2021 B/R App NFL Community Mock Draft
It's just about go time, folks.
In a couple of days, representatives of all 32 NFL teams will gather in Cleveland for the 2021 draft. Starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars and ending with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they will endeavor to fill needs and add difference-makers by sorting through the best prospects.
We know with a significant level of certainty that the Jaguars will draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. And that at least two more signal-callers will follow him off the board in short order. But for everything we know, there are two things we don't, and as is the case every year, the first round will no doubt contain a few surprises.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, there have been hundreds of mock drafts as pundits try to forecast how it will play out. Quite a few have been published here at Bleacher Report.
This time, however, we took a different path. Fans of each team were asked on the Bleacher Report app to vote how they think the first round will unfold Thursday. Then we gathered our NFL analysts Brad Gagnon, Brent Sobleski and Gary Davenport and asked them to grade the selections.
Based on most of those grades, the fans acquitted themselves very well.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
It doesn't feel right to grade this pick because my cat could have made it.
In this case, the Jacksonville Jaguars are enrolled in a pass/fail course, and they'll pass simply by showing up. The fans appear well aware the only way they could mess this up would be to forget that the draft is Thursday in the same way Frank from Old School forgot his birthday.
Odds are the Jags will end up with the draft's most promising player, and nobody on this or any other planet—including the Gagnon family feline—will object.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young
The New York Jets had two options when they entered the offseason. They could use this year's No. 2 pick to build around Sam Darnold or draft his replacement. Obviously, New York chose the latter. The Jets traded the No. 3 pick in 2018 to the Carolina Panthers for a 2021 sixth-rounder and 2022 second- and fourth-round selections early this month, and the decision became obvious.
BYU's Zach Wilson will step in immediately. The scheme under new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur should perfectly accentuate his skill set, though this pick isn't without risk.
"I could see Zach being a Pro Bowl QB quickly like [Justin] Herbert, or I could see him being like Drew Lock. If I had to bet money, I'd bet it doesn't work out for him with the Jets. Zach playing right away in that market with his play style—woof—that'd make me really nervous," a quarterbacks coach told The Athletic's Bruce Feldman.
New York must do what it never did for Darnold by building around Wilson.
3. San Francisco 49ers (via MIA and HOU): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
This is the point where the community mock draft and the real draft will likely diverge. Per Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported there is a 90-plus percent chance Justin Fields will not be the No. 3 pick.
If that's the case, then this is an instance where the B/R community got it right and Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch did not.
Yes, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport recently reported Fields has epilepsy. But they noted the condition has been managed by medication and hasn't impacted his performance. Fields is accurate. His arm is as good as any of this year's top prospects. He's ridiculously athletic.
And anyone who questions his toughness or commitment to the game obviously didn't see last year's College Football Playoff semifinal win over Clemson, in which Fields torched the Tigers after taking one of the hardest shots a quarterback will endure.
Not only is Fields the No. 2 quarterback prospect in this class, but there's also a bigger gap between him and the rest of the bunch than there is between him and Trevor Lawrence.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Look, I love Kyle Pitts. How could you not? And I think he's the best player available in this spot, so I'm not about to chastise the fans and hand out a bad grade.
That said, I've been vocal that this represents the perfect opportunity for the Atlanta Falcons to draft Matt Ryan's successor. Nobody likes to think long-term like that when you're all in with Ryan, Julio Jones and Co., but it could be years before Atlanta has another pick in the top five and another shot at a quarterback like Trey Lance.
I'd be harder on this pick if Justin Fields or Zach Wilson were available, but the Falcons already have Ryan, Jones, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst and a solid offensive line, though they've won just 18 games over the last three seasons. Is Pitts going to put them over the top? This isn't a team on the brink, and I wouldn't view it as a contender with Pitts, but I'm also wrong all the time and can understand the short-term view.
I'll be kind.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
While the debate rages on social media, the Cincinnati Bengals have only one reasonable choice with this pick. Yes, LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase is tempting because of his talent and history with quarterback Joe Burrow. But a team can't pick out window dressing before building a strong foundation.
"If I could pick one player in this draft who's got the best chance to go to the Hall of Fame, it's Penei Sewell," a coach told NBC Sports' Peter King. "He's my left tackle from day one."
Maybe Sewell wouldn't be the Bengals' left tackle from day one, but he would drastically improve the offensive front. Veteran Riley Reiff can move inside to guard, and one selection improves two spots. That could bump to three if Sewell does start at left tackle and Jonah Williams moves to the right side.
Whatever the case, the Bengals can't go wrong with an investment in Burrow's protection.
6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI): Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
When the Miami Dolphins traded back into the top 10 (at the cost of a first-rounder in 2022), it was clear Chris Grier had a target or two in mind. And with all due respect to Penei Sewell (who is off the board anyway), the Dolphins could have stayed at No. 12, kept that first-rounder and still landed one of the top three tackles in this class.
The move up was all about landing one of the top two pass-catchers. And with Kyle Pitts gone, this selection becomes a no-brainer.
Ja'Marr Chase is the total package at wide receiver—two years ago, he tallied 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. Eight of those scores were of 50 yards or more. He's a threat to hit paydirt on any play and consistently won 50-50 balls.
With Chase joining DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki, Tua Tagovailoa won't be hurting for weapons.
He'll just need the O-line to hold up.
7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
I think Alabama's DeVonta Smith is a more fitting target for the Detroit Lions than his former teammate, Jaylen Waddle, but it's admittedly a close call. There's a lot to love about Waddle, and the draft is a crapshoot.
With that in mind and with Kyle Pitts and Ja'Marr Chase off the board, this is a sensible selection for a team that just lost Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. and hasn't brought Danny Amendola back.
Frankly, I'm just happy Lions fans didn't reach for Rashawn Slater. I get that Penei Sewell could be a generational talent at a key position, but Slater isn't on that level, and I'm not sure offensive tackle is as big a need as some fans seem to believe. Taylor Decker is very good on the left side, and the highly paid Halapoulivaati Vaitai can always kick back outside if Detroit doesn't feel comfortable with Tyrell Crosby at right tackle.
As for the cartoonishly fast Waddle: If he can pick up where he left off before his ankle injury, he and Jared Goff could make some sweet music.
8. Carolina Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
With North Dakota State's Trey Lance still on the board, the Panthers have to consider the possibility of investing in yet another young quarterback to increase the odds that one will work out. Instead, a smart, albeit unsexy, investment in the front five should pay dividends for the team's starter over the next few seasons.
Northwestern's Rashawn Slater will always be compared to Oregon's Penei Sewell because they're considered the top two offensive tackle prospects in this year's class. Undoubtedly, some teams have Slater rated higher than Sewell because of the former's refinement, particularly in his pass set. Slater is easily one of the class' best technicians, and he would take over at left tackle.
The Panthers made a couple of suspect (and that's being generous) signings at the start of free agency with Pat Elflein and Cameron Erving. But the moves showed a commitment to improving the offensive line. Slater will be the critical piece to solidify the unit.
9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
To be clear, if the first round of the draft plays out like this, John Elway will run faster than he has since 1991 to turn this pick in.
Yes, I know George Paton is the Denver Broncos' general manager. It's called artistic license. Don't be a killjoy.
North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance isn't a sure bet to succeed in the NFL. He barely played in 2020, and tearing up the FCS is a bit different from dueling with Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr and Justin Herbert in the AFC West.
But it's no secret Denver needs an upgrade, and Lance's ceiling is as high as any passer's in the class. He has a cannon for an arm, can extend plays and pick up yards with his legs and in his lone full season didn't throw a single interception.
If any of the top five quarterbacks are on the board when Denver goes on the clock, the Broncos should go for it. It's that simple.
10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
No complaints here. The Dallas Cowboys have lost key cornerbacks in back-to-back offseasons, so it makes perfect sense they would use this selection on a cover man who earned the highest grade at his position from Pro Football Focus in 2020.
Patrick Surtain II was the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and that was the cherry on top for a player with an NFL pedigree who excelled as a three-year starter in the toughest conference in college football. Jaycee Horn's resume isn't as solid, and he has more to work on from a technical standpoint, while it's fair to be concerned about Caleb Farley's durability.
Keep it simple, stupid, and don't be traumatized by the Morris Claiborne experience. Surtain is the ideal choice in this spot.
11. New York Giants: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
DeVonta Smith's size will be at the forefront of every conversation until he steps on a field and his awesome skill set translates against bigger, more physical and more talented cornerbacks than he faced in college with a loaded Alabama offense.
But the real question for Smith is how said skill set fits. The fact the reigning Heisman Trophy winner isn't a true X-receiver holds him back to a degree. He can torch opposing defenses as a Z-receiver or slot, but he won't be a traditional player who works outside the numbers and has the size to match up against NFL defensive backs. That's OK. The New York Giants don't need him to be.
Smith and offseason addition Kenny Golladay could form a devastating duo, thus significantly helping Daniel Jones' maturation as a starting quarterback. Throw Darius Slayton into the mix, and New York goes from one of the league's worst wide receiver corps to one of its most intriguing.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA and SF): Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Philadelphia Eagles already made good use of their first-round pick—by trading down. They aren't going anywhere in 2021, and they have far too many holes on both sides of the ball.
In the long run, the extra first Philly got from Miami in 2022 will help it more than the player the Eagles would have gotten six spots earlier—especially since South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn is available in this mock.
Horn has everything a team could want in a cornerback prospect: size (6'1"), speed (4.39), athleticism and ball skills.
And while he may not be as pro-ready as Patrick Surtain II, his ceiling is higher.
He's a great pick who fills one of the Eagles' most glaring needs.
Handing out all these "A"s is getting monotonous.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
This is yet another pick in which the fans and I are on the same page, and I think many would be delighted to find out I mocked Christian Darrisaw to the Los Angeles Chargers with Rashawn Slater still on the board.
Darrisaw might have more work to do, but his measurables and athleticism could enable him to become a special left tackle. That's worth the risk for the Bolts, who might need a year or so to bring it all together with Justin Herbert and Brandon Staley anyway. Plus, the line is so strong elsewhere that they can afford to give him some time.
Addressing the offensive tackle position is a no-brainer, and I wouldn't be surprised if Darrisaw became a better player than Slater.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC
The Minnesota Vikings lacked salary-cap flexibility entering the offseason and used Riley Reiff's release as a way to get under this year's figure. In doing so, the organization created a second need along the offensive front. Minnesota already required an upgrade at guard, but left tackle became a sore spot as well.
USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker can solve either issue. Vera-Tucker is the best interior line prospect in this year's class. Yet he presents enough flexibility after bumping out to left tackle last season to possibly handle that role if need be.
Minnesota might be best served by moving Erza Cleveland back to left tackle—his natural position—after converting him to right guard as a rookie. Vera-Tucker can then fill left guard next to Cleveland and significantly upgrade that side of the line. A plan is definitely needed to solve the team's line issues.
15. New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The only thing separating this pick from Fantasy Island is Ricardo Montalban in a white suit.
I already mentioned that Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported Mac Jones will be drafted No. 3 by the San Francisco 49ers. Michael Silver of NFL Network shared that assessment.
For what it's worth, the grade for Jones to San Francisco would be a D.
Jones isn't a bad player by any stretch. He was wildly productive last year at Aalbama. He's accurate and from all indications reads defenses well. He's athletic enough to extend plays. He's as pro-ready as any passer in this draft class.
For the New England Patriots, who need a quarterback, he would be an excellent selection. Thus the high grade.
But at No. 3, it'd be a different story. Jones doesn't have the athletic upside of Justin Fields or Trey Lance. His floor may be a little higher, but his ceiling is also much lower.
If it goes as expected, the Niners will draft Kirk Cousins 2.0 because he's a scheme fit.
And given what San Francisco gave up to trade up, that would go down as one of the biggest draft-day boondoggles of the last 20 years.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
I have my concerns about Caleb Farley, who hasn't provided much tape of late and is plagued by durability concerns. If I'm the Arizona Cardinals, I probably consider Northwestern's Greg Newsome II, who has gained buzz and would bring versatility to the secondary.
That said, with Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn off the board, this wouldn't be a bad pick in the middle of Round 1. Farley is 6'2" and 207 pounds with sub-4.4 speed, and the 2020 opt-out intercepted four passes and allowed completions on only 36 percent of the passes thrown his way in 2019, per Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus.
Those ingredients could easily make him a shutdown corner.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Let's be honest. The Las Vegas Raiders don't have a plan. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have struggled with their free-agent signings and draft selections. The organization spent most of the offseason trying to rectify an earlier bad decision. The selection of Penn State Micah Parsons has the potential to be another one.
No one denies Parsons' natural ability. He's a gifted athlete with a unique skill set. Therein lies the problem. Parsons isn't a typical three-down linebacker. He's not entirely comfortable working in space, because he's a defensive end convert best suited to playing downhill and in an opponent's backfield. His value is based on his ability to run, chase and work off the edge in different pressure packages.
Furthermore, there are concerns about his character. In high school, he yelled "Gun" in the cafeteria while police were investigating an anonymous threat, and a former Penn State teammate named him in a hazing lawsuit. His selection, even with the 17th pick, brings significant boom-or-bust potential.
18. Miami Dolphins: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Finally! A pick I can criticize.
This isn't intended as criticism of Alabama running back Najee Harris. He's the best back in the class—the 6'1", 232-pounder has power to spare to grind out yards between the tackles, the speed to get around the edge and at least decent skill as both a receiver and pass-protector.
He's a three-down workhorse back and a day one starter for the team that drafts him.
But it's hard to justify drafting a back this early unless he's otherworldly, and Harris isn't quite that. The Dolphins are headed in the right direction, but they have too many holes to spend a top-20 pick on a runner.
An offensive lineman such as Teven Jenkins of Oklahoma State would make considerably more sense—especially since Travis Etienne of Clemson could still be on the board when Miami goes on the clock with the fourth pick in Round 2.
19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
The Washington Football Team is jacked along the defensive line but could use another playmaker at the next level, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah presents solid value in this spot. He sometimes plays a little too loose, but that might not be costly with so much talent surrounding him. Plus, his speed and physicality could enable him to become a Pro Bowler.
Owusu-Koramoah is coming off two impressive seasons at Notre Dame, so he should also be ready to make an impact as an off-ball linebacker. With all the quarterbacks—including Mac Jones—gone, this is a quality, sensible selection. It would have been hard for fans to pass him up.
20. Chicago Bears: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
The thought of Andy Dalton starting throughout the campaign without a quality developmental option in the pipeline must send shivers down the spines of the Chicago Bears faithful.
The front office has seemingly taken the "It is what it is" approach to the season—which isn't necessarily good considering the regime's tenuous standing. But Chicago isn't in a position to grab one of this year's top five quarterback prospects. The next-best solution is building the best possible cockpit around Dalton and hoping he's enough to keep the team in the playoff hunt.
A solid front five will go a long way, though right tackle is far from settled.
Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins can take over the strongside spot and become a tone-setter for the unit. Jenkins is easily the most physically overwhelming prospect in this class. His intention is to bury every defender he faces. He's also a quality pass-blocker. The first-team All-Big 12 performer allowed only two sacks in four college seasons and zero over the last two seasons, per Pro Football Focus.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan
The Indianapolis Colts are well-positioned to win the AFC South—provided quarterback Carson Wentz can recapture past form with his new team.
But there are some potential problem areas for the team, and with Justin Houston still unsigned and Denico Autry with the Tennessee Titans, the pass rush is at the top of the list.
Edge-rusher Kwity Paye was the star of Michigan's pro day this year, putting on a display of both speed (4.52-second 40-yard dash) and power (36 reps on the bench press). That showing vaulted the 6'2", 261-pounder to the second betting favorite to be the first defensive lineman drafted this year.
But as with the other top edge prospects this year, there are question marks with Paye—in Ann Arbor, his production never quite met his potential.
That adds a measure of risk to this pick, but it's hard to find too much fault with the Colts for addressing their biggest need with their first selection.
22. Tennessee Titans: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
With pass-catchers Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, Kalif Raymond and Jonnu Smith all gone, I don't see how the Titans could justify passing on Rashod Bateman in this spot.
The polished Minnesota product averaged a ridiculous 20.3 yards per reception in a standout 2019 season. That'd make him the perfect complement to A.J. Brown.
I'm not even sure this would be much of a debate. Terrace Marshall Jr. is on the board, but he'll need more time, and the Titans are in win-now mode. They also need to address the secondary after a lot of turnover, but many of the top corners are gone.
23. New York Jets (via SEA): Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Last offseason, Jets general manager Joe Douglas concentrated on the offensive front and used significant assets in an attempt to improve the unit. This offseason, Douglas concentrated on the other side of the ball to give new head coach Robert Saleh a more potent defensive front. The additions of Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry and Sheldon Rankins were a good start, but the defensive-minded coach still needs more in the secondary.
Northwestern's Greg Newsome II is the class' best zone-cover corner. He'll be a natural fit in Saleh's Seattle Seahawks-inspired scheme. His addition will also create a ripple effect through the cornerback room. Young and experienced corners in Bless Austin, Bryce Hall and Corey Ballentine will complement the incoming Newsome.
How good was the 20-year-old Newsome last season? He allowed a minuscule 0.4 yards per coverage snap, per Pro Football Focus. No defender did it better.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
It's not difficult to see what the B/R app community was thinking with this pick. Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers averaged a pitiful 84.4 yards per game on the ground (last in the NFL), and the team's leading rusher from that woeful ground game (James Conner) is now with Arizona.
Clemson's Travis Etienne has the potential to reverse Pittsburgh's fortunes in a hurry—the 5'10", 210-pounder topped 1,500 total yards last year, and in a profile of Etienne for the Draft Network, Joe Marino wrote he "has the upside to become one of the NFL's most dangerous offensive weapons" and compared him to Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints.
However, Pittsburgh has multiple other needs, including along the offensive line, in the defensive backfield and at edge-rusher opposite T.J. Watt. The top tackles are long gone in this mock, but there are options available at the other spots who could be argued as better uses of draft capital given the ease of finding capable ball-carriers on Day 2 relative to corners and pass-rushers.
If the Steelers do take Etienne in this spot, it would be a marked departure for Kevin Colbert—the last time Pittsburgh drafted an offensive player in Round 1 was 2012 with guard David DeCastro.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
The Jaguars have addressed a lot of their needs this offseason, but safety remains a large question mark, and they'd be silly to pass on this class's best player at that position in this spot.
That's certainly Trevon Moehrig, who is an ideal fit as a deep safety to work with newbie box safety Rayshawn Jenkins in Duval County.
The 2020 Jim Thorpe Award winner has the versatility to cover receivers in the slot as well, which is also something the Jags need assistance with on D. I'd expect him to win a starting job this summer, which is a pretty good deal this late in Round 1.
26. Cleveland Browns: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
How wrong is this selection? Let me count the ways:
1. The Browns don't value the linebacker position as highly as other teams.
2. Cleveland has needs at actual premium spots in cornerback and edge defender.
3. The projected starters are already set with Anthony Walker Jr. and Jacob Phillips (and Sione Takitaki at SAM in base packages).
These points aren't meant to degrade Zaven Collins. He's a wonderful linebacker prospect. The selection simply doesn't jibe with how the Browns operate no matter how many times a linebacker is mocked to Cleveland.
An argument can be made that wide receiver and defensive tackle are more significant long-term concerns than a linebacker if the team veers from an investment in one of its self-proclaimed "key positions."
27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
After trading tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens now have two bites at the apple at the back end of Round 1.
It's a safe bet that one of those chomps is going to be a wide receiver.
Talent and potential certainly isn't an issue with LSU's Terrace Marshall Jr.—the 6'3", 205-pounder peeled off a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at LSU's pro day. Neither is productivity in college, as over Marshall's last two years in Baton Rouge, he piled up 94 catches for 1,402 yards and 23 touchdowns.
But per Ryan Mink of the Ravens' website, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com reported that some medical issues have "popped" with Marshall of late.
It may be much ado about nothing. But in any other year, the Ravens could have brought Marshall in for a physical. With that not an option in 2021 and Kadarius Toney of Florida still on the board here, this smacks of an unnecessary risk.
The Ravens can't afford to blow this pick, even if it means sacrificing a little upside.
28. New Orleans Saints: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
It's no secret the New Orleans Saints need to add depth at cornerback, but the defensive front also needs to be addressed after suffering several significant losses last month. With that being the case and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson already in place as a solid cover man in the slot, I wouldn't have gone with the intriguing but somewhat limited Asante Samuel Jr. in this spot.
I wonder if Samuel's lack of size at 5'10" will be a factor, especially early in his career at a tough position to adjust to the NFL game. I'm not sure he'd crack the top three on the depth chart for a team that suddenly needs an influx of immediate difference-makers after a tough offseason.
If it were up to me, I'd give aging edge defender Cameron Jordan more support here by getting good value for a pro-ready pass-rusher like Azeez Ojulari or Jaelan Phillips.
29. Green Bay Packers: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
What are things Aaron Rodgers wants for $1,000?
Finally, the Packers add a first-round weapon around Rodgers. Maybe a decision like this will prevent the quarterback from possibly retiring early to take on the full-time Jeopardy gig.
Kadarius Toney's acquisition is exciting not only because he's a wide receiver but also because he brings a completely different skill set to the Packers offense. Obviously, Davante Adams is WR1 and his target share will remain enormous. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and Equanimeous St. Brown are bigger downfield targets, whereas Toney is a shifty open-field creator.
Head coach/offensive play-caller Matt LaFleur can manufacture touches through fly sweeps, smoke screens, etc. and let Toney work. The wide receiver has an unreal level of shiftiness. The Florida product easily led this year's wide receiver class in missed tackles forced, per Pro Football Focus. He's electric, which should put a little bounce in Rodgers' step.
30. Buffalo Bills: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami
There isn't a team in the AFC better positioned to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs than the Buffalo Bills. But despite last year's 13-win season and AFC title game appearance, the Bills have some prominent weaknesses as well. The biggest is likely the team's edge-rushers, as Buffalo didn't have a player register more than five sacks in 2020.
There's no Chase Young-type generational talent off the edge in the class of 2021, but there are several players with considerable upside.
Miami's Jaelan Phillips had an up-and-down collegiate career that included multiple concussions and walking away from the game altogether before reconsidering and transferring from UCLA to Miami. But he shined for the Hurricanes in 2020, piling up 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Phillips isn't a sure thing, but the potential is there for him to be a real contributor for a Bills pass rush that can definitely use some pop.
It's a very Brandon Beane pick, and that's a good thing.
31. Baltimore Ravens (via KC): Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia
Love, love, love it. The Ravens added a quality receiver to Lamar Jackson's arsenal with their own first-round pick in this exercise, and it makes a lot of sense to address the pass rush with the selection they acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in the Orlando Brown Jr. trade.
They lost key edge defenders Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue last month, and Pernell McPhee, Derek Wolfe and Calais Campbell are all beyond their primes. But they get great value here for Azeez Ojulari, who I see as a top-20 pick.
Following a season in which he posted 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in the SEC, the Georgia product looks polished enough to make an immediate impact on a contender. He's a tad undersized and might not be an every-down option right away, but with those aforementioned veterans as well as Tyus Bowser and 2019 third-round pick Jaylon Ferguson on the roster, defensive coordinator Don Martindale could easily get the best out of Ojulari in a rotational role.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski's acquisitions last offseason overshadowed a great draft class for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. went on to become two of the better performers on their respective side of the ball. General manager Jason Licht saw two premium talents slide a bit and took advantage of the situation.
Christian Barmore's addition has the same type of feel. The Alabama product is easily the best defensive tackle prospect in the class, albeit in a weak positional group. The defensive lineman terrorized the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Ohio State Buckeyes on his way to becoming the National Championship Defensive MVP. He posted a 91.3 pass-rushing grade, 12 total pressures and 10 defensive stops in the postseason, per Pro Football Focus.
Consistency issues are a concern since Barmore has never put together a complete campaign, and he's only been a starter for one season. Still, the 21-year-old has the potential to become a "war daddy" along the defensive front, and learning from Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea will certainly help in his development.