Round One | Picks 17-32
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
The Raiders’ pass rush has struggled to generate any pressure this season, which cannot happen in a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. They need to invest in their defensive line multiple times this offseason. Gregory Rousseau is a long, powerful rusher with a ton of upside. A new defensive regime and position coaches might help unlock his full potential.
18. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The biggest negative that stands out on Baltimore’s offense this season has been a lack of a reliable target outside. Mark Andrews is one of the game’s best tight ends, but Marquise Brown has fought bad drops all season long and shouldn’t be the team’s number one.
Rashod Bateman, however, reminds several scouts of Davante Adams with his savvy route running and excellent hands. Pairing Bateman and Brown together with Mark Andrews and an emerging J.K. Dobbins provides Lamar Jackson with a small army of weapons.
19. Washington Football Team: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Washington desperately needs a quarterback. It’s their biggest issue moving forward. However, they miss out on the top quarterbacks here because they keep winning with Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith. Thus, they need to find their next position of importance, which is the left tackle spot.
Washington has been playing with Geron Christian and Cornelius Lucas there this season. Neither of them is as talented as Darrisaw is, who has excellent power and quickness and can protect whoever the next Washington quarterback is.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Haason Reddick has had a breakout season with the Cardinals, but Reddick is likely on his way out in free agency with a big contract in hand. The Cardinals will need to add another top pass rusher to line up opposite Chandler Jones for the foreseeable future. Ojulari has been one of the biggest risers of this draft class. His quickness and bend will remind a lot of scouts of Brian Burns in the 2019 NFL Draft.
21. Miami Dolphins: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
Miami has plenty of talent in their corner room, but the pass rush has got to improve if they want to take that next step defensively. They have a pressure percentage of 24%, which is 11th in the NFL, but they are third in the league in blitz percentage to get there at 40.1%. Increasing their pass rush has to be a priority.
Ossai has the versatility to play defensive end and outside as an OLB as well, fitting into that Brian Flores mold of a pass rusher. He’s a high-effort and high-motor player that will appeal to NFL coaches. His length and energy as a pass rusher are some of the best in this class.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
The Bucs have a few decisions to make this offseason, with Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, and Ndamukong Suh all set to hit free agency. They could also move on from Jason Pierre-Paul in the offseason as well to save some cap room. My guess is they’d try and keep Lavonte David as long as they can, which means moving on from one or both of those pass rushers.
Oweh is an athletic freak with plenty of upside to develop as the Bucs look to get younger on defense. His athletic testing numbers are astounding and will cement him as a first-round pick if he tests that well at the NFL Combine.
23. Indianapolis Colts: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Mayfield has moved up the rungs as an NFL prospect this year, displaying improved play strength and technique, especially in pass protection. In my mind, Mayfield fits the mold of a Howard Mudd tackle with his aggressive mentality and balance. While he will have to adjust from right to left tackle, I think Mayfield has the ability to and an excellent coaching staff to help him do so.
24. Cleveland Browns: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Browns linebacker room has been a total mess this season, and that was made evident against Baltimore on Monday Night Football. Their poor play helped Lamar Jackson run free all game, and it’s been a weakness for the team all season.
Safety is another need, but with Grant Delpit coming back next year and Ronnie Harrison beginning to emerge, I don’t think that is the team’s biggest priority. Upgrading their LB room with an athletic hard-hitter like Zaven Collins would help the Browns pass coverage and snuff out the run game.
25. New York Jets (via SEA): Derion Kendrick, CB, Clemson
The Jets could use as much secondary help as they can get, considering they are at or near the bottom of virtually every passing defense category. While they could also go for an offensive lineman or receiver, there will be plenty of options available later on in the draft. The value of a young defender with explosive athleticism and the ball skills that Kendrick has will be enticing to whoever the next Jets’ defensive coordinator is.
Kendrick is still somewhat raw as he’s a former 5-star WR who made the transition to corner just two years ago, but he’s improving by leaps and bounds in every game.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Jaguars’ offensive line isn’t bad, but I’m not sure the team will re-sign Cam Robinson at left tackle given his past injuries and up-and-down play. What Cosmi has done this season is also just more impressive to me. The team has to do all it can to protect their young quarterback for the next several years.
Cosmi is an impressive athlete who put his best season together this year before opting out of Texas. Steady improvement every season with his tools makes Cosmi a tackle with plenty of upside to develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle.
27. Tennessee Titans: Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
The Titans’ defense regressed substantially with the retirement of Dean Pees last season. They’ve struggled to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Prized free agent signing Jadeveon Clowney hasn’t produced much at all and is now hurt. They need to address the pass rush, especially with a division that features some young and talented quarterbacks.
Basham is a player that can play multiple roles along a defensive front and is just as good of a run defender as he is a pass rusher.
28. Buffalo Bills: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
There are a few options the Bills could go here in this 3-round 2021 NFL mock draft, but retooling the corner room would be a wise investment. Levi Wallace has been a solid option across from Tre’Davious White, but Wallace is set to hit free agency along with two other corners in Josh Norman and Cam Lewis.
Stokes would fit right in with the attitude and defensive scheme the Bills have set on defense. His length and high football IQ go hand-in-hand with his nose for the football and would mesh well with White.
29. Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
The Packers have to go wide receiver at some point. There’s no better time than the present, considering the Packers might lose Allen Lazard in free agency and have gotten inconsistent at best play from their other receivers. Rondale Moore is a monster after the catch and is a big play waiting to happen. Past injuries have mitigated his explosiveness and playmaking, but he adds a new element to the Packers’ offense that they don’t have on the roster.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
The Steelers’ offensive line has had its struggles this season. On top of that, both starting tackles are projected to hit the free agent market. With limited cap space to work with, the Steelers will likely have to make some tough choices and lose one of the two tackles.
Liam Eichenberg has been a multi-year starter at left tackle for the Irish. He has not allowed a sack in over a thousand snaps, and his fundamentals and mentality as a blocker fit in well with the Steelers’ standards for offensive linemen.
31. New Orleans Saints: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
This one is a bit of a reach in this 3-round 2021 NFL mock draft considering Mac Jones’ average tools. However, the Saints have been outstanding for years working with an average tooled quarterback, and Mac Jones can fit in into that role well. The Saints have plenty of young talent on offense surrounding Jones and an excellent offensive line protecting him.
The Saints will likely face Drew Brees’s retirement in the offseason, and they apparently don’t have any belief in Jameis Winston to be the quarterback of the future. Nabbing a potential franchise quarterback here can help keep the team competitive for the future and helps them relieve some of their salary cap issues.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Landon Dickerson, OC, Alabama
The Chiefs’ offensive line has had its struggles this season, with a few injuries and opt-outs to go along with the poor play. This poor offensive line has really limited the Chiefs’ running game in critical situations and has put a lot on Patrick Mahomes to evade pressures and sacks. With several linemen hitting free agency as well, the Chiefs need to invest early in this position.
Mitchell Schwartz, Lucas Niang, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif should all be back at 100% next season which will help, but the Chiefs are missing that fantastic center play that Mitch Morse provided.
Dickerson is an absolute mauler with such a physical approach to the game that you don’t really notice his average athleticism. His IQ and intangibles will make him a coveted center prospect, provided the medicals come up clean.