The 2021 NFL Draft is just around the corner. The first pick will be made by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, April 29th at 7 p.m. ET. After Jacksonville takes Trevor Lawrence, we will be on the road to three days of spring football fun.
But, which teams have the most picks and draft capital? The Jaguars are of course in the drivers seat with the first pick and the subsequent first picks in each round, as they haven’t traded any away, while accumulating others after selling off veteran assets for their rebuild. Unfortunately for some teams, the number of picks isn’t the best measure of draft resources, as higher picks count more than lower picks.
There are a couple of methods at calculating draft value, but the first widely known formula came from Jimmy Johnson. He gave a numerical value to each pick, starting with No. 1 at 3000 points, No. 2 at 2600 points and then in shorter increments as you head down. Rich Hill over at Pats Pulpit produced an updated model in 2017. Hill looked at actual trades being made to help in his revision. It follows a similar pattern, but is more precise than Johnson’s. So we’ll use his in evaluating this year’s draft capital rankings.
Which QB needy team has the most draft capital to move up?
The San Francisco 49ers already moved up to the No. 3 spot, while the Atlanta Falcons sit at No. 4. We know the first three picks will be quarterbacks, but the Falcons are a wild card. They could possibly trade back to a team desperate to grab a new quarterback. But which of those teams have the most wiggle room to move up this season?
Philadelphia Eagles 680
Carolina Panthers 674
Denver Broncos 655
Las Vegas Raiders 578
New England Patriots 565
Washington Football Team 542
Chicago Bears 449
Pittsburgh Steelers 428
Houston Texans 145
These are all teams that would like to have an early round quarterback, but not all of them appear to be in play to trade up for one. Philadelphia, Denver, New England, Washington, and Chicago look to be in play, at varying degrees, to trade up and their draft capital goes in that order.
The Eagles traded back to No. 12, making it clear that they were okay with Jalen Hurts starting this season. But, there is always a chance they move back up if it works for them, as they don’t seem completely sold on their sophomore quarterback and have a strong set of picks to work with.
Denver hasn’t given up on Drew Lock as their future, but they reportedly are looking at Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and company to see if it’s worth making a play for the guy they like. If they truly want it, they make the most sense to put together a deal with the Falcons.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots went heavy into free agency and appear unwilling to start completely over. That would seem to put them on the radar to trade up as well. They have the upper hand in resources over Washington and Chicago, but of course, teams can always delve into their future first rounders to mortgage the farm.
The moderately rich get richer
Teams like the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still stacked and don’t need the draft to help, so their low draft capital isn’t an issue. But there are some teams on the verge of making the playoffs, who also have a nice set of picks.
The Miami Dolphins have played their rebuild quite well. They went 10-6 last season despite Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tua Tagovailoa at the helm and now have the third highest draft capital this season. We’ll need to see a step forward from Tagovailoa, but I expect that step is made, while they add talent to an already young and talented roster.
The Dallas Cowboys will benefit in the draft from Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury last year, as they have the tenth-highest draft capital. Getting Prescott back and loading up the roster that already has great offensive skill player talent should boost them into contention in a weak division.
The Los Angeles Chargers got lucky with their Justin Herbert pick last season. Even if you loved him in college, his rookie NFL season wasn’t predicted by anybody. His rapid development coupled with some strong pieces and the 12th-highest draft capital put them on a good track.
The poor get poorer
Houston, we have a problem. Okay, that was cheap, but oh so accurate. The Texans rank second to last in draft capital. They can thank ex-head coach and GM Bill O’Brien for their terrible draft state. Their first pick this year is at the start of the third round and they went 4-12 last season with one of the best quarterbacks in the league. And that quarterback may not even play this year.
The Chicago Bears signed Andy Dalton as a stop-gap after finally cutting ties with Mitch Trubisky. But everyone and their dog knows that Dalton is a backup at this point in his career, especially if you want to get to the big game. Unfortunately, they rank 20th in draft capital while also needing to plug plenty of holes in the dam. General Manager Ryan Pace can’t be in his job much longer.
2021 NFL Draft Capital
|Team||Draft Capital||Total picks|
|Team||Draft Capital||Total picks|
|New York Jets||1392||10|
|San Francisco 49ers||747||9|
|Los Angeles Chargers||605||9|
|New York Giants||597||6|
|Las Vegas Raiders||578||8|
|New England Patriots||565||10|
|New Orleans Saints||399||8|
|Green Bay Packers||385||10|
|Kansas City Chiefs||361||8|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||333||8|
|Los Angeles Rams||200||6|