2021 First-Round NFL Mock Draft: Updated Picks After Pro Days

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 12, 2021

2021 First-Round NFL Mock Draft: Updated Picks After Pro Days

0 of 32

    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    We're down to about a fortnight now.

    It feels as though it was just yesterday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were whipping the Vince Lombardi Trophy around above the deep waters of the Hillsborough River, but that's ancient history in terms of the NFL offseason, and free agency is already a memory.

    We're into the final countdown for the 2021 draft. And with basically the entire predraft process complete, we're able to mock the draft with an increasingly clear picture.

    Here's our latest stab at it.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

1 of 32

    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    You're extremely likely to scroll past at least this blurb because there's nobody left on this or any other planet who feels the Jacksonville Jaguars won't or shouldn't draft Trevor Lawrence first overall.

    We're all well aware that the Clemson product has the arm, the pocket presence, the decision-making skills, the vision, the athleticism, the mobility and the resume broadly and in big games to merit becoming the new face of the Jaguars organization.

    So to keep you from scrolling, here are some interesting facts about jaguars:

    • The jaguar is the third-largest cat in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund
    • Per the same source, they're excellent swimmers and they'll eat almost anything.
    • According to National Geographic, they climb trees to hunt prey.

    Insert dad joke about Lawrence not being asked to swim or climb trees during the predraft process.

2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, Brigham Young

2 of 32

    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    There appears to be more fait accompli in the No. 2 spot, where the New York Jets are widely expected to select BYU 2020 breakout sensation Zach Wilson to relieve the departed Sam Darnold under center.

    I wouldn't fault Gang Green for rolling instead with Justin Fields, Mac Jones or Trey Lance here. The first round continues to be a crapshoot for quarterbacks, and few of us can pretend to know who is going to excel and who is going to bust.

    That said, there's a lot to love about Wilson, who looks and feels so much like a new-generation quarterback and crushed his pro day after posting a ridiculous 33-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his junior year.

    The upside is massive, and nobody should blame the long-struggling Jets for chasing that.

3. San Francisco 49ers (from Houston via Miami): QB Mac Jones, Alabama

3 of 32

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    This seems to be less set in stone, but there's been plenty of buzz that the San Francisco 49ers traded into this spot because they love Jones, who certainly seems like a good fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense. 

    He's extremely accurate, smart and super-cool under pressure. He also should be pretty close to NFL-ready after an incredible junior season in the SEC. 

    Fields and Lance are easier to fall in love with based on their physical tools and athleticism, but fit is important, and Jones is the closest thing to Jimmy Garoppolo or Matt Ryan in this class. At Alabama, he ran a ton of play-action and became a quick processor, which is exactly what the 49ers are likely to value for their system. 

    Fields ran a very different, less horizontal offense at Ohio State and Lance might not be ready to make an early impact on a team that should consider itself a contender.

    If Shanahan and general manager John Lynch had lost confidence they could land Jones in the No. 12 spot, it's easy to see a team in win-now mode going all out to move up for him. 

    That said, it wouldn't be surprising at all if the 49ers took Fields or Lance, both of whom have superstar-level ceilings.

4. Atlanta Falcons: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

4 of 32

    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    Again, wanna take Lance instead? Fine, but the point is it's time for the Atlanta Falcons to take a quarterback and anoint him the heir apparent to declining soon-to-be 36-year-old Matt Ryan.

    Ryan hasn't been a first- or second-team All-Pro—or even a Pro Bowler—since his MVP 2016 season, and the Falcons have won just 18 games with him under center since the start of 2018. They're likely married to him for another season or two because of his massive contract, but they're unlikely to have another opportunity to land a quarterback like Fields or Lance in upcoming drafts. 

    This is the first time they've held a top-five pick since they drafted Ryan third overall 13 years ago.

    I'm going with Fields because I trust him a little more than Lance, who didn't face the same competition in college and hasn't seen much action in a while. Fields is a proven gamer with superb arm talent, athleticism and ball placement. He has a very good chance to break the Ohio State quarterback curse.

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

5 of 32

    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    This would give the Cincinnati Bengals the pick of the non-quarterback litter in the No. 5 spot, and there's little doubt they'd look to support young franchise quarterback Joe Burrow with a primo pass-catcher like Ja'Marr Chase or Kyle Pitts or a potential pillar offensive tackle like Penei Sewell.

    Considering that they signed veteran Riley Reiff to support 2019 first-round selection Jonah Williams at tackle, I think it would come down to Chase and Pitts. Now factor in the magic we saw between Burrow and Chase at LSU in 2019 and it's easy to figure they'll reunite the two.

    When Burrow completed 76.3 percent of his passes for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns to just six interceptions in that historic 2019 campaign, Chase accounted for nearly one-third of those yards and exactly one-third of those touchdowns as a wideout.

    He'd be the perfect replacement for legend A.J. Green opposite 2020 second-round sensation Tee Higgins outside, with veteran Tyler Boyd in the slot.

6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia): TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

6 of 32

    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    If the Bengals take Pitts, the Miami Dolphins likely take Chase. If the Bengals take Chase, the Dolphins almost certainly take Pitts. 

    Dolphins co-offensive coordinator/tight ends coach George Godsey was an offensive assistant and tight ends coach with the New England Patriots when they made waves with multiple tight ends a decade ago, so I wouldn't expect Brian Flores' staff to shy away from adding another tight end next to talented 25-year-old Mike Gesicki. 

    Besides, the physically marvelous Pitts has the ability to dominate outside of a traditional tight end role, and his stock is sky-high right now after a phenomenal pro day to back up the excitement about his size and athleticism.

    With Will Fuller V stretching the field for DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Pitts and Gesicki, young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa couldn't ask for a better arsenal of weapons.

7. Detroit Lions: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

7 of 32

    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The leaves the Detroit Lions to choose between the other two hyped receivers in this year's class, Alabama's Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. Sewell and Lance would also surely be tempting, but they've invested heavily in Jared Goff, Taylor Decker and Halapoulivaati Vaitai at those positions and they just lost Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. in free agency. 

    I'm leaning Smith because of what he's done for us lately. The Heisman Trophy winner might have been the most productive player in college football with 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2020, and he's quite polished coming off his senior season. 

    Meanwhile, Waddle is coming off a promising season that was derailed in October by a significant ankle injury. There are concerns about Smith's 175-pound frame, but his physical play often makes it look as though he's a lot bigger than that in action.

    Waddle is more of a blazer, but the Lions are already quite fast out wide and I think they'd prefer the tougher (albeit smaller) of the two receivers.

    That said, this is basically a toss-up.

8. Carolina Panthers: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

8 of 32

    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    There's no way Sewell can drop beyond this, especially considering that the Carolina Panthers haven't re-signed 32-year-old free-agent offensive tackle Russell Okung but have removed themselves from the quarterback sweepstakes with the Darnold trade.

    At 6'6", 325 pounds, the dominant, athletic and technically sound Oregon product would offer the Panthers the perfect bookend to Taylor Moton in support of Darnold. Hsurrendered zero sacks in 2019, per FanNation, before opting out in 2020, so he should be fresh and ready to play a significant role in 2021.

    Carolina could be tempted to find more support for Donte Jackson and Jeremy Chinn in the secondary, but the recent additions of Rashaan Melvin and A.J. Bouye probably mean they won't go out of their way to chase a highly rated cornerback like Patrick Surtain II, Caleb Farley or Jaycee Horn.

    This is the most obvious pick I've encountered since Lawrence to Jacksonville.

9. Denver Broncos: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

9 of 32

    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    I'm not trying to further obscure the crystal ball with trades in this exercise, but it should be noted that there's a decent chance somebody will trade with Detroit, Carolina or even the Denver Broncos to land Lance.

    So what I'm really saying is a player with that kind of upside is going in the top 10, whether that's to the Lions, Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Washington Football Team, Chicago Bears or somebody completely unexpected. 

    But if a trade doesn't go down, I can't imagine the quarterback-starved Broncos passing on the incredibly gifted and athletic North Dakota State product. It helps that they still have Drew Lock to handle what would ideally be a slow transition to Lance, and if Lock suddenly becomes a superstar, Lance as trade bait isn't a horrible worst-case scenario.

    This fills a potential long-term need at the sport's most critical position, it's a high-value pick and it just makes sense considering that the Broncos are in pretty solid shape at most other positions.

    Like, much better shape than you might realize.

10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

10 of 32

    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys have lost starting cornerbacks in back-to-back offseasons (Byron Jones in 2020, Chidobe Awuzie in 2021), and it just so happens that one of the best players available in this spot is former Alabama cover man Patrick Surtain II. 

    The 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year is almost unanimously the highest-rated corner in this class after a fantastic three-year starting career in the toughest conference in college football. And he was also the highest-graded corner in the college game at Pro Football Focus in 2020. 

    As a result, he should also be ready to play a major role right away alongside Jourdan Lewis and Trevon Diggs in Dallas.

    A pass-rusher or offensive tackle could be tempting as well, but Sewell is off the board, and the Cowboys are deeply invested in DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins at those positions.

11. New York Giants: Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan

11 of 32

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Waddle would be very tough for the New York Giants to pass on, but they've brought in Kenny Golladay and John Ross III to work with Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard, and there's such a glaring void on the defensive edge there. 

    The G-Men didn't get more than four sacks out of an edge defender in 2020, and they were so caught up in paying Golladay, Adoree' Jackson and Leonard Williams that Ifeadi Odenigbo was their only semi-notable addition in that spot. 

    The versatile, relatively seasoned Kwity Paye would have a chance to immediately compete with Odenigbo, Ryan Anderson, Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter for reps on the edge, and it would be surprising if he didn't top that totem pole by the end of his rookie campaign.

    Paye brings consistent pressure and is a lot more developed than fellow intriguing pass-rusher Gregory Rousseau, who might be better suited for a team that isn't on track for a make-or-break year as the Giants appear to be.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (from 49ers via Miami): WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

12 of 32

    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    It might seem silly for the Philadelphia Eagles to use first-round picks on wide receivers in back-to-back drafts, but the Jalen Reagor pick is a sunk cost now, the receiver position remains a massive weak spot in Philly, and it works out that, in this case, the best player available is a wideout. 

    Waddle was destined to be a top-10 (maybe even top-five) pick before suffering that ankle injury in October. He still could go that high, but a player with his skill set shouldn't get past a team that has Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward Jr. and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside topping the receiver depth chart. 

    The blazing-fast Alabama product averaged 21.1 yards per reception during an abbreviated 2020 campaign and is more than just a speed demon. He's instinctive, he runs smooth routes and he adjusts well to balls in the air.

    The Eagles could also use another cornerback or help in the linebacker corps, but this decision is made easier by the fact Surtain is off the board and Waddle can make a much larger impact than the sliding Micah Parsons can off the ball.

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

13 of 32

    Matt Bell/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers got serious this offseason about bolstering young quarterback Justin Herbert's offensive line, but they've basically told us they're not finished and will likely be drafting a left tackle. 

    "Yeah, there certainly [is] a hole there right now," head coach Brandon Staley said last week, per NFL.com. "We feel like we have some tackle prospects on the roster that can certainly play there. But it's gonna be certainly a position that we need to address you know, before July."

    With Sewell gone, that probably leaves us with Rashawn Slater or Christian Darrisaw. The former is technically sound but physically underwhelming, while the latter may need to work more on his technique but is physically marvelous. 

    It's a close call, but Darrisaw's length gives him a better chance to stick at tackle, and it's not as though he's completely raw. He should be able to make an early impact for a Bolts team that is in win-now mode.

14. Minnesota Vikings: OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

14 of 32

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    A felony family violence assault charge against 2020 first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney could cause the Minnesota Vikings to consider a corner like Farley or Horn here, but they did bring in Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander in the offseason, and the left side of the offensive line remains a huge liability. 

    They also get tremendous value in this spot for Northwestern's Rashawn Slater, who has generally been ranked above Darrisaw and could be used at either tackle position or guard in 2021.

    Slater doesn't possess ideal length for the left tackle spot, but the tape indicates he could compensate for that with his quickness and athleticism. And at the very least, he has the technique to make an early impact somewhere.

    Worst-case, I'd expect him to provide a tremendous immediate upgrade over Dakota Dozier at left guard.

15. New England Patriots: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

15 of 32

    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    If the New England Patriots aren't able to trade up for a quarterback or land a falling signal-caller in this spot, Parsons would represent a hell of a consolation prize. 

    The consensus All-American in 2019 (he opted out in 2020) would be a high-value pick in the middle of Round 1, and he'd also be a great fit for the Patriots because of his range and versatility. 

    Off-field issues are a legitimate concern, and that would likely be a contributor if Parsons were to fall this far, but the Patriots haven't shied away from taking chances on extremely talented players with character questions in the past.

    And if Parsons' 2019 play is any indication, he should be ready to make an impact as an explosive situational presence in Bill Belichick's defense right away.

16. Arizona Cardinals: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

16 of 32

    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    With veterans Patrick Peterson, Johnathan Joseph and Dre Kirkpatrick all off the roster, the Arizona Cardinals need another cornerback to work with Byron Murphy and newcomer Malcolm Butler at that critical position. 

    With that in mind, they're likely praying that either Surtain, Caleb Farley or Jaycee Horn drops to them in the No. 16 spot. With the Parsons fall over and Surtain long gone, the debate here would have to be Farley vs. Horn. 

    I'd go Horn.

    The South Carolina product averaged 27.4 coverage snaps per reception allowed in 2020, which was the best mark in college football, according to PFF. He's physical, long and athletic, and he has pedigree (his dad is former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn). There's little reason to believe he can't become a No. 1 corner at the NFL level.

    That's also the case with Farley, but his injury history is a significant concern, and he might not be as prepared to make an early impact for a contending team like Arizona.

17. Las Vegas Raiders: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

17 of 32

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Former Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is an extremely popular mock-draft selection for the Las Vegas Raiders, but I'm not convinced that's a pressing need for a team that re-signed Nicholas Morrow in support of the highly paid Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski at linebacker and paid Yannick Ngakoue to work with youngsters Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby and vet Carl Nassib on the edge.

    Instead, the Raiders need to address the secondary and the offensive line. Caleb Farley is the only defensive back expected to go off the board in this range, but I have my concerns about his durability, and they did draft corner Damon Arnette in the first round last year.

    Alijah Vera-Tucker might be perfect for the right tackle job that was essentially left vacant when they traded Trent Brown to the Patriots. He played left tackle and guard at USC, but he's versatile and he's a particularly good run-blocker, which is ideal for the Raiders' run-oriented approach.

18. Miami Dolphins: Edge Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

18 of 32

    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    It was tempting to give the Dolphins a Miami product because of the geographic connection, but they're looking to contend in 2021, and Georgia's Azeez Ojulari simply looks more polished and ready to help out than Hurricanes alternatives Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips. 

    The Dolphins bailed on both Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson after one season with each, leaving the pass rush in need of a jolt. At 6'2", 249 pounds, Ojulari might lack the bulk required to be a three-down star right away, but he's explosive and refined, and Brian Flores should be able to find many ways to use him creatively without overdoing it.

    It helps that he still has Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel on the edge, but Ojulari could overtake both of those guys in the wake of a 9.5-sack season that included four forced fumbles in the SEC.

    Comparatively, Rousseau still has a lot to prove, and Phillips' injury history is a legit concern.

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

19 of 32

    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team has famously built up its defensive front in high-profile fashion, but the linebacker corps is underwhelming with headliners like Cole Holcomb, Jon Bostic, Khaleke Hudson and David Mayo.

    The run defense was a much weaker link than the pass D last season but can help fix that right away. The Notre Dame product is an explosive, high-instinct linebacker who can immediately make an impact on all three downs. 

    According to 247Sports, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. called Owusu-Koramoah one of the "best pure football players in this draft" earlier this year. He's quite simply a playmaker who could take the WFT defense to another level, and he shouldn't need too much time to get acclimated after two strong seasons with the Irish.

    With the top offensive tackles off the board, this makes too much sense.

20. Chicago Bears: OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

20 of 32

    Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

    A lot of folks might be thinking wide receiver here for the Chicago Bears, but Allen Robinson II is back, Darnell Mooney is promising and Anthony Miller remains on the roster. Cornerback is a much more glaring need in the post-Kyle Fuller era, but Caleb Farley's stock appears to be dropping and there aren't any other corners worthy of this pick. 

    Instead, Chicago should look to upgrade on the weak right side of its offensive line by adding either Teven Jenkins from Oklahoma State or Samuel Cosmi out of Texas.

    Both are quality second-tier tackles who could potentially excel on either side, but I'm siding with Jenkins because he's a more natural fit at right tackle and he's a little more polished and consistent than Cosmi, who was all over the map the last two seasons.

    He's versatile, extremely powerful and technically sound. That's all you can ask for 20 picks in.

21. Indianapolis Colts: OT Samuel Cosmi, Texas

21 of 32

    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    This works out rather well because the Indianapolis Colts need a left tackle to replace the retired Anthony Castonzo and Cosmi started at that position the last three years at Texas. 

    He hasn't fully lived up to his elite athletic ability, but he has the fundamentals, the strength and the feet to become a pillar left tackle in the NFL, and that's not something the Colts can afford to pass on as they attempt to bolster support for new quarterback Carson Wentz. 

    Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard has always focused heavily on maintaining a strong, reliable offensive line as the foundation of his team's offense, and it's hard to imagine he or anybody believes recent pickup Sam Tevi is an ideal replacement for Castonzo.

    Cosmi could at least create competition, potentially in several spots if Indy doesn't rule out shifting Braden Smith or even Quenton Nelson to the blind side.

22. Tennessee Titans: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

22 of 32

    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans roster experienced a lot of turnover this offseason, but they generally replaced their losses in the secondary, and a big-money contract for Bud Dupree could indicate they feel a poor pass rush has been appropriately addressed. 

    However, Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, Kalif Raymond and Jonnu Smith are gone at the wide receiver/tight end positions, with just Josh Reynolds joining the fray in the pass-catching corps. 

    That's a concern, and it would make it almost impossible to pass on former Minnesota wideout Rashod Bateman in this situation. The smooth 21-year-old had his 2020 campaign derailed a bit by the pandemic, but he's a year removed from averaging 20.3 yards per catch for the Golden Gophers.

    Bateman runs crisp routes and has the resume and hands required of a wideout who will be expected to make an early impact on a team that is in win-now mode.

23. New York Jets (from Seattle): CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

23 of 32

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Jets might have been tempted by Bateman and could still consider a receiver like Kadarius Toney in this scenario, but they're really not in bad shape with Corey Davis joining Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder at that position. Meanwhile, that run on second-tier offensive linemen probably takes that position off the board. 

    That leaves cornerback, where they're in horrible shape. Their only decent cover man from last year, slot specialist Brian Poole, remains unsigned, and they hardly touched that market in free agency. 

    I wouldn't fault them at all for taking Farley here because they have the draft capital to take a chance on a very talented corner who possesses an incredible combination of size (6'2", 207 lbs) and speed, even if he's lacked consistency and durability.

    But let's go with Greg Newsome II, whose stock is moving in the opposite direction as he gains hype for his versatility and skill set. The Northwestern product should be a perfect fit for Robert Saleh's Cover 3-oriented defense.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Edge Gregory Rousseau, Miami (FL)

24 of 32

    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers also missed out on the key offensive linemen slated to go in Round 1, and there'd be no reason to force anything there because they have other options in that area. 

    Instead, with Bud Dupree no longer around to complement star pass-rusher T.J. Watt, it'd make sense to take a flier on a potential difference-maker in Gregory Rousseau—especially because the Miami product would represent great value this late in Round 1 when you consider his tantalizing upside. 

    The converted wide receiver and safety could use more bulk at 265 pounds, but he possesses ideal length and explosiveness, and he's delivered on paper (he put up 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in 2019 before opting out in 2020).

    Rousseau could need a little time to get acclimated, but that's what makes this a good situation. The Steelers already have Watt and 2020 third-round pick Alex Highsmith. They'll be able to nurture Rousseau carefully, which could maximize his odds of hitting it big in the NFL.

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

25 of 32

    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    With Lawrence at quarterback, Shaquill Griffin joining the cornerback corps and Marvin Jones Jr. teaming up with DJ Chark Jr. at wide receiver, a Jaguars team that already has plenty of young talent and experience in the front seven is left with one particularly obvious hole at safety. 

    They'll likely utilize newcomer Rayshawn Jenkins in the box, which would make TCU product Trevon Moehrig an ideal fit as a deep safety in that defense. 

    Moehrig is probably the top safety prospect in this class after winning the Jim Thorpe Award in 2020. And while he's best suited for the deep role, he can work in the box and cover receivers in the slot, which Jacksonville could really use help with.

    He does a lot of things well and very few things poorly, and he'd likely have a chance to supplant presumed starter Jarrod Wilson before the start of the season.

26. Cleveland Browns: Edge Jaelan Phillips, Miami (FL)

26 of 32

    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    While the Cleveland Browns would probably love to add another off-ball linebacker to gain more range and talent at that position of need, they must realize that supporting star pass-rusher Myles Garrett with somebody better than Takkarist McKinley is critical. 

    That being the case, they can't let somebody like Jaelan Phillips get past them this late in Round 1. 

    The super-physical Miami product has a top-end motor and the numbers to back it up. He had so much injury baggage during his original college tenure at UCLA that he briefly retired from football over concussion issues, but the ceiling is extremely high for a player who registered 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks last year at Miami.

    That's enough to gain an edge over linebacker Zaven Collins, who is worthy of being selected in this range but doesn't possess the same difference-making potential as a player like Phillips does on the edge.

27. Baltimore Ravens: Edge Jayson Oweh, Penn State

27 of 32

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    With Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins and Mark Andrews on board as Lamar Jackson's three primary targets, I think the edge is a much bigger area of need for the Baltimore Ravens than the receiving corps.

    They lost both Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue last month and Pernell McPhee, Derek Wolfe and Calais Campbell are all football-old. They should be set to draft a pass-rusher in Round 1 for the first time since selecting Terrell Suggs 10th overall in 2003, and Penn State product Jayson Oweh would be a nice addition here.

    The 6'5", 252-pounder has seen his draft stock rise as more assessors have picked up on his elite physical tools. He might need a little more time to grow from a technical and physical standpoint before taking on a full-time role, but the Ravens depth chart should allow for that and Baltimore is a good place to develop.

28. New Orleans Saints: WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU

28 of 32

    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    If the New Orleans Saints are going to remain competitive in the post-Drew Brees era, they'll need some weapons in the receiving game beyond Michael Thomas. Brees made up for a lack of receiving depth, but that's unlikely to be the case with Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill, and they also lost veterans Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook last month. 

    In this spot, that oughta make either Kadarius Toney or Terrace Marshall Jr. a lock. We'll go with the LSU product, whose elite speed could stretch the field and make life a lot easier on Thomas and whoever is throwing the passes.

    He's 6'3", 205 pounds, and he runs a sub-4.4 40-yard dash. He might require some more development at the NFL level, but it helps that Thomas is already hogging attention as one of the best wideouts in football.

    Toney is less of a boundary receiver, which could also be useful but doesn't differentiate him much from Thomas, Deonte Harris and Tre'Quan Smith.

29. Green Bay Packers: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

29 of 32

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Caleb Farley is too big and too fast and was too good in 2019 to drop out of the first round entirely, and the cornerback-starved Green Bay Packers represent an ideal landing spot near the bottom of Round 1.

    The Virginia Tech product is 6'2" and 207 pounds with sub-4.4 speed, which makes him an extreme outlier at the cornerback position. He also intercepted four passes and allowed completions on only 36 percent of the passes thrown his way in 2019, according to PFF (he opted out in 2020).

    Are there some flaws in his technique? Yes. But that and a lack of recent exposure as a result of his opt-out and a somewhat concerning back injury explain why he's available in this spot.

    With good coaching and better luck from a health standpoint, Farley could become a dominant outside corner in place of the failed Kevin King opposite Jaire Alexander in Green Bay.

30. Buffalo Bills: Edge Joseph Ossai, Texas

30 of 32

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    I wouldn't fault the Buffalo Bills for getting fired up about a corner like Farley (if he were to drop past Green Bay) or Asante Samuel Jr. in this spot, but that's less of a need than the defensive edge.

    The Bills aren't in bad shape anywhere, really, but Tre'Davious White, Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson give them more talent and upside than they're getting from Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison on the edge.

    That being the case, you can't pass on Joseph Ossai here.

    The Texas product compiled 29 tackles for loss the last two seasons in the Big 12 and has the motor and explosiveness to consistently win at the NFL level. That might require some time, especially if he has to adjust to a more traditional 4-3 end role, but that's possible in Buffalo because Hughes, Addison and 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa are there as well.

    And no, I didn't forget about Najee Harris or Travis Etienne. Running backs are almost never worth first-round picks, and the Bills shouldn't already give up on Zack Moss and Devin Singletary.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

31 of 32

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    You have to wonder if the Kansas City Chiefs will pursue a wide receiver here. Sammy Watkins is gone and they apparently pursued JuJu Smith-Schuster, but that still can't be a huge priority for a team that has Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman and recently cut both starting offensive tackles.

    Last year's selection of Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a luxury for a team that hardly had any weak spots. But now, the Chiefs have legitimate holes and need to address the biggest of those holes in Round 1.

    Enter Michigan product Jalen Mayfield, who is the best tackle available here.

    The versatile 20-year-old has played both tackle spots and possesses the athleticism Andy Reid likes in offensive linemen. He might require some more development, but Kansas City's offense offers a good environment for that, and at least the Chiefs have Mike Remmers and Martinas Rankin for the time being (plus, both Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz remain unsigned).

    It's not a sexy pick, but the Chiefs have to get serious about fixing the line that cost them Super Bowl LV.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DL Christian Barmore, Alabama

32 of 32

    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could also be tempted to make a luxury pick here after bringing back all of the key players from their Super Bowl campaign, but it just so happens that one of the best players available is an interior defensive lineman and that might be Tampa Bay's biggest need.

    Ndamukong Suh is 34, Vita Vea missed much of the 2020 season due to an ankle injury, 29-year-old William Gholston isn't special and veteran Steve McLendon hasn't been retained. There isn't much else beyond that, but Alabama's Christian Barmore would have a chance to compete for reps right away.

    The first-team All-SEC defensive lineman and National Championship Defensive MVP put up eight sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles as a sophomore in the toughest conference in college football in 2020.

    His aggressive style makes him a tremendous fit for Tampa Bay's defense, and his production in critical spots for the Crimson Tide indicates he could make an impact immediately for a Bucs team in win-now mode.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.