2021 NFL Draft: This is an insider’s have a look at how the highest 10 picks might play out, with the Patriots shifting up
After the draft was about two weeks away and the teams were locked in meetings to finalize the assessments and finalize their boards, I figured I’d make my first attempt at figuring out the top 10.
Obviously, a lot could change between now and the time that selection is made, and as always, my only bogus draft won’t be released until drafting day, but I’ve contacted a number of executives selected in the top 10 and many top perspective agents and things seem to have at least something in focus.
This is what I think:
1) Jacksonville – Trevor Lawrence. Moron.
2) NY Jets – Zach Wilson. Double duh.
3) San Francisco – Mac Jones. I’m going to go here with the conventional groupthink for this exercise.
4) TRADE New England – Trey Lance. The Hawks may not want to go through mid-teen, but with such a premium for offensive players, they should still have a blue-chip defender in place of the Pats and am amassing much-needed design capital for their version of an Immediate Rebuild with new management that lacks excess picks. The hoody gets its QB.
5) Cincinnati – Kyle Pitts. I believe this is owner Mike Brown’s heart right now, and if he wants Pitts they’ll get Pitts.
6) Miami – Yes, ‘Mar Chase. Run on WRs starts here and the LSU burner has the chance to be something very special.
7) Detroit – Justin Fields. I expect the OSU QB to destroy its last workout. Jared Goff has limitations. Letting Fields sit for a year would be wise. You have additional capital draft from the Matt Stafford / Goff deal to be flexible in 2021 and beyond.
8) Carolina – Penei Sewell. New QB Sam Darnold now has bookend tackles for a range of weapons on the offensive. No excuses.
9) Denver – Micah Parsons. There may be some character issues, but this is a top athlete who can interfere anywhere. Vic Fangio is trying to win on this defense right now and they can add a quarterback via trade (more on that below). Eventually, some defensive players will have to fall off the board.
10) Dallas – Rashawn Slater. Dak Prescott has end-of-season surgery and OL has become a problem. A couple of years ago, the Cowboys Road funnel turned into the orienteering to become a decent team again. It is time to start with this group that is aging with age and is often injured.
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Collins was loved more by teams than he was by Mock Draft Nation
Linebacker Zaven Collins (Tulsa) gets more love from teams than Mock Draft Nation seems to show. Linebackers are generally going to do better than we’ve seen in the past few years as the EDGE and DT groupsets are thin and don’t have surefire lugs. People also sleep on the OSU LB Pete Warner who is far better off than I see projected. Jamin Davis from Kentucky goes up too. “It’s Kwity Paye and lots of hope and prayer,” one GM said of the Pass Rush class.
Bridgewater looks like Broncos
Would be very surprised if Teddy Bridgewater isn’t in Denver for the design weekend. Keep hearing the buzz about it and I know the Broncos are very interested. It goes perfectly with Fangio’s model and the new GM was part of the Viking brass that Teddy B designed.
Lions could score high on a downtrend
I was very close to mocking Fields at # 7 about trading. I don’t know how far the Lions would go back, but if they didn’t grab the QB themselves, they could get high on a downtrend. Maybe the Patriots, when Lance is gone and New England hasn’t climbed any higher. Maybe from the Washington Football Team. The Lions know they are not around, many young regimes have taken the accumulation draft path, and that would make a lot of sense for Detroit as well. They could put the best defensive player on their board – since the Lions all over this side of the ball need help – but there aren’t a lot of safe things in Pass Rush class and they’ll end up making lots of calls. In any case. Denver and Dallas could also be swap spots for someone who snaps a QB.
More insider tips
- This week, speak to some executives who strongly believe that the top 15 picks will lean heavily on the offensive side of the ball, with a run against defensive players ending the round. You can see that this is reflected in these top 10. With five QBs likely to end up in the top 10, and likely three WRs in the top 12 and two tackles, at least in the top 15 or so, plus Pitts … well, do the math.
- Dallas can very well corner at 10, and either way I think some of them go in their teens. Arizona will pounce on Jaycee Horn if he’s still available when they choose what I’ve gathered.
- The Dolphins Picks a year ago scratched the heads of some. While I think RB Najee Harris seems a little rich at number 18, I hear a lot of buzz about him fighting very hard for that selection.
- For years, QBs have started straight away – in some cases as early as week 1 of their rookie year – but that pendulum swings. A lot of these quarterbacks will be redshirting. Blast from the past. And given how little football was played in some schools last year, it makes sense.
- Keep hearing that the Vikings and Bears are doing a lot of QBs in this design. Probably not in the first round, I think, but you never know.
- The Eagles will have a pick of one – and possibly two – of the best wideouts in this design, going back to 12. I think the trade back from them will work fine.
- At this point, I expect USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker to be the third offensive lineman off the board after the two best tackles.