NFL Mock Draft 2021: Chase, Pitts, Horn improve stock through pro days

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April 19 (UPI) — Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence remains the No. 1 overall pick in my latest mock draft, but Justin Fields, Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase and Jaycee Horn improved their stock at recent pro days.

Several off-season trades, releases and signings should impact the order top prospects are selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

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NFL scouts evaluated college prospects at on-campus pro days this spring because the annual scouting combine was canceled due to COVID-19.

Those scouts tracked 40-yard dash times, measured vertical and broad jumps, counted bench-press repetitions and more. They use that information, in addition to game film and interviews, to determine who they should pick in the draft.

The pro day workout schedule started March 5 and ended April 9. The 2021 NFL Draft is from April 29 to May 1 in Cleveland. A select number of prospects and fans will be in attendance, while other prospects participate remotely from their homes.

2021 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Lawrence had a personal pro day before Clemson’s official session because he required shoulder surgery. He threw a variety of passes, but did not run the 40-yard dash or participate in other drills at his pro day.

Lawrence, who is expected to be healthy for the start of the NFL season, threw a 65-yard pass during his pro day, which awed the NFL team representatives in attendance.

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2. New York Jets – QB Zach Wilson, BYU

Speculation ended over what the Jets would do with the No. 2 overall pick when the team traded former quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. The Jets are expected to select Wilson and Justin Fields on the first day of the draft.

Wilson did not run a 40-yard dash, but threw several passes that traveled more than 50 yards at his pro day.

“The game of football is changing, especially the quarterback position,” Wilson told reporters at his pro day on March 26. “You want someone who is athletic and mobile in the pocket, and can make all the throws, but also extend and make things from different angles, and different things like that, so it was good to work some of that.”

3. San Francisco 49ers – QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Fields posted great statistics in his two seasons as the starting quarterback at Ohio State. He likely improved his draft stock with a win over Lawrence’s Clemson Tigers on Jan. 1 in the College Football Playoff Semifinals.

The former Buckeyes quarterback wowed scouts even more when he ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and showed off his strong arm with some very deep throws at his pro day March 30 in Columbus, Ohio.

“Of course, as I think everybody knows, my goal in that 40-yard dash was to be at least in the 4.3s, so of course I’m kind of mad about that,” Fields told reporters at his pro day.

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“But, you know, other than that, I thought I threw pretty well. I thought I just had a few missed throws, but that happens. Not everybody is going to be perfect.”

The 49ers traded with the Miami Dolphins in March to acquire the No. 3 overall pick. They are expected to select one of the top quarterback prospects.

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4. Atlanta Falcons – TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

Pitts is arguably the most-athletic player in this draft class. He already was the top projected tight end in the class by a wide margin, but posted such solid pro day numbers that he could be selected within the Top 5 picks of the draft.

The 6-foot-6, 245-pound former Florida star ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, a time typically reserved for much smaller players.

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5. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

6. Miami Dolphins – WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

7. Detroit Lions – WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

Chase opted out of last season at LSU due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The former Tigers wide receiver was expected to be the first wide receiver selected in the draft, but his absence allowed other playmakers to make up ground on his draft stock, like DeVonta Smith.

Despite his hiatus, Chase is now back atop the wide receiver position in most mock drafts. He logged a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, a 41-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot standing broad jump at his March 31 pro day in Baton Rouge.

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“I just want to be great,” Chase told reporters at his March 31 pro day. “There’s no way for me to sit down outside and be lazy and get passed up every day. Someone is always outworking me somehow and someway. I got to remember that and keep working.”

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8. Carolina Panthers – LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

9. Denver Broncos – CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

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10. Dallas Cowboys – CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

Horn arguably elevated his draft stock more than any other prospect in his pro day workout. The former South Carolina cornerback has now moved into the early part of the first round in most mock drafts. He ran a blazing 4.39-second 40-yard dash and posted an impressive vertical jump of 41.5 inches at his pro day.

11. New York Giants – EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan

12. Philadelphia Eagles – WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

13. Los Angeles Chargers – CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

14. Minnesota Vikings – OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

15. New England Patriots – QB Mac Jones, Alabama

16. Arizona Cardinals – LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

17. Las Vegas Raiders – OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

18. Miami Dolphins – OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

19. Washington Football Team – QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

20. Chicago Bears – CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

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21. Indianapolis Colts – WR Kadarius Toney, Florida

22. Tennessee Titans – EDGE Gregory Rousseau, Miami

23. New York Jets – OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

25. Jacksonville Jaguars – EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

26. Cleveland Browns – EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

27. Baltimore Ravens – S Taylor Moehrig, TCU

28. New Orleans Saints – CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State

29. Green Bay Packers – LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

30. Buffalo Bills – EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State

31. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Nick Bolton, Missouri