What makes the NFL Draft so exciting is its unpredictability. Not only do some teams make inexplicable moves, some give up a king’s ransom to move up in the draft and take a highly touted pick. Sometimes it works out (Bills) and sometimes it doesn’t (Chicago).
So in honor of this “tradition”, we’ll look at five NFL teams that could just surprise everyone with their first draft selections. We’ll use the NFL Draft betting lines and pick if they’re taking on offense or defense.
Teams That Could Shock Everyone at Draft
First Pick: Fourth overall
Needs: TE, CB, EDGE
All eyes will be on the Falcons, who are seemingly sitting pretty at fourth. It’s a given that the three teams ahead of them will all take quarterbacks. Now the Falcons can go with a variety of moves here. They’re most likely going to just take tight end Kyle Pitts and be done with it, hence the steep online betting odds.
However, don’t be so surprised if they pull off a blockbuster draft-day deal with a team like Chicago or Denver, who are both starving for a quarterback. Two of the trio of Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Trey Lance will still be available here and if the Falcons get an offer they can’t refuse, they will make the deal.
Pick: Offense -700
First Pick: Eighth overall
Needs: OT, CB
The Panthers could just steal the show this draft. Fresh off a blockbuster deal for quarterback Sam Darnold, the Panthers are already causing a stir in regard to their plans with him and the draft. They have been aggressive this offseason and could snag Justin Fields or whichever QB falls to them and then deal with Chicago or Denver.
Carolina Panthers have had conversations with other teams about potentially trading back in the draft from pick No. 8, per source. There are all sorts of ongoing trade conversations between teams, let’s see what next week brings.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 20, 2021
Alternatively, the Panthers could simply just trade down when their main targets on offense (Pitts and OT Penei Sewell) are taken. With all their glaring needs on offense, the Panthers also need help on defense. Patrick Surtain Jr. and Jaycee Horn are blue-chip cornerbacks that could be the best defensive player left for them to take.
Pick: Defense +200
First Pick: Ninth overall
Needs: QB, LB, CB
The Broncos are probably watching the Panthers and the Falcons like a hawk. This is a team who could go in any direction with their ninth pick. They could trade up and snag any of the remaining quarterbacks even if they do have Drew Lock.
They also need plenty of help on the other side of the ball. Linebacker Micah Parsons will improve their defense immensely and he may be the best player available (BPA) when they strike out of a deal to move up or their QB of choice gets drafted.
Pick: Defense +155
First Pick: 20th overall
Needs: QB, OT, WR, CB
Speaking of teams who have traded up to draft a quarterback, Bears fans are probably still reeling from the epic disaster that Mitchell Trubisky ended up becoming. Still, if the Bears see a chance to move up and snag a quarterback, they could take it.
Chicago might just become Carolina’s or Atlanta’s dance partner, especially the Panthers, who are likely keen to get back some picks they sold in the Darnold deal. Otherwise, if Chicago stays pat, it has too many needs on offense to go for a defender. At 20, they can still pick up a lineman like Alijah Vera-Tucker or a receiver like Kadarius Toney.
Pick: Offense -350
First Pick: 30th Overall
Needs: CB, EDGE
The Bills are practically Carolina North given their coaching staff. Now, I’m not saying they’ll pull a jaw-dropping deal. But they may just surprise fans and analysts alike with who they take with this pick.
Most mocks have Buffalo taking a corner like Asante Samuel Jr. or Caleb Farley or a pass rusher like Jaelan Phillips if they fall this far. But if a running back like Najee Harris or Travis Etienne is still around, there’s a good chance the Bills will go with either one. Then they’ll use the next rounds to plug their holes on defense.