It is that time of the year again. The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and so-called “experts” are throwing mock drafts at you left and right.
The draft is being held in Cleveland, Ohio, and produces three days of hope and optimism around the league, even in places like Cincinnati and the New York Jets headquarters.
- Round One only will be held on Thursday and begins at 8 p.m. ET.
- Rounds Two and Three make up the second day on Friday.
- Finally rounds 4-7 are held on Saturday.
The Top Five
There is little discussion over who the Jacksonville Jaguars will take with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday night, with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawerence (-100000) being the obvious and very heavy favorite. The New York Jets are then expected to take BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (-10000) with the No. 2 pick.
The third overall pick is where the drama of this particular draft really begins, with the San Francisco 49ers trading its No. 12 overall pick for the chance to move inside the top three and grab their quarterback of the future. The general consensus from the national media is that the front office wants to take North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance (+215). Other reports indicate that Coach Kyle Shanahan would instead prefer to draft Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (-210).
The Atlanta Falcons are on the clock for the fourth overall pick and all signs point to Florida tight end Kyle Pitts (-225) being the selection. It is tough to lay the juice for Atlanta to go that route due to the uncertainty of the organization. The Falcons are taking phone calls from teams around the league regarding superstar receiver Julio Jones and they have an aging quarterback in Matt Ryan. Kyle Pitts will be the pick for Atlanta if they choose to hold it, but out of the teams inside the top seven, they are the most likely to trade back.
The Cincinnati Bengals were originally heavy favorites to pick offensive tackle Penei Sewell when the season ended, but the team seems to be shifting toward reuniting Burrow with Chase, his favorite receiver from his days at LSU. The Bengals run more offensive sets with three wide receivers (82 percent of the time in 2020) than anyone in the league, which makes taking Chase something head coach Zac Taylor can get behind. Apparently, based on his own pre-draft interviews, Taylor already has endorsed the selection of Chase at No. 5. At +165, there is plenty of value to wager on Jones, Pitts and Chase to hear their names called as the third, fourth and fifth pick in that exact order.
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft belongs to the Miami Dolphins, who are in the market for a wide receiver and an offensive tackle. Miami likely snatch up whichever player Cincinnati does not between Sewell and Chase.
The Detroit Lions follow up with the seventh pick, where they are likely to take a receiver. This means that Justin Fields will reach the Carolina Panthers, who own the eighth overall pick. Fields is +110 to be taken after the seventh pick, and with all the talk of Mac Jones and Trey Lance, it seems likely that he will slide all the way down to pick No. 8.
Another bet with value at this stage of the draft would be to take Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II to be the first defensive player selected (-150). Carolina and Denver both need cornerbacks, so even if the Panthers take Fields at eight, Denver will be right there looking to fill a void in their secondary. South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn is the only other cornerback in Surtain’s league, but inside the top 10 of the draft, expect teams to give the edge to the more complete corner in Surtain.
(Odds courtesy of Bovada)
Late First Round
Oklahoma State offensive tackle Tevin Jenkins is one of the top five offensive linemen in the draft. Jenkins’ Over/Under for selection is placed at 24.5. However, it is possible that Jenkins could go as early as 17th overall to the Oakland Raiders. In the 17-24 pick range, there are plenty of teams who could benefit from bolstering their offensive lines, and Jenkins is going to be off the board by pick 25 (-155).
Teams have moved away from selecting running backs in the first round in recent years, and this running back class is not very strong. Alabama running back Najee Harris is going to be selected before Etienne. And with the Steelers being the only team with a glaring running back issue, it is likely Etienne does not even get selected in the first round. Etienne is not the type of running back that a team can rationalize using a first round pick on these days. He’s more likely to go early in the second round\