2021 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Picks Entering Free Agency

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystMarch 10, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Picks Entering Free Agency

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    Business as usual doesn't apply when discussing the 2021 NFL draft. 

    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted teams' typical draft preparation. As a result, each franchise's approach to the event will vary. 

    "Last year, we had the combine, so that was normal," Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco told reporters. "This year, no combine at all, so that is going to be a lot different. Essentially, those pro days are going to serve as a combine for us, as far as how we're going to collect data on the players."

    Another general manager told NBC Sports' Peter King that teams will struggle to reconcile with a higher volume of one-and-done prospects (only one year of production before declaring) in this year's class than usual, fewer opportunities to scout and meet with prospects and limited medical information. 

    Free-agent signings will further change the draft forecast. As teams shore up their weaknesses once the new league year begins on March 17, their draft priorities will change. 

    This mock draft is based on rosters before the new league year begins. Nothing ever works out as expected, which may be truer this year than ever before...unless we're discussing the No. 1 overall pick. 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    One can quibble over Trevor Lawrence's standing among the pantheon of great quarterback prospects to enter the NFL. But no matter where someone stands on the Clemson product's status, he's deservedly the presumptive No. 1 overall pick. 

    The Jacksonville Jaguars should do their homework on all of this year's quarterback prospects, but their feelings about Lawrence are obvious. 

    "We had extremely high expectations and we were not disappointed," head coach Urban Meyer told reporters about the quarterback's recent pro day performance. "But even more than the actual pro day was the way he handled it."

    Lawrence threw in front of Meyer and numerous evaluators despite needing labrum surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. He couldn't have endeared himself more to the Jaguars if he tried. 

    Among a quality incoming quarterback crop, Lawrence is the best of the bunch. That isn't likely to change between now and April 29.

2. New York Jets: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    The second overall pick will ultimately come down to what the New York Jets decide to do with current quarterback Sam Darnold. It could become a hotbed for trade offers too enticing for the Jets not to entertain, although trade projections are not included in this mock draft. 

    The idea of placing a better supporting cast around the 23-year-old Darnold is far more intriguing than starting over at the position. 

    With quarterback off the table, the Jets have an opportunity to select the best overall prospect at any other position. Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell fits the bill. 

    The 20-year-old Sewell is an effortless mover at 325 pounds and a dominant blocker. His upside is limitless as he physically evolves and develops his technique. 

    New York could move Mekhi Becton to right tackle, insert Sewell on Darnold's blind side and turn a questionable unit into a team strength. 

3. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Forget that Kyle Pitts is listed as a tight end. He's the most dangerous weapon in the 2021 draft class.

    Whenever someone gets hung up on Pitts' positional designation, they're ignoring what he's capable of doing in an NFL offense. At 6'6" and 246 pounds with wide receiver skills, he's a mismatch waiting to happen. 

    In a league where Travis Kelce finished among the top five overall in receptions and receiving yards this past season, the idea of limiting a unique prospect with game-changing traits borders on archaic. 

    Although the Miami Dolphins already have DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki, they desperately need more offensive weapons. Pitts could be an elite slot receiver while bringing enough flexibility to work in-line, wing or H-back. 

    The 20-year-old was nearly unstoppable in the red zone and didn't drop a single pass as a junior. Defensive backs can't handle Pitts' size, while linebackers lack his athleticism.

    A difference-maker is a difference-maker, and Pitts is well worth the third overall pick. 

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

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    North Dakota State's Trey Lance being the second quarterback off the board may be surprising, but it's situational.

    If the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins don't select a quarterback, the Atlanta Falcons will have their pick of the non-Lawrence litter. Although they already have Matt Ryan under center, general manager Terry Fontenot told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer that he's looking for a potential successor this offseason.

    "The question I get a lot is, 'Hey, would you be willing to draft a quarterback, would you be willing to draft a receiver, despite how strong your receivers are or where you are with Matt Ryan?' And yes. Yes, yes, yes. We're definitely going to acquire at both of those positions, and we’re going to work hard to bring in competition."

    Why should the Falcons go with Lance over BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields or Alabama's Mac Jones? Because he's the best fit.

    North Dakota State's pro-style scheme should help Lance get up to speed quickly under new head coach Arthur Smith. He also wouldn't immediately push Ryan out the door, so the Falcons could bridge the gap between rebuilding and contending.

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

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals will be in a bit of a bind if Oregon's Penei Sewell is off the board at No. 5. They can either select Northwestern's Rashawn Slater as the next-best offensive tackle prospect or address their offensive line later and grab a standout weapon to help 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. 

    The latter option should be even more intriguing since the top wide receiver prospect is Burrow's favorite target from his Heisman Trophy and national championship-winning season. 

    LSU's Ja'Marr Chase led major college football in 2019 with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdown receptions. Although he spent a year away from the game while other receivers flourished, he's still the most well-rounded wideout prospect in this draft class.

    When Burrow targeted Chase, he had a 95.4 passing grade and 141.9 passer rating, per Pro Football Focus

    Cincinnati's offensive line remains a concern, but the position group is relatively deep. If Sewell is off the board, the Bengals should reunite Burrow and Chase to create some Bayou fireworks up north.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Zach Wilson, Brigham Young

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles already have young quarterback Jalen Hurts to build around if they choose to so. Owner Jeffrey Lurie wants the front office to prioritize making the second-year signal-caller successful, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen

    At the same time, Hurts is a former second-round pick and not guaranteed anything beyond an opportunity to win the job. In this particular situation, an opportunity arises to land arguably the second-best quarterback prospect. The Eagles simply can't pass. 

    BYU's Zach Wilson excels in every imaginable area. He has outstanding natural throwing ability and excels when working off-platform.

    Pro Football Focus gave the 21-year-old its highest single-season grade for any collegiate quarterback ever. He's the only draft-eligible signal-caller with 100 or more career red-zone attempts and no interceptions, and he zero turnovers when pressured last season, per PFF.

    Wilson produced at a high level for only one season, so some teams may be curious why he wasn't a team captain last year. Still, the Eagles should be positioned to land a franchise quarterback, and Hurts shouldn't prevent general manager Howie Roseman from pulling the trigger.

7. Detroit Lions: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    Chris Spielman, the special assistant to Detroit Lions president and CEO Rod Wood, hinted at the team's draft philosophy during an interview on 97.1 FM The Ticket in late February.

    "Back when I played ... you used to build from the inside out," Spielman said (via the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett). "Well, today's league, I think you build from the outside in."

    Wide receiver typically isn't considered a premium position, and Spielman isn't a decision-maker in the new regime. But his influence can almost assuredly be felt throughout the organization.

    The Lions are in a difficult position at wideout, as Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and Mohamed Sanu are all pending free agents. Even if they re-sign Golladay, the position will remain a need. 

    Alabama's DeVonta Smith might be the perfect selection for a Lions team in need of receiver help. He will never be the biggest or fastest player on the field, but he consistently creates separation and makes plays.

    Smith's ability to create would be valuable with Detroit's proposed plan of attack.

8. Carolina Panthers: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Every year, well-known quarterback prospects are picked apart after being considered future stars throughout their collegiate careers. Ohio State's Justin Fields is the best example of that this year.

    According to Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline, some teams are worried that Fields is a one-read quarterback who's incapable of working through a progression. That claim falls apart when you watch Fields' tape, although he did struggle more than expected during his junior campaign. 

    This situation is a classic example of letting nitpicks override what a talented prospect does well. Fields is efficient in what he's asked to do and has more than enough athleticism to open up a playbook. 

    If he gets paired with a creative play-caller like Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Fields has the potential to create an explosive scheme.

    Teddy Bridgewater clearly isn't in Carolina's long-term plans. The Panthers would be lucky to land Fields at No. 8 overall, because he should go higher than that based purely on talent. 

9. Denver Broncos: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

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    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    Von Miller's career with the Denver Broncos sits at a crossroads.

    The future Hall of Fame pass-rusher has a $22.2 million salary-cap charge for the 2021 campaign after missing all of last season with a torn ligament in his ankle. According to Denver 9News' Mike Klis, Miller has an option worth $7 million in guaranteed money due March 16.

    If the Broncos release the 31-year-old before Tuesday, they would save $18 million. A potential restructure might be in the works, but Miller would likely be a sought-after free agent if Denver releases him. 

    Without Miller, Micah Parsons would go from a good value to a necessity.

    Parsons is different from Miller because he played off the ball at Penn State, whereas the eight-time Pro Bowl selection has been an edge-rusher dating back to his Texas A&M days. However, Parsons converted from defensive end. He has a natural feel for playing downhill, blitzing and getting to opposing quarterbacks. 

    Even with Miller on the roster, Parsons remains a legitimate possibility at No. 9 since the Broncos could be more dynamic at inside linebacker. 

10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys already accomplished their biggest offseason priority when they agreed to a long-term extension with quarterback Dak Prescott. 

    The defense should now take precedence.

    At No. 10, the Cowboys could select the draft's top cornerback, Alabama's Patrick Surtain II. The disciplined defensive back has the size (6'2", 202 pounds) and length to overwhelm receivers and the accompanying ability to shut them down in man coverage. 

    What separates Surtain from other cornerback prospects is how reliable he is in all phases of the game. As Pro Football Focus noted, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year is the only draft-eligible defender from a Power Five program with grades of 80 or better in coverage and against the run. 

    Since Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are set to enter free agency, Dallas may need to find a corner to pair with Trevon Diggs.

11. New York Giants: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    If not for an ankle injury that slowed him this season, Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle could easily be in the conversation as the first wide receiver drafted in a class that includes LSU's Ja'Marr Chase and former Crimson Tide teammate Devonta Smith. 

    Waddle has an absurd ability to creation separation. His short-area suddenness coupled with exceptional long speed create significant cushions and much easier throws for his quarterback. 

    By selecting him at No. 11, the New York Giants would increase their likelihood of maximizing quarterback Daniel Jones' potential.

    The Giants already cut ties with veteran receiver Golden Tate this offseason. Darius Slayton led the team last season with 751 receiving yards, but he had 33 or fewer yards in half of his 16 games. New York needs more consistency from its wide receiver corps.

    Waddle is an automatic threat because of his speed. He would give the Giants someone opposing defenses must account for at all times. 

12. San Francisco 49ers: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    As each week passes, the buzz around Alabama quarterback Mac Jones continues to grow. 

    "They saw the play style [Tom Brady] played with, and that is very similar to how Mac plays," Senior Bowl executive director and former NFL scout Jim Nagy said on WEEI earlier this month, per Boston.com's Khari Thompson. "He's got a very similar ability to feel pressure, eyes in the back of his head quality, to sidestep guys and retreat and buy himself enough space to make throws—that is Mac's game."

    Jones is a pocket passer. He won't make many plays outside of structure like Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson or Justin Fields. However, he can operate efficiently in a pro-style offense tailored to a quarterback who is asked to be more of a distributor than a playmaker. 

    The San Francisco 49ers are currently stuck with Jimmy Garoppolo behind center. Injury history aside, he hasn't lived up to expectations after signing a five-year, $137.5 million contract in February 2018. The Niners can save $23.6 million in salary-cap space by trading or cutting Garoppolo this offseason.

    They'd be better off reinvesting in a prospect who's capable of handling head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense at a much lower price.

13. Los Angeles Chargers: OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers expect to do more than just address left tackle this offseason. A near-complete offensive line overhaul could be forthcoming. 

    Left tackle was already an issue with Sam Tevi's disappointing play, and center Mike Pouncey retired in mid-February. Pouncey's replacement, Dan Feeney, is a pending free agent, as are guards Forrest Lamp and Cole Toner.

    The Chargers are also trying to trade five-time Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga could be the last man standing from last year's projected starting five. 

    The Chargers have to start somewhere with this reclamation project, and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater is a good starting point.

    Slater could immediately slot into left tackle and protect Justin Herbert's blind side. Among the incoming tackle prospects, the 6'3", 305-pound blocker is the best technician in the class.

    Slater may not have the length and size many teams covet in an offensive tackle prospect, but his nimble feet, angles and strong hands should make up for any perceived deficiencies.

14. Minnesota Vikings: Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    With Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen screaming off the edge and Linval Joseph collapsing the pocket, the Minnesota Vikings had one of the league's most ferocious defensive fronts a few years ago. 

    That unit is now a significant concern.

    Griffen and Joseph are no longer with the team, and Hunter missed the entirety of the 2020 campaign with a neck injury. Yannick Ngakoue led the Vikings with five sacks last season even though they traded him to the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 22. 

    Hunter and defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who opted out last season after signing as a free agent, are expected back this fall. While their return will provide a significant boost, Michigan's Kwity Paye could help round out the unit. 

    Don't let Paye's 8.5 sacks over the past two seasons fool you, because he consistently created pressure. The 6'4", 272-pound defensive end has the first-step quickness to win around the edge, enough power to bull-rush bigger offensive tackles and relentlessness to run down plays. 

    Hunter and Paye would be a good remix of Minnesota's previous successful formula. 

15. New England Patriots: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots reportedly want to trade cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

    "Gilmore's injury at the end of the year complicates what seemed to be a fait accompli in midseason—that Gilmore would be traded to a place that would be willing to pay him what New England didn't want to on an extension," Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported. 

    If the Patriots actually pull the trigger on a trade, they'll need another cornerback to play opposite J.C. Jackson. South Carolina's Jaycee Horn is an ideal fit as arguably the best man-cover corner in the class. 

    Gilmore proved so successful two years ago because the Patriots could lock him onto one receiver and play zone to the opposite side. Horn has the same potential, as he exudes confidence and aggressiveness when he's on the field. 

    The Patriots tend to build back-to-front defensively. Horn's addition would continue the trend of prioritizing defensive backs. 

16. Arizona Cardinals: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley is a bit of an enigma. 

    Farley is a standout athlete with the size and skill set to play in any scheme, but he's a bit of an unknown. He went to Virginia Tech as a wide receiver, suffered a knee injury, converted to cornerback, put together an outstanding 2019 campaign and then opted out of last season. 

    Farley has all of the necessary tools to become a top NFL cornerback. His landing spot will come down to how teams view him compared to Alabama's Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina's Jaycee Horn, both of whom played last year. 

    The Arizona Cardinals have been searching for Patrick Peterson's bookend for so long that they now need to replace the eight-time Pro Bowler, too. Peterson is about to test free agency for the first time, which means Robert Alford and Byron Murphy Jr. are the only experienced cornerbacks left on the roster. 

    Any of the top three cornerback prospects would be a welcome addition in Arizona.

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Edge Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders need to do some serious self-scouting to understand which direction they're going in.

    They have already dumped three-fifths of their starting offensive line this offseason, which creates more headaches. Their lack of a pass rush remains a serious dilemma as well, but the draft may help in that regard.

    The Raiders haven't been able to consistently apply pressure since head coach Jon Gruden and previous general manager Reggie McKenzie decided to trade Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears in 2018. Over the ensuing three seasons, they've finished 32nd, 25th and 29th in team sacks, respectively.

    Georgia's Azeez Ojulari is different than anyone else on the Raiders roster. He's explosive and powerful with exceptional speed off the edge. He may be considered a bit undersized (6'3" and 240 pounds) by traditional standards, but the 20-year-old packs a punch, and he's only going to get better as he physically matures. 

    Ojulari wouldn't need to step in as a starter for the Raiders. He'd just need to add the pass rush that Las Vegas has lacked for so long. 

18. Miami Dolphins: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins released Kyle Van Noy last week to clear $9.8 million in salary-cap space. That leaves head coach Brian Flores without the defensive weapon that Van Noy was supposed to be when he signed with the team last offseason. 

    Van Noy's versatility was the key to his value. He could set the edge, play off the ball and even line up over the slot.

    Teams need schematic flexibility to avoid mismatches against explosive offenses. Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the premier chess piece in this draft class.

    Although he's designated as a linebacker, the reigning Butkus Award winner played a larger percentage of snaps in the slot (52) than he did as a traditional second-line defender over the last two seasons, per Pro Football Focus.

    Owusu-Koramoah is essentially a safety who can play linebacker. He can line up against tight ends and play tight coverage. He isn't going to be exploited in space.

    A smart defensive staff will use him all over the field to make its system more diverse. 

19. Washington Football Team: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team must concentrate on its offense this offseason.

    Quarterback is the obvious sticking point, although Taylor Heinicke could enter the season as the starter after Alex Smith's release. Washington is not positioned well to draft a signal-caller, so it may have to search for a stopgap in free agency.

    Whoever starts behind center will need help. 

    The WFT got off to a good start by placing the franchise tag on All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff. They could use an upgrade at left tackle, but a wide receiver should be far more tantalizing at this juncture. 

    Terry McLaurin led the team with 87 catches last season, but no other Washington wideout managed more than 32. Adding a true X-receiver would go a long way to establishing a well-rounded offensive approach. 

    Minnesota wideout Rashod Bateman may not be the same explosive threat as LSU's Ja'Marr Chase or Alabama's Devonta Smith or Jaylon Waddle, but he has the physical tools to control the space outside the numbers. He would give Washington a second threat at wide receiver to be paired with a weapon at tight end in Logan Thomas and multipurpose running backs in Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic.

20. Chicago Bears: OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears need an attitude adjustment. Until they know what they have behind center, they need to be a run-first offense built around David Montgomery. 

    To establish an identity centered on physical play, the trenches must be up to the task. But right guard is currently an issue for the Bears, and they don't plan on picking up right tackle Bobby Massie's option, per the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs.  

    Unless one of the top five quarterback prospects slips to No. 20, the Bears should concentrate on fortifying their offensive line. 

    Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins is the best finisher in the class. He's going to bury opponents every chance he gets, and that physicality would pay immediate dividends for Chicago's run game.

    The 6'6", 320-pound blocker also shows good movement in his pass set. According to Pro Football Focus, the first-team All-Big 12 performer allowed only four pressures last season on 211 pass-blocking snaps.

21. Indianapolis Colts: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    Anthony Castonzo's retirement left a 6'7"-sized hole in one of the NFL's best offensive fronts.

    The Indianapolis Colts already addressed their biggest offseason need by agreeing to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles. General manager Chris Ballard must now work to protect Wentz's blind side while making sure the Colts' front five remains a standout group. 

    Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw tends to be overlooked with Oregon's Penei Sewell and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater in the same class, but no Power Five offensive lineman performed better last season. Pro Football Focus graded the first-team All-ACC performer as college football's best run- and pass-blocker. 

    Darrisaw excels because he plays with a great base, has the athleticism to consistently reach the second level and work in space and displays a bit of a nasty streak. 

    If the Colts pair Darrisaw with Quenton Nelson on the left side of their offensive line, they could continue controlling the line of scrimmage and make life much easier on Wentz. 

22. Tennessee Titans: WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss

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    Bruce Newman/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans' passing attack will take a significant hit this offseason, as Corey Davis is entering free agency and they have already released Adam Humphries. The two combined for 88 catches and 1,212 yards last year.

    A.J. Brown is Tennessee's top target, but he needs a running mate. The Titans don't need to go too far to find one. They can go back to the tape that originally influenced them to draft Brown. 

    As a true freshman, Ole Miss' Elijah Moore caught 36 passes for 398 yards with Brown, DK Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge on the same roster. Without those outstanding targets in the lineup this past season, he finished second in the nation with 1,193 receiving yards.

    Moore did his most damage from the slot. He led all receivers with 1,738 yards working as an inside receiver since the start of the 2019 campaign, per Pro Football Focus

    Tennessee could have a new-age version of Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside if it selects Moore at No. 22. 

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

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    Sam Darnold should be ecstatic with this double shot of help.

    After selecting offensive tackle Penei Sewell at No. 2 overall, the New York Jets would be snagging a legitimate offensive weapon in Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney at No. 23.

    Toney is a slippery route-runner and dynamic when working in space. More importantly, the first-team All-SEC performer is only getting better. 

    In the Gators' first six games this season, Toney caught 36 passes for 396 yards. He then snagged 34 passes for 588 yards in his final five games against Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU and Alabama. 

    As the season progressed, Toney displayed more precision with his routes. He was nearly uncoverable by the time he reached Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl. 

    Toney did a lot of damage working out of the slot, so he'd overlap a bit with Jamison Crowder. But the Jets can't bypass the opportunity to become more dynamic on offense, especially when Darnold's development hangs in the balance. 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Najee Harris, Alabama

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are temporarily settled at quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger leading the way for one more season. The next step is making sure they capitalize on what may be the 39-year-old's final run. 

    The Steelers finished an un-Pittsburgh-like 32nd overall in rushing offense last season. Adding a featured back would take significant pressure off Roethlisberger and could propel the team to more success.

    Wide receivers Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson and tight end Eric Ebron are a strong foundation for the passing attack, but the Steelers need more help on the ground. Alabama running back Najee Harris would give Pittsburgh a completely different dynamic.

    Harris is a 230-pound ball-carrier with quick feet, excellent lateral agility and the vision to develop into Pittsburgh's primary offensive threat. Despite his size, he isn't a lumbering runner, either. He doubles as a natural receiver out of the backfield. 

    The solution in Pittsburgh may be going back to the bellcow days of Le'Veon Bell, Jerome Bettis and Barry Foster. 

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams): S Trevon Moehrig, TCU

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    After drafting a top-tier quarterback like Trevor Lawrence, teams typically invest in their surrounding offensive cast. 

    In this case, the opportunity to select the top pure safety prospect would be too tempting since the Jaguars don't have a starting-caliber safety on the roster. TCU's Trevon Moehrig is an eraser. 

    The reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner is exactly what teams want in a modern safety. He has the speed to close as a single-high safety, is athletic enough to cover and excel when working the slot, and he isn't overwhelmed when placed in man coverage, either. 

    Oh, and Moehrig is a good run defender, too. 

    Jacksonville can add a defensive difference-maker with the pick it acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in the Jalen Ramsey deal and then circle back to the other side of the ball at the top of the second round. 

26. Cleveland Browns: CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns' offseason mindset is simple: Defense, defense and more defense. They need upgrades at all three levels after a disappointing performance on that side of the ball this past season.

    The Browns should attack two premium positions in cornerback and defensive end. How free agency goes will dictate which of the two is a bigger need in this draft.

    In this case, a cornerback opposite Denzel Ward is of utmost concern since Greedy Williams' recovery from nerve damage in his right shoulder could be a stumbling block. Williams is expected back, but it's a tricky injury, which makes his return a luxury more than an expectation. 

    Northwestern's Greg Newsome II could slide in immediately and excel in Joe Woods' defensive scheme.

    Newsome is exceptionally well-coached and rarely out of position. He allowed the lowest passer rating in coverage among all Power Five defenders last season, per Pro Football Focus, and he was the only cornerback in the draft class to allow a 0.0 passer rating on third and fourth downs.

    Adding Newsome would allow the Browns to utilize more coverage schemes after relying heavily on Cover 4 last season.

27. Baltimore Ravens: Edge Gregory Rousseau, Miami

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens won't be able to retain all of their edge-rushers prepared to enter free agency. Yannick Ngakoue seems like an organizational priority after they traded for him in October, which means Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee could be on their way out.

    They'd could take a ready-made replacement in Miami's Gregory Rousseau at No. 27.

    Rousseau burst onto the scene in 2019 as a redshirt freshman and finished second behind 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young in sacks. However, he sat out the 2020 campaign, which left some unanswered questions about his game.

    The 6'7" defender has tremendous length to disrupt opposing quarterbacks, but he isn't the most flexible edge-rusher. He may be more effective rushing from the interior in sub-packages once he enters the NFL. 

    The Ravens have an outstanding defense and experienced staff who would be capable of utilizing Rousseau properly and maximizing his potential. 

28. New Orleans Saints: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints are slowly working their way out of salary-cap hell after entering the offseason with major financial hurdles. Retaining talent beyond quarterback Jameis Winston seems unlikely at best. 

    Since the Saints can save significant money by releasing Kwon Alexander and restructuring Demario Davis' contract, linebacker may soon be a position of need.

    New Orleans could move forward with Davis and 2020 third-round pick Zack Baun as its primary linebackers in sub-packages. However, adding a multipurpose athlete like Tulsa's Zaven Collins would help create quality depth and flexibility at the position.

    Collins is a highly athletic heat-seeking missile capable of making plays all over the field. Pairing him with Davis and Baun would give the Saints an athletic, fast and aggressive group of linebackers, whether they're pursuing ball-carriers, harassing opposing quarterbacks or dropping into coverage. 

29. Green Bay Packers: OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers will likely come under fire if they don't add a first-round weapon for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But with the top six wide receivers already off the board, they'd need to pivot here.

    The depth of the offensive line class would make up for passing on another opportunity to draft a wideout.

    Injuries forced the Packers to shuffle their offensive line repeatedly throughout the season. David Bakhtiari's proved to be the most significant when he suffered a torn ACL on December 31. The left tackle's status for the start of the 2021 campaign remains in question. 

    USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker is perfect for the Packers because of his versatility and high-level performance at multiple positions. He could open the season at left tackle if need be, or he could start at guard and allow Elgton Jenkins to bump over and play center since free agent Corey Linsley isn't expected back

    A first-round wide receiver prospect opposite Davante Adams would be nice. But a good offensive line is every bit as important for a quarterback, which should make Rodgers happy. 

30. Buffalo Bills: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Ed Oliver hasn't worked out as planned for the Buffalo Bills, but they shouldn't give up on the 2019 ninth overall draft pick. At the same time, Buffalo must acknowledge and address its weak defensive interior. 

    The Bills were highly inconsistent at the point of attack last season. Justin Zimmer, who started the season on the practice squad, turned into the unit's most reliable performer. 

    Alabama's Christian Barmore is one of the most talented prospects in this draft class. Even so, he never put together a dominant campaign during his collegiate career. He flashed as a redshirt freshman, particularly with his ability to collapse the pocket, but he wasn't a full-time starter.

    The 6'5", 310-pound defensive lineman got his chance to anchor the Crimson Tide's defensive front in 2020.

    Barmore dealt with a knee injury throughout the regular season before finally evolving into a dominant force during Alabama's national championship run. The interior defender demoralized Notre Dame's and Ohio State's offensive lines by overwhelming them and living in the backfield. 

31. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Eric Stokes, Georgia

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs value speed on offense, but that organizational approach would apply to defense in this particular case as well. 

    Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes is blazing-fast. The former high school track star ran an unofficial 4.24-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, per ESPN's Cameron Wolfe.

    Raw speed alone shouldn't get Stokes into the first round. He's an outstanding man-cover corner, though. Pro Football Focus graded the first-team All-SEC selection as the fourth-best cornerback in man coverage. 

    The speed translates to the field. Stokes isn't just a straight-line athlete; he has the quickness to redirect and recover against top wide receivers. 

    Kansas City needs to bolster its secondary since Bashaud Breeland is an unrestricted free agent and Charvarius Ward is restricted. Stokes can replace Breeland while serving as a bookend to rookie standout L'Jarius Sneed. 

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Edge Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma

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    Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV primarily because of their ability to consistently pressure Patrick Mahomes. Adding another talented edge-rusher with the No. 32 pick would help the Bucs establish a long-term plan on defense and make sure it remains an organizational strength. 

    Tampa Bay could still re-sign Shaquil Barrett, but he might leave in free agency. Even if he returns, fellow edge-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul is 32 years old and is entering the final season of his current contract. 

    Oklahoma's Ronnie Perkins hasn't been in the first-round conversation for long, but buzz has picked up as of late due to his natural ability to consistently play in the opponent's backfield.

    Perkins was the only collegiate defensive lineman last season with pass-rushing and run-defense grades above 90, according to Pro Football Focus. He brings an explosive first step with the flexibility to dip and turn the corner. 

    Perkins could spend a year learning from JPP before taking over for the 11-year veteran. 


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