2021 NFL draft order: Top 18 picks set, with Jags, Jets, Dolphins at the top
The order for the top 18 picks in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft is set, with the Jacksonville Jaguars picking No. 1 and the New York Jets picking No. 2. Could both teams be thinking quarterback with their picks? NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s top-ranked quarterbacks — Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) — squared off in the College Football Playoff semifinals on Friday night, with Fields and the Buckeyes coming out on top.
Both the Jaguars and Jets — along with the Miami Dolphins — have two first-round picks in this draft. The Dolphins ended up with the No. 3 overall pick — thanks to the Houston Texans’ trade for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil last year — and the No. 18 pick. The Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals round out the top five selections.
The 2021 NFL draft will take place in Cleveland, with the first round on April 29. Rounds 2 and 3 will be on April 30, while Rounds 4 through 7 will be on May 1. The draft will be broadcast on ESPN and the ESPN App.
Check out the top 18 picks below, with Nos. 19-32 projected from the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI), which projects the order by simulating the rest of the season 10,000 times.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)
Jacksonville has had a pick in the top 10 of the first round 19 times as it enters its 27th season, but it never has had the No. 1 overall choice. The last team to make the playoffs the year it had the No. 1 overall pick was the 2013 Chiefs. The Jaguars have taken three quarterbacks in the first round — Byron Leftwich (No. 7 overall in 2003), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10 in 2011) and Blake Bortles (No. 3 in 2014).
2. New York Jets (2-14)
The Jets just missed out on their second No. 1 overall pick. They used their only No. 1 overall to select wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson in 1996. The Jets have picked second overall twice, selecting wide receiver Johnny “Lam” Jones (1980) and running back Blair Thomas (1990). New York was reported to be targeting Anthony Munoz with the second pick in 1980 but reportedly passed on him because he failed a physical. The Bengals took Munoz third overall and he made 11 Pro Bowls. Jones never made the Pro Bowl.
3. Miami Dolphins (10-6; from 4-12 HOU)
The Dolphins, who had three first-round picks in 2020, have two first-round picks this year. All of their first-round picks since 2011 were in the league in 2020, but only one from prior to 2019 was still with Miami (DeVante Parker, No. 14, 2015).
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
This is the Falcons’ first top-10 pick since 2015 and their first top-five pick since drafting quarterback Matt Ryan No. 3 overall in 2008. Atlanta has drafted two Hall of Famers with top-five picks: Claude Humphrey (No. 3, 1968) and Deion Sanders (No. 5, 1989).
5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
The Bengals are picking in the top five for the 17th time in franchise history and the second year in a row. They’ve used their past four first-rounders to pick offensive players, but only two of them were starters for Cincinnati in 2020 (quarterback Joe Burrow and offensive tackle Jonah Williams).
6. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1)
This is the Eagles’ first top-10 pick since they selected quarterback Carson Wentz No. 2 overall in 2016. Of course, they now appear ready to move on from Wentz in favor of 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts.
7. Detroit Lions (5-11)
The Lions are picking in the top 10 for the third consecutive year and 26th time in the Super Bowl era. Could they be looking for the successor to 2009 No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford?
8. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
The Panthers have a choice inside the top 10 for just the second time since 2012. They hit big with the other, selecting running back Christian McCaffrey No. 8 overall in 2017.
9. Denver Broncos (5-11)
The Broncos are picking in the top 10 for just the second time since 2011. Pass-rusher Bradley Chubb was their pick at No. 5 overall in 2018. He has 20.5 sacks in his career and made the Pro Bowl this season.
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Five of the Cowboys’ past eight first-round picks have represented Dallas in the Pro Bowl, but only three remain with the team — guard Zack Martin, running back Ezekiel Elliott and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. This is the Cowboys’ highest draft position since they took Elliott with the fourth pick in 2016.
11. New York Giants (6-10)
Four of the Giants’ past six first-rounders are players around whom they hope they can build their offense, though 2018 No. 2 pick Saquon Barkley will be returning from a torn ACL in 2021. Quarterback Daniel Jones (2019) and tight end Evan Engram (2017) had some injury issues that hampered them in 2020. Rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas was a plug-and-play starter this season.
12. San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
When the 49ers selected wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk with the second of two first-round picks last year, it was the first time they had selected a skill-position player in the first round since 2012. In that same span they selected four defensive ends.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9)
The Chargers have the luxury of not needing a quarterback, as it appears they struck gold with last year’s No. 6 pick, Justin Herbert. The signal-caller from Oregon established a record for TD passes by a rookie and had multiple TD passes in seven consecutive games, another rookie record.
14. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
The Vikings are making their highest pick in the first round since selecting cornerback Trae Waynes No. 11 overall in 2015. Of their first-round picks prior to 2018, only safety Harrison Smith (2012) and linebacker Anthony Barr (2014) still wear the purple.
15. New England Patriots (7-8)
The Patriots have their highest first-round pick since 2008, when they selected linebacker Jerod Mayo 10th overall. He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year and played his entire eight-year career in New England, making two Pro Bowl teams.
16. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Of the Cardinals’ past 10 first-round picks spanning the past 10 years, four aren’t even in the league. Five are still with Arizona. The other is 49ers backup quarterback Josh Rosen.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8)
The Raiders, who have made five first-round picks over the past two drafts, have only one first-rounder this year. Each of those previous five was at a different position, but none of those picks addressed linebacker or offensive line.
18. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
How the Dolphins use the second of their two first-rounders will depend largely on what they do with their first. They have needs at wide receiver, offensive line and running back.
FPI’s projections for pick Nos. 19-32
19. Washington Football Team (7-9)
20. Chicago Bears (8-8)
21. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15; from 10-6 LAR)
22. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
23. Cleveland Browns (11-5)
24. Tennessee Titans (11-5)
25. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
26. New York Jets (2-14; from 12-4 SEA)
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)
28. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
29. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
30. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
31. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)
32. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
(FPI projections are as of Sunday night after Washington’s win)
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