(Mark J Rebilas/USA Today Sports)
The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching, and it is officially crunch time for NFL teams to gather intel on prospects and build their big boards. In the spirit of this favorite season for draftniks, it’s time for another mock draft from Around The Block. In this mock, there are no trades. The selections are made purely off of a combination of my personal big board, team needs and the rumors spinning around the player/team connections. I have spent the entirety of this winter and spring evaluating players to grade and rank as much of this class as I can, which works perfectly for this two-round simulation. These picks are going off of what I would do (hence WWID). Without further ado, here are the selections:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence | Quarterback | Clemson
- This is a no-brainer that really doesn’t need an explanation. Lawrence has phenomenal arm talent, a solid athletic profile and the poise to handle the spotlight right away as arguably the most talented quarterback the Jags have ever had.
2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson | Quarterback | BYU
- Again, another no-brainer. While I do not see Wilson as the second-best quarterback, the Jets will be enticed by his particular arm talent, as making plays off script and off platform is a trademark of his game. And given that the NFL is a copycat league and teams will be searching for the next Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers-like passer, Wilson at second overall makes sense.
3. San Francisco 49ers – Justin Fields | Quarterback | Ohio State
- SHOCKER! Fields is one of the most talented players in the entire draft class. He has an incredible athletic profile and great arm talent despite a sort of loopy delivery. And more than anything, he’s tough as nails. Never mind the stereotypes that Dan Orlovsky perpetuated, Fields demonstrates solid mental processing and understanding of opposing defenses. And considering Fields has spent ample time with Kyle Shanahan’s proteges at the QB Collective training group, the 49ers have all the intel they need to know Fields is a better prospect than Mac Jones. Plus, do you really give up that much capital to grab a player who isn’t even as talented as another Jones who was a former top ten selection that caused a stir?
4. Atlanta Falcons – Trey Lance | Quarterback | North Dakota State
- There were reports that the Falcons are considering every avenue when looking at this pick. Albert Breer reported that they’re considering grabbing a quarterback, grabbing the best player available, or trading back. Since there are no trades, that leaves Kyle Pitts being a logical choice (best player and head coach Arthur Smith is a former tight ends coach) or taking a quarterback. Here, the Falcons go quarterback to let Lance sit behind the veteran Matt Ryan and groom him into their future starter. Again, the NFL is a copycat league, so doing what Green Bay and Kansas City did with their current passers could be a logical step. Lance has every tool desired of a quarterback and then some, so I cannot imagine Atlanta wanting to miss out on his potential.
5. Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell | Offensive tackle | Oregon
- I cannot see Cincinnati ignoring their strongest need, which is to fortify their porous offensive line. While Rashawn Slater has received billing as a top offensive tackle prospect, I think Sewell is such a strong, young player that already showed dominance despite last playing at 19 years old. That suggests he is still ascending, and his polish is remarkable considering that. Adding Sewell gives the Bengals a lockdown starter at left tackle and gives Jonah Williams flexibility to move to guard if necessary.
6. Miami Dolphins – Kyle Pitts | Tight end | Florida
- Kyle Pitts is potentially the best player in this entire draft. He is extremely fluid, quick and nuanced as a route runner. His highlights feature amazing grabs in traffic, in contested catch situations, and wide open after burning a defensive back. That is the type of talent Tua Tagovailoa needs to succeed heading into his second year. Sure, Mike Gesicki is on the roster, but he’s a free agent in 2022, meaning the Dolphins need to potentially replace him soon anyways. Pitts provides a genuine mismatch and every down threat to enhance their offense.
7. Detroit Lions – Ja’Marr Chase | Wide receiver | LSU
- All I can think about is new head coach Dan Campbell and his “biting kneecaps” remark when looking at this pick. Considering Jared Goff needs weapons, Chase is the pick here. While he isn’t my top ranked wide receiver, he is one tough ass player. He’s physical, a bully off the line of scrimmage who makes up for any lack of separation by winning at the catch point. Adding in his 4.3 speed means if Goff delivers a strike to him early, he can take it to the house. Chase fits that aggressive, hard nosed mentality that Campbell said he wants to instill in the Motor City.
8. Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater | Offensive tackle | Northwestern
- Now that the Panthers acquired Sam Darnold in a trade, they don’t have to use this pick to grab Mac Jones or any other quarterback. Instead, they look to fortify their offensive front with one of the most talented yet versatile hog mollies in the draft. Slater is a tenacious player more than anything and possesses excellent athleticism for the position to handle the arc combined with a solid anchor. Considering his experience handling both tackle spots, teams should let him play there even with length concerns. The Panthers are getting what I think is a quality offensive lineman who can start day one, even if he were to slide into guard for some silly reason.
9. Denver Broncos – Micah Parsons | Linebacker | Penn State
- The Broncos went into the offseason clearly needing to upgrade their defensive backfield, but they addressed that position heavily by signing free agents Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. There’s an argument to be made that they could pick another cornerback here, but the value of getting Parsons when the linebacker group is devoid of quality starting talent is too good to pass up. Parsons possesses impressive athleticism to handle coverage responsibilities, but he’s a monster in the backfield when necessary. His pass rush experience will be an amazing compliment to Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
10. Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain II | Cornerback | Alabama
- The Cowboys defense was absolute trash last season. That’s no exaggeration. With Dak Prescott extended, the offense should fire on all cylinders much better than it did for the duration of 2020, so this pick can easily go defense. Surtain is a polished cornerback with very few flaws in his game. Adding him to immediately start opposite former ‘Bama teammate Trevon Diggs would give them a massive upgrade to handle the talented receivers in the NFC East.
11. New York Giants – Jaylen Waddle | Wide receiver | Alabama
- The Giants’ spending spree to add quality starters all over helps them focus on simply grabbing the best guy available here. Considering Joe Judge’s Alabama connection and the Paul Schwartz report that the Giants are infatuated with Waddle, he’s the pick here. He possesses exceptionally rare speed and change of direction ability and could be a massive upgrade as a return man, unless Big Blue is hesitant to put him in harm’s way given his previous injury. His speed is so rare, that he can maintain it throughout the entirety of his routes, which is a coveted trait. His presence would also work well to bring variance to the Giants offense to include jet sweeps, screens, or swing passes that get him the ball early and in space. Even with the addition of Kenny Golladay, this lets the Giants add to their weapons and provide depth at a position that features multiple players with injury history.
12. Philadelphia Eagles – DeVonta Smith | Wide receiver | Alabama
- Philly found some talent in Travis Fulgham, who stepped in admirably. Young Jalen Reagor could hit his stride this season and the team did lose veterans Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson. This makes receivers a true priority. If the Eagles are truly riding with Jalen Hurts as the starting quarterback, then they have to set him up for success with weapons that will be reliable targets and create separation. Smith will absolutely take the pressure off of the younger members of their receiving corps. Size concerns do not matter as much when you win as consistently off the line of scrimmage and understand how to create separation even when not possessing speed like Waddle’s. Smith also has a wild catch radius, making him a prime X-receiver for Philadelphia.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Christian Darrisaw | Offensive tackle | Virginia Tech
- This pick seems to be the most obvious one outside of Lawrence at the top. The Chargers have a very promising roster, but their priority has to be protecting their young franchise signal caller in Justin Herbert. Darrisaw has the physical traits desired for a starting left tackle, along with the athleticism. I think people are sleeping on his potential to be one of, if not, the best tackle of this class.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Alijah Vera-Tucker | Offensive lineman | Southern California (USC)
- Similar to the Chargers, the Vikings need to protect Kirk Cousins in order to ensure their offense can fire on all cylinders. In addition, they need to bolster the blocking for Dalvin Cook in order to further their efforts. Getting a versatile offensive lineman who has experience in multiple spots gives the Vikings the best flexibility for fielding a quality front. Not to mention, “AVT” is a very talented player who deserves this high of consideration considering the fit.
15. New England Patriots – Jaycee Horn | Cornerback | South Carolina
- This is an absolute steal of a pick for the Patriots. Horn is my top ranked cornerback in this class due to his combination of physical traits and tenacious mentality that allows him to play with confidence on every snap, even if he’s allowed a big play. Given the questions that have swirled around Stephon Gilmore’s future in New England long-term, Horn is a great pick up that will not have the pressure to be a top corner just yet. In what is a passing league, you can never have enough quality cover guys. Plus, Belichick will no doubt be enamored with the younger Horn’s pedigree.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Greg Newsome | Cornerback | Northwestern
- The Cardinals were very active players in free agency, grabbing weapons for their offense and landing JJ Watt. But after losing Patrick Peterson, they still are lacking a bonafide top cornerback. Greg Newsome comes with injury concerns, but if his medicals check out, he’s one of the most fluid and intelligent defensive backs in this class. He flashes sticky man skills and is very aware in zone situations. With Surtain gone, Horn going right before them, and Farley’s back injury/lack of playing time, the Cardinals decided to go with Newsome.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Zaven Collins | Linebacker | Tulsa
- The Raiders need to fortify the middle of their defense, which has not played up to its potential since Jon Gruden took over. And while a heat-seeking missile of a player like Jeremiah Owusu-Karamoah remains on the board, the Raiders have a history of fixating on a prospect’s physical talents and frame to drive their selections. From Henry Ruggs’s speed, to Clelin Ferrell’s traditional 4-3 defensive end body, even back to Kolton Miller’s uber-athletic profile, the team has swung over and over for athletic talent over supposed polish or ceiling. Collins exceeds the physical archetype of the linebacker position with rare athleticism, so I can easily see Gruden and Mike Mayock fawning over him. His ability to fly around the field and football intelligence pop off the tape, still giving the Raiders an upgrade inside.
18. Miami Dolphins – Najee Harris | Running back | Alabama
- After missing out on grabbing one of Tua’s former teammates earlier, Harris fills a massive void in the backfield by reuniting with one of his college quarterbacks. Harris is the most complete back in the class, possessing decent speed, nice wiggle, and fantastic ability as a receiver and pass blocker, all at around 230 pounds. That’s a rare physical specimen for the position and fills a huge hole in their offense that will help take pressure off of Tua while adding a prospect that can handle “bellcow” duties.
19. Washington Football Team – Jeremiah Owusu-Karamoah | Linebacker | Notre Dame
- The Raiders taking Collins helps Washington find a solid defender. “JOK” is a ball of energy that flies around the field and sets the tone for the defense. Considering that Washington’s pass rush is already fearsome, their linebacking corps could use an infusion of that type of talent. JOK handles almost everything asked of him very well, and will no doubt rack up plenty of tackles with that fierce defensive line wreaking havoc in front of him.
20. Chicago Bears – Mac Jones | Quarterback | Alabama
- I’m not that high on Mac Jones, particularly because his ceiling is not nearly as great as the previous four players taken at his position. The hype he’s been given is absurd but, in this mock, he’s more reasonably treated with a small tumble to Chicago. The Bears have nothing but aging veterans at the position, and decide to go after a younger, promising arm that can possibly develop into their future signal caller without having to give up massive money or draft capital in a trade up. Considering Matt Nagy, even with a horrendous quarterback room in his previous three seasons, has technically never led Chicago to a losing season, grabbing Jones to sit behind or compete with Andy Dalton gives him the best room of passers he’s had in his tenure.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Samuel Cosmi | Offensive tackle | Texas
- After acquiring Carson Wentz, the Colts need to ensure they protect their investment at the position after long-time left tackle Anthony Castonzo retired. While this may be a bit rich for Cosmi to some, he’s graded out as an early day two pick for me, with plenty of quickness in his lower half and a frame that is lean and long, much like the retired Castonzo when he was drafted. Cosmi has time to develop into a solid left tackle but his experience all along the line gives him a chance to start anywhere that’s best for his growth.
22. Tennessee Titans – Kwity Paye | EDGE | Michigan
- Tennessee could go a number of directions here including nabbing a receiver. But given the depth of the class at the position and the fact that Paye is suffering a minor fall, it makes perfect sense to grab a prospect that fits their defensive mold exceptionally well. Paye is a surprisingly gifted athlete considering his stout build. He’s a fearsome competitor with intentional hands and a solid deck of pass rush moves. More than that, his athleticism allows him to play pretty well in space and his strength makes him an easy player to slide inside to diversify the pass rush. Titans fans will be lucky to have a player like Paye who possesses a relatively high floor.
23. New York Jets – Jaelan Phillips | EDGE | Miami (FL)
- With the Titans grabbing the first edge rusher off the board, the Jets consider themselves fortunate because they get probably the most talented pass rusher and best 4-3 defensive end in this draft. Phillips is a physical freak for the position, built already like an NFL quality end and boasting an assortment of pass rush moves that make him likely the most polished at his position from the start. Despite his health concerns (several concussions), the Jets can take that gamble given the plethora of draft picks they have in the next two years. And considering new head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will be employing a 4-3 scheme, Phillips slides in as an immediate starter that can create chaos next to former top pick Quinnen Williams.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Teven Jenkins | Offensive tackle | Oklahoma State
- Now that Ben Roethlisberger is returning under center, the Steelers have to do everything they can to load their offense to protect him. With the departure of left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, there is a glaring hole at the tackle position that screams the need for help. Teven Jenkins fits perfectly. A massive human with ideal athleticism, Jenkins has played primarily right tackle with a sprinkle of starts on the left side. He possesses the anchor, the short area quickness and the tenacity that fits Pittsburgh’s play and the ability to slide over to the left side. Jenkins is one of my favorite players in this class and I believe has a chance to be the best tackle when it is all said and done.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Asante Samuel Jr | Cornerback | Florida State
- Sure, there’s plenty of talent at this position that should warrant attention from the Jaguars, but their recent signing of Shaquill Griffin in free agency and their drafting CJ Henderson last year suggests they are locked in at their perimeter corners. But the NFL is a passing league, so corners are a luxury. That’s why Asante Samuel Jr is grabbed here. He has excelled on the outside in Tallahassee and demonstrated sticky coverage with tenacity through the catch point and excellent route recognition. But given how he’d fit with Jacksonville; he can become a dominant slot cornerback at the NFL level. Samuel being grabbed here gives them an immediate starter in nickel packages that is also a very willing contributor against the run. He’d round out the secondary very well.
26. Cleveland Browns – Rashod Bateman | Wide receiver | Minnesota
- One of the most polished wide receivers in this draft, Bateman is a fantastic route runner who flashed consistently in his career despite lacking quality play from under center. He possesses soft hands, excellent speed, and an understanding on how to attack leverage in opposing corners to help create separation. Given the Browns’ playoff push and lack of a dominant perimeter receiver, adding one is ideal. And with Odell Beckham Jr returning from injury, Baker Mayfield now has a fantastic tandem of receivers with Jarvis Landry and Donovan Peoples-Jones bringing up the rear. Bateman could go much earlier, and I would not be surprised. Excellent pick and fit for Cleveland.
27. Baltimore Ravens – Terrace Marshall Jr | Wide receiver | LSU
- Another receiver! The Ravens have a solid roster and possess only two glaring needs that I can see in edge rusher and receiver. But while there’s a handful of players that could help fill the former need, the latter is what is necessary for the offense to grow further and help Lamar Jackson regain his MVP-caliber play. Marshall boasts excellent speed, body control, play strength, and vertical ability that makes him an ideal X-receiver and threat to every level for Lamar. He’s explosive, and it’s obvious after he posted an insane 9.76 relative athletic score (per Kent Lee Platte).
28. New Orleans Saints – Caleb Farley | Cornerback | Virginia Tech
- The fall finally ends for Farley. While his back injury doesn’t seem to be a major concern long-term, it could scare off teams from using an earlier first round pick on him. Fortunately for the Saints, they can afford to make this pick. Farley is a supreme physical talent for the position, and demonstrates excellent fluidity, speed, and feel for handling both man and zone coverage. He’s been listed as the top corner by some, so this is an absolute steal of a pick. Farley immediately can line up across from Marshon Lattimore and create a dynamic duo to handle the talented pass catchers in the division.
29. Green Bay Packers – Kadarius Toney | Wide receiver | Florida
- A small run on receivers begins to take shape. Kadarius Toney is an electric player in space that demonstrates solid agility and ability to create separation. Given the lack of pass catching talent behind Davante Adams, Toney would be a tremendous addition that could immediately dominate in the slot. Elijah Moore could be another spectacular choice here, but I’m banking on teams loving Toney given his excellent week at the Senior Bowl and solid testing at his Pro Day.
30. Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau | EDGE | Miami (FL)
- The other Hurricane is off the board. Buffalo was a surprising powerhouse of a team in 2020 and they have few glaring needs or holes on their roster. However, they do not possess a clear top pass rusher on their roster, with AJ Epenesa possibly their best option long-term. After opting out last year, a lack of polish, and agility in short areas, Rousseau seems to be less of the top ten pick darling he was earlier this year. But that bodes well for Buffalo, who believed in a player who experienced a similar fall in the aforementioned Epenesa. Rousseau has tremendous potential and falling to a playoff roster with a great coach like Leslie Frazier on defense could be a perfect fit.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Alex Leatherwood | Offensive tackle | Alabama
- The most important thing the Chiefs can do is protect Patrick Mahomes and we all saw what happens when they can’t do that (rewatch the Super Bowl if you need a refresher). Given their investments on the offensive line recently, they’ll need to secure a tackle that provides them a long-term answer with a high ceiling. Leatherwood is seen by some as undeserving of first round consideration, but he is an absolutely impressive physical talent that has the resume to back up this spot. His versatility, his tenacity, and athleticism provide excellent promise and most of his flaws are seemingly correctable. This gives the Chiefs a starter at left tackle, but a long-term interior presence if he doesn’t work out.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Christian Barmore | Interior defensive lineman | Alabama
- Back-to-back Crimson Tide players. The Buccaneers got Ndamukong Suh to return but he’ll be 34 years old this season. Across from him are Vita Vea, their nose tackle who missed time due to injury, and William Gholston, who is a free agent in 2022 like Suh. Adding Barmore is an ideal, long-term option that provides them a young, fiery talent who is a bully upfront. One of the most aggressive and tenacious players in this draft, Barmore plays fast and physical for his size and would help generate even more of a pass rush in Todd Bowles’ scheme.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars – Elijah Moore | Wide receiver | Ole Miss
34. New York Jets – Eric Stokes | Cornerback | Georgia
35. Atlanta Falcons – Azeez Ojulari | EDGE | Georgia
36. Miami Dolphins – Creed Humphery | Center | Oklahoma
37. Philadelphia Eagles – Ifeatu Melifonwu | Cornerback | Syracuse
38. Cincinnati Bengals – Pat Freiermuth | Tight end | Penn State
39. Carolina Panthers – Levi Onwuzurike | Interior defensive lineman | Washington
40. Denver Broncos – Liam Eichenberg | Offensive tackle | Notre Dame
41. Detroit Lions – Jalen Mayfield | Offensive tackle | Michigan
42. New York Giants – Jayson Oweh | EDGE | Penn State
43. San Francisco 49ers – Tyson Campbell | Cornerback | Georgia
44. Dallas Cowboys – Carlos Basham Jr. | EDGE | Wake Forest
45. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dillon Radunz | Offensive tackle | North Dakota State
46. New England Patriots – Dyami Brown | Wide receiver | North Carolina
47. Los Angeles Chargers – Joseph Ossai | EDGE | Texas
48. Las Vegas Raiders – Landon Dickerson | Center | Alabama
49. Arizona Cardinals – Travis Etienne | Running back | Clemson
50. Miami Dolphins – Joe Tryon | EDGE | Washington
51. Washington Football Team – Trevon Moehrig | Safety | TCU
52. Chicago Bears – Spencer Brown | Offensive tackle | Northern Iowa
53. Tennessee Titans – Brady Christensen | Offensive tackle | BYU
54. Indianapolis Colts – Rondale Moore | Wide receiver | Purdue
55. Pittsburgh Steelers – Javonte Wililams | Running back | North Carolina
56. Seattle Seahawks – Payton Turner | EDGE/DL | Houston
57. Los Angeles Rams – Wyatt Davis | Offensive Guard | Ohio State
58. Baltimore Ravens – Jevon Holland | Safety | Oregon
59. Cleveland Browns – Elijah Molden | Defensive back | Washington
60. New Orleans Saints – Jamin Davis | Linebacker | Kentucky
61. Buffalo Bills – Brevin Jordan | Tight end | Miami (FL)
62. Green Bay Packers – Stone Forsythe | Offensive tackle | Florida
63. Kansas City Chiefs – Amon-Ra St. Brown | Wide receiver | Southern California
64. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Janarius Robinson | EDGE | Florida State