Round One | Picks 17-32
17. Cleveland Browns (from LV): Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Trade! The Cleveland Browns trade picks 26, 59, and a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Las Vegas Raiders for pick 17.
This is an interesting scenario for the Browns. Listen, they have nine picks in the draft, so they can afford to mortgage a little bit to move up and get their guy. In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, that guy turns out to be Azeez Ojulari, a dangerous pass rusher perfect for the Browns defense. Ojulari pairs with Myles Garrett to make one of the most terrifying tandems in the entire NFL.
18. Miami Dolphins: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
This fit is an awesome one for both the Dolphins and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The Notre Dame prospect provides the Dolphins phenomenal coverage ability and versatility from the position. Owusu-Koramoah opens up the schematic choices that Brian Flores will be able to run in South Beach.
19. Los Angeles Chargers (from WFT): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC
After trading down for an extra second-round pick, the Chargers still get the offensive line help they desperately need for Justin Herbert. Alijah Vera-Tucker has guard and tackle acumen, and the Chargers need help at both of those spots anyway. He is an outstanding athlete and a polished technician who should be a Day 1 starter.
20. Chicago Bears: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
It feels like the Bears are heading down a path that ends with drafting a wide receiver early. Whether Allen Robinson is around much longer is anyone’s best guess, and the same goes for Anthony Miller on the opposite side of the hashes. So, Rashod Bateman comes in to help bolster the weapons for Andy Dalton and company. A savvy separator, Bateman should carve out a significant role in this offense early in the season.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
The Colts are in an interesting spot here. They need edge help, and there are a plethora of talented athletes to choose from. Indianapolis decides to go with the uber-athletic Jayson Oweh as their pick. Oweh can come in and develop his game in a stable Colts front that should allow him to maximize his talents. He is the type of lengthy and athletic player that general manager Chris Ballard has snatched in the past.
22. Tennessee Titans: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
The worst kept secret in the NFL is that the Titans are on the market hunting for cornerbacks. It is easy to see why — they released both Adoree’ Jackson and Malcolm Butler, leaving gaping holes to fill. In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, Greg Newsome becomes the player the Titans choose to lead their cornerback room into the future.
23. New York Jets: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Samuel Cosmi falls to New York and the wide-zone scheme employed there. A great athlete with strength issues, Cosmi can occasionally struggle with power. Conversely, his continued improvement each year and elite movement ability give him a solid chance of becoming a stalwart right tackle across from Mekhi Becton.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
The Steelers are heavily scouting these first-round running backs, and if he is there at 24, as he is in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, Najee Harris should be the selection for the Steelers. They lack a lead back that Mike Tomlin typically loves, and their receiving production from the backfield was nonexistent at best last year. Harris will change those fortunes for the better.
25. Buffalo Bills (from JAX): Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Trade! The Buffalo Bills trade picks 30, 93, and a 2022 fifth-round pick to Jacksonville for pick 25.
The Bills are obviously trading up here in an aggressive move, but the value for someone like Gregory Rousseau at this point seems too great. Needing to shore up that edge spot, the Bills get great value here for Rousseau and still bet on his upside afforded by his natural length and athleticism — although his pro day was not optimal.
26. Las Vegas Raiders: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
The Raiders have no one to man the deep portion of the field. Telling it how it is, their free safety situation is absolutely abysmal. That makes the pick of Trevon Moehrig a must. Moehrig is an athlete with phenomenal range and versatility on the back end of the defense. More importantly, he provides the Raiders flexibility they haven’t possessed in their secondary for years, allowing their coverages to be more exotic and create big plays.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Honestly, this is a fascinating pick. Most view Kwity Paye as a 4-3 base end because, while he is a phenomenal athlete, he lacks some flexibility when bending around the edge. On the other hand, his savviness and technical know-how are classic Baltimore Ravens traits. Such a detailed pass rusher with his hands, Paye can be an instant producer for a stacked Ravens defense.
28. New Orleans Saints: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Saints certainly have a few directions they could go with this pick. However, there is no true and blue receiver worth the pick here, so they instead decide to attack linebacker. Zaven Collins is a ferocious downhill player with absurd athleticism for his size. At his size, Collins’ only real question will be how he holds up in coverage, but from his tape, he was more than adept there despite being built like an edge rusher.
29. Green Bay Packers: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Green Bay’s offensive line is an underrated storyline of the offseason. I’m not saying it is a complete mess on paper, but one injury, and it certainly takes a tumble. The Packers need depth, particularly at tackle. Jalen Mayfield can step in and be a steady force for the Packers as they try to keep Aaron Rodgers upright.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (from BUF): Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
It feels like a common choice, but the Jaguars still need help along the interior of their defensive line. More interior pressure is something they have needed for about two seasons, and Tyson Alualu shunning them did not help matters. As such, Christian Barmore is such a natural fit here. A true gap penetrator who has an explosive first step, Barmore should be a key piece in this Jacksonville defensive line room.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Creed Humphrey, OC, Oklahoma
Despite signing Austin Blythe earlier this week, the Chiefs see the value and pounce on it as Creed Humphrey is sitting there on the board. Humphrey’s unreal athletic testing is what really shoots him up the board and into the late first round. The Chiefs get a cerebral and athletic presence to help protect Patrick Mahomes moving forward.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
The Super Bowl champions do not have many holes at all on their roster. Their biggest one may be at the running back position, however. There is no true weapon to help Tom Brady out of the backfield, and they need a more consistent, steady runner. Thus, enter Travis Etienne, who can give the Buccaneers explosive big-play ability and coveted receiving ability out of the backfield to add another dimension to this offense.
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