The 2021 NFL free agency period opens in a little under two weeks, and ESPN’s Todd McShay is back with his latest 2021 NFL mock draft. Rosters are going to get overhauled over the next month, but most teams will not see a drastic change in long-term team needs. First round mock drafts will continue changing, but we likely are somewhat settled with most of the names that will be showing up in much of the first round considerations.
This year marks the first time McShay has jumped into trades in the early part of his mock draft. In his last mock draft right after the Super Bowl, McShay had two trades — the Panthers moving up from No. 8 to the Dolphins No. 3 pick and the Bears moving up from No. 20 to the 49ers No. 12 pick. He has two trades again this time around — the same Panthers trade and now the 49ers moving up from No. 12 to the Broncos No. 9 pick.
The top four picks of the draft remain four quarterbacks, but we have a slight change. The Jaguars pick Trevor Lawrence, the Jets pick Zach Wilson, the Panthers pick Justin Fields, and the Falcons pick Trey Lance. The last two picks are flipped from the previous mock draft. Additionally, Mac Jones is the subject of the second trade in both mocks. Last time, McShay mocked Jones to the Bears at No. 12 and this time he mocks Jones to the 49ers at No. 9.
Regardless of the order of the QBs, it’s clear McShay is sold on teams aggressively pursuing the QB position at the top of the draft. The question this raises is just how aggressive teams will be in attempting to move up. The Jaguars are all but a lock to select Lawrence, which means the draft could really get interesting starting at No. 2.
If the Jets think Darnold could still be an option, they could draft an offensive tackle or wide receiver, or could move down and do something similar. From there, we know Miami just invested in Tua Tagovailoa last year, so they are a strong bet to move down. And the Falcons need someone to replace Matt Ryan, but it’s still a big move to make and would be more indicative of moving more into a rebuild than they’ve previously shown a willingness to do.
We know quarterbacks are going to be at a premium in the top half of the 2021 NFL Draft, now we wait to see what kind of premium teams might be willing to pay.