The 2021 NFL Draft Is All About QBs…Until It Isn’t

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The talk leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft has been focused on the quarterbacks—and with good reason. For only the second time in league history, there will likely be three quarterbacks taken with the top three picks (the first time was in 1971). There is even a chance the first four picks could be quarterbacks.

With sportsbooks setting the total number of quarterbacks drafted in the first round at 5.5, it sounds like there could be value in taking the over.

2021 NFL Draft: QBs Drafted In First RoundPointsBetBetRiversBetMGMDraftKingsWilliam Hill
Over 5.5+325+300+325+300+350
Under 5.5-500-400-450-400-450

While tempting, there is a downside to taking the over. For it to get covered, history will have to be made. The record for QBs taken in the first round is five (set back in 1983). Are there six teams that need a quarterback bad enough to take one in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft?

The answer there is easy—no. It is pretty much a given that the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers are taking a quarterback with the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 picks. Atlanta might with the No. 4 pick, but they could also choose to build around Matt Ryan rather than take his replacement.

Assuming the Falcons do not go for a quarterback, are there three other teams that will probably take one? Maybe. It would not be shocking to see the Carolina Panthers take one at No. 8. Denver is a big maybe at No. 9. There is a chance Minnesota might at No. 14 and New England at No. 15, but neither needs a quarterback this year and do have other pressing needs.

Chicago and Washington need a future franchise quarterback, but will there be one worth taking in the first round when their turns come up (No. 19 and No. 20)? New Orleans might with the No. 28 pick, but will face a similar situation as Chicago and Washington.

2021 NFL Draft—Who Will The First Non-QB Drafted Be?

Fans of the first few teams in the 2021 NFL Draft will probably be welcoming a new quarterback to their team’s roster on Draft Day. But not everyone needs a quarterback. So, with that in mind, who will be the first non-QB taken off the board in Round One?

There will undoubtedly be some great players available, like Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, and Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. But it all depends on what kind of philosophy teams approach the first round with.

They will either target the best player available, their greatest need, or a combination of those two—best player available that fills a need.

That is why it is considered a virtual lock that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick. After trading away Sam Darnold, the Jets are a lock to take one with the second pick, and the 49ers have made their intentions clear with the No. 3 pick.

But the decision is not necessarily as easy for everyone else. That is why some questions are surrounding who the first non-QB will be. Oddsmakers have a few favorites, though:

2021 NFL Draft: First Non-QB DraftedDraftKings BetRiversWilliam Hill
Kyle Pitts+150+150+140
Penei Sewell+150+150+160
Ja’Marr Chase+250+250+240
Micah Parsons+2000+2000+2000
Patrick Surtain II+2000+2000+2000
Rashawn Slater+2500+1500+1500
Kwity Paye+3300+3300+3000
DeVonta Smith+4000+4000+5000
Jaylen Waddle+4000+4000+5000
Jaelan Phillips+6600+6600+6000
Najee Harris+15000+15000+10000
Caleb Farley+10000+10000+8000
Jaycee Horn+6600+6600+6000
Gregory Rousseau+10000+10000+8000
Travis Etienne+15000+15000
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah+15000+10000
Alijah Vera-Tucker+15000+15000+10000
Christian Barmore+8000
Trevon Moehrig Woodard+10000
Christian Darrisaw+10000
Zaven Collins+10000
Rashod Bateman+10000

Any of the top five options would be an absolute game-changer for whoever takes them. But to ascertain who will go first out of the bunch, we have to figure out who will be taking a quarterback.

Of the first five picks, there could easily be four quarterbacks taken. The Jaguars, Jets, and 49ers will take one with the first three picks. But Atlanta is somewhat of a question mark. The Falcons could look to the future and prepare for life without Matt Ryan by taking a quarterback.

However, they could also choose to maximize Ryan’s remaining years with a tight end like Kyle Pitts or an offensive tackle like Penei Sewell. Their defense has a few needs as well. But if the Falcons do take a quarterback, then the first non-QB off the board will come with the No. 5 pick.

Cincinnati will not draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft after doing so last year. However, they could improve his arsenal with a tight end (Kyle Pitts) or wide receiver (i.e., Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, etc.).

They could also look to get him some better protection (like Penei Sewell).

How Should You Bet?

The first non-QB will either get taken by the Falcons or the Bengals. But the most likely options for both are the same. Both will likely look to draft a weapon to add to their QB’s arsenal or find him better protection.

It would not be shocking to see the Falcons take a quarterback. Matt Ryan is 36, so he does not have much time left. But if he were to last another three years (which is entirely possible), taking a quarterback now is a waste. So, it all depends on how much faith they have in Ryan.

Of course, if they were to add a guy like Penei Sewell to his offensive line, he could make it another three years. But, while they do not need another wide receiver, they could use a stud tight end like Kyle Pitts.

After seeing Joe Burrow go down with a knee injury last year, upgrading the offensive line with Sewell would be a smart call for the Bengals. At the same time, it would be hard to blame them for going after Kyle Pitts, DeVonta Freeman, or a former teammate of Burrows—Ja’Marr Chase.

So—how should you bet?

If you only want to go with one guy, take Sewell. The best quarterback in the world does a team no good if he is on the sideline with a knee injury. Protecting the quarterback is too important not to take advantage of a guy like Sewell being available.

However, it would not be a bad idea to split your money between Pitts and Sewell, either.

When it comes to the over/undertake the under, if you feel the need to take the bet. Three quarterbacks are a virtual lock to go in the first. But there is no way to be sure beyond them. Several teams could use a new quarterback, but only five are worth using a first-round pick on.

Teams could easily choose to address other needs in the first round. Why not since they will still be able to select a good QB in the second or third?

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.

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