2021 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Picks Entering the New Year

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystJanuary 1, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Picks Entering the New Year

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    So much happened in such a small amount of time.

    The previous statement rings true whether discussing the ongoing global pandemic, professional sports or, more specifically, the NFL draft. What happened a year ago seems so long ago yet serves as a learning experience for what comes next. 

    Now, think back to a year ago.

    LSU's Joe Burrow emerged as the consensus No. 1 overall pick despite not being considered a first-round talent prior to the start of his historic Heisman-winning campaign. No one knew if Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa would be able to play football again, let alone become a top-five selection.

    Clyde Edwards-Helaire certainly wasn't the consensus top running back prospect, but he heard his name called before any other ball-carrier. We couldn't foresee Justin Jefferson being the fifth wide receiver selected in a historic class and then putting together arguably the greatest rookie season ever at the position. 

    The draft process is ever-evolving. As we near the end of the college bowl season and NFL regular season, similar types of movement are occurring. 

    BYU's Zach Wilson has experienced a meteoric rise. Another Alabama quarterback, Mac Jones, could be a first-round surprise. Maybe a running back goes in the first round, but maybe not. Multiple wide receivers will hear their names called in 2021's opening frame, and the top performer probably won't be the first one selected. 

    Things change on a week-by-week basis.

    This week, the new year starts with a bang as five teams find their new franchise quarterback (hint, hint, Pittsburgh Steelers fans), five wide receivers find their way into the first round, and the Green Bay Packers do the unthinkable in Bleacher Report's latest mock draft. 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Trevor Lawrence going No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL draft is the league's worst-kept secret. 

    In a league where no one is supposed to "tamper" or give away any advantage, everyone expects the same thing: Lawrence will be leading the Jacksonville Jaguars offense next season. A current NFL general manager admitted as much to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer

    While the term "generational talent" no longer holds any meaning because it's used so often, Lawrence is certainly the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck entered the league nearly nine years ago. 

    At this juncture, the bigger question in Jacksonville is who will be coaching Lawrence next season. From this point forward, the organization's only goal should be putting its future starting quarterback in the best possible position to succeed, and it has plenty of draft picks left (10 more) to do so. 

2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, Brigham Young

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    George Frey/Associated Press

    Zach Wilson's continued ascension up draft boards reached a fever pitch in recent weeks with his 425-yard passing performance in the Boca Raton Bowl, compared to Ohio State's Justin Fields after his underwhelming performances against the Indiana Hoosiers and then against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

    While Fields shouldn't be graded too harshly based on the extenuating circumstances this season, Wilson now has a firm grasp on being QB2 in this year's draft class.

    Everyone can see the natural arm talent and creativity found within his game. While Wilson can work outside of structure and consistently deliver the ball, he doesn't do so recklessly. As Pro Football Focus noted (h/t NFL Network's Ben Fennell), he has the fewest turnover-worthy plays from a collegiate quarterback with 200 or more dropbacks this season. 

    The entire situation may be unfair to Sam Darnold. Still, the wise move for the Jets is to start fresh by marrying a new head coach with an incoming top talent at quarterback.

3. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

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    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins have the luxury of a top-three draft pick thanks to the incompetence of the Houston Texans. As such, they can go in numerous directions depending on which elite prospects are available. 

    In this case, the top two quarterbacks are off the board, which affords Miami the opportunity to take the best position player in the class. 

    Some may argue against a linebacker with a top-three selection, but Penn State's Micah Parsons isn't a typical linebacker prospect. He brings value as an exceptional athlete, instinctive defender and capable pass-rusher. 

    Furthermore, Parsons is an ideal fit in Brian Flores' defensive scheme. The 21-year-old can start in the middle next to Jerome Baker but move all over the field to exploit weaknesses in opposing offenses. Think back to what Tedy Bruschi did for the New England Patriots.

    Flores understands the value of that type of performer. 

4. Atlanta Falcons: Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan

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    Tony Ding/Associated Press

    Maybe the third time is the charm for the Atlanta Falcons. 

    The organization spent first-round picks on Vic Beasley Jr. and Takkarist McKinley in the last six years while trying to address its pass rush. Neither is with the team any longer. 

    To make matters worse, Dante Fowler Jr. has been a free-agent disappointment. 

    The Falcons can't let a premium position continually go to waste. Michigan's Kwity Paye may not be considered a top-five prospect by some, but he likely will be when it's all said and done. 

    The Athletic's Bruce Feldman dubbed the 6'4", 272-pound defensive end as college football's biggest athletic "freak" before the season began. More importantly, the former high school running back has the skill set to consistently harass opposing quarterbacks.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Aside from Trevor Lawrence going No. 1 overall, Oregon's Penei Sewell to the Cincinnati Bengals is the closest thing to a no-brainer in the 2021 NFL draft. 

    The Bengals must protect this past year's No. 1 overall pick, Joe Burrow, at all costs. Maybe the quarterback's season-ending knee injury wasn't a direct result of a breakdown up front, but the punishment he took all year can't be overlooked. 

    Burrow missed the last five games, yet he's still ranked among the top eight quarterbacks by enduring 32 sacks. 

    Sewell is a plug-and-play left tackle after dominating as a sophomore and winning the previous season's Outland Trophy. Current left tackle Jonah Williams originally started on the right side for the Alabama Crimson Tide before flipping sides. He can make the reverse happen in Cincinnati, thus drastically improving the Bengals' entire offensive front. 

6. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    It's been a year, so some might forget just how amazing Ja'Marr Chase was when he last graced a football field. 

    During the LSU Tigers' magical 2019 run, Chase led college football with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdown receptions. His average of 21.2 yards per catch ranked first among targets with more than 30 receptions, as well. 

    Other receivers may be better pure route-runners or present faster straight-line speed, but even at 6'1" and 200 pounds, Chase is easily the most physically imposing target because of how strong he is through the jam and working to the ball. Make no mistake, he can also create separation and serves as an awesome downfield threat. 

    The Philadephia Eagles simply need more from their wide receiver position. Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson aren't expected to return. Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward Jr. and Travis Fulgham form a nice trio, but Chase would give the team a true No. 1 target. 

7. Detroit Lions: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Sweeping change already began in Detroit when the Lions fired general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia over a month ago. The process should continue throughout the roster, starting with the quarterback position. 

    Matthew Stafford has given everything he has to the franchise, and it hasn't been enough. The Lions have a chance to start fresh at the game's most important position and should do so. According to Over The Cap, they can release or trade their current starter and save $14 million. If they do so with a June 1 designation, that number jumps to $20 million. 

    The past month or so hasn't been particularly kind to Ohio State's Justin Fields, but he should still be considered an outstanding quarterback prospect. A competent play-caller/head coach playing to the 21-year-old's strengths should coax the same franchise ability out of Fields that everyone previously saw during the 2019 campaign. 

8. New York Giants: Edge Gregory Rousseau, Miami

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    Chris Seward/Associated Press

    The New York Giants can go one of two ways, depending on which prospects are available to them.

    Either the organization continues its investment in the offense after drafting running back Saquon Barkley, quarterback Daniel Jones and left tackle Andrew Thomas or it can build upon a strength by making an already good defense even better. 

    In this instance, the latter seems a prudent decision based on overall availability. 

    As good as the Giants defense is, the unit does lack a consistent presence off the edge. Interior defenders Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence rank first and second in sacks. Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell is third with three. 

    Miami's Gregory Rousseau is a long and talented edge-defender with plenty of potential to tap into after posting 15.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman during the 2019 campaign. He can play alongside a returning Lorenzo Carter, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon this season, as the Giants' defensive bookends for years to come. 

9. Carolina Panthers: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    The 2020 campaign served as a pseudo-feeling-out period for the Carolina Panthers under the direction of head coach Matt Rhule. They emerged as a competitive team with deficiencies throughout the roster.

    Quarterback is the obvious starting point. 

    Teddy Bridgewater certainly isn't a bad option behind center. At the same time, he's not a game-changer. He can be an efficient operator within the scheme, but he's not the type of signal-caller to elevate the play of those around him.

    The Panthers can save $8 million by cutting Bridgewater later this year with a June 1 designation. However, he might be the ideal bridge toward another starter. 

    North Dakota State's Trey Lance is easily the most intriguing prospect in the entire class because he's played so little at a lower level. The 20-year-old has 17 career starts under his belt and only one this past season due to cancellations throughout college football.

    His continued progression as a passer, coupled with playmaking ability in the run game, gives him as much upside as anyone in the class. 

10. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Questions will arise about whether Alabama's Patrick Surtain II is fast or twitchy enough to play cornerback at a high level in the NFL.

    While those questions shouldn't be entirely downplayed, Surtain displays high-level competency in zone and man coverage, as well as route recognition thanks to good coaching and his family history. According to Pro Football Focus, no cornerback graded better this season. 

    Also, the 6'2", 202-pounder is a long and physical defensive back. 

    In Denver, the Broncos could use a slight overhaul to the cornerback room. A.J. Bouye might not return thanks to his recent suspension and a non-guaranteed $11.9 million salary-cap hit next season. De'Vante Bausby is a pending free agent, as well. 

    Surtain can step in and start opposite Michael Ojemudia to form a potential-laden cornerback duo. 

11. Dallas Cowboys: OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Don't be surprised when Rashawn Slater's name comes up as the best offensive tackle in the class. In fact, it already has

    Slater is athletic and aggressive, and he moves well. He might be slightly undersized (6'3", 305 lbs) by traditional standards, but he's clearly showed the ability to remain at left tackle based on his skill set. 

    The idea of adding another elite blocker to Dallas' once-vaunted, now-crumbling offensive front has to be tantalizing. The Cowboys defense needs a lot of help, of course. Conversely, the offense can carry this team if the unit remains healthy.

    Unfortunately, veteran left tackle Tyron Smith can't seem to stay healthy and underwent season-ending neck surgery. His future status remains unknown. 

    If Smith returns, Slater can slide to guard. If the seven-time Pro Bowl selection can't play to the same expected level, the rookie will serve as his replacement. 

12. Los Angeles Chargers: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is the answer to everything.

    OK, that might be a bit of an overstatement. But the ascension of last year's sixth overall draft pick into star status during his rookie campaign has solved the Chargers' biggest problem.

    Now, every question asked should focus on the same concept: How does the proposed move help Herbert's long-term development? 

    The offensive line, particularly left tackle, automatically jumps out as the team's top offseason priority. Sam Tevi isn't the answer as a blindside protector. 

    Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw is an impressive run-blocker at the point of attack and displays a naturally fluid pass set. He also plays with a great base, which allows him to match and mirror any defender on the move. 

13. Minnesota Vikings: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

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    Matt Cashore/Associated Press

    Head coach Mike Zimmer recently called this year's Minnesota Vikings defense the "worst one I've ever had."

    While the defensive front certainly has holes to address and the secondary ranks among the league's bottom 10 in pass defense, Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah brings a special skill set at linebacker to improve the entire scheme. 

    The reigning Butkus Award winner is an athletic hybrid capable of playing downhill, sideline-to-sideline and in space. He can bump out to the slot or play some safety. He's a chess piece capable of moving all over a formation. 

    With Eric Wilson slated to enter free agency, Owusu-Koramoah can start alongside Eric Kendricks and a returning Anthony Barr while providing more flexibility to the system.

14. New England Patriots: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Florida tight end Kyle Pitts shouldn't be available at this point in the process because he's a top-10 talent. But positional value will likely play a part in where he lands. 

    His potential short-term financial loss is the New England Patriots' gain. 

    While quarterback will remain the main offseason talking point, Bill Belichick's squad lacks talent at multiple positions. For instance, New England's tight ends have combined to make 15 receptions for 209 yards. Rob Gronkowski isn't walking through that door. 

    Pitts has the potential to be a Gronk-like gamechanger. The 6'6" target is a constant mismatch in the passing game, and whoever is playing quarterback can utilize him. Plus, the consensus All-American can play inline and out wide to create some much-needed flexibility within the Patriots offense. 

15. San Francisco 49ers: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers should enter next season with a brand new cornerback room since Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, K'Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jamar Taylor, Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson are impending free agents. 

    Maybe the organization re-signs a couple of those defensive backs, but general manager John Lynch surely won't re-sign all of them, especially if defensive coordinator Robert Saleh becomes a head coach elsewhere and brings a few with him. 

    Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley is a potential top-10 prospect, but a couple of factors could cause him to slide slightly.

    Obviously, he was counted among those who didn't play this season. Second, his injury history will be scrutinized throughout the predraft process. He played only one full season during his time on campus. 

    Still, Farley is a 6'2", 207-pound corner with elite athleticism, excellent coverage ability and ball skills. Those traits go a long way. 

16. Las Vegas Raiders: Edge Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    The ghost of seasons' past, aka Khalil Mack, continues to haunt the Raiders organization. 

    Las Vegas can't generate a consistent pass rush. The defense has been counted among the league's worst in sack production since the team made the ill-fated trade with the Chicago Bears. 

    Clelin Ferrell continues to underwhelm. Maxx Crosby can only do so much. The team signed both Vic Beasley Jr. and Takkarist McKinley during the season in a desperate attempt to improve the stagnant pressure packages. 

    These mistakes must be rectified with the right draft pick. 

    Georgia's Azeez Ojulari is interesting in that he can help in two areas. The edge-defender is a hybrid capable of starting at SAM backer while also adding his explosive pass-rushing capabilities into the mix. He may not be a traditional defensive end, but his inclusion would boost the team's weakest area while allowing others to grow in their natural roles.

17. Arizona Cardinals: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

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    Bruce Newman/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals continue to trend in the right direction with a potential playoff berth on the horizon. But as an organization builds itself up after a disappointing downturn, it takes time for the front office to address every position. 

    Case in point, cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson has been a thorn in the Cardinals' proverbial side for multiple seasons. Plus, Peterson's status with the team remains in limbo since he's a pending free agent. 

    Thus, Arizona is likely looking for a pair of starting outside corners this offseason (with Byron Murphy Jr. in the slot). 

    South Carolina's Jaycee Horn brings a different level of physicality and attitude to a secondary. He could step in immediately as the Cardinals' top cover corner, especially in man coverage, if the organization decides to move on from Peterson. He's exactly the type of defensive back who can be left on an island or mirror an opponent's top receiver. 

18. Indianapolis Colts: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The quarterback position will drive the conversation when it comes to the Indianapolis Colts since Jacob Eason is the only signal-caller under contract next season. General manager Chris Ballard could pull the trigger here on a quarterback prospect even though it may be considered a tad early for the next tier of options. 

    Instead, the Colts can stand pat and grab the best player in college football since he didn't come off the board as early as expected in this particular scenario. 

    Alabama's DeVonta Smith seems to fit the mold of what Ballard wants in a football player. The wide receiver does the little things to excel and does so without much bluster. He puts his head down and works, as evidenced by leading the Crimson Tide in receiving each of the last two seasons even with all the talent found on the roster. 

    Considering T.Y. Hilton is in the last year of his current contract, Smith and Michael Pittman Jr. would be outstanding options for whoever starts at quarterback next season.  

19. Washington Football Team: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Much like the Colts with the previous pick, quarterback will be at the forefront of any discussions regarding the Washington Football Team. Whoever takes over as general manager can make a statement with a signal-caller at this juncture. 

    The smarter move may be to take the best available player, especially at a position of need. 

    Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is a dynamic open-field playmaker and dangerous deep threat. His short-area quickness and overall burst allow him to create significant separation to threaten every blade of grass on a football field. 

    His presence would bring something different to Washington's offense. Terry McLaurin is much faster than people suspect with a 4.35-second 40-yard dash, but route-running is his greatest strength, whereas Waddle is a creator with the ball in his hands. 

    McLaurin, Waddle, Steven Sims Jr., Cam Sims, Kelvin Harmon and tight end Logan Thomas could create a formidable passing attack. 

20. Chicago Bears: OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Another quarterback conundrum—this time courtesy of the Chicago Bears—takes center stage. 

    In the Bears' case, a previously unlikely solution may come to the forefront if the organization decides to retain Mitchell Trubisky, who has played better after being benched and returning to the lineup. 

    Whatever the outcome behind center, Chicago must address the positions lined up next to the snapper, particularly those on the right side of the offensive line. 

    Right tackle is the obvious starting point since Bobby Massie turns 32 next year and the Bears can save $5.4 million with his release, per Over the Cap

    Michigan's Jalen Mayfield is a natural right tackle. He's powerful at the point of attack with solid lateral agility. Plus, the 20-year-old is still learning and mastering his technique. His growth potential is immense as one of the youngest prospects in the class. 

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams): OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Step one: Draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Check. 

    Step two: Build an impenetrable offensive line in front of Lawrence. Check. 

    With Cam Robinson set to enter free agency and no guarantee the Jacksonville Jaguars are even interested in retaining his services, left tackle jumps to the top of the team's priorities once Lawrence's name is officially announced at the start of the draft. 

    One can argue other left tackle prospects still available present more upside compared to Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg. At the same time, a polished technician and experienced blocker to immediately insert into the lineup likely holds more value. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Eichenberg went two-plus seasons without allowing a sack. Another prospect like Texas' Samuel Cosmi may be a more fluid athlete, but playing offensive line at a high level is about repeatable technique, which is where Eichenberg holds an edge. 

22. Cleveland Browns: Edge Joseph Ossai, Texas

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns defense is soft. It's somewhat amazing they've managed a 10-5 record and a shot at a playoff appearance with one side of the ball playing so poorly. 

    Anyone who's watched Kevin Stefanski's squad this season knows that if Myles Garrett or Denzel Ward don't make a game-changing play in a contest, the unit can't do much. 

    The Browns need help at all three levels. An edge-defender is the logical starting point since Olivier Vernon, who came on as of late, is an impending free agent. 

    Texas' Joseph Ossai is a relentless defensive end with 10.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. While the Browns need pash-rush help, he also developed into an elite run defender. As Hook 'em Headlines noted, he led all Power Five edge-rushers with 31 run stops. 

23. Miami Dolphins: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    With the addition of Micah Parsons earlier in this mock draft, the Miami Dolphins selected a potential difference-maker for a unit that already ranks No. 1 overall in scoring defense. 

    The offense isn't as well off, though the franchise appears to have its answer at quarterback with Tua Tagovailoa. As with other young quarterbacks mentioned, the goal remains the same: building around the talented triggerman. 

    Miami has talent at wide receiver with DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, though the latter has finished his first two seasons on injured reserve. A third option is necessary to expand the passing attack. 

    Minnesota's Rashod Bateman excelled in limited opportunities this season. The 6'2" target managed over 100 receiving yards in three of his five appearances. He has a complete skill set with strong hands, excellent body control and the ability to create after the catch, and he works both outside the numbers and from the slot. 

24. Baltimore Ravens: OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens are playing well as of late, but the offense as a whole hasn't been quite the same this season. 

    Some of the issues stem from injuries, particularly to left tackle Ronnie Stanley. But the Ravens really didn't have anyone to replace the now-retired Marshal Yanda, either. Granted, no one can replace a potential future Hall of Fame inductee, but the organization didn't do much of anything to fill the void. 

    Bradley Bozeman has started every game at left guard, but the Ravens can clearly upgrade there. Ben Powers is now starting at right guard. 

    Really, the Ravens should take advantage of the ability to land the class' best guard prospect in USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker. An added bonus is that can play all over the line of scrimmage. Vera-Tucker was an excellent guard in 2019; he might have been even better at left tackle this past season.

    If Baltimore endures a rash of injuries again, Vera-Tucker's flexibility would lessen the blow. 

25. Tennessee Titans: Edge Jaelan Phillips, Miami

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans signed Vic Beasley Jr. and Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. Neither worked in the team's favor. Beasley is no longer on the roster, and Clowney sits on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Harold Landry III leads the team with a meager 4.5 sacks. 

    Landry is a talented edge-rusher, but he needs help in the worst way. 

    Jaelan Phillips emerged as a premier edge-defender in Miami this past season. The former 5-star recruit went from being semi-retired to a potential first-round pick, all in a matter of three years.

    Injuries played a large part in his decision to step away from the game for a season, and a history of concussions may scare some NFL teams. But if he checks out during the medical evaluations, his stock will skyrocket because he was nearly unstoppable for the Hurricanes in 2020.

    Eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 10 games don't even fully encapsulate how disruptive Phillips can be working off the edge. 

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Daviyon Nixon, Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    The incoming defensive tackle class isn't good. Teams in search of big guys up front to hold the point of attack and collapse the pocket may have better luck looking elsewhere. 

    For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their roster is quite talented with few areas of need. However, the defensive interior could be a problem. Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon are free agents after this season. Plus, William Gholston doesn't have any guaranteed money included in the final year of his current deal.

    On top of those potential departures, Vita Vea will be coming back from season-ending leg and ankle fractures. 

    If any team is going to take a chance on a first-round defensive tackle, Tampa Bay is the obvious candidate. 

    Iowa's Daviyon Nixon may be one of the most surprising players in the first-round mix. In 2019, he served as a rotational part of the Hawkeyes defense, only to develop into the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American. He consistently plays in opposing backfields, which is rare among this year's defensive tackle group. 

27. New York Jets (from Seattle): WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    The New York Jets spent the previous offseason rebuilding their trenches. General manager Joe Douglas added Connor McGovern, George Fant and Greg Van Roten in free agency and drafted Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall selection. 

    Normally, the offensive line would be the primary concentration after taking a quarterback, which the Jets did with the second overall pick in this scenario. Instead, Gang Green desperately needs an outside receiver.

    Jamison Crowder is spectacular from the slot, but Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims have combined to grab 49 receptions for 763 yards while working outside the numbers. 

    LSU's Terrance Marshall Jr. is capable of consistently winning one-on-one matchups. He's particularly good in the red zone thanks to his 6'4" stature, big frame, outstanding body control and ball-tracking. He and Crowder would be an excellent duo, working from twins sets to help open up the entire aerial attack. 

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers need some sort of long-term plan at the quarterback position. 

    Ben Roethlisberger starting another year is the team's only real option at the moment. The 38-year-old intends to play next season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, but his $41.3 million salary-cap hit puts a crimp on the organization's offseason possibilities. 

    As such, the best route to address quarterback beyond the 2021 season is through the draft. Some may see this particular selection as a reach. Others could say it's a value pick. There's no consensus on the quarterbacks once the top four are off the board. 

    In Mac Jones' case, the Heisman Trophy finalist is on track to break Joe Burrow's efficiency record. The Alabama quarterback has been a deadly downfield passer. Per Pro Football Focus, he currently holds the highest grade of any college football quarterback since the site started charting the amateur ranks. 

29. New Orleans Saints: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

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    Joey Johnson/Associated Press

    One question defines all linebackers in today's NFL: How well do they work in space? 

    If a second-line defender struggles in coverage, opposing play-callers and quarterbacks will find and exploit him mercilessly. A modern-day backer must be more comfortable with his responsibilities on passing downs and can't just be a downhill thumper. 

    If a prospect can do both, he's a first-round talent even at a devalued position. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Tulsa's Zaven Collins holds the highest coverage grade by a linebacker since 2014. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner has to throttle down most of the time just to make sure he doesn't overrun his responsibilities since he's capable of beating backs to the hole. He's listed at 6'4" and 260 pounds, and the NFL hasn't seen a linebacker prospect quite like him since Brian Urlacher. 

    The New Orleans Saints certainly understand the value of the position since they've attempted to improve their linebacker corps all season. 

30. Buffalo Bills: CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State

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    Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills own one of the league's best pass defenses, yet the organization has a little problem at cornerback. 

    Tre'Davious White is an elite cover corner, and Taron Johnson is a solid nickel corner. But Levi Wallace and Josh Norman are free agents after this season. 

    One of the two, particularly Wallace, could return if the Bills try to re-sign them. But the old cliche rings true in this instance: You can never have too many cornerbacks.

    In this case, a caveat can be added: You can never have too many cornerbacks with ball skills.

    Florida State's Asante Samuel Jr. was born to cover wide receivers and do so at a high level. He isn't just a ballhawk because he's smooth through his backpedal and drives on balls with outstanding quickness; he also understands route combinations with the ability to bait quarterbacks into certain throws. 

    His skill set would be a great addition opposite White. 

31. Green Bay Packers: WR RonDale Moore, Purdue

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    After 16 seasons, Aaron Rodgers is still waiting for the Green Bay Packers to draft a first-round skill-position prospect at wide receiver, tight end or running back. 

    The front office's unwillingness to invest in and around the all-time great is mindboggling. Maybe general manager Brian Gutekunst will finally snap the streak in April. And he should. 

    Sure, the Packers have been just fine this season with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and tight end Robert Tonyan as the offense's top options beyond four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams. But the offense can be even better with another play-creator in the system. 

    Purdue's Rondale Moore can be used as a versatile piece to the puzzle. Head coach/offensive play-caller Matt LaFleur could use the 20-year-old as an outside receiver, work him from the slot, bring him on fly sweeps, call wide receiver screens, etc.

    Moore would bring a little more unpredictability to the Packers. 

32. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Derion Kendrick, Clemson

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Obviously, the Kansas City Chiefs have yet to win a second straight Super Bowl. Their current positioning is nothing more than slotting based on the team's regular-season record. But Patrick Mahomes and Co. can certainly repeat based on how well they've played. 

    The Chiefs pass defense ranked in the middle of the league this and last year, though. Opponents throwing on them makes sense considering how prolific the Kansas City offense usually is, which is all the more reason to invest in the secondary. 

    Bashaud Breeland and Antonio Hamilton will be unrestricted free agents once the current campaign is complete, while Charvarius Ward will fall under the restricted variety. 

    Rookie L'Jarius Sneed has been a revelation, and the Chiefs should invest in another toolsy defensive back with significant upside.

    Clemson's Derion Kendrick is still developing after converting from wide receiver. Even so, he showed shutdown ability at points this season and would give Kansas City another long and athletic outside corner. 


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