Welcome aboard to another Wednesday in the NFL! The draft is almost exactly a week away. I'm not John Breech (it's your trusty midweek fill-in, Cody Benjamin), but I do have good news: Today's Pick Six NFL Newsletter is jam-packed with draft content.
So let's get right to it. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you're signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don't want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We've got prospect rankings, a three-round mock draft, first-round prop bets and much more:
- Today's show: Ranking the top offensive line prospects of 2021 draft
The quarterbacks and skill players get most of the attention in the pre-draft process, but few positions are as valuable -- and, sometimes, hard to develop -- as offensive line. So which blockers deserve the most love heading into the first round? Draft expert Chris Trapasso joined Will Brinson on Wednesday's Pick Six NFL Podcast (listen and subscribe here) to break down his top OL prospects.
A few highlights from the show:
- Tackle Rashawn Slater doesn't register as a top-10 prospect for Trapasso. The Northwestern product has been a mock-draft favorite for teams like the Panthers (No. 8), but Trapasso believes Slater athletically compares more to interior starters: "You can push him back into the quarterback with relative ease ... It might take him a half a season to get to be NFL strong."
- Trapasso is also down on USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker, who's been projected to go as early as just outside the top 10. While Vera-Tucker has proven solid in pass protection, Trapasso just doesn't see a future for the former Trojans standout as a long-term OT. "I don't think 11 to the Giants is out of the question," he said. "There's no hating on (him), I just think he's a guard."
- Two prospects Trapasso loves: Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins, who "is putting guys into the dirt almost every snap"; and Alabama product Alex Leatherwood, who "locked down the left side for Tua (Tagovailoa) and Mac Jones" and compares athletically to the 49ers' Trent Williams. "He's the most underrated," Trapasso said. "I wouldn't scoff at the idea of him going inside the first."
2. NFL Draft best bets: Trey Lance at No. 3 a great long-shot value play
Looking to capitalize on some long odds regarding first-round picks? Tyler Sullivan examined some of the most notable long-shot props currently on the table at William Hill Sportsbook that could offer a nice payday if they hit. His favorite of the bunch: NDSU QB Trey Lance going No. 3 overall to the San Francisco 49ers.
When the 49ers initially traded up to the No. 3 overall pick, the NFL world was quick to declare that it was Alabama's Mac Jones who they were targeting and the odds reflected that. However, in the weeks since that blockbuster trade, the winds have shifted a tad and now have Ohio State's Justin Fields as the favorite to come off the board third at -115. Meanwhile, Jones has dropped to the second-best odds at +110. I'd say that taking Jones at plus money is still the best move, but if we're talking about something with a little more juice, let's take a look at Lance being the guy ... If Lance has the highest ceiling in the Niners' mind, they could roll with (Jimmy) Garoppolo in 2021 and mold Lance in the background to unveil him as the starter in 2022. That doesn't seem that implausible.
Some other long-shot value plays to consider, per Sullivan:
- Caleb Farley as the first defensive player drafted (+2500)
- Over 5.5 QBs drafted in the first round (+350)
- Offensive line as the first position drafted by the Falcons (+1100)
3. How draft will be remembered: Pats, 49ers QB resets among top stories
Every draft brings with it a plethora of storylines, from which quarterbacks end up where to which teams unearth mid- and late-round gems. This year's is no exception, so our own Tyler Sullivan identified the seven ways the 2021 draft is most likely to be remembered.
- The rise (or fall) of Trevor Lawrence
- Kyle Pitts potentially becoming the best player in his class
- The potential rebirth of Sam Darnold
- Ja'Marr Chase vs. Penei Sewell decision
- New England and San Francisco resetting at QB
- The greatest QB class since 2004?
- The sleeper QB: Who's the next Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson?
Sullivan has a particular interest in the QB shuffle set to occur for the 49ers and Patriots:
These two clubs were playing in the Super Bowl not too long ago and both are now looking to reset at the quarterback position. Of course, the Patriots lost Tom Brady last offseason and are still looking for the heir to his throne for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the 49ers made a blockbuster move up to No. 3 overall to bring in a quarterback and eventually move on from Jimmy Garoppolo ... These two teams could be involved in a trade with one another as well. It's no secret that the Patriots are fond of Jimmy Garoppolo, whom they drafted in 2014 to serve as the successor to Brady ... If one or both of these teams can hit on a quarterback, we could be looking at them contending for a championship again in relatively short order.
Here at CBS Sports, we've been running through each and every division ahead of the 2021 draft, taking stock of all 32 teams before they attempt to bolster their lineups with rookies at the end of the month. Among the latest divisions ranked: The AFC North, NFC North and NFC East. Only one of those divisions' reigning champions came in atop its respective quartet:
AFC North favorite: Browns
Cleveland has added some significant players to its defense. The Browns signed defensive backs John Johnson III and Troy Hill, two players who helped the Rams boast the NFL's top-ranked pass defense in 2020. They were also able to come to terms with defensive tackle Malik Jackson, linebacker Anthony Walker and Takkarist McKinley. The Browns' recent splash was the signing of Jadeveon Clowney. Offensively, Cleveland successfully kept its receiving corps in tact by re-signing Rashard Higgins.
NFC North favorite: Packers
Losing two starters up front hurts (and will require an early investment in the draft). It'd still be nice to get a more explosive No. 2 or No. 3 WR. And yet, as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, there's no reason to pull them from the top spot. Jones, Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan are all Grade-A starters. And the defense, with some more competition at cornerback, is still playoff-caliber.
NFC East favorite: Giants
Dave Gettleman and John Mara aren't kidding around in 2021. They've been the biggest spenders in the division in free agency, and while time will reveal if that translates to wins during the regular season, you'd be remiss to give them anything but high marks for what they've accomplished ahead of the calendar flipping to April. (Signing Kenny Golladay) adds an instant playmaker for quarterback Daniel Jones, whom the Giants continually double and triple down on their belief in.
Stay tuned for more divisional roundups as we draw closer to the draft.
5. Three-round mock draft: Broncos, Patriots swing top-10 trades for QBs
Chris Trapasso is back with his latest forecast of the 2021 NFL Draft, and this time he's projected the first three rounds. Not only that, but he's got two blockbuster moves in the top 10, with the Broncos and Patriots both climbing up for QBs. You'll want to give the entire thing a look-see for some intriguing Day Two picks (Najee Harris to the Dolphins? Davis Mills to Washington?), but here's a sneak peek at Trapasso's top 10:
- Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
- Jets: QB Zach Wilson
- 49ers: QB Justin Fields
- Falcons: TE Kyle Pitts
- Bengals: OL Penei Sewell
- Dolphins: WR Ja'Marr Chase
- Broncos (trade with Lions): QB Trey Lance
- Panthers: OL Rashawn Slater
- Lions (trade with Broncos): WR Jaylen Waddle
- Patriots (trade with Cowboys): QB Mac Jones
6. Latest draft buzz: Panthers could move down, Burrow trusts Bengals
Can't get enough NFL Draft talk? Good. Because we've got a bit more for you below, from a top QB prospect responding to critics and a top-10 team reportedly fielding interest in a trade:
- Justin Fields takes criticism 'personally': The Ohio State QB opens up on critiques of his work ethic
- Panthers discussing trade down from No. 8: Like the Dolphins, they're reportedly open to moving
- Joe Burrow trusts Bengals to make the right call: The QB's ex-LSU teammate could be available at No. 5
- Best No. 7 picks of all time: Adrian Peterson headlines a list featuring Champ Bailey and other greats