Mel Kiper's 2021 GZL Mock Draft
1.1 - 1.10
1.1 CB Rollo Salsbury
Salsbury is a perfect fit for the Falcons to take first overall, as he is one of the top players in the draft and also fills a need. Atlanta has some aging vets in Jenoris Jenkins and Matthew Diaz with only Kendall Fuller developing into a long term solution at the position. Salsbury is the complete package with a deadly combo of height and athleticism, along with strength he showed at the combine. Did I mention he can catch and tackle too? Fundamentals and physicals, this kid has it all.
1.2 QB Carson Wentz
Will the Vikings take the best QB in the draft? I don't know, but they should. After shipping Nick Voles off, the Vikes have a black hole in their middle of their offense. While there are some veteran QB options swimming around in the free agency lagoon, we expect Minnesota to take Wentz and lock down a long term solution.
1.3 WR Alfonso Alvarez
And here is the first surprise of the draft. The Colts could go in a few different directions here, but they choose to take a gamble on Alvarez. They currently only have just two wideouts on their roster, and neither are truly starting material. If they want to continue to develop Teddy Bridgewater (and want any shot at staying relevant in the AFC South) then they need someone who can catch the ball. Some will prefer Ohio State's Michael Thomas over Alvarez, who has more polished intangibles. But Alvarez could be the bigger stud a couple seasons from now, with his elite SPD/AGI along with his 6'3"/230lb stature.
1.4 HB Derrick Henry
The Bengals could opt between one of the three stud DE's here, or they could choose the Heisman winning Henry. Cincy could rely on Kenneth Dixon to carry the rock this season, but his pedestrian attributes and rookie stats make me think otherwise. The Alabama alum Henry has it all... size, athleticism, strength, and intangibles. He fits my perfect mold for HB more than Ezekiel Elliot, who went 1.1 in the last GZL draft. Again, DE could be the pick here, but what's more fun than adding a Heisman wrecking ball?
1.5 OT Ronnie Staley
The Bears moved up from 1.25 to get to this spot, so it seems a bit unsexy to choose an OT. But Staley is one of the best offensive linemen to come into the draft in recent memory, and will be an anchor for whatever team takes him. After whiffing on MLB's in free agency, DeShaun Kennedy could also be the pick here as it would fill a glaring hole in Chicago's D.
1.6 MLB DeShaun Kennedy
After inexplicably allowing MLB Oliver Nixon to hit free agency, the Texans now need a leader to captain their defense. Kennedy is one of the few sure things in a very weak LB class this season. Another direction could be CB William Jackson, whose elite physicals would pair nicely with CB Micah Price.
1.7 DE Purifoy Bolden
The Cowboys just recently moved up into the Top 10, and I think it's to nab one of the three stud DE's. Bolden is the best pass rusher in the group, and resembles a slightly less studly Jadeveon Clowney. If the Cowboys are intent on keeping Josh Jordan at LE, then DeForest Buckner or Shaq Lawson could be the pick.
1.8 WR Michael Thomas
Geno Smith threw the ball a lot last year, and finally had a breakout season. With only two wideouts currently rostered, the Niners will need to bring in some more pass catchers. Thomas is solid all around, and resembles a young Dez Bryant. He'd make a top-notch Robin to Josh Gordon's Batman, and give San Fran possibly the best WR combos in the league.
1.9 DE DeForest Buckner
Buckner is a freak and can obviously excel anywhere on the DL. I think his lack of speed will allow him to fall this far, though, considering the higher use of 4-3 in the GZL. I think the Chargers will break Buckner's fall here, and move him to DT for the time being.
1.10 DE Shaq Lawson
Lawson is an extremely versatile pick as he can be studly at RE, LE, or OLB. In a draft without Bolden or Buckner, he could easily be a Top 5 pick. I think the Panthers jump on him and plug him at either RE or ROLB, as he'd be an upgrade to either position. He also has a cool name... Shaq Lawson. Come on, that's just cool. The Panthers could also shock the world and take kicker Roberto Aguayo, whose draft stock has been rising tremendously over the past week.