CLEVELAND- There are many different ways the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft can play out. With so many distinct possibilities, it’s hard to be 100% accurate with predictions. Here is how the first round could look like at the end of Thursday Night.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Quarterback- Clemson- It’s the end of the era of Gardner Minshew. Trevor Lawrence is a winner at all levels of football. The Jaguars need stability at quarterback like in the good old days of Byron Leftwich.
2. New York Jets- Zach Wilson- Quarterback- BYU- The Jets traded Sam Darnold to begin a new future at quarterback. Wilson rose up draft boards quickly. He currently ranks as the second-best passer on the board.
3. San Francisco 49ers- Patrick Surtain II- Cornerback- Alabama- The 49ers could go with quarterback Justin Fields out of Ohio State but the records of recent Ohio State quarterbacks will have San Francisco thinking twice. They’ll choose to get better defensively and take Alabama’s lockdown cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
4. Atlanta Falcons- Kyle Pitts- Tight End- Florida- The Falcons may be better off getting help on defense but they will invest even more in the passing game. Matt Ryan gets a dynamic playmaker in Florida’s Pitts and this offense will be way too hard to stop.
5. Cincinnati Bengals- Penei Sewell- Offensive Tackle- Oregon- There is a lot of talk about reuniting Joe Burrow with LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase. The Bengals could select Chase but they know Burrow needs better pass protection. The Bengals will make the right call and draft Sewell, knowing that Left Tackle is the most important position on the offensive line. Why risk losing Burrow for a second season with another season-ending injury?
6. Miami Dolphins- DeVonta Smith- Wide Receiver- Alabama- Although getting Byron Jones a nice playmaking opposite of him sounds really appealing, the Dolphins will elect to give Tua Tagovailoa another playmaker. There is unfair criticism of Smith’s size but the Dolphins will ignore that talk.
7. Detroit Lions- Ja’Marr Chase- Wide Receiver- LSU- The Kenny Golladay era in Detroit is over. The Lions must select a receiver and they get the second-best pass catcher on the board. Chase is a physical receiver like Golladay and that’s exactly what the Lions need.
8. Carolina Panthers- Rashod Bateman- Wide Receiver- Minnesota- The Panthers traded for Sam Darnold so it’s logical that Carolina takes a receiver. Bateman is a good route runner who wins the tight one-on-one matchups.
9. Denver Broncos- Trey Lance-Quarterback- North Dakota State- Is Denver searching for a new answer at quarterback? Although Fields went against better competition, the Broncos may be impressed with the skills Lance showed.
10. Dallas Cowboys- Caleb Farley- Cornerback- Virginia Tech- The Cowboys need defense like a thirsty person needs water to survive a desert. The Cowboys need help in the secondary so that teams don’t continue to torch the defense on passing plays.
11. New York Giants- Micah Parsons- Linebacker- Penn State- If the Giants can get the defense to be on a playoff-caliber level, this team could be a dark horse to win the division. Yes, running back Saqoun Barkley needs to stay healthy but this team can be a playoff contender with some upgrades on defense. Parsons would be a steal at the eleventh overall pick.
12. Philadelphia Eagles- Terrace Marshall Jr.- Wide Receiver- LSU- The Eagles will commit to making Jalen Hurts a better quarterback. He needs a playmaking wide receiver and Marshall could be a great addition to the Eagles offense.
13. Los Angeles Chargers- Rashawn Slater- Offensive Tackle- Northwestern- Herbert looks like a franchise quarterback but he needs pass protection. Slater is the safe pick here.
14. Minnesota Vikings- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah- Linebacker- Notre Dame- The Vikings are in dire need of defense. Minnesota goes with a pass coverage linebacker to start the rebuild on defense.
15. New England Patriots- Justin Fields-Quarterback- Ohio State- Patriots fans may not want to hear this but the team needs a long-term solution at quarterback. Bill Belichick and company will not worry about the success rate of recent Ohio State quarterbacks. Fields presents the same skills that Cam Newton does and he won’t necessarily have to start over Newton in year one. This is a smart, “slam dunk” selection for New England. Fields won’t need to rush onto the field and can study for one year under Newton who can teach him some things he’ll need to know.
16. Arizona Cardinals- Shaun Wade- Cornerback- Ohio State-Cardinals fans may not like losing Patrick Peterson to the Vikings but Arizona will make it up to them by selecting Wade. The Cardinals defense consisting of Isaiah Simmons, J.J. Watt, and Wade will have a fierce look to it.
17. Los Vegas Raiders- Jaycee Horn- Cornerback- Georgia- The Raiders are another team that needs defense and Horn is the son of legendary receiver Joe Horn. A tall cornerback will really help the Raiders on that side of the ball.
18. Miami Dolphins- Greg Newsome II- Cornerback- Northwestern- What’s with all these corners taken off of the board suddenly? The Dolphins need to select a good corner to help Jones.
19. Washington Football Team- Gregory Rosseau- Defensive End- Miami- The fans of WFT will go absolutely crazy over this pick but Washington gives Chase Young a playmaking edge threat to play opposite of him. Selecting Rosseau would be a huge part in making Washington the favorite to win the NFC East for the second consecutive season.
20. Chicago Bears- Travis Etienne- Running Back- Clemson- Throw the logic of not selecting a running back in the first round out the window. The Bears need to establish a dominant run game and Etienne will help. Although David Montgomery has so much potential, Chicago can use a one-two punch at running back.
21. Indianapolis Colts- Alex Leatherwood- Offensive Tackle- Alabama- The Colts need to give Carson Wentz excellent pass protection. Leatherwood will really help.
22. Tennessee Titans- Alijah Vera-Tucker- Guard- USC- The Titans could really use an offensive lineman. Although defense would be the bigger need, giving Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill an outstanding blocker would pay off big time.
23. New York Jets- Christian Darrisaw- Offensive Tackle- Virginia Tech- The Jets give Wilson a pass protector. This is an easy call for the Jets.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Najee Harris- Running Back- Alabama- Pittsburgh no longer has James Conner so the team selects the most NFL-ready running back in Harris out of Alabama. He has the size to be a great running back right away.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jayson Oweh- Defensive End- Penn State- The Jaguars need to have good edge rushers again. Jacksonville makes the right call and takes Oweh out of Penn State.
26. Cleveland Browns- Zaven Collins- Linebacker- Tulsa- The Browns could pass on a linebacker in favor of selecting a defensive Tackle but General Manager Andrew Berry will take Collins as Cleveland really needs a linebacker right away.
27. Baltimore Ravens- Nico Collins- Wide Receiver- Michigan- The Ravens need tall receivers and Collins fits in perfectly.
28. New Orleans Saints- Asante Samuel Jr.- Cornerback- Florida State- The Saints have a golden opportunity to give Marshon Lattimore some help.
29. Green Bay Packers- Jaylen Waddle- Wide Receiver- Alabama- In a somewhat predictable move, the Packers waste no time giving Aaron Rodgers a speedster who can give corners matchup nightmares. Although the team has DeVonte Adams, it’s time to bring in a vertical threat.
30. Buffalo Bills- Kwity Paye- Defensive End- Michigan- The Bills will decide to upgrade the defense by adding an edge rusher.
31. Baltimore Ravens- Josh Palmer- Wide Receiver- Tennessee- Why not go with defense after taking Collins? In a surprise move, the Ravens decide to get another tall receiver to give Lamar Jackson some much-needed consistency in the passing game. A receiving core of Marquise Brown, Collins, and Palmer would suddenly make the Ravens one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. The Ravens are an excellent running team but they need to mix it up on offense. There will be opportunities to upgrade the defense later.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jaelen Phillips- Defensive End- Miami- The Buccaneers have strength on both sides of the ball but they can really use another defensive playmaker. Phillips will be a welcome addition to the defending Super Bowl Champions.