First Round | Picks 17-32
17. Miami Dolphins: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Despite what national media would have you believe, the Miami Dolphins field a young, competitive offensive line. They lack a little star power, specifically up the middle of the offense. Adding a player like Creed Humphrey to man the center between Ereck Flowers and Solomon Kindley could push the Dolphins OL into the top third of the league.
Humphrey has started at OU since he was a freshman, anchoring the most talented line in the nation at the time. As the last four years have passed, the talent around him has dropped off, but his play has stayed as steady as ever. Humphrey constantly takes defenders to the ground and remains a wall in pass production. Invest in Tua Tagovailoa by getting him a weapon with the first pick and an offensive lineman with the second.
18. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The Ravens passing offense is lacking, to say the least, this season. A large part of this is because the Ravens lack a de facto number one wide receiver. According to Twitter critics, Marquise Brown has to earn back his nickname, “Hollywood,” via his production this season. Meanwhile, Willie Snead, Myles Boykin, and newly signed Dez Bryant don’t exactly move the needle for anyone. Getting Lamar a big-bodied boundary receiver who can make plays down the field or with the ball in his hands could be the perfect medicine for the ailing Baltimore offense.
Rashod Bateman doesn’t possess the elite upside of some other top receivers in this class, but that’s the only major complaint I have with him. Above average in most traits you want in a receiver, Bateman can work every level of the field and instantly be the top target in Baltimore, which would be a scary thought for opposing AFC North teams.
19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB/S, Notre Dame
Washington has invested in rebuilding a culture and creating its own identity. This season that identity has been to play strong defense and complementary offense. While it’s not the sexiest game plan in the world, it has the team in first place in the weak NFC East and in position to host a playoff game for the first time in five years. Adding to one of the best defenses in the NFL could be what finally pushes the unit over the edge into the truly elite-level conversation.
We already know Washington has a top-tier pass-rushing unit, and their cornerbacks have quietly been one of the better units in the NFL. Those two reasons are what’s fueling Washington’s top-ranked pass defense, but a lack of coverage ability from the linebackers and safeties makes the unit susceptible to the big play. “JOK” brings the ability to clamp down in man coverage against tight ends and running backs alike. He can play at the WILL or as a dime linebacker/box safety. As defenses start to deploy more and more positionless players, JOK brings that same versatility to a now elite Washington defense.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
All hail the air raid. After trading for DeAndre Hopkins last year, the Cardinals bring in Kyle Pitts to fuel their attempt at an AFC West title. Adding a legitimate receiving threat at tight end could mean a higher ceiling for the Cardinals’ already terrifying offense. Pitts is a dominant separator who excels in contested situations. The Cardinals get one of the most dynamic young tight ends in the game to complete their young offensive nucleus. Pitts is arguably the best value through the first round of this 2021 3 round NFL mock draft.
21. Las Vegas Raiders: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
When I talked about this selection with a group of evaluators, one reaction I received was, “Moses screams a Raider.” I generally agree. GM Mike Mayock prefers to take his first-rounders from top schools like Clemson and Alabama, and speed has always been the team mantra. Dylan Moses, the 4.4 linebacker out of Alabama, combines those two requisites.
Moses was viewed as an elite prospect heading into his junior year, the 2019 season, but he tore his ACL in the summer. Moses chose to return for his senior season but hasn’t been the player many hoped he would be after the injury. With that being said, Moses still displays top-level football instincts and unteachable sideline-to-sideline athletic ability. He’s perfect as the Raiders MIKE linebacker.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Buccaneers got a steal at offensive tackle last year when they selected Tristan Wirfs in the middle of the first round. Here they do it again, landing the OT2 with the 22nd overall selection. Pairing Darrisaw with Wirfs would create an elite pairing of bookend tackles for Bruce Arians, with QB Tom Brady going into year two under Arians’ vertical passing system.
Darrisaw has some intriguing traits at left tackle, with natural athletic ability, smooth feet, and strong hands. The physical tools are exciting, but what’s arguably more interesting is the development he’s shown over the past 18 months. His trajectory is trending upwards rapidly, and his improvement should continue as he gets adjusted to the NFL.
23. Indianapolis Colts: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo has flirted with retirement recently, and at 32, he’s not getting any younger. Texas left tackle Samuel Cosmi has taken a quality step in his development as a pass protector. He possesses all the physical traits an NFL team wants, and he’s shown a new level of consistency in 2020.
Cosmi could sit a year behind Castonzo and take over the starting left tackle in 2022. Some view Cosmi as the favorite to be the second tackle off the board, but he’s the third in this 2021 3 round NFL mock draft.
24. Cleveland Browns: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
With Olivier Vernon only on a one-year deal, the Browns are in the market for a new pass rusher to pair with Myles Garrett. Here they add Oweh, a player with physical elements comparable to Garrett. Oweh remains raw as a pass rusher. However, he’s taken noticeable steps in his development this year. He’s playing at a quicker pace and using those natural physical abilities well. The Browns could target a receiver here, but the value isn’t worth passing up a pairing of Oweh and Garrett, in my opinion.
25. New York Jets: Wyatt Davis, OL, Ohio State
The Jets took franchise QB Trevor Lawrence earlier. Now they protect him with some scouts’ OL1. Davis is nasty at the point of attack and consistent in pass protection. A lack of elite traits limits his upside, but he projects as a consistent and quality pro. He can open lanes in the run game and keep Trevor Lawrence upright for the next 5-10 years. A pairing of Becton and Davis would be terrifying in the run game.
26. Green Bay Packers: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Packers have refused to add talent to the receiving corps for several years, but now they add one from a talented Alabama wide receiving corps. DeVonta Smith is a consistent separator with more than enough speed to threaten teams vertically, and he possesses, arguably, the best hands in the class. He’s a natural separator with solid route running and projects as an elite WR2. A pairing of Smith and Davante Adams would give the Packers a truly fearsome offense.
27. Tennessee Titans: Joseph Ossai, EDGE/LB, Tennessee Titans
Ossai spent the beginning of his career as a SAM linebacker, playing off the ball but constantly around the line of scrimmage. He’s a special athlete with moldable skills, and Texas put his hand in the dirt in hopes he could impact the game on a more consistent basis. It looks like they were right.
Tennessee runs a base 3-4 defense, and Ossai would fit perfectly as an OLB across from Harold Landry. His experience as an off-ball linebacker and edge rusher makes him superbly useful in the 3-4 defense that Mike Vrabel inherited from the Patriots. Ossai could be used both as a pass rusher and as an extra linebacker on the line of scrimmage, dropping into coverage, or stuffing the run.
28. Buffalo Bills: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
The Bills have a defense filled with stars in the secondary, but they sorely lack a strong CB2 and a strong nickel presence. Shaun Wade gives them the ability to do both. He has struggled on the boundary this season, but he still has film as a high-quality nickel defender.
Wade would combine well with Tre’Davious White, Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde. Wade must return to his 2019 form if he is to make the most of this opportunity in Buffalo.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jay Tufele, IDL, USC
The Jaguars have spent many resources to rebuild a defense that carried them to an AFC Championship appearance in 2017. After getting their franchise QB in Justin Fields, they take the first interior defender in this 2021 3 round NFL mock draft in Jay Tufele.
A “dancing bear” in every sense of the word, Tufele has special movement skills at 6-foot-3, 315. He’s a plug-and-play starter for Jacksonville and completes the impressive young corps of Henderson-Allen-Jack-Tufele-Chaisson.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Rashawn Slater, OT/iOL, Northwestern
Depending on who you ask, you may find that Slater is better suited to be a guard due to some concerns surrounding his length. That being said, the film is undeniable. Slater was the only tackle in the country who took on Chase Young head-to-head and came out on top more often than not. As technically refined as anyone in the class, Slater is prepared to succeed as a Day 1 player.
The Chiefs could use Slater to upgrade anyone on their offensive line not named Mitchell Schwartz. The Chiefs haven’t put many resources into their offensive line the past few seasons, but Slater is arguably the best player on the board. Investing in the protection of Patrick Mahomes doesn’t sound too bad either.
31. New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Saints have enjoyed success drafting Ohio State receivers. Ask Michael Thomas. Unfortunately, they haven’t done enough to surround Thomas with talent at the receiver position. They brought in Emmanuel Sanders this season, but he has provided underwhelming results. Adding a young, talented receiver in the back-end of the first round could be perfect for whoever is under center in 2021.
Chris Olave is a smooth athlete who creates separation with refined route running and strong acceleration. And he’s a threat at the catch point. Similar to other receivers to come out of Ohio State, Olave is developed well past the expectation for a rookie receiver and will likely enjoy early career success due to his football IQ and ability to naturally separate.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
The Steelers defense is arguably the best in football, with minimal weaknesses. I felt no pressure to look at the defense, aside from potentially drafting Bud Dupree’s replacement. However, with how Alex Highsmith has looked in limited reps, he seems to have the first crack at the starting spot across from T.J. Watt. On offense, the only position that is truly lacking talent was the tight end room, currently led by Eric Ebron. Ebron is by no means bad, but he’s still a decent step down from who the Steelers select here: Pat Freiermuth.
Otherwise known as “Baby Gronk,” Freiermuth dominates all facets of the game. Both a strong blocker at the point of attack and a weapon in the passing game, Freiermuth has received comparisons to Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle, and T.J. Hockenson. He would complete an elite, young receiver room as the Steelers re-up for potentially one last Super Bowl run with Big Ben. Freiermuth is the final selection of the first round in this 2021 3 round NFL mock draft.
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