Photo courtesy of Alabama athletics
Don’t look now, but the NFL Draft is coming and it’s coming fast.
Less than a week currently separates teams from meeting their newest members. In what will be a 3-part series, we’ll be putting together a mock draft for the first round.
On Thursday, we projected the first 11 picks of the draft. We now move on to pick Nos. 12-22.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Eagles have a tough choice between two elite Alabama wide receivers. Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles made the wrong choice in this predicament by choosing Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson. Speed likely played a major role in that choice (Reagor ran a blazing fast 4.22 at his Pro Day). If speed is playing a role again, the Eagles will certainly take Waddle, whose need for speed makes him an electric weapon.
13. Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater, LT, Northwestern
The Chargers would love if the board fell this way and would rush to the podium to draft Rashawn Slater. Slater would provide quarterback Justin Herbert with blindside protection for the next decade at least. The Chargers spent big on their offensive line in free agency, but Slater would fill a hole and inject much-needed youth into the line. This pick is a no-brainer for the Chargers if Slater is available.
14. Minnesota Vikings – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Anthony Barr has not lived up to his contract. After restructuring his deal, the Vikings will have his replacement drop in their laps. Owusu-Koramoah is dynamic, athletic, and intelligent, which is a perfect combination for a modern NFL linebacker. He is versatile enough to be on the field at all times (as a nickel or a safety), but he will eventually replace Barr and be a full-time linebacker for Minnesota. The Vikings have needs on the offensive line and a need for another edge rusher, but they go with a dynamic defensive prospect instead and address those needs in later rounds.
15. New England Patriots – Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Cam Newton would be one happy camper. Instead of drafting his future replacement as many believed the Patriots would, New England instead drafts Devonta Smith, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. The Patriots prioritized adding weapons throughout the offseason and add another one here. Smith would immediately be the best receiver on the team and would rack up double-digit targets per game from Newton.
16. Arizona Cardinals – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Farley’s back issues have caused his stock to drop some; however, the Cardinals need a replacement for Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals would not just look at Farley to make an immediate impact, but would hope that he would be a lockdown cornerback for the next decade, in the mold of Peterson. Farley has the highest likelihood to have that type of career out of any of the remaining cornerbacks. Farley is long and athletic and would provide a good match for most receivers in the league. Most analysts project that Farley will fall further than the 16th overall pick, but his potential at a needed position will be too much for the Cardinals to pass up on.
17. Las Vegas Raiders – Teven Jenkins, RT, Oklahoma State
After trading Trent Brown to the New England Patriots, the Las Vegas Raiders have a gaping hole at right tackle. Teven Jenkins can step in and fill that hole on day one. Jenkins is massive (6-foot-6, 330 pounds). Unlike many top tackle prospects, he played mostly right tackle in college and will do the same for the Raiders. Jenkins plays with an edge and gives his complete effort on every play. He is the perfect fit for Las Vegas.
18. Miami Dolphins – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Zaven Collins shows up everywhere on film and will add to an already up-and-coming defense. He has bulked up some after the season and can either rush the passer or drop back in coverage. Collins could easily lead all rookies in tackles in 2021, as he flies everywhere on the field. He has a little bit of Darius Leonard in him. The Dolphins, keen on acquiring talent, snatch up the Tulsa linebacker.
19. Carolina Panthers (from Washington Football Team) – Christian Darrisaw, LT, Virginia Tech
MOCK TRADE: The Carolina Panthers send one 2021 pick (Round 1, pick 8) for the 19th overall pick in 2021 and Washington’s first round pick in 2022.
The Carolina Panthers trade back 11 picks, gain Washington’s first-round pick next season, and still nab the left tackle of the future. Christian Darrisaw would be an upgrade over the disappointing Greg Little and will allow Dennis Daley to focus on moving to the interior of the offensive line. Star running back Christian McCaffrey will thrive with Darrisaw creating lanes. Darrisaw is exceptional in his ability to block at the second level of the defense. With Darrisaw and Taylor Moton as his two tackles, newly-acquired quarterback Sam Darnold will have more time in the pocket than Teddy Bridgewater had, and way more time than Cam Newton dreamed of having in Carolina. Landing an extra pick and a franchise left tackle would be a dream-come-true draft scenario for the Panthers.
20. Chicago Bears – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
The Bears surprise everybody and reach (by most evaluations) for their quarterback of the future in Kyle Trask. While maybe not the quarterback prospect that many Twitter scouts rave over, nobody can deny Kyle Trask’s production at Florida in 2020. Trask’s work ethic is going to enthrall the Chicago Bears and give them the confidence to pick him in the first round. There will be memes about the Bears’ inability to scout and draft quarterbacks, but while some people are making memes, Trask will be making millions of Bears fans fall in love with the best quarterback that they’ve had since Sid Luckman.
21. Indianapolis Colts – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Colts draft the first edge rusher in 2021, and they choose Jaelan Phillips from Miami. A UCLA transfer, Phillips’ draft stock boomed in 2020, while his former teammate, Gregory Rousseau, watched his stock tank after he opted out. Phillips has the physical make-up of an NFL defensive end, but he also has developed pass-rushing tools that will help him succeed right away for the Colts. Phillips’ Pro Day was very impressive, as he showed off his athleticism to scouts. Don’t be surprised at all if he is the first edge rusher taken this year.
22. Tennessee Titans – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
After losing Corey Davis to the New York Jets in free agency, the Titans need to find A.J. Brown a running mate. Bateman fits the bill. He has the size to play on the outside and the speed to take the top off of the defense. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be thrilled to add a weapon of Bateman’s caliber to the Titans’ offense. Bateman opted out in 2020, but it was evident from his Pro Day that he spent the time getting ready for the NFL. Bateman is a perfect fit in Tennessee and will distract opposing defenses from Brown.