2021 NFL Mock Draft Picks 18-22: Najee Harris, Micah Parsons come off the board

By , Audacy

The Ultimate Mock Draft, a collaborative effort between Audacy and the Locked On Podcast Network, rolls on Thursday with picks 18-22. We’ve seen big names come off the board (Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith was among yesterday’s picks), but plenty of star power remains with top running back prospect Najee Harris and Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons both up for grabs.

Thursday’s pod features analysis from Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin of NFL Network, longtime Dolphins beat writer Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, morning host Mike “Mully” Mulligan from 670 The Score and Jason Smith of 92.9 ESPN Memphis. To jog your memory, picks 1-17, made during the series’ first three installments, are listed below.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars — QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
2. New York Jets — QB Zach Wilson, BYU
3. San Francisco 49ers — QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
4. Atlanta Falcons — TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
5. Cincinnati Bengals — WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
6. Miami Dolphins — WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
7. Detroit Lions — OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
8. Carolina Panthers — QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
9. Denver Broncos — CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
10. Dallas Cowboys — CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
11. New York Giants — OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
12. Philadelphia Eagles — WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
13. Los Angeles Chargers — OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
14. Minnesota Vikings — DE Kwity Paye, Michigan
15. New England Patriots — QB Mac Jones, Alabama
16. Arizona Cardinals — CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
17. Las Vegas Raiders — OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

And now, for picks 18-22:

18. Miami Dolphins — RB Najee Harris, Alabama

Expert analysis, Armando Salguero:

“It could be argued that taking a running back with the 18th overall pick is too early. But some of those same people said Derrick Henry, also out of Alabama, runs too upright or is too much of a straight-line runner. And last I looked, he just gained 2,000 yards in a season. So I’m not falling for the banana in the tailpipe trick. 

Najee Harris doesn’t have a top gear. He’s not going to deliver 60 or 70-yard runs in the NFL. But he’s a 230-pound back who runs decisively and rarely fumbles. That’s what the Dolphins need because they were one of only four teams in the NFL last year that averaged less than four yards per carry when they ran the football. 

Harris also did something that was pretty impressive this year, and that was that he worked diligently on his pass-catching. And he is one of the better pass-catchers out of the backfield in this year’s draft. He has good ball skills. He has soft hands. All combined, pass-catching, strong decisive runner, he’s a force multiplier for the Miami Dolphins’ offense.” 

19. Washington Football Team – LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Expert analysis, Michael Irvin:

“Listen, if Washington isn’t going to move up the board and get their quarterback of the future, then the next-best thing to do is to stack a young defense that will stop any and everybody. You put Micah Parsons on that young Washington Football Team defense led by Chase Young up front, now they have the ability to win games by stopping you from scoring. And then ask Ryan Fitzpatrick just to do a little bit of FitzMagic.”

20. Chicago Bears – WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Expert analysis, Mike Mulligan: 

“I don’t believe there are great size concerns about Rashod Bateman. Bateman is a guy that was listed at 6’2” and probably 210. And when he went to his Pro Day, he’s basically a hair under 6’1” and probably closer to 200 pounds. That’s not great size, but he plays physical. If you watch him, there are plenty of circus catches. He’s got good body control. He’s got enough suddenness as an athlete and he ran a couple sub 4.4 forty-yard dashes, so you know he’s got speed. Is it playing speed? Seems like he kind of needs to get under himself to get to top speed. While he’s a great athlete, you wonder how it’s going to work after the catch. That’s always a concern.

Michael Thomas has been mentioned. [I think he’s] more like a Keenan Allen with smaller size and more speed. He’s excellent at receiving the ball at the catch point, really goes up and gets it. He was a high-school basketball player. Led his team to a state title as a junior. Didn’t play his senior year of basketball, concentrated on football and got himself a scholarship offer to Minnesota when he went to a camp as a junior. Never set foot in the state when P.J. Fleck saw him in Atlanta, gave him a scholarship offer and he accepted it. The SEC came calling. He stuck with Minnesota and he had a great career there and he’s definitely a guy who’s going to be tough to handle in the NFL.

Rashod Bateman would fit in well with the Chicago Bears. The Bears have a definite need at wide receiver, not just in the immediate future, but in the future future. God, it’s a mess up there. You look at Allen Robinson. He’s playing on a franchise tag. He’s a really good NFL professional wide receiver. Unfortunately, they couldn’t come up with any kind of long-term deal. You wonder if this is his final season with the Bears. You look at Darnell Mooney. He is probably their second-best receiver, a speedy rookie who got on the field quicker than expected, but health concerns are always a factor when a guy can’t finish out a season. Anthony Miller has been wildly inconsistent. Reportedly, the Bears have been trying to trade him. He is not a hot commodity around the league. Good luck trading him. Good luck getting anything in return. Javon Wims, they were contemplating cutting him after an incident last year, disappointing player. You look at Riley Ridley, they spent a draft pick on him. Apparently, he’s not good enough to get on the field. 

They need help at that position and I think that Bateman would be a good pick. The problem for the Bears, of course, is that they need help at multiple positions. They’ve got to get themselves a cornerback, they’ve got to get themselves an offensive tackle. They have to get a quarterback. It would be great to get Bateman, but who’s throwing to him and who’s throwing to him beyond this year with the Red Rifle effectively on a one-year deal?”

21. Dallas Cowboys (trade with Indianapolis) – DE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

Expert analysis, Michael Irvin:

“The Dallas Cowboys are building that defense. They’re starting in the secondary, working towards the linebackers and now, with this pick, focusing on getting some pass-rushing help. Let’s remember what I said before—you can always find pass-rushers. You can even find them on the streets. Last year they found Aldon Smith, who hadn’t played for quite a while (a few years), and he still came in and gave them five sacks. This is a great pick to solidify the middle of that defense.”

22. Tennessee Titans – CB Greg Newsome, Northwestern

Expert analysis, Jason Smith:

“I think this is too talented a crop of corners to put Newsome at the top of the class. There’s a good chance Patrick Surtain II is going to be the first defensive player selected in the draft period, likely somewhere in the top ten in between all those quarterbacks who are expected to be flying off the board. That’s how highly-regarded Surtain is coming out of Alabama. 

But I do think Newsome, because of the physical traits and ability to play any scheme in the NFL, is going to be the third or fourth cornerback selected in the first round. Scouts love his IQ coming out of Northwestern. They love his aggressiveness at 6’0,” 192 pounds. Opposing quarterbacks, get this, averaged a passer rating of just 31.7 over Newsome’s entire career at Northwestern. That’s elite. Only Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley was better in that department among the draft’s top corners. 

One of the things that does concern you about Newsome is his durability. He played in just 21 games over his three-year college career. Missed 14 due to injuries. So he’s got to stay healthy over a now-even-longer NFL season. But Newsome’s a guy who should be able to contribute right away to the team that picks him, possibly as a Day-1 starter. 

“Newsome would fit in perfectly with the Titans, though you wonder if Mike Vrabel might be tempted to take a wide receiver or maybe another offensive weapon at No. 22 having lost former first-round pick Corey Davis this offseason, a wide receiver, to the Jets. But cornerback is a need as well for the Titans, particularly a shut-down corner. And Newsome could eventually be that for a revamped Tennessee secondary, whose expected starters at corner right now are veteran addition Janoris Jenkins and second-year man Kristian Fulton. The Titans took Fulton in the second round of last year’s draft and still obviously have high hopes for him. But Fulton appeared in just six games last year before having his season cut short due to injury. The point is, he remains unproven. 

Newsome’s ability to plug in and play right away in any system, any scheme, as one of the three or four highest-rated cornerbacks in the draft out of Northwestern, makes him an appealing enough option that I think Vrabel will seriously consider drafting defense in the first round for the third time in four years.”

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy Sports
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram