The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft will be held on Thursday, April 29, in Cleveland. Here are my top 10 picks as well as skill position players I expect to go on the first day of this year’s draft.
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Top 10 Picks
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
I mean, yeah.
2. New York Jets - Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
The draft doesn’t really begin until pick three, as the Jets have been besotted with Wilson for quite sometime now. While Wilson only has one real impressive year of college under his belt, the numbers he did post last season were mouthwatering for a team in desperate need of production under center. Wilson completed 72.7% of his 337 pass attempts for 3694 yards 32 touchdowns and only three interceptions. His ability to throw off-balance and accurately has drawn high praise and something Jets fans will undoubtedly see early, as Wilson will be penciled in to start in Week 1.
3. San Francisco 49ers - Justin Fields (QB, Ohio St)
Arguably the biggest debate of the draft, the Niners settle on Fields and keep QB Mac Jones on the board. Plenty of rumors were flying on Monday saying that the Niners were out of the running for Fields and would instead take either Jones or QB Trey Lance. Personally, I think Fields is still the choice and would fit into the Kyle Shanahan offense. Fields can literally do it all and the quarterback position for the Niners has been extremely limited since Jimmy Garoppolo has come onto the scene with his lack of mobility and injuries. It’s time to unveil a new look in San Fran.
4. Atlanta Falcons - Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
Honestly, I would LOVE to see the Falcons trade out of this spot. This team has so many holes to fill that it’s hard to really pick one as a top priority. Grabbing a quarterback here wouldn’t be the worst move they could make but in the end, Pitts is being described as an absolute game changer. Adding to this potent offense isn’t a bad strategy by any means. With QB Matt Ryan expected to to remain under center, Pitts and his massive 6’6” 240 frame will be a boding figure over the middle of the field. With rumors that the Falcons are also fielding calls on WR Julio Jones, targets could be here for the taking.
5. Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)
This could easily be a spot where WR Ja’Marr Chase could be taking but the priority for the Bengals needs to be their offensive line. The built in chemistry with their time at LSU cannot be discounted, as these two who the national championship in 2019. However, protecting Burrow should be the priority and that’s where I think the Bengals land.
With the ability to play both left tackle and guard, Sewell should be a pivotal piece in a line that desperately needs help. Last season, the Bengals offensive line allowed pressure on 31% of the Bengals total drop backs between Burrow, Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley.
6. Miami Dolphins - Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
The Dolphins had what felt like a carousel of characters at receiver last season. After DeVante Parker, it never felt as if they had a solidified receiver alongside of him. To the Dolphins credit, they did add Will Fuller V on a one-year prove it deal. Grabbing Chase make for an excellent WR3 in his rookie season. This almost feels like the ideal situation for the Dolphins, similar to what we saw play out last year for the Cowboys, who nabbed WR CeeDee Lamb at pick 17. It played out perfectly and was a no-brainer. With Chase being the most talented player on the board offensive beside Pitts, the Dolphins don’t have much to think about here.
7. New England Patriots - Trey Lance (QB, NDSU)
The Patriots swoop in and grab their quarterback of the future and draft Lance as the Lions scoop up some picks. I think we all can agree the Lions are not contending in 2021 regardless of who is under quarterback. They are reportedly willing to trade back in the draft and I think this move makes sense.
With Cam Newton under center, the transition would be a much easier one, as the Patriots had a mobile quarterback for the first time in decades. While Lance is still extremely raw, the Patriots did their part in loading up on weapons, especially in the middle of the field with Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. The AFC East is suddenly getting tighter and tighter and if they don’t act now, the reign of supreme could be over for the Patriots. With quarterback being the last piece of the puzzle for this team, moving up to seven make sense.
8. Carolina Panthers - Rashawn Slater (OT, Northwestern)
If you’re going to make a splash for a quarterback in the offseason, it would be wise to make sure he’s protected. Slater would do the job for the Panthers, who grab him at eight. Slater is multi-talented and has five-position eligibility, giving the Panthers an immense amount of flexibility. Teddy Bridgewater was under pressure on just under 31% of his dropbacks last season, so loading up this line for Darnold is necessary. He’s no stranger to being under a ton of pressure to begin with but last year when he was working with a clean pocket, Darnold had a 68.1% completion percentage, six of his nine pass touchdowns thrown and 6.4 YPA. Nothing mind blowing here but then again, that’s working with that Jets “offense” last season.
9. Denver Broncos - Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
With Fields going to the 49ers, Jones slides down to nine into the lap of the Broncos. We’ve heard plenty of chatter that the Broncos would move up, ensuring they were able to nab a quarterback but I think they can stand pat and still land their guy. The Broncos have done an excellent job of surrounding QB Drew Lock with weapons to go to but simply hasn’t been able to execute. While Jones is the least mobile of the quarterbacks available overall, it’s not something the Broncos would need. Instead, they can rely upon his accuracy to do exactly what this offense is built on, which is getting the ball in the hands of their receivers.
10. Dallas Cowboys - Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
While the Cowboys could use some help on the offensive line, they’re nabbing the most talented corner on the board. It’s another glaring need for the ‘Boys, who were simply ravaged by opposing receivers. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys had one of the lowest coverage ratings in the league last season, landing at 27th overall. While Surtain doesn’t have a ton of top speed, he makes up for it with his excellent man coverage, a part of the Cowboys game that was lacking in 2020.
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