Ladies and gentlemen, we have almost reached the end. We have almost reached the end of an NFL season that none of us will ever forget. We have only three games remaining with the two conference championships, which will be played this upcoming weekend, and then the Super Bowl two weeks after that. I look forward to the 2021 season when hopefully all of the effects of the pandemic are behind us, and we will be able to enjoy the game we love from the stands. But before that, it’s time for draft season.
Every week we at The Draft Network put out a new mock draft and Benjamin Solak will review some of the picks. Well, this week, Ben was the one who was charged with mock draft duty and he decided to go all out on his first 2021 Mock Draft. Since it would be rather weird to have Ben review his own mock, I’m stepping in to review his picks and discuss some of the best and worst selections.
As always you can run your own mock by using our Mock Draft Machine!
Best Value: Miami Dolphins select Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
If Parsons drops to 18, I’ll be absolutely floored. From a talent perspective, I’m not sure there are four better players than Parsons in this draft—for my money, Parsons is a better player than Isaiah Simmons was last year and Simmons went eighth overall. Parsons has the size, athleticism, and instincts to be a dynamic off the ball linebacker in today's NFL. One of the things I love most about Parsons is his ability as a blitzing linebacker, as he has outstanding initial quicks off the line and has tremendous timing on the snap. Now, while I would be floored if he fell all the way to 18, I could see a scenario where we have four quarterbacks go early, see a run on the receivers, top corners, and offensive tackles that could push Parsons down, but 18 seems just too far.
Ben was absolutely right however in this player/team fit. Parsons would thrive in Miami’s 3-4 defense, as he could play both inside or outside linebacker in this scheme and excel. His versatility and raw athletic traits would make for a fun chess piece for head coach Brian Flores to play with.
Biggest Surprise: Falcons select Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
This one is surprising for a couple of reasons. One, Ben has Slater going as OT1, and two, the Falcons take an offensive tackle. Starting with Slater as OT1, I personally don’t see it. I have Slater behind Oregon’s Penei Sewell pretty comfortably and can’t envision a scenario where Slater would go before Sewell in April’s draft. Now Ben is totally right that there are folks out there that do like Slater’s game compared to Sewell’s, I just can’t see how a team could pass on Sewell, who is superior in every athletic and physical measure and has the much higher upside with similar floors.
The Falcons taking an offensive tackle and bypassing a quarterback or an edge rusher is also surprising. If I’m the Falcons, I have a hard time passing on North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and securing my quarterback of the future. I additionally have a hard time neglecting a defense that has struggled for years. A trade back is Atlanta’s best scenario if quarterback is not the pick.
Best Idea I’ve Never Had: Chargers select Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC
I like this pick. A lot. The Chargers must address the offensive line this offseason. There is just no way they can roll with Sam Tevi, Forrest Lamp, and Dan Feeney as starters. Most mock drafts have the Chargers selecting an offensive tackle at No. 13, with the likes of Samuel Cosmi or Slater being the guy. While I think that makes a lot of sense as left tackle is the most important position on the offensive line, one could argue that Vera-Tucker is a better prospect at guard than whoever is OT2. Taking Vera-Tucker at No. 13 would give the Chargers a future Pro Bowl guard and would immediately improve the interior of the offensive line.
Vera-Tucker is one of the cleanest prospects I have watched this season and has very few holes in his game. I like the idea of nabbing him at No. 13 and giving Justin Herbert protection from the inside rush, which is the quickest way to the quarterback. Good job, Ben.
Head Scratcher: Steelers select Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
While I agree that corner is definitely a need for the Steelers, I don’t believe that it’s a bigger need than offensive tackle. The Steelers must address their left tackle situation as starter Alejandro Villanueva is a free agent and had his fair share of struggles this season. With the likes of Alex Leatherwood, Jalen Mayfield, and Dillon Radunz on the board, I can’t justify taking a corner. Additionally, Campbell is a risky bet in the first round. I love everything Campbell brings from a raw athlete and physical traits perspective, but I don’t see the natural ball skills or instincts that I would want to see in a first-round corner. I think Campbell’s sweet spot is somewhere in the mid-to-late second round.
Best of the Rest: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Few players have helped themselves more this season than Phillips. Phillips had a hell of a year stepping in for opt out Gregory Rousseau and firmly established himself as one of the best edge defenders in the class. A former top recruit, Phillips has all the talent in the world and put it all on full display this season. He has the size, quickness, bend, length, and power that allows him to win in a variety of ways. He is truly a complete defensive end that not only rushes the passer extremely well, but also is just as effective in the run game. There are definitely medical questions here that will need to be answered, but if everything checks out, I think he will hear his name called in the top 32.