2021 NFL Draft Forecast & Draft Order Betting Odds

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The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday with the first round of festivities from Cleveland.

The three-day player harvest will have 259 selections over seven rounds.

Here’s a forecast of how the first 32 picks will play out. NFL Draft odds from online sportsbooks are included where applicable.

Top 5 Picks In The NFL Draft

No. 1, Jacksonville: New coach Urban Meyer selects QB Trevor Lawrence, a 6-foot-6, 213-pounder who guided Clemson to the national title in 2019. FanDuel lists him at -20000 to be the first quarterback selected, so that’s what you’d call a lock. And how bad would it look for the Jags to bypass him after Lawrence and his wife pledged $20,000 to Jacksonville charities?

No. 2, NY Jets: With QB Sam Darnold shipped to Carolina in the offseason, NYJ surely is looking for his replacement unless James Morgan (?!?) is the Jets’ idea of a savior.  The consensus is the Jets will take BYU’s Zach Wilson, 6-2, 214, widely referred to as the most talented thrower available. His TD/INT numbers were 33/3 in 2020 as the Cougars went 11-1.

No. 3, San Francisco: Which QB will it be? Alabama’s Mac Jones, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, or North Dakota’s State’s Trey Lance. Jones, 6-3, 217, gets the nod. DraftKings lists him at -175 in being the third pick overall, with Lance at +150 and Fields +500. Jones is acclaimed for having the most accurate arm of the bunch and is mega smart. 

No. 4, Atlanta: Barring a trade down, the Falcons will likely avoid the temptation to take a QB to eventually replace Matt Ryan and opt for Florida TE Kyle Pitts, 6-6, 245, clearly the No. 1 player on the board at his position. He’s listed at -10000 to be the first TE taken, according to DraftKings odds.

No. 5, Cincinnati: The Bengals were last in sacks last year, so an edge rusher makes sense here. But what makes better sense is to protect 2020’s No. 1 overall pick, QB Joe Burrow, who suffered a major knee injury last year. Without him, Cincinnati failed to score even 10 points in four of its final seven games. Thus, that means taking Oregon OLT Penei Sewell, 6-5, 331. DraftKings lists him at -900 to be first offensive lineman taken.

Picks 6-10

No. 6, Miami: The Dolphins were tied for 27th in the league with only 40 pass plays of 20-plus yards in 2020 and look to remedy that with LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, 6-0, 201, who reportedly can do it all — get the 50-50 balls, go deep, break tackles, etc. He’s a first-team All-America.

No. 7, Detroit: There were rumors Detroit was looking to trade down, but with the departure of their top two receivers from last year, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, new QB Jared Goff needs help. That comes in the form of Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith of Alabama, 6-0, 170.

No. 8, Carolina: Hmm. Are the Panthers truly looking at Darnold as their QB for the long haul? This pick will speak volumes. The most glaring need is along the offensive line, so Carolina will go with the second-best OT in Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, 6-4, 304.

No. 9, Denver: The Broncos have been saying they still believe in QB Drew Lock, the league’s 32nd-rated passer in 2020. Yeah, sure they do. Anyway, does Denver gamble on what’s left among the QBs or the best linebacker. Defensive-minded coach Vic Fangio goes with LB Micah Parsons, 6-3, 246, out of Penn State. He’s at -350 on the DraftKings odds site to be the first LB taken.

No. 10, Dallas: The Cowboys gave up a franchise-high 473 points last season, so taking Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II will work nicely. His father was a Pro Bowl corner. BetMGM lists Junior at -300 to be the first CB selected.

Picks 11-15

No. 11, NY Giants: Do the Giants really need an edge rusher the most, as some mock forecasts suggest? Let’s go with a dynamic receiver for QB Daniel Jones before they’re gone: Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, 5-9, 180. 

No. 12, Philadelphia: The Eagles appear all in on Jalen Hurts at QB, so picking another Bison quarterback is out of the question. And with Waddle gone, it’s probably best they select South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn, son of ex-Saints WR Joe Horn. Can’t wait to see the younger guy’s TD celebration after his first pick-six.

No. 13, LA Chargers: Just like with the Bengals, LA has a standout young QB in Justin Herbert to protect and needs to bolster its offensive line. Let’s go with Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw at 6-5, 322. It’s hard to believe the first OT off the board 50 years ago weighed only 255 pounds.

No. 14, Minnesota: The Vikings go with OT Teven Jenkins of Oklahoma State at 6-6, 317 to replace departed Riley Reiff. This should help RB Dalvin Cook, the league’s second-leading rusher last year, be even more productive. 

No. 15, New England: The Patriots desperately need a QB after watching Cam Newton help steer the team off a cliff last season. Ohio State’s Fields, 6-3, 227, gets the nod over NDSU’s Lance because he’s more likely to work into the starting lineup a lot faster.

Picks 16-20

No. 16, Arizona: The Cardinals added J.J. Watt in the offseason to bolster the defense, but he doesn’t play DB. So someone is needed to replace 10-year veteran CB Patrick Peterson. That man is whirlwind Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech. 

No. 17, Las Vegas: The Raiders opt to pass on an offensive tackle for the moment and take linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. 6-2-221, out of Notre Dame. He won the Butkus Award as top college linebacker in 2020.

No. 18, Miami: The Dolphins are the first team to make a second first-round choice and turn their attention to defense. They grab Tulsa LB Zaven Collins, a winner of the Bednarik and Nagurski awards. At 6-5, 259, he’ll win most battles in the hole. 

No. 19, Washington: The Football Team wouldn’t dare take Lance here, would it, considering he’s had only 17 career starts and against weak competition? Just two years  ago Football Team used its first-round pick on a another QB with limited college experience, Dwayne Haskins. We saw how that turned out. Playing it safe, Washington takes USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, 6-4. 304.

No. 20. Chicago: The Bears definitely need a QB for the future, unless they are counting on Andy Dalton or Nick Foles to have a sudden career turnaround. But for now how about securing an edge rusher: Azeez Ojulari of Georgia, 6-2, 249. 

Picks 21-25

No. 21, Indianapolis: The Colts saw what happened to new QB Carson Wentz when playing behind a line that gave up a league-high 65 sacks last year in Philly. The pick is OT Liam Eichenberg, 6-6, 306, of Notre Dame.

No. 22, Tennessee: The Titans had the league’s ninth-worst defensive passer rating last season and worst among the teams in the postseason. They go for CB Greg Newsome of Northwestern. 

No. 23, NY Jets: With their second first-round pick, now is the time for the Jets to look to an edge rusher. Kwity Paye of Michigan, 6-3, 261, is rated atop the position board by many, but also reportedly was inconsistent  with the Wolverines.

No. 24, Pittsburgh: For a team that won its first 11 games last year, this team suddenly has a lot of holes. With the retirement of center Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers take Alabama center Landon Dickerson, 6-6, 333.

No. 25, Jacksonville: With tight end its second-biggest need after QB, Jax takes Pat Freiermuth of Penn State. He’s got good speed for a 6-5, 251-pound guy.

Picks 26-32

No. 26, Cleveland: QB Baker Mayfield doesn’t need much help, so a nice pick here would be safety Jevon Holland from Oregon.

No. 27, Baltimore: Miami edge rusher Jaelen Phillips, 6-6, 260, will help bolster the Ravens’ QB harassers.

No. 28, New Orleans: The Saints pick the son of two-time Super Bowl-winning CB Asante Samuel, Asanta Jr., who also has been praised for his run support.

 No. 29, Green Bay: Quick DL Levi Onwuzurike, Washington, at 6-2, 297, fills one defensive void. Repairing the secondary can come next.

No. 30, Buffalo: The Bills need a running back and Clemson’s Travis Etienne’s phone didn’t ring yet. He’s at  +175 to be first RB picked.

No. 31, Baltimore: With available edge rushers still plentiful, why not take another? Joe Tryon, Washington, at 6-5, 259. 

No. 32, Tampa Bay: With all 22 starters back, there apparently are no “must” needs. The Bucs take RB Najee Davis of Alabama. 

About the Author
Bob Christ

Bob Christ

Bob Christ, based in New Mexico, has been a gaming writer (primarily the NFL) for almost four decades, with his work appearing in publications/websites across North America. He's a big fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Philadelphia's Eagles and Phillies, and inexplicably the NHL's Winnipeg Jets.

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