The draft is one of the most important days on the NFL calendar as fortunes can be reversed as franchise cornerstones are found. This year’s draft weekend falls April 29-May 1.
There are a bunch of teams looking for QBs with a handful of excellent prospects. A quarterback should be taken with the No. 1 pick for a fourth year in a row and it is conceivable that the top four picks in this draft could all be signal-callers. Here’s a look at how the top 15 picks could shake out:
Top 15 NFL Draft Picks
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
By nearly all accounts, it looks like the Jaguars will take the former Clemson National Champion signal-caller here. He has the potential to shift the fortunes for a Jacksonville team with three straight-losing seasons. He and new head coach Urban Meyer should usher in an exciting era of Jaguars football. The offense, with Lawrence, and new WR Marvin Jones, Jr. should be much improved in 2021.
2. New York Jets
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Jets paved the way for drafting a QB after shipping Sam Darnold to Carolina. In return, they received a 2021 sixth-round draft pick and 2022 second- and fourth-rounders. Some think Wilson should go No. 1.
Wilson racked up a ridiculous 78.8% completion percentage and 11 total touchdowns in three career bowl games at BYU in which he compiled a 2-1 record. Lawrence is a great QB but Wilson could project to be just as good.
3. San Francisco 49ers (via Miami/Houston)
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
The Niners decided to trade up and made a blockbuster deal with Miami. San Francisco sent the 12th pick in this year’s draft, along with first- and third-round picks in 2022 and a 2023 first-rounder for this pick. The fact that the 49ers were willing to give up so much means that they must feel confident they can get a game-changer with this pick.
Perhaps the Niners might trade Jimmy Garoppolo and draft a QB here. Or, they could have a new QB learn under Garoppolo this season while the Niners are Super Bowl contenders. People have speculated the pick will be Alabama QB Mac Jones but that could be a smokescreen. Nick Saban denies that the Niners asked about Jones at his pro day. I think the 49ers go for dynamic Ohio State QB Justin Fields.
4. Denver Broncos (via trade with Atlanta)
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
The Broncos desperately need better QB play after a season in which Drew Lock led the NFL in interceptions. Denver, at No. 9, could wait and see if they can take a QB or can be aggressive and try to move up. Certainly, it would make sense for Denver to ensure they get a starting-level QB here and Lance fits the bill. He’s raw but has great arm strength and would be a threat on the ground as well.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The Bengals have a few options but their priority should be protecting Joe Burrow, who’s coming off of a torn ACL. Sewell sat out the 2020 college season as a COVID opt-out but was a unanimous All-American in 2019. He also won the Outland Trophy as a sophomore. Cincinnati gave up three sacks per game in 2020 and Sewell should help bring that number down.
6. Miami Dolphins (Via Philadelphia)
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Another 2020 COVID opt-out, Chase was the best wide receiver in college football in 2019. He certainly was a beneficiary of playing with Burrow and caught 20 touchdowns and racked up 1,780 receiving yards. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the LSU pro day and is one of the draft’s best receiver prospects, along with Alabama’s Devonta Smith. He’ll give Tua and the Dolphins a weapon at WR.
7. Detroit Lions
Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Smith won the Heisman Trophy in 2020 and would be a perfect fit for a Lions team that just lost Kenny Golladay in free agency. Smith was dominant in 2020 and had 215 yards and three touchdowns in the National Championship game … in the first half! Smith sat out the second half with an injury but capped off an incredible season in which he recorded 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns on 117 receptions.
8. Carolina Panthers
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Pitts could conceivably be one of the league’s best tight ends right away and could certainly be chosen with as high as fourth. But, if he falls to the Panthers here they simply cannot pass on him. He’s got incredible speed for a 6-foot-5’ guy and is as versatile as they come. In eight games with the Gators last year Pitts caught 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns.
9. Atlanta Falcons (Via trade with Denver)
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Atlanta had one of the worst passing defenses in the league in 2020 and Surtain would certainly help with that. Atlanta gave up the most passing yards per game in the league at 293.6 and it makes sense for them to target a defensive player here.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Cowboys could also benefit from boosting their secondary and Horn would be a solid choice here. He has elite athleticism and projects to be a shutdown corner that could shore up the Dallas defense.
11. New York Giants
Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Slater seems like a perfect fit. The offensive line was certainly an issue, as the Giants gave up the second-most sacks and it seems like Daniel Jones has never gotten the opportunity to completely show what he’s capable of yet. Slater could add protection and give Jones some breathing room in his third NFL season.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (Via San Francisco)
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
One of two standout Alabama receivers projected to be drafted in the first round, Waddle is the fastest wideout in the draft. He would add firepower to an Eagles offense that was starved of it in 2020. Waddle appeared in just five games in 2020 but managed 591 yards and five touchdowns.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Christian Darrisaw, T, Virginia Tech
The Chargers got their franchise QB, Justin Herbert, in the 2020 draft and now it’s time to protect him. If any of the previously mentioned WRs are still on the board, the Chargers could certainly go with them but Darrisaw is a safe choice here.
14. Minnesota Vikings
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Parsons is considered by some as the best defensive player in the draft. He also opted out of the 2020 season but is incredibly athletic for a big guy. Some scouts have questioned his character, which makes it hard to pin down where he’ll actually be drafted. Minnesota’s defense was porous in 2020 and while LB isn’t a position of absolute need for them, Parsons may be too talented to pass.
15. New England Patriots
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The Patriots re-signed Cam Newton to another one-year deal but it seems clear that Newton is just a stopgap solution. It would make a lot of sense for the Patriots to draft a QB here to both learn under Newton and give him some competition. Jones is coming off a season in which he led Alabama to a national championship and finished third in Heisman voting. He’s got the kind of winning pedigree that Bill Belichick might like.