Round One | Picks 17-32
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Las Vegas Raiders are desperate for defensive help. Adding Jaycee Horn would give them an identity on defense with a talented young secondary. Damon Arnette, Trayvon Mullen, and Horn would quickly become one of the best and most physical young cornerback trios in the NFL.
Horn has terrific length and physicality that Gus Bradley and Jon Gruden should love. It’s also a position group where you need talent in a high-flying AFC West with QB and WR talent galore.
18. Miami Dolphins: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)
The Miami Dolphins’ pass rush left a lot to be desired this year while the rest of the defense flourished. Emmanuel Ogbah looks like a piece, but Miami doesn’t have much outside of him.
Gregory Rousseau could change that, though it will be on the coaching staff to draw it out of him. Fortunately for Miami, there aren’t many coaching staffs that have impressed more. Rousseau is one of the best athletes in the class, but how he’ll transition to the NFL remains a major concern.
19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB/S, Notre Dame
Washington’s offense is a major problem, especially at the quarterback position. However, Ron Rivera seems to be like Belichick in the sense he might prefer a veteran arm instead. Unfortunately, the board didn’t fall how Washington would like in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft. That means they have to go over to the defensive side of the ball.
They’re already stacked on the defensive line, and their secondary is fantastic. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is an amazing value here and would help fill Washington’s only real need on defense. Adding him could make the defense truly elite.
20. Chicago Bears: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The Chicago Bears desperately need a quarterback but will have a tough time finding one. They’re too late in the draft to select one of the best quarterbacks. They don’t have a ton of picks to facilitate a trade, and they also don’t have much cap space.
That’s why they wind up taking Mac Jones here. Jones’ physical traits are average at best, but he could be a great fit in Bill Lazor’s offense. He’s got terrific deep accuracy and can also make crisp anticipatory throws.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Anthony Castonzo’s surprise retirement puts the Indianapolis Colts in a pickle. They now have glaring needs at arguably the two most important offensive positions. Quarterback is off the table here, though with the Bears landing Jones, leaving tackle for the Colts. As a result, Indianapolis decides to target Samuel Cosmi in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft.
Cosmi is an experienced, pro-ready tackle with good athleticism. He should be able to come in as a functional starter early on in his career, though he needs to bulk up some. Some will argue for Alijah Vera-Tucker here instead, but Tucker might be a guard at the next level. The Colts need to make sure the lineman they select can transition to tackle.
22. Tennessee Titans: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
The Titans took big swings and missed both times when they signed Vic Beasley and Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. Drafting Jayson Oweh would be a great move to help boost their pass rush.
Oweh is underdeveloped at this stage in his career. He needs to add more muscle and power to his game and may be limited to a third-down role as a rookie. However, he has the athletic abilities and ceiling to become a high-end pass rusher for Tennessee in time.
23. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks): Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
Texas’ Joseph Ossai is another raw edge rusher that could go higher than he should. There isn’t enough edge talent in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, so some teams with glaring needs will be forced to reach. The New York Jets are such a team, considering they haven’t had an elite pass rusher since John Abraham.
Ossai is even less experienced as a true edge rusher than Oweh, which is scary. Texas couldn’t decide what position Ossai was and constantly moved him as a result. Once he finally found his position, though, he was a revelation. He’s still learning the position, but he manages to get to the quarterback and plays with his hair on fire.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
It seems like the Pittsburgh Steelers will be suckered into giving Ben Roethlisberger and his sizable contract another season. That means they will have to invest in the run game unless they want their offense to go belly-up again.
Najee Harris is the perfect selection to do just that. Also, he would fit beautifully in Pittsburgh’s offensive scheme. There are other needs on the roster, but the fact the Steelers’ offensive success rested on Roethlisberger’s arm is the most pressing concern. Harris goes a long way towards solving that.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
The Jaguars already have their offensive skill position talent, and they just selected a superstar quarterback. Now, it’s time for them to invest in the offensive line to make it all work.
Jacksonville will have a difficult decision to make on Cam Robinson this offseason, and Jawaan Taylor has been worse. Outside of those two tackles, they could also be losing guard A.J. Cann after 2021. Alijah Vera-Tucker could potentially fill any of those gaps and immediately upgrade the line.
26. Cleveland Browns: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Cleveland’s offense appears ready to compete for a Super Bowl, even without Odell Beckham Jr. However, the defense will require a facelift for the Browns to make it that far.
Christian Barmore could give Cleveland one of the scarier defensive fronts in the league. The combination of Larry Ogunjobi, Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, and Barmore would further cement the Browns’ dominance in the trenches. In the past two drafts, we saw San Francisco and Washington invest a first-round pick into an already-talented defensive line, which unlocked the unit as a whole and made it special. Barmore could do that here for Cleveland.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
Following future Hall of Famer Marshall Yanda’s retirement, the Baltimore Ravens struggled to find a replacement. Their failed attempt last season hurt the offense well before Ronnie Stanley suffered his season-ending injury.
The Ravens can look to fill that void at guard to maintain their dominance on the ground with Wyatt Davis. Davis is supremely talented, polished, and would fit great in Baltimore’s run-heavy attack. If he became a rookie Pro Bowler, it wouldn’t be too surprising.
28. New Orleans Saints: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
The New Orleans Saints’ incredible regular season run has drawn to a close. They now find themselves in salary cap hell and will need to make tough decisions. One of those tough decisions that could be most advantageous is moving on from Michael Thomas. He’s expensive, and it’s hard to tell how he’s embraced in the locker room after he punched a teammate during practice.
Rashod Bateman can be the perfect replacement for Thomas. His most common comparison coming out will likely be Thomas. Bateman is a terrific route-runner and physical receiver, and he uses those abilities to bully opposing cornerbacks. That sounds like Michael Thomas to me, even if it’s unlikely Bateman ever reaches that peak.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
With Jared Cook set to hit free agency in 2021, the Saints could be looking for an immediate replacement. They already have Adam Trautman, but adding Pat Freiermuth alongside Trautman gives them flexibility at the position.
He needs to work on his blocking in the NFL, but Freiermuth has the frame and athleticism to be a successful tight end at the next level. With Drew Brees’ future unknown, Freiermuth could be a fascinating piece if the Saints decide Taysom Hill is the QB in 2021.
30. Buffalo Bills: Jaelen Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Buffalo Bills defense took a step back in 2020, especially in the first half of the season. The pass rush, or lack thereof, was a large part of the reason why. A.J. Epenesa should continue to develop. Yet, they still need a pass rusher to build around on the opposite side.
Jaelen Phillips could be that pass rusher. He was rated as the top high school prospect in 24/7’s composite rankings. Phillips struggled at UCLA, but following a transfer to Miami, exploded this season. He falls this far not because of his talent level but because of those questions surrounding his early college career. Buffalo has the requisite coaching staff to get the best out of the boom-or-bust edge rusher.
31. Green Bay Packers: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Arguably, inside linebacker hasn’t been a strength of the Green Bay Packers defense since Clay Matthews was in his prime. They have also consistently been one of the NFL’s worst run defenses. Drafting Zaven Collins could help remedy both those problems.
Collins’ stock is skyrocketing and he could go as high as the late teens, so landing him here is a steal. He’s a do-it-all linebacker with great athleticism. There are few flaws to his game outside of the occasional missed tackle and a tendency to get washed out by blocks.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
The Kansas City Chiefs offensive line has been subpar all season long. Getting Laurent Duvernay-Tardif back will boost the interior, but they could still use more help. Ensuring Patrick Mahomes doesn’t suffer a devastating injury is the franchise’s top priority.
Alex Leatherwood is a pro-ready tackle that could replace either Mitchell Schwartz or Eric Fisher on the edge. He could also kick inside and give the Chiefs help there instead if needed.
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