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2021 NFL Mock Draft - Round 1 Breakdown

What Appears In This Article? hide

It's draft season!  The 2021 NFL Draft is still a few months away, but it's never too early for a mock draft.

The upcoming offseason figures to be one of the more fascinating in NFL history.  With nearly half the league projected to have a new starting quarterback, trades will be a major part of the drama all the way up through the completion of the draft.  There's also no scouting combine this year, so teams will have to rely on pro days and individual workouts to get information about prospects' athletic testing and medicals.

This mock draft is the first of many and will include trades in the projection of all 32 first-round picks.  The goal of this mock draft is to accurately predict what NFL teams will do on draft night.  Keep in mind that surprise picks will happen, and that consensus groupthink mock drafts in February have almost no chance to be accurate come draft night.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best NFL Series, MLB Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence - QB, Clemson

In the least-shocking pick of all time, the Jaguars select the consensus top QB in the draft in Trevor Lawrence.  Lawrence has everything teams look for in a modern franchise QB including elite size, mobility, and a strong arm.  Pocket manipulation and rushing skills are two of his strengths, and his ability to spit the ball out accurately in the face of pressure is special.  Lawrence played in a very play-action and screen-heavy offensive system and showed multiple misreads of coverages on film.  He will need to learn how to read defenses at a more advanced level in order to live up to the hype.

If he can mentally master a pro offense, his traits will translate to the next level and give Urban Meyer a dynamic franchise QB.  You can read my full prospect profile of Lawrence here.

*PROJECTED TRADE*

Jets get: QB Deshaun Watson

Texans get: Pick No. 2, Pick No. 34, Pick No. 66, 2022 1st-round pick, 2022 3rd round pick

 

2. Texans (f/ Jets): Justin Fields - QB, Ohio State

In this projection, the Jets win the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, sending several premium picks to Houston in exchange for the 25-year-old franchise QB.  At No. 2, the Texans secure their QB of the future in Ohio State's Justin Fields.  Fields displayed impressive toughness in a playoff win against Clemson, shaking off a huge hit to finish with six touchdown passes and multiple highlight throws. 

Fields came into the 2020 college football season as the consensus QB2 in draft circles, but that standing has since changed.  While other signal-callers in this class do have an argument to be drafted as the QB2, Fields could still be the guy when all is said and done.  He has all the tools teams look for in a franchise leader, including rushing ability and toughness.  Fields is outstanding at throwing on the run and flashes his arm talent with several well-placed deep balls on film.  At times he misses open receivers on underneath routes, but he has all the physical traits to succeed at the next level.

 

3. Dolphins (f/HOU): Ja'Marr Chase - WR, LSU

The Dolphins seem likely to commit to Tua Tagovailoa even after benching him twice during the season.  Tua's unspectacular play was probably in large part due to the pedestrian supporting cast around him.  Adding a stud WR like Ja'Marr Chase is exactly what he needs to regain his confidence after a disappointing rookie season.  Chase is A.J. Brown-like in terms of physicality and competitiveness.  He has excellent hands and was so dominant in 2019 that he relegated teammate Justin Jefferson to WR2 status on Joe Burrow's LSU Tigers.

One of his underrated strengths is his ability to fight with his hands in confined spaces, whether that's against press at the line of scrimmage or hand-fighting down the field.  He's a twitchy athlete with enough speed and leaping ability to Moss opposing corners.  The Ja'Marr Chase vs DeVonta Smith debate should be a fun one this draft season.  In this projection, the Dolphins go with the more physical and built receiver in Chase.

 

4. Falcons: Zach Wilson - QB, BYU

With the Matt Ryan/Julio Jones window beginning to close, the Falcons have a difficult decision to make.  New GM Terry Fontenot could opt to improve the roster and try to contend with Ryan and Jones for the next two or three years.  In this projection, they instead choose to take advantage of picking 4th overall in a QB-rich draft.  Some believe Zach Wilson is a better prospect than Justin Fields, and it would not shock me to see Wilson drafted at No. 2.  Wilson enjoyed a breakout 2020 season, flashing his whippy arm and plus athleticism en route to an 11-1 record and a 33-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio.

Wilson's film will surely excite NFL decision-makers.  His physical gifts are special, with his quick release, laser arm, and impressive mobility.  His toughness (came back from a mid-game mugging at Coastal Carolina and threw a nice block on a reverse) and instincts are also impressive.  Wilson's biggest on-field weakness is his inability to see certain zone defenders, especially against lurk or robber coverages.  He threw multiple hospital balls to his WRs, completely unaware of zone safeties or linebackers.  There have also been murmurs about his attitude, in addition to a lengthy injury history.  As far as evaluating traits on film, he's clearly a top QB prospect with franchise potential.

 

5. Bengals: Penei Sewell - OT, Oregon

After Joe Burrow's season-ending injury, the Bengals find themselves with needs across the offensive line.  They need to protect Burrow better, and Penei Sewell has all the traits you look for in a franchise left tackle.  If Sewell is the pick at No. 5, current starting LT Jonah Williams would likely slide over to RT - a position he played in college.  Sewell the player has lost some steam due to prospect fatigue, but his 2019 film displays elite traits in every sense.

At 6-6, 331 pounds, Sewell is a behemoth with rare movement skills for his size.  Few 330-plus pound humans can move like him, as he shined in the screen game, as a puller, and on the backside of zone runs.  Sewell has elite quickness and twitch for his size, in addition to exceptional feet.  His game is not polished, but there is no doubt his traits translate.  As a pass blocker, he has some work to do, as his film shows him struggle to stay stout and place his hands, especially against bull rushes.  At just 20 years old, the sky is the limit.

 

6. Eagles: DeVonta Smith - WR, Alabama

Carson Wentz is now a Colt, which means the Eagles have a choice to make at QB.  Jalen Hurts showed flashes in his rookie year, but questions remain if he's the guy.  With Trey Lance and Mac Jones on the board at No. 6, expect the Eagles to give a long look to QB.  In this projection, they fill their biggest need with one of the most polarizing WR prospects of all-time in Alabama's DeVonta Smith.

Smith put up video game numbers in 2020 on his way to the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship, amassing 117 catches, 1856 yards, and 23 TDs.  He was unstoppable in the National Championship game against Ohio State, going for over 200 yards in the first half.  Unfortunately, that game also highlighted the biggest question mark about his pro prospects - his durability with his slender frame - as he was slow getting up after a TD, ultimately leaving the game.  It turned out that his exit was due to a dislocated finger, which may not be an indictment of his small stature.  His frame is still a legitimate question mark.  Even his camp is aware, as he opted not to be weighed in at the Senior Bowl.  His film, however, showed very few weaknesses.

Even with speculation that he doesn't have elite timed speed, Smith's play speed will translate just fine.  He has a mix of venus fly trap hands, rare body control, length, and route-running skills that few prospects have ever possessed.  He was also a contributor on special teams for the Crimson Tide.  Despite elite receiver-specific traits and historic production, Smith has many detractors, mostly due to his late breakout age, an accurate predictor of WR success in the NFL.  There's a pretty good chance he's an outlier considering his film, but I respect the conviction of the analytics community.  His late breakout is easily explainable by the other first-round receivers he shared targets with at Alabama.  Not to mention the fact that he's been on the field playing meaningful snaps since his freshman year.  Does catching the game-winning TD in the National Championship as a freshman count as a breakout?

 

7. Lions: Rashawn Slater - OT, Northwestern

The Lions have a need at right tackle and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater is an outstanding tackle prospect.  Slater opted out in 2020, but was phenomenal in 2019, allowing zero sacks in 11 games at left tackle.  Slater is more of a traditional LT prospect in terms of pass-blocking prowess, as he displays excellent balance and the ability to simply stay in front of edge rushers.  He is light on his feet and secure, showing an understanding of angles and body positioning.

Slater's most impressive attribute is his ability to get to the second level in the run game, which makes him an attractive option at either tackle spot.  Taylor Decker is entrenched at LT, but there's nothing wrong with employing the Best Player Available strategy in regards to a LT prospect who can surely make the switch to RT and be able to step in on the blindside if he's needed there down the line.

 

8. Panthers: Mac Jones - QB, Alabama

Teddy Bridgewater had a disappointing season as the Panthers starter, so I expect Carolina to address the QB position this offseason.  Don't rule them out of the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, but given the landscape of this draft, the likeliest scenario is that they select their QB of the future in the top ten picks either by staying put at No. 8 or on a trade-up.  It obviously depends how they feel about the top five QBs, but the fast-rising Mac Jones is a logical choice, given that head coach Matt Rhule coached him at the Senior Bowl.  Rhule openly praised the former Alabama QB, calling him an "alpha."

Jones had an amazing year at Alabama, but understanding Steve Sarkisian's offense is the key to his evaluation.  Sark's RPO-heavy system is a dream for a college QB, but may not be the best scheme for preparing a transition to the NFL.  Tua Tagovailoa had a disappointing rookie year coming from that same dream world, which will surely give some pause to NFL evaluators.  As far as traits go, Jones is well above average in terms of ball placement, arguably the most important trait of all.  He's not particularly mobile and doesn't have a crazy dynamic arm, but Jones is a gamer who can spin it accurately and with touch and anticipation.  He mastered Sark's offense, ripping apart opposing defenses and making the Texas A&M defensive backs look like children.

His savvy play oozes confidence, but in the rare occasion where he doesn't like what he sees, his feet get buzzy and his arm is exposed. What he lacks in elite arm strength, especially on throws to the field, he makes up for in anticipation and an impressive internal clock.  There are legitimate questions about Jones' transition to the pros, but I have no doubt NFL teams will covet him in the draft.

 

9. Broncos: Trey Lance - QB, North Dakota State

Drew Lock has been a disappointment in his first two years in the NFL, and if one of the top QB prospects in this draft were to fall to No. 9, the Broncos would be wise to consider moving on.  Trey Lance is a fascinating QB prospect who possesses every trait teams look for in a modern franchise QB including size, arm talent, athleticism, and rushing ability.  The glaring question marks about Lance are his level of competition and lack of experience, as an FCS player who has only started 18 games, and only played one game (which unfortunately happened to be the worst of his career) in 2020.  Carson Wentz, also from North Dakota State, was the last big-name FCS QB prospect, and has had a tumultuous NFL experience thus far, to say the least.  Other FCS QB products over the years include Tony Romo, Jimmy Garropolo, and Joe Flacco.  Going further back, Phil Simms, Steve McNair, and Doug Williams also came from FCS schools.

College film is sometimes difficult to evaluate when the level of competition is lower than the Power 5, but sometimes the traits make pro prospects stand out regardless.  It's also worth noting that the general public often underrates FCS football - the players are still scholarship athletes.  Not to mention Lance dominated his level and looked like he didn't even belong against the likes of South Dakota, cruising to a National Championship and a 28-to-0 TD-to-INT ratio in 2019.  Besides ideal size, arm talent, and mobility, Lance's QB-specific strengths include decisiveness, spatial awareness in and out of the pocket, and willingness to take checkdowns.  He had only one career game with over 30 pass attempts, and will surely improve at reading defenses once he learns an NFL playbook.  Lance hasn't played a meaningful game in over a year and isn't getting the hype of the other QB prospects at the moment.  He'd probably be considered a potential top-five pick in most other draft classes.  You can read my full prospect profile of Lance here.

 

10. Cowboys: Kyle Pitts - TE, Florida

The Cowboys need help on defense and have spent a ton of resources on offensive skill over the past few years.  But if Kyle Pitts is there at No. 10, they still have to consider it from a Best Player Available standpoint.  They may lose Michael Gallup in free agency next offseason and do not have a TE threat anywhere near as talented as Pitts.  In fact, from a pure physical traits standpoint, few NFL TEs can even compare to the former Florida Gator.

Pitts is a long, monstrous, go-up-and-get-it freak, who has the traits to dominate at any alignment on the field.  His film is filled with incredible displays of talent, including catches against double-teams, low grabs, and circus-like high-points.  His size/speed mix is rare and he is adept at changing speeds on seam routes to fly by linebackers.  When you look up "Matchup Nightmare" in the dictionary you see a picture of Kyle Pitts.  He can be Darren Waller or better.

 

11. Giants: Patrick Surtain II - CB, Alabama

Giants GM Dave Gettleman is still chugging along, but he surely won't keep his job if he doesn't have a great draft this year.  First-round CB bust DeAndre Baker is already off the team, so there is a need at CB opposite James Bradberry.  Most outlets have Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley ranked as the top CB in this draft, but I think there's a chance Surtain is drafted above him.  Both players have flaws, but the Giants surprised everyone going with the most decorated of all the college OTs last year with Andrew Thomas.  Surtain would be a similar decision here.

Surtain has been a stalwart in the Alabama secondary the past few years, and his film shows an ideal mix of length, fluid hips, and quickness.  Surtain plays with good eye discipline and coverage instincts, but he will give up catches to more physically gifted receivers.  He can tackle and play inside, but he will get handsy at the top of routes.  His technique is sound when the ball is in the air, as he can get his head around and play through the hands of the WR.  Surtain isn't a flashy prospect and might not ever be an All-Pro, but he has the pedigree and traits of a solid starting CB.

 

12. 49ers: Caleb Farley - CB, Virginia Tech

The 49ers will likely lose Richard Sherman, which will open up a need at CB opposite breakout veteran Jason Verrett.  Caleb Farley is considered a top-ten player in some draft circles, as he has ideal size, length, coverage instincts, and ball skills.  However, certain reps on his film do warrant some concerns, which are curiously left out of most discussions about his pro prospects.  He was burned from a tight split corner route against Miami, and didn't show a consistent ability to get his head around in man defending verticals.

College ball production and making plays in cover two prove he's a quality football player, but the NFL is a different beast entirely, especially for CBs.  Is he quick enough to stay with pro receivers at the next level?  I have no doubt he'll be drafted high, but a couple of gift interceptions against Miami (yes, including the impressive one-hander) may have inflated his stock a bit.

 

13. Chargers: Jaylen Waddle - WR, Alabama

Justin Herbert was tremendous as a rookie and the Chargers' roster is actually fairly solid in terms of personnel, especially on defense.  They clearly need help at left tackle, but in this projection, they choose to take a Best Player Available approach in selecting Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle.  Keenan Allen is a star and Mike Williams has been just OK, but there is no question 11-personnel would look better for the Bolts with Jaylen Waddle in the mix, especially if Hunter Henry leaves in free agency.

Waddle is coming off a crazy year in which he missed 9 games with a fractured ankle, only to shockingly return to the National Championship game, where he was so clearly hobbled that NFL players were tweeting about it.  His choice to play in that game speaks to his competitiveness and love for football, as it was probably not the best business decision.  Medicals will be key with Waddle, as he actually produced just as much, if not more, than DeVonta Smith in the first four games sans Jeudy/Ruggs.

As far as evaluating traits of a healthy Waddle, his film is exciting.  The speed pops off the screen, routinely running by defenders on deep routes, double moves, and with the ball in his hands.  His tracking and ball skills are also advanced, and his ability to win contested deep balls at just 5-foot-10 speaks to his uncommon twitch and athleticism.  In-and-up routes, perfect sail routes, and dominating Auburn for four TDs are also highlights.  Waddle is special, but the medical will be absolutely critical to his ultimate draft fate.

 

14. Vikings: Gregory Rousseau - EDGE, Miami Fl.

The Vikings have built a solid roster with very few holes.  In 2020, they struggled on defense, but both rookie corners improved as the season went on.  A priority this offseason should be to add a quality pass rusher opposite Danielle Hunter.  There is no Chase Young in this draft class, but a handful of EDGE players have a claim to be the first outside pass rusher off the board.  Gregory Rousseau is arguably the most physically impressive of the bunch, and also comes with just one year of elite production at Miami.

Rousseau tallied 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his only season starting for the Hurricanes in 2019.  He's also 6-7, 265, with plus quickness for a man his size, and natural pop in his hands as a pass rusher.  When his technique is sound, he is able to play his gap in the run game, and use his quickness to beat guards from the inside as a pass rusher.  Rousseau is a classic boom-or-bust raw prospect whose physical traits give him an extremely high ceiling.  On the negative side, his film shows glaring weaknesses in terms of technique, using leverage, and staying balanced and disciplined.  He will need to be coached and developed to succeed at the next level, but you just can't teach the rare mix of size and athleticism he possesses.

 

15. Patriots: Micah Parsons - LB, Penn St.

If Micah Parson were to actually fall this far on draft night, Bill Belichick and the Patriots would be thrilled to scoop him up.  An easy top-ten talent, Parsons does have character concerns that could lead to a draft night slide.  Parsons opted out in 2020, but was the most impressive linebacker in the country in 2019.  He absolutely dominated the game the last time he was on a college field, creating nightmares for the Memphis offense in the 2019 Cotton Bowl.  The Patriots value versatility and Parsons is probably the most dynamic defensive player in this class.  Some believe he could transition to a full-time EDGE player, but he makes sense as an off-ball LB who can play on the line of scrimmage situationally.

Parsons' burst is special, and he is a true sideline-to-sideline force, with uncommon speed at 6-3, 245.  His film shows an ability to stay square and slip blocks, run and hit, force turnovers, and make plays in the backfield.  Parsons is a better prospect than Isaiah Simmons was last year, and has a chance to go in the top-1o come draft day.  In this projection, he slips a bit due to positional value and the Patriots happily get a steal.

 

16. Cardinals: Levi Onwuzurike - DT, Washington

The Cardinals could consider an offensive lineman with this pick depending on what they do in free agency, but if they choose to go elsewhere, addressing their weak run defense is an option.  Levi Onwuzurike of Washington projects as a stout 5-technique in the Cardinals' odd front.  Onwuzurike's film is impressive, as he routinely sheds blockers in both the pass and the run game.  He can shock and shed, has strong hands, and is quick enough to knife into the backfield.  Utah's interior line had no chance to block him.

He's active in pursuit, actually caught up to the speedy Tyler Huntley, and made tackles against perimeter screens, highlighting his effort.  Onwuzurike is a real pocket pusher whose bull rush translates to the NFL in terms of strength.  The Cardinals would be getting a solid starter here who can play various alignments along the line of scrimmage depending on situation, which is what he did at Washington.

 

17. Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - LB, Notre Dame

The Raiders have been disappointing under head coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock.  Despite working with a lot of draft picks, they have yet to make the playoffs under this regime.  The roster doesn't have many positional holes on paper, but too many high picks have underperformed the past two seasons.  The Raiders need help on defense and Jeremiah Owusus-Koramoah makes sense as a Best Player Available selection at No. 17.  Corey Littleton did not play well in his first year as a Raider, and Raekwon McMillion is a free agent.

JOK has the potential to be a Darius Leonard-like impact second-level defender.  He's an athletic marvel who plays a different speed than everyone else on the field.  He closes space like lightning and has highlights of huge hits, forced fumbles, and an intercepted pitch against Clemson (see below).  He's theoretically good in coverage, although there are limited reps of him displaying that ability on film.  The best thing about studying JOK is that he has film against the top two RBs in this class - Travis Etienne of Clemson and Najee Harris of Alabama.  He showed the ability to finish tackles and defeat blocks versus both of them.

 

18. Dolphins: Azeez Ojulari - EDGE, Georgia

With their second first-round pick, the Dolphins could look to address a need at edge rusher.  Azeez Ojulari will probably be a hot name as the draft gets closer, as a redshirt Sophomore from Georgia who declared after an impressive three-sack performance in a Bowl win against Cincinnati.  Ojulari is long and physical, with a solid mix of play speed and play strength on the edge.  He plays with spirit and energy, has a good first step, and is stout at the point of attack against the run.

As a pass rusher, he has an effective inside move and pull-down handwork, but lacks elite bend.  At times he can be a block magnet and didn't have his best film against Alex Leatherwood and Alabama, but the tools and effort are there for him to become a quality NFL starter.

 

19. Washington: Kadarius Toney - WR, Florida

The Washington Football Team will likely look to position themselves for a QB, but picking 19th overall will make it difficult to land one of the draft's top five signal-callers.  They'll surely explore the trade and free agent markets but could end up rolling with a Day 2 pick and Taylor Heinicke next season.  Whoever is under center will need another WR to complement Terry McLaurin.

Kadarius Toney is a polarizing prospect due to his late breakout age, but his film shows a dynamic playmaker with Tyreek Hill-like quickness and twitch.  His straight-line speed may not be world-class like Hill, but their styles are similar.  Toney is a human highlight reel, showing a devastating dead leg and nasty return route on film.  He didn't run a full route tree at Florida, but there were instances of him getting literal yards of separation in quick game.  Toney plays with energy and an edge, showing grit and effort as a blocker even with his slight frame.  He dug out a defensive end after short motion, an uncommon play from a 6-0, 194 quickness-based receiver.  It's worth noting though that while his hands looked fine on film, he did struggle with drops at Senior Bowl practices.

 

20. Bears: Christian Darrisaw - OL, Virginia Tech

The Bears have a need at right tackle, and Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw is a solid-as-a-rock offensive line prospect.  Darrisaw has a great chance to go higher than this on draft day, but part of his ultimate draft fate will depend on whether or not teams view him as a left tackle.  The 6-5, 313-pound Darrisaw was the starting left tackle for Virginia Tech, but doesn't have the typical build of an NFL blindside protector.  While his thighs look heavy and he may struggle with quickness, he was rarely exposed as a pass blocker for the Hokies.

Regardless of where he plays along the line, Darrisaw's run-blocking prowess will translate.  There are reps of him pulling and destroying opposing defensive ends on counter and blocking defenders literally 20 yards downfield.  The NC State defensive ends had no chance against him.  The best two words to describe Darrisaw are powerful and deliberate.  He'll have a fantastic career for someone, the only question is whether or not it will be at left tackle.

 

21. Colts: Kwity Paye - EDGE, Michigan

The Colts were able to keep this pick even after trading for their new starting QB in Carson Wentz. While selecting a WR is a possibility, they could choose to build on a strength and add to a well-coached and aggressive defense. Michigan's Kwity Paye has a claim to be the top EDGE off the board and would fill a need in Indianapolis.  Paye's quickness is borderline folklore at this point, and he plays with the same twitch his legendary three-cone would indicate. Paye wasn't super productive in the sack department, tallying just 11.5 in 28 career games in college.

He plays with a high motor, is tremendous in pursuit, and had no issue showcasing his quicks on stunts and inside against guards.  At 6-4, 272, Paye has all the tools to develop into a quality pro pass rusher.  However, his film is questionable in the sense that most of his sacks do not appear to translate, taking advantage of interior offensive linemen and subpar tackles to get after the QB.  While hustle sacks obviously showcase his effort as an important trait, his football-specific pass-rushing skills are not typical of a high pick.

 

22. Titans: Trevon Moehrig - S, TCU

The Titans don't have an immediate need at safety, but Kenny Vaccaro is 30 and could be upgraded.  The bottom line is that the Titans need to draft good defensive players, and Trevon Moehrig of TCU certainly fits that description.  Moehrig is an instinctive, playmaking prospect who has a great chance to be the first safety off the board on draft night.  He has ideal size at 6-2, 203, and plays fast enough to be a versatile starter at the next level.

A solid open-field tackler, Moehrig probably isn't a man-to-man guy in the NFL, but shows terrific instincts and ball skills on film.  He is also frequently communicating pre-snap, and his leadership and smarts show up in his play.

 

23. Jets (f/ SEA): Travis Etienne: RB, Clemson

Drafting a running back in the first round is a controversial decision, but it happens almost every year.  If there's a team that desperately needs an offensive playmaker like Travis Etienne, it's the Jets.  Surrounding their new QB with weapons will be a priority for GM Joe Douglas, and Etienne would give them a talented runner as well as a dynamic pass-catcher out of the backfield.  Etienne scored 70 (yes, 7-0), touchdowns during his four seasons at Clemson, flashing elite play speed and elusiveness in the process.  He's a terrific pass-catcher and has excellent contact balance, especially using a spin move and falling forward.

Etienne is not a bruiser, and it's fair to question his lack of physicality as it relates to getting tough yards at the next level.  After returning for his Senior season, Etienne put on a show against Miami and generally looked like he didn't belong on a college field anymore.  His ceiling is an Alvin Kamara-type dual threat.  The lack of hype surrounding his name is likely due to prospect fatigue.

 

24. Steelers: Alijah Vera-Tucker - OL, USC

The Steelers are awaiting Ben Roethlisberger news, with retirement as a distinct possibility.  After failing to address the QB position in last year's draft, there's a good chance this pick will be used to acquire their next signal-caller.  Regardless of what happens at QB, the Steelers need help along the offensive line.  Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC is one of the top OL prospects in this class and has the film of an easy first-round pick.

Vera-Tucker dominated UCLA DEs and Notre Dame DTs on film, displaying outstanding play strength, especially as a run blocker.  He is a natural knee-bender at 6'4, 315, and uses his hands well, re-setting well in pass pro.  It looks like he's going to cross his feet at times, but he subtly always seems to get to the right spot.  At the end of the day, OL play is about staying in front of people, and he does that well.  The main question with AVT is if he has enough quickness to be a left tackle.  The Steelers simply need quality OL regardless of position right now.

 

25. Jaguars (f/LAR): Rondale Moore - WR, Purdue

After taking their franchise QB at No. 1, the Jaguars will surely consider improving their terrible defense at No. 25.  However, they have seven picks in the first four rounds and can afford to go Best Player Available with their second first-rounder.  Rondale Moore is a fascinating prospect who would slot in as Urban Meyer's Curtis Samuel in Jacksonville.  Meyer knows Moore all too well after the freshman phenom ran wild against Ohio State in 2018.  Moore had one of the best freshman seasons of all time that year but has played just seven games since, mainly due to injury issues.

Durability and size are huge question marks, but his 5-9, 180-frame is built well.  Moore is a human joystick with game-breaking speed and a deadly deadleg.  He did most of his damage on outs, shallow crosses, screens, flat routes, and jet sweeps.  His twitchiness and acceleration will surely allow him to develop as a route-runner, but dropping passes is his main weakness on film.  Moore has undeniable talent and sky-high potential, but there are legitimate risks given his lack of experience and drop issues.

 

26. Browns: Zaven Collins - LB, Tulsa

The Browns have built a solid roster with few holes on paper but could use an off-ball linebacker.  Zaven Collins of Tulsa could slot in at Mike backer right away in Cleveland.  At 6-4, 260, Collins has borderline EDGE size and can rush the passer well as a blitzer.  His best trait is his closing burst, as he is exceptional at closing space when he reads the ball-carrier.  Some of his production is inflated due to making tackles downfield and some mild pile-jumping, but his mix of size/speed/production is unquestionably worth a high draft pick.  His lurking pick-6 in Overtime against Tulane was one of the plays of the year.

 

27. Ravens: Rashod Bateman - WR, Minnesota

The Ravens need help at receiver and Minnesota's Rashod Bateman makes sense as a high-floor prospect capable of making an immediate impact.  An advanced route-runner, Bateman flashes excellent hands and the ability to smoothly transition to a runner.  He does not project to be a great run-after-catch player or a big-time deep threat, but he does everything well.  A master of the deep dig and post-out routes, Bateman has enough twitch and speed to consistently get open at the next level.  He can be a dependable Chris Godwin-like weapon for Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.

 

28. Saints: Jaycee Horn - CB, South Carolina

The Saints have drafted very well over the years, in large part due to sticking to a Best Player Available philosophy.  In this projection, Jaycee Horn of South Carolina would represent great value at pick 28.  Horn has the innate coverage ability of a Pro Bowl corner, showcasing his ability to run routes for opposing WRs on film.  He dominated Auburn's Seth Williams, proving that he can perform against size.  He also showed an ability to cover the whip route, one of the most difficult routes to match in man, twice on film.  Fluid and long with great eyes, Horn has the potential to excel in a man or zone scheme.

 

29. Packers: Elijah Moore - WR, Mississippi

After yet another tough loss in the NFC Championship Game, the Packers find themselves just a few key players away from a Super Bowl.  Green Bay inexplicably passed on WRs in last year's draft, but they will almost surely address the position early in the 2021 draft.  Elijah Moore is not thought of as a first-round talent in most draft circles, but after he runs well at his pro day, expect the former Ole Miss Rebel to rise up draft boards.

Moore is a legitimate deep threat with ideal twitchiness to run the entire route tree.  The main questions with Moore revolve around his small stature at just 5-9, 185.  However, size appears to be his only weakness, as his hands, ball-tracking, route-running, and run-after-catch ability are all outstanding.  Moore might struggle with physicality, but he can play both slot and outside and take the top off the defense.

 

30. Bills: Wyatt Davis - OG, Ohio State

The Bills have built a great roster and have few holes to fill.  However, they could use a guard and Wyatt Davis of Ohio State is arguably the best interior offensive lineman in this class.  Davis wins most of his one-on-one matchups thanks to plus strength and solid hand placement.  He's strong and quick for a guard and shows excellent technique in the Buckeyes' zone-blocking run scheme.

Davis understands angles, runs his feet well, and gets to the second level to actually block linebackers better than any guard I've seen in a long time.  Simply put, he blocks people and stays in front of them in pass pro.

 

31. Chiefs: Joe Tryon - EDGE, Washington

The Chiefs have two major needs.  First, they need Patrick Mahomes to get healthy.  Second, they need their offensive line to get healthy.  While drafting an OL is a real possibility, I do not expect them to force taking a position just because injury timing cost them.  It is important, however, for them to find OL depth at some point in this draft.  The defense could also use some help, specifically at EDGE, which is where Washington's Joe Tryon fits in perfectly.

Tryon is an underrated prospect who may be lacking media buzz due to opting out of the 2020 season.  His 2019 film was spectacular, as the 6-5, 262-pound pass rusher flashed rare traits for the Huskies.  Tryon is super explosive with long arms and dismissive hands.  He had dominating reps against the Boise State right tackle, walking him back into the QB's lap.  His good first step, agility, and athleticism give him the potential to develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber pass rusher at the next level.

 

32. Buccaneers: Jaelan Phillips - EDGE, Miami Fl.

Congratulations to the Buccaneers and their fans on winning the Super Bowl.  Last offseason, Tom Brady made the wise move to leave New England for Tampa Bay and enjoyed an epic title run with elite offensive weaponry and a solid offensive line.  The Bucs' defense also played well but could use some youth in the front seven.  Jaelan Phillips of Miami could slot in as a starting EDGE player in Todd Bowles' scheme.

Phillips transferred from UCLA to Miami and tallied eight sacks in his only year as a Hurricane.  He has an unteachable size/power/athleticism mix with natural pop in his hands.  Although his pass-rushing repertoire is not yet refined, Phillips has real upside.  The Virginia Tech right tackle had no chance against him.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more draft content in the coming days.



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