Rounds two and three will be held on Friday 30 April before the draft concludes with rounds four through seven held on Saturday 1 May.
Here, our NFL man Michael Jeffares takes a look at five things to consider ahead of the weekend.
There appears to be two tiers to this year’s stacked quarterback class. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson seem a cut above and then we have the scramble between Justin Fields v Trey Lance v Mac Jones. It will be interesting to see the stock of the “5th” QB as they endure the fall but they won’t have to sit around as long as Brady Quinn. It’s highly unlikely they fall outside the top 10 but this question is likely to fall to Denver as they get the chance to draft a QB. Do they fix elsewhere and go short term and trade for Teddy Bridgewater or maybe Jimmy Garoppolo?
San Francisco 49ers
The great second-tier QB debate. Just who are they going to take? Lots of traction with Jones but surely it must be Fields.
I do not think San Fran can truly lose because of Kyle Shanahan but we will be looking at the fortunes of the other two for years to come. They’ve given up a lot for this pick and there’s a lot of pressure on them to deliver but I wonder what back-office discussions took place because they must know the guy they’re taking. If they were happy with say two of three, what price would Atlanta be asking for #4?
Mac Jones had a visit on his pro-day from Shanahan which is a collector’s item in itself. I just can’t believe they would trade up for Mac Jones so I think we might talk about the disaster of the 2021 draft more for who they passed upon rather than who they took.
New England Patriots
The Pats brought back Cam Newton for another season which was a wise move and they’ve added a lot of TE power to their roster too. However, the big question remains – will they trade up to #4? You would imagine this would allow Atlanta to hold the upper hand with Miami getting two future firsts and a third but New England attacked free agency.
And a QB spending a year learning from Newton is a plus but they will also know Newton doesn’t have long left and is now getting by on reputation.
They need a QB and I’m not sure how much longer they can wait. It would appear to be a fit that could work for Mac Jones. After all, Bill Belichick has a history of working with QBs that have questionable footwork
Protecting Joe Burrow
I’ve seen a few suggestions of the Bengals drafting Ja’Marr Chase to add to Burrow’s offensive arsenal. However, after committing the #1 pick to Burrow and his season-ending injury, protecting their franchise QB asset must be the main aim.
Tee Higgins had an excellent season and his form tapered away once Burrow hit IR. They have to draft Penei Sewell but if they don’t they might find Burrow on IR again. Wide receivers come and go in the draft and there’s still quality left and they could have the likes of Terrace Marshall or Elijah Moore hanging around in Day 2 if they crave another threat at wide receiver.
There is a sea of receiving talent at the top end of the draft and we could likely see four pass-catchers go in the top 15. Where will they land? You have a selection of Chase, Kyle Pitts, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. An embarrassment of riches.
Last year saw Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb disappear from the board by the 17th pick – it was Lamb that went last and is now the clear leader in that group after Ruggs had gone five picks earlier. So it a lot depends on fit, with possible QBs benefiting from this talent being Matt Ryan, Tua Tagovailoa, Jared Goff and Daniel Jones.
Miami is a good destination but I’m not sure Tagovailoa is the guy and if it was Deshaun Watson at QB it would be perfect.
Goff is damaged goods, so does he come out with a point to prove and whoever they draft would be their top receiver.
There’s also a nice pool of receivers behind these popular picks as Rashod Bateman could land at the Eagles in their newly traded #12 pick and Moore and Marshall won’t be too far behind.