Draft week is finally upon us.
The stars of tomorrow will have the spotlight to themselves on April 29, giving us the opportunity to see which rumors will come to fruition and which ones were just a smokescreen.
— NFL (@NFL) April 25, 2021
Chaos will ensue in Cleveland, as it is just a matter of time before a team chooses a player that invalidates every mock draft made in the offseason.
Nonetheless, here is how the top 10 picks of the draft cold unfold this Thursday.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Where in the draft Trevor Lawrence was going to get drafted was never in question.
About the only certainty in the 2021 NFL draft is Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars at No. 1.
Beyond that, it’s really anybody’s guess following the most unorthodox of run-ups to the league’s annual parade of prospects.
— AP NFL (@AP_NFL) April 25, 2021
It seems as if he has been touted as the future No. 1 overall pick since his days at Cartersville High School in Georgia.
The only question was which team would get the opportunity to select one of the best quarterback prospects ever.
The NFL draft is always a game of hypotheticals, but Lawrence going to the Jaguars is as sure as it gets.
2. New York Jets
The New York Jets fell just short of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes but will still come away with a nice consolation prize.
There was a time where they might have addressed the offensive line, but their trade of Sam Darnold ensures that they will be drafting a quarterback.
As of now, all signs point to BYU’s Zach Wilson.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 22, 2021
Wilson impressed in his junior campaign, completing 73.5% of his passes and scoring 43 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
He has all the tools worthy of a top-five selection, and it appears that he may not make it past the second pick.
3. San Francisco 49ers
This is where the draft gets interesting.
There is no doubt as to what direction the San Francisco 49ers are going in.
49ers GM John Lynch: "We felt like we had a team that can compete. … We went to ownership, said 'hey things are looking good, we want to make this (trade), but we don't want to say good bye to Jimmy.'"
Ownership signed off on keeping both a rookie and Jimmy Garoppolo.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 29, 2021
Rumors have swirled between Mac Jones, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance, the three players likely to be available when the Niners are on the clock.
An argument can be made for any of these talented prospects, but San Francisco would be wise to take Fields.
The former Buckeye is a dynamic playmaker with multiple years of success against elite competition, a resume that no other quarterback has in this draft outside of Lawrence.
It wouldn’t be all that surprising if they go in another direction, but Fields playing under Kyle Shanahan would be a dream fit.
4. Denver Broncos – Trade With Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons hold the potential key to the first trade of the draft, as they already have an established quarterback.
The Denver Broncos are a perfect partner for the transaction, as they are in the market for a quarterback and might not want to wait around until the ninth pick to take one.
Drew Lock has been wildly inconsistent to start his career and has been unable to take full advantage of the weapons he has.
Mac Jones, on the other hand, has the surefire accuracy and decision-making that Lock lacks.
Mac Jones had the lowest negatively graded throw % in a single CFB season since 2014
Jones broke the record previously set by Joe Burrow in 2019 pic.twitter.com/hM1eMp4fLL
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) April 23, 2021
He posted an NCAA single-season record for completion percentage at 77.4% to go along with 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Jones may not profile as an athletic marvel, but his pro-ready game makes him the ideal candidate to take over the starting job.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are in a prime position to address their most crucial need.
Their offensive line was downright atrocious last year and gave up a total of 48 sacks.
Enter Penei Sewell.
The former Oregon Duck is one of the most dominant players of the draft and is the perfect solution to Cincinnati’s woes.
The Bengals might be tempted to reunite Burrow with his college teammate, Ja’Marr Chase.
Penei Sewell or Ja'Marr Chase?
Who are you betting the Bengals will take at No. 5? pic.twitter.com/6FlQjyulCh
— PFF (@PFF) April 19, 2021
However, protecting their franchise quarterback should be of the utmost importance, and having Sewell drop into their lap is a gift they should not take for granted.
6. Miami Dolphins
Now they’ll have the opportunity to take arguably the best wide receiver of the class.
That Ja’Marr Chase opted out of the 2020 season is irrelevant, as his statistics in 2019 were a sight to behold.
JA’MARR CHASE AGAIN 🔥
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 14, 2020
The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner was the alpha on an LSU team featuring Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall, posting a team-high 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Chase gives Tua Tagavailoa another weapon to work with that should only help the young quarterback elevate his play.
7. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions have so many holes on both sides of the ball that trading down and recouping picks seems like the best option for them.
That remains a likely possibility come draft day.
It just so happens that the first wide receiver to win the Heisman in three decades should be around for this pick.
Devonta Smith led the nation in every major category, racking up 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Take a look at @DeVontaSmith_6 vs press coverage
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) April 21, 2021
8. Carolina Panthers
For Kyle Pitts to fall this far in the draft, several factors have to come into play.
A player of his caliber rarely falls out of the top-five picks, irrespective of position.
Nonetheless, the Carolina Panthers will happily draft Pitts should he still be on the board at the eighth pick.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 18, 2020
Despite missing part of his last season in Florida with injuries, Pitts still wound up as a first-team All-American and the winner of the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in college.
9. Atlanta Falcons- Trade With Denver Broncos
By trading down, the Falcons can add to their draft capital while still capitalizing on an immediate impact player.
Their most apparent need comes in pass defense, as they gave up a league-worst 4,697 yards per game.
Luckily for them, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II should be available for the taking.
Patrick Surtain II only allowed two RECs of 20+ yards in 2020
PFF's CB1 in the 2021 NFL Draft⚡️ pic.twitter.com/hqkWh0kWbc
— PFF (@PFF) April 25, 2021
The toolsy cornerback shutdown competition all season long en route to an SEC Defensive Player of the Year award.
He and 2020 first-round pick A.J. Terell would form a fearsome cornerback duo for years to come.
10. Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys can not afford to underestimate their issues on defense.
They gave up the most touchdowns and the eighth-most yards to wide receivers last year.
And while they may miss out on Surtain, they will still get one of the top defenders in the draft in Jaycee Horn.
The NFL Draft is less than a week away, and cornerback is a need for the Cowboys.
What would Jaycee Horn add to the defense if he went No. 10 to Dallas?
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 23, 2021
He has ideal size for a corner, the speed and flexibility to keep up with receivers, and the confidence to succeed in a pass-happy league.
Horn is a high-ceiling, high-floor prospect that will be an immediate contributor for a team itching to return to the playoffs.