NFL QB mock draft: Every team’s chances of drafting a quarterback in 2021 first round
Welcome to the silly season before the 2021 NFL Draft, where it seems like almost every team with a first-round pick is ready to make another team believe it will take a quarterback on April 29. With five QB prospects worthy of going in the top 32 and one who’s at least a strong second-rounder, anything can happen.
But from the lock at the team picking No. 1 overall to the Super Bowl 55 runners-up selecting at No. 31, the chances of a quarterback in the forecast range from 100 to zero percent. Based on the big board and with 29 teams having first-rounders, 17 to 21 percent of them should end up with a high-drafted rookie QB.
Would your team become one of them?
NFL QB mock draft 2021
Jacksonville Jaguars, Nos. 1 and 25
Forget what some contrarian analysts are saying. Lawrence will be the new Jags franchise quarterback to usher in the Urban Meyer era. He’s one of the best QB prospects ever when just looking at his physical gifts. His intangibles then take him to an even higher level.
New York Jets, Nos. 2 and 23
The Jets may still be trading for Deshaun Watson but don’t buy much into them settling for continuing to roll with Sam Darnold. Should they stay put, they would have a heavy lean toward replacing Darnold. This can get closer to 100 percent should Darnold get dealt soon.
Miami Dolphins, Nos. 3 and 18
The Dolphins are less likely to trade for Watson and they just used the No. 5 overall pick on Tua Tagovailoa last year. Tagovailoa still has massive upside despite some rookie lumps to think he can match classmates Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow in becoming a fine long-term QB solution for his team.
Atlanta Falcons, No. 4
The Falcons have been tied to both Fields and Lance for new offensive-minded coach Arthur Smith under new GM Terry Fontenot. But they are locked into the contract of Matt Ryan, who turns 36 in May, for at least one more season. Stashing either dynamic dual threat QB would be a good move for the future, but the Falcons have a ton of more pressing needs as a rebuilding team, and neither Fields nor Lance would be the “best player available.” This feels like it can go either way.
Cincinnati Bengals, No. 5
There is some concern over when Burrow can return from the torn ACL he suffered on Nov. 22 of his rookie season as the No. 1 overall pick, but he’s expected to make a full recovery. He should be good to go in Year 2, either for the start or just a few games into the season. The Bengals will be focused in getting him help with an offensive tackle, wide receiver or tight end.
Philadelphia Eagles, No. 6
There might a shred of doubt about whether Jalen Hurts should be handed the job outright as a second-year second-rounder, but it’s more likely the Eagles recognize his high all-around upside and leadership skills makes him the right QB to pair with new offensive-minded coach Nick Sirianni. Like the Bengals with Burrow, the Eagles should get Hurts help, leaning more skill position than line.
Detroit Lions, No. 7
New general manager Brad Holmes made the blockbuster deal in sending 2009 No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford to the Rams and getting 2016 No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff in return. But in a presser this week, he also made sure to say how impressed he was by the “many flavors” of top QB prospects in the 2021 class. That’s a total smokescreen and like the Falcons, the Lions have a ton of defensive needs. They also have a few free-agency reasons to address wide receiver to help Goff.
Carolina Panthers, No. 8
The Panthers are still hoping they can revive their chances of landing Watson, but however you slice it, they weren’t happy with the play of Teddy Bridgewater and are considering all avenues for a replacement. Without a Watson deal, forget offensive tackle, wide receiver or tight end to help the QB; the top offensive pick for Matt Rhule, Joe Brady and new GM Scott Fitterer would be a new QB. The best alternative would be the Luke Kuechly-like linebacker in this range, Penn State’s Micah Parsons.
Denver Broncos, No. 9
To want Drew Lock or replace Drew Lock, that is the core question in Denver. The Broncos have several other key needs, starting with all over their defense. The linebacker, cornerback and edge rusher options are all pretty good toward that end. The fact John Elway has passed GM duties to George Paton might suggest the Broncos are less fickle with QB and will show patience with Lock into Year 3. But it also would shock no one if they gave up on Lock, too.
Dallas Cowboys, No. 10
There’s an 85 percent chance the Cowboys will either franchise-tag Dak Prescott or come to a long-term agreement with him to keep him in Dallas. Here’s leaving open the small possibility neither of that happens and a fallback trade for Watson or Russell Wilson is a total pipe dream.
New York Giants, No. 11
Some Giants fans might be growing impatient with Daniel Jones, a much higher pick in the same class as Lock. But New York should either upgrade around him here with an offensive tackle, wide receiver or tight end or go best defensive player available vs. forcing themselves into the QB conversation if that other Jones still is on the board.
San Francisco 49ers, No. 12
Put Kyle Shanahan’s current team in the same boat as his former team, the Falcons. The 49ers say they’re ready to roll with Jimmy Garoppolo for another season, despite an easy contract out, with the focus being more on upgrading their backup situation with Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard going into free agency. But they also might realize it’s hard to pass on a high-pedigreed passer who can push them into a cap-friendly rookie contract and also give them more upside at the most important position.
Los Angeles Chargers, No. 13
With Herbert coming off a big rookie season, the Chargers have a chance to be elite at the position soon. They should focus most on getting him offensive tackle help.
Minnesota Vikings, No. 14
GM Rick Spielman said the team is further committed to Kirk Cousins, who did get a two-year contract extension a year ago. He’s signed through the 2022 season and the outs for his contract for real cap relief via release or trade are much better next year. But you can’t rule Minnesota from accelerating the timeline, especially if 49ers make an aggressive offer to try to get him for Shanahan.
New England Patriots, No. 15
If the question is should Bill Belichick and the Patriots draft a QB if at least Jones is available, the answer would be a resounding yes. But post-Tom Brady, the Patriots are a hard team to read at this position after last year’s Jarrett Stidham-to-Cam Newton mess. Jones is the QB physically and mentally that compares best to Brady in this class, and New England has an affinity for players from Belichick buddy NIck Saban’s program.
Arizona Cardinals, No. 16
The Cardinals should be fine rolling with 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray, hoping for an even bigger breakout Year 3.
Las Vegas Raiders, No. 17
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock always leave a good chunk of doubt in Derek Carr, no matter how well he is playing, don’t they? Should they want to grab a falling potential superstar at QB, they can easily move on from Carr via trade or release, as that will cost them only $2.5 million in dead money while getting $19.625 million in cap relief.
Washington Football Team, No. 19
WFT is about to release Alex Smith and might be looking at a competition between former Panthers youngsters Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke for the starting job in 2021. The issue will be, with the stock of Lance and Jones being inflated, is needing to trade up to feel Washington isn’t reaching. The Football Team can’t be ruled out to trade for a QB, anywhere from Watson to Darnold. Should WFT stay put vs. trading down or up, wide receiver and offensive tackle would be non-QB offensive targets.
Chicago Bears, No. 20
File the Bears right along with Washington. Jones might have had a good chance of dropping down here just a few weeks ago, but his sudden climb has quickly changed the supply and demand at QB. The Bears might be desperate enough, unlike Washington, to reach a little for Florida’s Kyle Trask or trade down a few spots to get him. They also could get stuck re-signing Mitchell Trubisky, or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, pull off a blockbuster for Watson or Wilson.
Indianapolis Colts, No. 21
The Colts freed themselves of considering this position by getting 2016 No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz, still only 28, from the Eagles. Despite trying to rebound from disappointment in Philadelphia, he still will cost Indianapolis $25.4 million toward the cap. The focus instead will be on a left tackle to replace Anthony Castonzo, a wide receiver to replace T.Y. Hilton or best defensive player available with free agency issues there.
Tennessee Titans, No. 22
Ryan Tannehill has played at an incredible level starting for them in a run-heavy offense tailored to his passing and athletic strengths the past two seasons. He’s closer to the ceiling of QB play in the league than the floor. He turns only 33 in July with three more years left on the big deal he signed to stay last year.
Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 24
The Steelers reworked Ben Roethlisberger’s contract to bring him back on a more reasonable one-year deal after turning 39 on March 2. That said, give that’s a short-term solution, they need a QB option for the future who isn’t Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins. They could wait until No. 55 in the second round and hope Trask is there, but they shouldn’t be suddenly ruled out of the game in the first round.
Cleveland Browns, No. 26
Baker Mayfield is far from a perfect passer and there are some questions about whether his ceiling is limited as a running game-dependent quarterback. But the Browns just won bigger than they have for a long time with him at the helm, showing his winning leadership skills on top of his dedication to improve his physical gifts. The Browns should think defense first, with either an edge rusher or linebacker.
Baltimore Ravens, No. 27
Lamar Jackson’s sizzling second-half finish to the 2020 season — after a slow start with some offensive predictability — reminded the Ravens of his 2019 MVP work. As they focus on a long-term contract for him, they have worries on defense first to consider but if the value is right, they also can get him some wide receiver help.
New Orleans Saints, No. 28
Drew Brees hasn’t decided on retirement yet. Jameis Winston looks like he’s bound to leave as a free agent, with the Saints being cap-strapped and the 2015 No. 1 overall pick pushing his value back a little with his good backup stint in a great offense. The Saints have made a hard sell on Taysom Hill being the long-term answer and he showed signs he could handle that last year, but keep in mind he’s going into his age 31 season making $16.3 million and is unsigned for 2022.
Green Bay Packers, No. 29
Hey, you also didn’t think they would be taking a late first-round QB in Jordan Love last year. Joking and miniscule chances aside, let’s hope the Packers use this pick to get reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers some help, either with an offensive lineman or complementary receiver to Davante Adams.
Buffalo Bills, No. 30
If the Ravens and Browns aren’t thinking QB at all given their strong first-rounders from 2018, the Bills, after an MVP-caliber third season from Josh Allen, have even less reason to think they can upgrade with anyone else.
Kansas City Chiefs, No. 31
They have Patrick Mahomes locked in for a decade after which he will literally own Kansas City.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 32
Tom Brady is under contract for one more season and there are rumblings that he could agree to play for another two with the Buccaneers. But he still is 43 so it’s not bad to think a little bit about getting a successor who can be groomed behind him, much like Garoppolo was a whole seven years ago in New England.
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