By: Jake Rajala (Twitter: @rajala_jake)
The 2021 NFL playoffs are in full swing as the divisional round steadily approaches. On Saturday, the match-ups presented ought to be highlighted by the Aaron Donald led Rams combatting the MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers in the frozen tundra at 4:35 ET. Later on in the day, the often criticized big-game performer Lamar Jackson takes a trip up north to battle the
satisfied galvanized Bills Mafia.
The last course of match-ups are kicked off by the ground and pound Cleveland Browns taking a trip to Kansas City, as the first seventh seed to advance to the divisional round in NFL history faces the defending Super Bowl champions (Kansas City Chiefs). And come to 6:40 ET on Sunday, it’s time to witness the ageless Tom Brady faces his kryptonite Saints in the Big Easy.
The NFL season has faced its ups and downs through the COVID halted season, but it’s truly been an exceptional gift to not only see mid-January playoff action but a plate of intriguing match-ups being displayed this 2021 divisional round.
Once the eclipse of the near 2020-2021 season finishes at the expense of a Lombardi trophy up for the taking in Tampa Bay, the most prosperous focus will be on the NFL draft for 32 teams. And candidly; the evaluation of elite prospects is already on location for the teams witnessing the eight playoff teams remaining.
As February and the NFL combine inches closer, let’s attack a polarizing mock draft of where the “cream of the top” prospects could land in April. In this draft feature, I’m going to untwine how I project the Top-10 draft picks to play out. Let’s get started.
- 1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence-QB-Clemson
The glamorous news is in the works in Jaguars nation. Urban Meyer has touched down in Jacksonville, as he is expected to be pinned their shiny head coach. This is the first time that the 56-year-old coach has been a head coach at the NFL ranks.
At this point in the conclusion of the College Football season and another championship won by Nick Saban, it’s clear that Trevor Lawrence is in the driver’s seat to be the No. one overall draft choice. Meyer and Lawrence will be a dream fit, as the all-time great CFB coach knew what he was doing when saving his NFL resume until 2021. Here’s an overview of notable QBs to relish under Urban Meyers:
Alex Smith (Utah)
Tim Tebow (Florida)
Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)
Urban Meyers is ready to take the reigns, inject inspriation into Jacksonville fan base, and make Trevor Lawrence a offensive rookie of the year candidate in 2021.
2) New York Jets: Justin Fields-QB-Ohio State
The Ohio State dual-threat QB is ready to take his show to the next level. Fields started the COVID decimated season throwing more touchdowns than incompletions, then faced some adversity in the passing game, but finally flexed his freakish athletic ability in a massive, gutsy victory over Clemson.
As Urban Meyer flees to Jacksonville, the New York Jets notch their future head coach in Robert Saleh. Saleh is the guy they believe is destined to build the right culture, create up a potent defense, and perform the right overhaul in the big apple.
I don’t foresee the coaching hire having a drastic change with their choice at No. two overall (assuming they don’t trade back). Fields has done enough to prove his worth as a Top-two draft pick & he’s the right QB to lean on against Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, and “Bill Belichick” in the AFC East.
3) Carolina Panthers (Trade with Miami Dolphins): Zach Wilson-QB-BYU
Out of the teams that need a top QB in the draft the most, I would argue that Carolina is viable for the top squad in such debate. The Carolina Panthers finished third place in the NFC South under a 5-11 record, which ultimately led to the new GM hire of Scott Fitterer.
The Panthers understand that they compete in a divison where the Buccaneers sit in second place, while the Saints are one of the most invested “win now” teams, despite Brees expected to retire post this playoff run. On offense, they are ready to hand the keys to a signal caller that can propel an offense fueled by Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and swiss army knife Curtis Samuel.
Joe Brady runs an efficient orchestra, but Teddy Bridgewater looks like the previous game manager in Minnesota. Zach Wilson posted the second-highest QBR since 2014 in 2020 (95.4), and it’s not deceiving to know that Carolina needs a star QB to compete in the brute NFC South while boasting a young defense that has its growing pains.