The order for the top 18 picks in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft is set, with the Jacksonville Jaguars picking number 1 and the New York Jets picking number 2. Could both teams think of quarterback with their picks? NFL drafts analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s best quarterbacks – Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) – won the college football playoffs semifinals on Friday night, with Fields and the Buckeyes in the lead.
Both the Jaguars and the Jets – along with the Miami Dolphins – have two picks for the first round in this draft. The Dolphins landed in 3rd place – thanks to the Houston Texans’ trade against Laremy Tunsil last year – and 18th place. The Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals round out the top five.
The 2021 NFL draft will take place in Cleveland. The first round will take place on April 29th. Rounds 2 and 3 will take place on April 30th, while rounds 4 through 7 will take place on May 1st. The draft will air on ESPN and the ESPN app.
Check out the top 18 tips below, with numbers 19-32 projected from the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI), which projects the order by simulating the rest of the season 10,000 times.
Jacksonville had 19 first-round top 10 choices early in its 27th season, but it was never number 1 overall. The last team to make the playoffs in the year it was number 1 were the 2013 Chiefs. The Jaguars took three quarterbacks in the first round – Byron Leftwich (No. 7 in 2003), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10 in 2011) and Blake Bortles (No. 3 in 2014).
The Jets just missed their second number 1. They used their only number 1 to select the Keyshawn Johnson broadband receiver in 1996. The Jets picked second place twice, picked broadband Johnny “Lam” Jones (1980), and raced back Blair Thomas (1990). It was reported that New York’s 1980 second election targeted Anthony Munoz but passed him on for making a physical mistake. The Bengals took Munoz in third place and he made 11 Pro Bowls. Jones never did the Pro Bowl.
The Dolphins, who had three picks for the first round in 2020, have two picks for the first round this year. All of the first round picks since 2011 were in the league in 2020, but only one from before 2019 was still with Miami (DeVante Parker, # 14, 2015).
This is the Falcons’ first Top 10 picks since 2015 and their first Top 5 picks since quarterback Matt Ryan drafted No. 3 in 2008. Atlanta has designed two Hall of Famers with top 5 picks: Claude Humphrey (No. 3) 1968) and Deion Sanders (No. 5, 1989).
The Bengals finish in the top five for the 17th time in franchise history and for the second time in a row. They used their last four first-round players to pick offensive players, but only two of them were starters for Cincinnati in 2020 (quarterback Joe Burrow and offensive tackle Jonah Williams).
This is the Eagles’ first top 10 picks since they picked quarterback Carson Wentz in second place in 2016. Of course, they now seem ready to switch from Wentz in favor of Jalen Hurts from the 2020 second round.
The Lions finish in the top 10 for the third straight year and 26th time in the Super Bowl era. Could they be looking for Matthew Stafford’s successor?
The Panthers have been voted in the top 10 for the second time since 2012. They did well with the others, and in 2017 they picked Christian McCaffrey in 8th place.
The Broncos are only in the top 10 in 2011 for the second time since 2011. Pick rusher Bradley Chubb was number 5 in 2018. He has 20.5 sacks in his career and has won the Pro Bowl that season.
Five of the Cowboys’ last eight picks in the first round have represented Dallas in the Pro Bowl, but only three remain on the team – guard Zack Martin, who runs back Ezekiel Elliott and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. This is the Cowboys’ highest draft position since they took over Elliott with the fourth election in 2016.
Four of the Giants’ last six first-round players are players they hope to build their offensive around, despite Saquon Barkley, # 2 of 2018, to return from a torn ACL in 2021. Quarterback Daniel Jones (2019) and tight end Evan Engram (2017) had some injury issues that hampered them in 2020. Rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas has been a plug and play starter this season.
When the 49ers picked wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk with the second of two first round picks last year, it was the first time since 2012 that they picked a player with a skill position in the first round. In the same time span, they chose four defensive ends.
The chargers have the luxury of not requiring a quarterback as they apparently hit gold with last year’s number 6 Justin Herbert. The Oregon beacon set a record for a rookie TD passes and had multiple TD passes in seven consecutive games, another rookie record.
The Vikings make their highest pick in the first round since cornerback Trae Wayne was elected 11th in 2015. Of their picks in the first round prior to 2018, only Safety Harrison Smith (2012) and linebacker Anthony Barr (2014) carry the purple.
The Patriots have their highest first-round pick since 2008 when they picked linebacker Jerod Mayo as 10th. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and played his entire eight-year career in New England, forming two Pro Bowl teams.
Of the Cardinals’ last 10 first-round picks in the last 10 years, four are not even in the league. Five are left with Arizona. The other is 49ers backup quarterback Josh Rosen.
The Raiders, who made five first round picks in the last two drafts, only have one first round player this year. Each of the previous five were in a different position, but none of these picks were aimed at linebackers or offensive players.
How the dolphins use the second of their two first graders largely depends on what they do with their first. They have needs for wide receivers, offensive lines and running back.
FPI projections for selection nos. 19-32
19. Washington Football Team (7-9)
20. Chicago Bears (8-8)
21. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15; from 10-6 LAR)
23. Cleveland Browns (11-5)
24. Tennessee Titans (11-5)
25. New York Jets (2-14; from 12-4 SEA)
26. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
29. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
30. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
31. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
32nd Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)
(FPI projections are from Monday morning)