Let’s think outside the box for a minute.
… Like way outside the box.
The 2021 NFL Draft has the potential to bring a number of fireworks Thursday, and while the majority of draft-day trades will center on picks themselves, there could be an already-established NFL player or two heading elsewhere, as well. After all, just look at the scenario currently playing out with the San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any shocking twists and turns beginning Thursday, right? Well, we hope not. And in depicting just that we put together a list of four (very) bold predictions leading up to the NFL draft.
Let’s take a look:
1. Falcons trade Julio Jones and No. 4 overall pick to Patriots
Yeah, that’s how we’re going to start this thing. Bill Belichick continues his offseason tear with a pair of unprecedented moves. The Patriots, who have to trade No. 15, a 2022 first-rounder and two second-rounders for No. 4 overall, then package Stephon Gilmore and N’Keal Harry for Jones. Gilmore joins the cornerback-needy Falcons on a modest 2021 pay bump before he gets ready to become a free agent. Harry gets a fresh start all while coming at a much cheaper price to cap-strapped Atlanta. Oh, and the Patriots get their quarterback of the future at No. 4 overall.
2. Ravens trade up with the Lions to select Justin Fields
Have the Ravens actually found their quarterback of the future? Fields almost definitely will be an arm upgrade in Baltimore while still possessing much of the running ability that Lamar Jackson has. And with the Ravens recently acquiring a first-round pick from the Chiefs in this year’s draft — Baltimore has No. 27 and No. 31 — they have the draft capital now and beyond to entice a rebuilding Detroit team.
3. Packers trade up with Chargers after Jaylen Waddle slides
Los Angeles watches as three of their top-ranked linemen come off the board by No. 13 and the Packers jump at the opportunity with Waddle, an Alabama wideout, remaining on the board. Green Bay packages No. 29, a 2021 second-round and future draft capital to get Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Co. another pass-catching weapon. Rodgers has a much better Night One after having his replacement enter the picture during the 2020 NFL Draft.
4. Offensive players make up first 10 picks for first time ever
There has never been a NFL draft in which no defensive players were selected in the top 10 picks. In fact, only the 1969 draft saw fewer than two defensive playmakers go in the top 10. That changes this year with the inflation of the quarterback market resulting in five selections, three offensive linemen going early along with two pass catchers, including a generational tight end.
And for extra-bold bonus points, here’s how the unexpected list runs down:
1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB
2. Jets: Zach Wilson, QB
3. 49ers: Mac Jones, QB
4. Falcons: Justin Fields, QB
5. Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT
6. Dolphins: Kyle Pitts, TE
7. Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR
8. Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
9. Broncos: Trey Lance, QB
10. Chargers (projected trade with Cowboys): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL
We’re sure to see one of the four take place with the 2021 NFL Draft beginning Thursday… right?