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A way too early and entirely unnecessary 2021 NFL mock draft

2021 Draft Season officially begins

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t like mock drafts, so why am I’m doing a 2021 mock draft while the ink is still drying on the New York Giants 2020 draft class?

Yeah, I know that’s an ... unconventional way to start a post about a mock draft, but it’s also true. As far as I’m concerned, mock drafts are useful as ways to talk about college prospects from the perspective of team needs and scheme fits.

All too often the goal of mock drafting as an exercise gets lost in the noise and people get more worked up about whether or not a mock draft is “right”. And then there’s the inevitable backlash against posting mock drafts because they’re “useless” and so often “wrong”.

But there’s one other aspect of mock drafting that is related to what I do find useful about them and can actually be fascinating, and that is how they change over time. A year ago Grant Delpit and Tyler Biadasz were heralded as high first-round picks. Nine months ago, A.J. Epenesa was considered one as well. Joe Burrow, Mekhi Becton, and K’Lavon Chaisson, meanwhile, were almost complete unknowns.

I want to see how our perception of the 2021 class and the Giants’ team needs change over the next 12 months. So, let this be the first data point.

To do the draft I’m using The Draft Network’s draft simulator, as they already have a preliminary 2021 Big Board posted. I decided to run a three-round mock.

As things stand now, TDN has the Giants drafting at sixth overall.

Round 1 - No. 6 Overall

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The Giants just completely bypassed the best wide receiver class in recent memory despite having multiple questions regarding their receiving options. Right now it remains to be seen how Chase will respond to losing both Joe Burrow and Joe Brady to the NFL. But while he had them, the sophomore produced an insane 20 touchdown season, averaging 21.2 yards per catch on 84 receptions. Chase is 5th overall on TDN’s big board.

Passed on: Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State - 6th overall), Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State - 8th overall)

Round 2 - 38th Overall

Xavier Thomas, EDGE, Clemson

Thomas has the tools to be an ascending EDGE prospect, with a good get-off, good hand usage, solid quickness, and even has some ability to drop into space. But so far he doesn’t have the production. He’s had 8.5 and 8.0 tackles for a loss in his two years at Clemson, but only 5.0 total sacks. He is listed at 265 pounds and looks about that on tape. I think he could be a prospect to watch if he leans out a bit over the summer and plays his junior season at roughly 250 pounds. Thomas is 35th overall on TDN’s big board.

Passed On: Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri - 32nd overall), Charles Snowden (OLB, Virginia - 43rd overall)

Round 3 - 70th Overall

Jabril Cox, LB, LSU

Speaking of ascending prospects, you’ll hear more about Cox this year. A two-time All American at North Dakota State University (aka “The Alabama Of The FCS”), Cox signed with LSU as a graduate transfer. At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, he looks like the prototypical off-ball linebacker for the modern NFL. He was instinctive, athletic, and productive at NDSU, and getting SEC coaching and experience could help put a final polish on Cox for the NFL. Cox is 72nd on TDN’s big board.

Passed On: Tuf Borland (LB, Ohio State - 73rd overall), Chazz Surratt (LB, North Carolina - 75th overall)