B/R NFL Scouting Dept. 2021 Final Mock DraftApril 29, 2021
B/R NFL Scouting Dept. 2021 Final Mock Draft
The final mock draft from the B/R NFL Scouting Department is here.
The B/R NFL Scouting Dept. comprises 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 each scout making eight selections. Writeups were then divided up based on positional expertise.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Lawrence is a truly once-in-a-decade QB prospect because of his special combination of traits, polish and intangibles. He has arm strength and consistent accuracy to all three levels of the field and is a very good overall athlete, with tight footwork and pocket movement. He's an actual weapon on QB run concepts.
His combination of footwork and quick-twitch movement at his size and length is truly rare. Although he played in a simple offense at Clemson, he showed a complete mastery of what he was asked to do, lining up his teammates pre-snap and adjusting protections based on defensive looks. He consistently showed fast eyes and a high football IQ post-snap. His transition to an NFL offense will be a smooth one.
Don't overthink it.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
It seems like the Jets have been locked on to Zach Wilson since bowl season wrapped up, and the trade of Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers removes any semblance of doubt.
Wilson will bring exciting and flashy play to New York, with the ability to throw off-platform and attack any part of the field. He throws a beautiful deep ball and likes to give his receivers a chance to make plays, which will pair well with Jets wideout Denzel Mims.
It will take some time for Wilson to adjust to what he can and can't get away with at the NFL level, but his throws will still be making the rounds on social media.
3. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Trey Lance or Mac Jones is the big dilemma for the 49ers, and pick No. 3 is where the draft truly starts. Lance is a big, athletic quarterback with polished mechanics and more awareness and a higher football IQ than you would assume given his limited playing career at an FCS school.
The 20-year-old would give head coach Kyle Shanahan a signal-caller who can attack vertically and be a true weapon with QB runs and on-movement throws considering his big arm and ability to operate in and out of structure.
Lance is a high-upside player who would ascend quickly in Shanahan's scheme.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Falcons will add to their already impressive collection of receiving weapons with the best non-quarterback in the draft.
Kyle Pitts is a unicorn as a tight end with the athleticism and skill set to split out and legitimately win versus cornerbacks but also with enough grit and size to align in-line.
Pitts will need to add some strength, but he doesn't turn 21 until October and has plenty of room to grow into his long frame. He also possesses the work ethic to improve upon any weaknesses that he may have.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Bengals could be looking to bolster their offensive line with this pick and help protect 2020's No. 1 overall pick, franchise quarterback Joe Burrow. But we have them attempting to recreate the magic of the 2019 LSU offense by pairing Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase together once again.
Chase attacks every ball like his life depends on it and will outright bully smaller defenders on his releases or at the catch point, but he also has the fluid athleticism to threaten defenders vertically.
He will need to keep improving his route tree, but Chase will immediately come in and provide his quarterback with a security blanket and add to their already solid receiver room.
6. Miami Dolphins: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Miami traded away starting left guard Ereck Flowers on Tuesday, and while the team invested two Day 1 and 2 picks in the position in 2020, the Dolphins are still without a high-end starter up front.
The selection of Sewell would give the Dolphins a bona fide star who can play four positions and likely slide into the left tackle spot with Austin Jackson moving over, or to right tackle if they want to allow Jackson another season on the left side.
Sewell is the most talented offensive lineman in the draft. He has the skill set to be an immediate impact starter, and he doesn't turn 21 years old until October. Miami knows it needs to strengthen the O-line to give quarterback Tua Tagovailoa the best chance to reach his ceiling, and Sewell would be able to do that while growing alongside him for the next several years.
7. Detroit Lions: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
The Lions are a bit of a mystery in this draft given a new regime in place drafting for the first time together, but it's likely a safe bet to slot Slater here if he's available given their need to upgrade at guard or right tackle.
Slater is extremely polished and has the versatility to play any of the five spots up front. But with Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker in place, it would leave him as the top option at either guard spot or right tackle.
Assuming he slots in at right tackle, the Lions would have their swing tackle in place with Tyrell Crosby, or they can put Slater at left guard and keep Crosby at tackle. Ultimately, Slater would give the O-line options and an upgrade, which is a great way to kick off a new era of Detroit football.
8. Carolina Panthers: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
Alijah Vera-Tucker is the top guard on the board, and while this may be a little early for him, the Panthers have a major need at the position, so securing a true plug-and-play starter to bolster the line would be a wise move.
Vera-Tucker has proven that he can play tackle if needed, while guard is where his ceiling is highest as a refined, technically sound player with scheme versatility. He also has plenty of room to grow considering he turns 22 in June.
Carolina has struggled on the O-line due to a lack of depth and injuries, so Vera-Tucker would not only insulate them against both issues but also dramatically upgrade last year's primary starter at left guard, Chris Reed, whom they let walk in free agency.
On a young team and with an innovative franchise, fortifying the trenches is a wise move to improve the environment and develop the rest of the team. The Vera-Tucker pick may not be exciting, but it's an important selection.
9. Denver Broncos: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The Broncos have talent on both sides of the ball and so will decide to go after a quarterback who is essentially the antithesis to their current signal-caller, Drew Lock.
The Broncos added Teddy Bridgewater in a trade with the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, but that might not prevent them from taking Mac Jones if he falls out of the top eight.
Jones is supremely accurate and plays with a great understanding of concepts. He consistently gets the ball out on time and can be relied on to get the ball into the hands of the Broncos' talented playmakers. It would also be an Alabama reunion for Mac Jones and receiver Jerry Jeudy, who connected for 204 yards in the last game they played together.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
With pick No. 10, the Cowboys will look to shore up their secondary. Trevon Diggs had a promising rookie season in 2020, grading out at 62.7 over at Pro Football Focus. Last season, the primary corner opposite Diggs was Chidobe Awuzie. But with Awuzie now on the Bengals' roster, the Cowboys have the opportunity to draft his replacement in the top half of the first round.
Patrick Surtain II has the length to match Diggs as well as the scheme versatility to play press and off coverage. Weighing in at around 200 pounds, Surtain plays his part in the run game, not shying away from block destruction or tackling. In the pass game, he showed his fluidity to get in and out of breaks, with the speed to run with receivers downfield. His ball skills are top notch, as he is able to either play the ball in the air or play it through the hands of the receiver.
With his father being a former Pro Bowler who coached him at American Heritage School, you can see the advanced development in the younger Surtain's game. Within his play style, he also shows his football intelligence; he is able to read and recognize the routes developing in front of him, as well as playing multiple receivers in his zone. He plays with patience in his press, where he allows the receiver to make their moves first before latching on.
The Cowboys could be one of the better landing places for a player many consider to be among the top cornerbacks in the draft. With a growing cornerback opposite of him, if he shows the ability to handle his own early, throwing at Dallas' corners may be a game of pick your poison.
11. New York Giants: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Giants continue to add to their increasingly fun receiver room with the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy in three decades.
DeVonta Smith would give quarterback Daniel Jones a reliable set of hands, and he has the route-running chops to win at all three levels. Smith can win on the outside despite his skinny frame and bounce inside if needed, and he provides a varied skill set for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to use however he sees fit.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Because of a bad salary-cap situation, the Eagles weren't able to add to their receiver corps this offseason. Despite drafting Jalen Reagor in the first round of the 2020 draft, they still desperately need weapons for Jalen Hurts (or whoever lines up under center in Philadelphia this coming season).
Jaylen Waddle provides legitimate game-breaking speed and the return ability to help open up any offense. He likely won't gobble up targets, but he will be a useful weapon for the Eagles for years to come.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Chargers are on the brink of a breakout with young star quarterback Justin Herbert and defensively gifted head coach Brandon Staley, but they have to shore up their offensive line, namely at left tackle.
Darrisaw has prototypical size with very good power and solid athletic ability, plus he has demonstrated the necessary toughness to stick as a pro. Adding him here would give the team tremendous upside while ensuring Herbert's blind side is protected by a player that could grow alongside their franchise signal-caller.
Darrisaw has some questions about his focus and concentration on a snap-to-snap basis, but he has all the tools and traits needed to develop into a high-end starter if he can dial it in consistently.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, Edge-Rusher, Michigan
Reports of defensive end Danielle Hunter being displeased with his contract situation mean the Minnesota Vikings' pass-rushing situation is uncertain even before the question of who starts opposite Hunter in 2021 comes up.
Should the Vikings and Hunter come to a long-term agreement that keeps him in Minnesota, Stephen Weatherly would likely be the other starter—at least at first. But Weatherly, a strong run defender with length, struggles to generate starting-caliber pressure at a pro level.
The Vikings' defensive end situation puts Kwity Paye in play at No. 14, as he is the best pass-rusher in the class despite his flaws as a run defender. The elite athlete fits the prototypical Minnesota defensive end mold; the organization has previously found three quality pass-rushers with great athleticism for their size in Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and Hunter during Rick Spielman's time with the franchise.
At the very least, Paye would give the team quality pass-rushing reps in a three-man rotation at end early on, with the potential for him to be "the guy" on the defensive line in pass-rushing situations should Hunter be moved due to his contract dispute.
15. New England Patriots: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
As the whispers that New England head coach Bill Belichick is looking to take his quarterback of the future early on start getting louder, Justin Fields will fall into his lap in the middle of the draft.
Fields can attack all three levels of the field with accuracy and a strong arm, and he brings size and athleticism to the position.
Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have already shown their willingness to use the QB run game with Cam Newton, and Fields' ability to operate from inside the pocket as well as create with his legs will be an exciting proposition for the Patriots.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
It's now time for a youth movement at cornerback for the Cardinals.
After losing longtime starter Patrick Peterson in free agency, the Cardinals signed Malcolm Butler and have yet to resign Dre Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Joseph. Malcolm Butler is 31, and the latter two are also on the wrong side of 30. Robert Alford, who is currently at the top of the depth chart at cornerback, is 32. Pick No. 16 is an ideal time to pick one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, Jaycee Horn.
Horn is the son of former Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn, best known for his time with the Saints. Jaycee has similar length, which makes him close to ideal size for the cornerback position. Playing at South Carolina and in the SEC, Horn was challenged weekly by some of the top athletes in the country.
With his physical play style and and active hands in press, he was a bully on the field. He has the long speed to run with receivers, which was backed up by his 4.39 40 at his pro day. He also has the ability to shadow receivers, mirroring them to get in and out of breaks. When downfield, Horn turns into a ball hawk, getting his head around and attacking the ball in the air when he can. He also has the awareness and ball skills to play through the receiver's hands when needed. Though a willing tackler, the knock on his game would be the business decisions he makes at times in the run game.
With a somewhat bare cornerback room, Jaycee Horn has the potential to come in and compete for a starting position alongside Butler. With this pick, the Cardinals would be hoping for a replacement for Peterson, and Horn has the potential to follow suit as a Pro Bowl player with longevity in the league. In coordinator Vance Joseph's aggressive defense, Horn may be able to thrive on quarterback pressures.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock loves raw talent, which should make Micah Parsons the selection here at No. 17.
Parsons is enough of a standout athlete to play either stack linebacker or on the line of scrimmage. Think of him as something close to an Anthony Barr type of player, even though many teams are looking at him as a "Mike" linebacker.
The Raiders need pass-rushing help, and Parsons could give them reps there in 2021 before fully taking over as a true linebacker in 2022. Las Vegas could release starting linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski next offseason to create additional cap space.
The Raiders might look like they're set at linebacker, but Littleton and Kwiatkoski's contract situations could justify the selection of Parsons.
18. Miami Dolphins: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Miami head coach Brian Flores appears to prioritize versatility, man-coverage ability and speed in his defensive back seven, and those are all areas in where Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah can provide value in the NFL.
Closer to the size of a strong safety than a true linebacker, "JOK" could be something like a Jamal Adams type of player for the Dolphins immediately.
Owusu-Koramoah's ability to play linebacker, safety or in the slot should appeal to Miami. His rare foot speed and coverage ability for a "linebacker" should only push him further up the Dolphins' board.
For a team without a special linebacker, JOK would provide the Dolphins with another player that offenses will have to game-plan for on a week-to-week basis.
19. Washington Football Team: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Former NFL linebacker and current Washington head coach Ron Rivera knows something about linebacker play. In Carolina, he had one of the best in NFL history in Luke Kuechly. At the moment, though, the Football Team lacks a linebacker whom teams have to game-plan around.
At the same time, Washington is used to having a deep rotation on the defensive line. Zaven Collins provides the versatility of playing very fast for his size as a stack linebacker while also having the frame to rotate on and off the line of scrimmage. Selecting Collins could improve both the linebacker and defensive line rooms with a single pick.
20. Chicago Bears: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The Bears cut last year's starting right tackle, Bobbie Massie, and have a hole at the position. They could also use an upgrade at one of their guard spots.
In other words, the entire unit needs an upgrade, and Jenkins has the skill set to play tackle or guard.
Chicago's line was pushed around last year in a way most Bears fans aren't accustomed to, and they struggled mightily to control the line of scrimmage. Injuries played a role, but they need an enforcer type of player who can set the tone for the unit.
Enter Jenkins, who is a bully with elite-level power and competitive toughness. That could go a long way in reshaping the Bears offense on the fly and injecting much-needed physically with underrated savvy into a stagnant offense.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Indianapolis Colts could lean in a few directions at No. 21, including defensive line, and general manager Chris Ballard is a willing trader. But they should use this pick to add a high-floor weapon for their offense and new quarterback Carson Wentz.
Rashod Bateman brings a polished route tree and skill set that will help ease his transition in the NFL. He wins in a different manner than the receivers currently in Indianapolis, and he has the upside of being a true No. 1 passing-game option.
22. Tennessee Titans: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
After the disastrous selection of tackle Isaiah Wilson with the No. 29 pick last year, the Tennessee Titans need to secure a high-floor starter for their right tackle spot, especially after they cut last year's primary starter, Dennis Kelly.
Alex Leatherwood is not only a relatively safe pick because of his high-end functional strength and run-blocking prowess, but he also brings athletic traits with the upside that teams covet with first-round picks.
Leatherwood's bruising playing style fits into the Titans' culture perfectly. He would help star running back Derrick Henry continue to operate at a high level with the offense centered around the run game.
Leatherwood has to clean up some technical aspects in pass protection, but he has proven experience against top competition at multiple positions to make Titans fans feel good about the long-term investment at offensive line in back-to-back drafts.
23. New York Jets: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
After selecting Zach Wilson at No. 2, the New York Jets could go a number of different directions with this pick. They could spend it on a skill-position player to help Wilson, but they also have needs at offensive line, defensive edge and cornerback.
This would be a great spot to pick Greg Newsome II, who had an outstanding season for Northwestern.
Newsome has long arms and very good ball skills to excel downfield in the pass game. He will need to work on not being so handsy while in press, but he shows the aggressiveness to reroute receivers while using great leverage to keep positioning.
The Jets could use a more consistent answer at cornerback, and Newsome could be that. He would have the opportunity to come in and compete right away, and he'd likely earn a starting role by season's end. He might not develop into an All-Pro, but he has the skills to be a solid starter for years to come.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a roster in a bit of a transition, but they love their big running backs.
Najee Harris would be a natural fit in the black and yellow.
Harris has a similar skill set to former Steelers tailback James Conner. His size, toughness, good feet and natural hands out of the backfield make him a valid three-down threat in the NFL.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaelan Phillips, Edge-Rusher, Miami (FL)
At Ohio State, Urban Meyer relied on pass-rushers to help the back end of his defense. The Buckeyes, who extended their Meyer-era defense through Ryan Day's tenure, have produced the likes of Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa and Chase Young, some of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
But we've seen both in the NFL and at Ohio State that single-high defenses rely more on their pass-rushing units than two-high or heavy-blitz teams.
With a pass-rushing rotation of Josh Allen, K'Lavon Chassion and Jaelan Phillips, the Jaguars would give themselves a defensive identity that matches the program Meyer built in Columbus. Phillips is an athletic pass-rusher who is technically refined, but he medically retired in 2018 and has some questions about his career longevity.
Before turning in this pick, the Jaguars need to ask themselves: "How close are we to contending if we think Phillips may not be able to play through a second contract?"
26. Cleveland Browns: Carlos Basham, Edge-Rusher, Wake Forest
Myles Garrett is a franchise cornerstone for the Cleveland Browns, but the recently signed Jadeveon Clowney is only a short-term answer.
The Browns could find his eventual successor by taking Wake Forest's Carlos Basham at No. 26.
The combination of Garrett, Clowney and Basham would give Cleveland three edge-rushers who are strong enough to play interior reps. The Browns could get all three on the field together in various positions in pass-rushing situations.
Being able to stop the run in pass-rushing situations would give them an identity they didn't have a month ago. That would be just another edge for a team that is on the verge of being a true Super Bowl contender.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Azeez Ojulari, Edge-Rusher, Georgia
If the Baltimore Ravens select Georgia linebacker Azeez Ojulari, every analyst will praise the fit. They won't be wrong, either.
Ojulari has a strong get-off, is extremely violent and has a motor that runs hot. However, he lacks the traits of a talented NFL pass-rusher due to his lack of pass-rushing moves and lack of bend.
The Ravens have built their team around being able to identify that type of player, develop their pass-rushing moves and get a good return on their investment. Think of him as the next edge-rusher in the line of Za'Darius Smith, Matt Judon and Pernell McPhee.
All three were outside linebackers who were tough run defenders in college, and the Ravens refined them from a pass-rushing perspective.
28. New Orleans Saints: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Caleb Farley was once regarded as possibly the top cornerback in the draft, but his stock has slid with questions about his durability after recent back surgery. Regardless, Farley is an elite talent. He has the length teams are looking for with a body type around 200 pounds. A converted high school quarterback, Farley did a good job of working at his craft. Though he is still a bit raw, he has the hip fluidity and ball skills teams are looking for with the speed to run with receivers. He has the ball skills to react to the ball in the air with excellent hands. In the run game, he uses his size well when taking on blockers and tackling.
In 2020, the Saints struggled to find a cornerback to play opposite Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore before acquiring Janoris Jenkins. With the release of Jenkins, though, the CB2 position is wide-open. New Orleans still has P.J. Williams and Patrick Robinson, but if it can draft Farley, that is a clear upgrade. The Saints reportedly may look to trade up for Farley, but depending on how other teams view his injury report and how the draft picks fall, they may secure an extraordinary talent late in the first round.
29. Green Bay Packers: Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi
The Packers offense scored more than 500 points in 2020, but the faithful might start a mutiny if they go in any direction other than wide receiver.
Elijah Moore would provide a different skill set to the Packers. He was a target machine his last year at Ole Miss and can attack defenses from the slot with enough strength and route-running nuance to occasionally win from the outside.
Combining Moore with Davante Adams and tight end Robert Tonyan would give Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur a different set of skills and a multitude of ways to attack defenses.
30. Buffalo Bills: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Bills are in a position to go a few different ways, but reports indicate they are looking to add to their RB room. With a shallow class this year, the Bills look to strike at the position early and add speed to their dynamic offense.
Etienne brings home run potential every time he touches the ball and would benefit from the Bills' spread-out offensive looks that would create natural space for him to operate. Although he has good hands, Etienne will need to improve his pass-protection ability to be able to be a three-down running back.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Creed Humphrey, Center, Oklahoma
This is a perfect match of need, player and scheme. Creed Humphrey has three years and 36 consecutive starts of experience with making the line calls for the Oklahoma offense in Lincoln Riley's run-heavy, gap-oriented scheme. With an outstanding center of gravity, play strength, mental processing and competitive toughness, Humphrey is a high-floor prospect with the tape to warrant sneaking into the end of Round 1 and the upside to be a plus starter over multiple contracts.
The Ravens have a glaring hole at center and in a unique offensive system centered on gap concepts, so this a no-brainer fit for both team and player that would make a noticeable difference in the Baltimore offense. After future Hall of Famer Marshal Yanda's departure, the Ravens need a reliable interior presence to secure the A-gaps in pass protection while allowing their run game predicated on pulling and misdirection to succeed. Humphrey could help fill that void as well as anyone in the draft, and selecting him at pick No. 31 would ensure the Ravens can hold on to him for the foreseeable future with the coveted fifth-year option.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in position to make a luxury pick with their first-round selection as they'll run back the starting roster that won a Lombardi Trophy in February. A high-upside, long-term pick who would fit short-term goals as they attempt to keep open their championship window with 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady is Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore.
Barmore is a pass-rushing defensive tackle with the size of a nose tackle who will likely primarily play 3-technique as an under tackle in the NFL. Long-term, he could be Ndamukong Suh's replacement as Suh is on a one-year, $9 million contract in 2021. Short-term, he provides another body to rotate with Suh and nose tackle Vita Vea to keep the Bucs fresh through an extended season that they hope will stretch throughout the playoffs. Barmore would also likely be a "starter" in their situational pass-rushing packages as he provides a lot of juice in terms of pressure generation.