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Tabeek's 2021 NFL Mock Draft 7.0: Texans trade Deshaun Watson for No. 1 pick, Falcons trade down

By Matthew Tabeek

Hello, Houston.

If the 2020 regular season wasn't hard enough for Texans fans, the offseason might actually look and feel worse than that forgettable 4-12 finish.

J.J. Watt, a fixture in the Texans lineup since 2011 and one of the city's most beloved athletes, has requested his release and it's been granted.

Deshaun Watson would reportedly like to follow in former teammate's footsteps, but the Texans have "zero interest" in parting ways with their 25-year-old star quarterback.

At least, for now.


The 2021 NFL Draft is exactly nine weeks from today and I think things in Space City are going to get interesting in the coming weeks. And while Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract, he reportedly approved trades to only three teams – the Jets, Dolphins and Panthers.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that list might expand.

So, without further ado, here is mock draft 7.0 with the updated draft order (see order explanation at the bottom of the page).

QB Trevor Lawrence


  • Texans receive: No. 1 overall (2021), No. 25 overall (2021), second-round pick (2022), second-round pick (2023)
  • Jaguars receive: QB Deshaun Watson, No. 100 overall (2021)

Houston Texans: I get all the reasons why a Texans-Jaguars trade might not work.

  • They're division rivals.
  • The asking price might be too high.
  • The Jags aren't on Watson's preferred list.
  • The Jags might think Trevor Lawrence will be just as good.
  • Watson's agent, David Mulugheta, also represents Jalen Ramsey.
  • And on and on ...

But maybe, just maybe, it could work.

And if there's a team that has the draft capital to make it happen, it's Jacksonville. The Jags currently hold 11 picks in this coming draft. And for a trade to work, it has to make sense for both sides. In this scenario the Texans unload a player who never wants to play a single down again for them and, in return, they get the top-rated prospect in this class who many think will be special at the next level. Just like Watson. You see? Win-win.

  • Needs: WR, CB, DE, S
QB Zach Wilson

New York Jets: The Jets also hold a boatload of draft picks – 10, in fact – and also happen to be on Deshaun Watson's preferred list. They could go in a number of directions here, but I think the new coaching staff will turn the page on Sam Darnold and take former BYU star Zach Wilson here. Wilson is sneaky fast, slippery in the open field, processes things quickly, is accurate and makes good decisions. I've made it clear who he reminds me of. He's just too good to pass up.

  • Needs: QB, EDGE, CB
WR Ja'Marr Chase

Miami Dolphins (via Houston): Forget the rumors about Miami moving on from Tua Tagovailoa. Instead, they'll give Tagovailoa some and take the best receiver in this class. Chase put up better numbers than Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and DeVonta Smith in 2019.

  • Needs: WR, OL, LB, EDGE
QB Justin Fields
Ohio State


  • Eagles receive: No. 4 overall (2021), sixth-round pick (2022)
  • Falcons receive: No. 6 overall (2021), No. 37 overall (2021), No. 85 overall (2021), first-round pick (2022)

Philadelphia Eagles: A week ago I just assumed that the Eagles would be all-in on Jalen Hurts after trading Carson Wentz to Indianapolis. And then I remembered that Philly has had five different starting quarterbacks over the last five years – and backup led them to a Super Bowl win in 2017. Of course they'll jump at the chance at landing another franchise quarterback. Like Hurts a year ago, Justin Fields isn't quite NFL-ready yet but he's got a gifted arm, has good size, athleticism and lots of upside.

  • Needs: OL, CB, WR, LB
QB Trey Lance
North Dakota State


  • Panthers receive: No. 5 overall (2021), sixth-round pick (2022)
  • Bengals receive: No. 8 overall (2021), No. 39 overall (2021), second-round pick (2022), fourth-round pick (2022)

Carolina Panthers: There's a chance that the Panthers could stay put at No. 8 and still snag Trey Lance, but with Zach Wilson and Justin Fields off the board, the Eagles work out a deal with the Falcons to land the No. 4 and secure North Dakota State's Trey Lance, a prospect that some have rated even higher than Fields. With Teddy Bridgewater in place (for now) and offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Lance can learn from two good ones before being thrown into the fire.

  • Needs: QB, OL, LB, TE
CB Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech


  • Falcons receive: No. 6 overall (2021), No. 37 overall (2021), first-round pick (2022), fifth-round pick (2022)
  • Eagles receive: Eagles receive: No. 4 overall (2021), sixth-round pick (2022)

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons trade down a couple of spots and take Caleb Farley out of Virginia Tech. Much like last week's mock draft, this is an ideal scenario for Atlanta – it holds onto a top-10 pick and acquires more picks in the process. That will be key in reshaping the roster and infusing more talent while dealing with a very tight salary cap.

The more I watch Farley, the more I'm convinced he's deserving of being rated higher than Patrick Surtain II out of Alabama. As Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus notes in his evaluation, Farley has size, speed, length, and the instincts you're looking for in a corner. On top of all of that, Farley reportedly runs in the 4.3 range, and it shows up on tape, too. Atlanta surrendered a lot of big plays (only the Lions allowed more total completions of 15-plus yards) and needs to inject more talent to go along with A.J. Terrell, and Farley fits the bill.

  • Needs: DE, CB, OL, QB
WR Jaylen Waddle

Detroit Lions: Jared Goff is now QB1 in Detroit as a result of a trade that sent Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles. The new Lions regime obviously needs Goff to succeed so they show faith in their new investment and draft former Alabama standout Jaylen Waddle, an explosive receiver who will stretch the field and demand extra attention. Waddle might be the best deep threat in this draft class; he's that explosive and has the afterburners to boot.

  • Needs: WR, EDGE, LB
OL Penei Sewell


  • Bengals receive: No. 8 overall (2021), No. 39 overall (2021), second-round pick (2022), fourth-round pick (2022)
  • Panthers receive: No. 5 overall (2021), sixth-round pick (2022)

Cincinnati Bengals: The more mock draft scenarios I play out, the more I see Penei Sewell landing in Cincinnati. The Bengals nailed it last April when they drafted Joe Burrow. The former LSU star made an immediate impact and is clearly their franchise quarterback of the future. But they also learned the hard way that they need to protect their investment. This scenario works out nicely for the Bengals, who take Sewell, hands down the best overall offensive line prospect in this class.

  • Needs: OL, DE, CB
CB Patrick Surtain II

Denver Broncos: There's been some talk about the Broncos taking a quarterback (last week I had them trading up for one), or possibly even trading for a veteran signal caller. Until that happens, I'm going to assume that Drew Locke is their guy. And in this scenario – with one of the best cornerbacks in this class still on the board – I think Denver addresses the back end of its defense and pulls the trigger on Patrick Surtain II. The former Alabama star was considered the best defensive back in the SEC and some think he has a strong case to be thought of as the best in college football.

  • Needs: CB, DE, QB, OL
OL Rashawn Slater

Dallas Cowboys: If you watched the Cowboys at all during 2020, it's clear that defensive unit struggled, especially against the run. Dallas, surprisingly, also struggled in the trenches on the other side of the ball, as the injuries piled up and gutted that once-formidable offensive line. With Rashawn Slater still available, Dallas jumps on the former Northwestern lineman. As Dane Brugler of The Athletic notes, Slater is "stout and power-packed and doesn't allow rushers to go through him." With Dak Prescott coming back from injury, tightening up that front will be key.

  • Needs: CB, OL, LB, TE
TE Kyle Pitts

New York Giants: The Giants must get quarterback Daniel Jones some weapons in the passing game to complement Saquon Barkley and the running game. Enter tight end Kyle Pitts, who looks like he could be a game-changer on the next level with his size, speed and freakish receiving skills.

  • Needs: EDGE, OL, CB, WR
OL Christian Darrisaw
Virginia Tech

San Francisco 49ers: In mock draft 5.0, Trey Lance actually fell to the 49ers here, but no such case in this scenario. Instead, San Francisco does its current quarterback a favor and takes Christian Darrisaw out of Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Darrisaw has an ideal frame to go along with long arms, quick feet and strong hands. He's one of the best prospects when it comes to squaring up and getting in position (or re-positioning) to handle pass rushers.

  • Needs: CB, OL, QB, DL
DL Christian Barmore

Los Angeles Chargers: For weeks I've had the Chargers taking an offensive lineman or Kyle Pitts here. In this scenario I can see them opting for a defensive pick because Christian Barmore is sitting right in front of them – and he's hard to miss. Barmore is considered by some draft analysts to be the best defensive tackle prospect in this class.

  • Needs: OL, TE, CB, DL
OL Alijah Vera-Tucker

Minnesota Vikings: I'm sticking with this pick and it's pretty straightforward. The Vikings must improve up front and taking Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC should help them do just that. Vera-Tucker has great size and is versatile because he can play both tackle and inside at guard. Many draft experts seem to think his NFL future is at guard. Time will tell, but this would be a solid pick for Minnesota.

  • Needs: OL, DL, EDGE
WR DeVonta Smith

New England Patriots: I just don't think Cam Newton is the long-term solution in New England. They need a quarterback, but I think they can land one on Day 2. They also need some weapons on the outside, too, and there's no way they'll pass on DeVonta Smith here. The Heisman Trophy winner should help take the load off Newton or whoever is behind center in 2021.

  • Needs: QB, DL, WR, TE
EDGE Azeez Ojulari

Arizona Cardinals: Some thought this was tad high for Azeez Ojulari a week ago, but I'm sticking with it. This is a big season for the Cardinals in a lot of ways – and I could see them adding some offensive firepower here at No. 16. But I think adding Ojulari, an edge rusher out of Georgia, is the play here. Arizona must address its pass rush and Ojulari, who has a great burst and knows how to get around the corner to passers, could go a long way in remedying that issue. Kwity Paye of Michigan could be an option here as well.

  • Needs: CB, DL, WR, TE
EDGE Kwity Paye

Las Vegas Raiders: Speaking of Kwity Paye and bolstering the pass rush, I think that's exactly what the Raiders will do in this scenario. While edge rushers don't headline this draft class, there are some good ones, including Paye. The former Wolverine has a non-stop motor, relentless energy and has a nose for finding the backfield and wreaking havoc back there – just what the Raiders (and any team) could use.

  • Needs: DT, OL, EDGE, S
LB/EDGE Micah Parsons
Penn State

Miami Dolphins: I will be really surprised if Micah Parsons is still on the board when the Dolphins pick at 18, but if he is, I like him taking his talents to South Beach … or Miami Gardens. I've noted it repeatedly here in these mock drafts: Parsons is a game-changing defender who can rush the passer, stuff the run and is effective in pass coverage. In short, he's a playmaker and he'll make any defense better.

  • Needs: WR, OL, LB, EDGE
WR Rashod Bateman

Washington Football Team: While Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith steal most of the headlines when it comes to the best receivers in this class, don't sleep on Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota. I can guarantee you NFL scouts are not. Bateman might not be as quick and as explosive, but all he does is get open – and that matters. He's 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, physical and is excellent in getting off the line of scrimmage. Whatever the Washington Football Team ends up doing at quarterback, Bateman would be a welcome asset.

  • Needs: QB, WR, OL
OL Jalen Mayfield

Chicago Bears: What will the Bears do at quarterback? That's a big TBD at this point. Mac Jones and Kyle Trask are still available, but I think they are Day 2 picks. Instead, the Bears will bolster the offensive line here and take Jalen Mayfield out of Michigan. Mayfield can play both guard and tackle (although he's probably better suited inside) and a nice run blocker.

  • Needs: QB, OL, WR
EDGE Gregory Rousseau

Indianapolis Colts: Last week I had Jayson Oweh going ahead of Gregory Rousseau here at picks 21 and 22. After thinking about it and watching them both more, I'm flipping the picks. I think the Colts will turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball at No. 21 and go with Rousseau. Rousseau is tall, long, smart and knows how to get off blocks in a hurry. He'll help that Indy pass rush get better.

  • Needs: CB, EDGE, WR
EDGE Jayson Oweh
Penn State

Tennessee Titans: I'm convinced the Titans will go defense at 22 and address that pass rush because they've struggled in that department recently. As noted above, Jayson Oweh is the pick. The former Penn State standout has tremendous size, athleticism, can get into the backfield and has a lot of upside.

  • Needs: EDGE, WR, OL, CB
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame

New York Jets (via Seattle): Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah may look like a safety but he definitely plays – and hits – like one of the best linebackers in this draft class. To be honest, I'm not sure how he'll be used at the next level, but he's very good – and will make someone's defense a lot better. In this case, it's the J-E-T-S, Jets. New York's defense needs some help, and Owusu-Koramoah can run and hit – he has great range and when he shows up, he drops the hammer.

  • Needs: QB, EDGE, CB
RB Travis Etienne

Pittsburgh Steelers: A week ago, I had Najee Harris going right here to the Steelers. The idea of Harris, a power back with great hands, makes a lot of sense to me. But I think that offensive could use even more firepower coming out of the backfield – and Travis Etienne can catch the ball well, too, coming out of the backfield but he has something Harris does not: home-run speed. The Steelers have their starting left tackle, top running back, leading receiver and No. 2 pass rusher ticketed for the open market in 2021, and Etienne is the pick here.

  • Needs: QB, OL, RB, EDGE
CB Jaycee Horn
South Carolina


  • Texans receive: No. 1 overall (2021), No. 25 overall (2021), second-round pick (2022), second-round pick (2023)
  • Jaguars receive: Deshaun Watson, No. 100 overall (2021)

Houston Texans (via LA Rams): The Texans need to improve on defense and take South Carolina standout Jaycee Horn. Horn has nice size, length and isn't afraid to be aggressive at times, either. He oftentimes was matched up against SEC team's top receivers and more than held his own.

  • Needs: QB, OT, CB, EDGE
LB/EDGE Zaven Collins

Cleveland Browns: The Browns will probably take a long, hard look at the back end of their defense this offseason, including cornerback, safety and linebacker. It's an area that must be addressed. I like Zaven Collins here; he won the Bronko Nagurksi for the best defensive player in college football and was also a runner up for the Butkus Award. As Dane Brugler of The Athletic notes about Collins, he has "the size of a defensive end and the athleticism of a safety." Adding a player like Collins in this spot seems like nice value.

  • Needs: S, LB, CB, DL
WR Kadarius Toney

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens could face some losses on offense in the offseason. Kadarius Toney is insanely good at running routes and has been described as an "electrifying" receiver. He has kick returning skills, too.

  • Needs: WR, OL, EDGE, S
DL Alim McNeil
N.C. State

New Orleans Saints: The Saints need to address the defensive line and I think Alim McNeil out of NC State could certainly help. While McNeil primarily played nose tackle (zero technique) for the Wolfpack, he's also a darn good football player who could be used in different ways inside. McNeil knows how to wreak havoc inside and affect the passing game. Michael Renner of PFF described him as "quite easily the most immovable nose in college football."

  • Needs: QB, DL, CB, WR
EDGE Joseph Ossai

Green Bay Packers: Green Bay knows it must address the defense, which sustained a number of injuries, but also struggled at times. I think Joseph Ossai out of Texas is a solid pick here. Ossai has nice size and can come off the edge with some steam. He's also played off the ball in the past, but thrived at the line of scrimmage. The one quality that most people talk or write about when it comes to Ossai is his motor – and that it's non-stop. That's something that can't be coached.

  • Needs: LB, DL, CB, OL
CB Tyson Campbell

Buffalo Bills: Cornerback will be a position of need for Buffalo. I think Tyson Campbell out of Georgia makes a ton of sense right here, too. Campbell has great size (he is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds), a ton of talent and upside. His best football is front of him.

  • Needs: CB, OL, DL, EDGE
OL Wyatt Davis
Ohio State

Kansas City Chiefs: Going back to my very first mock draft this year, because I think I had it right when it comes to the Chiefs. Kansas City could use some help up front, especially on the interior, and Ohio State standout Wyatt Davis is tough as nails, smart, powerful and agile. He could solidify that front for years to come, and that will make him the pick here.

  • Needs: OL, EDGE, LB, WR
LB Nick Bolton

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I keep wanting to take a running back here – I had Najee Harris going here in mock draft 3.0 – but … I can't pass on the idea of adding linebacker Nick Bolton to that linebacker corps, especially with Lavonte David scheduled to become a free agent. Bolton doesn't have imposing size, but he flies to the ball and knows how to deliver the big hit. He plays with great speed and processes things quickly, and I like that pick here at the end of the first round.

  • Needs: LB, DL, EDGE, WR

Teams without a first-round pick

As it stands right now, three teams do not have a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft: the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks. Their team needs, actual draft picks (and rounds) are listed below:

Houston Texans
Needs: WR, CB, DE

Current picks (round): 67 (3), 100 (4), 113 (4), 131 (5), 164 (6), 178 (6), 188 (6), 195 (7)

Los Angeles Rams
Needs: OL, DE, LB

Current picks (round): 57 (2), 185 (6), 217 (7)

Seattle Seahawks
Needs: OL, CB, DE

Current picks (round): 56 (2), 120 (4), 151 (5), 184 (6)

2021 NFL Draft order

  • A note on the draft order: The non-playoff teams are picks 1-18 (the team with the worst record, Jacksonville, picks first overall). The rest will be determined as the playoffs unfold. Teams that will be eliminated in the wild-card round get picks 19-24. Teams that will be eliminated in the divisional round get picks 25-28. The two teams eliminated in the AFC and NFC title games get picks 29 and 30. The Super Bowl loser will pick at 31 and the winner picks last. The current order is based on records, strength of schedule and seeding (via Tankathon).
  • The Falcons current draft picks: For an in-depth look at how many and where the Falcons pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, standout players previously drafted at those positions and who has been drafted in those same positions over the last five years, click here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here belong to Matthew Tabeek and and do not represent the opinions of the Atlanta Falcons' front office staff, coaches and executives unless it is noted otherwise.

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