We are a little over two months away from the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s hard to believe it’s almost been as much time since the end of the college football season, but here we are.
On Monday, I released the first part (picks 1-16) of my second mock draft of the offseason. Now, it’s time to get into the back half of the first round, which forced me to make more difficult choices.
My mock process includes two things: 1) my personal evaluation and 2) what I believe NFL teams are going to do. That might seem obvious, but some take the approach of slotting in whomever they believe a respective team should take. I do that to some degree, but I also want to get into the minds of decision-makers.
Surprisingly enough, this mock is dominated by offensive players.
Of the 32 first-round selections, 21 of them come on that side of the football, including the first eight players. With where the game is trending, it shouldn’t be shocking to see 17 of the Day 1 selections be quarterbacks, wide receivers and offensive tackles.
Let’s see what you think, though. Enjoy!
*Note: There are no projected trades in this mock.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Previous Pick: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Micah Parsons has a top-shelf linebacker profile. He’s big (6-foot-2, 245 pounds), he’s athletic, and he’s versatile. He can be a quality run defender, an off-ball blitzer, an edge rusher, and he has the athletic profile of a coverage guy — although, there are some question marks there. The Raiders will have a blast figuring out different ways to deploy him.
18. Miami Dolphins – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Previous Pick: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Adding just one playmaker to the offense isn’t enough. Tua Tagovailoa had very little talent around him this season, and that can’t happen again. Najee Harris will boost a complementary run game to take pressure off the quarterback, as well as provide another option in the passing game.
19. Washington Football Team – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Previous Pick: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Washington can go in a number of different directions here. If a quarterback they like is available (doubtful), then that could be an option. If not, either an offensive lineman or receiver would do. Rashod Bateman will team up with Terry McLaurin to give whoever starts a nice 1-2 punch.
20. Chicago Bears – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Previous Pick: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
The future of Allen Robinson in Chicago is in doubt. Whether he sticks around or not, this offense is still going to need more firepower. Kadarius Toney is a terrifying slot option who can impact the game in a variety of a ways. Quarterback will still need to be addressed, but the Bears find themselves in a similar position as Washington.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Previous Pick: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Indianapolis was able to address the hole at quarterback without using a first-round pick. That’s a good sign, but Carson Wentz could still benefit from a complete offensive line blocking for him. Samuel Cosmi is the perfect replacement for Anthony Castonzo and should be a plug-and-play starter out of the gate.
22. Tennessee Titans – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Previous Pick: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
The Titans had an atrocious defense this season. Two areas of that defense desperately need to be addressed: outside linebacker and cornerback. After choosing to give them Joseph Ossai in the first mock, I’m pivoting to Jaycee Horn after he falls to No. 22. He’s a big, physical perimeter corner with the correct demeanor for a Mike Vrabel defense.
23. New York Jets – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Previous Pick: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Toney is gone this time around, but new quarterback Zach Wilson still gets a new toy in New York. They’re not even remotely the same players, but adding Wilson and Travis Etienne can have a Joe Flacco-Ray Rice type of impact on the Jets’ offense, improving the run and passing games simultaneously.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Previous Pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Ben Roethlisberger’s time in Pittsburgh runs short, but QB is not the only hole to fill. The offensive line could have multiple starters gone, so another injection of youth is needed. Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler are both free agents, which gives Jalen Mayfield an opportunity to come in and start right away.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Previous Pick: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
This is a “best player available” type of pick for Jacksonville. Linebacker doesn’t sit atop the team’s needs, but Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a special talent. He’ll need to be deployed as a chase defender, but his natural ability — and impact — in coverage make this choice an excellent value. Another weapon for Trevor Lawrence will have to wait.
26. Cleveland Browns – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Previous Pick: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
After diving more into his tape, I’m really coming around on Jaelan Phillips. If not for his injury history, he could go much sooner than No. 26 overall. The Browns are searching for a long-term pass rusher opposite Myles Garrett, and they might find one in Phillips. Scary thought for opposing offenses.
27. Baltimore Ravens – Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Previous Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
Alijah Vera-Tucker was never the perfect fit in Baltimore, but he can play in any offense and his value was too good to pass up. Well, that value is no longer there with the USC lineman going No. 16 to the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, Baltimore drafts a replacement for Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle.
28. New Orleans Saints – Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
Previous Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Joseph Ossai isn’t very big (6-3, 245), but New Orleans doesn’t mind taking the smaller edge players. Without the cap space needed to retain Trey Hendrickson, the team needs to start worrying about a cheaper alternative. A stout, reliable defense will be needed to keep this team competitive.
29. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF
Previous Pick: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
Aaron Robinson almost snuck his way into the first round of my last mock draft, but barely missed the cut. As much as it might upset Packers fans, I’m not going to let that happen again. Yes, it’s another premium pick that doesn’t give Aaron Rodgers more help, but does he honestly need it? He balled out this year while the defense was inconsistent.
30. Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Previous Pick: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Buffalo doesn’t have a lot of needs, but adding more talent along the defensive front wouldn’t hurt. Now, that could come with J.J. Watt, but until that happens, I’m going to slot Gregory Rousseau here. The Miami product has the size and length to be used in multiple ways. He can line up as an edge guy and occasionally kick inside for some added juice there.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Previous Pick: Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State
There’s no way I was going to let Zaven Collins fall out of the first round. There are times I’d like to see him play more physically, but he isn’t soft by any means. At an eye-popping 6-4, 260 pounds, he can defend the run, drop into coverage and get after the quarterback. I’d love to see Kansas City secure more protection for Patrick Mahomes, but the value here was too good to pass up.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Previous Pick: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Shaq Barrett is looking to get paid. After accumulating 31.5 sacks in two seasons with Tampa Bay, I can’t blame him. That does mean the Bucs will need to add a more affordable option opposite Jason Pierre-Paul. I worry about Azeez Ojulari’s lack of length, but every time I watch him, I tend to forget about it. The motor, the football IQ, the play strength, the balance to play the run … all of it.
Best available: OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama; LB Nick Bolton, Missouri; IOL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State; WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU; WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan; IDL Christian Barmore, Alabama; S Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU; IOL Landon Dickerson, Alabama; CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State; IDL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.