Charley Casserly 2021 NFL mock draft 1.0: Justin Fields slides to Steelers 

There's a lot of hype around this year's quarterback class. That's why I have three flying off the board early in Round 1 in my first mock of the 2021 NFL Draft, while another talented signal-caller slides into the 20s. Here's my initial projection for the first 32 picks, with pro day season -- of heightened importance this year without the standard version of the NFL Scouting Combine -- set to heat up next month.

Pick
1
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence
Clemson · QB · Junior

No surprise here. Urban Meyer strikes gold with franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence to start the rebuild.

Pick
2
New York Jets
New York Jets
Zach Wilson
BYU · QB · Junior

The Jets ultimately decide to trade Sam Darnold and go with the highly touted rookie.

Pick
3
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
Ja'Marr Chase
LSU · WR · Junior

The Dolphins need to add talent around Tua Tagovailoa and do so with a playmaker reminiscent of DeAndre Hopkins.

Pick
4
Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
(via Falcons)
Trey Lance
North Dakota State · QB · Sophomore (RS)

The Panthers trade up to select their potential quarterback of the future. Lance has a lot of upside but will need time to develop, and he gets it in Year 1 behind Teddy Bridgewater.

Pick
5
Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
Penei Sewell
Oregon · OT · Junior

The Bengals need to protect their young, talented quarterback Joe Burrow, whose rookie season was cut short due to injury. Getting the best offensive tackle in this draft class should help.

Pick
6
Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
DeVonta Smith
Alabama · WR · Senior

With the Eagles moving on from DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery this offseason, the team needs to add another pass catcher.

Pick
7
Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
Micah Parsons
Penn State · LB · Junior

The Lions are in desperate need of talent throughout the roster. They take the best defensive player in the draft here -- if they don't trade back. 

Pick
8
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
(via Panthers)
Najee Harris
Alabama · RB · Senior

The Falcons trade back and still get their top choice -- a dynamic running back whom Arthur Smith can build his offense around. I know we rarely see running backs go this early these days, but Todd Gurley is a pending free agent and Atlanta has to have a strong running game if it's going to get back to competing for a playoff spot.

Pick
9
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech · CB · Junior (RS)

The Broncos mull taking Justin Fields here but decide to go another year with Drew Lock under center. Farley replaces the recently cut A.J. Bouye.

Pick
10
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
Patrick Surtain II
Alabama · CB · Junior

Dallas has plenty of defensive needs, and Surtain gives Dan Quinn's unit another good young cornerback to pair with Trevon Diggs .

Pick
11
New York Giants
New York Giants
Jaylen Waddle
Alabama · WR · Junior

Big Blue's offense looks a lot different with a healthy Saquon Barkley and Waddle on the field.

Pick
12
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
Kwity Paye
Michigan · Edge · Senior

The 49ers need another outside presence opposite Nick Bosa, and Paye is my top-rated pass rusher in this year's class.

Pick
13
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers
Rashawn Slater
Northwestern · OT Senior

The Chargers must rebuild the offensive line to protect Justin Herbert.

Pick
14
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
Jaelan Phillips
Miami · Edge · Junior (RS)

The offensive line is a priority in Minnesota, but pass rush is a bigger need right now.

Pick
15
New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Kyle Pitts
Florida · TE · Junior

Pitts is too good of a talent to pass on, especially for an offense lacking playmakers.

Pick
16
Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
Christian Darrisaw
Virginia Tech · OT · Junior

Another option for the Cardinals could be an outside linebacker/pass rusher if they let Haason Reddick walk in free agency.

Pick
17
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders
Alijah Vera-Tucker
USC · OG · Junior (RS)

He's the best guard in the draft, but the more you watch the film, the more you ask, "Why can't he play left tackle?"

Pick
18
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
Gregory Rousseau
Miami · Edge · Sophomore (RS)

The Dolphins need a legitimate pass rusher on the outside and spend their second first-round pick on one of the top prospects at the position.

Pick
19
Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame · LB · Junior (RS)

A better prospect than Isaiah Simmons, Owusu-Koramoah will make an immediate impact and eventually become a star. A quarterback could certainly be in play here, depending on what Washington decides to do this offseason. 

Pick
20
Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
Kadarius Toney
Florida · WR · Senior

If the Bears keep Allen Robinson and add Toney -- a better prospect than Minnesota's budding star Justin Jefferson was a year ago -- they'll all of a sudden have a formidable receiving corps.

Pick
21
Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
Teven Jenkins
Oklahoma State · OT · Senior (RS)

With Anthony Castonzo's retirement, Jenkins fills in as a Day 1 starter to man Carson Wentz's blindside.

Pick
22
Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans
Jalen Mayfield
Michigan · OT · Sophomore (RS)

With the sticky situation around 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Wilson, the Titans must make sure a potential void at right tackle is filled.

Pick
23
New York Jets
New York Jets
Joe Tryon
Washington · Edge · Junior (RS)

There's a chance the Jets fill this need in free agency, but if they don't, Tryon would fit well in Robert Saleh's scheme.

Pick
24
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
Justin Fields
Ohio State · QB · Junior

Even though the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger are planning to continue their partnership, I don't see the veteran playing much longer. In a stunning turn of events, Fields slides all the way to No. 24 (obviously, it won't be a surprise if he goes much earlier than this) and Pittsburgh pounces at the chance to land a talented successor for Big Ben. Sitting behind a future Hall of Famer for a year is a prime spot for the Ohio State prospect.

Pick
25
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
Christian Barmore
Alabama · DT · Sophomore (RS)

The Jags couldn't stop the run last season, so this pick is dedicated to shoring up that weakness. I also won't be surprised if they choose to sign another defensive tackle in free agency.

Pick
26
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
Jaycee Horn
South Carolina · CB · Junior

The Browns need another cornerback to play opposite Denzel Ward to stop high-flying offenses in today's NFL, and 2019 second-round pick Greedy Williams missed all of last season with a nerve injury in his shoulder.

Pick
27
Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
Trevon Moehrig
TCU · S · Junior

They take the best player on the board and fill a need. There's a chance Baltimore decides to trade back to acquire more picks.

Pick
28
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
Jayson Oweh
Penn State · Edge · Sophomore (RS)

Assuming the Saints lose Trey Hendrickson in free agency, they replace the 2020 breakout pass rusher with Penn State's Oweh.

Pick
29
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
Zaven Collins
Tulsa · LB · Junior (RS)

Collins fills a big need for the Packers. Offensive tackle and cornerback are possibilities here, too.

Pick
30
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
Joseph Ossai
Texas · Edge · Junior

Jerry Hughes can't play forever -- although, it feels like he can at times -- so Buffalo brings in another young, hungry pass rusher after 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa recorded only one sack as a rookie.

Pick
31
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
Greg Newsome II
Northwestern · CB · Junior

The Chiefs will let a number of cornerbacks hit the market and upgrade the position with the rookie.

Pick
32
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Patrick Jones II
Pittsburgh · Edge · Senior (RS)

The Bucs have a lot of guys to pay this offseason, so my guess is Shaquil Barrett will depart in free agency. Jones would be a good fit in Todd Bowles' unit.

Follow Charley Casserly on Twitter.

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