Last week, we took a look at the potential top 15 picks in the 2021 NFL draft. Now, we’ll project the remainder of the April 29 first round, where it looks like the emphasis could be on defense.
16. Arizona Cardinals
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Arizona lost CB Patrick Peterson in free agency and replaced him with Malcolm Butler but it could still use secondary help. Farley, whose draft stock has slipped due to multiple collegiate injuries, could help fill that need. Farley is big for a corner at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds and has great recovery speed, which could make a solid Cardinals defense better.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
The Raiders were one of the worst defensive teams last year, allowing nearly 30 points per game. But, the Raiders prioritized defense in free agency as they brought back S Karl Joseph and added DE Yannick Ngakoue. They could further address some of their defensive needs later on in the draft and decide to bolster their offensive line here. Vera-Tucker is a good athlete who played tackle during his junior year at USC but could also fill in at guard.
18. Miami Dolphins
Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
With their second pick of the first round, Miami could go with a high upside guy in Phillips. There are certainly concerns, as injuries forced him to temporarily retire from football a few years back. But, if this pick pans out it could pay dividends. Phillips was a second-team All-American and totaled eight sacks in 2020.
19. Washington Football Team
Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Washington was pegged as a team that could potentially move up to draft a QB before it signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal. Now, Washington desperately needs to draft a left tackle. While Jenkins played right tackle in college, he should be able to make the transition. Oklahoma State averaged 187 rushing yards per game in 2020 and Jenkins’ blocking was a big reason why.
20. Chicago Bears
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Chicago brought in Andy Dalton under center for a year and he’ll need some options to have a successful tenure. Bateman would give Dalton and the Bears a much-needed weapon. He initially opted out of the 2020 season but played in five games and totaled 473 yards and a couple of receiving TDs. As a sophomore in 2019, however, he was second in the Big Ten in receiving yards and was a third-team All-American.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
Following Anthony Costanzo’s retirement, the Colts have a big hole to fill at left tackle. With the Carson Wentz experiment beginning, it makes sense to give him a shot to succeed in his new home. The Colts also could use an edge rusher and Paye fits the bill, especially if the offensive linemen on their draft board are taken. Paye is one of the best edge rushers in the draft class and the Colts will like his motor and work ethic.
22. Tennessee Titans
Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
If I’m not mistaken, this could be the first time my alma mater has two first-round picks in the same draft. Newsome and OT Rashawn Slater should almost certainly be drafted in the first round. This says a lot about the direction Northwestern’s football program has taken under Pat Fitzgerald as the Cats have won the Big Ten West twice in three years. Newsome was a standout in 2020 as he allowed just 93 yards and should fit in seamlessly on a Titans team that just brought in Janoris Jenkins.
23. New York Jets
Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
The Jets did a decent job in free agency and certainly bolstered their receiving core. However, we’re still talking about a team that finished 2-14 last season and could use all of the help it can get. New York will certainly select a QB with the No. 2 pick in the draft, and Adam Schefter said it’ll be Zach Wilson. Their second pick of the first round is less certain and they could be targeting a CB, edge rusher, or right tackle. Rousseau is enormous at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds and was the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia
The Steelers could certainly use a left tackle here but they’re in a disadvantageous position at 24 to get one of the best linemen in the draft. Pittsburgh led the league in sacks in 2020 but some key players have departed, like LB Bud Dupree. You can make the case that Ojulari is the best pass rusher in the draft and would retool the Steelers defense.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
One of three teams with two first-round picks in this years’ draft, Jacksonville is almost certainly going to draft Trevor Lawrence with its first pick. Maybe the Jaguars will take a WR to pair with Trevor Lawrence here or draft an offensive lineman, but Moehrig would improve a secondary that allowed the second-highest opponent completion percentage in 2020. Moehrig led all safeties in the NCAA in pass breakups last year and could contribute right away.
26. Cleveland Browns
Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
Coming off of their best season in decades, the Browns have a pretty complete roster. Drafting another pass rusher to put opposite Myles Garrett is a luxury. Oweh had an excellent pro day, running a 4.39 40 yard dash. He only started playing football in his junior year of high school so he’s a raw talent but one that the Browns can afford to take a chance on.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
It would be a conservative pick, but it’s one the Ravens would benefit from. Dickerson tore his ACL in December but he should be ready to play in the fall. The Ravens’ offensive line was an issue in 2020 and as a contender, it makes sense for Baltimore to plug this hole.
28. New Orleans Saints
Asante Samuel, Jr., CB, Florida State
After letting Janoris Jenkins go in the offseason, the Saints need another corner to pair with Marshon Lattimore. What Samuel lacks in size, he compensates in ability. Like his father, a four-time pro-bowler, Samuel, Jr. is a ball-hawk with great instincts. Samuel led the ACC in pass breakups in 2019 and while he is prone to frustrating penalties, he has a high upside.
29. Green Bay Packers
Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
One of the fastest rising prospects in the draft, Davis will probably sneak into the first round on the back of an incredible pro day. He posted a 4.37 40-yard dash along with a ridiculous vertical jump of 42 inches. The former Wildcat weighed just 190 pounds when he arrived at Kentucky and added 45 pounds of muscle. He’d be a solid choice for the Packers here.
30. Buffalo Bills
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
One of the biggest NFL Betting surprises of 2020, the Bills were excellent in 2020. Their running game was anything but. Etienne forced more missed tackles than any other player in college football the last two seasons and ended his career at Clemson with 70 rushing TDs. He’s also a capable receiver.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Leatherwood, T, Alabama
Coming off of a loss in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs are 2022 Super Bowl favorites in the BetUS sportsbook at +450. The Chiefs received further blows in the offseason, as a bloated salary cap situation forced a bunch of departures. Leatherwood, fresh off of a national championship with Alabama, will give the Chiefs versatility on the offensive line. Leatherwood can fill in at guard or tackle and is an outstanding run blocker.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi
The Bucs will run it back with most of the same roster that won the Super Bowl season before last. Antonio Brown, notably, has not re-signed with Tampa. Drafting Moore would help the Buccaneers move on from Brown. While Moore is undersized and best used in the slot, he’s an explosive athlete and the Bucs have the personnel to mask his deficiencies.