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2021 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Steelers deliver a surprise in Round 1

In the latest three-round mock draft, the Steelers go in an unexpected direction with their top pick.

NFL Draft Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We are less than four weeks away from the NFL Draft, and the rumor mill is heating up. After last week's blockbuster trades among San Francisco, Miami, and Philadelphia, the mock drafts have been shaken up.

Rumors are indicating that the 49ers may be leaning toward Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at pick three. Although there seems to be substance to the rumor, I am not buying it just yet. Yes, he seems to fit the mold of quarterbacks that Kyle Shanahan has worked with in the past, but why would they need to trade up to three to take him? It could be that the league is higher on him than the media is. Maybe they are so sold on him that they are willing to do whatever is necessary to secure him. Both of those scenarios could be true, but I am holding off on it at least for this mock.

As always, trades are projected. I generally lean more toward team needs when mocking players to a certain team, but I mixed it up a little this time and added a few picks that were simply the best player available. One of those picks is the Steelers. We will discuss it more when we get to the pick.

This is a Steelers focused mock draft, but it is good to see projections for other teams that could impact who the Steelers take. Whoever the Steelers select will be predicated on who is available, and that will depend on the teams picking ahead of the Steelers. In this scenario, the top two running backs and top three tackles are gone, forcing the Steelers to take a closer look at the defensive side of the ball.

This mock goes three rounds. This will hopefully expand to four rounds for mock 4.0 before the final seven round 5.0 mock draft.

As for mock 3.0, here we go. Three new Steelers, lots of trades, and a lot to unfold. Let's get started!

1. Jaguars- Trevor Lawrence — QB — Clemson
I am not as high on Lawrence as the rest of the world seems to be, but I feel pretty confident in this one. I am not going to waste your time here.

2. Jets- Zach Wilson — QB — BYU
At this point, it is almost certain that the Jets will trade Sam Darnold and restart with a new coaching staff. Wilson's against-the-grain throw at his pro day will wow you, but his competitiveness, accuracy, and decision making are his biggest strengths. He has a chance to be special if he can avoid the injury bug.

3. 49ers- Trey Lance — QB — North Dakota State
By the time we get to mock 5.0, I may buy into the Mac Jones rumors, but Lance makes more sense in my mind. He is comfortable running play action, and his athleticism will allow Kyle Shanahan to open up his playbook and get even more creative.

4. Falcons- Kyle Pitts — TE — Florida
I thought about Justin Fields here, but Matt Ryan still has several good years of football in him. If they are comfortable with Ryan and unable to trade out of this pick, I think they will take what many consider the best player available at this point. I am not as high on Pitts as some, but his size and speed will give the Falcons an explosive weapon even after Julio Jones is gone.

5. Bengals- Ja'Marr Chase — WR — LSU
If I was the GM, there is no way I would pass on Penei Sewell, but knowing the Bengals organization, they may see Riley Reiff as a good enough option at tackle and opt for Burrow's former college teammate. Chase blew up his pro day, running a sub 4.4 40 and recording a 41 inch vertical.

6. Dolphins- Penei Sewell — OT — Oregon
Despite the hype surrounding the top receivers and quarterbacks, I still have Penei Sewell as the top overall player on my board. He is a premier talent at left tackle, but he would likely play on the right side in Miami to protect Tua's blindside.

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Lions receive Patriots 2021 1st and 2022 1st round picks)
7. Patriots- Justin Fields — QB — Ohio State
Although Fields does not seem to be what we have become accustomed to with New England's draft picks, there have been rumors that they are high on the Ohio State quarterback. Maybe Bill Belichick sees the success of Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes and wants to get a high-upside playmaker of his own. Fields displayed great accuracy at his pro day and ran a 4.44 in the 40. Plus, his arm is as good as any quarterback's in this class.

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Panthers receive Deshaun Watson; Texans receive 2021 1st and 2nd, 2022 1st and 2nd, and 2023 1st round picks)
8. Texans- Patrick Surtain — CB — Alabama
This move drains Carolina of draft capital the next few years, but all they need to have a chance at the NFC South is a playmaking quarterback. With the 49ers moving up to three, the Panthers can either keep the eighth pick and take whoever is remaining of the quarterbacks, or they can trade for someone such as Watson. As for Houston, after Bill O'Brien gave away all their draft capital, Nick Caserio would be wise to reload and move Watson if he is going to hold out anyway. Surtain's tape is good, especially in zone coverage, but he was not expected to test well. Come to find out, he had a 4.41 40 time, 39 inch vertical, and 131 inch broad jump at his pro day.

9. Broncos- Micah Parsons — ILB — Penn State
Parsons is the best defensive prospect in this draft, and his athleticism was on full display at his pro day. He ran a 4.39 in the 40, recorded a 6.89 in the 3-cone drill, and had a 126 inch broad jump. Denver could take a quarterback, but I believe that Drew Lock can still become a good quarterback. Vic Fangio has lacked a playmaking middle linebacker ever since he took the Broncos head coaching job, and after adding some pieces at cornerback in free agency, linebacker may be their biggest need.

10. Cowboys- Rashawn Slater — OL — Northwestern
Dallas has needs all over the defense, but with Dak Prescott coming off an injury, I could see Jerry Jones protecting his franchise quarterback first. Slater does not have great length, but I do not see it as an issue that will prevent him from playing left tackle. If you are not sold on Slater as a tackle, watch his 2019 tape against Chase Young.

11. Giants- Kwity Paye — EDGE — Michigan
Linebacker and corner could be in play here as well, but we all know how much Dave Gettleman loves the big guys. Paye is an athletic specimen who ran a 4.52 at 261 pounds at the Michigan pro day. He is an excellent run defender who can make an impact day one. If he can expand his repertoire of pass rushing moves, he has a chance to be special.

12. Eagles- DeVonta Smith — WR — Alabama
Many believe that the Eagles took themselves out of position to get one of the top wide receivers, but that is not certain. Not every quarterback and receiver will be able to fit inside the top 10 if there are any defensive picks. Thus, the Eagles could still have a shot at one of the big three. Smith gets knocked for his size, but durability has not been a huge issue for him in college. He has the frame to add some weight, and we all saw what he was capable of as a player in 2020. This would be a great addition for the Eagles who need another offensive playmaker to help support Jalen Hurts.

13. Chargers- Jaylen Waddle — WR — Alabama
I do have concerns with Waddle’s durability, but whenever he was healthy at Alabama, he was the most explosive player on the field. The Chargers need a tackle badly, and they have not shown interest in Alejandro Villanueva. However, they may not be able to pass on Waddle, who would be an excellent compliment to Keenan Allen.

14. Vikings- Alijah Vera-Tucker — OL — USC
Kwity Paye and Jaelan Phillips could be in play here, but Vera-Tucker’s versatility will give Minnesota exactly what they need on the offensive line. Christian Darrisaw could be an option as well, but Minnesota has a need at guard as well as tackle. Vera-Tucker could play either spot and give the Vikings more flexibility with their remaining draft picks.

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Lions receive Washington’s 1st, 3rd and 7th round picks)
15. Washington- Mac Jones — QB — Alabama
It seems more likely than not that Jones will go in the top 10 with San Francisco moving up, but in this scenario, the Broncos and Texans focus on the defensive side of the ball, knocking Jones outside the top ten. Ron Rivera knows that they need to find a quarterback, but it will not be easy to get one where they are picking at 19. It will likely require a trade-up scenario for them to snag one of the top five quarterbacks, but it may be worth it if they believe in the highly intelligent and accurate Mac Jones.

16. Cardinals- Jaycee Horn — CB — South Carolina
Arizona is in desperate need of a corner after losing Patrick Peterson. Fortunately for them, they are in a good position to land one of the top three corners. While Horn may not have the best ball skills, he may be the best pure cover corner in the draft. Adding him to a secondary with Budda Baker and Byron Murphy would add stability to a position that lacks depth.

17. Raiders- Teven Jenkins — OT — Oklahoma State
Wouldn’t it be just like Jon Gruden to pass on Christian Darrisaw for an inferior player at that position? We saw it in 2019 with Clelin Ferrell and in 2020 with Damon Arnette, so don’t be surprised to see it again. Jenkins ran a good 40 time at his pro day, but he was slow off the snap and did not have the best footwork on tape. Nonetheless, he is a hard-nosed lineman who plays through the whistle. I could see Gruden falling in love with this guy.

18. Dolphins- Najee Harris — RB — Alabama
This may be a little high for Harris, but the Dolphins have a serious need at the position, and Harris is used to catching passes out of the backfield from Tua Tagovailoa. A pass rusher could be in play here as well, but I expect Miami to go all in on supporting Tua. Harris is not a burner, and he runs a bit high at times, but his patient running style and power remind me of a young Le’Veon Bell.

19. Lions - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — ILB — Notre Dame
After moving back twice, the Lions are still in excellent position to fill one of their biggest needs. Detroit is in full rebuild mode, and moving back will get them the draft capital they need to speed up the rebuild. Although Owusu-Koramoah is not the biggest linebacker, he flies from sideline to sideline and has the ability to blitz on occasion as well.

20. Bears- Christian Darrisaw — OT — Virginia Tech
Chicago is also in desperate need of a quarterback, but the chances of them finding one in the first round are unlikely. If they cannot get their quarterback, I expect them to put some pieces around Andy Dalton and make his life easier. In any other year, I think Darrisaw would be a top 10 pick, but the depth of the class could slide him down the board. He can start day one while potentially becoming an All-Pro caliber tackle down the road.

21. Colts- Jaelan Phillips — EDGE — Miami
We all expected Phillips to shine at his pro day, and he did not disappoint. The former five-star recruit ran a 4.56 40, had a 36 inch vertical leap, and had a 125 inch broad jump. His concussion issues are a red flag, but the upside is undeniable. Indianapolis traded last year’s first round pick for Deforest Buckner, but they still need an edge rusher. Grabbing a guy like Phillips could complete the Colts’ front seven.

22. Titans- Caleb Farley — CB — Virginia Tech
Farley’s 2019 tape warrants a top ten pick, but his injury concerns could cause him to fall further than expected on draft night. Tennessee has a lot of needs on defense, but corner is near the top of the list after losing Adoree Jackson and Desmond King. Farley would arguably be the best player available and would give the Titans a good building block on defense.

23. Jets- Travis Etienne — RB — Clemson
The offensive line could still use some work, but a right tackle can be found on day two. After failing on Le’Veon Bell, the Jets will need to find someone better than La’Mical Perine to run the rock this fall. Etienne was not quite as explosive as a rusher in 2020, but he improved as a pass-catcher and run-blocker, making him a more balanced running back.

24. Steelers- Azeez Ojulari — OLB — Georgia
Before we go any farther, let me make one thing very clear: this pick is not meant as a replacement for Alex Highsmith. I am super excited about Highsmith after his excellent rookie season and expect him to be a reliable starter for a long time. However, Bud Dupree was not the only starting linebacker to leave this offseason. Robert Spillane may be able to hold the fort down next to Devin Bush, but Ojulari’s versatility allows him to play inside linebacker on occasion as well. He is very fluid and instinctful in coverage, and he is quick to fill gaps as a run defender. That would not be his full-time role, but using that part of his skill set will make him even more valuable to the Steelers. And if you are going by pure pass-rushing ability, Ojulari is the best edge rusher in the class. He may not get 12-15 sacks per year if the Steelers were to draft him and use him in multiple roles, but his ability to spell Highsmith, Watt, and Spillane would help fill two holes on defense. What makes him a logical pick for the Steelers is that we generally like to draft young players in the first round, and Ojulari is only 20. This is not what I would do as the GM, but I could see it happening.

25. Jaguars- Trevon Moehrig — S — TCU
Jacksonville could take an offensive tackle or corner here, but Moehrig is the best safety in the class. He only ran a 4.5 40 at his pro day, but he has solid athleticism and brings some versatility. The Jaguars gave up a lot of chunk plays last season, but adding Moehrig would go a long way toward fixing that.

26. Browns- Gregory Rousseau — EDGE — Miami
Rousseau did not have the best of pro days, and he only had one year of production, but the only thing the Browns have to offer across from Myles Garrett is Takkarist McKinley, who is only on a one-year deal. Linebacker could also be in play here, but the edge rushers may dry up quicker, causing Andrew Berry to think twice about passing on a top talent at defensive end.

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Ravens receive Buccaneers 1st and 3rd round pick; Buccaneers receive Ravens 1st and 7th round picks)
27. Buccaneers- Christian Barmore — DL — Alabama
Tampa Bay has very few needs on paper, but Ndomokung Suh is only on a one-year deal. Getting Barmore to pair with Vita Vea would keep their defensive line strong for years to come. Barmore did not have a huge role at Alabama until later in the season, but he has won the praise of BTSC’s Geoffrey Benedict, as he has mentioned Stefon Tuitt as an ideal comparison. If given time to develop, he could become an elite defensive lineman.

28. Saints- Kadarius Toney — WR — Florida
There is a definite drop-off at receiver after the top three, but getting Toney at 28 would be good value for New Orleans, who needs to find a receiver to replace Emmanuel Sanders and pair with Michael Thomas. Toney is does not have world-class speed, but he is a 4.4 guy who is quick in and out of cuts and not afraid of the middle of the field.

29. Packers- Jamin Davis — ILB — Kentucky
Davis was somewhat of an unknown about a month ago, but after becoming a starter in 2020 and having a breakout season, he has put himself on the radar. His impressive pro day which included a 4.41 40 and 132 inch broad jump will not hurt either. Green Bay still needs a receiver and potentially an offensive lineman, but the value of Davis may be difficult to pass up for a team who has nothing at linebacker.

30. Bills- Kelvin Joseph — CB — Kentucky
I really liked what I saw from Joseph on tape, and he turned in some pretty impressive numbers at his pro day. He ran a 4.34 in the 40 while recording a 35 inch vertical and 127 inch broad jump. He is more experienced in zone because of Kentucky’s defensive scheme, but he has the size and speed to also become solid in man coverage as he develops.

31. Chiefs- Liam Eichenberg — OT — Notre Dame
Offensive line was already a need for Kansas City, but after releasing both Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, the need only got larger. I am not terribly high on Eichenberg, but Kansas City needs somebody who can step in and start day one. Eichenberg is not an exceptional athlete, but he will be sufficient in the short term for the Chiefs.

32. Ravens- Joseph Ossai — EDGE — Texas
The Ravens could be in position to take Terrace Marshall or Rashod Bateman here, but after signing Sammy Watkins, the focus may turn to the defense. Ossai has started to fall on draft boards, but his tape warrants a first round pick. His motor, hand usage, and natural feel for getting after the quarterback will make him an excellent fit in Baltimore, who just lost Matt Judon to New England.

Round 2

33. Jaguars- Rondale Moore — WR — Purdue
34. Jets- Greg Newsome — CB — Northwestern
35. Falcons- Carlos Basham — DE — Wake Forest
36. Dolphins- Zaven Collins — ILB — Tulsa
37. Eagles- Eric Stokes — CB — Georgia
38. Bengals- Dillon Radunz — OT — North Dakota
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Texans receive Dolphins 2nd, 5th, and 2022 5th round picks)
39. Rashod Bateman — WR — Minnesota
40. Broncos- Davis Mills — QB — Stanford
41. Lions- TuTu Atwell — WR — Louisville
42. Giants- Wyatt Davis — G — Ohio State
**PROJECTED TRADE** (49ers receive Browns 2nd, 4th, and 6th round picks)
43. Browns- Nick Bolton — ILB — Missouri
44. Cowboys- Aaron Robinson — CB — UCF
45. Jaguars- Pat Freiermuth — TE — Penn State
46. Patriots- Creed Humphrey — C — Oklahoma
47. Chargers- Alex Leatherwood — OT — Alabama
48. Raiders- Daviyon Nixon — DT — Iowa
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Cardinals receive Packers 2nd and 3rd round picks; Packers receive Cardinals 2nd and 7th round picks)
49. Packers- Elijah Moore — WR — Ole Miss
50. Texans- Landon Dickerson — C — Alabama
51. Washington- Jalen Mayfield — OT — Michigan
52. Jets- Ronnie Perkins — EDGE — Oklahoma
53. Titans- Terrace Marshall — WR — LSU
54. Colts- Samuel Cosmi — OT — Texas
55. Steelers- Javonte Williams — RB — North Carolina
Javonte Williams’ 40 time was not spectacular, but one thing needs to be pointed out. It seems as if some fields are just slower than others. At LSU’s pro day, everyone seemed to run faster than expected, while everyone at North Carolina’s pro day ran slower than expected. If you watch the tape, Williams plays faster than his mid 4.5 40 time may suggest. I blame the different fields for uneven pro day numbers, but nonetheless, his blend of size, speed, and power will be a welcome sight to a Steelers team that finished dead last in rushing in 2020.
56. Seahawks- Brady Christensen — OT — BYU
57. Rams- Jackson Carman — OT — Clemson
58. Ravens- Nico Collins — WR — Michigan
59. 49ers- Paulson Adebo — CB — Stanford
60. Saints- Kellen Mond — QB — Texas A&M
61. Bills- Trey Smith — G — Tennessee
62. Cardinals- Alim McNeill — DT — North Carolina State
63. Chiefs- Jason Myers — C — Ohio State
64. Buccaneers- Dylan Moses — LB — Alabama

Round 3

65. Jaguars- Shaun Wade — CB — Ohio State
66. Jets- Tyson Campbell — CB — Georgia
67. Texans- Kyle Trask — QB — Florida
68. Falcons- Jevon Holland — S — Oregon
69. Bengals- Joe Tryon — EDGE — Washington
70. Eagles- Jabril Cox — ILB — LSU
71. Broncos- Walker Little — OT — Stanford
72. Lions- Asante Samuel, Jr. — CB — Florida State
73. Panthers- Amon-Ra St. Brown — WR — USC
74. Washington- Baron Browning — LB — Ohio State
75. Cowboys- Jayson Oweh — EDGE — Penn State
76. Giants- Ifeatu Melifonwu — CB — Syracuse
77. Chargers- Elijah Molden — CB — Washington
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Dolphins receive Titans 3rd and 6th round picks)
78. Titans- Patrick Jones II — EDGE — Pittsburgh
79. Raiders- Tylan Wallace — WR — Oklahoma State
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Raiders receive Browns 3rd and 6th round picks)
80. Browns- D’Wayne Eskridge — WR — Western Michigan
81. Dolphins- Chris Rumph — EDGE — Duke
82. Lions - Levi Onwuzurike — DL — Washington
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Bears receive QB Sam Darnold)
83. Jets- James Hudson — OT — Cincinnati
84. Eagles- Dyami Brown — WR — North Carolina
85. Dolphins- Jay Tufele — DL — USC
86. Jets- Hunter Long — TE — Boston College
87. Steelers- Robert Rochell — CB — Central Arkansas
After the Steven Nelson fallout, corner has become a big need for the Steelers. I am a fan of Justin Layne, and James Pierre showed promise last year, but I am not sure if the Steelers will use them properly. Rochell was excellent against lesser competition and put up impressive numbers at his pro day, running a 4.38 in the 40 and 42 inch vertical. I would love to see a Trey Hill here, but I could see the Steelers keeping the cabinet full on defense. This is the point where the corners may begin to dry up.
88. Lions- Daelan Hayes — EDGE — Notre Dame
89. Raiders- Pete Werner — ILB — Ohio State
90. Vikings- Richie Grant — S — UCF
91. Browns- Jaylen Twyman — DL — Pittsburgh
92. Cardinals- Kenneth Gainwell — RB — Memphis
93. Bills- Rhomandre Stevenson — RB — Oklahoma
94. Chiefs- Ambry Thomas — CB — Michigan
95. Ravens- Divine Diablo — S — Virginia Tech
96. Patriots- Tyler Shelvin — DT — LSU
97. Chargers- Brevin Jordan — TE — Miami
98. Saints- Quincy Roche — EDGE — Miami
99. Cowboys- Tyrie Gilespie — S — Missouri
100. Titans- Tommy Togai — DT — Ohio State
101. Lions- Seth Williams — WR — Auburn
102. 49ers- Andre Cisco — S — Syracuse
103. Rams- Chazz Surratt — ILB — North Carolina
104. Ravens- Spencer Brown — OT — Northern Iowa
105. Saints- Tommy Tremble — TE — Notre Dame

Which picks caught your eye? Was there something that another team was given in this mock that surprised you? What do you think of the selections for the Steelers? Be sure to share your thoughts on this mock and everything NFL Draft in the comment section below, and stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain for the latest news surrounding the Steelers as the NFL Draft approaches.