The Hullabaloo’s picks for 2021 NFL Draft

Jake Blancher, Associate Sports Editor

The start of the 2021 NFL Draft is just weeks away, with the first round coming on April 29. It marks a night filled with excitement and disappointment, for fans and prospects alike. This is my prediction on what will happen for the first 32 picks on the much anticipated night. 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

No surprises here. The Jaguars take the highest touted quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck came out of Stanford back in 2012. Lawrence is as near a perfect quarterback prospect as possible, with the size, speed, arm strength, accuracy and IQ to make him the starter in Duval County for the next decade plus.

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young

When a new head coach comes in, a new quarterback likely follows — see Arizona and Washington. Gang Green’s newly hired head coach Robert Saleh grabs the breakout 2020 quarterback, putting the Sam Darnold experiment to an end. 

3. San Francisco 49ers (from HOU via MIA): Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota St.

After his tenure in the Bay Area that was riddled with injury and mediocrity, it appears that Tom Brady’s protegee Jimmy Garropolo is on his way out. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan take Trey Lance, a quarterback who perfectly fits their West Coast offensive scheme of speedy running backs, play actions and designed shots downfield.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio St

New Falcons GM and former Saints executive, Terry Fontenot opts to keep the Georgia native in his home state, and selects the draft’s fourth straight quarterback. Matt Ryan is approaching 40 years old, and the Falcons can save a combined nearly $52 million over 2022 and 2023 by cutting him after the 2021 season. The Falcons need to take advantage of their high draft position  in a class that touts so many promising quarterbacks and select an heir to Ryan. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

The Bengals need to protect franchise quarterback Joe Burrow who tore his ACL in week 11 after nearly 3/4 of a season of poor offensive line play. Sewell is an athletic freak who is sure to give the Bengals an anchor on their offensive line for years, as they take their third offensive lineman in the first round of the past four drafts. 

6. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

After signing speedy Will Fuller in free agency who can stretch the field vertically, the Dolphins pair him with an all-around receiver who can be effective anywhere on the gridiron — underneath or over the top, in the slot or on the boundary. With Chase, the Dolphins further strengthen their wide receiver corps that has failed to impress over the past few seasons.

7. *DRAFT NIGHT TRADE* Denver Broncos (via DET): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

DEN receives: Pick 7

DET receives: Pick 9, Pick 71, and 2022 fourth round pick

The Broncos move up for a quarterback to take the signal caller from the reigning national champions. The Broncos land a potential franchise quarterback, ready to start day one over Drew Lock. Jones aims to augment an offense that is already plentiful with weapons including Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Melvin Gordon and Noah Fant while the rebuilding Lions add valuable picks to their arsenal.

8. Carolina Panthers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The Panthers take my favorite player in the draft, Kyle Pitts. Pitts features soft hands, crisp routes and unreal athleticism, recording a 4.46 40-yard dash at 6’6” and 246 pounds. A versatile weapon that can be moved all over formations, Pitts will be a matchup nightmare for NFC South defenses for years to come.

9. *DRAFT NIGHT TRADE* Detroit Lions (via DEN): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

DET receives: Pick 9, Pick 71, and 2022 fourth round pick

DEN receives: Pick 7

The Lions take a dynamic speed demon to add to their depleted receiving corps after losing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in free agency. Waddle creates separation with ease and should ease the transition to Detroit for Jared Goff.

10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Here Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy add Surtain II, the son of Patrick Surtain Sr., a former All-Pro at the same position. The Cowboys’ defense was abysmal last season, and adding a lock down corner opposite his former Tuscaloosa teammate Trevon Diggs, should help.

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

Even after adding offensive tackle Andrew Thomas at the fourth overall pick last year, the Giants’ offensive line struggled to keep Daniel Jones upright all season. Slater should solidify the offensive line and has the flexibility to play guard if need be, which may be necessary after cutting Kevin Zeitler

12. Philadelphia Eagles (from SF via MIA): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Smith, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, will immediately become the Eagles’ best receiver, as they take a wide receiver in the first round for the second straight year. This pick reunites another Alabama duo, this time on the offensive side of the ball with Jalen Hurts. 

13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

The Chargers need to protect quarterback phenom Justin Herbert, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, simple as that. Darrisaw, a 2020 All-ACC first team selection, should provide an anchor in Inglewood.

14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, Southern California

The Vikings have been oscillating between playoff contention and NFC championship losses for the better part of a decade. Vera-Tucker is a versatile offensive lineman that has experience at all five positions, and should be an immediate starter for Mike Zimmer.

15. New England Patriots: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

The Patriots would love to take a quarterback here, but unfortunately the top 5 are all already off the board. Instead, Bill Belichick opts for Kadarius Toney. After Julian Edelman’s retirement, wide receivers, especially one that can operate in the slot, are of dire need for New England. Toney, with his ability to stop and change direction on a dime, is a threat to score everytime he touches the ball is an elite slot weapon and can also serve as the Patriots return man. 

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

After losing Patrick Peterson from an already meager cornerback group, Horn should provide much needed help on the boundary. Horn excels in man coverage and could be a great pairing with Byron Murphy in the slot.

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Parsons has one of the highest ceilings in this draft class with his unreal 4.39 40-yard dash speed at 6’3,” 246 pounds; however, he falls due to off-the-field concerns. Parsons violently explodes through run gaps and also shows ample ability to rush the passer in certain situations. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock take a shot on a high risk, high reward player.

18. Miami Dolphins: Jaelen Phillips, Edge, Miami 

Jaelen Phillips is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft. In 2018, he decided to retire from football because of his repeated injuries. He then returned to football, transferring to the University of Miami where he dominated last season with his unreal combination of athleticism and technique. Brian Flores opts to keep Phillips in the 305, and solidify their pass rush.

19. Washington Football Team: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

Washington is another team that would love to have a top 5 quarterback fall into their lap, but unfortunately none do and they decide to protect whoever ends up as their next signal caller. They opt instead to go with the First Team All Big-12 selection, who blocks defensive lineman like they personally offended his mother. 

20. Chicago Bears: Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas

The Bears, much like Washington, elect to fortify their trenches after missing out on the top quarterbacks. Cosmi was a three-year starter in Austin and a two-time All Big-12 selection.

21. Indianapolis Colts: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

If Carson Wentz is ever going to find success with Indianapolis, he is going to need protection, something that he could have used during his tenure with the Eagles. Eichenberg, now reunited with his collegiate teammate and All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson, can be an instant starter to fill the void left by the recently retired Anthony Castonzo.

22. Tennessee Titans: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Losing Corey Davis to the Jets in free agency was a big setback, leaving nobody to play opposite star AJ Brown. Bateman is a great route runner and high points the ball with ease, positioning him as a more than capable Corey Davis replacement.

23. New York Jets: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Farley was a consensus top 10 pick before news of a back injury broke. He already had a concerning injury history, including an ACL tear in 2017. As a converted wide receiver, Farley has tremendous ball skills and excels in press man coverage, and would be a menace to AFC quarterbacks.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

As a final attempt to get Ben Roethlisberger a third ring, Mike Tomlin elects to take the electric running back out of Bryant-Denny. Harris is a prototype modern day all around running back, combining speed, power and ability to catch out of the backfield.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

After trading Ronnie Harrison to the Browns, the Jaguars likely have the worst safety combo in Rayshawn Jenkins and Jarrod Wilson. Moehrig has the ability to play over the top of the defense as a free safety, or in the box as a strong safety by setting the edge and stopping the run. 

26. Cleveland Browns: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

The Browns went from 0-16 in 2017 to now one of the most talented rosters in the league over a span of just 3 years. One of their few weak position groups is linebacker. Collins has prototypical size for a linebacker, coming in at 6’5,” 259 lbs, and has versatility to play on the edge. He also excels in zone coverage, as evidenced by his walk-off pick six against our Green Wave last November.

27. Baltimore Ravens: Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia

The Ravens lost talented pass rusher Matt Judon to the Patriots in free agency. Ojulari is a slightly undersized, high motor player with an array of pass rush moves that make opposing tackles look silly.

28. New Orleans Saints: Terrace Marshall Jr, WR, LSU

Outside of Michael Thomas, the Saints have poor pass catchers. Terrace Marshall, a supremely talented, versatile receiver, has been overshadowed by Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson during his time in Baton Rouge. Mickey Loomis snags Marshall, keeping him in the Bayou.

29. Green Bay Packers: Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, LB/S, Notre Dame

Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah is a difficult player to categorize. He is slightly undersized to be a “Mike” linebacker whilst simultaneously not quite rangy enough to play as a traditional safety. Nonetheless, Owusu-Koromoah is a chess piece that Matt LaFleur would love to have. He excels in coverage, both against slot receivers and tight ends, but also sets the edge effectively. His lack of a true defined position causes him to fall to the end of the first round in this mock draft. 

30. Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami (FL)

Rousseau’s sack totals from a year ago are misleading. He is a pure athlete: 6’7,” 266 pounds and has a 4.68 40-yard dash. Rousseau is not ready to be an every-down player in the NFL yet, but with the Bills he has the opportunity to sit and learn behind seasoned veterans Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes without being thrust into a starting position too soon.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State

The Chiefs shockingly cut their two starting tackles, Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, about a month after their superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes ran for his life ostensibly every play during the past Super Bowl. Radunz has done a great job protecting Trey Lance over the past few seasons in Fargo and would now have the opportunity to protect another premiere quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

This offseason the reigning Super Bowl champions didn’t re-sign Antonio Brown and franchise-tagged Chris Godwin, meaning Godwin may not be playing for the Buccaneers for much longer. Moore can immediately be an impact slot receiver in Tampa as well as a plus return man.