The 2021 draft is coming. Our one, and only one, mock draft is coming. Eventually.
For now, let’s take a look at how the first 10 picks may go, based on things we’re hearing and various reports and rumors and other information making the rounds only 16 days from the launch of round one.
No. 1, Jaguars: They’ll surely take quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
No. 2, Jets: They’ll most likely take quarterback Zach Wilson. If they don’t, they’ve made no effort to push back against the presumption that Wilson is the guy. Which will set the stage for a P.R. nightmare if the pick ultimately is, for example, Justin Fields.
No. 3, 49ers: They essentially control the board, and they have no reason to be coy. Some think they’re embracing the mystery, if for no reason other than to enjoy the attention to the brand that comes from it. Others think they’re doing their due diligence. Regardless, they’ve made a huge investment (three ones and a three) for one player; presumably, they had a good idea who the player would be before making the move. Many think that quarterback Mac Jones will be the pick. Others think it will be quarterback Trey Lance or quarterback Justin Fields. Regardless, it will be a quarterback.
No. 4, Falcons: Here’s where it gets interesting. The Falcons could go with a quarterback, they could take the first non-quarterback off the board, or they could trade down. They’re sending signals that they’re looking at a quarterback, but that’s possibly to get maximum value for the pick if/when they trade.
No. 5, Bengals: Tackle Penei Sewell is expected to be the pick, but they also could go with tight end Kyle Pitts or receiver Ja’Marr Chase or one of the Alabama receivers, Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith. They also could trade out of the spot for a team, like the Broncos, that may want to jump up for which quarterback is left.
No. 6, Dolphins: They’re expected to take a receiver, with Chase and Waddle believed by some to be higher on their board than Smith. (The fact that Chase opted out in 2020 due to the pandemic could boost Waddle, at it relates to this specific selection.) They also could take Kyle Pitts.
No. 7, Lions: They have plenty of needs. It will be interesting to see what they do if Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields remains on the board. Will former OSU standout Chris Spielman, who has much more power and influence in the building than most realize, be able to resist drafting Fields? Jared Goff seems to be a short-term fix. If he flamed out in L.A., why would he be expected to perform significantly better in Detroit? Thus, if Fields is there, maybe he’s the pick.
No. 8, Panthers: After trading for quarterback Sam Darnold, they can take the best player available. Would they take a quarterback if one of the top players slips through the cracks? They have a two-year commitment to Darnold, and they could in theory fall out of love with him after a year, the same way they fell out of love with Teddy Bridgewater after a year.
No. 9, Broncos: They clearly want an upgrade at quarterback. The question is whether there will be one they like at nine, whether they’ll have to trade up, or whether they’ll just kick the can — especially if they can add Teddy Bridgewater to a depth chart that includes Drew Lock.
No. 10, Cowboys: Dallas needs defense. They could end up with the first defensive player in the draft. The question is whether they can resist the temptation to tight end Kyle Pitts if he’s there at No. 10, or the possible opportunity to trade up to get him.