NFL Draft 2021: Predictions for Justin Fields, Top Prospects from Expert Mocks

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game against Clemson, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri).
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The 2021 NFL draft is still nearly a year away, but it's never too early to look ahead at the league's next crop of incoming stars—and the next crop appears to be a bountiful one.

Between Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance, multiple teams should have a shot at landing a future franchise quarterback. With players like Penei Sewell and Ja'Marr Chase in the draft class, teams that don't need a quarterback should also have prime prospects to look forward to.

A lot will change between now and next April, of course—eventual No. 1 pick Joe Burrow wasn't even on the national radar this time last year. However, we can get an early idea of what the draft picture may look like.

Here, we'll examine that picture, using mock drafts from Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller, CBS Sports' R.J. White and Tankathon as guides.

Let's dig in.


Another Buckeye for Washington?

Just last year, the Washington Redskins used a first-round pick on Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. While the former Buckeyes standout did show a few flashes late in the season, he struggled overall. This is largely why new head coach Ron Rivera traded for former Carolina Panthers QB Kyle Allen shortly after arriving in Washington.

Kyle Allen may emerge as the early season starter.

"If the season started in a week or two, Kyle Allen would be the starter," analyst Steve Mariucci said on NFL Network's Total Access (h/t Sam Marsdale of 247Sports). "He knows Scott Turner's system. This is a brand-new language and system for that entire team. And Kyle Allen knows it better than anybody."

Could Washington turn back to the draft for its quarterback if Haskins cannot establish himself as a franchise quarterback this season? According to both White and Tankathon, yes—and another Ohio State signal-caller could be the target.

Two mocks have Fields landing in Washington, White at No. 3 and Tankathon second overall. Miller also has Washington picking second but taking Chase at their new No. 1 receiver instead.


A New Blocker for Burrow?

Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Oregon's Sewell is—at least right now—the unquestioned top lineman in the 2021 draft. Unsurprisingly, all three mocks have him paired with the Cincinnati Bengals and their new star quarterback, Burrow. Each mock also has Cincinnati picking at a different spot in the top three.

Sewell does make a ton of sense for Cincinnati and their new face of the franchise. Burrow can't be successful if he's constantly under pressure. While the Bengals do have 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams at left tackle, White explained why he and Sewell can both be in the game plan.

"The Bengals are getting Jonah Williams back to play left tackle this year after an injury wiped out his rookie campaign, but Sewell is too good of a franchise left tackle to pass up," he wrote. "Williams was projected by many to kick inside at the next level anyway, or he could stick on the right side."

With Sewell at left tackle, Williams at guard and 2018 first-round pick Billy Price at center, the Bengals would have the foundation of an elite line in this scenario.


Opinions Differ on Lance

While Fields and Lawrence are currently considered the top two quarterbacks in next year's class, Lance could be a close third and could possibly enter the conversation to be the first guy off the board. He had an impressive 2019 campaign—with 2,786 passing yards, 1,100 rushing yards, 42 total touchdowns and zero interceptions—and could become the quarterback to get with another strong season.

Miller has Lance going fourth overall to the Panthers, ahead of Fields and right behind Lawrence.

"The Panthers are committed to Teddy Bridgewater for 2020, but the future is wide-open. If a dynamic, athletic passer like Lance enters the 2021 draft as a redshirt sophomore, there will be considerable excitement among NFL franchises," he wrote.

White and Tankathon both have Lance projected much lower, however. White has him going 12th overall to the Las Vegas Raiders, while Tankathon has him at 17 with the Chicago Bears.

Perhaps Lance's status as a small-school prospect and potential one-year wonder have kept down the hype level for analysts other than Miller. This could change dramatically during the season.