The 2021 NFL draft is a little more than three days away with the first round taking place Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. While former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the favorite to go No. 1, how will the rest of the first round shake out? USA TODAY Network experts have put on their general manager hats to make their picks. See who they took (and why).
1. Jaguars, QB Trevor Lawrence: The prospect of coaching former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is what lured Urban Meyer out of retirement. A generational talent compared to former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Lawrence has been the presumptive No. 1 overall by the Jaguars since they clinched the top spot in late December. Nothing changes heading into draft night. — John Reid, Florida Times-Union
2. Jets, QB Zach Wilson: One could argue that there are better choices here, but the Jets seem to have decided on Wilson and it’s hard to find fault in that choice. He has the athleticism, arm and elusiveness to be a difference maker on the next level. — Andy Vasquez, Bergen Record
3. 49ers, QB Justin Fields: I’m thrilled, if I’m the Niners, that the Jets are so infatuated with Wilson because with his strong arm, ability to sling it on the move, toughness and character, Fields is an excellent fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and may just be the best quarterback of this class when this is all said and done. — Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY
4. Falcons, TE Kyle Pitts: Some NFL scouts and executives say they’ve never seen a tight end prospect like Pitts, who measures in at 6-6 and 246 pounds yet ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the Gators pro day. Twelve of his 43 receptions in 2020 went for TDs, and his size and ability to line up in-line, wide or in the slot enables him to threaten all corners of the field as a true mismatch – and one who should be very difficult to defend in the red zone. Teaming Pitts with WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Atlanta will give QB Matt Ryan, who will be 36 by Week 1, a plethora of options – which he’ll doubtless appreciate since his contract almost surely ties him to the Falcons for at least two more seasons and makes drafting a QB in 2021, compelling as it might be, a bit impractical. — Nate Davis, USA TODAY
5. Bengals, WR Ja’Marr Chase: The Bengals bypass their biggest area of need, the offensive line, and get the player who they believe is the best available in LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase. Chase and Joe Burrow were teammates together at LSU during the Tigers’ 2019 national title run. The LSU wideout was Burrow’s favorite target and won the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 2019. Seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green departed for Arizona in free agency. The Bengals replace the veteran with Burrow’s favorite college target. — Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati Enquirer
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SOURCE: USA TODAY