The 2020 NFL regular season is now in the books! This was a regular season unlike any other with limited fans, games getting delayed and rescheduled multiple times, and key players missing key games. Such is life in the NFL amidst a global pandemic. Amazingly, however, the NFL was able to play all 256 regular season games in 17 weeks and finish the season on time. That feat alone needs to get more recognition for the job by everyone associated with the NFL for completing that feat. With the regular season now finished, 14 teams will start the battle of keeping their Super Bowl aspirations alive in the playoffs. The other 18 teams, however, will get an early start on the offseason. And that includes the preparations for the 2021 NFL Draft.
While a lot can still change between now and then, here is what the draft could look like if it were held today:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
After winning their first game of the season, the Jaguars proceeded to lose their next 15 games to win the “Tank for Trevor” sweepstakes. Lawrence is the best QB prospect to come through the draft since at least Andrew Luck. He has everything you look for at the position: size, arm strength, accuracy, mental processing, and athletic ability. No matter who “earned” the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lawrence was going to be the selection. The Jaguars just got their franchise quarterback of the future.
2. New York Jets: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
It only takes until the second pick in the draft for things to start getting interesting. When the Jets were in line to have the first pick, everyone expected them to make the no-brainer pick in Lawrence. Now things are a little more complicated. While Sam Darnold hasn’t lived up to expectations yet, he has shown flashes of what he could be with better coaching and talent around him. Joe Douglas and the new head coach will need to decide whether to start over at the most important position or build a better team around Darnold. If they start over Justin Fields is the likely pick. He is a tough, physical runner to go along with a strong and accurate arm. If New York decides to stick with Darnold, then they likely try to trade this pick to a team wanting to select Fields and get a bunch of premier picks in return to accelerate the rebuild. Either way, Justin Fields figures to be the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
3. Miami Dolphins (From HOU): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
The Miami Dolphins are set up very well for the future. Remember, it was just two years ago that Miami began one of the biggest rebuild projects in the history of the NFL. The job Brian Flores and Chris Grier have done in such a short time is nothing short of amazing. The Dolphins just missed the playoffs despite going an impressive 10-6 on the year. Now, they have the third pick in the draft by way of Houston in the Laremy Tunsil trade. GM Chris Grier will have no shortage of options at this pick, but Micah Parsons would be tough to pass up here. Parsons has elite athleticism and versatility to play off the ball at linebacker and is an excellent pass rusher off the edge or by the blitz. He would be an excellent fit in Brian Flores’ defense. Brian Lamb agreed with Micah Parson’s fit in the Dolphins defense in his Miami mock draft from earlier in the year.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Falcons are another team that will have to figure out the QB position going forward. Matt Ryan can still play at a high level, but he is starting to get up there in age and his contract is doing no favors for a pretty expensive roster. If there were a time for Atlanta to find their next franchise QB, it would be with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Zach Wilson sort of came out of nowhere this season to push Justin Fields for the QB2 spot in the draft in the eyes of many. Wilson would add a running and athletic element to the position that Matt Ryan lacks. Not to mention he would be much cheaper than the veteran.