The three-day 2021 NFL Draft begins on April 29, and all 32 teams have plenty to do to prepare themselves. The entire draft order won’t be set until the playoffs are done, but there’s plenty we do know. So let the draft season begin!
The 33rd Team will have comprehensive draft content, including detailed scouting reports on all the prospects. To kick things off, here’s an early look at what the teams picking in the top 10 might be thinking about:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)
Team Needs: QB, OT, DL, CB
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson – 6’6” 220lbs
Lawrence might be the highest-rated QB prospect since Andrew Luck. A career 66.6% completion percentage, 10,098 passing yards, 90 TDs, and 17 INTs. Lawrence has had an amazing career. We won’t go on for too long as Lawrence will widely be reported as the expected first overall pick but for a complete scouting report go to this link.
2. New York Jets (2-14)
Team Needs: QB, WR, EDGE, CB
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State – 6’3” 228lbs
Fields had an amazing game in his second CFB playoff game, throwing for 385 yards, and 6 TDs and 1 INT. He also rushed for 42 yards on 8 attempts. He also showed his toughness and leadership taking on a hit that was called for targeting and came back to throw 4 more touchdowns (two of them over 40 yards). Fields was already our No. 2 player in the draft and is a prospect I am very excited about. Here is his full scouting report.
The question with the Jets will be what to do with Sam Darnold. After scouting Darnold, it seems like it is more than just a scheme problem, as his mechanics are often disjointed between his top and bottom half. He also frequently doesn’t set his feet and tries to force the ball using only arm strength which results in accuracy issues. At this point the return for Darnold might not be very high and a team would be hoping a change of scenery and different coaching will result in a reset to what his pre-draft ceiling was. QB coach Jordan Palmer, who works with Darnold, does have very high praise for Darnold, so a fresh start might be just what he needs.
3. Miami Dolphins (10-6; from 4-12 HOU)
Team Needs: WR, OG, OT
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU – 6’0” 208lbs
Penei Sewell is also an option here as he is the next-best player in the draft, but the Dolphins used a 2020 first-rounder on Austin Jackson and a 2020 second-rounder on Robert Hunt. The both of them played well as rookies in their first year (especially considering they didn’t have an offseason program) and Sewell did miss an entire year after opting out of this season.
Chase’s production was amazing in 2019 with 20 TDs on 84 receptions for 1,780 yards. He is a WR who can play inside and out. He gets into the defender’s blind spot when they are playing off and doesn’t get overpowered on the line or during contact at the catch point. He’s a physical receiver who plays much bigger than his frame. He would quickly work to be one of Tua Tagovailoa’s favorite targets.
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
Team Needs: EDGE, DB, SAF
Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan – 6’4” 272lbs
The Falcons could draft a defensive player on any level, whether it be Micah Parsons from Penn State or CBs Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain II.
The reality for the Falcons is that their leading sacker was MLB Deion Jones and their leading sackers from the Edge were Steven Means and Charles Harris with 3 each. Paye looks like an every-down 3-4 DE. He is able to control the LOS and hold the gaps well, he eats up blocks and does not allow them to get to the second level. He is great against the run and that is where he will do the most damage. He is best when his hand is on the ground. On passing downs, I can see him moving inside and being that interior pass rusher. This is a guy who is an incredible athlete at his size and is very powerful and strong. He will help teams control the LOS in the run game and be an effective interior pass rusher on third downs.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
Team Needs: CB, DL, EDGE, ILB
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon – 6’4” 319lbs
The Bengals need a lot of help on defense, but Sewell is too talented of a player to pass up, especially coming off a season that saw your No. 1 overall pick lose his season to a knee injury. Protecting Joe Burrow needs to be top priority.
To think that Sewell will only be 20 years old when presumably making his NFL debut is flat-out astounding. Having rare overall AA, lateral quickness, and change of direction for the position, he will be incredibly hard to defeat while in pass set 1-on-1. While injury history may be a concern, it was promising that he didn’t miss any games in 2019. He still has not tapped his full potential and can still improve in areas – hand placement/strike can continue to develop strength to combat bull rush. With All-Pro potential, the sky is the limit for Sewell, who will be an immediate starter at LT.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1)
Team Needs: EDGE, LB, CB, SAF
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State – 6’3” 245lbs
The Eagles have been speculated to add a WR here, particularly DeVonta Smith, but I personally don’t see them using back-to-back first-round picks on speed receivers. The biggest hole on their roster is linebacker, and Micah Parsons is the best LB prospect in the draft.
Parson has elite size and speed at the position. He is able to play all over the field with 5 sacks and 5 passes defensed in 2019. Parsons can play downhill, filling gaps, and will rip the ball out while tackling (4 forced fumbles in 2019). He did opt out of this season and will be another first-round talent who missed 18 months of football.
7. Detroit Lions (5-11)
Team Needs: WR, EDGE, OT
Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami – 6’7” 265lbs
The Lions are an interesting team to hypothesize over. This pick will likely be dependent on the direction Detroit’s new front office and coaching staff want to take. They could trade Matthew Stafford to a QB-needy team and draft Zach Wilson, but for the purpose of this draft, we’ll say that Robert Saleh is hired as the new coach in Detroit.
If so, the Lions will draft the next defensive leader in Detroit. Rousseau is an edge player with elite size and length. He is an above-average athlete with deceptive power who uses his length to separate from blockers and has the speed to quickly close on ball carriers. Played inside the line in school but was often disguising stunts from the initial position. Fits best as a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB who is rarely asked to cover. Similar play style to Chandler Jones. Rousseau would be a great player to put on the opposite side of the line from Trey Flowers.
8. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
Team Needs: QB, OT, IOL, DB
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU – 6’3” 210lbs
The Panthers have Teddy Bridgewater under contract next year, but have the opportunity to use him as a bridge for the next year with an easy out after 2021. This gives them the chance to draft a young QB similar to what the Chargers did this year with Justin Herbert.
Wilson is everything you want in a starting quarterback. Outside of the intangibles and his personal stats, what is most evident is his ability to make the people around him better. He makes his offensive line better by understanding defensive pressures/getting the ball out quick. Makes wide receivers better by giving them accurate throws on time. Will be ready to play for an NFL team from day one but will benefit from sharing a QB room with a veteran that can help to bring Wilson along .
9. Denver Broncos (5-11)
Team Needs: OT, LB, CB
Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern – 6’4” 315lbs
The Broncos have a strong roster that was hit hard with injuries. With some ready to move on from Drew Lock, I think they stay with the talented QB and use this pick to give him protection.
Another 2020 opt out, Slater projects as a RT who can play LT in a pinch and has the athletic upside to develop into an LT. Fits best in a gap-based scheme where he can win with pure lower body strength and hand strength. He has good mobility to recover and make an impact at the second level, good ankle flexion to anchor even when leveraged. Has good feet in pass protection and can use his punch to send defenders over the arc.
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Team Needs: DL, DB, SAF
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama – 6’2” 202lbs
The Cowboys didn’t have the 2020 they expected. With the offense hoping to rebound to their 2019 form when they fully return healthy, this pick should be used on the defensive side of the ball.
Surtain is a big-framed CB who has a strong lower body and good length. Played in 15 games as a freshman and 12 of 13 games as a sophomore. Son of former Pro Bowl CB Patrick Surtain. He is a very physical player. Loves playing close to the line of scrimmage and taking on ball carriers. Surtain will not be intimidated at the next level and would be comfortable joining a CB room that currently has his former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs.