21. Indianapolis Colts
Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
The Colts lost Denico Autry to the division-rival Titans, and Justin Houston remains unsigned. That means DeForest Buckner is the only player with at least five sacks in 2020 set to return for 2021. Indy’s defensive strength is a big part of its identity, and Paye has explosive speed off the edge. The production hasn’t caught up to the ability just yet, but his ceiling is very high. Alternatively, the Colts could target a defensive back or maybe reach a little bit for a receiver.
22. Tennessee Titans
Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Tennessee could use reinforcements along the offensive line, but to me, this pick is all about either a pass-catcher or a cornerback. The Titans lost Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Adoree’ Jackson and Desmond King II from those positions in free agency. So let’s look at the board. LSU’s big receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. would be an option, but the better value falls with Newsome. He’s a shutdown corner who would fit nicely with Janoris Jenkins and Kristian Fulton in the Tennessee CB corps. But I’d like to see a few more interceptions.
23. New York Jets (via SEA)
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
With Wilson being the pick at No. 2, New York now has to help him out. I liked the Jets bringing in Corey Davis and Keelan Cole Sr., but this is another potential spot for Terrace Marshall Jr. or perhaps Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore. And don’t rule out an offensive tackle like Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State). I’m going with Etienne, though. He has breakaway speed and can catch passes out of the backfield. The Jets need a true game-changer at running back, and he’s exactly that, scoring 78 touchdowns from scrimmage over his time at Clemson.
2021 NFL draft coverage
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Teven Jenkins is tempting here. He’s a mauler on the offensive line, and the Steelers must rebuild that unit from the ground up. Ultimately, I went in a different direction because the lineman class is deep — I have more than a dozen in this mock — and running back is just as much of a concern. Harris is a powerful back who is nearly impossible to stop between the tackles. The Steelers’ 3.6 yards per carry ranked dead last in the NFL last season, and it doesn’t appear that James Conner is returning, currently leaving the rushing to an unproven group of Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr., Kalen Ballage and Jaylen Samuels. Let’s get an impact running back.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR)
Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
We’ve mentioned Jenkins a few times already, but the Jaguars seem like a perfect match. They are investing in Trevor Lawrence as their franchise QB, and you have to protect franchise QBs. Cam Robinson is back on the franchise tag, and Jawaan Taylor is occupying the opposite tackle position, but Jenkins could slide inside to guard as a rookie before eventually taking over an outside role. He can hold his ground against power rushers without issue.
26. Cleveland Browns
Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
Takkarist McKinley isn’t the Browns’ badly coveted impact pass-rusher opposite Myles Garrett — he has totaled just 4.5 sacks in 18 games over the past two years. Rousseau opted out in 2020 but posted 15.5 sacks in 2019 with the Hurricanes — second in the nation to Chase Young. He needs some polish to his game, but he has a quick first step and the versatility to kick inside at times. He fits a need and comes with good value here at No. 26.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
The Ravens were the only team in the NFL with fewer than 2,000 passing yards when targeting wide receivers last season — they were well short of even the second-worst team at 1,729 yards — and their current solve is adding Sammy Watkins, who hasn’t played 16 games since his 2014 rookie season and hasn’t broken 700 yards since 2015. So while a pass-rusher could be in play with Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue departing Baltimore, this one is a no-brainer for me. Marshall has 6-foot-4 size, is explosive downfield and caught 10 TDs last season for LSU.
The 19 projected offensive first-round picks would tie for the most since the beginning of the common draft era in 1967 (2009, 2004 and 1968), per ESPN Stats & Information.
28. New Orleans Saints
Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
The cap-strapped Saints roster took a hit in March, with multiple impact players heading elsewhere for more money or, in the case of Drew Brees, retiring. Will it be Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill at quarterback — or both? Regardless, New Orleans has to have more weapons in the pass game, especially with Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook not coming back. Moore operates mainly out of the slot, and he has the hands and burst to pick up big chunks of yardage. He was second in the nation to DeVonta Smith in catches and yards last season.
29. Green Bay Packers
Jamin Davis, ILB, Kentucky
Davis could replace Christian Kirksey, who signed with the Texans. He is an off-the-ball linebacker who can impact multiple facets of the defense, and he’s a very good tackler in space. As for the WR-sized elephant in the room, Louisville’s Tutu Atwell and Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman are worth a look, but this class is deep, and Davis’ game could be perfect for the Green Bay defense.
30. Buffalo Bills
Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
The top two running backs are off the board, and it’s a little early for Javonte Williams (North Carolina). So why not inject some life into a middle-of-the-road pass rush instead — especially with Jerry Hughes turning 33 before the season. Phillips had 8.0 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 2020.