The 2021 NFL Draft is going to be full of surprises once it kicks off later in April. After trading up to the third pick, the San Francisco 49ers are a true wild card. Which quarterback are they going to take? Could a potential Jimmy Garoppolo blockbuster trade be in the cards?
As for the remainder of the first round, the expectation is that five quarterbacks will go on Day 1. Could Florida’s Kyle Trask make that a sixth? Below, we look at five potential NFL Draft surprises we could see in the matter of weeks.
As of right now, it’s a virtual guarantee that the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones will go in the first round. In fact, all five quarterbacks could potentially be selected within the top-10 picks. It would be a historical moment for signal callers when it comes to the annual event.
However, a team picking in the bottom end of Round 1 could very well opt to select Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. That would make it a record six quarterbacks going on Day 1. Recent reports suggest that Trask — a Heisman finalist in 2020 — is generating first-round buzz . Perhaps the New Orleans Saints or Tampa Bay Buccaneers take a look. Heck, a team selecting near the top of the second round could move up.
Selecting 19th overall, Washington is highly unlikely to land one of the top-five quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Rather, rumors coming out of D.C. suggest that new general manager Martin Mayhew is looking to make a bold move up the draft board for North Dakota State product Trey Lance. The idea would be for recent signee Ryan Fitzpatrick to start in 2021 before Lance takes over the following season.
This scenario would be super expensive for Washington. The only real comparison would be the San Francisco 49ers’ blockbuster trade up from the 12th pick to No. 3 overall last month. San Francisco yielded two future first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins to move up. The cost Washington pays to the Atlanta Falcons for the fourth pick in this hypothetical deal would likely be even more expensive. With that said, Washington has been looking for a quarterback of the future all offseason. It loves Trey Lance. Expect a move come Day 1 of the daft.
Yes, we’re talking about a player trade. No, Deshaun Watson is not being moved any time soon after recent allegations of sexual assault became public record. It’s also highly unlikely that the Seattle Seahawks move off Russell Wilson despite some major drama behind the scenes in the Pacific Northwest.
Even then, a big-name player could surprisingly be moved during the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. continues to be bandied about in trade talks . A surprise of this ilk could include the Indianapolis Colts trading its first-round pick (21st) overall and second rounder (54th) to the Browns for OBJ and Cleveland’s first-round pick (26th). Wouldn’t that be fascinating?
Despite his absolutely brilliant senior season with the eventual champion Alabama Crimson Tide, there’s now talk that Smith won’t be the first wide receiver off the board. After opting out of the 2020 campaign, LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase seems to be the consensus wide receiver. Meanwhile, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts will likely be the first non-quarterback skill-position player off the board.
What does this all mean? Smith could see a dramatic drop down the draft board come Round 1 later in April. That’s especially true with five quarterbacks slated to go in the top 10 and Jaylen Waddle also getting potential play ahead of Smith in the first round. While it would surprise the masses, we could easily envision a scenario where Smith falls to Chicago at 20 or the New York Jets at 23.
Some within the mainstream national media believe that it’s a foregone conclusion that San Francisco will take Alabama’s Mac Jones after trading up to the No. 3 pick. That narrative has to do with head coach Kyle Shanahan working with fellow prototypical signal callers in Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins in the past. This narrative has also taken a hit in recent days with suggestions that no one outside of Shanahan and general manager John Lynch know what the 49ers are doing.
Rather than continuing with that speculation, there’s a good chance that San Francisco opts for either Justin Fields or Trey Lance at three. If this were to come to fruition, the 49ers and New England Patriots could then surprise everyone by pulling off a Jimmy Garoppolo trade. Said move would include New England giving up its first-round pick (15th overall) to the 49ers for their third-round pick (102nd overall). Imagine the hysteria in Cleveland is this were to happen during the 2021 NFL Draft.