Thursday, April 1, 2021

Post-Free Agency 2021 NFL Mock Draft

It seems like it happens much more often than it actually does.

In fact, the last time it happened was five years ago and it has only happened a total of seven times since 1970.

The last time that two quarterbacks were selected to start a draft was the 2016 NFL Draft when the Rams and Eagles made Jared Goff and Carson Wentz the top two picks, respectively. (Coincidentally, both were traded this offseason.)

Since 1970, the table below lists the number of consecutive quarterbacks selected to start a given year's draft.

# of QBs# of DraftsPct. of Drafts
0 QBs2651.0%
1 QB2549.0%
2 QBs713.7%
3 QBs23.9%
4 QBs00.0%

* Note: All subsets are included. In other words, there were seven times the draft started QB-QB and of those seven QB-QB starts, two of those actually began QB-QB-QB.

Whether or not Lombardi is right about the specific quarterback (Mac Jones) at No. 3, we know that the 49ers have traded up to draft a QB and we are all but guaranteed to start the 2021 draft with three consecutive quarterbacks for the third time since 1970.

Will this be the first draft ever to start with four consecutive quarterbacks?

NFL Mock Draft - Round 1

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Over the past decade, no team has won fewer games than the Jaguars (44), but their first No. 1 overall pick in Jacksonville Jaguars draft history coincides with the availability of the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since Andrew Luck. Not only do the Jaguars have the opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback at No. 1, but they have a treasure trove of draft capital (multiple picks in four of the first five rounds) and salary-cap space (league-high per Over the Cap).

2. New York Jets - Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Enjoying a pre-draft rise similar to that of Joe Burrow last year, Wilson uses his athleticism to make and extend plays and is especially accurate throwing downfield. Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, Chris Simms said, "I'm blown away by Zach Wilson, Dan. You know I look at it, and look at, and say this is an Aaron Rodgers, a Patrick Mahomes, Brett Favre-ish type guy."

While Simms is the outlier in ranking Wilson over Lawrence, one thing is a virtual lock -- Lawrence-Wilson will go 1-2 to kick off the 2021 NFL Draft.

MORE: 2021 NFL Draft Big Board: Top 150 Prospects

3. San Francisco 49ers - Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

In my 2021 NFL Mock Draft 5.0, I projected a 49ers trade up so that they wouldn't miss out on one of the top-five quarterbacks. While I projected a trade up to No. 7 to get in front of the Panthers, the 49ers pushed their chips into the middle of the table in a more aggressive jump up to No. 3.

Almost universally, Trevor Lawrence is the QB1. As noted with the Jets pick, Chris Simms is a notable trend-bucker with Zach Wilson as his QB1. Not everyone has Lawrence or Wilson as their QB1, though. Former NFL head coach June Jones ranks (Mac) Jones as his QB1.

Taking the reigns from Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth pick in 2020, Jones really hit the ground running in 2020 as he completed 77.4% of his pass attempts and threw for 4,500 yards (11.2 Y/A), 41 touchdowns and four interceptions last season. While Jones may lack the elite arm strength and athleticism that the other top-four quarterback prospects possess, he makes quick reads and throws with outstanding accuracy and touch.

4. Atlanta Falcons - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Could we get the first-ever QB-QB-QB-QB start to an NFL Draft? Based on my mock, the answer is yes.

It was an up-and-down season for Fields, but he showed tremendous leadership and toughness in the semifinal win over Clemson as he threw for 385 yards and six touchowns in that game. A two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, the dual-threat quarterback has accounted for 78 total touchdowns -- 63 passing and 15 rushing -- while throwing only nine interceptions over 22 games as Ohio State's starter. Fields, who is from the Atlanta area, would have the opportunity to learn behind Matt Ryan in 2021 and potentially allow the franchise to switch gears in 2022.

MORE: Our way-too-early 2022 NFL Mock Draft

5. Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

After selecting Joe Burrow first overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Bengals would be in an ideal situation if this year's draft begins with an unprecedented selection of four quarterbacks to start the draft. Could they auction this pick off to Carolina or Denver, who may be willing to move up a few spots to draft Trey Lance?

If not, they have their choice of non-QB prospects and I could see them either reuniting Burrow with Ja'Marr Chase or drafting Sewell. Fortunately for the Bengals, deep and talented wide receiver and offensive tackle classes should provide values at both positions for their second-round pick (No. 38).

The Bengals have begun the process of upgrading their offensive line by signing Riley Reiff, but it's only a one-year deal for the 32-year-old tackle and that shouldn't preclude them from selecting an elite prospect like Sewell here. While Sewell opted out of the 2020 season, the 2019 first-team AP All-American was dominant in his true-sophomore campaign and won't turn 21 until October. Sewell is the No. 2 prospect on our 2021 NFL Draft Big Board.

MORE: Tee Higgins 2021 Fantasy Football Profile

Continue reading our 2021 NFL Mock Draft