Previewing the 2021 NFL Draft

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Anthony D'Amato, Staff Writer

It is an exciting time for football fans as the 2021 NFL Draft will take place Thursday, April 29th through Saturday, May 1st in Cleveland, Ohio. The draft is a time where teams look to find future stars to help turn around a struggling team or find the missing piece to become a true Super Bowl contender. This year’s draft class is one of the most intriguing in recent memory as not only are there numerous prospects oozing with talent and potential but there could be many more overlooked prospects due to COVID-19 shortening the college football season. Scouts all around the league have been preparing for the draft for a while and throughout this 3-day process, a couple of NFL teams have the chance to drastically change the future of their organization.

The top of the draft is predicted to have multiple quarterbacks taken. Scouts and executives around the league expect at least the first 3 picks to be QBs as the Jaguars, Jets, and 49ers all need a quarterback of the future. Former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is expected to be drafted 1st overall by the Jaguars as he has been this class’s best quarterback ever since he started his first game for Clemson.  Zach Wilson from BYU is expected to go #2 to the Jets, but there has been a flurry of rumors regarding what QB the 49ers are going to take at #3. People inside the league expect it to be either Mac Jones from Alabama or Trey Lance from North Dakota State University however, former Ohio State QB Justin Fields has an outside chance of being the selection. Depending on what quarterback the 49ers select will impact how the rest of the draft shakes out. The Falcons hold the 4th selection in the draft and they are a team that can go in a multitude of directions in the draft.  They may take a QB if they like who is on the board, they may trade down with a team who wants to take a QB, or they could take a generational talent in Kyle Pitts (a WR/TE from Florida). The draft really begins at the number 4 selection as this pick has the ability to shake up every other team’s draft board.

There are multiple teams who have multiple first-round drafts picks including the Jaguars, Jets, Dolphins, and Ravens as they have all acquired them via trade. The team with the most draft picks in this draft is the Eagles as they currently have 11, and the team with the fewest is the Seahawks as they currently have 3. Having more draft picks in this class may be more beneficial than other years due to limited scouting. Scouts have done their best job to build accurate reports, but some excellent players may be drafted in later rounds because of not being scouted. Therefore, the more opportunities a team has to take a chance on a player the better.

This year’s draft class is considered pretty deep and there are a few positions that have received a lot of praise from scouts. Specifically, the cornerbacks, wide receivers, quarterbacks, and offensive tackles are filled with talent, and teams that need these positions should be in good shape to be able to draft a talented player this year. The edge-rushing group is filled with players that have a very high ceiling, but a low floor which means in 5 years this group could be the best from the draft, or could easily be one of the worst. There are 2 groups that are a bit weaker than the rest of the class according to reports and those groups are safeties and defensive line.

By Saturday night, 259 collegiate athletes will have heard their name called and can begin preparing for training camp and their first NFL season. Although fans love to declare instant winners and losers of the draft, in reality, it will take 5 years before we can truly evaluate how successful a team was at the draft. Every draft has a shocking selection or trade, and in just a few days’ time, we will be able to see what team makes that selection or trade. Tune into round 1 of the NFL draft on Thursday, April 29th at 5 pm on ESPN Pacific time to see how this year’s draft unfolds!

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