As the resident Jets fan at WalterFootball.com, I am torn here. I don't believe Sam Darnold is among the top-10 problems with the Jets. He's regressed, but I blame that on a lack of talent around him and being coached by an idiot who should never ever have a spot on an NFL sideline again.
This pick is mostly going to depend on what the new coaching regime wants. Do they want a brand new face of the franchise, or do they want to commit to building around Darnold and providing him with legitimate talent at the skill positions? If its the former, then Lawrence is the guy. If its the latter, then a trade is the best thing, preferably to a spot where the Jets will still be able to draft a top wide receiver like Ja'Marr Chase.
Could a quarterback-needy team like Jacksonville or Dallas offer a package to move up a couple of spots? It would probably be a lion's share of picks in the 2021 and 2022 NFL Draft. The value to the Jets would be great because they need a major influx of young talent at nearly every position. At the end of the day, I think Lawrence and over 8,000 yards passing and nearly 100 total touchdowns to this point are too much for the Jets to turn down, but a team with this many needs should be open to everything.
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If the 2021 NFL Draft continues in this form, the Jaguars will get their quarterback. Fields is from Kennesaw, Georgia, so it's only about a 5-hour trek to Jacksonville. Fields (6-3, 223) is an exciting player who showed what he was capable of when he left Georgia for Ohio State. In 2019 with the Buckeyes, he threw for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns while also running for 10 scores.
Now, the Jaguars will have their version of Deshaun Watson to compete with their division rivals in Houston. The question will be if Jacksonville management can do a good job of building around Fields to help him develop and achieve early success.
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Dallas needs defensive backs. Cornerbacks? Safeties? Yes. Bringing in Wade to start opposite of Trevon Diggs would give the Cowboys two quality young cornerbacks who would both be on rookie contracts for the next three seasons. Wade (6-1, 194) decided to play in the eight-game Big Ten schedule, and it should turn out to be a good move that will allow him to move from the middle of the first round into the top 10 of the 2021 NFL Draft. He is getting good experience on the outside against No. 1 wide receivers with former teammates Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette in the NFL.
There's little doubt in my mind the Giants are going to deal this pick if they decide to stick with Daniel Jones at quarterback. There's going to be too many teams interested in Justin Fields. I believe Atlanta will come up with an offer the Giants can't refuse, but again Jacksonville, Dallas, Denver, Carolina and even New England might come with offers.
Even if the Giants stay at No. 2, I think Rousseau is the pick over Ja'Marr Chase, unless they go with Fields. Pass rushers are at a premium in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Rousseau has the potential to be special, like a Joey Bosa or Chase Young. I really like Chase, but this draft is deep with wide receivers, whereas a talent like Rousseau will be hard to find.
If Chase falls to the Footballers, this is a no-doubt selection. Most players who opted out of the 2020 season might've been best served to play out the year, but Chase (6-1, 200) had one of the great seasons of all time in 2019 and frankly didn't need to show the NFL scouts anything else. As a sophomore, Chase had a whopping 1,780 and 20 touchdowns on 84 catches. Chase is a true No. 1 receiver and the type of talent who will make a quarterback look like a star. One thing I loved about Chase was that he had his biggest performances in LSU's biggest games, including nine catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns in the College Football Playoff championship game against Clemson.
Parsons (6-3, 244) was one of the stars from the Big Ten who decided to opt out and stay out even after the conference decided to play an eight-game season. With Melvin Ingram III likely on his way out, the Chargers could bring in Parsons, the best linebacker in the 2021 NFL Draft and a natural dynamic playmaker. Parsons can get in the backfield and has the ability to go sideline-to-sideline. He compares well to Isaiah Simmons, and Parsons, like Simmons, can line up at several positions on the field.
Now that Tua Tagovailoa is the full-time starter, it's time to find some real protection for him. Sewell (6-6, 325) has the total package with the size and the athleticism, the elite footwork and the lateral movement. He won the Outland Trophy in 2019 and was a monster in pass protection once he stepped on campus at Oregon. Sewell isn't playing in the abbreviated Pac-12 season, but it won't matter.
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Carlos Dunlap was traded away, so there's room for a new pass rusher on the Bengals' defensive line, and Basham fits the bill. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder had 11 sacks as a junior and is likely to match or better that this season. Through six games, Basham already has five sacks and a forced fumble. He is big and athletic with a high ceiling.
9.Carolina Panthers:Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The Panthers should have a healthy Christian McCaffrey back next season and Robby Anderson back on the second year of his contract. Adding another playmaker seems like a good idea. Waddle (5-10, 185) was on a ridiculous pace this season with 557 yards and four touchdowns on 25 catches before an ankle injury prematurely ended his year. Waddle's ability to play the slot or the outside should mix in well with the skill sets of Anderson and McCaffrey. Waddle is also dangerous in the return game.
10.Atlanta Falcons:Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Falcons fans would probably be happier with Justin Fields, especially since he's from Georgia, but Lance might be the better pick for them in the immediate time. Lance (6-3, 224) has only about 16 starts at the FCS level under his belt, so he might need a year of seasoning. The Falcons can't get out of Matt Ryan's big contract until the spring of 2022, so the opportunity for Lance to learn from Ryan is one that should benefit both players and the team.
11.Detroit Lions:Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Bateman (6-2, 209) was another of the many stars of the Big Ten conference who originally opted out of the 2020 season just to come back when the conference announced that they would play out a fall season. He was tremendous as a sophomore with 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns on 60 catches. Bateman will slide into a No. 1 receiver role with the Golden Gophers this year. Detroit's top-three wide receivers - Kenny Holliday, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola - are free agents after the season, so playmakers will be needed.
The Vikings really need help on the interior line, but I think this spot might be a little high to grab Wyatt Davis. But I expect Surtain to shoot into the top half of the 2021 NFL Draft, and I can see him being a potential target for the Vikings, as they need to continue to infuse youth and athleticism into the secondary. Surtain (6-2, 203) is a large cornerback who offers scheme versatility and an NFL lineage. He has continued to improve his coverage and ball skills in his third season.
The Patriots have gotten burned taking receivers in the first round before. They have gotten burned taking tight ends from Florida too. But this isn't going to be an issue because Pitts (6-6, 241) is a special player and a matchup nightmare. He has flourished as the No. 1 target among a deep group of receivers. Pitts has 414 yards and eight touchdowns on just 24 receptions this year, showing an exceptional nose for the end zone. Nobody in the SEC has been able to cover him in the red zone. The tight end is going to be a part of rebuilding the offense in New England and is the best in the country.
Moses (6-3, 241) lost his 2019 season to a torn ACL, but he has looked impressive in his return to the field in 2020, leading Alabama with 50 tackles. He also has 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception so far. The Broncos could use more speed at the linebacker position, and Moses will give them that and some additional physicality on defense.
15.San Francisco 49ers:Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
I think San Francisco has four or five cornerbacks heading into free agency after this season. That means it's time to get some youth in the secondary on rookie contracts. Farley (6-2, 207) has the size that more teams want at cornerback and the short-area speed and the ball skills that could potential make a special player. Farley was great in 2019 with 56 tackles, 19 pass breakups and six interceptions. He opted out of the 2020 season over the summer, but I don't think it's going to hurt his draft stock much.
16.Chicago Bears:Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas
It seems like the Bears are perpetually searching for the quarterback of the future or trying to protect one. It's protection this year, and Cosmi (6-5, 311) is trending well after returning for the 2020 season to improve his draft stock. Regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Bears next season, there is a need for more talent on the offensive line.