by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
March 21st, 2021
I did a mock draft about a month and a half ago that consisted of only offensive players for two rounds. The goal of that mock was to discuss some of the players that weren’t making the grade on many high profile one round mocks and discuss the strategy that every team will be using while approaching the offensive side of the ball. The same goes in this mock, just from the opposite side of the field.
Two rounds, all defense, every team gets a crack at some point. Since I did the offense, it’s only fair if we flip the script, right? Let me know your thoughts and who you think your team should take with their picks!
Disclaimer: A majority of the picks were made before free agency opened up, so there will be some thoughts that aren’t as fresh as they ought to be.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Patrick Surtain II, Cornerback
It’s tough to say who the best defensive player in the 2021 NFL Draft is between Patrick Surtain II, Caleb Farley, Micah Parsons, or whoever your choice edge rusher is, but the Jaguars need everything and I see Patrick Surtain II having the biggest impact this season for the team. Taking away the passing game is the key to winning in the NFL and while no one player can do that, Surtain can take away a top option. If you throw it near him he’s going to get his hands on the ball and if you don’t he’s still winning his battles. He’s an incredible talent and could be a game changer on that defense from day one.
2. New York Jets
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE
If you read my EDGE rankings from this draft (link at the bottom of the page), you’ll know that Miami is going to have three edge rushers taken very high in this draft. Rousseau is the best of them and didn’t even play this season, but he still made a good enough impression in 2019 to be taken atop this position group. The Jets have pretty major needs across the board and it will never, ever hurt to load up on corners, but Rousseau is a great player and will do well to improve the Jets’ pass rush immediately. Quinnen Williams and Rousseau on the same line would be the foundation of a fantastic front four and that’s what New York could aim for.
3. Miami Dolphins (via HOU)
Joe Tryon, EDGE
With the secondary in fantastic shape and the defense already looking like one of the better units in the NFL, the Dolphins should look for a player who can dial up the pressure and force quarterbacks to throw bad balls. That player is Joe Tryon out of Washington. Tryon is a really impressive edge rusher who has incredible speed moves in addition to very good strength and the ability to collapse a pocket immediately. The front line of Miami isn’t in great shape, though there are some good pieces, but Tryon would be an immediate starter and impact player for the franchise.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Trevon Moehrig, Safety
The Falcons will almost certainly address the offense with this pick, but if they were forced to go with a defender they would have to go with a safety. There’s only one safety on the roster at the moment and while they will sign more in the offseason, grabbing the best one to come out of college since Minkah Fitzpatrick would be a nice get. Moehrig would shore up a secondary that’s hemorrhaged talent in recent seasons and could make a difference for a team that’s been largely vacant on defense for a while. That being said, offense is still the answer, but Moehrig wouldn’t be a bad pick in this scenario.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Micah Parsons, Inside Linebacker
Just as the Falcons will address the offense with their first pick, Cincinnati will as well, but if they were forced to take a defender, I would love to see them grab Micah Parsons. The linebacking corps in Cincinnati has withered away in recent seasons and though they spent a couple of picks on the position last season, they could do with more reinforcements in that department. Parsons is easily the best linebacker in this class and can make a case for being the best defensive player, so him dropping this far would be a good value for the Bengals.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
Caleb Farley, Cornerback
The Eagles have been barren on the outside on both sides of the ball for years, it seems like, so I have them grabbing a corner to help dampen those fires. While Darius Slay is a very good player and linebacker might be a bigger need, if they’re not getting Parsons they ought to grab Farley. Many people will argue that Farley is the top corner in the draft and will instantly be a shutdown player. I agree with the latter half of the statement, but I prefer Surtain. If the Eagles do go defense with this pick, I wouldn’t be surprised to see any position go in this spot.
7. Detroit Lions
Jaycee Horn, Cornerback
Horn is a bit of a dropoff from the quality of Farley and Surtain, but he’s still a very good player and the Lions still need help in that position. Jeff Okudah is a nice start, but most teams have two decent pass catching options, i.e. most teams are not the Lions, so a second player is needed. I thought of Zaven Collins for this pick or even an inside linebacker, but the value of Horn is much better for a position that is in just as bad of shape for the Lions.
8. Carolina Panthers
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Inside Linebacker
The Panthers have a lot of needs and not all of them are on defense, but there is a fair amount of work that needs to be done on that side of the ball. I identified inside linebacker and cornerback as the biggest immediate needs for the team and figured that Owusu-Koramoah was the best fit right now. The Panthers have been in dire need of a tackle sponge since Luke Keuchly retired and the Notre Dame product can be just that. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a corner here but the bigger need and bigger effect would be made with Owusu-Koramoah.
9. Denver Broncos
Jevon Holland, Safety
This is a tough call to make for Denver, so I’ll break things down position by position. There isn’t a real need at defensive tackle with Shelby Harris and McTelvin Agim on the books until 2024, and though EDGE could be a position of usefulness, Bradley Chubb and Von Miller are still at outside linebacker to rush the quarterback. Inside linebacker could use help, but with Owusu-Koramoah going with the last pick, the next best available player, whoever it is, might be a reach. Grabbing a corner might be smart and proactive considering the contract of Bryce Callahan is set to expire, but Ronald Darby and Michael Ojemudia are still locked down. If Denver had to go defensive in this situation I would suggest trading down, but since rules are rules, they’re getting Jevon Holland. Safety has very little meat on the bone for the Broncos and though they can always grab some nice options in free agency, getting Holland on a friendly deal is the better bet.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Christian Barmore, Defensive Tackle
If I was building a team Barmore wouldn’t go anywhere near this high on the defensive side of the ball, but considering the situation the Cowboys are in, this is the best pick. I would have no qualms with another person picking Kwity Paye here, but with DeMarcus Lawrence under contract I felt that getting some help in the middle of the line was the better option. There’s a big need to improve the line in Dallas and Barmore would help get some pressure immediately.
11. New York Giants
Zaven Collins, Outside Linebacker
A couple of days ago the way to go for the Giants would be grabbing an edge rusher, but after signing Leonard Williams to a long deal they should turn to the bigger need. Corner has money tied up at the moment and a safety was just grabbed last season in Xavier McKinney, so taking Zaven Collins would make the front half of the defense very stable. He can get pressure on the quarterback, drop into coverage, and just flat out make plays, so getting him into the defense would shore up a lot of areas and make the unit better overall.
12. San Francisco 49ers
Eric Stokes, Cornerback
San Francisco’s 2019 roster had an incredible front four, a unit that dragged the offense to the Super Bowl before running into the Kansas City buzzsaw, and it still holds on to a lot of that “in the trenches” dominance, but they need a bit of help on the back end. Their linebacking is in good shape and while they could go after a safety, there’s much better value at corner at this point and Jimmie Ward is holding down one of the positions with good efficiency. Stokes would probably immediately become the top rated corner on the team and take all the tough assignments, but as the best corner in the SEC, he’s seen a lot of tough ones already and should be able to cope just fine.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Kwity Paye, EDGE
It’s possible and maybe even probable that Kwity Paye goes earlier than this in regular drafts, and that’s fine, but the way things have shaken out, this is where he’s landing, and he almost got edged for a corner anyways. So Paye is much better than this appraisal of him compared to others, but it’s not an indictment considering the scenario. Paye would play opposite of Joey Bosa and instantly form one of the best pass rushing combos in football. While corner should be a priority, there’s some money tied up there for this year and the Chargers can still get value later while better improving the defense with Paye.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Hamsah Nasirildeen, Safety
Had Kwity Paye fallen to the Vikings I might encourage that pick in this situation, but I would like to see Minnesota improve a secondary that lost a key player last season and is set to lose another one, Harrison Smith, after this one. The reason that I’m going safety over EDGE is that Danielle Hunter is under contract until 2024 while, like I said, Smith is up after this season, leaving safety particularly barren. While an extension could be in the works for Smith, grabbing Nasirildeen as both a safety net and starting option is a good play for the Vikings. He’s good enough to make an impact in a young secondary this year and could help get the Viking defense back in the driver’s seat of the NFC North.
15. New England Patriots
Tommy Togiai, Defensive Tackle
New England has done a lot to shore up their defense since free agency opened up so their flaws aren’t as glaring on that side of the ball, but there still are areas of need for the unit. The biggest, in my opinion, is at defensive tackle. While there are good options there right now, both deals are up soon and the prodigy of Togiai is too good to pass up in that case. Getting a wrecker in the middle who can collapse pockets for players like Matt Judon to get sacks is a huge part of today’s game and Togiai is capable of that. Plus, he fits the mold and culture for “The Patriot Way.”
16. Arizona Cardinals
Elijah Molden, Cornerback
Arizona seems intent on winning the Super Bowl in the next two seasons and their moves to acquire pliers like DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt, and others have indicated that. Unfortunately, that has left the coffers a bit dry and cornerback has suffered because of it. Byron Murphy is the only corner with real potential on the roster so grabbing Molden, a flexible, talented, and aggressive player, will really help nail down the secondary. With Isaiah Simmons roaming and covering running backs and tight ends, Murphy on the tougher assignments, and Budda Baker as one of the best safety nets in the NFL, Molden would have the perfect environment to develop in and be effective from the jump.
17. Las Vegas Raiders
Daviyon Nixon, Defensive Tackle
I really, really wanted to go with an outside linebacker in this situation, but the combination of need at defensive tackle and quality at edge rusher pushed me to the interior line with Daviyon Nixon. The Raiders have made some questionable moves this offseason, but most of those have come on offense, so the defense is still in decent shape. The linebacking corps, secondary, and rushers are in decent shape, but tackle is not. Daviyon Nixon is a monster who will be able to come in and immediately cause trouble with all the solo blocks he would see as a result of doubles on Ngakoue, Ferrell, and Nassib. I like the theoretical fit with the Raiders and would love to see the results of what would be a very powerful defensive line.
18. Miami Dolphins
Chris Rumph II, Outside Linebacker
The Dolphins are swooping in for their second pick in the first round after snagging Joe Tryon and will again grab a player who can get some pressure. I wouldn’t have minded another pure defensive lineman or a safety here, but with some contracts in the middle of the field expiring, Rumph was right. With this player Miami would get a long, rangy player who’s adept at rushing the quarterback and also good in space and coverage, giving a ton of flexibility and usefulness to the defensive coordinator. He’s a solid tackler and would help Miami get better in a lot of areas instead of just one concentrated one. Think of Rumph as a sturdier, slightly less mobile Isaiah Simmons with some better pass rushing skills.
19. Washington Football Team
Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Outside Linebacker
No, the outside linebacker market isn’t rising rapidly, Washington is just an interestingly constructed team with a defense that doesn’t look great on paper, but is really talented and does wonders in the analytics world. Their money is extremely well spent in cornerbacks and impact players while they’re young and talented at rushing the quarterback. While their linebackers aren’t bad they can get better. I chose them over safety because there’s already some decent options at safety while linebacker can stand to really upgrade with a versatile guy like Rashed. Rashed can get to the quarterback and has the mobility to play at the second level if that’s required of him. He would be a really nice compliment to the incredible pass defense that Washington already employs.
20. Chicago Bears
Marvin Wilson II, Defensive Tackle
The Bears are sort of the opposite of the Browns in a way. If you read my All Offense Mock Draft, then you would know that the Browns are really good offensively, good enough that it wouldn’t be a surprise if they went all defense with this draft. The Bears’ defense is good enough all over that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them go all offense. So while this pick probably won’t be a defensive player and the player taken might not be an upgrade at all, the Bears can still benefit from the depth. Depending on what the front office is thinking, I would either get a corner or defensive tackle with this pick. Akiem Hicks and Kyle Fuller are both done with their deals after this season and paying both of them will be tough. Were I the Bears I would grab Marvin Wilson II from FSU to play the line. Hicks is a great player, but hitting on a really good corner is tougher than hitting on a lineman, and Fuller is a really good corner. Plus, Jaylon Johnson looks like he might pan out as a very good player as well. Wilson would give the Bears quality depth at the position and a potentially good replacement if Hicks were to find another home next offseason.
21. Indianapolis Colts
Patrick Jones II, EDGE
There’s a lot of second generation name-bearers in this draft, aren’t there? The Colts have become a very good football team again with a great offensive line and a very solid defense. One of the things that this very stable unit could use more of is quarterback pressure. Causing a bit more chaos in the backfield could turn this unit into one of, if not the, best in the league, and Patrick Jones II could help with that. Jones was a wrecking ball at Pitt and will continue to be in the NFL, and the fit in Indy would be perfect. Rushing the quarterback next to DeForest Buckner would raise both player’s efficiency and possibly bring the Colts back to the playoffs.
22. Tennessee Titans
Jaelan Phillips, EDGE
I would really be fine with any pick along the line or in the secondary here for the Titans, but with edge rusher looking particularly thin, I would prefer the organization grab another pass rusher while the value is this good. Jaelan Phillips could be the top rusher in a regular draft, but this one has him a bit further down than he might like. Phillips would provide really effective and cheap support to a line that lost Jadaveon Clowney and could provide enough production that he could rival the player taken before him for effectiveness. I love this fit with him in Tennessee.
23. New York Jets (via SEA)
Ambry Thomas, Cornerback
With the Jets grabbing Gregory Rousseau with their first pick, they would likely be ready to look elsewhere, away from the defensive line, for their next one. I would imagine they would address the cornerback position with this pick and that player would be Ambry Thomas. I generally don’t love Michigan players for some reason but Thomas jumped off the page and made it absolutely clear that he was one of the best in this class at his position. The Jets are in dire need of getting better at, well, every position, but corner is one of the most important on the field and Thomas would make the team immediately better in that area.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Joseph Ossai, EDGE
A lot of outlets have Joseph Ossai as an outside linebacker, a position that Pittsburgh doesn’t really need help in, but all the film I watched indicated that he’s more of an EDGE and the Steelers can bear to improve on the defensive line. Ossai is a really talented and versatile pass rusher and on a team with T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward, that can be extremely useful. The secondary is pretty much locked down and the linebackers are really good, so the Steelers will probably focus their attention solely on the line in this mock draft.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR)
Jayson Oweh, EDGE
The Jaguars are the third team to swoop back in for their second pick of the first round after getting Patrick Surtain II number one overall, but they can still beat to pick up the best available player in this situation. I have them going after Jayson Oweh, another edge rusher out of Penn State who’s more than capable of becoming one of the top players out of this entire draft. Oweh is really close to being a great prospect and I think with the right coaching he could be a very good value pick and help make the Jacksonville defensive line formidable again like they were a few years ago.
26. Cleveland Browns
Charles Snowden, Outside Linebacker
Ahh, we’re finally here. Cleveland has some nice pieces on defense, looking at you pre-Covid Myles Garrett, but there’s so much work to be done here. There’s a few players who missed this past season with injury so getting all of these guys coming back together at the same time will be really exciting. I believe the Browns need the most help rushing the passer and getting a secondary corner and both can be addressed with this pick. The linebacking corps isn’t great so the potential to knock out two birds with one stone with Charles Snowden from Virginia is very tantalizing. Snowden would be able to rack up a ton of tackles and give Myles Garrett and Sheldon Richardson some help with their pass rushing efforts. It’s a very valuable and useful pick in my eyes.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Paris Ford, Safety
The two defensive issues that I feel are most necessary to address for the Baltimore Ravens are at EDGE and at safety. While there is a need for depth in the pass rush, there’s also a starting safety position up for grabs at getting Paris Ford out of Pitt could be a very cheap way to fill that need. Ford is an extremely talented player who commanded a very talented defense at Pitt. He’s good enough to be effective at disrupting passing attacks this season in the NFL and the Raven would be able to dip into their funds to bring in a more veteran edge rusher or address that need with a different player later considering how deep edge rusher is.
28. New Orleans Saints
Chazz Surratt, Inside Linebacker
I wouldn’t mind the Saints going after a corner, edge, or safety with this pick and with Drew Brees retiring I’m actually expecting them to address the offense, but I like the idea of the Saints addressing that hole in the middle of their defense at inside linebacker with this pick. All of the positions I listed have decent players starting there, but a good inside linebacker could be a starting upgrade, and that’s what the draft is for. Chazz Surratt is a monster out of North Carolina and would be a fantastic force in the middle of the field for the Saints. He could soak up tackles and provide leadership for a team that seems like a new era is in the making.
29. Green Bay Packers
Azeez Ojulari, EDGE
The Packers should really be getting more weapons for Aaron Rodgers in this draft, but since we’re following the rules we’re going to see them grabbing an edge rusher. I wouldn’t mind seeing them get a corner or defensive tackle with this pick, but getting pressure in the backfield is key to winning games and Azeez Ojulari would be a key factor in getting that done. The Georgia product was a force of nature and gets into the backfield with regularity, something the Packers have never really been known for. Analytics have this defense as pretty good already, but getting more pressure on the quarterback could mean they get through Tampa this season.
30. Buffalo Bills
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Cornerback
The Bills have a really good, balanced, and well spent defense that’s capable of causing a huge number of problems for any number of teams. I believe the offense will be the priority in the draft because of this, but I wouldn’t be surprised for the Bills to get deeper in some areas on defense. The area that would make the most sense to me would be at cornerback where the talent really drops off after Tre’Davious White. Melifonwu is already from the state so the weather won’t be an issue and in addition, he’s a great cornerback. He would probably be able to start as a nickel at worst and the secondary corner at best.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Paulson Adebo, Cornerback
The Chiefs have an absolute ton of money wrapped up in three players and while two of them are really good investments, one of them isn’t and there isn’t a lot of money to go around for everyone else. The defense is lacking in a lot of positions, namely outside linebacker, EDGE, and cornerback, all massively important. I have the Chiefs taking Paulson Adebo out of Stanford, a very high upside player who could start for them this season. He might not be the best corner in the league at the start, especially after passing on 2020, but he’s good enough to play well and could end up as one of the better players from this draft if he pans out with the upside we all saw last season.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Levi Onwuzurike, Defensive Tackle
As we saw in the Super Bowl, this Buccaneer defense is insanely good. They’re extremely talented on all fronts and absolutely crushed the Kansas City offense all night. There won’t be an upgrade they can make at this point in the draft, but getting some insurance on Vita Vea would be a good move to make sure that defensive front stays healthy and effective. The best player for that role is Levi Onwuzurike. He’s not the best tackle in the draft but there’s a ton of upside and he has the speed to play very effectively with the edge rushers of this team. That being said, Tampa is very complete and may be drafting for depth regardless, so anything is in play with this pick.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars
Richie Grant, Safety
The Jaguars started their draft with a corner and edge rusher, so it’s time to look at their roster and see what’s the biggest need instead of just grabbing the best available player. One position there’s definitely no need is at linebacker. There’s a lot of drafted and free agent money in players who are of high quality, so there’s no real reason to invest there at the moment. Rayshawn Jenkins has a lot of money tied up in safety but there is a need for a quality backup while corner is good to go with Shaquill Griffin, Surtain, and C.J. Henderson on the roster. Any pick along the defensive line would probably be depth, so we’re just looking for the best available player between safety and the line. I’m going with a safety because there’s a decent chance that a good season would mean that the Jaguars found another starter in the draft, something every team is hunting for. Richie Grant has a ton of upside out of UCF and his presence could make this iteration of Jacksonville’s secondary one of the best in the country.
34. New York Jets
Grant Stuard, Outside Linebacker
The Jets also finished the first round with a corner and edge rusher, so we’re in the same position that Jacksonville was in. Safety is admittedly pretty shallow with a pair of recent draft picks as the best options, so that immediately lights up as an area of priority. Corner isn’t much better but with Ambry Thomas from this draft, Bryce Hall from the last one, and Justin Hardee as a free agent, it might be worth waiting a bit. The linebacker room just added C.J. Mosely to soak up tackles and the inside position has some depth, but outside linebacker is pretty barren with no real good options at the moment, so that’s a good area to target. Between Jabari Zuniga, Carl Lawson, and Rousseau, EDGE is pretty solid, but even though Quinnen Williams is great on the inside, he could afford some quality reinforcements. I’m almost hesitant to commit to the pick because I like the quality at safety, but getting a good player from a shallow outside linebacker position is the smarter move, therefore Grant Stuard out of Houston is the pick. He could take some tackling pressure off Mosely and make the defense a bit more versatile with his speed and activity.
35. Atlanta Falcons
Dylan Moses, Inside Linebacker
The Falcons got a safety with their first pick and though they could really use another one, they could also use one of everything outside of a defensive tackle. Again we’re finding ourselves in a best available player situation, so let’s head back to the board. I find the choice coming down between Dylan Moses, an inside linebacker coming out of Alabama, and Dayo Odeyingbo, an edge rusher from Vanderbilt. Both EDGE and ILB are in huge need of reinforcements for Atlanta so I wouldn’t mind either player being taken here, but I’m going with Moses. The player would have been a top pick in the 2020 draft had he decided to go, but instead stayed at Alabama to command their defense and win a title. He would be a great addition to a unit that needs stability desperately.
36. Miami Dolphins (via HOU)
Monty Rice, Inside Linebacker
The Dolphins used the first round to really bolster their pass rush with Joe Tryon and Chris Rumph II, so it’s time to look away from the pass rush for the next selection. Miami could do with another quality safety, but they do have a pair of starters that could suffice if other areas of need are larger. Corner, as we mentioned, is in great shape with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard as well as very nice depth. There is a definitive need for tackling help in the middle next to Andrew Van Ginkel, so an inside linebacker is in play, but there could also be a need for a solid defensive tackle. I’m going with an inside linebacker because there’s a potential starting spot open and Monty Rice would be a very good athletic fit in the defense. The Georgia product would be a great spy and would excel with his versatility in front of those corners.
37. Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Bolton, Inside Linebacker
The Eagles addressed corner with Caleb Farley with their first pick so I think they’re okay at the position for the moment. They could dip back to the position later, but I see a bigger need at either linebacker position or safety. Rodney McLeod and K’Von Wallace are probably okay at safety for the moment so I’m going with a linebacker. I think Nick Bolton is the best linebacker available at the moment and would be an immediate candidate for leading the NFL in tackles. The Eagles are good up front but could be even better with Bolton running downhill into the line.
38. Cincinnati Bengals
Dayo Odeyingbo, EDGE
The Bengals snagged Micah Parsons with their first pick to make their central column, safety, inside linebacker, and defensive tackle, extremely solid, so it’s time to look at the exterior. I like the idea of an edge rusher or outside linebacker, though taking a corner would probably mean an investment in depth. That’s fine, but getting a starter should be a higher priority and that’s what they could find at EDGE. Dayo Odeyingbo is a traditional edge rusher who can make a huge impact opposite Trey Hendrickson and make their defensive line one of the scarier units in the AFC North.
39. Carolina Panthers
Aaron Robinson, Cornerback
Carolina found their Luke Keuchly replacement in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah with their first pick and with their second I would love to see them improve their secondary. Both corner and safety need a lot of work so it’s really the dealer’s choice on the position, but I like corner with this pick. Aaron Robinson is good enough to start in the NFL this season and though he isn’t good enough to win against the better receivers in the NFL, he’ll be a big upgrade compared to some of the pieces in the rotation that Carolina is currently employing.
40. Denver Broncos
Quincy Roche, EDGE
Denver is pretty dang good at finding a way to the quarterback and that’s something that they might not see as an issue, but getting a better rotation in that area is always a dangerous thing. I believe the areas to highlight for this second pick would be at edge rusher, corner, and inside linebacker. I like the defensive tackles and the linebacking corps has a lot of money in it already, so it’s really about getting even better at stopping the pass. I prefer the option at EDGE in this situation simply because I believe in the upside. Quincy Roche is a really talented pass rusher and could end up as the future for this line if he pans out.
41. Detroit Lions
Khyiris Tonga, Defensive Tackle
After getting a cornerback to play with Jeff Okudah in the first round I would still like to see some improvement in the secondary, but this pick could really go anywhere outside of edge rusher. I would probably rule out outside linebacker as well with the exterior rushing in such good shape, so we’re really looking at tackle and safety. Either position works for me but I’m going with Khyiris Tonga out of BYU. Getting really effective up front will make life a lot easier for the young cornerbacks and help keep better passing teams in check.
42. New York Giants
Jay Tufele, Defensive Tackle
The Giants are in pretty decent shape in the secondary, though some more depth at cornerback would be a nice asset. However, I would be focusing on making the line better were I the Giants. Signing Leonard Williams was a good move to start, but there can still be a lot of improvement at tackle and EDGE, so I’m going with Jay Tufele. I’ve seen some outlets with Tufele as their top tackle in the class and while I think that’s ludicrous, I do believe he’s an extremely talented player with a lot of upside if he’s developed correctly.
43. San Francisco 49ers
Andre Cisco, Safety
The 49ers bolstered the back end of the defense, corner specifically, with their first pick of the draft, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them keep working on the secondary with this second pick. Getting someone to play next to Jimmie Ward would be a nice addition to the collection, though there is a need for an inside linebacker. There are some really nice safeties still on the board so I’m going to have the 49ers improve that part of the defense. Andre Cisco is a really impressive safety out of Syracuse that anchored a very talented secondary so he should fit well at the back end of a defense that’s excellent at getting to the quarterback.
44. Dallas Cowboys
Caden Sterns, Safety
The Cowboys plucked big man Christian Barmore to play in the middle of their defensive line with their first pick, but the next step comes at the back of the formation. The linebacker and EDGE positions could use some depth and corner is still developing, but safety needs bodies and good ones who can start this season. Dallas gets lucky with a good player and a local guy in Caden Sterns being available. He’s at the tail end of the starting caliber safeties in this draft, but he’s still starting caliber and that’s what matters. He and Trevon Diggs would make for a very promising combo in the secondary for Dallas.
45. Jacksonville Jaguars (via MIN)
William Bradley-King, EDGE
Number four for Jacksonville! The last pick I wrote about the Jaguars needing to make a decision between the line and safety, and safety was a slightly larger need with better players so they took Richie Grant, but now they’re just in need of depth on the line, and luckily they’re in prime position to get some. I believe that William Bradley-King is the slightly better player at the pick and deserves to go in this spot. Jacksonville having more depth at pass rusher won’t hurt at all and forcing errant passes into a reinforced secondary will serve them well.
46. New England Patriots
Jordan Smith, EDGE
One thing that the Patriots have been really exceptional at in their reign of terror is making their defense very cost effective while staying flat out effective and incredibly balanced. Because of that they really have no way to improve their starting roles at this point in the draft, but they are capable of getting some high upside depth here. While corner and EDGE are probably the most valuable positions on defense, they also happen to be the best candidates to improve the defense for the Patriots, meaning we’re going for the best at those positions. New England ends up with Jordan Smith out of UAB. He’s a very talented pass rusher and with the Patriot Way and some very good coaching he could end up as a target to be extended down the road.
47. Los Angeles Chargers
Tyler Shelvin, Defensive Tackle
The Chargers got some great value with their first pick in Kwity Paye and really improved their pass rush as a result. Unfortunately there’s still a lot of areas on defense that they need to improve to challenge in the AFC West. They need corner and safety depth, some good defensive tackles, and more flesh in the linebacking corps. Getting quality in the rotation is most important and I see that coming at either defensive tackle or the second level, so we’re looking there for their best options. Tyler Shelvin, though he isn’t a great pass rushing threat, is a colossal man and a great run stopper. At the very least he’s an excellent early down option and huge draw to take bodies away from Bosa and Paye. That’s a really nice grab if you’re the Chargers.
48. Las Vegas Raiders
DeAngelo Malone, Outside Linebacker
The Raiders snagged a good defensive tackle to wreak havoc with their first pick and for the most part solidified their defensive line for the time being. Their linebacking corps, specifically inside, is really proficient, but the outside positions could use some help. Corner could bear to have some depth but doesn’t need it desperately, but safety does. There’s some okay options but a third player to solidify the rotation would really solidify things in the back. However, I can’t look past the need for a quality outside linebacker and that player comes in DeAngelo Malone in Western Kentucky. He might not be a great option to start but he brings something to the team in that he can play the position well and take up some snaps. He won’t see a ton of the field but will be very useful in plenty of scenarios and open up the looks that Las Vegas can show.
49. Arizona Cardinals
Tedarrell Slaton, Defensive Tackle
As Arizona gears up for their Super Bowl push, they used their first pick to add a great, versatile player in Elijah Molden. The next area of the field that has an absolute need is the middle of the defensive line. The run stop needs to improve so that the pass rush has something to back it up and getting Tedarrell Slaton to step in will do just that. Some intensity up the middle to deter teams from stuffing runs down the middle will give them a bit more bite and a lot tougher to game plan against.
50. Miami Dolphins
Talanoa Hufanga, Safety
Miami is also dipping back into the draft for their fourth pick in two rounds after spending their first picks on the front of their formation. The next step for Miami is to just shore up the back half of the formation by getting deeper at safety. They won’t be getting a starter at this point, but they can get a quality and cheap backup, and that player is Talanoa Hufanga. He’s a quality player and would be effective at stepping into the rotation and wouldn’t be completely out of place if an injury occurred.
51. Washington Football Team
Trill Williams, Cornerback
Washington used their first pick of this draft to bolster a pass rush that already has their sights set on being one of the most effective in the league with Hamilcar Rashed Jr., so I want to either look at inside linebacker or at cornerback. As I mentioned the line is solid, but getting deeper in either of those other positions should be a priority. There’s a possibility that safety could be a location to target with this pick, but I think the team is fine in that department for now. I believe that Trill Williams out of Syracuse, a very athletic and talented cornerback, would be best suited for this pick. He’s versatile enough to be a good nickel and could be a part of the rotation this season, a win-win for Washington.
52. Chicago Bears
Robert Rochell, Cornerback
The Bears addressed the defensive line with their first pick of this draft and with the recent news of Kyle Fuller being released, it’s pretty obvious where they need to head with their next pick. The next corner off the board is Robert Rochell and while he won’t be able to fill Fuller’s shoes right away, they’ll be more than capable of making the rotation stronger which will be imperative for a team that relies so heavily on its defense.
53. Tennessee Titans
Bobby Brown III, Defensive Tackle
Tennessee is another team that mader their defensive line better with their first pick, taking a very talented edge rusher in Jaelan Phillips, and while there are plenty of areas of need, I’m going to stay on the line for this next pick. Defensive tackle doesn’t have much money invested into it right now and while that’s okay, money generally means production in every position outside of quarterback in this sport, so there needs to be some help in the middle. Bobby Brown III is a huge body out of Texas A&M and while he won’t be a starter or game wrecker, he can make some noise and help the Titans get better in the front four.
54. Indianapolis Colts
Joshua Kaindoh, EDGE
A lot of teams capitalized on a deep class of pass rushing players in the first round and the Colts were no exception, getting a much needed starter at EDGE. This second pick has me split between a few positions. The first option is safety where there’s some decent players but a solid rotation could be formed with another pick at this point. The second position is their neighbor at corner. There’s a bit of money invested in it, but there’s still plenty of potential to upgrade and get a solid third player in the group. The third is at EDGE again where there’s still plenty of room to upgrade even after investing in it with their first pick. With just three rushers on the roster at this point after grabbing Jones in the first round, the Colts go back in and grab Joshua Kaindoh out of FSU. They’re not blowing anyone away on the edges, but there’s still a full rotation of players on cost effective deals, so there’s little to complain about past a lack of Pro Bowl quality.
55. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jaylen Twyman, Defensive Tackle
You remember the first round trend, so outside of the name “Joseph Ossai”, I’ll spare you the details. At this point the Steelers defense is really complete and will be looking to upgrade the rotation instead of the starting positions, so I’ve identified defensive tackle as the main need with inside linebacker and corner as secondary needs in terms of depth. Since there’s still nice quality at tackle, the Steelers are going, fittingly, with Jaylen Twyman out of Pitt. The fans will hold a certain affinity for the player considering his college affiliation and his play behind Cam Heyward will make him a nice addition for the team.
56. Seattle Seahawks
Asante Samuel Jr., Cornerback
Seattle is making their first pick in the second round, something that could change if Russell Wilson is dealt in the near future, but for now they’re having to settle for the scraps left over from the 55 pick feeding frenzy that came before them. There’s still value at this pick, but it could be much better. Unfortunately, Seattle should be desperate to get better at cornerback and defensive end, the two positions that are most barren at this point in the draft. Luckily the Seahawks are still getting a defender in Asante Samuel Jr. that can feature heavily in the rotation and not be put completely on blast at corner. He’ll have his hands full in a very challenging NFC West, but he’ll hold his own for the most part.
57. Los Angeles Rams
Ronnie Perkins, EDGE
The Rams are largely in the same boat as Seattle in their needs and position in this draft. Their areas of need have been plucked dry after a long wait to get to their pick and even though Jalen Ramsey is a great option at corner, they still need depth behind him. There’s also a big need at EDGE and a pretty big need at inside linebacker. Since the need is largest at EDGE, I’m going to have the Rams invest in Ronnie Perkins out of Oklahoma. I don’t have Perkins ranked as high as many outlets, but his upside is very high and that’s something the Rams can take solace in. He’ll be effective just because he’s lining up next to Aaron Donald.
58. Baltimore Ravens
Cameron McGrone, Inside Linebacker
The Raven snagged Paris Ford to help the back end of their defense out in the first round, but their second round will see them focus more on the inside of the formation. They took Patrick Queen with one of their picks last season but they’re going to need some depth there and Cameron McGrone out of Michigan can provide it. He doesn’t need to be great this season, but he’s capable of playing a few sequences every game and filling in to give the starters their breaks.
59. Cleveland Browns
Pete Werner, Inside Linebacker
I already mentioned that the Browns are going to have a beautiful thing coming together with their defense as they get players back from injury, but there’s still a need for some help at a couple positions. Charles Snowden helped out the linebacking corps in the first round but the inside group could still use some help, as could the depth at EDGE. There’s some nice options at the end of the line, but they could be better. That being said we’re going back to inside linebacker to grab Pete Werner from Ohio State. It turns out that he’s a local kid as well, which helps, but he’s also a potential Joe Schobert replacement which will help this defense recover from his loss as well as get better in the process.
60. New Orleans Saints
Marlon Tuipulotu, Defensive Tackle
The Saints improved at inside linebacker with their first pick and luckily for me, there’s a clear area of need, at defensive tackle, that needs some help. The Saints currently have David Onyemata filling that role and he’s very good there, but depth is an issue there and Marlon Tuipulotu out of USC is a great option out of that position. I could see him being a major part of the rotation if he ended up in New Orleans and would be a great option were there an injury at some point.
61. Buffalo Bills
Tyson Campbell, Cornerback
The Bills took a very talented corner with their first pick of this draft and made the secondary significantly better, so that part of the defense is pretty set at the moment. With the money spent so effectively and evenly on this team, this is a “best available” situation for the Bills. I think corner has become an exceptionally important position to have depth in, even if there is good talent there to begin with, so I’m going to have the Bills take another one with Tyson Campbell out of Georgia. This way they still have good options if a player goes down and makes them even more likely to manage in a division with subpar wide receivers.
62. Green Bay Packers
Keith Taylor, Cornerback
I don’t love how the Packers have allocated their money on defense, but they’re good enough to get by at the moment and have the players where they can mostly focus on depth, so I have them getting better in the passing defense. Jaire Alexander is a great cornerback and Josh Jackson is good behind him, but quality depth should be a priority for the same reasons I just explained in the Bills pick. This team is a Super Bowl contender and should be eying their passing defense to help get them there over the great quarterbacks in the conference. Keith Taylor out of Washington won’t be the difference maker, but he can be the player that makes sure your difference maker is rested and healthy.
63. Kansas City Chiefs
Derrick Barnes, Outside Linebacker
The Chiefs have had an uncomfortable fallout with a lot of key players that’s leaving them a bit exposed, but for the most part those issues are on the offensive side of the ball. In the first round the reigning AFC Champions grabbed a good cornerback to improve their secondary and I want them to improve the pass rush even more with either an edge rusher or an outside linebacker. Derrick Barnes out of Purdue fits the needs of this Chiefs team the best and would have them in the best position to improve, so I’m having him as their selection. Barnes will let the Chiefs be a bit more expressive and creative with their looks on defense.
64. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Israel Mukuamu, Cornerback
The Champs took a defensive tackle with their first pick of this draft to keep that ridiculous pass rush intact, but there’s a surprising amount of areas that the team can get better in for the time being. I like the thought of a corner the most because there just needs to be more help and depth there in general. I also like the idea of some depth at inside linebacker, safety, and defensive end. I’ll remove safety and EDGE from the running because their options in those positions are good enough as is, but inside linebacker and corner need help. Israel Mukuamu is the best option on the table at this point in the draft and should actually be able to start if needed. There’s some developing to be done but the player is a ball hawk and getting the offense back on the field should be key for the Bucs.
Other Draft Material
Draft Big Board
Mock Draft 1.0
Mock Draft 2.0
Mock Draft 3.0: All Offense
Mock Draft 4.0
Mock Draft 5.0
Running Back Rankings
Wide Receiver Rankings
Tight End Rankings
Offensive Tackle Rankings
Defensive Tackle Rankings
Outside Linebacker Rankings
Inside Linebacker Rankings