NFL Draft 2021: Examining Predictions for Top QBs in Latest Expert Mocks

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 17, 2021

NFL Draft 2021: Examining Predictions for Top QBs in Latest Expert Mocks

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    You're here for 2021 NFL draft talk.

    Let's talk quarterback prospects, shall we?

    Yes, the position might represent only a small percentage of the players selected during the upcoming talent grab, but it's still where the picks feel most significant. No matter if your team invests a top pick on a signal-caller or mines the late rounds for the next Tom Brady-style sleeper—as if there is another sixth-rounder-turned-GOAT coming through the pipelines—the choice will immediately demand your attention.

    It's basic football-fanatic nature, and it's sensible given the super-sized importance placed on the position.

    So, while we go mining for takeaways from some of the latest expert mocks, forgive us for our eyes naturally gravitating toward the most glamorous spot on the gridiron.

Washington Trades Up for a Quarterback

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Some mock drafts call for a possibly unprecedented early run at the quarterback position. The second iteration from NFL.com's Charley Casserly is not one of them.

    He does open the draft with three consecutive quarterbacks, though, mocking Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones at the top in that order. But 10 more picks are mocked before the next mention of a quarterback, including the Atlanta Falcons adding Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, the Carolina Panthers grabbing Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater and the Denver Broncos landing Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.

    It takes a mock trade to end the dry spell with Washington moving up from No. 19 to No. 14 for North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

    "With Ryan Fitzpatrick already in place, Lance could be used in Year 1 in packages that take advantage of his running ability," Casserly wrote.

    The New England Patriots, a popular landing spot for quarterbacks, instead take South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn at No. 15. The Chicago Bears, another possible destination, take a similar route with Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II.

    That means Ohio State dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields doesn't come off the board all the way until No. 24 as Ben Roethlisberger's heir apparent for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    "Pittsburgh is the perfect spot for Fields to develop behind a Hall of Fame quarterback for a year before taking over the offense," Casserly opined.

Atlanta Falcons Find Matt Ryan's Replacement

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    The first mock from NFL.com's Charles Davis opens as many do with Lawrence, Wilson and Jones filling the top three spots.

    But Davis' run at the position extends to the fourth pick—and does so without the Falcons trading out of the spot. Instead, Atlanta keeps the selection and spends it on Fields, a Georgia native who played high school ball in nearby Kennesaw and started his college career at Georgia before transferring to Ohio State after his freshman season.

    "I know there's plenty of talk about the possibility of this young man sliding in the draft, but the Falcons make Fields their franchise QB of the future in this scenario," Davis wrote.

    There's enough smoke about a possible Fields slide to not rule out the possibility, but that feels like the kind of thing that could haunt franchises for years to come. The bronze medalist in the 2019 Heisman Trophy voting, he threw for 5,373 yards, rushed for another 867 yards and tallied 78 total touchdowns across two seasons with the Buckeyes.

    After Fields, Davis leaves the quarterback position untouched until the 15th pick, where he has the Patriots adding Lance.

    "With Cam Newton signed to another one-year deal, his doppelganger, in many ways, gets to learn behind him for a season," Davis wrote. "I see a lot of Josh Allen in Lance's game."

A QB Change at Pick No. 3

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Whether because of good reporting or simple groupthink, mock drafts have a tendency to start resembling one another the closer we get to the actual event.

    So, it's refreshing to see someone break the mold, as CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso did. After opening with the typical Lawrence-Wilson twosome at the top, Trapasso sends Fields—not Jones—to San Francisco.

    "Sure, Mac Jones checks the boxes Kyle Shanahan likes in a quarterback. Do you know who else does? Justin Fields," Trapasso wrote. "And he's the most accurate passer of all the top quarterbacks in this draft class."

    Trapasso then keeps the quarterback train running at No. 4, where he has the Broncos moving up to get Lance.

    "The Broncos don't sit on their hands at the quarterback spot," Trapasso wrote. "They make an aggressive move to put serious pressure on Drew Lock in 2021. In an ideal world for the Broncos, Lock plays really well this season then they could trade him for big-time draft capital and insert Lance into the starting lineup next season."

    In a fun, non-quarterback wrinkle, Trapasso later has the Falcons trading up to two spots to select Pitts at No. 7.

    Jones is the only other quarterback to crack the first round, landing in New England at No. 15.

    "On draft night, I think we'll all laugh at the No. 3 overall hype for Jones," Trapasso wrote. "[Patriots coach Bill] Belichick waits patiently and gets his guy who comes with a nice little vote of confidence from his buddy Nick Saban."

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