2021 NFL mock draft: Crazy trades spark historic run on QBs, more big surprises(2)

11. New York Giants: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

2021 NFL mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft
Dec 1, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young (2) rushes the line (2) in the first half against Northwestern Wildcats lineman Rashawn Slater (70) in the Big Ten conference championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency took care of at least a couple prominent needs the Giants had. They signed receiver Kenny Golladay and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, so both those positions aren’t as much of a priority anymore. Instead, New York should ensure Saquon Barkley has room to run coming off his torn ACL by drafting someone like Slater. The G-Men had horrible guard play in 2020, and Slater can be an instant upgrade there, not to mention a possible fill-in at left tackle if Andrew Thomas proves to be a bust. — Matt Fitzgerald

12. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

2021 NFL mock draft: Philadelphia Eagless: 2021 NFL Draft
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles’ commitment to Jalen Hurts starting always made a trade down from the No. 6 pick a likely outcome. When Miami came calling, offering a 2022 first-round selection, Philadelphia jumped on the opportunity. It’s a risk, given elite talent will come off the board quickly, but the rewards are obvious. Landing Jaylen Waddle, the closest thing a team can have to Tyreek Hill, will do wonders for this offense. – Matt Johnson

13. Los Angeles Chargers: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

2021 NFL mock draft: Los Angeles Chargers
Nov 16, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Caleb Farley (3) returns an interception for a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A procedure on Farley’s back is threatening to drop his draft stock. Otherwise, he’d be the No. 1 cornerback in this class. There’s still a chance Farley does enough in the pre-draft process to alleviate teams’ concerns about his medical red flag. The Chargers have a new head coach in Brandon Staley who just led the Los Angeles Rams to have the NFL’s best defense. He knows the value of strong cornerback play, and Farley is just too tantalizing to pass up here given how high his ceiling is. — Matt Fitzgerald

14. Minnesota Vikings: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

2021 NFL mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft
Jan 1, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia coach Kirby Smart, defensive player of the game Azeez Ojulari (13) and offensive player of the game place kicker Jack Podlesny (96) celebrate after winning the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game between Georgia and Cincinnati at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta., on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Mandatory Credit: Joshua L. Jones-USA TODAY NETWORK

Losing the NFL Scouting Combine hurt a lot of draft prospects, but Ojulari sent his draft stock skyrocketing after his Pro Day. 28 reps on the bench press and a 4.6 40-yard dash from a 6-foot-2 edge rusher. Mike Zimmer knows his defense must do a better job pressuring the quarterback next season and Ojulari is the guy who can get around the tackle to create havoc. He’d be a fantastic addition for Minnesota’s front seven. – Matt Johnson

15. New England Patriots: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

2021 NFL mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft
Nov 30, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13) catches a touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Whether the Patriots stick with Cam Newton at QB or wind up making a move to bring Garoppolo back to lead the team, there’s still a need for weapons in the receiving corps. That’s right, the free-agent signings of Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne aren’t enough to truly inspire confidence. Rashod Bateman has great size and better speed than you’d think. If New England passes on him, it could be similar to Justin Jefferson’s fall in the 2020 draft, where many teams look back and regret not picking him. — Matt Fitzgerald

16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

2021 NFL mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft
Sep 14, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) and South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jaycee Horn (1) exchange words at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Horn already came into the offseason as a projected top-20 pick, recognized as the most physical cornerback in the draft. At South Carolina’s Pro Day, he blew the doors off the facility with a 4.39 40-yard dash. Yes, there are questions about him being too aggressive and grabbing wide receivers, which will result in plenty of penalties as a rookie. But the Cardinals need help in the secondary and Horn could develop into an outstanding cover option on the outside. – Matt Johnson

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Alijah Vera-Tucker, iOL, USC

2021 NFL mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft: Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 18, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker (75) during the Pac-12 Championship against the Oregon Ducks at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Oregon defeated USC 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For some reason, the Raiders thought it’d be a good idea to get rid of most of their offensive line this offseason. Enter Vera-Tucker, who starred at left tackle for USC but could be better suited at guard in the NFL. Either way, he’s the type of versatile piece Las Vegas needs up front to protect Derek Carr and upgrade its run blocking for Josh Jacobs. Vera-Tucker has great technique and loves to get nasty in the running game, which suits the Silver and Black brand. The rest of the draft can be used on defense. — Matt Fitzgerald

18. Miami Dolphins: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

2021 NFL mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft
Nov 2, 2019; College Park, MD, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kwity Paye (19) and linebacker Jordan Glasgow (29) prior to the snap during the 2g against Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Miami is making changes to its defense again, changing up the front seven. There’s still a need at edge rusher, someone who can provide size and athleticism on the line. He’s already a quality pass rusher, capable of generating six-plus sacks as a rookie, and he could be kept on the field during early downs. Paye would be a fantastic addition for a defense that is already quite good. – Matt Johnson

19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

2021 NFL mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft
Dec 28, 2019; Orlando, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6) celebrates his sack on Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) (not pictured) during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ooh, the temptation is there to take Mac Jones, or another offensive weapon to help Ryan Fitzpatrick lead Washington to another NFC East title in 2021. Instead, the long view is the way to go here. Owusu-Koramoah has the size of a big safety with a linebacker’s physicality and the quick-twitch athleticism of a cornerback. Let him run loose while the Football Team’s phenomenal defensive front does its thing, and it’d be absolute havoc for opposing offenses. — Matt Fitzgerald

20. Chicago Bears: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

2021 NFL mock draft: 2021 NFL Draft
Jan 27, 2021; American quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama (10) throws during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago might claim Andy Dalton is its starting quarterback right now, but things change quickly. Assuming a Russell Wilson trade is off the table, this is the next best outcome. Jones isn’t a flashy quarterback with tons of upside, but he can step in as a starter immediately. Thanks to a strong arm, an understanding for how to read defenses and his poise in the pocket, Jones should do well very quickly. If the Bears draft him, there might even be a chance Matt Nagy’s job is saved. – Matt Johnson

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