2021 7-Round NFL Mock Draft | Round 1, Picks 17-32
Listed on this page are the picks 17-32 (First Round) of this 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft. We begin with the Las Vegas Raiders at pick 17.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
There are plenty of rumors and connections saying the Raiders “covet” Micah Parsons, and the aforementioned character concerns have them convinced he might fall to them. His elite athleticism and versatile skill set would really boost that Raiders front seven. A linebacker group of Cory Littleton and Parsons is a highly athletic linebacker duo to experiment with.
18. Miami Dolphins: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Miami’s pass-rush group is rather uninspiring. Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson are gone, and they were second and third on the team in terms of pressures. Miami gets pressure through a high percentage of blitzes, but they need a top-tier guy to take that spotlight and the defense to another level.
Azeez Ojulari is a first-round-caliber edge rusher, and he’s my highest-ranked pass rusher in this class. Because of his size and frame, he’s best suited as a 3-4 OLB than a hand-in-the-dirt DE. That pushes him down the board some. However, Ojulari is a fantastic fit in Miami. Not only do they desperately need a top-tier pass rusher, but he fits the New England mold of EDGE rushers. He’s got the quickness and explosiveness to rush the passer.
Additionally, he’s fundamentally sound and tough defending the run. He has the athleticism to drop into coverage. He can fill a variety of roles, something Miami will covet.
19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB/S, Notre Dame
Credit to PFN Draft Analyst Matt Valdovinos for following this pick and tracking down plenty of connections for it to happen. Ron Rivera spoke about some of his former first-round picks, and he had this to say about Shaq Thompson, a former LB/S hybrid he drafted while in Carolina.
“Position flex, athleticism, intelligence. ‘Cause we were gonna ask him to do a lot.”
That sounds an awful lot like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He’s the perfect defensive weapon for Jack Del Rio to utilize and helps take that already great defense to another level.
20. Chicago Bears: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
With the Bears missing out on one of the top quarterbacks, they’ll need to fix their offensive line. The team let Bobby Massie go in free agency, and their current right tackles are Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson. Regardless of whoever their quarterback is next season, that’s a spot that can’t be ignored.
Teven Jenkins didn’t allow a sack in the last two seasons of his career. His quickness, power, and fantastic use of hands were a big reason why. Jenkins has a bright future ahead of him at right tackle in the NFL.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
The Colts have to address pass rush after losing Denico Autry and having yet to re-sign Justin Houston. They have some young athletes in Ben Banogu and Kemoko Turay at edge rusher, but neither has done much at the next level. They’ve combined for just 9 sacks in their careers.
With pass rush being such a necessity, the Colts simply must address this position early in the 2021 NFL Draft. As such, I believe one of their first two picks will do just that.
Kwity Paye doesn’t really match the “mold” of a Chris Ballard edge rusher, but he’s the best pass rusher left on the board. Paye is a twitched-up edge rusher who I believe was hampered by the Michigan scheme. His best football is ahead of him, and he’d be a valuable addition to the Colts’ defensive line.
22. Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
The Titans are in rough shape in their secondary. Malcolm Butler, Desmond King, and Adoree’ Jackson are on new teams. 2020 second-round pick Kristian Fulton played just a hair over 200 snaps last season in six games and is coming off a knee injury. The team signed Janoris Jenkins in free agency, but that’s not a real fix. As such, I believe corner is going to be their highest priority in the first round.
Luckily for the Titans, a great talent falls to them here in Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley. I think it’ll be enough for teams in that top group to pass on Farley with his past medicals. However, the Titans can take advantage of that. He’s reportedly passed all of his medical re-checks.
23. New York Jets (via SEA): Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
The Jets have had an outstanding offseason so far. They got a steal when they traded Sam Darnold, a top-tier pass rusher in Carl Lawson, and added Corey Davis to their wide receiving room. The staff there is making some smart moves addressing critical points. However, one area of need the Jets haven’t fixed yet is their corner room.
The Jets have young players in Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin, but none are elite corners. In a Robert Saleh defense, that needs to be fixed.
Greg Newsome II is one of the smoothest corners I’ve ever evaluated. His ability to flip his hips is simply unparalleled in this class. He’s an advanced technician with fantastic footwork and IQ. However, he comes with durability concerns of his own, which is why he’s available at pick 23. Yet, he’s a BPA who fills a critical need for the Jets.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
I know. Listen, I get it. I’ve heard all the arguments about a Round 1 running back. Believe me, I know they have merits. The Steelers, however, think differently. Both Pauline and my own Steelers guys believe they are fully locked in on Harris, and they aren’t trying to hide it.
Najee Harris would be the best Steelers back since Le’Veon Bell. They’ve not had a back they can trust to lead a committee of running backs with the versatility to line up out wide and smoke a linebacker as a receiver. That’s Harris. He’s the best back in this class, and he fits the style of player the Steelers like to add into their locker room.
25. Buffalo Bills (via JAX): Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
Trade! The Buffalo Bills send picks 30 and 93 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for picks 25 and 130.
Bills GM Brandon Beane has never been afraid to move up to go get “his guys.” With four teams in between here and their original pick, who all could go edge rusher, Beane decides not to risk it and goes up to take his archetype of pass rusher in this 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft. The Jaguars add even more premium capital to their treasure chest.
The Bills struggled to pressure quarterbacks down the stretch, which inevitably played a part in Patrick Mahomes carving up their defense in the AFC title game. With some older veterans in Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison on the roster, Jayson Oweh doesn’t necessarily have to start right away. He can contribute and add some much-needed juice to their pass rush while learning and developing underneath two long-time NFL vets.
26. Cleveland Browns: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
The Browns signed Jadeveon Clowney, but he’ll likely rush primarily from the inside in the team’s nickel looks. Takkarist McKinley is the team’s other edge rusher opposite of Myles Garrett in those packages, and I can’t imagine the Browns would be thrilled with that based on his NFL play so far.
As such, the Browns follow their tried-and-true model. Joseph Ossai just turned 21 years old this month and is a freaky athlete, boasting unique explosiveness. Ossai is an excellent run defender who has shown an ability to drop into coverage as well at times. The Browns struggled to put pressure on defenses down the stretch, and I can’t see them wanting to run the risk of that again this season.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
The Ravens need edge rushers badly after losing both Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon in free agency. The team re-signed Tyus Bowser, but he’s not yet proven as a full-time starter. They should continue to add talent to this room if they want to return to the playoffs.
Joe Tryon is a polarizing evaluation for many I’ve spoken to, as he’s a high-upside player. However, his fit with Baltimore is seamless to me. He’s a lithe and agile rusher who wins with length and athletic ability. He can drop into space and execute loops and stunts as well, something that Ravens DC Wink Martindale emphasizes in his edge rushers.
28. New Orleans Saints: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Saints are always a tricky team to nail down in mock drafts. Oftentimes, their pick comes from their BPA on their board. I’m not sure anyone had them taking Cesar Ruiz last year, but he was an excellent investment.
This year, however, there is a clear need for the Saints to address their defense and its linebackers. The team lost a combined 1,439 snaps between Alex Anzalone, Kwon Alexander, and Craig Robertson. Demario Davis is an excellent player in his own right, but he’s on the wrong side of 30. They need an infusion of talent here.
Enter Tulsa phenom, Zaven Collins. Collins is an excellent height/weight/speed athlete with the size of a defensive end but the athleticism of a linebacker. He’s a smart and instinctual linebacker. I’ve read some takes saying he’s inconsistent fitting the run, but I personally disagree with those assessments. He and Davis would be an excellent LB duo right away.
29. Green Bay Packers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
The Packers could go in several different ways in this year’s draft. To me, the most viable route is to replace their free agents and rebuild the offensive line. Linsley is now a Charger, and while Elgton Jenkins can fill that role, that leaves a guard spot open. In addition, Rick Wagner was released this offseason. Above all, there are plenty of holes on the Packers’ offensive line that needs to be filled.
Green Bay has valued athleticism and versatility all along their offensive line. Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi posted a 9.99 RAS, ever so close to a perfect 10. His tape suggests he owns all the tools to be an excellent pass protector at the next level. He has played both left and right tackle in his career, checking off plenty of boxes for the Packers.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (via BUF): Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
The Jaguars’ new defensive coordinator, Joe Cullen, was the defensive line coach for the Ravens the last four seasons. Before that, Cullen worked with players like Gerald McCoy, Tyson Alualu, Phil Taylor, Terrance Knighton, and William Gholston while coaching for the Buccaneers, Browns, and Jaguars. Cullen knows the importance of the defensive line in controlling games.
Jacksonville requires an overhaul along the interior of their defensive line. While Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson are their outside rushers for the future, interior defenders like Taven Bryan, Adam Gotsis, Abry Jones, and DaVon Hamilton haven’t provided that pass rush up front. The team added Malcom Brown and Roy Robertson-Harris to the interior, but neither of them has the pass-rushing ceiling of Christian Barmore.
31. Baltimore Ravens (via KC): Alex Leatherwood, OT/OG, Alabama
The Ravens acquired this pick just before this 7-Round 2021 Mock Draft was scheduled to drop, courtesy of the blockbuster deal for OT Orlando Brown Jr. Yay me!
The Ravens have a particular style of linemen they look for. They want well-coached and physical linemen who can excel in the run game. Both John Harbaugh and Eric DeCosta have emphasized the importance of their offensive line. With Orlando Brown Jr. now a Kansas City Chief, it’s tough to see them suddenly reversing and not drafting an offensive tackle with one of their first two picks.
There’s been a growing disrespect about Alex Leatherwood, but I’m still a believer in his ability. He’ll have to adjust moving over to right tackle, but he fits the pedigree that Baltimore looks for. Leatherwood’s technique in pass protection will need some fine-tuning, but I believe he can excel in Baltimore.
32. Dallas Cowboys (via TB): Richie Grant, S, UCF
Trade! The Dallas Cowboys send picks 44, 75, 188, and a third-round pick in 2022 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for picks 32 and 217.
Given the cap situation in Tampa, I’d imagine they would like to move back and take cheaper contracts throughout the draft. They brought back virtually everyone and didn’t have many holes, so trading back and adding more picks now and in the future has its merits.
While Dallas hasn’t shown they know what safeties really are, it seems like defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and the new defensive staff have provided new insight into how to build a defense. With Dak Prescott paid and plenty of offensive talent there, Dallas has to be aggressive in retooling the defense.
Richie Grant looks to be the first safety off the board (depending on what you call Owusu-Koramoah). I know plenty have Trevon Moehrig as the No. 1 safety, but with Quinn’s Cover 3 defense, I think Grant is the perfect free safety for that style of defense. I believe Dallas will think the same.