B/R NFL Scouting Dept. 2021 Mock Draft 1.0

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IApril 5, 2021

B/R NFL Scouting Dept. 2021 Mock Draft 1.0

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The first mock draft from the B/R NFL Scouting Department is here. 

    The B/R NFL Scouting Dept. is comprised of four scouts who have a variety of backgrounds in the NFL scouting world.

    Nate Tice: Nate is a former college quarterback, NFL coach and scout who provides football breakdowns on his Twitter account and can also be heard weekly on The Athletic Football Show podcast. 

    Brandon Thorn: Brandon is the author of the Trench Warfare Newsletter, which focuses exclusively on offensive and defensive line evaluation. He also produces video content for The Scouting Academy and is an analyst for Establish the Run. He has contributed to Bleacher Report as a scout for NFL1000

    Justis Mosqueda: Justis has written for Bleacher Report as an NFL featured columnist and was a scout for NFL1000. He is also the director of analytics for Optimum Scouting

    Cory Giddings: Cory has experience working at multiple levels of football, both in coaching and player evaluation. In recent years, he has worked with the New York Giants and collegiate teams within the Big Ten. 

       

    The scouts took turns making picks with the rotation of:

    1. Cory Giddings

    2. Brandon Thorn

    3. Nate Tice

    4. Justis Mosqueda

    Each scout made eight picks while in a roundtable discussion.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Let's not overthink this one. Trevor Lawrence has been discussed as the No. 1 pick of the draft since he first stepped foot on Clemson's campus. With years of film and a pretty solid pro day, he has all but solidified his selection.

    Although there have been some recent rumblings of BYU's Zach Wilson climbing draft boards, let's remember why head coach Urban Meyer came out of retirement: Trevor Lawrence.

    - Cory Giddings

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    With incumbent quarterback Sam Darnold likely on the way out and the current Jets regime wanting to get "their guy," the most likely selection is Zach Wilson, a quarterback some analysts believe is the most talented passer in the draft. With the ability to create plays and throw off-platform with pinpoint accuracy from virtually any arm angle, the Jets would secure a potential very good-to-elite starter at the most important position on the field.

    There would likely be some growing pains considering the dramatic uptick in competition from BYU to the NFL, but Wilson has the desired traits that translate well to the pro game, particularly in today's wide-open, fast-paced style.

    - Brandon Thorn

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

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Even with all of the rumors and reports of Alabama's Mac Jones at No. 3, Justin Fields is still my pick for the 49ers. Fields is the complete package for a modern QB; he has the size, aggressiveness, smarts, accuracy and athleticism to create on his own. He also ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at his pro day.

    Fields' accuracy on the move and aggressive nature will match perfectly with San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan's scheme (or any scheme, really). He would give Shanahan a legit weapon in the QB run game that matches the versatility the 49ers offense has emphasized recently and could take the offense to a whole new level.

    - Nate Tice

4. Atlanta Falcons: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    While the Atlanta Falcons did restructure quarterback Matt Ryan's contract this offseason, that doesn't limit their potential to draft a long-term field general in 2021. Ryan's salary adjustment simply allows the Falcons to save short-term cap space—they are now roughly $5 million under the NFL salary cap. That gives them the option of trading Ryan in 2022 for a cap savings of $10 million, on top of freeing up $52 million in cold hard cash over two years.

    North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance landing in Atlanta would be a great developmental fit for a quarterback who may not start a game in 2021 because the Falcons will most likely run the system closest to his college offense at the NFL level. With Ryan still under center, this would allow Lance to come in for packages in short-yardage and goal-line situations as a ball-carrying threat who can get live reps throwing the ball in pro games before he has to make a single start.

    - Justis Mosqueda

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    From the time the 2020 NFL season began, and especially after No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury, the thought was to get him some help.

    After a season in which the rookie quarterback was sacked 32 times, that's most definitely still the thought, but where that help comes from differs depending on who you ask. Penei Sewell or any of the other offensive tackle prospects may be the safer, and quite possibly the smarter, choice.

    But it will be extremely hard to pass up an elite athlete like Ja'Marr Chase. After opting out of the 2020 season, Chase showed up to the LSU pro day in shape and explosive. With reports of Burrow advocating for Chase to the Bengals' front office, it may not be as far-fetched come draft day.

    - Cory Giddings

6. Miami Dolphins: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Miami could go a number of ways, and it would be hard-pressed to pass up on an elite tackle talent in Penei Sewell. But with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in place, two young tackles on the roster and a deep tackle class, the opportunity to select a blue-chip tight end in Kyle Pitts would give the Dolphins offense a truly rare weapon to enhance Tagovailoa's development.

    With the tight end position being arguably the most top-heavy in the NFL, featuring just two or three true difference-makers, having the next guy on that list would give Miami a potent 12-personnel package with Pitts and Mike Gesicki, making them a nightmare to game-plan against.

    Pitts has create-a-player measurables with the ability to play anywhere on a formation while providing instant offense any time he touches the ball. This selection could be the piece that ensures other players on the offense maximize their potential as well—none more so than the quarterback.

    Brandon Thorn

7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions are attempting to reset their team after trading longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford for 2016 No. 1 pick Jared Goff and hiring a new head coach in Dan Campbell. Now, the Lions are in a position to go in many different directions.

    Offensive tackle Penei Sewell got a look here as a key building block for Detroit, but I have the Lions falling in love with Jaylen Waddle's gamebreaking speed to give Goff a new weapon—and just to add a body to their depleted WR room.

    Nate Tice

8. Carolina Panthers: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    If Penei Sewell, a consensus top-five pick for the past two years, fell to the eighth overall pick in the draft, it would be one of the most shocking slips of the week. With that being said, Carolina seems to be the realistic floor for where Sewell can go on draft day.

    With 2019 second-round pick Greg Little starting just six games in two years, the Panthers could easily upgrade at their bookend position opposite of right tackle Taylor Moton, who is playing under the franchise tag. Potentially improving two positions by giving Little the opportunity to compete at guard, a base offensive line of Moton, Sewell and center Matt Paradis would go a long way toward improving the Panthers offense.

    Justis Mosqueda

9. Denver Broncos: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    The Denver Broncos are in a tough situation after their offense as a whole took a step back in 2020. Both the quarterback and running back positions definitely underperformed for the season.

    With that being said, 2020 took a toll on everyone, and the Broncos offensive line was no different. After offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James played in just three games due to a knee injury and then opted out of the 2020 season, the team may be looking for a replacement.

    Although the running back position struggled in 2020, the stable is still full of former All-Pro talent. Hopefully with a new addition like Rashawn Slater on the line, they could get back to playing as such.

    Cory Giddings

10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    After letting Byron Jones walk in free agency last year, the Dallas Cowboys added former Alabama corner Trevon Diggs in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft. However, they still struggled in coverage, ranking in the bottom eight of opponent quarterback rating (100.4) and total interceptions (10).

    Patrick Surtain II is more talented and polished than Diggs, which means Surtain could not only ease the burden on Diggs but also allow the rest of the cornerback group to play in more tailored roles that suit their individual skill sets while Surtain handles the more difficult responsibilities on a weekly basis.

    Surtain has NFL bloodlines, elite traits and 38 consecutive starts under premier defensive backs specialist Nick Saban. Dallas has been hindered in the secondary ever since passing on Jalen Ramsey for Ezekiel Elliott in the 2016 draft, and now it can begin to right that wrong by securing a blue-chip talent at a position of need. 

    Brandon Thorn

11. New York Giants: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Earlier in the offseason it would have made sense for the Giants to add a wide receiver with this pick, but after signing Kenny Golladay this offseason, it is likely that New York will be looking elsewhere early.

    What better complement to last season's fantastic offseason acquisition, James Bradberry, than another long and toolsy cornerback on the other side? Having Bradberry serve as the No. 1 will take some of the load off of Jaycee Horn early and allow him to transition nicely to the NFL level.

    - Nate Tice

12. Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles struggled to move the ball through the air in 2020, possibly more than any other team in the league. The team has yet to make a splash signing at the position, so their top returning wide receivers are Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward.

    Sitting $7.4 million over the cap, in the middle of an unclear quarterback situation and stuck with a lackluster receiver room, the Eagles may have to turn the 12th overall pick into a pass-catcher just to get reasonable film on Jalen Hurts so they can make a decision about their long-term plan under center.

    DeVonta Smith, who was Hurts' former target at Alabama and is a Heisman-winning receiver, would give the Eagles the chance to replace Fulgham and Ward's production this season with 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor and Smith, representing a much-needed transition.

    - Justis Mosqueda

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

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    The 2020 season with rookie Justin Herbert under center couldn't have gone much better. Herbert showed flashes of what to expect in the future en route to taking home Offensive Rookie of the Year. With Herbert at the helm, the Chargers will definitely be looking to protect their young quarterback.

    With the number of top tackles projected in the first round, the Chargers can be expected to capitalize on the opportunity. With 34 starts at left tackle, including 12 as a true freshman in 2018, Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw is experienced. Darrisaw didn't test at Virginia Tech's pro day but has flashed the physical tools and skill set to step in as an immediate starter in the NFL. He would be a solid choice to protect Herbert for the foreseeable future.

    Cory Giddings

14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, Edge-Rusher, Michigan

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Minnesota could easily select an offensive lineman here such as Teven Jenkins to play tackle or guard, but the idea of molding another supremely talented pass-rusher is a very intriguing proposition for a Mike Zimmer-led staff that often extracts the most out of its players on that side of the ball. Defensive line coach Andre Patterson is one of the premier developers of talent in the NFL, so putting Kwity Paye under his guidance would likely be the best-case scenario for him to bridge the gap between raw talent and refined skill in the shortest amount of time.

    With Danielle Hunter set to return with his eyes on a megadeal in the near future, this pick potentially provides the Vikings with two long-term, legit threats off the edge to unlock Zimmer's defense while also giving the team an insurance policy in case it doesn't retain Hunter.

    Brandon Thorn

15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    He may have shaken his head in disgust at Mac Jones' pro day, but Bill Belichick goes with his fast-processing QB of the future. While Jones' upside is limited, he would bring smarts, accuracy, anticipation and poised play to New England that will get the most out of whatever system and talent is around him, although he might not be able to create much more out of it.

    Nate Tice

16. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Injury recovery is a concern for Caleb Farley, who underwent a microdiscectomy in March, but the Arizona Cardinals have proved to be one of the biggest early gamblers under general manager Steve Keim. Unclear projected positions for defenders Deone Bucannon, Haason Reddick and Isaiah Simmons, the undersized frame of defensive back Budda Baker and off-field issues of defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche didn't stop Keim from swinging on high upsides, despite the risk.

    Keim now has to replace Patrick Peterson, their staple cornerback for a decade, with a lengthy corner to give the smaller Baker and Byron Murphy better matchups against the pass. Farley, listed at 6'2", has the length and ball skills to fit Arizona's needs, with his recovery likely to determine his success at the NFL level.

    - Justis Mosqueda

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

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    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    The Raiders are in a position to look at multiple players with this selection. With the majority of their offense in place, they should go with a pick to help strengthen their defense. Although the safety or defensive line positions may be a more immediate need, with Micah Parsons there, how could they pass him up? He's a unique athlete who could be too good to pass up here.

    Running a high 4.3 at 6'3" and 245 pounds, Parsons matches perfectly with the traditional Raiders pick. With subpar linebacker play at times, Parsons would be a cornerstone of the defense for years to come.

    Cory Giddings

18. Miami Dolphins: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

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    Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

    Azeez Ojulari and Teven Jenkins were strong considerations here, but the prospect of getting the top receiver left on our board—who is an immediate impact starter—to complete the skill positions for this young Dolphins offense was too difficult to pass up. Rashod Bateman is a polished route-runner with excellent body control who can defeat press coverage, giving quarterback Tua Tagovailoa a true "X" receiver and a well-stocked group of weapons to optimize his development.

    Providing Tua with an Allen Robinson-like mismatch on the outside would eliminate any excuses for a lag in development, give the Dolphins a quick indication whether they have their signal-caller of the future and put dynamic weapons in place (with the addition of Kyle Pitts and Bateman alongside DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki) for whoever the quarterback is over at least the next five seasons.

    Brandon Thorn

19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    With Mac Jones off the board, Washington continues to add to its dynamic defense with a versatile piece in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

    Owusu-Koramoah is a bit of a tweener positionally but is a truly exciting player on the defensive side of the ball. He can slide into the "Will" linebacker position on base downs and wherever needed in sub-packages while allowing for some creativity in Jack Del Rio's defense.

    Nate Tice

20. Chicago Bears: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    With Bobby Massie's release this offseason, the Chicago Bears have a void to fill at right tackle. It's not a sexy pick, with a present need for a quarterback and the same decision-makers apparently going through a second rebuild with the franchise, but the Bears can shore up their offensive line with the selection of Oklahoma State right tackle Teven Jenkins, who was named a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2020.

    A left-to-right line of Charles Leno Jr., James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Germain Ifedi and Jenkins would give whomever their 2021 starting quarterback is a shot to compete behind a solid offensive front. Jenkins' former left tackle counterpart at Oklahoma State, Arlington Hambright, was also selected by the team in 2020.

    - Justis Mosqueda

21. Indianapolis Colts: Jaelan Phillips, Edge-Rusher, Miami (FL)

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    After going out and filling the biggest need at quarterback, the Colts could continue the trend on offense and draft one of the top offensive tackles on the board, but a pick on the other side of the ball is more likely.  

    With DeForest Buckner being the team's sack leader as an interior lineman, Indianapolis is in need of an upgrade on the edge. Jaelan Phillips became quite a force in 2020 for the Miami Hurricanes with eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. At his pro day, during which he put up comparable numbers to other top edge-defenders, Phillips solidified himself as a top pass-rusher. Phillips recorded a 4.56-second 40-yard dash and a 4.13-second short shuttle at 6'5½" and 260 pounds. 

    Cory Giddings

22. Tennessee Titans: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    After releasing last year's starting right tackle, Dennis Kelly, this offseason and spending a 2020 first-round pick on his replacement in Isaiah Wilson—a bust who is no longer on the team—general manager Jon Robinson is under some pressure to find a capable starter at the position in this draft. Alex Leatherwood has experience at multiple positions on the line and was a very good starter at each in the SEC, plus has elite physical traits to provide enormous upside with the necessary football character to stick long-term.

    The Titans have long had a physically imposing, quality offensive line, and with the addition of Leatherwood to pair alongside right guard Nate Davis, they would ensure that remains for the foreseeable future.

    Brandon Thorn

23. New York Jets: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The Jets have some draft capital to splurge on another premium position in Greg Newsome II, their second first-round pick.

    Newsome is instinctual and aggressive and would be a good fit for Robert Saleh's defense based on his  ability to make plays on the ball and reputation as a tone-setter, even with less-than-ideal arm length for the scheme. 

    Nate Tice

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Landon Dickerson is an elite offensive line prospect who tore his ACL in December but is apparently healthy enough to army-crawl his way into television shots. The Pittsburgh Steelers are in need of a quality center after the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey following his 11 years with the team. Former Steelers guard Matt Feiler also left town this offseason after he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency.

    At the moment, Pittsburgh's starting center would be former Alabama and AAF lineman J.C. Hassenauer, who saw playing time in December after spending most of 2019 on the practice squad. The risk of Dickerson's recovery could be worth the reward of the Steelers' attempt to stabilize their offensive interior for the last of their run with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

    Justis Mosqueda

25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Assuming the Jaguars spend the first overall pick on a quarterback, more specifically Trevor Lawrence, the next move would be to continue to add supporting pieces to allow him to succeed.

    The Jaguars signed a few receivers and tight ends in free agency who are expected to be top threats for whichever quarterback is under center next season. This enables the Jaguars to draft Alijah Vera-Tucker, another one of the top offensive tackles in this year's draft. Tucker would give the Jaguars a backup swing tackle for the 2021 season, as well as an heir apparent to Cam Robinson, who was franchise-tagged this offseason.

    Cory Giddings

26. Cleveland Browns: Azeez Ojulari, Edge-Rusher, Georgia

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Browns are on the cusp of competing far into the playoffs and coming off an offseason in which they didn't retain Olivier Vernon, Adrian Clayborn or Larry Ogunjobi. With an obvious need at pass-rusher and Azeez Ojulari arguably the top player at the position in the class, adding him at pick No. 26 is a no-brainer. Ojulari would give the Browns a more dynamic presence than they had last year opposite Garrett with the burst, length and physicality needed to develop as a power-rusher while he uses his speed to impact the passing game early in his career.

    Having a rusher paired with Garrett who can win in multiple ways over the next couple of years could push the Browns over the hump and into legit Super Bowl contenders. Ojulari would also have the added benefit of joining a pass rush with a superstar in Garrett already in place, plus a very good combination on the interior in Sheldon Richardson and Malik Jackson, who would combine to take some heat off of Ojulari, allowing him an easier path to reaching his ceiling as a player.

    Brandon Thorn

27. Baltimore Ravens: Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Everyone knows where the Ravens are looking to upgrade, and that starts with the wide receiver position. In a deep WR class, it really becomes a question of fit and need, and Dyami Brown adds length and the ability to consistently stretch defenses on vertical routes.

    Despite his skinnier frame, Brown plays with consistent toughness and strength, which pairs well with the Ravens' run-first offensive scheme under Greg Roman. It's an interesting blend of skill sets that will give the Ravens offense some synergy among their receiving options with Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews.

    Nate Tice

28. New Orleans Saints: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    Outside of potentially cornerback, the most room for improvement for the New Orleans Saints in the draft is at linebacker, where they have never been the strongest and lost the depth of Alex Anzalone (nine 2020 starts) and Craig Robertson this offseason.

    Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins is a former quarterback built like a "Sam" linebacker who can both cover and rush the passer, rare traits and a rare build in today's NFL. The drafting of Collins would give their defense another chess piece who is a tough matchup for offenses to account for from play to play and week to week.

    Justis Mosqueda

29. Green Bay Packers: Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    This pick might not be what's best for the Green Bay Packers but rather what's best for Aaron Rodgers. After selecting Jordan Love in the first round last year and not taking a receiver at all, this might be the year to make up for that. Although the Packers had a top-five offense, it was due mostly to the performance of Rodgers.

    One of the key cogs missing from the Packers offense is a deep threat to stretch the field. Elijah Moore could be that threat. Similar to the Randall Cobb role of the past, Moore offers elite athleticism and makes things happen with the ball in his hands. His speed and versatility could give the offense a different dynamic.

    Cory Giddings

30. Buffalo Bills: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Buffalo is solid up the middle of its defense without a true difference-maker, and while Christian Barmore is just 21 years old and inexperienced, he has the juice to contribute right away with the physical tools to develop into an impact starter over his first couple of years. Before leaving Alabama as a redshirt sophomore, Barmore really came on in the second half of the season, showcasing the explosiveness on stunts and as a penetrator at 6'5", 310 pounds that offers value at pick No. 30.

    He is used to being part of a rotation (played at least 45 percent of snaps on all three downs in 2020) and can continue in that role with Ed Oliver and Vernon Butler in 2021 while he learns the nuances of the pro game. At the end of the first round, there aren't many players with his level of physical traits, and the Bills can offer an optimal place for him to develop his skills and maximize his talent in the long term. 

    Brandon Thorn

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

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Super Bowl is still fresh on the minds of everyone in Kansas City, and with a deep wide receiver class that will allow the Chiefs to add to their litany of weapons later in the draft, they go offensive line with their first-round selection. After injuries decimated their offensive line in the past, there is an emphasis on versatility with the additions the Chiefs have made this offseason.

    Liam Eichenberg lined up at left tackle for Notre Dame, but his arm length might limit his time on the outside. However, he would have every opportunity to win one of Kansas City's offensive tackle spots with some potential to kick inside.

    Nate Tice

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have virtually no needs on the defensive side of the ball, but adding high-upside depth behind Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea on the defensive line who can hopefully take over for the 34-year-old Suh when he steps away would fit into the team's long-term plans. Daviyon Nixon is an athletic marvel who is coming off his first season as a full-time starter with Iowa after a stint in junior college but has an All-American season to show for it.

    The arrow on Nixon is pointing up, and being put into a position where he can come off the bench and spell quality players early in pass-rushing situations would be a similar developmental plan to Chris Jones' first two years with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Justis Mosqueda