With the 2021 college football season now in the books, NFL draft season has now officially begun. Though lucky fans of the last four teams left standing in the NFL playoffs are still glued to their screens this weekend, fans of the other 28 — my Detroit Lions certainly included — look toward April and free agency and proclaim with cautious confidence: Next year will be our year.
Though 2021’s NFL draft hopefuls still have a long way to go and many hurdles to jump before draft day, I will do my best to act as general manager for each NFL team in this mock of the draft’s first round with the information and tape so far available.
Here we go.
Pick 1: Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
It seems like the envelope for this pick has been sealed for years now, ever since Lawrence took college football by storm back in his true freshman season with the Tigers in 2018. Since then, all he’s done is throw for 90 touchdowns and over 10,000 yards en route to a remarkable 34-2 career record as a starter. He’s been compared to Andrew Luck ’12 and John Elway ’83 as one of the greatest college quarterback prospects of all time. Paired with breakout running back James Robinson and an emerging receiver corps, Lawrence immediately gives Jacksonville a nucleus of dynamic young talent.
Pick 2: New York Jets – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
If Lawrence didn’t exist, the Jaguars would still be overjoyed to take Fields No. 1 overall. Fields has elite physical traits and accuracy, and he absolutely dominated the Big 10 in the 2019 season, passing for 41 touchdowns to only three interceptions. Fields did have a couple of hiccups this season but redeemed himself with strong play in the college football playoffs, eviscerating the Tigers’ defense on the ground and through the air.
It should be noted, however, that uncertainty still looms around this pick. Questions remain about what general manager Joe Douglas should do with Sam Darnold; I’m making this pick of Fields under the assumption that Douglas decides to move on from the first-rounder out of USC, hopefully flipping him for a day-two pick.
Pick 3: Carolina Panthers – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
(TRADE: The Miami Dolphins trade away the third-overall pick for Carolina’s 8th-overall pick, their 72nd-overall pick and their 2022 first-round pick.)
With their future quarterback in place, the Dolphins are in prime trade territory here with the third-overall pick. They are in desperate need of a star wideout; but with a handful on the board and two (if not three) likely to be available by the time the Panthers’ number-eight pick rolls around, Miami general manager Chris Grier makes the deal to help Carolina bring their new franchise quarterback to town. Wilson made tremendous strides this season and showed off an exceptional ability to make accurate downfield passes out of structure. He can take a year to learn from Bridgewater before the Panthers have a potential out from Teddy B’s contract after the 2021 season, freeing up $21 million in cap space to lead into what could be a resurgent 2022 year for the Panthers with Wilson at the helm.
It should be noted, though, that as the weeks roll by, it’s looking more and more like this trade won’t be Miami’s to trade by the time the draft rolls around, and that Deshaun Watson might have something to do with it.
Pick 4: Atlanta Falcons – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Falcons are another prime trade-out candidate here with the fourth-overall pick because, surprising as it may sound, Matt Ryan is not the problem here. The 35-year-old four-time Pro Bowler passed for over 4,500 yards with a QBR of 94.5 this season. On the other hand, the Atlanta defense struggled mightily against the pass. Alongside Deion Jones, Parsons would help constitute one of the more talented linebacking corps of the NFL. Early season comparisons of Parsons to Luke Kuechly made headlines around the Big 10; if Parsons can come anywhere close to that kind of impact, the Falcons will have struck gold here.
Pick 5: Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
This is a dream situation for the Bengals; they grab arguably the second-best player in the draft here in Sewell at their biggest position of need. Sewell is a generational tackle talent that never allowed more than two pressures in a single game across 491 pass-blocking snaps in 2019. At 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, he moves like a tight end and oftentimes looks like a man amongst boys, dominating edges (including some of Stanford’s, sadly) in the Pac-12. And he only just turned 20.
Pick 6: Philadelphia Eagles – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Wide receiver will be very tempting here, but the secondary in Philadelphia has been overlooked for simply too long (and I’m still holding out for you, JJAW). The son of a former All-Pro, Surtain II would be a day-one starter at CB2 alongside Pro Bowler Darius Slay, giving the Eagles a tandem of man-cover corners that would bolster a defense whose pass rush ranked No. 1 in the league in pressures this season.
Again, however, much remains up in the air for Philadelphia, a team just three years removed from a Super Bowl run led with an MVP-caliber performance by Carson Wentz. This season saw a massive dropoff; Wentz posted career lows in passing yards, touchdowns, QBR and completion percentage. There’s a strong chance the Eagles will consider his replacement in fellow NDSU Bison quarterback Trey Lance, whose 287 consecutive passes in 2019 broke an NCAA record for most throws without an interception. Lance is nowhere near a finished product, but with new front office leadership coming to Philadelphia, Wentz’s time in the City of Brotherly Love might be limited.
Pick 7: Detroit Lions – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The Lions’ top needs are at wideout and edge rusher; here at number seven, the top prospects at both positions are still available. With all three of their top receivers hitting the open market this offseason, the Lions have an opportunity to pick up college football’s best receiver in Ja’Marr Chase, who racked up a whopping 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns en route to a Biletnikoff Award-winning season in 2019.
This pick will come down to how the Lions play free agency this offseason; if they choose to retain Golladay and give him the payout he’s hoping for, it would certainly make more sense for the Lions to look towards the defensive line with this pick. In my eyes, letting Golladay go will allow them to retain defensive pieces, like Romeo Okwara and Desmond Trufant, and maintain a strong receiving corps by picking Chase at the top of the draft.
Pick 8: Miami Dolphins – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
(TRADE: The Miami Dolphins trade away the third-overall pick for Carolina’s 8th-overall pick, their 72nd-overall pick, and their 2022 first-round pick.)
After trading out and stacking up some later-round picks and another first for next year, the Dolphins bring Tua Tagovailoa’s old teammate Jaylen Waddle to Miami with the eighth-overall pick. This is a match made in heaven. Waddle is a rare athlete and polished route runner who can make plays from anywhere on the field; the fact that Waddle and Tagovailoa played together in college will be huge in helping the second-year QB make the leap in his development. The Dolphins could definitely use offensive line talent, but they can afford to wait. The trio of DeVante Parker, Jaylen Waddle and Preston Williams alongside tight end Mike Gesicki gives Tagovailoa a talented young receiving corps.
Pick 9: Denver Broncos – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Hokies’ Christian Darrisaw burst onto the scene this season, developing into a dominant blocker in the ACC. He has the potential to become a standout, franchise tackle at the NFL level, boasting the size and athleticism to stonewall edge rushers in the AFC West. His movement skills also make him a perfect fit for Pat Shurmur’s zone run scheme at Mile High. With breakout Garrett Bolles on the left side and Lloyd Cushenberry and Dalton Risner on the interior, Darrisaw on the right would give Denver bookends as they continue to build their offense around Drew Lock.
Cornerback will be tempting here, but Denver’s exceptional safety play this season — along with Bryce Callahan, a star in the slot — kept their secondary in the top half of the league. Assuming the Broncos bring safety Justin Simmons back next season, that level of play should sustain.
Pick 10: Dallas Cowboys – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Back-to-back Hokies go off the board here at the bottom of the top ten; Caleb Farley has a rare blend of physical traits and man-cover skills that make him an extremely exciting cornerback prospect for a press/man-heavy scheme. With Dan Quinn coming to town as Dallas’ new defensive coordinator, the rangy and athletic 6-foot-2 Farley seems a perfect fit to fill the void left by Pro Bowler Byron Jones, who headed to Miami in free agency last offseason.
Farley is certainly in consideration for being the top corner in this year’s class and very well may move up boards with a strong combine performance come spring. For now, though, the Cowboys get a steal at arguably their top position of need.
Pick 11: New York Giants – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked 45 times this season. Four out of the Giants’ five starters on the offensive line were below-average performers this season; if there’s anything they should be prioritizing with this pick, it’s versatility. Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater started at left tackle for the Wildcats but has a higher potential on the inside due to his shorter arms and stockier build. Nonetheless, Slater held his own against then-Buckeyes pass-rush monster Chase Young back in 2018; Slater may well be able to stay on at tackle at the NFL level opposite Andrew Thomas, the Giants’ first-rounder last year.
I see Slater’s ideal position at center, where he, Saquon Barkley, and Jones will constitute the core of a Giants offense, poised to take a shot at the crown in what was a historically weak NFC East this season.
Pick 12: San Francisco 49ers – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
We’ve all seen DeVonta Smith’s stat line by now: 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns — in the SEC!?? Now, if Smith was about 25 pounds heavier than he is now at 175 pounds, he’d likely be in the conversation for a top-three pick; some front offices are concerned that in the wrong schemes, he could be bullied at the next level. However, if there’s anyone who can figure out how to get the most out of Smith, it’s Kyle Shanahan (or Andy Reid, but Smith certainly won’t last to the end of the first — but wouldn’t that be a marvelous pairing to see? Maybe in an alternate universe).
Trey Lance will be tempting, but the risk is unwarranted here; with an experienced QB already on the roster and a star-studded defense ready to go, the 49ers are far from rebuild mode. Smith would round out a 49ers offense poised for a comeback next season.
Pick 13: Los Angeles Chargers – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
The Chargers are picking an offensive lineman here. There’s no question about it. They’ve had one of the worst lines in the league for years. With the draft’s top tackles off the board, they have their pick of the second-tier guys; my vote here is on Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield. With only 15 starts under his belt for the Wolverines, Mayfield is a work in progress but has already shown promise by soundly handling top-50 picks Yetur Gross-Matos and Chase Young as well as other top college talents — Jayson Oweh, Terrell Lewis, Julian Okwara and others — over the past two years. The Chargers have their right tackle in Bryan Bulaga, but Sam Tevi simply cannot start for this team any longer — they might have to rush Mayfield into the starting lineup a few games earlier than they’d like to, but with a year or two under his belt, Mayfield has all of the tools and athleticism to develop into a top-tier franchise left tackle at the NFL level.
Pick 14: Minnesota Vikings – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
After losing Danielle Hunter to injury and Everson Griffen to free agency, the Vikings went from having one of the best defensive lines to having arguably the worst in the league in just one year; their team pressure rate of 21.6% ranked last in the NFL. With no defensive linemen off the board so far, at the 13th-overall spot, the Vikings have their pick of a variety of different styles of player. I have them taking an athletic, scheme-versatile defensive end in Kwity Paye here. Paye was absolutely dominant at times for the Wolverines this season, using remarkable athleticism in tandem with powerful hand usage to crash off edges in the Big 10. However, if he can put up numbers at the combine this coming spring that evidence the athleticism he was billed as having (he was listed at the top of Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List” for The Athletic) earlier this season, he may be off the board much earlier than No. 13. For now, Michigan’s Paye doesn’t have to move far as he heads to Minnesota.
Pick 15: New England Patriots – Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
Seems almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Bill Belichick and the Pats get their QB of the future without budging at the 14th overall pick, nabbing a high-upside talent who will have time to sit behind (or split snaps with) Cam Newton before stepping into the full-time role. Lance was a transcendent threat in college as a runner and passer, and he has shown the ability to run an offense under center. Some of the throws he made in 2019 were simply mind-boggling; it’s been decades since the Patriots have had a quarterback with that kind of arm talent.
Pick 16: Arizona Cardinals – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The Cardinals are in desperate need of cornerback help; Patrick Peterson has long needed a running mate and is coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career. However, this pick was simply too much fun not to make. Kyle Pitts absolutely tore apart SEC defenses this season with remarkable speed, separation ability and contested catch ability. He scored seven touchdowns in the first three games of this season and ended up going for 129 yards and a touchdown against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. A polished route runner and massive target for Kyler Murray, Pitts would add another dynamic piece to an already top-tier Arizona offense that ranked sixth in the league in total yardage this past season.
Pick 17: Las Vegas Raiders – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
There might be no other player in this year’s draft class that screams Al Davis louder than Gregory Rousseau, who sports everything the Raiders front office has always touted: speed, size and stats. The 6-foot-7 Rousseau exploded onto the scene for the Hurricanes in 2019, racking up 15.5 sacks and earning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. His lack of technical refinement and experience are what cause him to drop all the way to sixteen here, so he may spend a year with a more limited role; ultimately, he’ll line up all over the line, working alongside Maxx Crosby to give the Raiders a young, talented and versatile defensive end duo.
Pick 18: Miami Dolphins – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Head coach Brian Flores is building a young, talented defense in Miami; the unit allowed the fifth-fewest points in the NFL this season. With one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL and a talented, young defensive line led by run-stuffing specialists Christian Wilkins and Emmanuel Ogbah, the linebacker corps is the primary area of concern. With Shaq Lawon likely heading out of Florida in free agency, the Dolphins still have Kyle Van Noy and Andrew Van Ginkel to man the outside linebacker spots; the weakness lies on the inside. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was absolutely explosive for the Fighting Irish in 2020, with quickness that gives him versatility that Flores will love. Whether as a blitzer, a box safety in sub-packages or a base 4-3 WILL, Owusu-Koramoah will be a three-down impact defender for the up-and-coming Dolphins defense.
Pick 19: Washington Football Team – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Until Washington can find their quarterback of the future, their front office should focus on putting together the best pieces they can for whoever that signal caller will be. The Washington offensive line outperformed expectations this season despite losing their starting left tackle Geron Christian to injury early in the season; Cornelius Lucas provided surprising stability to the position, ranking 11th overall in pass protection among left tackles this season according to Pro Football Focus. That plus play will likely regress next season, but until then, Sam Cosmi may have time to develop and build out his frame. He’s currently listed at an athletic 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, lean for a future NFL lineman; he will need to spend some time adding muscle mass before he’s ready to take on full-time snaps as a franchise left tackle. If he can get there, though, he has the flexibility and foot quickness to be a premier pass protector at the next level.
Pick 20: Chicago Bears – Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC
The Bears are in a spot similar to Washington; with uncertainty looming around the quarterback spot and no clear way to address it this season, solidifying the offensive line seems to be the best approach. Alijah Vera-Tucker was one of the best pass-protecting guards in college football in 2019 and made the transition over to left tackle in 2020, where he continued stellar play. He earned the Morris Trophy for his 2020 performance — the award is given to the best offensive and defensive linemen in the Pac-12 each season. The Bears could use upgrades at center, right guard and right tackle, so Vera-Tucker will likely have to switch positions; nonetheless, his exceptional athleticism and proven versatility should have him up for the challenge.
Pick 21: Indianapolis Colts – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
The Colts lost their stalwart left tackle in Anthony Castonzo, and replacing him in free agency will be no easy task. Alex Leatherwood comes into the NFL as one of the most decorated offensive lineman out of the SEC in decades; a five-star recruit, two-time national champion, two-time First Team All-SEC selection, and Outland Trophy winner, Leatherwood came into the starting lineup for the Crimson Tide to replace the injured Jonah Williams in the 2017 national championship and never looked back. Though he shows some stiffness in his lower half, he has a clean pass set and great arm length that projects him as a plus starter at the tackle position in the NFL.
This is another trade-out spot, though. There are a few ways the Colts could go with this pick, between a handful of offensive lineman and edge rushers; look for Indianapolis to drop back and reel in a few extra picks for this 20th-overall spot.
Pick 22: Tennessee Titans – Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
The Titans are in desperate need of edge help; no player on the team besides Jadeveon Clowney, who will be a free agent this offseason, produced a pressure rate above 10.0% on the season. Tennessee’s defense allowed the fifth most yards this season of any unit in the NFL; upgrading the outside linebacker spot across from Harold Landry will be a step in the right direction. Texas’ Joseph Ossai settled into the 3-4 outside linebacker spot in Texas’ defense as a true edge rusher this season, and earned Consensus First Team All-American honors for his performance. Though he lacks experience in dropping into coverage, he’ll fit beautifully into the Titans’ 3-4 scheme as a pure outside pass rusher.
Pick 23: New York Jets – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
What do Neville Hewitt, Sharif Finch and Frankie Luvu all have in common? They ended the NFL season as the starting linebackers for the New York Jets. They are also three players who I am fairly certain you have never heard of. The Jets need upgrades at just about every single position on their football team, save left tackle, thanks to Mekhi Becton.
With that in mind, the best defensive player remaining on the board is Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins, who burst onto the scene this year, earning both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player in college football along with AAC Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American honors. Collins made huge clutch plays seemingly every week, and he has the scheme versatility to rush the passer, drop back into coverage and play downhill against the run. He would be a day-one, instant-impact starter for a struggling Jets defense.
Pick 24: Pittsburgh Steelers – Liam Eichenburg, OT, Notre Dame
Assuming the Steelers don’t go quarterback or center with this pick after that horrifying outing against the Browns, offensive line looks like the most urgent group to upgrade with this pick. Pittsburgh boasted the best defense in football this season and although their offensive line ranked at the top in pass protection, as Big Ben was pressured on a league-low 21% of his dropbacks this season according to PFF. However, their performance in the running game was really what slowed them down; PFF ranked the unit 31st in the league in run blocking with left tackle Alejandro Villanueva struggling mightily. It’s time for an influx of young talent at the left tackle spot, and Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenburg should find assimilation to the pros quite easy, as many Fighting Irish offensive linemen have over the past few years. He isn’t the quickest or most athletic, but his sound fundamentals and footwork should make him a plug-and-play replacement for the veteran Villanueva, who will be hitting free agency this offseason.
Pick 25: Jacksonville Jaguars – Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State
The Jacksonville front office will look to building up an offensive line ready to welcome Trevor Lawrence to the huddle; as it stands, their bookend tackles in Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor have shown promise, and interior linemen Andrew Norwell and Brandon Linder are being paid a pretty penny for their premier play. AJ Cann, the Jags right guard, may be an offseason cut, which would free up $5 million in cap and open up space in the lineup for an instant upgrade by Ohio State’s mauler Wyatt Davis. Though the quality of Davis’ play dipped towards the end of the year, he showed the movement skills and athletic tools to earn a high pick in the 2021 draft. Teams who are hoping to set an aggressive and physical tone in the trenches will love Davis; new Jacksonville head coach Urban Meyer will certainly be happy to pick up a two-time All American that he coached for two seasons.
Pick 26: Cleveland Browns – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
So close, yet so far. Cleveland’s defense gave up 19 points early to the Mahomes-led Chiefs before clawing back into it in the second half. It would’ve been easier, though, if Denzel Ward wasn’t the only secondary player for the Browns playing above-average; adding a strong CB2 in Jaycee Horn would help Cleveland get that unit going. The son of Pro Bowl wideout Joe Horn, the South Carolina cornerback has a long frame built for competing with starting NFL receivers; Cleveland will need him to step in right away and secure the second cornerback spot if they are to make another run at the playoffs next season.
Pick 27: Baltimore Ravens – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The ineffectiveness of the Baltimore offense without a balanced run/pass attack was on full display in their last game of the 2020 season, an abysmal three-point outing that saw Lamar Jackson struggle to get anything going through the air. Dez Bryant, Myles Boykin and Willie Snead do not round out a Marquise Brown-led receiving corps well enough to take the load off of the running game in Baltimore; receiver should be their first priority in the draft.
They have a variety of options here at the 27th pick, but my vote goes to Ohio State’s Chris Olave. Olave is a mature route runner with good enough long speed to man the Z-receiver spot for the Ravens. His high-end separation ability without elite contested catch ability is reminiscent of some of the more recently productive receivers to come out of OSU in recent years. They’ve shown that if there’s anything that’s predictive of a successful transition to an NFL offense, it’s route running and separation ability — these are traits Olave has in spades.
Pick 28: New Orleans Saints – Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama
The Saints are a team that on paper don’t have many needs. It’s a strong roster from top to bottom. Where they’ll go with this pick depends on which of their 2021 free agents they decide to spend their slim cap space on; the biggest names here are starting tight end Jared Cook, free safety Marcus Williams, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins and edge Trey Hendrickson.
Hendrickson is going to get overpaid for his impressive stat line this offseason, and the Saints can afford to lose him with two stud defensive ends already on the roster. With 2020 second-rounder Adam Troutman waiting in the wings, the Saints already have their replacement for Cook lined up. That leaves Williams and Rankins at free safety and nose, respectively. Williams deserves top safety money — Rankins less so, having only hit 3.5 sacks over the past two seasons and grading out at 57.8 this year according to PFF. On that note, Williams will likely earn the payout this season from New Orleans’ coffers, leaving a hole at three-tech in the Saints’ defensive front.
Alabama’s Christian Barmore is the draft’s top interior defensive lineman, and he has the versatility to play either the 1-tech or 3-tech in an even front or even the base 4i/4-tech spot in an odd front. He has much to learn from a technical standpoint before he becomes an effective pass rusher and still relies heavily on power, but he will create vertical push and disruption for the Saints front from day one.
Pick 29: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
The Bucs are in a spot very similar to that of the Saints this offseason; they have a lot of impending free agents and not much cash to distribute among them. The big three, though, are wide receiver Chris Godwin, linebacker Lavonte David and edge rusher Shaquil Barrett. However, there is no greater cash sinkhole on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster than one left tackle Dononan Smith, who if cut, would open up enough cap room to easily sign Barrett or David.
If the Bucs cut Smith and free up $14.5 million in cap space, they could swing Tristan Wirfs over from the right, fill this hole at left tackle, and then use their first-round draft selection on “The Minnesota Mountain”: right tackle Daniel Faalele. Faalele is an absolutely freakish athlete; at 6-foot-8 and nearly 400 POUNDS, he moves with disturbing agility and grace. Faalele is this year’s prospect for whom the cliche “no man that size should be able to move like that” will be declared every time he comes on the screen. It will be a bold move to pick him in the first, but if there’s anyone in the NFL willing to take a high-risk high-reward pick like this, it’s Bruce Arians.
Pick 30: Buffalo Bills – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Matt Milano has played well for the Bills, and his injury tested the team’s depth at linebacker. The test didn’t go well. AJ Klein struggled, and the Bills reliance on a cover linebacker was exposed at many points throughout the season. With Milano likely heading out in free agency this offseason, Bolton will be a plug-and-play upgrade with an improved sideline-to-sideline range that Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier will love. Alongside Tremaine Edmunds, Bolton will shine in zone coverage and make linebackers think twice about coming over the middle. His speed and blitz ability also makes him a fun piece for McDermott to implement in creative pressure packages.
Pick 31: Green Bay Packers – Jay Tufele, IDL, USC
Still not drafting a skill player? Yes, you heard it right. Green Bay in no way needs help on offense; they’ll have to dish out some cash to bring back Corey Linsley, but they scored more points than any team in the NFL this season with a WR1 and a bunch of WR4’s. Meanwhile, some guy called Brian Price took snaps at defensive tackle for the Packers in the divisional round; this must stop. The Packers bring another USC front-seven player to Green Bay after much success with their last Trojan in Clay Matthews III — this time it’s Jay Tufele, the First Team All-Pac-12 selection, who demanded double teams all season for the USC defense. He’ll be a three-down player for the Packers and a day-one starter in between the star pass-rush duo of Preston and Za’Darius Smith.
Pick 32: Kansas City Chiefs – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
With Sammy Watkins hitting the free agency market, the Chiefs will look to reload their receiving corps with a top-flight talent in Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, who tore up Big-10 defenses for the Golden Gophers in the 2019 season. Bateman is an impressive route-runner and separator with contested catch ability; he has the potential to be a featured receiver in an NFL offense, and will pair beautifully in Kansas City’s offense alongside Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. After a few games in Andy Reid’s creative, high-volume offense, we’ll all be wondering why Bateman wasn’t picked much earlier.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.