Assuming no unfortunate injuries occur between now and the start of the 2021 NFL draft, the first overall pick will be the easiest to predict in many years.
Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is going to be that guy. There’s absolutely no reasonable or rational argument that can be made to suggest otherwise.
Unless, of course, you’re NBC Sports’ Josh Schrock, who published a new first-round mock draft Thursday that had Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell headed to the New York Giants at No. 1 overall.
Last season, Sewell recorded nine games with zero pressures and didn’t allow more than two pressures in any game. He allowed one sack in his career.
Adding Sewell to a terrible offensive line should help open up lanes for Saquon Barkley and give Daniel Jones, who the Giants are high on, time to make plays.
Is this ridiculous? Perhaps, but Sewell is the best prospect in this draft.
Fortunately, Schrock was joined by fellow NBC Sports writer Dalton Johnson, who gifted the Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan’s replacement in Lawrence at the second pick.
Talk about a dream scenario for Lawrence and the Falcons. Lawrence grew up a Falcons fan while starring as one of the greatest Georgia high school prospects of all time and then falls in the Falcons’ lap here.
He’s one of the most highly touted draft prospects ever, and would have weapons to work with right away. It doesn’t matter if you have Matt Ryan, it’s a no-brainer to take Lawrence here.
Atlanta just fired its head coach and general manager, making a complete offseason rebuild absolutely in the cards. There’d be no better way to jumpstart the Falcons’ next era than by adding Lawrence, who’s as close to a can’t-miss quarterback prospect as we’ve seen since probably Andrew Luck.
Ohio State’s Justin Fields will join Lawrence as a top-five pick in April, and in this mock draft, he’s headed to the Jets at No. 3 overall. Hopefully, for Fields’ sake, it will be a Jets team without Adam Gase atop the coaching staff. We’ve seen how much damage Gase can do to a young quarterback, as Sam Darnold’s NFL future is on shaky ground after two seasons under Gase’s watch.
What makes this mock draft unique, aside from Sewell going No. 1 overall, is that it has three quarterbacks off the board in the first five picks, with North Dakota State’s Trey Lance headed to the Washington Football Team at No. 5.
The Football Team drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round and then chose not to take the time to develop him and then benched him.
Lance has incredible upside. The knock is that he hasn’t played a lot of football, but he dominated at the FCS level. Taking him in the top five might be a stretch, but Ron Rivera needs a quarterback and Lance is the third-best one in the class.
Lance is an incredibly gifted player, but I have my doubts that he’ll end up getting drafted as high as his preseason grade suggested. He’s a developmental prospect with immense physical gifts, but he feels destined to land with a team that has an established veteran starter nearing the end of his contract (or career) that can afford to sit him on the bench while still being competitive for a season or two. Those teams usually aren’t picking until the later portion of Round 1.
For NBC Sports’ complete mock draft, click here.