On Friday 26th March the 2021 NFL Draft underwent some pretty sizable changes, just as we were all finishing work and settling into our weekend, BAM, Adam Schefter did what Adam Schefter does, and dropped some huge news about the NFL Draft and more specifically a huge trade between the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.
The Dolphins traded the 3rd overall pick to 49ers for the 12th overall pick, a 2021 third-round pick (the compensatory pick for Robert Saleh’s hiring) and first-round picks in both 2022 and 2023.
Miami’s third overall pick was always going to be up for auction and it did feel as if it was a care of when and not if the pick was dealt. Well, John Lynch and the 49ers front office got the job done – Much to probable dismay to the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, who were well and truly in the hunt, and probably still are, for a quarterback.
The drama still wasn’t over – Less than 30 minutes later, the Dolphins were at the centre of another trade!
This time they were moving back up, sending the 12th and 123rd overall picks this year as well as a 2022 first-round pick to Philadelphia, in order to acquire the 6th and 156th picks for next month’s draft.
The takes then began to fly in the group chat… So what did we think about these trades and how are they going to affect the draft?
Lee, Raj, Sean and Logan give you their takes below.
What does this mean for the 49ers?
Lee – The 49ers have said that Garoppolo is “their guy”. San Francisco have also said they are “good” with whichever QB drops to them at 3.
I believe the former to be front office speak and the latter to be academic.
Trevor Lawrence is all but a Jacksonville Jaguar and all the signs point to Zach Wilson being the apple of the Jet’s eye.
So it’s down to Justin Fields and Trey Lance for the 3rd overall selection.
Personally I feel like Justin Fields is the better and also the safer choice. He’s played at a higher level, for longer and whilst athletically, both Lance and Fields would be fantastic in Shanahan’s offense – Imagine a super athletic runner in Shanahan’s counter based running scheme – I do feel that Fields is the better player now and in future.
Perhaps Garoppolo can babysit Fields for half a season before the rookie takes over? $1.4 deadcap in 2022 doesn’t offer the former Patriot much protection from a contractual standpoint.
Sean – At #12, the Niners were never in the running for their future QB but now they’re right in the thick of it. And that has to be their plan; you don’t give up a king’s ransom for anyone other than a quarterback. Assuming the first two picks are Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, the Niners will have their pick of Justin Fields or Trey Lance. Smarter people than me can say who would be a better fit for Shanahan’s system – I think the big-armed, athletic Fields might just be the prize here – but either way, it seems the writing’s on the wall for the incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers have been at pains to say Jimmy G is their QB1 but even if he starts the campaign as their guy, who knows whether he’ll finish it. (What price a return to the Patriots?)
Raj – The Niners are in their Super Bowl window, and they believe they are a QB away from being back at the top table. After seeing the Rams upgrade their QB room, Murray ascending in Year 2 and Wilson continually performing as a top 10 QB, Lynch and Shanahan felt now was the time to strike; and by trading to 3 allows them to do this. My belief is Fields will be the next QB in San Fran; Shanahan has already experienced coaching Fields at a QB camp a few years back, so the familiarity is there. By not giving up any further 2021 picks for the trade, that is also a big win for the 49ers. With Bosa, Kittle et al returning next year, and with Shanahan being able to mould the new young QB to fit in with his famous run based scheme, don’t be surprised to see the 49ers deep in the playoffs next year.
Logan – The 49ers move all but confirms they are ready to give Jimmy G a fire under his belt to do better. “Jimmy is here to stay” is coach speak for “we couldn’t find a team who was willing to trade for him”. The 49ers could cut Jimmy next year for a whopping $1.4 million in dead cap money. Kyle Shanahan ready to have his chance to groom his “young” QB of the future, which could make Jimmy G a back up once again in the NFL
What does this mean for the Dolphins?
Raj – 24 hours have passed, and overall I’m happy with how things have turned out; however there is a tinge of wanting more. I’m surprised no additional 2021 picks were accumulated such as a SF 2nd rounder, however overall the moves made give the Dolphins flexibility for at least the next 3 years. Flexibility to pick the top passer in this year’s draft, flexibility to pursue an alternate QB next year should Tua not be the answer or the flexibility to build around Tua should he prove to be the QB answer in South Beach (e.g a Diggs style trade by Buffalo last year). Now the Dolphins have the ammunition, it’s important to hit on the picks otherwise the process of accumulation would have gone to waste. Pitts and Najee would be just fine for round 1 😊.
Sean – The multi-deal mayhem took Miami out of the mix and then back into it 30 minutes later, settling at #6 and gaining draft picks to boot. Knowing that the first three teams will be courting QBs (maybe even the top four for the first time ever), the Fins can safely assume they’ll still be able to snare a valuable piece to help Tua succeed next year. It’ll be one of OT Penei Sewell, LSU wideout Ja’Marr Chase or tight end freakazoid Kyle Pitts – basically whoever’s left after the Bengals have had their turn. My guess is the TE phenomenon Pitts, as he’s the least likely pick for Cincy. Dropping three spots, increasing draft collateral and still landing an elite talent looks like great business to me. Nicely played.
Lee – Let me just say, Chris Grier turning Laremy Tunsil into 4 first-round picks is absolute genius.
The end result of this Friday night’s shuffle in the draft order is that the Dolphins now hold the 6th and 18th picks and a further two top 50 selections.
If I were Grier and Brian Flores, I’d look to beef up the offense early to give Tua Tagovailoa a real shot in 2021. I’d be targeting Kyle Pitts at 6, Najee Harris at 18 and an offensive lineman at 36. Pitts is a game-changing mixture of size and speed and Harris gives them an elite runner who can also be a factor in the passing game. Combine those with a competent offensive line, Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker and Preston Williams and I feel that the offense could be nigh on unguardable because of the size and athleticism available. Spread it out and to force the defense in dime and either throw it to any of those receivers, or watch Najee run against super light boxes with mainly defensive backs to stop him.
Logan – The Dolphins are sticking with Tua as being the QB for the future with the transactions made Friday. Brian Flores is going to build around Tua, with Kyle Pitts. Pitts is coming off an outstanding season with 12 touchdowns on the year. How many passing touchdowns did Tua have last year….11? Sure, he played half the season, but Carson Wentz had 16 In half a season and ended up traded. I think a new red zone target will boost this offense along with the new wideout Will Fuller joining the team this off-season. A second consideration is trading down again to pick 15, at the Patriots, securing even more capital for the future and having pick 15 and 18 grabbing two skill players.
What does this mean for the Eagles?
Sean – Unlike the Niners and Miami, the Eagles are more of a long-term rebuild project. That’s why moving back to #12 and gathering more chips to play with – this year and next – makes sense. Sliding down the pecking order does limit Philly’s options a little but assuming they’re after a wideout, as many predict, they should still be able to snap up one of the Alabama two, Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith, as non-QBs slide out of the top 10. With Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco, the QB room looks sorted so dropping down a few places for the chance to pick up more pieces should benefit them in the long run.
Logan – At 12th overall the Eagles are in the “get your guy” spot unless… a QB is on the board. They will have 10 minutes to decide on that pick if that is the QB, a rookie they want to add to the young Jalen Hurts and seasoned Joe Flacco or trade down to New England to allow them to get a QB and get a skill player 3 picks later at 15. . What should the Eagles do? Get the 2nd best wide receiver of this class, Jaylen Waddle, and pair him with Jalen and watch the magic unfold.
Lee – The Eagles have made an underrated move by sliding back a few spots to acquire another first-round pick next year, which feasibly could give them three first-round picks next year. When your team is in rebuilding mode, this is never a bad thing – Just ask the Dolphins!
In terms of this year, most had the Eagles pegged to select a receiver to give Jalen Hurts another target to throw to. That really shouldn’t change too much despite Philly moving back six spots.
With the rush on quarterbacks in the top 10, some great players have to slide, which will include receivers.
Let’s say four QBs go before 12, plus Kyle Pitts and Penei Sewell also get taken. That means there are now 5 teams left to pick in the top 11 and the Big 3 are still there. Even if Miami takes one at 6, the Panthers, Broncos, Cowboys and Giants either have good receivers already or bigger needs early in the first round. Detroit probably takes a receiver at 7 but even so, simple math dictates that the Eagles are left with one of DeVonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle.
Raj – The Eagles let the cat out the hat yesterday, it was Zach Wilson or nothing. They were QB hunting, but having the intel that Wilson was not going beyond 2, they decided to give Hurts the keys to the QB room for 2021. Philly knows this is a long term project, and with the ammunition of potentially 3 1st rounders in 2022, if Hurts isn’t the answer they have all the wiggle room to do whatever they want at QB. In the meantime, there are many holes they can fill in their ageing and depleted roster; and 12 allows them to be in play for one of the top CBs, Parsons or even a pass catcher falling out the top 10. And in 2022, who knows, a certain Deshaun Watson could be someone to perk Roseman’s QB search.
What does this mean for the league and draft as a whole?
Logan – QB’s will go early in this year’s draft, presumably with 4 of the top 5 picks (Jaguars, Jets, 49ers, Atlanta), leaving Bengals the big winners of this presumably taking the 1st player beside outside of a QB thanks to the 2020 draft drafting Joe Burrow. As a fantasy player, I’m curious if Jaylen Waddle or Najee Harris go first or could they end up together on the Dolphins as they have picks 6 and 18?
Raj – The draft now starts at 4 and the ramifications of what the Falcons do affects the rest of the draft. Do they draft Ryan’s replacement, do they dare to trade inter division with Carolina, do they trade to a Denver or New England to make sure Carolina doesn’t get their QB or do they draft the best player available. What they ultimately do decides the strategy of a number of teams in behind, and don’t be surprised if there isn’t another blockbuster move taking place either before or on draft day.
Sean – Pondering the ramifications of Friday’s shenanigans, it seems like the value of Atlanta’s fourth pick and Cincinnati’s fifth spot went up, as the sweet spot for picking either Fields or Lance (coud that actually be the Falcons’ intention?), or for selecting the first non-QB in the draft. In contrast, the Panthers (#8) and Broncos (#9) took the biggest blows, forcing them to trade up as well if they want to get their hands on anything but the scraps left over from the quarterback feeding frenzy. Maybe one of them could package up a deal to tempt the Falcons, Bengals or even the Dolphins (again), depending on the first names to come off the board? Then again, it may just be a case of c’est la vie and grab a top receiver or corner instead. One thing’s for sure, though: just when it felt like we had a sense of how Day 1 might pan out, someone shuffled the pack and we have to reassess everything.
Lee – On one hand, I feel like this makes the first round less interesting due to the fact that I feel like we know the first three names that will be called, the shock for me would be that the Niners take Lance. However, as above, I don’t see it being out of the realms of possibility.
A winner not mentioned above is Atlanta because the price of their 4th overall pick just went up and there are still a number of QB needy teams out there. So unless the sands shift again prior to April 29th, the draft starts at 4.
On the other hand, outside of the QB run, the teams slated to pick from 5 to 15 could be winners too as non-quarterback talent is sure to slide down the board as teams scramble for their next signal caller. So it’ll be interesting to see where those high-end players are selected and as a fan of a team picking in the top 15, that makes round one more exciting!
Looking ahead, the events of Friday evening and the ripples from these trades will be felt for years to come.
Drop the guys a follow:
Lee Wakefield – @Wakefield90, Raj Garcha – The_Garch, Sean Tyler – @SeanTylerUK & Logan Brown – @Loganbrown0805