THE TOP FIVE STORIES IN FOOTBALL
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4.20.21
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1. 49ERS
NEWS
49ers telling teams they haven’t made a decision on the quarterback they will select with the third pick of the draft
IMPACT
The 49ers have three quarterbacks to choose from - Mac Jones, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance.

Jones completed an unbelievable 77.4% of his passes for 4,500 yards, and 41 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions last season. He is considered to be the most accurate quarterback in the draft class and has reportedly blown teams away with his leadership and football intelligence during interviews. If there is a drawback - it’s his lack of mobility outside of the pocket - he doesn’t exactly fit into the dual-threat quarterback movement.  

Lance is the wildcard of the bunch, he only has one year of experience and it came at the FCS level… but he displayed a tremendous amount of talent in that one season - completing 66.4% of his passes for 2,786 yards, and 28 touchdowns to zero interceptions - in addition, he ran 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. Of the three quarterbacks, he has the strongest arm and definitely offers dual-threat capabilities.

Fields completed an impressive 70.2% of his passes last season for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. He has a strong arm and is a fantastic athlete - ran a 4.44 40 at his Pro Day. Like Jones and unlike Lance, he competed against a high level of competition while at Ohio State. Critique of his game is centered around a lack of refinement as a passer - specifically as it pertains to reading coverages and working through progressions.

While Lance and Fields may offer more upside than Jones, 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan probably sees a lot of Matt Ryan (who Shanahan coached to an MVP season in 2018) in the former Crimson Tide quarterback - making him the favorite.
2. DOLPHINS
NEWS
Dolphins GM Will Grier wants to add a major offensive weapon in round one
Dolphins have serious interest in taking RB Najee Harris with the 18th pick
IMPACT
The 2021 offseason has been full of reports and rumors that the that the Patriots are hell-bent on acquiring a QB… but if they aren’t willing to trade up, there is almost no chance they’ll be able to come away with one of the draft’s tier-one QBs.

Which would mean the Patriots would either have to settle for a tier two QB (Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond, or David Mills) or try to swing a trade for a veteran (Jimmy Garoppolo).

It’s possible there’s no substance to the rumors and the Patriots are simply comfortable with Cam Newton as their starter and plan to use the fifteenth pick to bolster the cast around him - in which case they could target a WR.Of course this is Bill Belichick we are talking about… so don’t rule out a trade down or defensive player either.
3. 7, 8, 9
NEWS: Detroit could be interested in Micah Parsons at seven but they are also generating buzz as a trade down team
IMPACT: Parsons is considered to be one of the best defensive prospects in the draft class. He’d be a building block for new DC Aaron Glenn.

The Lions are slated to pick before two teams (Carolina and Denver) who could be interested in taking a QB - making their pick an ideal one for a team (like the Patriots) who want to grab one of the remaining QBs (if there are any left).
NEWS: Carolina has three options at eight - take a QB, trade down, or select the best available non-QB
IMPACT: Sam Darnold’s contract does not prohibit the team from considering a quarterback at eight - as he is only under team control for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. If the Panthers aren’t interested in a quarterback, they could look to trade down - King noted that the Panthers would like to pick up more draft picks. Non-QB prospects of interest include offensive lineman (like Sewell and Rashawn Slater), cornerbacks (like Patrick Surtain III and Jaycee Horn), and possibly wide receivers (Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle).
NEWS: Some teams believe the Broncos, who pick ninth, could be aggressive in going after a QB
IMPACT: The Broncos have been doing their homework on the draft’s QB class - sending representatives to the Pro Days of both Justin Fields and Trey Lance. Denver is better positioned than other quarterback-needy teams to trade up because the ninth pick is worth considerably more than say the Patriots fifteenth pick. If the Broncos do stay put at nine, Parsons would fill a big need at linebacker.
4. SEWELL
NEWS
Penei Sewell offers elite upside but does carry a few red flags
IMPACT
Sewell has special, even HOF-worthy traits - combining prototypical size (6-5, 331) with explosive athleticism and elite foot quickness. He started 7 games a true freshman before breaking out in 2019 - where his dominant blocking earned unanimous first-team All-American honors and the Outland Trophy (awarded to the nation’s top offensive lineman).

Sewell chose to opt-out of the 2020 season, which has reportedly rubbed some evaluators the wrong way - scouts were hoping to see him clean up some of the inconsistencies they saw on tape. There are also some alleged maturity concerns. In terms of where Sewell goes… the Bengals at five are probably the first option - as they desperately need to improve their protection of Joe Burrow - but Peter King noted in FMIA that the team might prefer JaMarr Chase at that spot. The Dolphins (No 6) and Lions (No. 7) could have some interest but both teams are expected to pursue different positions.

If Sewell makes it to eight, it would be shocking to see the Panthers pass on him - given that they need a left tackle more than arguably any other team in the league. If for some reason the Panthers do pass - the Cowboys would probably end his slide at ten.
5. MISC.
NEWS
Steelers planning to draft a running back in the first or second round
IMPACT
Pittsburgh ranked last in the league in rushing yards (1,351) and yards per carry (3.6) in 2020. An inability to run the ball almost certainly factored into the team's late season collapse.

The best seasons of Ben Roethlisberger’s career correlate with stellar productivity in the running game. Roethlisberger’s first Pro Bowl berth (2007) came in a season where the Steelers ran for 2,168 yards (4.2 yards per carry). His next Pro Bowl season (2011) saw the Steelers rush for 1,903 yards (4.4 yards per carry). While Roethlisberger’s Pro Bowl stretch from 2014 to 2017, coincided with the breakout and golden years of Le’Veon Bell.

Top RB prospects Najee Harris and Travis Etienne are expected to be on the board when the Steelers select at pick #24.
5. MISC.
NEWS: Alex Smith retires
IMPACT: The No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft will finish his career with a record of 99-67-1, 35,650 passing yards and 214 total touchdowns. He will be most remembered for his inspiring 2020 return from a horrific leg injury that required a total of 17 surgeries.
NEWS: Chiefs: Reid says door is always open for a Mitchell Schwartz, Eric Fisher return
IMPACT: The Chiefs moved on from both Fisher (left tackle) and Schwartz (right tackle) earlier in the offseason, in an attempt to reset their offensive line, as both players are over thirty and rehabbing major injuries.But returns could make sense given that the Chiefs haven't been been able to add established starters at either tackle spot this offseason.
NEWS: Warrant out for Seahawks DE Aldon Smith
IMPACT: Smith allegedly choked a victim unconscious outside of a coffee shop in Louisiana. The warrant will likely impact his standing with the Seahawks, who signed him to a one-year deal last week.
NFL DRAFT COUNTDOWN
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Albert Breer | SI... MMQB: 2021 NFL Draft Primer, With 20 Things to KnowPeter King| NBC Sports... FMIA: Whispers, Rumors and Gut Feelings as 2021 NFL Draft NearsJason La Confora | CBS Sports... Are the Jets definitely taking Zach Wilson? Why not all are convinced, plus more insider notes
PODCASTS
Around the NFL... Alex Smith Retires ; MVP Odds with Matt Money SmithThe Mina Kimes Show... On A (Team) Needs To Know Basis
THE TOP FIVE STORIES IN FOOTBALL.
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