2021 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers, Washington Football Team, teams to watch

North Dakota State QB Trey Lance. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
North Dakota State QB Trey Lance. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /
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Ohio State QB Justin Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio State QB Justin Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

2021 NFL mock draft: Picks 9-12

9. Denver Broncos: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State. The Broncos land a potential steal here. Fields is, arguably, the second-best quarterback in this draft class, but he’s falling to the back end of the top 10 here. It’s unclear exactly why, as Fields has great athletic ability, a very strong arm, and led Ohio State to a lot of success during his two years there.

Fields gives Denver a nice combination of polish (which Drew Lock still lacks) and upside (which the newly acquired Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t really have). They may have to move up to get him, but jumping up a few spots to get the QB the team needs to be a playoff contender would be well worth it, especially after the disasters the team dealt with at the position last year.

10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama. This pick appears to be set in stone, provided that Surtain is on the board. The Cowboys need cornerback help and saw plenty of Surtain last year while scouting their second-round pick Trevon Diggs, who also played corner at Alabama.

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Some teams prefer Surtain to Horn, so he could be the first corner off the board. Either way, he’s solid in coverage and has a lot of experience and comes from an Alabama defense that has routinely been among college football’s better stop unit. Reuniting with Diggs should give the Cowboys a solid corner tandem with Jourdan Lewis making an effective trio in the slot.

11. New York Giants: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama. This would be a dream scenario for the Giants. They want one of the two Alabama receivers, and Joe Judge likely prefers Smith to Waddle. Smith won the Heisman last year and is a great route runner with solid speed and will be one of the most polished receiver prospects in this year’s draft.

Pairing the leaner Smith with the big-bodied Kenny Golladay and speedy Darius Slayton will give Daniel Jones three great receivers to work with. Add in Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley and that offense is looking strong… if Jones can make the leap.

12. Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Kwity Payne, Michigan. The Eagles would like to get a top receiver or a cornerback here, but none are available. As a result, they’ll have to make a tough decision about what need to address.

This came down to offensive lineman Rashawn Slater and Paye here, but I went with Paye here. By all accounts, the Eagles very much like Paye. The Michigan product is a very athletic defensive end and is viewed as one of the best pass rushers in the class.

With Brandon Graham, 33, nearing the end of his career, Paye could be a long-term replacement for the Michigan product and a short-term addition to the rotation of Graham, Derek Barnett, and Josh Sweat.

Edge rush may not be the biggest need for the Eagles, but they are going through a rebuild. If they think Paye is the best player or a long-term difference-maker, they could pull the trigger on him here.