Chiotti’s 2021 First-Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 11-20
11. Detroit Lions: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Could the Lions actually move on from Matthew Stafford in 2021? With a new GM and head coach coming in, Stafford’s time in the Motor City could be coming to an end as they replace him with a younger gunslinger.
Enter Zach Wilson, the junior quarterback out of BYU. Wilson is an athletic quarterback who uses great footwork and pocket awareness to extend plays. He has decent arm strength but has excellent ball placement and puts just enough touch on his deep balls. If the Lions are looking for a fresh start, Wilson is a good starting spot for their new regime.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
With all the rumors surrounding their quarterback status for 2021, why would the Niners go with a wide receiver in the first round after trading back up to take one in 2020?
Ja’Marr Chase is arguably the best receiver in this class, and with all the injuries the Niners suffered this season, including Brandon Aiyuk, drafting a receiver makes sense. Chase has decent size for a wideout but is a nuanced route runner. He knows how to work in space and has reliable hands. With all the inconsistency from the 49ers receivers, bringing in a reliable playmaker for the offense wouldn’t hurt.
13. Denver Broncos: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Listen, this pick is a big gamble by John Elway and the Denver Broncos, but if it pays off, it could be a game-changer for this defense. Even with Trey Lance still on the board and the majority of Broncos fans calling for Drew Lock’s head, the Broncos do the right thing and invest in their defense. Alexander Johnson has played lights out, and Josey Jewell has stepped up in a big way, but there’s still something missing.
The Broncos could benefit from adding a true off-ball linebacker to pair with Johnson. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is an excellent candidate to step in under Vic Fangio. With high instincts and great coverage skills, Owusu-Koramoah can impact the Broncos as a rookie.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The Vikings tried to boost their pass rush with Yannick Ngakoue in 2020, but the team eventually moved him to Baltimore. In need of a pass rusher, the Vikings get one in this 2021 first-round NFL mock draft in the form of Georgia redshirt sophomore Azeez Ojulari.
Possessing the best bend in the class, Ojulari has a beautiful blend of size and explosiveness. He already utilizes several pass rush moves, something you don’t necessarily see from young edge defenders. As he grows and matures, he can make a big impact on the Vikings’ defense in the NFC North.
15. New England Patriots: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Patriots fans can rest now. After watching Tom Brady leave for Tampa Bay and Cam Newton be a shell of himself, the Patriots get their possible quarterback of the future. North Dakota State’s Trey Lance is the draft’s most intriguing prospect, having started only one full season for the Bison.
Lance took care of the ball extremely well in college and showed tremendous accuracy throwing short and intermediate routes. Lance also uses his mobility to extend plays and can throw just as well on the run. While he is definitely a project and an unknown product, he has a ton of upside. If the Patriots can surround him with proper weapons and a good system, he could grow to be a talented NFL quarterback.
16. Chicago Bears: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Will the Bears keep Nick Foles in 2021? Will Mitch Trubisky be under center? Probably neither, but the fact remains that the Bears need to surround their next quarterback with more weapons. Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman could be a quality threat opposite Allen Robinson if Robinson remains in a Bears uniform in 2021.
Bateman has great route running skills, excellent ball skills, and is great at creating separation. If the Bears have at least an average quarterback next season, adding Bateman to this offense could help them produce quickly.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Pittsburgh
It’s time for the Raiders to take a long look at Clelin Ferrell and say: this just isn’t working. Maxx Crosby, a fourth-round pick in 2019, has been more effective throughout his early career than Ferrell. At this point, Ferrell has only 2.0 sacks on the season, both coming against the Jets.
The Raiders have an opportunity to add some explosiveness off the edge in the first round, and they get that here with Jayson Oweh out of Pittsburgh. Oweh is a big, explosive edge rusher who is still a bit raw in his game but has the tools to be an effective pass rusher in the league. Pairing him with Crosby could be effective for years to come in the AFC West.
18. Baltimore Ravens: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Ravens must keep surrounding Lamar Jackson with offensive weapons. DeVonta Smith is as dynamic a receiver as they come, and the Ravens get a steal here. A wiry receiver, Smith is light on his feet and has excellent hands, something that Lamar Jackson needs from his pass-catchers.
He has the ability to be creative after the catch, using his shiftiness to slip away from defenders. Having a quality receiver like Smith can help open up Marquise Brown for more opportunities as well.
19. Washington Football Team: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
With all the big-name quarterbacks off the board, the Washington Football Team turns to the tight end position to boost their offense. With Alex Smith likely returning in 2021, adding more firepower on the offensive side of the ball is crucial for sustained success. Drafting Kyle Pitts out of Florida in this 2021 first-round NFL mock draft gives them a dynamic receiving option at the tight end spot.
Pitts is an excellent receiving tight end, working well against zone coverage and using his size to win one-on-one matchups. Whether it’s over the middle or to the boundary, Pitts is a reliable pass-catcher anywhere on the field. He should help take some pressure off Terry McLaurin.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Cardinals offense has been rolling this season after trading for DeAndre Hopkins. Kyler Murray has been playing at an extremely high level both on the ground and through the air. If the Cardinals want to continue to develop Murray, they’ll need to invest in the offensive line. Getting Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater here is a great selection to replace Kelvin Beachum at right tackle.
Slater is a versatile offensive lineman, getting snaps at all five positions during his college career. While his length might be a concern at the tackle position, he makes up for it with strength and consistent technique. As a pass blocker, he’s proven he can hold his own against elite talent, having gone against Chase Young while Young was at Ohio State.