Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are still wearing their Mickey Mouse ears from this week’s trip to Disney World, and Patrick Mahomes is still aching from the Super Bowl-record 29 pressures he faced from the Buccaneers defense. But it is never too early to look ahead to the NFL Draft.
Outside of the actual season, it is the most important date on the NFL news calendar, as well as the most fun for fans.
Gone are the days of a great defense dragging a mediocre quarterback to the Super Bowl. The Trent Dilfers and Brad Johnsons of the world do not win a championship in 2021.
Consider that the final four teams this past season featured two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Brady and Aaron Rodgers, probably a third with Mahomes, and the second-leading vote-getter for MVP in Josh Allen.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Zach Wilson, BYU
Zach Wilson did the most to raise his draft stock during the college football season and may have played himself into being a top five pick. Depending on what happens with Deshaun Watson and the Texans, it could be Wilson going No. 2 to the Jets.
Would the Dolphins give up on Tua Tagovailoa and take Wilson at No. 3? If not either of those, he probably doesn’t drop past Atlanta at No. 4.
Justin Fields, Ohio State
If Wilson is off the board, then it’s probably Justin Fields heading to the Falcons. Matt Ryan is still playing at a high level, but if the Packers can begin to look ahead to life beyond Rodgers, it’s definitely time for the Falcons to plan for life after Ryan.
Again, take a look at each of the championship game teams. Green Bay and Davante Adams. Buffalo and Stefon Diggs. Kansas City and Tyreek Hill. Tampa Bay and Mike Evans.
You must have a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver.
DeVonta Smith, Alabama
The only knock on the Heisman Trophy winner is his size. But Adams is only 6-1, Diggs is 6-0, and Hill is just 5-10 and 185 pounds.
The 6-1 Smith is slight at just 176 pounds, but he plays big and is going to be a playmaker wherever he ends up. He’ll fill out.
Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
A year after former LSU Tiger Justin Jefferson made the leap from college star to top NFL rookie, Ja’Marr Chase is hoping to do the same thing. Chase’s 2019 season is so highly thought of that in some NFL circles, he might go ahead of Smith in the NFL Draft.
Online oddsmakers have it a dead heat as to which wide receiver will be selected first.
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Perhaps no one in the draft has the explosiveness of Jaylen Waddle. No matter where he is on the field, he can score, both catching passes and returning kicks.
Waddle himself compares his game to that of Hill, and he’s not over-selling himself.