Round One | Picks 17-32
17. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
The Raiders had a very solid first season in Vegas, but their front seven needs improvement. Ojulari would give them pressure off the edge, which is something they desperately need after being near the bottom of the league in sacks once again.
18. Miami Dolphins: WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
The Dolphins need skill-position guys who would fit a fast-paced scheme. Rondale Moore is the fastest receiver in this draft and could line up outside the numbers or be the go-to guy in the slot, specifically on RPO’s (run-pass option), and also play a big part in the return game.
19. Miami Dolphins (projected trade w/ Washington): LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
The Dolphins have a great defense, but they lack depth and skillful youth. They address that issue in this pick acquired from Washington in my first-round 2021 NFL mock draft. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a good coverage linebacker and could limit the threats of opposing tight ends and running backs out of the backfield.
20. Chicago Bears: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
It’s fair to say that neither Nick Foles nor Mitch Trubisky will be back in Chicago in 2021, but GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy very well could be. They have to get it right this time. Trey Lance didn’t throw an interception in his last full season with the Bison and also ran for over 1,000 yards. He is Lamar Jackson with a better arm, and the Bears could get a steal here and their quarterback of the future.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): S Jevon Holland, Oregon
The Jaguars defense is an enigma. Young talents like Josh Allen and Myles Jack have shown they are very capable and good players, and last year’s first-round duo of K’Lavon Chaisson and C.J. Henderson played well, yet the unit as a whole struggled. Jevon Holland would be a great center fielder to introduce as a ball-hawk to elevate the secondary.
22. Indianapolis Colts: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
The Colts had one of the best defenses in the league in 2020, but they need some youth in the secondary. Xavier Rhodes was a nice signing on the cheaper side, but he isn’t a long-term answer. Kenny Moore is also a solid option, but the Colts need someone alongside Rock Ya-Sin to play consistent press coverage in man-to-man situations. Jaycee Horn can give them just that.
23. Cleveland Browns: LB Nick Bolton, Missouri
The Browns need more from the linebacker position. The departure of Joe Schobert has left an obvious whole alongside Mack Wilson. Nick Bolton just feels like he should be in the AFC North. He is the biggest thumper in this draft and would give the Browns all they need at the position.
24. Tennessee Titans: EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State
The Titans’ pass rush was their Achilles’ heel in 2020. While the Nittany Lions had a season to forget, Oweh racked up 6.5 tackles for loss in seven games. He would benefit the Titans’ lackluster pass rush.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama
The Buccaneers need someone to put alongside Vita Vea, as veterans such as Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh will more than likely be gone sooner rather than later. Barmore is the anchor of a Crimson Tide defensive line that has been a big part in making it to yet another National Championship game, and placing him alongside Vea would give the Bucs a nasty duo in the middle of the line.
26. Baltimore Ravens: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Every year we see a guy slip, and this year it could be Jaylen Waddle due to the injury that caused him to miss most of the 2020 season. That said, the Ravens are in desperate need of another receiving threat alongside Marquise Brown, and they are one of the best drafting teams in the league. If Waddle falls to them, they will jump on it and run.
27. New York Jets (from Seattle): OG Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
The Jets got a stud in Mekhi Becton in the 2020 NFL draft, and now they need to focus on fixing the interior of their offensive line to protect Justin Fields. Humphrey is an absolute beast in the interior, and his power and ability will help the Jets and add another young weapon up front.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
Ever since Le’Veon Bell left the Steel City, the Steelers’ run game has been among the worst in the league, and statistically, it was the worst in the NFL in 2020. Travis Etienne has the potential to be Alvin Kamara 2.0 with his ability to make plays in the standard run game and by catching passes out of the backfield. His style of play would fit right into what the Steelers like to do offensively.
29. New Orleans Saints: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
The Saints addressed their need for a linebacker by acquiring Kwon Alexander before the trade deadline, but they could use some more depth — which is addressed here in my first-round 2021 NFL mock draft. Zaven Collins would give the Saints a solid presence off the edge while also giving them a good coverage linebacker. He showed his ability to pick off passes by snagging four interceptions in 2020.
30. Buffalo Bills: TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
The Bills offense exploded in 2020, putting up points at will. That said, they are still in need of a go-to tight end. Enter Pat Freiermuth, the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder who can jump like a volleyball player and run like a deer. With him opening the middle and Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and John Brown out wide, the Bills could have the best offense in the league in 2021.
31. Green Bay Packers: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Everyone assumed the Packers would take a receiver in the 2020 NFL draft before they shocked everyone and traded up for Jordan Love. And while Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams both lit up the stat sheet this season, a go-to No. 2 receiver would do wonders for Rodgers and the offense. Rashod Bateman, as a deep threat to complement Adams, is one of my favorite picks in my 2021 first-round NFL mock draft.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
Despite their greatness, the Chiefs could use some protection for Patrick Mahomes on the outside. Liam Eichenberg is the next in line among great Notre Dame linemen, and we can only imagine what Mahomes could do with more time to throw the ball.
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