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Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
As we head into the final week before the 2021 NFL draft, we should start to get a clearer picture of teams’ plans and their views of some of the top prospects.
While subterfuge is still the goal for most front offices, nuggets of truth usually start to slip in the days leading up to the draft. At the same time, those in the media start to play catch-up with the general perception of prospects.
This happened three years ago, when the Cleveland Browns kept their intention of drafting Baker Mayfield first overall secret almost up until draft day. It won’t happen with the No. 1 pick this year, unless the Jacksonville Jaguars shock the world and don’t take Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson.
However, while Lawrence and BYU’s Zach Wilson are widely expected to be the first two players off the board, there’s still plenty that remains uncertain. Who will the San Francisco 49ers take at No. 3? Will the Atlanta Falcons trade out of the No. 4 spot? Which teams are interested in moving into the top 10?
At least some rumors, innuendos or bits of speculation should emerge as truths in the coming days. For now, let’s dig into the latest buzz surrounding every NFL team.
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Georgia edge Azeez OjulariMichael Woods/Associated Press
While there is no “sure thing” edge-rusher in this year’s draft class, the Arizona Cardinals seem to believe the position boasts depth.
“It’s a very interesting draft for pass-rusher,” director of player personnel Dru Grigson told 98.7 FM’s Big Red Rage. “I don’t think it’s as deep up top, but it’s like the second, third round. It’s gonna get real interesting.”
While a team talking about how it views the draft can often raise red flags, it feels like Grigson is being genuine here. He could be trying to smokescreen the fact that Arizona is targeting a pass-rusher in Round 1, of course, but it’s more likely that the position will instead be a Day 2 priority.
The Cardinals have a potent pass-rushing duo in Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt. Targeting a long-term replacement for cornerback Patrick Peterson or another weapon for emerging quarterback Kyler Murray in the first round would make more sense. The second or third round could be where Arizona bolsters its pass rush.
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Ohio State QB Justin FieldsChris O’Meara/Associated Press
The Falcons are not opposed to trading out of the No. 4 spot. According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, the team would be willing to make a move “for a ransom” if the option presents itself. However, King also noted that team owner Arthur Blank is intrigued by this year’s quarterback class too.
“Owner Arthur Blank is fascinated by the quarterbacks atop the draft, thinking the franchise might not be in such an advantageous position to take one for years,” King wrote. “But Blank will not force a decision—of that I am sure.”
The Falcons could move the No. 4 selection if the right offer comes along, but not for proverbial pennies. If that doesn’t come Atlanta’s way, quarterback very well could be the position.
If the Falcons view, say, Ohio State’s Justin Fields as a viable franchise quarterback and he’s sitting there at No. 4, they could be apt to pull the trigger.
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Alejandro VillanuevaGene J. Puskar/Associated Press
The Baltimore Ravens have allowed Pro Bowl right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to seek potential trade partners. Could they be preparing for a possible draft-day trade by examining their replacement options? According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Ravens had plans to visit with free-agent offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a longtime starter for the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Ravens have thus far refused to confirm the visit or how it could impact Brown’s situation.
“I’m not going to talk about any ongoing discussions with Orlando, whatever that might be,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a press conference. “You know, there’s always a lot of moving parts in any offseason. … I’m also not going to comment on any reports of players visiting or not visiting Baltimore.”
While the Villanueva visit could mean the Ravens are at least considering a draft-day deal involving Brown, it doesn’t mean that one is imminent. Villanueva played left tackle for the Steelers and could be viewed as an insurance policy for Ronnie Stanley, who is recovering from a season-ending ankle injury.
DeCosta’s refusal to talk about the visit, though, does add some intrigue to Baltimore’s offensive line situation.
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Brandon BeaneDarron Cummings/Associated Press
The Buffalo Bills have a few needs they could look to address in the first round. They could add a running back to bolster a rushing attack that ranked 20th in yards last year or a linebacker to improve their 17th-ranked run defense.
However, it sounds like Buffalo won’t force a pick to address an immediate need.
“[General manager Brandon] Beane says the Bills are ‘thinking long term more than short term’ with the No. 30 pick,” ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques tweeted.
If Beane is being upfront here—and yes, that’s a big if—it likely means Buffalo is willing to take a best-player-available approach in the first round and/or willing to trade down for future draft selections.
Buffalo could become a prime trading partner for teams looking to get back into Round 1. The Bills could also be open to drafting a player for long-term value—like a receiver who may be buried on the depth chart for a season or two. Don’t expect the Bills to force a pick simply to fill a void.
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New Panthers QB Sam DarnoldCharles Krupa/Associated Press
The Falcons are reportedly open to trading back from No. 4 because they have an entrenched starter at quarterback. The Carolina Panthers aren’t in the same position but reportedly have discussed moving down in Round 1 as well.
“Carolina Panthers have had conversations with other teams about potentially trading back in the draft from pick No. 8, per source,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted. “There are all sorts of ongoing trade conversations between teams, let’s see what next week brings.”
Carolina’s willingness to move back makes some sense following the trade for Sam Darnold. The Panthers won’t be as desperate for a quarterback at No. 8 as they might have been before the deal. There’s also no guarantee that a quarterback the Panthers like will still be sitting there.
With Darnold in the fold, Carolina likely also has no interest in dealing draft capital to move up for an unproven prospect. Trading back, acquiring more capital and trying to build around and develop Darnold is therefore a logical alternative.
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Bears GM Ryan PaceNam Huh/Associated Press
While the Panthers traded for a developmental quarterback in Darnold, the Chicago Bears added a stopgap in journeyman Andy Dalton, so Carolina may not be eager to trade up for a quarterback, but the Bears might be. At least, this is the general perception around the league, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer.
“One, rival teams believe they are lurking as a potential trade-up team. Two, as of a couple days ago, they hadn’t really started burning the phone lines up on that. So they could be in play, but they haven’t been yet,” Breer wrote.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace probably will be open to moving up for a quarterback if the right one—and the right deal—becomes available. He aggressively pursued Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason and appeared determined to fix the position.
However, a move could hinge entirely on which quarterback becomes available at a reasonable spot. Chicago would have to move up from No. 20, which would presumably require a hefty price tag. If the Bears aren’t in love with all five of the top signal-callers—Lawrence, Wilson, Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones—then they may only be prompted to move if a specific prospect starts to slide.
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LSU WR Ja’Marr ChaseDanny Karnik/Associated Press
The Cincinnati Bengals hold the fifth overall pick. Could they use it to reunite LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase with quarterback Joe Burrow? According to Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer, that is indeed the plan for now.
“From what I’m hearing from within the organization and even members around the organization is they are targeting Ja’Marr Chase, the LSU wide receiver, Joe Burrow’s former teammate,” Dragon told Dadio Makdook of Cincy Jungle.
Dragon admitted, though, that the Bengals are still interested in Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell as well.
“I would not be shocked if they changed their mind and drafted him,” Dragon said.
Sewell may represent the smarter pick, as protecting Burrow should be Cincinnati’s top priority—he was sacked 32 times as a rookie before suffering a season-ending knee injury. However, there’s certainly a level of allure to putting Chase and Burrow back on the field together in Cincinnati.
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Sheldon RichardsonWade Payne/Associated Press
The Cleveland Browns recently signed edge defender Jadeveon Clowney and subsequently released defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. The release of Richardson could lead one to believe that Cleveland will target an interior defensive lineman early in the draft.
However, there are two factors that could lead the Browns in a different direction. The first is that the draft isn’t perceived as deep at the defensive tackle position—NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah told NBC Sports’ Peter King that there isn’t a first-round-gradable tackle in the draft class.
The other factor is that the Browns haven’t ruled out a return for Richardson.
“I hope there’s a scenario [where] he can come back,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “Those are hard decisions that are made.”
If Cleveland believes it can make the money work—and Richardson remains on the open market—it could view a reunion as a bit of an insurance policy during draft weekend. The Browns may prefer to add a young defensive tackle on Day 2 or Day 3, but they probably won’t force a pick if they believe they can re-sign Richardson at a fair price.
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Cowboys VP Stephen JonesRon Jenkins/Associated Press
We’ve already seen a couple of trades in the top 10. The Dallas Cowboys are at least presenting the idea that they could be involved in another one.
“Where we sit, we’re starting to get a few calls, and I think it will only pick up as we get closer to next Thursday. It will only pick up,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan (h/t Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams).
The Cowboys may indeed be getting some exploratory calls from teams looking to gauge a possible draft-day price tag. Given the timing of Jones’ comments, this could also be an effort by Dallas to drum up some interest ahead of the draft.
With the Falcons, Panthers and Detroit Lions reportedly all open to moving down, the Cowboys aren’t really in a position to be marketing the No. 10 selection. That could change on draft night if a prospect begins sliding and lands at the No. 10 spot. It’s impossible to think, though, that a team has any real interest in obtaining the 10th pick without having a better idea of who might be available.
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Broncos president John ElwayMichael Conroy/Associated Press
According to Breer, we can count the Denver Broncos among the teams that could trade up for a quarterback in Round 1.
“Denver’s at least sniffed around on a trade up (while also looking at a trade down),” Breer wrote. “The Broncos, you’ll remember, were also in the mix for Matthew Stafford and had been linked to Deshaun Watson earlier in the offseason.”
While Denver may not be desperate to move on from Drew Lock, it has at least considered its alternatives. However, as Breer pointed out, trading down from No. 9 could also make sense.
It’s a virtual guarantee that three quarterbacks will be off the board within the first three selections. The question mark is at No. 3 with San Francisco. If the Broncos don’t believe any one of the remaining prospects is a clear upgrade over Lock, they could potentially gain some value by trading down. If, however, the 49ers pass on a prospect Denver loves, it could make sense to move up as high as No. 4 to land him.
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North Dakota State QB Trey LanceBruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press
The Lions are in full-on rebuild mode, as evidenced by their decision to ship out quarterback Matthew Stafford in the offseason. Adding draft capital appears to be the goal this year, and Detroit could be looking to add more by trading out of the No. 7 spot.
“One senior executive said the Lions are looking for another deal and trying to move down from No. 7,” The Athletic’s Ben Standig wrote.
Presumably, such a move would come with a quarterback like Justin Fields, Mac Jones or Trey Lance still on the board at No. 7. While the Lions could certainly take a swing at a signal-caller, they acquired Jared Goff in the Stafford deal and may prefer to first give him time to prove himself.
Detroit could also snatch up a pass-catcher with the seventh pick in the wake of Kenny Golladay’s departure. However, this is a deep receiver class, so the Lions could theoretically trade down, pick up an extra selection or two and still land an elite pass-catching prospect.
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Packers GM Brian GutekunstAssociated Press
The Green Bay Packers currently own the 29th pick in the first round. They have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL and may only have a few legitimate targets that they covet in Round 1. Therefore, as NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah recently pointed out, the Packers could be a candidate to trade out of the round entirely.
“I would bet they’ll be on the move again,” Jeremiah said in a conference call (h/t Bill Huber of Packers Wire). “When you look at where they are and what they need, and you look at those early second-round corners that could be there, you look at some offensive line depth, to me that kind of screams getting out of one and getting some extra picks.”
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is no stranger to draft-day trades, so the reasoning is sound here. He previously traded up for Darnell Savage, Jordan Love and Jaire Alexander in Round 1, but in Alexander’s case, Gutekunst traded down first—from No. 14 to No. 27, back up to No. 18.
Trading out of the first round with a team looking to gain the fifth-year option could make a ton of sense for Green Bay, depending on the return. Of course, based on Gutekunst’s history, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Green Bay trade up for one of the prospects it covets ether.
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Deshaun WatsonEric Christian Smith/Associated Press
Due to the Laremy Tunsil trade, the Houston Texans don’t own a first- or second-round pick in this year’s draft. Houston likely could have regained some early draft capital by trading quarterback Deshaun Watson. According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans had planned to do so rather than deal with a holdout from Watson, who had asked to be traded early in the offseason.
Since then, however, multiple allegations of sexual misconduct involving Watson have emerged. According to Breer, this has led to at least some teams pulling themselves from trade consideration.
“Some teams that were lining up for Watson in February have (for now) removed themselves from the mix altogether, and that’s in part because they can’t go forward with such a pursuit without clarity on the situation,” Breer wrote.
It’s highly unlikely that Watson’s legal and civil matters will be resolved before next week’s draft. Without knowing how things will unfold, there’s virtually no chance that a team will trade for Watson over draft weekend.
Therefore, if Houston is hoping to get back into the first or second round, it will have to do so by leveraging other players and/or future draft capital.
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Virginia Tech OT Christian DarrisawMatt Gentry/Associated Press
Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw probably isn’t lasting until the Indianapolis’ Colts pick at No. 21. However, there is mutual interest between Indy and the offensive lineman.
“Mocks have been tapping Darrisaw to the tackle-needy Colts for months, and the team’s interest is real. (Darrisaw says he’s developed a good relationship with the Colts’ East Coast scout, Mike Derice, and has interviewed with the club),” The Athletic’s Zak Keefer wrote.
Darrisaw likes the idea of playing on Indianapolis’ line too.
“Playing next to Quenton Nelson,” he said, per Keefer. “I can’t even imagine what that would be like, man.”
According to Keefer, two league sources have indicated that Darrisaw likely won’t make it to the 21st pick. However, that doesn’t mean Indianapolis couldn’t make a move up the draft board to land him.
Indianapolis needs a new left tackle following the retirement of Anthony Castonzo. While the Colts haven’t ruled out moving Nelson to left tackle, keeping the three-time All-Pro guard at his natural position would be the ideal option should a prospect like Darrisaw be available.
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Trevor LawrenceGerald Herbert/Associated Press
The rumor mill has produced nothing to suggest that Trevor Lawrence won’t be the pick at No. 1 for Jacksonville. However, it makes sense for the Jaguars to spend the days leading up to the draft ensuring they are comfortable with the pick.
So far, things have reportedly gone well.
“The Jaguars have spent their hours zooming with QB Trevor Lawrence, and he’s impressed them with his retention of their scheme,” Rapoport tweeted. “Similar to the Bengals and Joe Burrow last year, Jax has made the most of its time with the presumptive No. 1 pick.”
It should come as no surprise that Jacksonville has spent time challenging Lawrence in virtual meetings. The Jags should be taking every step possible to ensure they don’t make a mistake with the top pick. At the same time, familiarizing Lawrence with their scheme now should help speed up the preseason process this summer—assuming, of course, Jacksonville doesn’t shock the world and go in a different direction to kick off the draft.
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Eric FisherMark LoMoglio/Associated Press
After parting with 2020 starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, the Kansas City Chiefs could be in the market for an offensive tackle with the 31st pick. Some, including The Athletic’s Chris Burke, believe this is the direction in which Kansas City will go. Burke mocked Texas’ Samuel Cosmi to the Chiefs at No. 31.
However, Kansas City may not force a tackle pick if the right prospect isn’t available. Head coach Andy Reid recently made it clear that the team is open to bringing back Schwartz and/or Fisher if the price is right.
“That door always remains open,” Reid said, per NFL Media’s Kevin Patra.
While Schwartz and Fisher are both coming off of season-ending injuries, both also remain free agents. As long as that is the case, the Chiefs can approach the draft with one or both players as a potential backup plan. This doesn’t mean Kansas City won’t still target a tackle early, but it could help prevent the Chiefs from overdrafting a prospect they don’t love.
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Raiders GM Mike MayockCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press
The Las Vegas Raiders currently hold the 17th pick in Round 1 and may look to use it to fill an immediate need. According to NFL Network’s Peter Schrager, this is what other decision-makers around the league expect.
“From what I’m told, the feeling around the league is the Raiders will focus on pass rush or offensive tackle with their first-round pick,” Schrager wrote.
This is a sound line of thinking given where Las Vegas’ biggest holes lie. The Raiders did add pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue in free agency but logged just 21 sacks as a team last year. They also traded right tackle Trent Brown to the New England Patriots this offseason.
While center could also make sense for the Raiders after trading Rodney Hudson to Arizona, tackle and pass-rusher are positions more commonly targeted in the first round. This doesn’t guarantee Las Vegas will snag a pass-rusher or a tackle on opening night, but these are logical targets—potentially ones that the Raiders could trade up to secure.
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Northwestern OT Rashawn SlaterCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Chargers seem to have found their franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert. However, as new head coach Brandon Staley recently admitted, they have a need on Herbert’s blind side.
“Yeah, there certainly [is] a hole there right now,” Staley said, per NFL Media’s Nick Shook. “We feel like we have some tackle prospects on the roster that can certainly play there. But it’s gonna be certainly a position that we need to address you know, before July.”
While it’s often smart to ignore what teams are open about in the weeks leading up to the draft, we can take this one at face value. Los Angeles indeed does need to upgrade Herbert’s protection—he was sacked 32 times last season—and could look to do so as early as the 13th pick.
Landing top tackle prospect Penei Sewell is unrealistic at No. 13, but the Chargers could look to move up and/or target Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater or Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw.
If Los Angeles doesn’t land a tackle in Round 1, it will almost certainly look to fill the void on Day 2 or through other means—see: the aforementioned trade buzz surrounding Orlando Brown Jr.
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Rams GM Les SneadMichael Conroy/Associated Press
It’s hard to nail down any hard rumors when it comes to who the Los Angeles Rams will select in the draft. They don’t own a first-round pick and currently won’t select before 57th overall. However, we do know how the Rams plan to operate over draft weekend.
According to The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead plan to draft together from a rented house in Malibu. With teams again set to make picks virtually, this should give the Rams a distinctly Los Angeles spin on a more traditional war room.
According to Rams CEO Kevin Demoff, having the front office operate together has its advantages.
“The more you can do well, stay together as a group, learn what works, the more you can continue to refine those processes rather than starting over,” Demoff said, per Kevin Modesti of the Los Angeles Daily News. “They’re able to tighten up each year.”
This will mark the fifth draft together for Snead and McVay.
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Dolphins GM Chris GrierLynne Sladky/Associated Press
The Miami Dolphins already traded down once, moving from No. 3 to No. 12 in a blockbuster trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The Dolphins then traded back up to No. 6 in a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Would the Dolphins really consider trading down a second time? According to Rapoport, yes.
“Let’s say there’s a couple quarterbacks there … and Kyle Pitts is gone. Then, what the Dolphins did is they had the 49ers pay them a premium for a quarterback early,” Rapoport said on NFL Network. “Now they might get someone to pay a premium for a quarterback again. … That’s why the Dolphins wanted to trade back to six, so they could still be in the mix.”
It’s fairly sound reasoning here. Miami surrendered the No. 12 pick, a fourth-round pick (No. 123) and a 2022 first-rounder for the sixth pick and a fifth-round selection (No. 156). If the Dolphins can get more than that to move down again, they’ll come out ahead in draft capital and perhaps still be in position to land a playmaker.
The caveat, of course, is that if the Dolphins are in love with a player who is still on the board at No. 6, they’re probably not going anywhere.
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Kirk CousinsAl Goldis/Associated Press
The Minnesota Vikings may not be desperate enough for a quarterback to trade up or take one with the 14th overall pick. After all, Minnesota has a serviceable starter in Kirk Cousins, who is under contract through 2022.
However, this doesn’t mean the Vikings won’t draft a developmental quarterback at some point this year. According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Minnesota—along with Chicago—is at least looking into that possibility.
“Continue to hear the Vikings and Bears are doing a lot of work on QBs in this draft. Probably not to take one in the first round, I guess, but you never know,” La Canfora wrote.
While the Vikings have shown that they can make a playoff run with Cousins under center—they advanced to the divisional round in 2019—he has never been a truly elite signal-caller. With Cousins’ contract set to expire in two years, drafting a prospect who might be a down-the-line starter could certainly make sense for Minnesota.
While that may not be likely in Round 1, the Vikings could be a team in the quarterback market on Day 2.
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Mac JonesMatthew Hinton/Associated Press
The New England Patriots re-signed Cam Newton this offseason, giving them a potential starter for 2021. However, barring a massive turnaround, Newton probably isn’t the Patriots’ long-term answer at quarterback.
While it might require a trade up in Round 1, New England could possibly find its solution in Alabama’s Mac Jones. According to La Canfora, both New England and the New Orleans Saints like what they’ve seen from the Crimson Tide standout.
“I continue to hear the Patriots and Saints are two teams very high on Jones, and that if he did become the fifth quarterback off the board—which is where most had him spotted when the actual college football stopped being played—things could get interesting,” La Canfora wrote.
While it would be a mild surprise to see New England trade up to nab Jones—Bill Belichick has never drafted a quarterback in the first round—this is indeed a situation worth watching. The Patriots should be in on the quarterback market. When the first round starts to unfold, they just might be.
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Florida QB Kyle TraskRon Jenkins/Associated Press
As La Canfora noted, the Saints are reportedly high on Mac Jones. However, Jones isn’t the only quarterback who has been linked to New Orleans.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (h/t Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells), the Saints also like Florida’s Kyle Trask.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the Saints are weighing their options after Drew Brees retired. While a quarterback competition between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston could determine the team’s 2021 starter, it might not provide a long-term answer.
For one thing, Winston is only under contract for one year. If he establishes himself as a potential long-term starter, there’s still no guarantee that the Saints will be able to keep Winston beyond the 2021 season.
Trading up from No. 28 to land Jones might be unrealistic, but if the Saints like Trask, nabbing him at the bottom of the first round could be a possibility.
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Giants GM Dave GettlemanMichael Conroy/Associated Press
The New York Giants’ team strength in 2020 was its defense. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham helped field a playoff-caliber unit that finished the season ranked 12th in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed, despite getting little help on the other side of the ball.
Making a strength even stronger could be New York’s plan in Round 1. At least, that’s what other teams seem to believe.
“Corner and pass-rusher are the two spots that other teams have their eyes on for [general manager] Dave Gettleman and [head coach] Joe Judge,” Breer wrote.
This isn’t an unrealistic strategy for the Giants. While New York could certainly afford to bolster its receiving corps or further add to its offensive line—it should be all in on developing quarterback Daniel Jones—it would make sense to improve the pass defense.
New York ranked a more modest 16th in passing yards allowed and only got 28.5 sacks from guys not named Leonard Williams. No player other than Williams logged more than four sacks last season.
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BYU QB Zach WilsonGeorge Frey/Associated Press
The New York Jets are widely expected to take Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson with the No. 2 pick—assuming, of course, that the Jags don’t pass on Trevor Lawrence. However, not everyone around the league is convinced this is a done deal.
“Are we all sure that Wilson is going second?” one AFC executive asked La Canfora. “Is that written in stone somewhere? Seriously, have they come out and said it? Maybe Wilson is the pick, but you can’t tell me he is absolutely a better prospect than Fields. We would take Fields there at 2.”
Others around the league believe Wilson would be a poor fit for the Jets’ talent-starved roster.
“If I had to bet money, I’d bet it doesn’t work out for him with the Jets,” one quarterbacks coach told The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.
The reality is that Wilson probably isn’t the No. 2 quarterback on every team’s draft board, and there’s no guarantee that he’s the top signal-caller not named Lawrence on New York’s. The Jets are probably taking a quarterback after trading Sam Darnold, but they could potentially throw a major curveball at the draft by picking one other than Wilson.
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Eagles GM Howie RosemanCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press
While the Dolphins could trade back for a second time, the Philadelphia Eagles appear interested in getting closer to their original selection at No. 6.
“The Eagles are exploring a move into the top 10 despite having just dropped from No. 6 to No. 12,” Standig wrote. “Having acquired a first-round pick in 2022 from the Dolphins, the Eagles could move up and still net more assets.”
While trading back into the top 10 after moving out of it might not make sense on the surface, it’ll be all about the return package. The Eagles netted a future first-rounder from Miami as part of the initial swap. Theoretically, giving up anything less than a Round 1 pick would net a win for Philadelphia.
Say, for example, the Eagles surrender their second-round pick to move up a few spots and land a prospect they want. They essentially would turn a second-round pick into a future first-rounder and a fifth-rounder into a fourth (which was part of the Miami deal)—while still landing the player they might have selected at No. 6.
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Alabama RB Najee HarrisMichael Ainsworth/Associated Press
One of the biggest issues the Pittsburgh Steelers faced last season was an inability to run the football. Pittsburgh—which ranked last in both rushing yards and yards per carry—was too often forced to rely on the aging arm of Ben Roethlisberger, 39. This led to an offensive meltdown late in the season and a lopsided loss in the playoffs.
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers plan to address the issue early in the draft.
“They want a more dynamic feature back, a player who can put back in the offense a dimension that has been missing since the departure of Le’Veon Bell,” Dulac wrote. “They will do that in the draft, most likely in the first round, no later than the second.”
While reaching for a running back in Round 1 rarely equates to good value, if the right fit is there, it could make sense. The Steelers are potentially looking at Roethlisberger’s last season in 2021. Giving him the support of a high-end running game could give Pittsburgh a chance to make a deep playoff push. It could also give Big Ben’s eventual successor a support system, should Roethlisberger call it a career next offseason.
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Alabama QB Mac JonesChris O’Meara/Associated Press
When the San Francisco 49ers first traded up to No. 3, it was easy to assume that they had a specific prospect in mind. However, it’s feeling more and more like San Francisco simply wanted to guarantee the chance to take its pick of signal-callers remaining on the board.
Alabama’s Mac Jones has regularly been linked to San Francisco, but according to Schrager, the 49ers still haven’t made a decision.
“We’re less than two weeks away and I’m still feeling Mac Jones is the guy,” Schrager wrote. “I’m told the 49ers still have not made a decision and continue to do their work on all three quarterback prospects who would be available.”
With the 49ers sending representatives to the pro days of both Lance and Fields, it does feel unlikely that they have settled on Jones. This doesn’t mean that he won’t eventually be the pick or that San Francisco is still considering all three options. However, it makes sense for the 49ers to take their time with this decision.
There’s little reason to believe that teams will know which quarterbacks will be available at No. 4 until that selection is officially on the clock.
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Giovani BernardAaron Doster/Associated Press
There has essentially been zero draft buzz surrounding the Seattle Seahawks because they have just a second-round pick (56th overall), a fourth-rounder and a seventh-rounder. That’s it.
However, one bit of information could give some insight into what Seattle would like to do late in the draft or in undrafted free agency. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Seattle was in on running back Giovani Bernard before he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Giovani Bernard was also recruited by the 49ers and Seahawks, per a source close to the situation,” Laine tweeted. “Not only did Tom Brady and Bruce Arians call him—he heard from Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson too.”
The idea that Wilson and Carroll both tried recruiting Bernard suggests that Seattle would prefer to have another pass-catching back in the rotation. Chris Carson, who re-signed this offseason, had 37 receptions in 2020. No other Seahawks running back had more than 17.
Don’t be surprised if Seattle targets a receiving back during or just after the draft.
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Bruce AriansChris O’Meara/Associated Press
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will turn 44 this summer. While he showed no real signs of decline during last year’s Super Bowl season, Tampa might be inclined to think about his future replacement.
While drafting a quarterback this year doesn’t sound like it’s a priority, head coach Bruce Arians isn’t against the move.
“If the right guy is there that we think is a developmental guy that has the upside that outweighs every other position of those five or six guys that we’re looking at, then we wouldn’t be against it,” Arians said, per The Athletic’s Greg Auman. “The same thing in the second round and the third round.”
In other words, we shouldn’t expect to see Tampa aggressively trading up in the first round for a signal-caller. We may not see the Buccaneers reach for the position at pick No. 32 or on Day 2 of the draft. Tampa recently re-signed backup Ryan Griffin, so it shouldn’t be scrambling for another QB.
If the right prospect falls into the team’s lap, though, Arians apparently won’t be against pulling the trigger, even in Round 1.
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Mississippi WR Elijah MooreBruce Newman/Associated Press
The Tennessee Titans need to reload their receiving corps after losing Corey Davis in free agency. According to The Athletic’s Joe Rexrode, there is a growing belief that Mississippi wideout Elijah Moore could be part of the equation.
“If the gathering buzz over one player, in particular, is real—please understand, all buzz at this time of year should be eyed suspiciously (if buzz can actually be eyed)—then I think the Titans can trade down and still get him. That player is Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore,” Rexrode wrote.
As Rexrode pointed out, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently mocked Moore to the Titans at No. 22. However, he’s not the only one who likes this potential pairing.
Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown recently lobbied for his former Mississippi teammate on Twitter.
While Moore may not be the actual and/or only target for the Titans in Round 1, drafting a receiver to pair with Brown would certainly make a ton of sense.
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New Washington QB Ryan FitzpatrickJed Jacobsohn/Associated Press
The Washington Football Team signed veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to be its starting quarterback in 2021. However, the 38-year-old probably isn’t viewed as a long-term solution—though a two- or three-year run might not be out of the question if he plays well.
Could Washington be among the teams looking to move up in Round 1 for a signal-caller? If general manager Martin Mayhew is being forthright, probably not.
“We do feel very confident and comfortable with the quarterbacks on our roster right now,” Mayhew said, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post.
The Football Team may not be concerned with adding a quarterback to roll out for the coming season, but this doesn’t mean that it won’t target a developmental prospect. That could mean taking a signal-caller on Day 2 or trading down from No. 19 and grabbing a guy like Stanford’s Davis Mills—a prospect some believe could go in the first round.
“The buzz around the league is that he could be a first-round pick and will most likely be the sixth quarterback selected,” Schrager wrote.
Don’t expect Washington to be aggressive in trading up for a quarterback in Round 1.
*Contract information via Spotrac.