After moving up, will San Francisco make it three quarterbacks in the first three picks?
Hard as it is to believe, NFL draft season is coming to a close... because the real thing is almost here. While we pretty much all know the top two picks already at this point in the process, we've still got plenty of drama left before it's time to turn in cards in front of fans (!!!) down in Cleveland.
With all that in mind, here's a look at who could go where in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Lawrence's interview with Sports Illustrated generated an endless amount of takes about the quarterback but it didn't move the needle one iota in Duval. It does make for an interesting dichotomy with his future head coach's regular relentlessness but won't cause many second thoughts as the Tigers star becomes the new face of the franchise.
2. New York Jets — Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
For a team with a top-two pick and a host of draft capital, it's strange to think the Jets have been almost boring when it comes to the entire process. That will likely change when the reality of this selection unfolds but few are expecting somebody other than the BYU signal-caller to slot in here.
3. San Francisco 49ers (via Houston and Miami) — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
This is where the draft really starts, doesn't it? While we all know what position the 49ers are selecting, the smokescreens and rumors still point to the title-winning quarterback being Kyle Shanahan's pick despite the disbelief of pretty much every fan that doesn't wear "Bama" across their shirts.
4. Atlanta Falcons — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
It's safe to say the Falcons have rightfully done their due diligence about the QBs of this draft but the ideal scenario for the team is still likely to grab a haul of picks to move down. If they don't get the ransom they want, nabbing the best player available will suit their new head coach just fine.
5. Cincinnati Bengals — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
There's a real struggle in the organization over this selection and doing what's right for their young QB in getting him protection and acquiescing to Joe Burrow in picking his favorite wideout from college. Clear heads should prevail to go with the former but nobody is going to take up a pitchfork if Ja'Marr Chase is the name on the card.
6. Miami Dolphins (via Philadelphia Eagles) — Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
The 'Fins have moved all over the board with their first pick and there continue to be indications that they may move back again in this spot. The most likely trade partner remains Denver to get a QB and the leaks surrounding potential talks will likely help drive up the price. Staying put however, means landing that true No. 1 wideout in Chase.
7. Detroit Lions — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Kyle Pitts might be 1-of-1 on the offensive side of the ball and Parsons could be a similar spot on the defensive side. In addition to adding a heavy dose of off-the-charts athleticism in Detroit, the former PSU linebacker could be just the kind of defensive leader that some in the organization are looking to build around.
8. Carolina Panthers — Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Sam Darnold trade doesn't completely preclude the franchise from nabbing one of the remaining QBs but attention is certainly more focused on additional upgrades for the team. Slater brings a dose of versatility along the offensive line and can give Darnold something he didn't have in New York: time to throw.
9. Denver Broncos — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
It may take a trade up to really secure a top-flight signal-caller in this draft but what Denver does here remains one of the bigger mysteries left in the top 10. It's not just that Fields would be an upgrade on Drew Lock for an already solid roster but could be a missing piece to contend in a division that already has two young, very good dynamic QBs calling the shots.
10. Dallas Cowboys — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Jerry Jones hasn't typically been wheeling and dealing with a selection like this but there may be a non-WFT deal out there to be made if some of the QBs start sliding. In landing Surtain though, the Cowboys net a true draft-and-play guy who is ready right away at a spot that was glaring last season.
11. New York Giants — DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Nine times out of 10, the instinct is to lean with somebody in the trenches for a Dave Gettleman pick and there's been plenty of potential connections to pass rushers and linemen out there for the G-Men. But the front office also can't miss with this selection and their head coach likely can get the straight intel on Smith being a future Pro Bowler that helps elevate Daniel Jones' overall game.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (via San Francisco and Miami) — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Due to bad signings, injuries and a host of other issues, it felt like the Eagles' receiving corps went from a strength to a rotating collection of "they're still in the league" guys. Jalen Hurts' old buddy Waddle can change that quickly and give defenses plenty to worry about downfield in ways Jalen Reagor hasn't yet shown.
13. Los Angeles Chargers — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
Pretty simple draft for the Chargers: land the best offensive lineman left. That may not be limited to pick No. 13 either if they want to pony up for a trade up. Vera-Tucker's ability to play a number of spots on top of being a top-flight tackle is an easy enough card to turn in though.
14. Minnesota Vikings — Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Phillips' ceiling might well be the highest in the draft among defensive players and teams will rightfully have to weigh that against his injury history and limited production in college. Few coaching staffs have transformed athletic rushers as the Vikings have and this could be a quick path to turning around the defense for Mike Zimmer and company.
15. New England Patriots — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Bill Belichick's draft history tells us he doesn't do quarterbacks in the first round and is no fan of trading up. But when a perfect fit falls in the lap of the team, hopefully the hoodie and the rest of the front office doesn't overthink things. Lance certainly needs a redshirt season sitting behind Cam Newton but would be just the cornerstone the Pats are looking for.
16. Arizona Cardinals — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Take a glance at the Cardinals' defensive depth chart and then remember they have to play the Seahawks, Rams and a reloaded 49ers a total of six times. That makes the addition of the feisty and athletic Horn a no-brainer.
17. Las Vegas Raiders — Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
There are two theories as to how to improve a defense, building either front-to-back or back-to-front. The latter is becoming more in vogue in the league and Moehrig's intelligence and instincts would fill a glaring hole on the backend for a sub-par unit a year ago.
18. Miami Dolphins — Jalen Mayfield, OL, Michigan
Building around Tua Tagovailoa will be a continued theme of the Miami draft and while they could make a move for a top-tier defender with their second first-rounder, a right tackle that brings a nasty element to finishing like Mayfield doesn't come along often.
19. Washington Football Team — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Ron Rivera is no stranger to drafting a running back in the first round and especially one that you can really build your team around. Yes there are plenty of other pressing needs and Antonio Gibson has really emerged but Harris is such a clean, impact player that he might be tough to pass up.
20. Chicago Bears — Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
The organization won't need to go far to find their Kyle Fuller replacement. Newsome brings plenty of length to the table, has the speed to recover if needed, and is a savvy kid who can step in right away in that Bears defense.
21. Indianapolis Colts — Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Rousseau slides a bit but finds a perfect landing spot in Indy as a terrific piece for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to mold into a top-tier rusher. Few players have the physical tools Rousseau does and with a little seasoning he could be the best in this class.
22. Tennessee Titans — Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
There have been positive reports about Farley's medicals after various checks and rechecks but the concerns will still be enough to drop him out of the top 10. The Titans have had success in the past with top-10 talents that have slid due to medical issues and could land a steal in Farley here.
23. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) — Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma State
GM Joe Douglas knows upgrading the offensive line will be critical to the franchise quarterback selection working out. Mekhi Becton is one cornerstone and Jenkins could be one on the opposite side to form a tackle tandem you don't want to face coming downhill.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Feels like the Steelers are pretty locked into upgrading the woeful ground game if they can't find the right left tackle to suit their needs. Etienne will remind plenty of Le'Veon Bell without the same hassles given his ability to stay on the field all three downs and break off long runs after just one cut.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles Rams) — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Jags have started to re-tool up front but the entire front seven could still use some upgrades. Collins can get moved around and seems well suited to a team that should be running multiple fronts.
26. Cleveland Browns — Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
The Browns cut Sheldon Richardson in part for cap reasons but could find a pretty solid replacement in Barmore through the draft. While there are some questions about his ability to perform consistently enough, the Browns have proven to be all-in on high-ceiling guys that could improve an already stout defense.
27. Baltimore Ravens — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
As much as the front office would love to find Lamar Jackson that top-flight wide receiver, there's neither the value at No. 27 nor the type of player that could truly fill that role. Enter one of the best players left on the board in Owusu-Koramoah, who gives a good defense yet another versatile playmaker.
28. New Orleans Saints — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
We'll see just how many snaps Taysom Hill ultimately takes under center for Sean Payton but it's bound to be more than last year. That means somebody needs to come in and take over his jack-of-all-trades spot and Toney's explosiveness seems like a perfect match. Between him, Hill and Alvin Kamara, Payton is going to be like a mad scientist coming up with creative plays in 2021.
29. Green Bay Packers — Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
A certain Jeopardy guest host may still be clamoring for some more weapons but Tryon could be a key piece of the Green Bay defense for years to come if he develops like many predict. The Packers have been solid up front but the former Huskies edge rusher has big potential.
30. Buffalo Bills — Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Paye's evaluations are all over the map but it wouldn't be shocking if he's long gone before the Bills are on the clock. If he's still there for the taking, Buffalo will run the card in knowing they can help refine his incredible athleticism and can unlock the potential Pro Bowler within on a front seven that has to begin re-tooling and getting younger.
31. Kansas City Chiefs — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Even after adding veterans like Joe Thuney and Kyle Long, the offensive line upgrades may not be done in KC just yet. Darrisaw has a chance to earn that starting right tackle gig early and can be a key part of protecting Patrick Mahomes for years to come.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The reigning champs don't have any glaring roster needs and can simply sit back and wait for a good player to land in their laps. Ojulari has tremendous upside and the ability to lineup all over the field, making him a great selection for depth on the Tampa Bay defense as well as a potential Jason Pierre Paul replacement down the road.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.