With Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season officially in the books, fans are finally beginning to get a taste of what the season has for their franchise: for better or for worse. So, to give hope to franchises that cannot catch a break, to thrill teams on the verge of a Super Bowl that just needs one more piece, and to entice the current standings leader of what may come with a championship draft spot, let’s draft! This draft order is based on the current NFL standings, according to ESPN, as of September 27, 2021. Which teams will change their franchise forever? Which teams get their final piece? Let’s find out.
Be sure to check out our Week 3 Mock Draft.
1) New York Giants – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
If Daniel Jones continues to command the Giants to the first overall pick, there definitely should be a consideration to take a quarterback here; however, this quarterback class looks deep but not top-heavy. Given that a second first-round pick is available, New York certainly has an opportunity to fill that hole later on. Jones may still be worth keeping, however. No quarterback has solidified himself as the best, let alone being worth the number one spot. Neal is arguably the best prospect at tackle to come out in over a decade: he has size, speed, youth, and has shown major development at multiple positions. The sky is the limit with the Crimson Tide product.
2) Philadelphia Eagles (via Colts), Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Eagles have a stacked defensive line, in terms of depth as well as talent. The issue lies in the fact that Philadelphia has multiple contracts that expire this offseason. Kyle Hamilton was certainly in consideration here, but Thibodeaux, like Chase Young, is a generational talent at one of the highest wins-above-replacement (WAR) positions in the NFL. His dominance on the field has been consistent since high school, and it appears as if that trend will continue in the NFL. Thibodeaux is a guaranteed franchise cornerstone.
3) New York Jets – Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame
The Jets need help almost everywhere. It hurts, but it is true. The quarterback position has a good chance of working out if the rest of the team can mesh together a solid unit. Unfortunately, the best pick, Neal, was taken first overall. The next best would either be Thibodeaux or Hamilton. Hamilton is another high-ceiling, arguably generation level, talent. His size, speed, and IQ provide the perfect foundation for a superstar. Hamilton’s development this year has shown that he is not only working on improving but succeeding. It was hard to imagine that he could improve any more as a college prospect, but it is 2021: anything can happen. The Jets have hope with a new captain to the defense.
4) Detroit Lions – DeMarvin Leal, EDGE, Texas A&M
With Jared Goff proving to still be in the Jimmy Garoppolo range of quarterbacks, there is no need to reach on an iffy top prospect. It may come as a surprise that a signal-caller is not the selection, but the talent of Leal is unbelievable and undeniable. His athleticism is off the charts. Leal moves like he is 260lbs, yet he weighs and hits at 290lbs. The Texas A&M product is listed on many websites as an interior defensive lineman. His playstyle certainly can handle it, but the edge is where the Aggie can shine the most. There is a legitimate argument to be made for Leal over Thibodeaux.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Given the draft order, there were no teams attempting to trade up to this spot. That said, the Jaguars need help anywhere and everywhere. Stingley might not fill a need (Jacksonville has spent a top-two-round draft choice back-to-back years on cornerbacks), but he is certainly the best player available. Another intriguing prospect is Tyler Linderbaum, who would function as a high-end guard who will eventually take the starting center spot. Stingley offers top-five potential at his position.
The Seattle Seahawks acquire picks 8 and 72 from the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for picks 6 and 108.
6) Minnesota Vikings (via Seahawks) – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
With the New England Patriots sitting in front of them, the Vikings had to make a desperate move in order to get the future of their secondary. Elam is a lockdown corner from the defensive back factory, Florida. Continual dominance against SEC talent combined with the natural athleticism shown on tape creates a result that arguably is worth more than Stingley. Elam’s only issue is long speed. This said, his long speed is far from a liability. The criticisms are merely nitpicking: that is how talented Elam is. The Vikings are in a division with young, interception-savvy quarterbacks. Elam’s production very well could skyrocket into elite territory with Minnesota.
The New England Patriots acquire pick 10 and a 2023 third-round pick from the New York Giants in exchange for pick 7.
7) New York Giants (via Patriots) – Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
Linderbaum has Quenton Nelson-esque potential at his position. The strength, speed, and blocking technique are traits that a depleted Giants line needs desperately. Quarterback might be the right move. Daniel Jones has yet to lead his team to the promised land remotely. In all fairness, the line does both him and Saquon Barkley absolutely zero favors. Neal and Linderbaum offer a solution to that problem for years to come. Think about these moves as an even better version of what Indianapolis did years ago.
8) Seattle Seahawks (via Vikings) – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Given his progression and dominance, this may be low-balling Hutchinson. He took a major leap this offseason, and his tape proves it. Just take a look at his unrivaled performance versus a top-end tackle, Jaxson Kirkland. The ferocity and strength were on full display, leaving many to wonder if Kirkland can handle NFL strength at tackle. When an edge rusher can make the whole draft community question the legitimacy of a top-end prospect, they are certainly worth the pick. Plus, Seattle needed Hutchinson’s abilities yesterday.
9) Philadelphia Eagles (via Dolphins) – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
There is a chance Steven Nelson leaves this offseason. A strong secondary is crucial in the modern NFL product. Booth provides an extremely athletic, high-instinct prospect to this roster. His athleticism sets him apart from more aggressive cornerbacks like Elam and Ahmad Gardner, so his ceiling is a bit higher. Booth had processing difficulties in 2020, but this year he has made major improvements to his game, garnering major top-ten hype. This secondary class is one of the best the NFL has seen in quite some time. It is time for Philadelphia to take advantage of that and solidify a perennial top-five defense.
10) New England Patriots (via Giants) – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Is it possible for four cornerbacks to go in the top ten? Yes. This draft class features an astounding amount of talent at this position while lacking in many other key ones. With J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore up for new contracts, the demand for a top-flight corner is greater than ever. If anyone can fill it, Bill Belichick can. Gardner brings high-end physicality and mirroring to the table. Any receiver in the American Athletic Conference can confirm how dominant Gardner is on the field. What is more noticeable is how much worse Cincinnati is without him in the starting lineup. It may be hard to think the fourth-best cornerback is taken at ten, but the talent is just that special.
11) Kansas City Chiefs – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Thank the NFL Standings for the draft order. The Chiefs desperately need their Sammy Watkins replacement. Chris Olave provides deep speed, but there is plenty of it already here in Kansas City. Wilson provides NFL-level speed with amazing after-the-catch ability. His jump ball ability also deserves a shoutout, as he has the body control and hands to be a threat at the catch point. The Chiefs needed a pass rusher as well, but the edges on the board that fit the scheme were far from worth this selection.
12) Atlanta Falcons – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
With quarterback Spencer Rattler being booed off the field by fans (even being chanted to be benched), the top spot is far from solidified. The Falcons have plenty of holes on their roster. This said, Matt Ryan offers a unique opportunity that many teams do not have: an amazing mentor and bridge quarterback for a young prospect to take over the franchise. Corral’s heights need no explanation. It is his mistake-repeating tendency that is the concern. When Corral makes an error, his track record shows that he begins a downward spiral in terms of decision-making. While his record shows 500-yard games with five or more touchdowns, it also shows games with six interceptions. Ryan’s game-managing style is perfect to coach those kinks out.
13) Washington Football Team – Sam Howell, QB, UNC
Howell may be a surprise when Rattler is on the board. Rattler has superior arm talent, but he also has the higher-level offensive line and weapons for the 2021 campaign. Howell showed NFL starting-caliber flashes in 2020 with Dyami Brown (who funnily enough is on Washington) and Dazz Newsome as his top receivers, not to mention his unbelievable running back corps. Washington has an improved offensive line with a multitude of gadget weapons. All they need is a competent quarterback to get them to the playoffs if not the Super Bowl. If Alex Smith and Taylor Heinecke can threaten the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, Howell can bring this franchise to glory.
14) Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Remember when teams passed on quarterbacks because none of them were solidified as a top option in this year’s class? Well, now is the time to take shots on the right fit for a respective team. Corral fits best here in Pittsburgh, but the talent of Willis is undeniable. His progression through his career has demonstrated a great work ethic, a trait that many would say was missing for the reign of Ben Roethlisberger. Willis’s athleticism also provides a new factor for the Steelers to utilize in their offense. This year seems to be the final nail in the coffin for Pittsburgh. Willis may change that around.
15) Houston Texans – Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Okay, it may seem strange to see four quarterbacks go in a row, but the draft order certainly made that reasonable. Rattler has the opportunity to fail and still be the best option for Houston. That is excellent for the Oklahoma product. With fans booing him off the field, his morale might be at an all-time low. With little expectations in Houston, winning may be the boost Rattler needs to light his internal flame once again.
16) Dallas Cowboys – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
With some unknowns at tackle and guard for the future, the Cowboys need to repeat what they did many years ago: build the offensive line. Tyron Smith is always an unknown, and the talents elsewhere are far from irreplaceable. Green is a hybrid tackle and guard that has great upside. That is desperately needed in Dallas. It may not be pretty, but Jerry Jones selects the pieces needed to keep Dak Prescott healthy and the Cowboys aimed at a Super Bowl for years to come.
17) Philadelphia Eagles – Jordan Battle, SAF, Alabama
Anthony Harris was an amazing acquisition, but everyone knows he signed for $5 million just to prove his worth. Fortunately, while simultaneously, unfortunately, he did. There is a good chance Harris may be commanding a higher salary on a championship competitor, leaving another major vacancy. Battle is the most all-around defensive back in this class excluding Hamilton. There is not one single flaw to his game, but he lacks the juice to be great in many. That is exactly what the Eagles need to patch the secondary. With their three first-round picks, the defense has number one potential for a decade to come.
18) New Orleans Saints – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Saints desperately need a number two receiver. Michael Thomas, when healthy, is a solid target, but he provides little upside past 15 yards. Olave is a true deep threat with game-breaking speed and route running. His hands have been a concern in the past, so his draft stock fell a bit for that; however, he is certainly the second-best on this team on day one. Jameis Winston will surely love to have someone he can consistently throw to past 15 yards downfield.
The Cleveland Browns acquire pick 25 and a 2023 third-round pick from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for pick 19 and a 2023 sixth-round pick.
19) Tennessee Titans (via Browns) – Adam Anderson, EDGE, Georgia
Anderson deserves to be a top-ten draft choice. His all-around athleticism and ability are off the charts. The issue is fit. Anderson is around 230 lbs, so there is an issue when many teams look for pass rushers around 250 lbs and above. The Titans have multiple contracts due this offseason in both their edge department and linebacker. Anderson can do both roles to an elite level. This is a home run pick for Tennessee.
20) Baltimore Ravens – Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA
It is a shame Rhyan has fallen this far. The Ravens obviously need some help on the offensive line. Alejandro Villanueva has not proven himself to be worth starting, so a contingency plan needs to be in place. Rhyan is that plan. He plays like he weighs 365 lbs, yet he runs at his actual weight of 315 lbs. Whenever Drake Jackson shows up on a first-round mock draft, just watch his tape vs UCLA, and many will question why he is anywhere near the top 32 players. Rhyan has major upside with even more at guard. This is a can’t miss prospect.
21) Miami Dolphins (via 49ers) – Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
The Dolphins showed their need for a linebacker by trading for Benardrick McKinney before the 2021 season. Given that he is gone, there is still a major hole. The offensive line is not worth it at this point regardless of the desperation. Harris, thus, is the best player. His athleticism is off the charts. The only issues are with Harris’s processing and mechanics. The Alabama product has way too much upside to not take him in the back half of the first round.
22) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
When the roster is as loaded as the Buccaneers’ is, take the player with the most upside. Kinnard is extremely raw when it comes to pass protection. Luckily, Kentucky has gotten into a pass-heavier scheme, so scouts finally get to see his skills develop. There is a long way to go, but his potential is too good to pass on. Kinnard is an athletic freak. The Kentucky product mauls everyone in the run game with ease. The Buccaneers drafted Sadarius Hutcherson last year, another athletic monstrosity, so it would not be a surprise to see history repeat itself here.
23) Los Angeles Chargers – Jaxson Kirkland, OL, Washington
Bryan Bulaga has a riddled injury history, not to mention that he is not the long-term answer for the Chargers. Kirkland was embarrassed by Hutchinson this year, showing that he may fit better as a guard for now. Luckily, there still is a viable spot for an upgrade at guard. Kirkland has the upside to move over to tackle in time. The issue is that he cannot stand up to power on the outside. Being inside should certainly be a high-upside role in the short run with an even greater upside on the outside in the long run.
24) Buffalo Bills – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Washington produces yet another solid corner. The Bills need a second cornerback in order to truly compete at the highest level. McDuffie is not only amazing value, but he also can fill that role perfectly. He appears to be a jack-of-all-trades style cornerback, similar to his predecessors. McDuffie may have a very large impact as soon as his first snap.
25) Cleveland Browns (via Titans) – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Karlaftis has ungodly talent. He racked up 20 tackles for loss his true freshman year. The statistics speak for themselves. So do the injuries, however. Karlaftis cannot stay healthy, so his draft stock falls this far. Myles Garrett would be an amazing mentor and teammate for this young, developing star. Karlaftis may very well be the answer to who should line up across from Garrett: a search that has lasted many years with no end in sight (until now).
26) Green Bay Packers – Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
With Preston Smith likely leaving the Packers, Green Bay needs to find an answer at the pass-rushing position. Bonitto has excellent athleticism and production. He has a unique playing style that may give him an advantage when playing at the next level, but the risk associated with it failing drops him to 26. With Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams most likely on their ways out, getting the best player available is the only thing the Packers can do to salvage this offseason. At least the pass rush will be solidified.
27) Cincinnati Bengals – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Big riser alert! Penning hails from a smaller school, but he brings high-level talent. His ability to pancake block anyone is astounding given his ability to move so lightly on his feet. Penning has everything needed to be a franchise tackle. The issue lies in the mechanics. He is still learning how to play the position, so there are technical flaws. In all honesty, however, there is not much worse than the current Bengals, offensive-line-wise. Penning has the opportunity to boom into a star here in Cincinnati.
28) Arizona Cardinals – Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
Kendrick has top-15 talent. An incident with the prospect sleeping in his car with a firearm on his lap lead to many questioning his character. The Cardinals can live with that when they are drafting that level of talent at 28. Kendrick transferred to Georgia after leaving Clemson, which initially dropped his draft stock (given the incident), but Georgia is the perfect spot for him to land and make an impact. Two corners went in the top 33 picks from Georgia last year. Neither had the raw talent of Kendrick. The Georgia product has a great opportunity to storm in and be the leader of this corner corps on day one.
29) Denver Broncos – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
There is little to improve on this Broncos team, to be frank. Linebacker could be an area of development, but that is nitpicking. Lloyd is a three-down linebacker that can do it all. There is no doubt that he can succeed in the NFL given his skillset, so why not load up an already stacked defense? According to these standings, Teddy Bridgewater is doing just fine at the helm. Adding a few pieces can help get the Broncos to the promised land.
30) Carolina Panthers – Ikem Ekwonu, OL, North Carolina State
The guards, surprisingly, have been the major issue for the Panthers. The defense is amazing, as is the receiving and running corps. The major hole is on the line with small questions at the quarterback position. Sam Darnold certainly has the opportunity to keep this team afloat if they can get the line right. Ekwonu is an athletic freak. He currently plays left tackle, but his skills are best suited inside (for now). The versatility provides a bonus as a potential heir to Taylor Moton’s sidekick, but the chances are slim. Ekwonu has great potential in the interior with his mauling ability. Think of the North Carolina product similarly to Kinnard.
31) Detroit Lions (via Rams) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Lions have almost nothing in their receiving corps. Most of their starting offensive players are underrated, yet the receivers let down the team (and the record). Burks is a massive-bodied receiver with sky-high upside. His speed-size combination is perfect to take a shot on at the end of the first round, and so here Detroit is. Given the disarray in the receiving room, Burks may very well have a major impact on his first snap. This pick may prove to be one of the most valuable in this round.
32) Las Vegas Raiders – Brandon Joseph, SAF, Northwestern
Emphasizing again, this is ESPN’s standings. Apparently, the Raiders won the Super Bowl. Joseph changed his body composition this offseason to be in ‘NFL shape.’ Unfortunately, his ability to be everywhere at all times went away with his speed. There still is an ungodly amount of upside to this top ten potential talent. Unfortunately, the question marks drop Joseph’s stock all the way to the end of the first round. If he can get back to his 2020 self, this pick will be looked back at as the biggest steal in the draft.
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