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Tabeek's 2021 NFL Mock Draft 8.0: Falcons draft 'a more mobile version of Dak Prescott' at No. 4

By Matthew Tabeek

The 2021 NFL Draft is only 55 days away and, based on what we've already seen this offseason, a lot is expected to unfold in the next seven or so weeks.

Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff are already in new cities. Change is expected in Chicago, Washington and New England. No one knows what'll happen in Philadelphia, Houston, New Orleans, Denver and San Francisco, either.


Sure, change is always in the air in the NFL but following an unprecedented season like 2020, it feels safe to say that we should expect the unexpected in 2021. However, one thing you will not see in this week's mock draft are any trades. After three last week, there are zero in mock 8.0.

So, without further ado, here is mock draft 8.0 with the updated draft order (see order explanation at the bottom of the page).

QB Trevor Lawrence

Jacksonville Jaguars: Last week I had a scenario where the Jaguars traded this pick (for Deshaun Watson). There's very little chance that happens. I'd be surprised if the draft card isn't already be filled out with Trevor Lawrence's name on it and ready to go (I'm kidding, sort of). Lawrence checks all of the boxes and this one should be a no-brainer for the Jacksonville brass. Hey, New York Jets, you are (unofficially) on the clock.

  • Needs: QB, OT, CB, EDGE
  • Previous: Trade with Houston for QB Deshaun Watson
  • Current picks (round): 1 (1), 25 (1), 33 (2), 45 (2), 65 (3), 97 (4), 121 (4), 129 (5), 154 (5), 193 (7), 214 (7)
QB Zach Wilson

New York Jets: It's starting to sound like the Jets are at least open to moving on from Sam Darnold. They could build around him or they could trade him to a QB-needy team. If it's the latter, I think they take Zach Wilson, who is rising up NFL draft boards. Wilson is athletic, can make all of the throws and is extremely accurate. He is also smart, decisive, has a strong arm and can run. There's a lot to like here, and that's why I can't see the Jets passing on him.

  • Needs: QB, EDGE, CB
  • Previous: QB Zach Wilson
  • Current picks (round): 2 (1), 23 (1), 34 (2), 66 (3), 87 (3), 98 (4), 130 (5), 138 (5), 162 (6), 215 (7)
TE Kyle Pitts

Miami Dolphins (via Houston): Surprised? Don't be. The Dolphins will likely add some offensive weapons to their offense to help Tua Tagovailoa thrive, and Kyle Pitts is not your average tight end. He's more in the mold of a Travis Kelce or George Kittle – and any team would like an option like that. Pitts earned a 96.1 PFF receiving grade and posted 10 catches on targets 20-plus yards downfield last year. That's only five behind DeVonta Smith on 11 less targets.

  • Needs: WR, OL, LB, EDGE
  • Previous: WR Ja'Marr Chase
  • Current picks (round): 3 (1), 18 (1), 36 (2), 50 (2), 82 (3), 114 (4), 183 (6)
QB Justin Fields
Ohio State

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are up, and new GM Terry Fontenot has said repeatedly that the No. 4 is not only valuable, but they plan to take full advantage of it (and don't plan to pick this high again anytime soon). Considering where Matt Ryan is in his illustrious career, this pick just screams quarterback in this scenario. Why? Because Justin Fields is sitting here. This is how draft expert Matt Miller described Fields recently: "He is the strongest arm, most athletic quarterback in this class. 6-3, 228 pounds. When I look at him, I see a more mobile Dak Prescott." Oh, if Miller's right (and he often is), I think the Falcons pounce on the Georgia native. Fields isn't just a shooter, but a scorer – and that's what you need in today's NFL. He'll benefit from watching and learning behind Ryan in Arthur Smith's offense. Love this pick here.

  • Needs: DE, CB, OL, QB
  • Previous: CB Caleb Farley
  • Current picks (round): 4 (1), 35 (2), 68 (3), 99 (44), 132 (5), 163 (6)
OT Penei Sewell

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals could trade down or even go receiver here, but I think they need to build around quarterback Joe Burrow. The Bengals caught a glimpse – well, 10 games worth – of Joe Burrow and what he can do for their franchise. They also found out the hard way that they need to do a much better job of protecting their new franchise quarterback. Offensive line is a priority and Penei Sewell is considered to be the best prospect in this draft class by many. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Sewell didn't allow more than two pressures in any of his 21 games while at Oregon. He also has an ideal frame, possesses great size, athleticism, has strong hands and plays with a nasty temperament.

  • Needs: OL, DE, CB
  • Previous: OT Penei Sewell 
  • Current picks (round): 5 (1), 38 (2), 69 (3), 102 (4), 133 (5), 166 (6), 197 (7), 199 (7)
WR Ja'Marr Chase

Philadelphia Eagles: I could see the Eagles trading up, trading down for more picks or staying put. I could also see them going after a quarterback, receiver, cornerback or taking an offensive lineman. In other words, Philly needs a lot and should be open for business here at No 6. In this case, with the Dolphins taking Kyle Pitts, it's a no-brainer with Ja'Marr Chase still on the board. Chase is the best receiver in this class. And that's saying something because there are number of very good ones with first-round grades. Remember, Chase put up better numbers than Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and DeVonta Smith in 2019. That's impressive.

  • Needs: OL, CB, WR, LB
  • Previous: QB Justin Fields
  • Current picks (round): 6 (1), 37 (2), 70 (3), 85 (3), 134 (5), 140 (5), 165 (6), 198 (7)
WR DeVonta Smith

Detroit Lions: The Lions pulled off the trade for Jared Goff and now they need to give him a chance to succeed by drafting DeVonta Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner. Smith has great hands (five drops on 189 catchable the past two seasons), is a dangerous route-runner at every level with deceptive run-away speed and great vision. The writers at PFF describe his game as "effortless." Smith tallied more than 3,000 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns over the past two years.

  • Needs: WR, EDGE, LB
  • Previous: WR Jaylen Waddle
  • Current picks (round): 7 (1), 41 (2), 72 (3), 89 (3), 103 (4), 137 (5)
QB Mac Jones

Carolina Panthers: At least for now it appears that the Panthers will be in the hunt for a quarterback come draft. In this scenario I don't have them trading up (like in previous weeks). That's fine because Carolina lands Mac Jones out of Alabama here at No. 8, a player who is rising up many draft boards right now. Some might be surprised that Trey Lance isn't the pick here, but Jones makes sense here, especially with Joe Brady as the offensive coordinator in Carolina. Jones is sneaky athletic, is smart in the pocket and throws one of the prettiest deep balls you'll see. In fact, he is the most accurate passer in this class, aside from Trevor Lawrence.

  • Needs: QB, OL, LB, TE
  • Previous: QB Trey Lance
  • Current picks (round): 8 (1), 39 (2), 73 (3), 104 (4), 135 (5), 169 (6)
CB Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech

Denver Broncos: The Broncos are another one of those teams that could be aggressive in trying to land a quarterback. In this scenario, they pass on Trey Lance and take who some think is the best cornerback in this class – Caleb Farley out of Virginia Tech. Farley has size, speed, length, and the instincts you're looking for in a corner. How fast is he? He reportedly runs in the 4.3 range, and it shows up on tape, too.

  • Needs: CB, DE, QB, OL
  • Previous: CB Patrick Surtain II
  • Current picks (round): 9 (1), 40 (2), 71 (3), 105 (4), 136 (5), 167 (6), 201 (7), 203 (7), 218 (7)
LB Micah Parsons
Penn State

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys must address their defense and with the best overall defender still on the board, it's an easy choice for Jerry Jones, coach Mike McCarthy and new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. ESPN's Todd McShay called Parsons a "top-five player" and Mel Kiper added: "Parsons was all over the field making plays, 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, five sacks and four forced fumbles (in 2019). … an outstanding football player." My favorite profile on Parsons described him as an "explosive freakazoid of an athlete." What defense couldn't use a player like that?

  • Needs: CB, OL, LB, TE
  • Previous: OT Rashawn Slater
  • Current picks (round): 10 (1), 44 (2), 75 (3), 106 (4), 168 (6), 202 (7)
CB Patrick Surtain II

New York Giants: The Giants are another NFC East team that needs to get better on defense (although they do need to get Daniel Jones some weapons on the outside). Things work out nicely for Big Blue here with Patrick Surtain II still on the board. Matt Miller believes Surtain is the best corner in this class, and it's easy to see why. As Miller noted, "Surtain, who lined up all over the Alabama secondary, has big-time technique and at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds he's well-suited to take away whatever the offense lines up across from him."

  • Needs: EDGE, OL, CB, WR
  • Previous: TE Kyle Pitts
  • Current picks (round): 11 (1), 42 (2), 76 (3), 107 (4), 172 (6), 177 (6)
QB Trey Lance
North Dakota State

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are (well, would be) absolutely ecstatic if things play out like this: They stay put at No. 12 and still land one of the top-five quarterback prospects in this class – Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. Lance is big, athletic, has a cannon for an arm and can tuck it and run. He is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback, but he's also young and inexperienced. In short, Lance is somewhat of a project – and that's why I love the idea of Kyle Shanahan getting his hands on Lance and developing him here.

  • Needs: CB, OL, QB, DL
  • Previous: OL Christian Darrisaw
  • Current picks (round): 12 (1), 43 (2), 108 (4), 139 (5), 156 (5), 170 (6), 194 (7), 204 (7)
OT Rashawn Slater

Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers hit on last year's pick – Justin Herbert, who ended up being the Rookie of the Year. Now they've got to do a better job of protecting him. That's why they'll pounce on Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern. As Dane Brugler of The Athletic notes, Slater is "stout and power-packed and doesn't allow rushers to go through him. Slater is Matt Miller No. 7 player (overall) and describes him as "quick, smart, poised and athletic."

  • Needs: OL, TE, CB, DL
  • Previous: DL Christian Barmore
  • Current picks (round): 13 (1), 47 (2), 78 (3), 109 (4), 143 (5), 174 (6), 181 (6), 205 (7)
DL Christian Barmore

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings must get better along that defensive line and taking Christian Barmore out of Alabama is an easy choice. Barmore is considered by some draft analysts to be the best defensive tackle prospect in this class. Barmore, who earned a 91.5 PFF pass-rush grade in 2020, is disruptive, excels as a pass rusher, has ideal length and foot speed. In short, he knows how to get to the quarterback.

  • Needs: OL, DL, EDGE
  • Previous: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker
  • Current picks (round): 14 (1), 79 (3), 91 (3), 110 (4), 116 (4), 125 (4), 141 (5), 155 (5), 175 (6), 206 (7)
WR Jaylen Waddle

New England Patriots: For the second week in a row, I have the Patriots taking a receiver out of Alabama. This time it's Jaylen Waddle. 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 or possibly trade for one. They also need some weapons on the outside, too, and there's no way they'll pass on Waddle here. Waddle is 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: QB, DL, WR, TE
  • Previous: WR DeVonta Smith
  • Current picks (round): 15 (1), 46 (2), 111 (4), 142 (5), 171 (6), 173 (6), 207 (7)
CB Jaycee Horn
South Carolina

Arizona Cardinals: The way things are playing out here, I see the Cardinals going defense. They may have added J.J. Watt, but they also need a cornerback and with Jaycee Horn available, I can see them filling out their draft card with the name of the former Gamecock standout. Horn is 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, has nice length, great ball skills and isn't afraid to be aggressive at times. He oftentimes was matched up against SEC team's top receivers and more than held his own. As PFF notes, Horn has the third-lowest projected adjusted completion percentage allowed in this class.

  • Needs: CB, DL, WR, TE
  • Previous: EDGE Azeez Ojulari
  • Current picks (round): 16 (1), 49 (2), 80 (3), 144 (5), 208 (7)
EDGE Kwity Paye

Las Vegas Raiders: There are some decent edge rushers in this class, and I believe they'll start to come off the board in the second half of the first round. And it would not surprise me at all if Kwity Paye is the first one to go. In this scenario, it works out well for the Raiders. 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
  • Previous: EDGE Kwity Paye
  • Current picks (round): 17 (1), 48 (2), 81 (3), 112 (4), 146 (5), 179 (6), 212 (7)
WR Kadarius Toney

Miami Dolphins: Yes, another weapon for the passing game. After taking Kyle Pitts with the third overall pick, I can see the Dolphins pulling the trigger on Florida's Kadarius Toney here – who is insanely good at running routes, has yards-after-catch ability and has been described as an "electrifying" receiver. He has kick returning skills, too. He was also reliable when targeted at Florida – he had only three drops on 123 catchable passes in his career as a Gator.

  • Needs: WR, OL, LB, EDGE
  • Previous: LB/EDGE Micah Parsons
  • Current picks (round): 3 (1), 18 (1), 36 (2), 50 (2), 82 (3), 114 (4), 183 (6)
IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker

Washington Football Team: The Redskins have made it clear that they plan to address the quarterback position this offseason. They've reportedly moved on from Alex Smith, the Comeback Player of the Year. For now, and in this draft-day scenario, they must also address the offensive line – regardless of how ultimately ends up starting behind center in Week 1 of the 2021 regular season. I think former USC stud Alijah Vera-Tucker makes sense here. Vera-Tucker is a competent, nimble blocker who can play guard and tackle.

  • Needs: QB, WR, OL
  • Previous: WR Rashod Bateman
  • Current picks (round): 19 (1), 51 (2), 74 (3), 83 (3), 115 (4), 147 (5), 209 (7), 211 (7)
OT Christian Darrisaw
Virginia Tech

Chicago Bears: Everything might be on the table when it comes to the quarterback situation in Chicago, but the Bears are another team that must improve in the trenches. I really like Christian Darrisaw here. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder out of Virginia Tech 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: QB, OL, WR
  • Previous: OL Jalen Mayfield
  • Current picks (round): 20 (1), 52 (2), 84 (3), 148 (5), 180 (6), 196 (7)
WR Rondale Moore

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts made the big move to land Carson Wentz. Now it's time to add that offensive arsenal, and Rondale Moore is the pick here. The former Purdue Boilermaker is dangerous in the open field. As the writers as PFF note, Moore is not only a rare talent in terms of movement skills, but he's also very strong for his size. Coming out of high school the then 174-pound receiver could squat 600 pounds.

  • Needs: CB, EDGE, WR
  • Previous: EDGE Gregory Rousseau
  • Current picks (round): 21 (1), 54 (2), 118 (4), 149 (5), 182 (6), 213 (7)
EDGE Gregory Rousseau

Tennessee Titans: Defense here. The Titans need to generate more pressure. Want proof? They finished the season last in sack percentage (2.9 percent) and third-to-last in pressure rate (20.5 percent). I'm convinced they'll go defense at 22 and address that pass rush. Gregory 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: EDGE, WR, OL, CB
  • Previous: EDGE Jayson Oweh
  • Current picks (round): 22 (1), 53 (2), 86 (3), 117 (4), 150 (5), 161 (6), 191 (6)
WR Rashod Bateman

New York Jets (via Seattle): With Zach Wilson in place, the Jets also know they need to get the former BYU star some reliable weapons in the passing game. 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.

  • Needs: QB, EDGE, CB, WR
  • Previous: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
  • Current picks (round): 2 (1), 23 (1), 34 (2), 66 (3), 87 (3), 98 (4), 130 (5), 138 (5), 162 (6), 215 (7)
RB Najee Harris

Pittsburgh Steelers: I went with Travis Etienne – a superb back – here a week ago. But the more I think about Najee Harris in a Steelers uniform and in that offense ... this pick just makes way too much sense here. At least for me. As I have noted for weeks in these mock drafts, the Steelers have their starting left tackle, top running back, leading receiver and No. 2 pass rusher ticketed for the open market in 2021. Pretty soon that list might also include a need for a quarterback, too. But for now, the Steelers take Harris, the talented and bruising back out of Alabama. While his size is comparable to Derrick Henry, Harris is a very good pass catcher, too, and that's what separates him from a lot of backs his size.

  • Needs: QB, OL, RB, EDGE
  • Previous: RB Travis Etienne
  • Current picks (round): 24 (1), 55 (2), 88 (3), 119 (4), 192 (6), 210 (7), 219 (7)
EDGE Azeez Ojulari

Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams): The Jaguars got their man in Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick, but they have many more areas to address, including the defensive side of the ball. I really like Azeez Ojulari here. The 240-pound former Georgia Bulldog has a great burst and knows how to get around the corner to the passer. According to PFF, Ojulari won 25 percent of his pass-rush snaps. That's good.

  • Needs: QB, OT, CB, EDGE
  • Previous: Traded to Houston for QB Deshaun Watson
  • Current picks (round): 1 (1), 25 (1), 33 (2), 45 (2), 65 (3), 97 (4), 121 (4), 129 (5), 154 (5), 193 (7), 214 (7)
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame

Cleveland Browns: As I've noted here in previous mock drafts, the Browns will likely take a long, hard look at the back end of their defense this offseason, including cornerback, safety and linebacker. With Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa still on the board, this is an easy pick. The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Owusu-Koramoah can run and hit – he has great range and when he shows up, he drops the hammer. That kind of versatility is valued by defensive coordinators around the league.

  • Needs: S, LB, CB, DL
  • Previous: LB/EDGE Zaven Collins
  • Current picks (round): 26 (1), 59 (2), 90 (3), 92 (3), 101 (4), 123 (4), 153 (5), 187 (6), 222 (7)
S Trevon Moehrig

Baltimore Ravens: Safety is an area of need for the Ravens, and while this is not a class loaded with Day 1 talent at that position, Trevon Moehrig is the best safety in the class. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Moehrig led all safeties in pass breakups in each of the last two seasons at TCU. As Matt Miller notes, Moehrig can play the catch point from behind a receiver with ease.

  • Needs: WR, OL, EDGE, S
  • Previous: WR Kadarius Toney
  • Current picks (round): 27 (1), 58 (2), 122 (4), 152 (5), 186 (6)
CB Asante Samuel Jr.
Florida State

New Orleans Saints: I can see the Saints going defense here with their first pick and addressing the back end of their defense. I really like Asante Samuel Jr. out of Florida State. Samuel is a 5-foot-10 corner who is fast, twitchy, has good instincts and a high ceiling. At Florida State he broke up 29 passes and made four interceptions in three seasons.

  • Needs: QB, DL, CB, WR
  • Previous: DL Alim McNeil
  • Current picks (round): 28 (1), 60 (2), 124 (4)
LB/EDGE Zaven Collins

Green Bay Packers: I expect Green Bay to address the defense, which sustained a number of injuries, but also struggled at times. 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 at 29 is nice value.

  • Needs: LB, DL, CB, OL
  • Previous: EDGE Joseph Ossai
  • Current picks (round): 29 (1), 62 (2), 93 (3), 126 (4), 157 (5), 190 (6), 221 (7)
EDGE Jayson Oweh
Penn State

Buffalo Bills: Cornerback will be a position of need for the Bills, but you can never have enough good pass rushers, either. Jayson Oweh, a 6-foot-5, 252-pounds edge rusher out of Penn State, has been described as a freak. Oweh, who didn't notch a single sack last season at Penn State (which is odd), has tremendous size, athleticism, can get into the backfield and has a lot of upside.

  • Needs: CB, OL, DL, EDGE
  • Previous: CB Tyson Campbell
  • Current picks (round): 30 (1), 61 (2), 94 (3), 145 (5), 158 (5), 189 (6), 200 (7)
OT Jalen Mayfield

Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City could use some help up front, especially along the interior. I like Jalen Mayfield out of Michigan here. Mayfield, at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, can play both guard and tackle (although he's probably better suited inside) and a nice run blocker. After watching the Super Bowl, that's just what the Chiefs could use.

  • Needs: OL, EDGE, LB, WR
  • Previous: OL Wyatt Davis
  • Current picks (round): 31 (1), 63 (2), 95 (3), 127 (4), 159 (5), 223 (7)
EDGE Jaelan Phillips

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The big question with Miami's Jaelan Phillips is his health. As noted in PFF, UCLA forced him to medically retire already because of concussions. At Miami, he overcame the concussion issues and had somewhat of a breakout season, tallying eight sacks. At 6-foot-5 and 266 pounds, Phillips certainly looks – and plays – the part when healthy. He had an 83.0 run-defense grade and an 86.7 pass-rushing grade this past season at Miami. I can see the Bucs taking a chance on him here, especially if he checks out medically.

  • Needs: LB, DL, EDGE, WR
  • Previous: LB Nick Bolton
  • Current picks (round): 32 (1), 64 (2), 96 (3), 128 (4), 160 (5), 216 (7), 224 (7)

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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