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Cover 3: Bold predictions for 2021 NFL Draft


In this week's edition of Cover 3, the crew gives bold predictions for the 2021 NFL Draft, which kicks off next Thursday.

John Schmeelk: Wide receivers and offensive linemen will make up more than a third of the picks (at least 22 combined players) in the first and second rounds of the NFL Draft. The fact this is a deep wide receiver class should surprise no one. More and more players are coming out of college with NFL-ready skills at this position thanks to the proliferation of summer 7-on-7 football at the high school level and spread offenses in college.

The depth of the wide receiver class may push players down the board, but the second round likely will be an extremely heavy receiver round. There are outside receivers available, but there's seems to be an endless amount of smaller (slot) receivers destined for Day 2 of the draft.

The depth of the offensive line is what might stick out the most in this draft. Here's a bonus bold prediction: There will be more offensive lineman taken in the first two rounds than wide receivers. The end of the first round and top of the second round is stacked with players who played offensive tackle at a high level in college, but many analysts believe may be able to shift inside to guard in the NFL.

Dan Salomone: The Giants enter the 2021 NFL Draft with the 11th, 42nd, 76th, 116th, 196th, and 201st overall picks, but they won't come away with those exact selections. Is that bold enough? A reporter asked general manager Dave Gettleman about the likelihood of trading back and essentially deferring picks to next year because of the lack of information available in the 2021 cycle. Due to the pandemic, there was no NFL Scouting Combine and the traditional medical checks and in-person interviews that came with it. In addition, a few notable prospects opted out of their final college season, and some teams played shortened schedules, which significantly cut down on the film available to NFL scouts.

"Well, I think that you can make the argument that you're going to have the most information on the top 100-150 guys and as you work backwards because of a lack of touch and whatever, you're not going to have as much information or have as much confidence in your ability to work your way through that group," Gettleman said last month. "You can make the argument to trade back because of this thing. There are guys in this draft that when they put pads on in August it'll be the first time in 20 months they'll have put pads on, so you've got to think about that piece and some of those guys are very, very highly rated, so you've got to think about that. Your point about moving picks and trading back and getting 2022 picks is very valid because hopefully we'll be back to somewhat normal and we'll be able to draft in 2022 with that kind of thorough information that we had in 2020, but not in 2021. So you can make that argument for that, you can make that argument to trade back, accumulate picks for next year."

In true GM fashion, Gettleman also left the door open to move up – or do nothing at all.

"You can make the argument that you sit tight," Gettleman said. "You can make the argument that, knowing that your best information is going to be on the top guys, maybe you trade up. So, who knows?"

Lance Medow: I have two bold predictions. First, I don't think a running back will be selected in the first round. Alabama's Najee Harris and Travis Etienne of Clemson are versatile playmakers but when you look at the trend around the league, it seems as if most teams don't consider that position as valuable as other spots. We nearly saw this happen in 2020 before the Chiefs selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the last pick of the first round.

My other bold prediction is that a defensive player won't be selected until No. 10, at the earliest. I think between the quarterbacks and skilled positions, there will be a strong run on offensive players. The Cowboys could very well end that streak at 10, but you can make a case for the first nine teams, as it stands right now, to focus on the offensive side of the ball based on the talent pool and value of the pick.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft for the final time before the start of the draft.


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