2021 NFL Mock Draft: B/R's Post-Super Bowl Predictions

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystFebruary 8, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft: B/R's Post-Super Bowl Predictions

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    With Super Bowl LV now in the rearview mirror, the NFL offseason is officially underway with the draft set to dominate the festivities. 

    But the meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers can serve as a template for others searching to establish a winning culture and Super Bowl standard. 

    While Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is the consensus No. 1 overall talent, organizations that land other quarterbacks in the draft understand the great Patrick Mahomes went 10th overall. In fact, the Chiefs' explosive receiving corps features multiple non-first-round talents in Tyreek Hill (fifth round), Mecole Hardman (second), Demarcus Robinson (fourth) and tight end Travis Kelce (third). 

    On the flip side, the Buccaneers took advantage of an excellent 2020 draft class to help fill out an already-talented roster. First-round right tackle Tristan Wirfs played as well as any other rookie. Second-round safety Antoine Winfield Jr. served as a playmaker along the Buccaneers backline. Fifth-round wide receiver Tyler Johnson flashed, too. 

    Good teams find a way to add quality talent in the draft no matter where they're slotted. And that will be doubly true in a year when the entire process will be turned upside down thanks to the cancellation of the combine and limitations placed on usual scouting methods. 

    In order to dethrone the league's best, everything starts with a critical first-round selection. The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    There's very little reason to believe any other prospect will eventually usurp Trevor Lawrence's standing as the favorite to become the No. 1 overall pick. 

    Lawrence may not be a "generational talent" as he's often made out to be, but he's certainly worthy of being the first player selected and viewed as a franchise-caliber quarterback prospect. 

    A recently revealed torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder shouldn't have any effect on his draft status. His representation revealed Lawrence still plans to throw at Clemson's pro day before the quarterback has surgery to repair the tear, per ESPN's Adam Schefter

    The Jaguars may not have completely settled on Lawrence with plenty of time to consider their options, but this selection is the closest thing to a draft lock as it gets.

2. New York Jets: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The New York Jets face an interesting predicament. As owners of the second overall pick, multiple options are available to them:

    1. The team could stand pat, select a top-rated quarterback and move on from Sam Darnold. 
    2. Darnold remains the starter and general manager Joe Douglas takes the top-rated non-quarterback prospect. 
    3. The team could trade the selection to another organization desperate for a certain quarterback. 
    4. Maybe the Jets pull off the unexpected and secure Deshaun Watson's services in a trade. 

    At this juncture, the most logical approach is building around the team's current 23-year-old quarterback by adding a dominant 20-year-old offensive tackle prospect in Oregon's Penei Sewell to pair with the already-impressive Mekhi Becton. The duo would give New York the league's best young tackle tandem.

3. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU

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    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    With the growing popularity of Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith in this slot as a result of his previous connection to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the pairing overlooks a couple of factors. 

    First, Peter Warrick is the only sub-200-pound wide receiver drafted among the top five overall this century. Smith is an outstanding talent, but his slight frame at 6'1" and 175 pounds will cause some concern. His decision to decline getting measured during Senior Bowl week drove home this point. 

    Second, LSU's Ja'Marr Chase is an electric talent. Maybe that's been forgotten to some degree because he opted out of this past season. But his 2019 performance (84 catches, 1,780 yards, 20 TD) is arguably as impressive as Smith's Heisman Trophy-winning campaign (117 catches, 1,856 yards, 23 TD). Chase is a little bigger, nearly a year-and-a-half younger and more physical. 

    Tagovailoa needs another target opposite DeVante Parker, and Chase gives the quarterback a second top option.

4. Atlanta Falcons: QB Zach Wilson, Brigham Young

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan "is not going anywhere" and the team hasn't had any trade conversations with other teams for its star signal-caller. 

    Ryan should be the Falcons' starting quarterback in 2021. It's beyond that point that new general manager Terry Fontenot must consider his options. 

    Ryan turns 36 before the start of the upcoming campaign. In 2022 and 2023, the veteran carries salary-cap hits of $41.7 and $36.6 million, respectively, per Spotrac. The dead money contained in the quarterback's contract drops significantly in the coming years. 

    Atlanta is talented enough not to be picking among the top four again next year, so the chance to land a long-term answer at quarterback must be enticing. BYU's Zach Wilson is 21 years old with arguably the most exciting natural arm talent in the class.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    If the Cincinnati Bengals go in any direction other than an offensive lineman with their initial draft pick, they're going about the process all wrong. 

    Some will argue the organization shouldn't shoehorn a specific position into the fifth overall pick. However, the fact that Oregon's Penei Sewell is already off the board isn't a hindrance to the Bengals' primary draft directive. 

    Northwestern's Rashawn Slater continues to gain traction as a top offensive tackle prospect and could possibly dethrone Sewell as the first offensive tackle selected.

    At 6'3" and 305 pounds, the fellow early opt-out isn't exactly ideal from a physical standpoint, but Slater's proficiency in his overall technique with accompanying nimble footwork might make him a better fit for the Bengals since he may be the best technician to come out of the last two draft classes.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

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    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    As the Philadelphia Eagles organization deals with the ongoing drama surrounding Carson Wentz and whether he'll be traded, the quarterback isn't the only significant name on the roster who could see a change of address before the start of the 2021 campaign. 

    "I was told unequivocally today that tight end Zach Ertz will not play for the Philadelphia Eagles next year," Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline reported. 

    With Dallas Goedert already on the roster, the tight end position isn't a priority, but offensive weapons still are and that's exactly how Florida's Kyle Pitts should be viewed. The Eagles could easily take advantage of both Goedert and Pitts on the field at the same time.

    Even at 6'6" and 246 pounds, the reigning John Mackey Award winner is as skilled as a wide receiver.

7. Detroit Lions: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Everyone involved with the Detroit Lions' acquisition of Jared Goff in the Matthew Stafford trade is saying the right thing. Goff is the team's starting quarterback for now. 

    But the 2016 No. 1 overall pick's status shouldn't prevent the Lions from selecting a quarterback with the seventh overall pick. If Detroit picks a young signal-caller to develop behind Goff for a year, it can save approximately $4.5 million toward the 2022 salary cap by releasing the veteran after the season while still paying for the recent draft pick. 

    Ohio State's Justin Fields would be well-served taking his time behind Goff, learning the system and getting comfortable with NFL speed prior to becoming a full-time starter. He's an excellent distributor and athlete based on what the Buckeyes coaching staff asked him to do, though some questions will persist about how consistently he works through his progressions.

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

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    Sam Hodde/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers' desperation to upgrade at quarterback is glaringly obvious.

    ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the organization offered this year's eighth overall pick, a fifth-round selection and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to acquire Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions. 

    Obviously, Stafford is a proven commodity. But the team's aggressiveness in the potential deal shows the organization sees quarterback as a major area of concern. 

    Now, North Dakota State's Trey Lance probably won't walk through the door and take the job from Bridgewater. The long-term implications of this hypothetical draft pick could be immense, though.

    At 20 years old, Lance has as much upside as any prospect in this class. If developed properly, he could be exactly what the Panthers want at the position since the organization clearly knows it doesn't have the proper solution in place.

9. Denver Broncos: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

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    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    George Paton steps in as the Denver Broncos' new general manager after President of Football Operations John Elway decided to relinquish those responsibilities. Paton can make a positive first impression by taking the best available talent—which is the case with Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. 

    Parsons is a potential difference-maker as a three-down linebacker with the athleticism to prowl sideline to sideline while also factoring into multiple pressure packages. 

    The flexibility will be important as Denver's defense grows in the next year or two. Inside linebacker Alexander Johnson turns 30 during the 2021 regular season and is a restricted free agent after this season, while the venerable Von Miller enters the last year of his current deal. 

    If Miller, who turns 32 this year, doesn't play for the Broncos beyond this season, he can give way to Parsons as the new defensive face of the franchise.

10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys secondary could be depleted by free agency since Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, C.J. Goodwin and Xavier Woods aren't under contract. Even if the Cowboys attempt to re-sign their defensive backs, upgrades are necessary. 

    While Dallas' run defense certainly needs more work than the secondary, the entire unit struggled throughout the season. In this particular case, the interior defense class is rather weak. Instead, the Cowboys can concentrate on a premium position. 

    Cornerback Caleb Farley opted out of the 2020 campaign, but he still holds a slight advantage over SEC Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Surtain II based on his outstanding physical tools.

    Both are big and long corners, but the 6'2", 207-pound Virginia Tech product was clocked as one of the fastest players in college football during the 2019 season, per The Athletic's Bruce Feldman.

11. New York Giants: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The New York Giants should be pleased that Alabama's DeVonta Smith is still available with the 11th overall selection. Size concerns aside, Smith dominated college football in 2020 on his way to becoming only the fourth wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy. 

    Smith is a silky-smooth route-runner with excellent separation skills and a versatile presence while working outside the numbers or from the slot.

    The only concern is how Smith will hold up against bigger NFL defensive backs, who could manhandle him near the line of scrimmage, though the incoming receiver displays a quick release. 

    For the Giants, the team already has an X-receiver in Darius Slayton. Smith can line up at Z or even in the slot depending on what the organization does with Golden Tate this offseason. Either way, quarterback Daniel Jones gains another weapon in an offense that lacks game-breakers.

12. San Francisco 49ers: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers could look very different in 2021 depending on what the team decides to do with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and left tackle Trent Williams, who is an impending free agent. 

    While the offense gets the most attention, San Francisco's entire secondary needs to be reworked since Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, K'Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, Jamar Taylor and Jaquiski Tartt are free agents. 

    With DeMeco Ryans' elevation to defensive coordinator, the system shouldn't change drastically from the one Robert Saleh left behind to become the New York Jets head coach. 

    As such, long and physical corners who excel in zone coverage are a must. Alabama's Patrick Surtain II is an imposing defender and the most well-coached defensive back coming into the league. He can step in immediately to help offset San Francisco's losses.

13. Los Angeles Chargers: EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Offensive tackle is the obvious choice here to protect Justin Herbert's blind side, but with Oregon's Penei Sewell and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater already off the board, the opportunity to select the class' best pure edge-defender makes more sense, especially with the depth found in this year's tackle class. 

    With Melvin Ingram III scheduled to hit free agency, a running mate for Joey Bosa could make Brandon Staley's new defense potent from day one. 

    Michigan's Kwity Paye couldn't be blocked during the 2020 campaign. To take that a step further since a groin injury derailed Paye's final season, the two-time All-Big Ten selection registered three or more pressures in each of the last eight games he played, per Pro Football Focus

    Relentless defensive bookends are the perfect way to build an identity.

14. Minnesota Vikings: EDGE Gregory Rousseau, Miami

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    Chris Seward/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings defense wasn't the same without Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen in the lineup. Hunter ended up on injured reserve after requiring neck surgery, while Griffen opted out of his contract last February. General manager Rick Spielman tried to address the team's anemic pass rush by trading for Yannick Ngakoue, but he never quite fit with the organization. 

    A more permanent solution is necessary after ranking 28th overall with only 23 team sacks. 

    Miami's Gregory Rousseau is a fascinating prospect, because he burst onto the scene in 2019 as a redshirt freshman and finished second in the nation with 15.5 sacks (one behind last year's second overall pick, Chase Young). 

    Instead of building on his early success, the 6'7", 265-pound phenom opted out of the 2020 campaign. Minnesota can take advantage of a potential top-10 talent sliding slightly because of a limited sample size.

15. New England Patriots: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Sometimes a match is so good, one wonders if the unpredictability of the draft would ever allow it to happen. 

    In this case, the New England Patriots desperately need a quarterback, while Mac Jones is a quality prospect coming out of a pipeline program that head coach Bill Belichick knows quite well. 

    "I think Coach Belichick and Coach [Nick] Saban ... have a great relationship, and I hope Coach Saban has good things to say about me," Jones said during an interview on Good Morning Football. "I assume he would. And obviously one of my buddies Damien Harris plays up there, too, so I talk to him a good amount."

    With Jones' strong performance during the Senior Bowl's practice week, his viability as a top-20 prospect should no longer be in question. The Patriots need to find their next quarterback, and the perfect fit does exist.

16. Arizona Cardinals: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals defense needs more help than the team's offense, but some options are too tantalizing to overlook. 

    For example, one mouthwatering possibility is the availability of Alabama's Jaylen Waddle, who could play alongside quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk.

    With Larry Fitzgerald yet to indicate whether he's retiring, the Cardinals can't pass up an explosive target like Waddle in their quest to replace the future first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee. 

    Waddle is dynamic with the ball in his hands and nearly impossible to cover off his stem. His speed would certainly open up possibilities in the Cardinals offense. 

    An ankle injury slowed him throughout the 2020 campaign. As long as Waddle checks out medically, he'll be in the conversation as a top receiver prospect.

17. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders invested heavily in linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski less than a year ago, but thinking their presence in the lineup will convince the team to pass on Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is short-sighted. 

    First, neither performed to expected levels. Second, the Raiders can get out of both contracts after this season if they choose to do so. Finally, Owusu-Koramoah shouldn't be viewed as a traditional linebacker. Instead, think of him as the Raiders' version of Derwin James in Gus Bradley's defensive scheme. 

    Owusu-Koramoah is a hybrid player capable of becoming a defensive chess piece. Bradley can use the Butkus Award winner as a traditional linebacker, safety or even over the slot in certain situations.

    The 6'1", 215-pounder is a positionless performer in an ever-evolving game in which those on the field must do more than their traditional alignment dictates.

18. Miami Dolphins: RB Najee Harris, Alabama

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins already started building around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa by drafting LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the third overall pick in this mock draft. Now, general manager Chris Grier can take the first running back off the board in Alabama's Najee Harris. 

    Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline reported Miami has "shown a lot of interest" in the Crimson Tide's all-time leading rusher. The Dolphins should be interested since they don't have a serious threat in the running game with Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed combining for 903 yards. 

    The 230-pound back's lateral agility belies a back of his size. 

    "He's great at running the ball, great at catching the ball. He is the full package," Derrick Henry, who led the NFL with 2,027 rushing yards, told AL.com's Mark Inabinett. "It's what you want from a guy coming in and being a Day 1 starter at the running back position."

19. Washington Football Team: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    While Washington's offseason starts and stops with the quarterback position, Ron Rivera's squad won't necessarily be in a position to select one of the top five prospects. Realistically, the team could move ahead with Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke (if re-signed this offseason). By taking that approach, the most logical plan is to build the cockpit around whoever starts. 

    Wide receiver and offensive tackle are extreme areas of concern. Fortunately, both positional classes are quite deep. In this particular case, one of the top three tackles is still available. 

    Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw can step in Day 1 and solidify Washington's blind side. The 6'5", 314-pound left tackle is an aggressive run-blocker and plays with a solid base in pass protection. 

    With the front five settled—as long as Brandon Scherff re-signsWashington can address wide receiver a little later in the process.

20. Chicago Bears: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Whoever starts at quarterback for the Chicago Bears will need someone to throw to next season. 

    Allen Robinson II led the team with 102 receptions for 1,250 yards. No one else on the roster managed more than 61 receptions or 631 yards. Robinson will be the top wide receiver on the free-agent market, though. His interest in returning after a few frustrating seasons may not be high. 

    If Robinson does depart, he'll leave a massive void in the lineup that won't be easily filled. The Bears do have some promising young targets in Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller, but they don't have an immediate replacement for their X-receiver. 

    Minnesota's Rashod Bateman fits the profile as a 6'2", 210-pound target with excellent body control and reliable hands. Bateman isn't a speedster, but his nuanced route-running allows him to consistently create separation.

21. Indianapolis Colts: OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Like other squads sitting directly in front of the Indianapolis Colts on the draft board, the quarterback position will be the defining offseason discussion. 

    The Colts should take a path similar to Washington a couple of picks ago by addressing the offensive front. 

    Philip Rivers wasn't the only key piece of the Indianapolis offense to retire. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo did as well. 

    USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker may not be the most likely replacement, since some teams will have him graded as a guardand he performed at a high level as an interior blocker in 2019. The Trojans staff bumped Vera-Tucker out to left tackle this past fall, only for him to be named first-team All-Pac-12 and the Morris Trophy winner as the best lineman in the conference. Pro Football Focus graded Vera-Tucker as the country's best offensive tackle in true pass sets.

22. Tennessee Titans: EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    It's difficult to look at any other position than edge-defender when it comes to the Tennessee Titans after they managed only 19 sacks this past season. The inability to generate pressure occurred despite investments in Vic Beasley and Jadeveon Clowney. Beasley has already been released, while Clowney is an impending free agent. 

    Harold Landry III needs help. Georgia's Azeez Ojulari can provide exactly what the Titans are missing. 

    Ojulari is an explosive edge-defender with all the requisite traits of an NFL pass-rusher. He's long, fast and flexible. At 6'3" and 240 pounds, Ojulari's lean frame belies the fact that he sets the edge well as a run-defender. Besides, Ojulari is one of the class' youngest prospects at only 20 years old. He'll continue to grow and mature physically once he's in the NFL.

23. New York Jets (from Seattle): WR Kadarius Toney, Florida

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Earlier, the New York Jets chose Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell with the second overall pick to build around the quarterback position. General manager Joe Douglas should continue to do so with the 23rd overall selection acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in the Jamal Adams trade.

    In yet another loaded wide receiver class, Florida's Kadarius Toney is as explosive as any available option. Toney recently went to Mobile, Alabama, and stole the show during Senior Bowl week as a nearly uncoverable target during practice sessions.

    What makes Toney so exciting as a prospect is he can be used in a variety of ways. His explosiveness translates as a downfield target, working over the middle, on smoke routes or in and out of the backfield. On top of his versatility, the first-team All-SEC performer ranked second in catch percentage among those with 70 or more targets last season, per Pro Football Focus.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers' roster is in disrepair. 

    A long-term quarterback plan needs to be enacted. The offensive line is in flux with starters Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler set to enter free agency. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner are no longer under contract, either. 

    That's just the offensive side of the ball. 

    Due to his current contract, Ben Roethlisberger will likely be back for another year, and the Steelers will be forced to make one more run with the soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback. As such, offensive line fortifications should take priority. 

    Alabama's Alex Leatherwood is the reigning Outland Trophy winner. He's not the most fluid athlete, but he's been well-coached with the length necessary to ward off pass-rushers. He could immediately step in to protect Big Ben's blind side. 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams): OT Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    Cam Robinson's free-agent status should affect how the Jacksonville Jaguars build around this year's presumed No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Trevor Lawrence. 

    While new head coach Urban Meyer retained offensive line coach George Warhop, Robinson's return isn't guaranteed. Furthermore, the left tackle's inconsistency over the last four seasons should be more than enough to entice the Jaguars to find a replacement. 

    North Dakota State's Dillon Radunz emerged as the top performer at the Senior Bowl. Radunz earned the designation of Overall Practice Player of the Week during his time in Mobile, per executive director Jim Nagy. The standout week showed he can be an NFL starter at left tackle or guard. 

    He's a particularly interesting prospect for Jacksonville based on his movement skills. Meyer's offensive system, as we know it, employs heavy zone-blocking usage. Radunz should excel in the scheme. 

26. Cleveland Browns: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns impressed with a run to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs and an opportunity to knock off the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, before coming up a little short. 

    The season essentially came down to Cleveland's inability to get a stop in a crucial situation. The Browns defense did everything in its power to bend and bend and bend before, usually, breaking.

    Due to the uncertainty of Greedy Williams' injured shoulder and both Terrance Mitchell and Kevin Johnson set to enter free agency, the Browns' need at cornerback opposite Denzel Ward is vast. 

    South Carolina's Jaycee Horn can bring the dawg mentality back to Cleveland's secondary. Like Ward, Horn is a fierce competitor and sticky man-to-man cover corner. After rotating through fourth- and fifth-string options due to injuries and extenuating circumstances, the Browns should jump all over the opportunity to select Horn.

27. Baltimore Ravens: OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Orlando Brown Jr.'s recent public stance on being an NFL left tackle may change the Baltimore Ravens' offseason approach. Clearly, the Ravens are set at the position after Ronnie Stanley signed a five-year extension. 

    As such, a trade could be forthcoming with right tackle being an issue moving forward sans Brown. 

    "Sometimes, you just can't get a deal done. Sometimes, you can. It's great when you can, but sometimes, you can't," general manager Eric DeCosta told reporters about his offseason strategy, which should certainly apply to the two-time Pro Bowler.

    With Brown's uncertain status and D.J. Fluker a pending free agent, the addition of Michigan's Jalen Mayfield would address the front and provide the team with more flexibility. John Harbaugh could have inside knowledge of Mayfield's capabilities with Jim Harbaugh as Michigan's coach. At 20 years old, the offensive prospect is still developing, but he's already a physical blocker well-suited for Baltimore's offensive scheme. 

28. New Orleans Saints: S Trevon Moehrig, TCU

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Mercifully, Drew Brees provided the New Orleans Saints some salary-cap relief this offseason as the quarterback readies himself for retirement. As of now, the Saints are only $70.5 million in the red for the projected 2021 salary cap, per Spotrac

    The team's lack of solvency will create ripple effects through the entire roster.

    The safety position serves as an excellent example. Marcus Williams, who started 60 of 64 possible games in his first four seasons, is a pending free agent. The team still has Malcolm Jenkins and C.J. Gardner-Johnson under contract, but a third safety can help create more flexibility since both Jenkins and Gardner-Johnson are viable slot options. 

    TCU's Trevon Moehrig presents another possibility. By standing pat, the Saints improve their secondary and land the class' top-ranked safety.

29. Green Bay Packers: CB Aaron Robinson, UCF

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Kevin King getting exploited by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can't be repeated if the Green Bay Packers are going to maximize the MVP-caliber play of Aaron Rodgers. The organization sent a message after the season by not renewing defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's contract.

    King will likely receive the same message as Pettine since the cornerback is a pending free agent.

    Jaire Alexander is one of the league's best cover corners, but the Packers lack a true outside corner opposite the second-team All-Pro. 

    UCF's Aaron Robinson can play both inside and outside with a level of physicality to fit into the Packers' aggressive scheme. His quick feet and consistent hustle allow him to not only serve as an excellent cover corner but an all-around defender as well. He'd come in and compete hard when opponents avoid Alexander's side of the field. 

30. Buffalo Bills: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills exceeded all expectations in 2020 with a run to the AFC Championship Game. The Bills roster is loaded in certain areas, though the defensive interior is not one of them. 

    Buffalo ranked among the bottom half of the league by allowing 4.6 yards per carry. None of the team's defensive tackles played particularly well. Justin Zimmer, who didn't have a regular role until the second half of the season, was arguably the group's most consistent performer.

    Alabama's Christian Barmore entered the 2020 campaign as one of the country's most intriguing draft prospects, because he flashed as an interior pass-rusher but not on a full-time basis. He got a chance to be a starter this past season and didn't emerge as the player everyone expected until Alabama's playoff run. 

    The Bills could take a chance on the upside and possibly land a future All-Pro talent. 

31. Kansas City Chiefs: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs defense is built around speed. The unit may not be littered with household names beyond Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones, but the group is athletic and competitive to complement the league's most explosive offense. 

    It could be drastically better with changes at linebacker.

    Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson are established veterans, but the Chiefs can be better along the second line of defense. Wilson is a pending free agent. Kansas City would save $6.4 move by releasing Hitchens with a post-June 1 designation, per Over The Cap

    Tulsa's Zaven Collins is a different type of athlete. The 6'4", 260-pound linebacker presents a rare combination of size and speed. He's often seen flying to the football all over the field. Collins paired with Willie Gay, who runs a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at 243 pounds, would completely change the Chiefs defense because of the ground those linebackers cover. 

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Edge Jayson Oweh, Penn State

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers feature one of the league's most complete rosters, though the potential losses of free agents Shaquil Barrett, Ndamukong Suh and Rakeem Nunez-Roches would certainly hinder the team's defensive front. 

    Even if Tampa Bay re-signs Barrett, general manager Jason Licht shouldn't overlook the potential addition of added pass-rushing help since Jason Pierre-Paul is 32 years old and entering the final year of his contract. 

    In some ways, Penn State's Jayson Oweh is like JPP when the three-time Pro Bowl selection entered the league 11 years ago.

    Oweh is a supreme athlete whose upside supersedes his overall production. In seven games during his final season on campus, the Nittany Lions defensive end didn't register a single sack. Yet the physical traits are apparent—he's 6'5" and 252 pounds with long arms, a powerful strike and explosive burstto become a future standout pass-rusher at the professional level. 

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