Friday, April 30, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft - Recap and Notes

Mock drafts are hard.  The fact that Todd McShay got the first 7 picks exactly right is impressive.  I ended up getting the same amount of right picks as guys like Mel Kiper and Daniel Jeremiah.  Not bragging.  This is just to say after the first few picks of a mock draft, it usually goes out the window because one or two picks has a domino effect on the rest.  Throw in a few trades, and you mostly rip the whole thing up.

Here's what I got right from my Round 1 mock:

1. Trevor Lawrence - Jacksonville

2. Zach Wilson - NY Jets

3. Trey Lance - San Francisco


15. Mac Jones - New England


18. Jaelan Phillips - Miami

I could have played it safer and gotten a couple more right by having Pitts to the Falcons at #4 and Najee Harris to the Steelers at #24.  But honestly I just didn't think those things were going to happen, so I stuck to my guns. It's more fun to go against the grain with a mock draft. Why the hell not?

Let's get right into a few notes on the fantasy implications of some of the big picks in Round 1.

1. Trevor Lawrence: A top-20 fantasy QB this year with top-12 potential if everything goes right.

2. Zach Wilson: This pick has "bust" written all over it for me. Maybe I'll be totally wrong here, but this has a Tim Couch vibe to me. He should start from Day 1, so I'll rank him as a borderline QB2, but I doubt I'll draft him in any leagues.

3. Trey Lance: It'll be interesting to see if Jimmy G still gets traded in the coming days/weeks. If he doesn't, I could see him starting Week 1 while the Niners bring Lance along. But don't think Lance will sit a whole year. No chance, Lance. You might actually be able to draft him with one of your last picks in your fantasy draft, and that could be a steal.

4. Kyle Pitts: Not that anyone was excited about Hayden Hurst, but you can now safely remove him from consideration. As for Pitts, a Julio trade would boost him into top-5 TE territory for me. For now, I'll probably have him around the TE10.

5. Ja'Marr Chase: I really thought the Bengals would draft Sewell here. But then Chase showed up to the draft wearing shoes with Bengal colors, and that should've tipped me off. Hindsight, right? I loved Higgins and Boyd before this pick, and now I'm not sure what to do. What I do know is I'll be trying to draft Burrow everywhere in the middle rounds.

6. Jaylen Waddle: I'm still surprised the top of this draft went like a fantasy draft with so much offense, and then later with two running backs? Man. Anyway, this is great news for Tua. Not sure I'll draft much of Chase or Waddle this year because someone will usually reach higher than I will for rookie WRs, but Tua makes for a great late round QB target. Fuller and Parker down.

10. DeVonta Smith: The Eagles traded up two spots with the Cowboys to make sure the Giants didn't get the Heisman winner. I actually love this pick. I know Philly hasn't done well with WRs in the draft lately, but I think they're good here. I already had Jalen Hurts as a top-12 option, and I hope to get him or Burrow in the middle of my drafts this year. As for Smith, he'll probably be my favorite rookie WR to target this year too.

11. Justin Fields: I love this pick too! I also find it hilarious looking back at the Bears sending that "Andy Dalton QB1" tweet when they signed him. This is much better, guys. Well done. I'm not sure how to rank Fields just yet, but this feels a lot like Trey Lance. I could see Dalton starting Week 1 like Garoppolo. But these rookies won't be on the sideline long. Fields is another great target to stash on your bench near the end of drafts.

15. Mac Jones: I got this pick right in my mock, but I'm not excited about it for fantasy at all. Maybe my mind will change once training camp and preseason rolls around, but for now I just see Jones as Cam's backup to start the season. Maybe he starts by mid-season, but do I care for fantasy? Not really.

19. Jamin Davis: I know, defense. But Washington is my team, and this defense is legit. I was hoping they would take Darrisaw here, but they like Davis. Fine with me. I'll be drafting WFT as a top-5 fantasy defense this year.

20. Kadarius Toney: LOL. As a Washington fan, I love this pick for the Giants. Everyone is hating on it, including me. I thought they would've been better off with any of the next three picks made after them, but they wanted a receiver. I'll be pretty much ignoring Toney in redraft leagues this year. I don't think this impacts my rankings of the other Giant receivers really.

24. Najee Harris: I really thought the Steelers would draft a replacement for Maurkice Pouncey here, but maybe they'll be able to do that with one of their next couple of picks. As for Najee, this is a great landing spot. While the O-line is a little suspect, the workload should be there for the rookie from Day 1. James Conner is gone, and Benny Snell leaves much to be desired. Harris will likely in Round 2 of most fantasy drafts.

25. Travis Etienne: RIP James Robinson's fantasy outlook. Sure, Urban Meyer said he sees Robinson/Hyde as a one-two punch with Etienne as a third down back.  What the hell does that mean in April? Not much. I already had Robinson lower than most experts, but I'll be dropping him even more. This pick was a head scratcher for me, and it really stinks for Robinson's outlook. As for Etienne, I'll probably be ranking him in the RB30ish range, but that might even be a little high.

27. Rashod Bateman: I love this pick for the Ravens. I had Bateman mocked to the Titans a few picks earlier, and the fact that the Giants took Toney over him is great. Lamar Jackson needed a weapon like this, and he got it. I still like Hollywood Brown's 2021 outlook about the same, and Bateman is in a better spot for real life than fantasy probably. I won't move him up much, but I just really like this pick for Baltimore and for Lamar.

29. Eric Stokes: In case you were wondering, Stokes is not a wide receiver. Aaron Rodgers doesn't seem too happy with Green Bay's front office, and I can't say I blame him. They still have 9 picks in this draft though, so stay tuned...

A few guys I had in my first round mock who didn't get drafted: Azeez Ojulari, Tevin Jenkins, Trevon Moehrig, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Christian Barmore. Of course everyone can't go in the first round, but I fully expect these guys to go in Round 2 and could be good values.  

Rounds 2 & 3 are tonight, and here are just a handful of players/teams to keep an eye on...

Javonte Williams: Easily the best running back left in the draft. I'd love to see him go to Atlanta with the third pick in Rd 2, but I could see the Jets taking him with the second.  Either would be a clear path to touches for fantasy purposes, and most anywhere else would likely cloud a backfield situation.

Elijah Moore, Rondale Moore, and Terrace Marshall, Jr.: I could see all of these receivers going in the second round. Rondale seems like a great fit for the Jags, but they have to draft defense at some point, right? A lot of people had Elijah Moore as a first round pick, so his landing spot will be interesting. I'd still love to see him somewhere like Green Bay, but I have zero confidence they'll draft a WR. Detroit could actually be a nice spot for him or Terrace Marshall, Jr. The Chargers and Titans would both be interesting too.

I may have some more notes over the weekend, but at minimum I'll be updating my redraft rankings as the draft unfolds and will post an update next week!

Friday, April 9, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft - Round 1

It's crazy to stop and think about how life was a year ago when I was doing my 2020 NFL Mock Draft.  I'm not even talking about where we were as a country and planet earth in this pandemic, but rather what was going on for me personally...

My wife was almost 9 months pregnant with our second kid, and life was different...and about to change in a big way.  Now my son is almost a year old, my daughter is in love with him, and life is pretty good.  Oh, except my wife and I are both still working from home and the house is super loud and a constant mess.  But the weather is warming up and we're able to get outside more, so at least that's something.  And everyone is healthy, which is the most important thing right now.

What's less important but pretty fun to think about is the NFL Draft is now less than 3 weeks away.  Below you'll find my first mock draft with notes next to each player.  I might get crazy this year and do a Round 2 mock, but we'll see if I have the time to do that.  For now, take a look at my first round selections and let me know what you think on Twitter @bartonwheeler.