NFL Draft 2021: Latest Rumors, Expert Mocks for Fields, Lance and Top QBs

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 9, 2021

NFL Draft 2021: Latest Rumors, Expert Mocks for Fields, Lance and Top QBs

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    NFL roster reinforcements are on the way.

    Less than three weeks stand between us and the 2021 NFL draft, which opens April 29. Football fortunes will change that, and nowhere will those transformations be more prominent than at the quarterback position.

    Five quarterbacks could be taken in the first round—six if some decision-maker is a big Davis Mills fan—and each member of that quintet might wind up among the top 10 picks.

    Since there isn't a more important position in all of sports, that's where our attention lies approaching the annual talent grab. We'll spotlight the latest rumors and expert predictions around the top quarterback prospects not named Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson, who seem likely to land in the Nos. 1 and 2 draft slots, respectively.

Rumor Roundup

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    While the first three picks aren't set in stone—though the cement seems to be drying on Nos. 1 and 2—all arrows point to quarterbacks going in each of those slots. That puts the Atlanta Falcons in an favorable position since they hold the No. 4 pick and don't have an immediate need at the position with Matt Ryan under center.

    It should come as no surprise, then, that ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Falcons "have received trade calls from multiple teams and 'are open to moving' out of the No. 4 spot." Quarterback-needy clubs not named the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets or San Francisco 49ers might be blowing up the phone lines in Atlanta. It will be fascinating to see just how this potential bidding war could go.

    One suitor has already emerged. According to The Athletic's Mike Lombardi (h/t Burgundy Blog), the Washington Football Team could be "the next team to unload all their picks to try to get a QB." Lombardi went on to say the team is a big fan of North Dakota State's Trey Lance. "I know Washington loves Lance," Lombardi said.

    Still, the 49ers are the first team to watch in this quarterback chase, and there are rumors on that front too. They are expected to be in attendance when Ohio State—and, notably, quarterback Justin Fields—will hold a second pro day April 14, per ESPN's Nick Wagoner.

    Some members of the 49ers were in attendance at Fields' first pro day, but head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch famously were not. They spent that day in Alabama watching Mac Jones, another prospect expected to be in the mix at the No. 3 pick.

ESPN's Todd McShay Mock

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    The most recent mock from ESPN's Todd McShay opens as expected with Lawrence first off the board and Wilson right behind him.

    That puts all eyes on pick No. 3, where McShay united the 49ers with Jones.

    "I'm hearing a lot of noise about Jones being the 49ers' preference," McShay wrote. "He is accurate and reads the field so well, which helps assuage mobility concerns. Plus, he excels when passing in the pocket or off play-action, two staples of Shanahan's system."

    McShay doesn't have another quarterback going until pick No. 9, where he has the Denver Broncos snatching up Lance.

    "If both Lance and Justin Fields are still available, it'd be difficult to go a different direction—though I do think the Broncos could add a defensive playmaker here," McShay wrote. "... Alternatively, Denver could take the opportunity to trade back with another QB-needy franchise and pick up more draft capital."

    McShay stopped Fields' slide at No. 11 with a trade up by the New England Patriots from No. 15.

    "The Pats haven't spent a first-round pick on a QB since 1993 (Drew Bledsoe), but now is the time," McShay wrote. "Fields is accurate downfield and can develop into a top-tier starter for a team searching for stability at the position in the post-Tom Brady era."

NFL.com's Peter Schrager Mock

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Different mock—this the first from NFL.com's Peter Schrager—same three first selections.

    Yes, 49ers fans, that means yet another prediction of Jones heading to San Francisco.

    "Mac Jones' name didn't pop up out of nowhere," Schrager wrote. "And I don't think it's a smoke screen. He has all of the traits Kyle Shanahan is looking for."

    Fields doesn't have to wait as long to hear his name come up in this mock, though. Schrager has the Ohio State quarterback going fourth overall, ironically in another trade up by New England.

    "This is their year to make a big move if they're ever going to get their blue-chip QB to develop," Schrager wrote. "Fields was a highly recruited player who performed on the biggest of stages. This year's first- and second-rounder (No. 46) plus next year's first and third could be enough for New England to get Atlanta to move back 11 spots."

    The Broncos are again linked to Lance here, though Schrager cautioned, "Lance could go as high as No. 3 or remain available until the middle of Round 1."

    Unlike McShay, Schrager didn't stop at five first-round quarterbacks. He finished his opening round with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers adding Stanford's Davis Mills as the final selection.

    "The buzz around the league is that he could be a first-round pick and will most likely be the sixth quarterback selected," Schrager wrote.

    McShay, for what it's worth, didn't have Mills in his two-round mock. He did have a pair of passers in his second round, though, with Texas A&M's Kellen Mond landing with Washington at No. 51, and Florida's Kyle Trask going to the Chicago Bears with the next pick.

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