The recent trades involving the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles really helped clarify certain things about the 2021 NFL Draft. For starters, it’s apparent that 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have circled a quarterback for their future - the question is ... who?
It’s widely presumed that the first overall selection, held by the Jacksonville Jaguars, will be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. One may infer that the 49ers have a pretty solid beat on what the New York Jets are doing because their former defensive coordinator, Robert Salah, is now the Jets’ head coach. If I’m a betting man, I would go with BYU’s Zach Wilson.
This leaves the 49ers with a choice of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, North Dakota State signal-caller Trey Lance, and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who would have certainly been the fifth quarterback of the bunch before the trade. Many in the industry are speculating that Shanahan may be more interested in Jones. Time will tell what happens, but one thing is certain ... quarterbacks going 1-2-3, with one of them being Mac Jones, is excellent for the New York Giants who are sitting at No. 11.
Hypothetically, let’s say this scenario plays out and Lawrence, Wilson, and Jones are the first three picks (the 49ers didn’t give up that haul for a non-quarterback). That leaves the talented Lance and Fields on the board from picks four to 11 with quarterback-needy teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and the Denver Broncos all picking ahead of Big Blue.
Presumably, both Lance and Fields would end up going before the 11th selection, which leaves only five non-quarterback selections before the Giants’ pick. Players like Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, both Alabama wide receivers, possibly Kyle Pitts (but maybe not really), and even someone like Micah Parsons could be around for the Giants selection, the latter should be there.
The pre-draft situation is playing out well for the Giants, but the team must hope that those Dallas Cowboys don’t scoop up a valuable asset right before New York picks. Dave Gettleman has never traded down, but I wouldn’t rule the option out if the Giants do value players like Georgia edge Azeez Ojulari or Miami pass rushers Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau. I, like most Giants’ fans, am very excited to see how this all plays out.
While the trades were going down, most of the NFL world was marveling at BYU’s pro day. Zach Wilson was throwing darts off-platform. Just a few short days later, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields made similar throws and showied off his incredible physical attributes. Fields ran a 4.44 40-yard-dash at 6-foot-3, 228 pounds; his throws were impressive and he really made a strong case for being a top-five selection at his pro day.
Mac Jones also had a throwing session pro day this past week and he had a few overthrows. A few of these overthrows prompted negative reactions from Shanahan and Bill Belichick; Shanahan looked a little uneasy while Belichick was caught shaking his head a bit - could he have been shaking it at something else? That’s plausible.
Oregon had its pro day as well and Penei Sewell showed his impressive movement skills. He measured in at just under 6-5, 331 pounds, and ran a 5.09 40-yard-dash. Sewell jumped 29 inches in the vertical and had a 109-inch broad jump. The former is around the 70th percentile on MockDraftable’s database, and the latter is 80th - the same explosive broad jump Andrew Thomas had one year ago.
Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins also impressed at his pro day this past week. We knew he was large, but he measured in at 6-4 ⅞” while carrying 259 pounds. Collins ran a 4.67 40-yard-dash, did 19 bench press reps at 225 pounds, and he had a vertical leap of 35 inches as well as a 10-2 broad jump; those explosive drills are at the 78th percentile and the 90th percentile, respectively.
Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman measured in at just over 6-foot, 190 pounds, which was disappointing because the Golden Gophers website had him listed at 6-2, 210 pounds. Bateman, however, ran a 4.39 40-yard-dash and jumped 36-inch in the vertical while leaping 123 inches in the broad jump. Those numbers are solid - not spectacular, but good and he also looked very equipped in his route running and other receiving drills.
Bateman’s teammate, Benjamin St. Juste, is a defensive back (played mostly outside corner) who was a Michigan transfer from Canada. He went down to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and made a positive impression due to his size, length, and movement skills. St. Juste is 6-3 ¼” and weighed 202 pounds while running a 4.51 40-yard-dash, which is good for a corner of his size. He also ran a 3.96 short shuttle, which is in the 95th percentile for defensive backs - that is insane for his build.
Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins looked really fresh at his pro day this past week. Jenkins’ film shows plenty of upper body strength and he really substantiated that with 36 bench press reps. He measured at 6-5, 317 pounds, with 33.5-inch arms. He ran a 5.01 40-yard-dash and jumped an insane 32.5 inches in the vertical, which is in the 92nd percentile. Jenkins’ teammate Tylan Wallace is a receiver that interests me on early Day 3. He’s coming back from an ACL injury and he blazed a 4.48 40-yard-dash while showing impressive agility with a 6.97 3-cone drill.
Last, but certainly not least, is Kyle Pitts’ pro day for the University of Florida. Wow! He measured in at 6-6, 245 pounds, and blazed a 4.44 40-yard-dash. He also measured with the longest wingspan of any wide receiver or tight end in the NFL (83 ⅜”), besting D.K. Metcalf’s wingspan. Pitts more than likely solidified himself in the top 10 after this performance.
Miami’s pro day
There is a lot of buzz surrounding these Miami Hurricanes and the New York Giants. There are three edge rushers that the Giants could be interested in adding: Jaelan Phillips, Gregory Rousseau, and Quincy Roche. Rousseau’s name has consistently been linked to the Giants throughout the season and offseason, but I personally like Phillips better, albeit the medicals have to check out.
Phillips was one of the top recruits in the 2017 recruiting cycle; he committed to UCLA and ended up quitting football because of concussion issues. He transferred to Miami, sat out 2019 in the transfer portal, and dominated in 2020. I really like him, if the medical concerns can be cleared, which may be a big “if.”
Phillips ran a 4.56 40-yard-dash at 260 pounds, which is in the 96th percentile for defensive ends. He also 36” in the vertical and 125” in the broad, 87th percentile, and 91st percentile - that’s a lot of explosiveness right there. Rousseau, who opted out of the 2020 season, came in at 6-7, 266 pounds, and ran a 4.69 40-yard-dash. Rousseau has an 83 ¼” wingspan and 11-inch hands which is gigantic. With his length, he performed 21 reps on the bench. He also jumped 30 inches in the vertical jump and 115 inches in the broad jump.
Roche, who is more of a Day 3 prospect, also had a solid day. He ran a 7.18 3-cone, which is slightly above average, a 4.42 short shuttle, which is average, but benched 23 reps at 225 and jumped 32.5 inches in the vertical and 119 inches in the broad. Roche also ran a 4.66 40-yard-dash and Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy had this to say about the former Temple Owl who transferred to Miami.
Biggest winner at Miami pro-day was Quincy Roche. Skilled & highly disruptive (30.5 sacks, 54 TFL, 8 FF, 8 FR). Many felt he was just an overachiever but ran 4.66 today. You want this guy on your NFL team. Just a damn good football player.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 29, 2021
And José will be first kicker drafted. pic.twitter.com/UVDYGEbWY6
Seattle had its little spat with star quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason, but they ended up extending one of his favorite security blankets in wide receiver Tyler Lockett. The receiver was given a four-year extension worth $69.2 million with $37 million guaranteed. This deal places Lockett with Tampa Bay's Mike Evans and Chicago’s Allen Robinson in terms of annual compensation. Lockett and D.K. Metcalf have formed one of the more dynamic receiving duos in the league. When Wilson is allowed the cook, he now has these two to feed for an extended period of time.
Seattle also extended interior offensive lineman Gabe Jackson to a three-year, $22.57 million contract. Seattle acquired Jackson from the Raiders on March 21st and the team wasted no time locking him; the Seahawks also brought back Carlos Dunlap and signed him to a two-year, $16.6 million contract.
Speaking of the Raiders' offensive line, the team extended left tackle Kolton Miller to a three-year, $54 million deal where $42.6 of it is guaranteed. This puts him at around $18 million a year and keeps him as a Raider through the 2025 season. Miller had a rough rookie season, as expected, but has now developed into a solid tackle option for the Raiders, a team that essentially revamped their offensive line by shipping three veterans out of town during the off-season.
2020 Steelers’ defensive lineman Tyson Alualu announced earlier in the offseason that he was returning to play with the Jaguars, the team that drafted him. However, Alualu had a change of heart and he is returning to the Pittsburgh defensive front. I found this interesting and wanted to bring it up because I mentioned Alualu’s presence being a benefit to the Jacksonville front on my podcast “Falato on Football.” I felt Jacksonville would heavily pursue a player like Dalvin Tomlinson, and maybe would have gone harder at Tomlinson if Alualu, a good run defender, didn’t commit. Interesting development and it’s good for the Steelers.