Herbert had this to say regarding his old teammate, Sewell:
“I’m doing my best [to campaign for Sewell],” Herbert told NFL Network. “He’s an incredible player. Whenever you get a tackle like that in the draft, he can change your program. Always a big fan and I’m an even bigger fan of the way he is off the field.”
In my opinion, there's a chance of Sewell ending up in Los Angeles. But the Chargers will likely have to trade up to land their man.
4. QB Mac Jones lands in the New England Patriots' lap at No.15
This one comes directly from my own three-round Mock Draft which you can read right here by clicking the link.
A scenario that played out countless times -- I've lost count of how many mocks I've done now -- is one in which Mac Jones dropped down the board and just landed perfectly with Bill Belichick's side.
For this to come about, it just involves QBs Lawrence, Wilson, and Fields going at Nos.1,2&3, respectively; the Falcons drafting a CB; the Broncos taking Trey Lance and the Panthers acquiring a certain TE. Unless another franchise trades up to land the championship-winning, Crimson Tide signal-caller nice and early, there is a very real chance that we will finally get to see coach Belichick smile this Thursday night.
Plus, the Patriots could trade up to land Jones, too. Either way, I just see Mac Jones in New England blue come autumn.
5. Atlanta Falcons draft Patrick Surtain ll, not TE Kyle Pitts
Falcons TE Hayden Hurst is a very good football player who has improved his game year on year in the NFL since being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2018.
Last season, the South Carolina product chipped into the Falcons' cause with a decent return of 571-yards and 6 TDs. His handling skills can still be improved: Hurst only caught 66% of his targets. But, as I'm a Saints fan, I watched a lot of Hurst last year in the NFC South, and some of those catches were tough ones to haul in, to be fair.
The point is, the Falcons already have a good, young TE with an untapped ceiling. Coach Arthur Smith might not see the TE position as a pressing concern come Thursday and opt to strengthen one of the weakest secondaries in the NFL with someone like Patrick Surtain ll instead.
What do you think of my bold predictions? Am I a mad man? Feel free to let me have it in the comments section below: