We are weeks away from Roger Goodell announcing Trevor Lawrence as the No. 1 overall pick and NFL Draft rumors are buzzing about who will be the next quarterbacks taken after him in the 2021 NFL Draft.
While the final answers will come on April 29, there is already tons of speculation and smoke about where players like Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance will be drafted. This year presents a great opportunity for franchises to take signal-callers who could change the course of their club’s future and it’s expected to have a huge influence on the top picks.
Lawrence is already a lock to be selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars, given he’s the reason Urban Meyer took the job. Once that pick is made, the 2021 NFL Draft really begins and there are some big questions that everyone wants answered.
Who will the New York Jets draft with the second pick?
New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh face a pivotal decision. The team either makes the ultimate commitment to Sam Darnold, who has shown very little signs of improvement in three seasons, or they trade the former No. 3 overall pick at his lowest value.
As of now, there seems to be a dividefor New York. A split vote on whether or not to keep Darnold makes for great debate and might incentivize other teams to offer more for Darnold, but a decision will need to be made. From a talent perspective, there’s a strong argument that Fields and Wilson are both better than the Jets’ current quarterback. An even more compelling argument to move on, a rookie signal-caller comes with a far better contract that makes building a team around him much easier.
Ultimately, the Jets seem likely to settle on drafting a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick. Given the buzz surrounding Wilson and the immense upside he offers in Mike LaFleur’s scheme, fans should prepare for him to be QB1 next season. Given all of the moves the Jets already made, he should fare a lot better than his predecessor.
Where will Justin Fields be drafted?
Before the 2020 college football season kicked off, Fields at least had a chance to put his name in the running for the No. 1 overall pick. Due to two poor performances and many of his fellow starters missing games due to COVID-19, it wasn’t quite the final campaign he hoped for.
Despite that, Fields remains one of the best players in the 2021 NFL Draft class. He is dramatically better than Dwayne Haskins, the former Ohio State quarterback and first-round pick. Offering great athleticism, impressive arm strength and the intangibles of a franchise quarterback, Fields will be coveted on draft day.
Miami might hold the cards to his future. It’s likely the Dolphins trade down from the No. 3 overall pick, taking the best offer from another club. In the competition to jump up, the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Falcons could all be looking to land Fields.
If the Dolphins stay put, Fields likely won’t make it past the No. 4 pick. While the Falcons are committed to Matt Ryan for the 2021 season, a new general manager and coach will be looking for a passer who can lead this franchise for years to come. Fields, an Atlanta native, would be the perfect pick.
What other quarterback will be a top NFL Draft pick?
Based on Schefter’s reporting, it seems like a lock that four quarterbacks will be taken within the first seven picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. Given that information, the final spot comes down to Trey Lance and Mac Jones. Both players are in a very different position.
Entering the 2020 season, Lance was already viewed as a likely top-20 pick. While there were questions about drafting an FCS quarterback with a premium pick, teams couldn’t ignore the 28-0 TD-INT ratio and 1,100 rushing yards from his sophomore season. Another year of strong film would have made him a lock to go in the top-five picks. Instead, NDSU canceled its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Lance played in only one showcase game.
Jones didn’t have much draft hype before taking the field as Alabama’s starting quarterback. After throwing for 4,500 yards and a 41-4 TD-INT ratio. winning the Davey O’Brien Award and a national championship, his stock soared. While he doesn’t come close to matching Lance’s physical tools and upside, Jones might be the most pro-ready quarterback in this class behind Lawrence.
It comes down to preference for general managers. The Philadelphia Eagles seem committed to Jalen Hurts. So, that leaves the Panthers, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots as potential landing spots. Detroit can stand pat and land its quarterback to develop behind Jared Goff, but the other clubs will need to get aggressive via trade up.
One thing is for certain, the 2021 NFL Draft is going to offer a ton of unpredictability and excitement this year.