Tanier’s First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

Tanier’s First Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 21-32

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU

You know what Tom Brady needs? More weapons. Seriously, how is he supposed to prove he’s still got when he cannot count on his ninth wide receiver to make plays for him.

Kidding aside, Terrace Marshall may be the best available athlete on the board at this point, a vertical lid-lifter with an extra gear in the open field and a greater willingness to work the short middle of the field than the typical collegiate speedster. Marshall can replace Chris Godwin if contract negotiations go pear-shaped in the offseason, reduce the Bucs’ need to keep employing That Other Guy and make life easier on whoever their quarterback is in 2021.

22. Miami Dolphins: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

We upgraded Tua Tagovailoa’s arsenal with the first of the Dolphins’ two picks. Now let’s add athleticism and versatility to their defense with their second first-round pick in this 2021 NFL mock draft.

Brian Flores likes edge rushers who can drop into coverage (or are they coverage linebackers who can blitz?) like the ones he coached in New England: Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and so forth. Now it’s time to draft one instead of importing them all from the Patriots. Collins has the size and frame of a dangerous edge rusher but downright shocking coverage chops, including a knack for leaping interceptions.

Collins would make it easy for Flores to mix-and-match multiple fronts and zone-blitz schemes, helping the Dolphins defense take the next step toward becoming a championship-caliber unit.

23. Indianapolis Colts: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Horn, the son of former Saints Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn, had one of the best games I have ever seen from a college cornerback against Auburn in October. Horn intercepted two passes and deflected at least four others while blanketing Auburn’s Seth Williams. Those were the first interceptions of Horn’s career, but you know how it goes with top collegiate corners: opponents rarely throw to their side of the field.

Horn is a well-built, smoothly-athletic 6-foot-1 defender who excels in man coverage. He’s probably the best available athlete at this point in our mock draft, and he’s a fine fit for a Colts team that needs a traditional cover corner to complement Xavier Rhodes.

24. Tennessee Titans: Jay Tufele, DT, USC

The Titans really felt the loss of defensive tackle Jurrell Casey this year: Their defense has been vulnerable up the middle, and their pass rush has been inconsistent, contributing to several losses in games the Titans should have won. Tufele has the potential to be a devastating three-tech, capable of ripping through blocks with his outstanding hand-fighting technique, then using his short-area burst to swallow ballcarriers (and the occasional quarterback). Pair Tufele with Jeffery Simmons in the middle of the Titans line, and the Titans defense will be as stout up the middle as Mike Vrabel wants it to be.

25. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks): Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

The Jets have so many needs that they just need to draft the best athletes they can find after they grab a quarterback, even if those athletes lack a natural position. Owusu-Koramoah has the play style of an edge rusher but the size of a nickel linebacker. Used properly, he could develop into an all-purpose “positionless defender,” or at least a Will linebacker who can bring some heat on the blitz. Used improperly, Owusu-Koramoah could develop into just a role player. But let’s be optimistic that the next iteration of the Jets coaching staff has things figured out. After all, the 13th or 14th time’s the charm.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams): Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Now that we drafted a quarterback for the Jaguars, let’s upgrade their pass protection. Darrisaw has prototypical size and smooth footwork, an NFL-ready backpedal, great balance, and rock-solid technique for a young tackle. He’ll be ready to start right away for a Jaguars line, which for a few years has been the quiet strength of a very bad team, but now needs an influx of young talent, particularly at both tackle positions.

27. Cleveland Browns: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

The Browns need a cornerback to bookend with Denzel Ward. Stokes is big, physical and sudden, with the strength and tenacity to excel in press coverage and the awareness to drop into zones. He’s a little bit of a clutch-and-grab defender in the open field (many college cornerbacks are), but Stokes is a great value at a need position with this selection.

28. Buffalo Bills: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

Pat Freiermuth has missed most of this season with an undisclosed injury, but don’t expect it to hurt his draft stock too much: NFL teams are going to take much of what happened in the 2020 college football season with a grain of salt. Freiermuth is a huge target with rumbling YAC capability and the thick frame to be a quality blocker who looked like one of the best tight ends in the nation in 2019. If he gets a clean bill of health, he’ll be an excellent value with this pick.

The Bills’ offense would look much better with a reliable tight end as a Josh Allen safety valve, but Dawson Knox has not developed into a difference-maker, and Tyler Kroft is nothing special. Freiermuth could step in and have a Mark Andrews-level impact, making him a good fit for Buffalo in this first-round 2021 NFL mock draft.

29. Green Bay Packers: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

The Packers linebacker situation has been ugly this year: Christian Kirksey was a free-agent bust, and the Packers have been forced to play all sorts of late-round rookies and inexperienced defenders beside him. Dylan Moses can step into one of the inside linebacker positions and solve an immediate problem. He’s an explosive downhill defender and a nasty tackler, and like most Alabama linebackers, he has solid instincts and diagnostic chops. 

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas

Andy Reid loves to invest in his offensive line, and Mitchell Schwartz’s injury may prompt Reid to start seeking reinforcements and long-term replacements at both tackle positions. Cosmi is a perfect fit in a Chiefs offense that can afford to wait a year for a top prospect to develop: huge yet shockingly fast for an offensive lineman, making him an ideal choice to lead a caravan on a screen. Or, alternately, to catch a screen

31. New Orleans Saints: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon

Holland is a box safety and slot corner with great instincts, outstanding ball skills, and a reputation for top-notch intangibles. That makes him a little like Malcolm Jenkins, who returned to the Saints this season and provided his signature blend of versatility and leadership. Jenkins has lost at least two steps in the last few years, and the third step will land him on television or in Congress or something. Holland isn’t a perfect fit in every defense and situation, but there’s a place for him on the Saints’ defense. 

32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

We all love James Conner. But Conner misses a handful of games per year, sometimes goes weeks without making an impact, and doesn’t provide much big-play juice. Conner is a rugged, determined committee back. Najee Harris is Derrick Henry with better hands. Add him to the weapons the Steelers already have in place, and Ben Roethlisberger will be able to perform his late-career game manager routine for another five years. 

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