3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Round 1 (Picks 17-32)
17) Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Jay Tufele, DT, USC
The Jaguars have one of my favorite young defensive cores in the NFL. Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Myles Jack, Joe Schobert, CJ Henderson, and Ronnie Harrison are all 26 or under. However, they still possess a massive need on the defensive interior, and that’s where Tufele comes in. Still a little raw, Tufele currently wins with great physical gifts.
A “dancing bear” at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he moves with great fluidly for someone his size. Adding Tufele to Jacksonville’s young defense will give him a unit to grow with, and they can start to become the Jacksonville defense of 2017.
18) Green Bay Packers: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
You’re welcome, Packers fans. I know your front office has neglected your wishes and refused to get Aaron Rodgers weapons outside of Davante Adams. Well, not in this mock draft. The Packers land Chase who seems to be the consensus WR1 among draft pundits currently. I’m a bit lower on Chase, and I think the NFL will be too.
He lacks elite athletic ability and he plays much bigger than he actually is. However, working across from Adams will mean Chase sees a high volume of one-on-one coverage, something he can take advantage of with Aaron Rodgers. Excellent value for the Pack here.
19) Tennessee Titans: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
The Titans are consistently my least favorite team to mock year in and year out. It’s not because I don’t like the roster, it’s quite the opposite. The Titans roster is loaded and possesses very little weakness or needs throughout. However, after trading long time franchise star Jurrell Casey to the Broncos for just a seventh-round pick, the Titans could use another interior rusher next to up-and-coming star Jeffery Simmons.
Barmore isn’t well known yet, but he will be. Seemingly every year, Alabama has an interior defender who bursts onto the scene when given more substantial playing time. We could be talking about Barmore as a top-10 prospect sooner than you think.
20) Buffalo Bills: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
I love this pick for many reasons. The first being that Bateman is my WR2, and Buffalo is getting him as the fourth receiver off the board. The second being how well Bateman would complement Stefon Diggs in Buffalo.
Bateman has a large frame and does a great job catching balls away from his body, a skill that will prove useful with Josh Allen. He can work vertically or produce yards after the catch, making him an ideal X for an offense that lacks one.
21) New York Jets: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
I’m already convinced that people are going to attack me on twitter for letting Rousseau fall this far. Well please, bring it on. Rousseau is a high-upside prospect with very good physical tools. However, he’s about as raw as they come, and desperately needed another season of film to show his development as a pass-rusher and run defender.
Rousseau recently opted out of the CFB season to focus on developing for the NFL Draft, and while I respect his decision, I do believe it negatively impacts his draft stock. The Jets’ biggest need is edge rusher, and while I didn’t like the value of Rousseau at nine, I feel it can be justified at 21.
22) Indianapolis Colts: Patrick Jones, EDGE, Pittsburgh
I have the same dilemma with the Colts as I do with the Titans. The roster is so well built that it’s hard to pinpoint where they would go in the NFL Draft. EDGE seems like the most logical answer as Justin Houston is on the wrong side of 30, and Ben Banogu hasn’t gotten much playing time to this point in his career.
Kemoko Turay is another talented EDGE on the team, but I can see a reality where both Banogu and Turay struggle to develop, in which case the Colts take my top-ranked edge rusher: Patrick Jones. Jones has great physical tools, but unlike Rousseau is relatively well developed as a pass rusher.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Creed Humphrey, iOL, Oklahoma
The best value in the first round in this mock draft, Humphrey is my 8th overall prospect and the Vikings take him here at 23. He’s as well rounded as linemen come. An elite run blocker and very good pass protector, Humphrey lacks elite athletic ability but his floor is incredibly high. Humphrey has spent his entire career playing center for Oklahoma and projects best to that spot in the NFL, but he can also play guard, which is likely where he’d play in Minnesota.
24) Philadelphia Eagles: Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa
Not nearly as refined as Humphrey is to this point, Linderbaum has the physical tools to be one of the top interior linemen in the NFL. The Eagles already have two of the best, but Brandon Brooks is recovering from a torn Achilles, and both he and Jason Kelce are over 30. Landing in Philadelphia would be the perfect place for Linderbaum to develop his talents and either take over the LG spot or eventually replace one of Kelce or Brooks.
25) Pittsburgh Steelers: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
The Steelers defense this year was dominant, with a big reason being the emergence of Minkah Fitzpatrick as arguably the best safety in the NFL last season. Unfortunately, fellow 2018 first-round safety Terrell Edmunds has not taken the same leap in his play. If Edmunds continues to underperform, the Steelers may look to replace him with a more capable option.
Nasirildeen is a tweener who blurs the lane between safety and linebacker. His 6-foot-4 frame gives him the size to play the run and cover tight-ends, meanwhile he has the athletic ability to drop into coverage competently. A pairing of Minkah and Hamsah would be on of the top young safety duos in the NFL.
26) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Yes, back-to-back offensive tackle selections is a tad boring. But Donovan Smith will only have one more year on his deal after the 2020 season, and Lucas is one of my favorite tackle prospects in the class. Similar to Tristan Wirfs, Lucas is an elite athlete. His pass protection ability rivals that of Sewell, and for a coach like Bruce Arians, pass protection is vital. Lucas was made for Bruce Arians’ offensive attack.
27) New England Patriots: Carlos Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest
When I watch Basham, he just screams New England. He’s a naturally powerful defensive end that sets a dominant edge and a good pass rusher, but likely won’t ever come close to leading the NFL sacks. Basham is the kind of player Bill Belichick loves to draft and turn into a star, then flip him into a third-round comp pick.
28) Dallas Cowboys: Elijah Molden, DB, Washington
The Cowboys have a massive need on the defensive line and the secondary, so taking the best player available at either position was the obvious route. That player is Elijah Molden. Maybe the best man coverage defender in the class, Molden is a good athlete with very fluid hips and has natural instincts in coverage as well making him more than capable in zone coverage.
He has good ball skills and is very aggressive when it’s in the air, but he lacks natural play strength and can get bullied by receivers that are willing to block. Pairing Molden with Trevon Diggs is a nice duo to build a secondary around.
29) New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
I said a few days ago that I believe the Saints have the best roster in the NFL. Their biggest needs in my eyes are nickel corner and WR3. The last time the Saints drafted a wide receiver from Ohio State, it worked out pretty well. Doing it again might give them arguably the top pass-catching unit in the NFL.
Chris Olave will be a big riser if we get a college football season this year, as I expect him to be one of the most productive receivers in the nation. Strong athlete with good size and elites hands, Olave is in the next in line of successful Ohio State receivers in the NFL.
30) Baltimore Ravens: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Two first-round receivers in 2020, and now two in 2021, Alabama truly is an NFL factory. The Ravens need to get Lamar pass-catchers than can make a difference. I was low on Hollywood Brown coming out, and I’m not convinced he can be a true WR1. DeVonta Smith compliments Brown perfectly, and together they can be a devastating WR duo.
Smith has arguably the best hands in the class and dominates on underneath routes. However, he’s athletic enough to burn an unsuspecting cornerback. His glue for hands will be a big help for a Ravens’ receiving corps that struggles with drops.
31) San Francisco 49ers: Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
Mukuamu is built in the same mold as current 49er Richard Sherman. Long arms, great ball skills, aggressive cornerbacks who struggle to stop and start and travel horizontally as opposed to vertically. Mukuamu has very impressive physical tools, and lining up across from Sherman would be reminiscent of Seattle’s shut down secondary. When you’re as good as San Francisco, you have the liberty to select a player that is this scheme specific.
32) Kansas City Chiefs: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
Come time for the 2021 NFL Draft, Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher will be 30 years old with one year left on his contract. He hasn’t lived up to the title of “first overall pick” and is at best an average starting left tackle.
The Chiefs should make sure they invest in ways to protect their half-billion dollar quarterback, and Rasheed Walker is my favorite way to do so. Walker has an elite football IQ, excellent hands in pass protection, and he’s a good functional athlete. Expect his stock to rise in the coming months.