2021 NFL Draft: Last minute news and notes

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April 28th, 2021

We're just one day away from the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning trade rumors and mock drafts abound at the moment. As teams prepare to make their first round selections on Thursday night, news seems to be breaking every hour regarding players moving up draft boards, and veterans finding themselves on new teams.

Let’s take a look at the last minute news coming from the NFL, and see if there are any good prop wagers to keep in mind.

San Francisco may control the entire draft with third pick

When the 49ers moved up from the 12th pick to third overall, it signaled a likely move to draft a quarterback. The question now is which one will they pick? Many expect Alabama product Mac Jones to be the selection, as he seems to be the prototypical Kyle Shanahan quarterback. However, NDSU signal caller Trey Lance and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields are also in contention.

This matters for multiple reasons. The first is that many front offices like Fields, and there could be some movement into the top 10 from teams who like what he brings (more on that later). It also could signal the end of Jimmy Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco, which could be of interest to the New England Patriots.

Additionally, Jones still being on the board could begin movement for teams to trade up to get a player they did not expect to still be available. As the draft gets closer, it should become a bit clearer which way the 49ers are leaning.

How will the top five picks play out?

If Jones goes third overall, he will quickly be followed by TE Kyle Pitts of Florida. Atlanta has made it known they have no intention of trading out of the spot, and want to add the generational tight-end talent to give Matt Ryan one final chance to win in Atlanta. The addition also makes it easier for them to deal Julio Jones in July to create some much-needed cap space.

Things then get interesting with the fifth pick. Many expect the Bengals to take either Oregon tackle Penei Sewell to protect the blindside of Joe Burrow, or to add his former LSU teammate, playmaker wideout Ja’Marr Chase, to give him another weapon.

Exact Outcome of Picks 3, 4, and 5

Draft OrderOdds
3. Jones 4. Pitts 5. Chase
3. Jones 4. Pitts 5. Sewell

If you are confident of Jones and Pitts going third and fourth, you could take a wager on either outcome of the fifth and make some profit come Thursday. However, if Sewell does slip past Cincinnati, it then makes things even more interesting…

Panthers trade Bridgewater to Denver, making 8th-10th picks interesting

…because the Panthers are very much enamored with Sewell at the eighth pick. They also present a potential trade partner for many teams. On Wednesday afternoon, Carolina dealt quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos for a sixth round pick. This clears the way for Sam Darnold to be the clear No. 1, and Sewell would give him great protection. They could easily move up to get him, see if he slips to them, or decide to move back if he’s taken. New GM Scott Fitterer is a former Seattle front office member, and knows how valuable trading back can be.

As for the Broncos, they likely will no longer be looking for a quarterback at the ninth pick. It allows them to improve their defense, or potentially trade down for a team looking at Fields. Additionally, there are rumors that the Washington Football Team is looking to move up from 19th to the latter part of the top 10, making both teams potential trade partners.

If Fields is still on the board in this area, the Patriots (as discussed earlier) would be interested in moving up to get their guy as well. They hold 10 picks in this year’s draft and could easily package some of them to move up into the top 10, or potentially move one or two of them to San Francisco for Garoppolo.

Farley tests positive for COVID-19, will miss draft

In one final bit of news, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley will miss the NFL Draft on Thursday night after testing positive for COVID-19. While asymptomatic and feeling fine, he was the only draft attendee to test positive, and the other twelve players invited are expected to attend.

Farley has not played since 2019, and missed Tech’s pro day due to a back surgery, but is still expected to be taken late in the first round.