NFL draft 2021 predictions: the stars, the surprises and the lower-round gems


Trevor Lawrence has the potential to be the subsequent …

Andrew Luck. Each are/had been sensible, athletic quarterbacks in a position to play throughout the rhythm and circulation of the system or create off-script. Luck was by no means fairly in a position to hit his Elway-like potential. By the point the workforce round him was ok to compete, his physique gave out. However for six seasons (significantly the primary three) he dragged a rotating forged of mediocrity into playoff competition. Lawrence has comparable expertise. OC

Justin Herbert. They’re each tall, athletic playmakers who can harm defenses with both their arm or legs. TF

Tom Brady. Lawrence’s mix of athleticism, fast processing time and precision is so distinctive that’s it’s unfair to check his ability set to anybody. So I’ll go together with probably the most profitable quarterback of all-time, as a result of Lawrence is a bonafide winner. MJ

A luckier Luck? When the Indianapolis Colts selected Luck he was anticipated to be the Subsequent Peyton Manning. Clearly, there was no method to stay as much as these expectations, however he was one of many higher quarterbacks within the league earlier than damage led him to retire at age 29. Lawrence’s ceiling looks like Luck’s profession minus the early retirement, which I’m certain the Jacksonville Jaguars would soak up a heartbeat. HF

The very best quarterback not named Trevor Lawrence is …

Zach Wilson, BYU. OK, so the reply is absolutely Justin Fields however let’s give Jets followers some hope and sayWilson. Did he play in opposition to a poor schedule final season? Certain. However did he present a knack for improvisation? Completely. Wilson’s lack of conventional stick-slide-throw mechanics makes his projection as a professional prospect difficult. Nevertheless it was the identical with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen coming into the league. OC

Justin Fields, Ohio State. He has all of the arm energy, accuracy, toughness, and intangibles you possibly can need from a franchise quarterback and has obtained the job accomplished on the largest phases. What units him aside from each different prime quarterback on this yr’s class – together with Trevor Lawrence – is his potential as a runner. TF

Fields. He has a rocket arm and might craft performs out of nowhere. No matter workforce drafts him is touchdown a prospect with a Patrick Mahomes-like ceiling. MJ

Expertise-wise, it’s Fields though he will definitely not go second (presumably not even third). It’s even attainable that the disclosure that his spectacular faculty run occurred whereas he was managing epilepsy might make some groups much less prone to take into account him. Their loss. HF

The very best non-quarterback within the draft is…

Jaycee Horn, cornerback, South Carolina. For the sake of range, let’s look away from Kyle Pitts. Horn is a feisty cornerback with the scale to match in opposition to outdoors receivers, tight ends, flex into the slot, and even to line up as a security. OC

Kyle Pitts, tight finish, Florida. He could also be listed as a good finish however at 6ft 5in and 245lbs, he strikes like a large receiver and can create nightmares for any protection. Pitts is way too quick and too agile for linebackers to maintain up with, however too huge and robust for cornerbacks to cease. TF

Pitts. Neglect about being the perfect receiving tight finish on this draft by a mile, Pitts is the perfect receiver on this class, interval. He has nice fingers and jaw-dropping pace (a 4.4sec 40 at his Professional Day ). Pitts will likely be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. MJ

Everybody will point out Pitts, and rightfully so, however what if the perfect non-quarterback within the draft isn’t going to be chosen due to their potential to catch touchdowns however for the far-dirtier job of defending the quarterback? Oregon offensive sort out Penei Sewell isn’t going to be a fantasy stud like Pitts however in real-game conditions, he might be invaluable. HF

One daring prediction …

The Dallas Cowboys commerce as much as No 4. Staff proprietor/GM Jerry Jones is alleged to be “infatuated” with Kyle Pitts (one thing he denies). The tight finish will likely be on the board at No 4 and Atlanta will likely be greater than open to creating a deal for the best value. OC

Justin Fields would be the most profitable quarterback on this yr’s class. Not solely does he have the aforementioned expertise as a passer and as a runner, however he’ll almost definitely land in the perfect scenario for speedy outcomes based mostly off most mock draft predictions. TF

The NFL is letting a set of present and former gamers announce their groups’ day two picks. No less than one among them will likely be visibly dissatisfied when asserting the decide. MJ

The New England Patriots will truly commerce up. Issues have gone topsy-turvy within the NFL since Tom Brady gained a hoop in Tampa Bay. The Patriots broke the financial institution in free company and at the moment are stacked at each place besides (presuming an unlikely Cam Newton resurgence) an important one. They usually commerce down however they might (and may) be on the lookout for a first-round QB on Thursday. HF

Which workforce is most in want of a very good draft …

Zach Wilson is prone to be the cornerstone of the Jets’ rebuild. {Photograph}: Rick Bowmer/AP

Seattle Seahawks. There are 4 primary guidelines to having a very good draft within the 2020s: don’t overdraft operating backs; don’t overdraft off-ball linebackers; don’t overdraft outdated gamers; don’t overdraft tweeners. The Seahawks have fallen foul of each rule in recent times, typically a number of instances throughout the similar draft. With Russell Wilson’s future on the road, they should get it proper this yr. OC

The New York Jets are beginning a significant rebuild and the stress is on common supervisor Joe Douglas to assemble a successful workforce. The Jets have 10 draft picks, six of that are within the first 110 picks. After buying and selling away cornerstone gamers Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams and Sam Darnold, it’s time for Douglas to start a brand new period in New York and that begins with which quarterback the workforce takes with the No 2 general decide. TF

San Francisco 49ers. They traded away future first-round picks simply to maneuver up 9 spots. It nonetheless appears insane. Merely put, the quarterback Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch choose has to work out. MJ

The draft isn’t all about these attractive prime picks, it’s about reloading for the long run. The Philadelphia Eagles have probably the most picks on this draft, though lots of them are within the later rounds, and so they’re going to want to hit quite a lot of them in the event that they don’t need to get caught like Sisyphus within the “beneath building” portion of a perpetual rebuild. HF

A lower-round gem to observe …

Jordan Smith, edge, UAB. A former big-time recruit, Smith moved to small faculty UAB after being suspended by Florida. In Alabama, he blossomed into one of the crucial ferocious pass-rushers within the nation. All arms and burst, he’s a basic dip-and-rip pass-rusher wrapped up in a 6ft 7in physique. He’s anticipated to be a third-round decide and will show a steal for a workforce on the lookout for extra pass-rushing oomph. OC

Quinn Meinerz, heart, Wisconsin-Whitewater. He’s prone to be a day two decide however has the potential to be one of many higher offensive linemen on this yr’s class. Meinerz held up in opposition to a number of the prime defensive gamers within the nation on the Senior Bowl and lots of linemen from small colleges have had very profitable careers. TF

Cade Johnson, large receiver, South Dakota State. Extremely productive however already beneath the radar because of the scale of his faculty, Johnson skipped 2020 on account of Covid-19. However then he swooped again into draft season by successful the one-on-ones on the Senior Bowl. MJ

Wanna really feel outdated? Accessible on this yr’s draft is Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr, who has inherited the abilities of his father Asante Sr, a first-team All-Professional cornerback again in 2007 and 2010. The issue is that he’s thought of undersized within the trendy NFL, at 5ft 10in and 184lb. If he will get drafted into the best system, anticipate him to flourish. HF

The workforce that drafted finest final yr was …

Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs, Bucs, and Washington deserve plaudits for locating top-line stars and high quality depth, the hallmark of a robust draft. However the Bengals managed to pair each of these whereas discovering a real franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow, supplied the Cincy can add the instruments to maintain him wholesome throughout his prime. OC

The Baltimore Ravens drafted a number of gamers that made an influence as rookies, most notably linebacker Patrick Queen and operating again JK Dobbins. TF

Washington. Chase Younger will likely be tormenting quarterbacks for subsequent decade. Third-round rusher Antonio Gibson had a productive season with 11 touchdowns. However it’s seventh-round security Kamren Curl, more and more disruptive in 11 begins, who will be the steal of the 2020 draft. MJ

It looks like dishonest to say the Cincinnati Bengals since they landed the No 1 decide within the Joe Burrow Draft. Earlier than he was harm, Burrow was displaying indicators of being the franchise quarterback everyone thought he was. Plus, they obtained productive large receiver Tee Higgins and his 908 receiving yards and linebacker Logan Wilson, who had his moments earlier than struggling a season-ending damage. HF

The highest 5 will likely be …

1) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

2) Zach Wilson, New York Jets

3) Justin Fields, San Francisco 49ers

4) Kyle Pitts, Dallas Cowboys (from Atlanta Falcons)

5) Penei Sewell, Cincinnati Bengals. OC


1) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

2) Zach Wilson, New York Jets

3) Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

4) Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

5) Penei Sewell, Cincinnati Bengals. TF


1) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

2) Zach Wilson, New York Jets

3) Justin Fields, San Francisco 49ers

4) Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

5) Penei Sewell, Cincinnati Bengals. MJ


1) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

2) Zach Wilson, New York Jets

3) Mac Jones, San Francisco 49ers

4) Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

5) Penei Sewell, Cincinnati Bengals. HF


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