2021 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Overlooked Prospects to Watch

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 2, 2021

2021 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Overlooked Prospects to Watch

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    For all of the attention on the NFL draft, you wouldn't think it's possible for anyone to slip through the cracks.

    But year after year, the draft's success stories often aren't centered around the prospects atop the draft board but rather the players plucked from deeper in the draft who outperform their draft position.

    We're here to give an early spotlight to those potential diamonds in the rough. After running through our latest mock first round, we'll spotlight three prospects being mocked outside of the top 20 picks who deserve more attention than they're getting.

2021 NFL Mock Draft

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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

    3. San Francisco 49ers (via MIA/HOU): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

    4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

    5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

    6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI): Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

    7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

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

    9. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

    10. Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

    11. New York Giants: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

    12. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA/SF): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

    13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

    14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC

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

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

    17. Las Vegas Raiders: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

    18. Miami Dolphins: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

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

    20. Chicago Bears: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

    21. Indianapolis Colts: Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

    22. Tennessee Titans: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

    23. New York Jets (via SEA): Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

    24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

    25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

    26. Cleveland Browns: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami

    27. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

    28. New Orleans Saints: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

    29. Green Bay Packers: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

    30. Buffalo Bills: Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina

    31. Kansas City Chiefs: Azeez Ojulari, OLB, Georgia

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

Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The biggest things working against Gregory Rousseau are his lack of film and experience. We can't just gloss over those concerns, either.

    He had his would-be freshman season effectively erased by an ankle injury after just two games. Then, he opted out of the 2020 season.

    So, evaluators are really left with one season of data to work with. But, wow, what a season that was.

    In 2019, Rousseau burst onto the national scene as perhaps the single biggest nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. He recorded a ridiculous 15.5 sacks in just 13 games, tallying 54 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery along the way.

    He obviously needs more polish, but his upside warrants more than his projected draft slot. He is quick off the snap and big enough to kick inside at times.

Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Yes, we are well aware that it's all the rage in recent years to devalue the running back spot. And maybe some will argue Travis Etienne can't be considered as overlooked when he's the first player at his position to come off of our draft board.

    But we all remember seeing this guy in action, right?

    His four-year stay at Clemson was overloaded with production and even higher on electricity. A true dual-threat running back, he rushed for 4,952 yards, caught 102 passes for another 1,155 yards and scored 78 touchdowns from scrimmage.

    He's a highlight play waiting to happen, and with his jets, he's untouchable when he has daylight in front of him. Before the 2021 NFL season comes to a close, he has a chance to establish himself as one of the most dynamic running backs in the league, leaving everyone to wonder why he wasn't selected sooner.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    Rashod Bateman ended his college career early to focus on NFL draft preparation. It was apparently time very well spent.

    The smooth pass-catcher put on a show at Minnesota's pro day recently. His crisp route-running and soft hands showed up as expected, but he turned the most heads with his physical testing. He clocked a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, broad jumped 10'3" and flashed a 36" vertical leap.

    "I just hope that I showed them that I'm a first-round pick,' Bateman told reporters. "I came out here and I ran fast and I performed at my best. I ran good routes. I did good in all the drills. I think I solidified myself."

    Between 2018 and 2019, Bateman caught 111 passes for 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns. He'll offer his first NFL employer a bigger draft prize than his mock draft spot would make you think.