2021 NFL Draft: Neil Reynolds’ mock top 10 picks for Thursday’s first round

While the very top of this NFL Draft offers more certain than in previous years, predicting how each pick will come off the board is still a very risky proposition. It only takes one wrong move for the whole house of cards to come tumbling down.

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For clarity, I’m keeping things simple with my mock draft of the top 10 and not getting involved in any further trades… even though I think the Atlanta Falcons are definitely open for business at No 4 – in fact, I think it makes way more sense for them to trade down rather than stay put and pick at four.

So, here’s how I see the top 10 picks coming off the board on Thursday night…

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1) Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

This is no time to get cute. Jacksonville need to sprint to the podium and grab the franchise quarterback everyone has been itching to see arrive in the NFL.

2) New York Jets – Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)

The fast-rising star out of Brigham Young University has all the tools to be a star in the Big Apple. Jets fans won’t be booing this pick on Thursday night.

3) San Francisco 49ers – Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)

It will be one, two and three at quarterback for only the third time in NFL history. Jones may not ‘wow’ like some in this class, but he can smoothly run Kyle Shanahan’s attack.

4) Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)

Look out for quarterback-hungry teams like New England, Chicago, Denver and Carolina to potentially trade up here. Also, Dallas, as they reportedly love Pitts. If Atlanta stays put, they must take the super-talented tight end.

5) Cincinnati Bengals – Penai Sewell (OT, Oregon)

I very much understand the argument that Cincinnati should take receiver Ja’Marr Chase, but their offensive line is terrible and the reason Joe Burrow ended 2020 with a torn ACL. Protect the franchise!

6) Miami Dolphins – Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)

Miami’s passing game targets were questionable in 2020 – to say the least. Grabbing the best wideout in the class offers instant help to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in a ‘prove it’ year.

7) Detroit Lions – Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)

Did the Lions really want Jared Goff as their long-term answer at QB, or did they just do the Rams a solid and get him off their books? I think they would be very interested in grabbing an athletic youngster at the position here.

8) Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater (OT, Northwestern)

Carolina’s offensive line was better in 2020 and not quite the disaster of 2019. But there is still much work to be done and why not kick off the Sam Darnold era with improved protection?

9) Denver Broncos – Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)

The Broncos are in no way sold on Drew Lock as their franchise QB. If they don’t think they can grab either Fields or Lance here at number nine, look for them to maybe move up the board on Thursday.

10) Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)

I’m suggesting we don’t get the top 10 clean sweep of offensive players for the first time in the Super Bowl era. Dallas are crying out for secondary help and Surtain II is the best cornerback in this class.

Watch all three days of the 2021 NFL Draft unfold on Sky Sports NFL, April 29-May 1, starting with live build-up to day one at 8pm on Thursday, April 29 with the first picks expected to be made just after 1am.

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