The Tank for Trevor sweepstakes is in full gear.
According to many, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is the most polished, NFL-ready quarterback the league has seen since Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, leaving teams at the top of the draft order ready to go all out to secure that top pick. To that end, the 2020 NFL season has produced minimal surprises regarding who is at the top, with the team that lands the No. 1 overall pick likely choosing the Tigers’ young-buck passer.
The Jets are elite when it comes to being awful: Currently in the lead for that No. 1 pick, New York has looked wildly non-competitive, resulting in an 0-10 record and a real opportunity at both a winless season and the rights to Lawrence. Hot on their tail are the 1-9 Jaguars, who have jumped back into the mix for No. 1 after being the early favorites to get Lawrence.
Both the Jets and Jaguars have very difficult schedules remaining, with few winnable games left on either slate. While results are uncertain, one thing is for sure: Whoever ends up with the No. 1 overall pick is going to be crowned le champion of the Tank for Trevor sweepstakes, and while a lot of what Lawrence will be in the NFL is a projection, teams at a crossroads shouldn’t fear the rebuild with the Clemson wunderkind under center.
The race is definitely getting tight at the top, but with eight weeks remaining in the regular season, it looks like this race is going to come down to the Jets and the Jaguars, as it was always foretold.
Here’s the current top-10 order for the 2021 NFL Draft, and a little bit on each team therein:
NFL Draft order 2021
The current top 10 picks for the 2021 NFL Draft are as follows, courtesy of Tankathon (updated Monday, Nov. 23):
|1||New York Jets||0-10||.585|
|5||Washington Football Team||3-7||.472|
|6||Los Angeles Chargers||3-7||.500|
|7||New York Giants||3-7||.500|
|8||Miami Dolphins (via Houston)||3-7||.553|
No. 1: New York Jets
Current QB: Sam Darnold
Record and remaining schedule: 0-10; vs. Dolphins, vs. Raiders, at Seahawks, at Rams, vs. Browns, at Patriots
Questionable coaching, roster-limiting injuries and mediocre quarterback play have all led to a nasty 0-10 record. While there was a little reason for optimism heading into Year 3 of the Darnold era, the USC product has been hampered by injuries, a patchwork receiving corps and coach Adam Gase, who looks like he’s on his way out of New York — whether that’s during the season or after it remains to be seen. Jets fans, who once heralded Darnold as franchise savior, have started to look at him as a one-winged angel, instead.
If the Jets end up with the No. 1 overall pick — a very real possibility, at least at this point in the season — it’s almost certain that they would take Lawrence (who wouldn’t?) and trade Darnold to a quarterback-starved team. Drafting Lawrence would once again reset the Jets’ clock on a rebuild, give a potential new head coach a moldable prospect and give the Jets a controllable, affordable contract at QB.
At the moment, the Jets aren’t only winless, but they’re historically bad, and are en route to a hapless, winless season. Though, with so much football left to play, expect the Jets to find a way to blow it. Per usual.
No. 2: Jacksonville Jaguars
Current QB: Jake Luton (Gardner Minshew injured)
Record and remaining schedule: 1-9; vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens, vs. Bears, at Colts
The early favorites to secure Lawrence’s services have crashed New York’s private party thanks to their nosedive after a surprising Week 1 win over the Colts.
While Minshew’s mercurial play is exciting to watch, there’s still a question of whether he’s the franchise’s passer of the future. Jacksonville’s very difficult remaining schedule doesn’t paint a rosy picture when it comes to wins, so Jags fans should get ready for a top-three pick if things continue play out the way they have in the first half of the season.
Jacksonville has a very difficult schedule to end the season, but if the Jags continue punching above their weight, they might be able to squeak out another win before the end of the season.
No. 3: Cincinnati Bengals
Current QB: Ryan Finley
Record and remaining schedule: 2-7-1; vs. Giants, at Dolphins, vs. Cowboys, vs. Steelers, at Texans, vs. Ravens
A promising rookie season for rookie Joe Burrow came to a crashing halt after he was hit low, reportedly destroying his ACL.
Cincinnati can sit pretty at No. 3 knowing that it will have options at anything but quarterback. If the Bengals finish out the season with the third pick, then Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell will be there waiting, giving Burrow a legit force along the offensive line, at least mitigating the odds of a devastating injury happening to the franchise passer in years to come.
No. 4: Dallas Cowboys
Current QB: Andy Dalton
Record and remaining schedule: 3-7; vs. Washington, at Ravens, at Bengals, vs. 49ers, vs. Eagles, at Giants
The Cowboys are going to have to figure out the QB position heading into 2021. Do they bring back Dak Prescott at his asking price even though he’ll be coming off a brutal injury? Do they franchise-tag him for a second time? Do they look elsewhere, like the draft? Dallas has options, but who knows what head coach Mike McCarthy is thinking — and whether he will even be the one to help figure that out.
Jerry Jones and son Stephen have been adamant that Dak Prescott is the future at quarterback with the Cowboys, so it doesn’t look like they’ll select a QB with their top pick in the draft.
But sitting at No. 4 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft order after 11 weeks, Dallas could end up with a quarterback of its choosing — if that’s the route it chooses to go.
No. 5: Washington Football Team
Current QB: Alex Smith
Record and remaining schedule: 3-7; at Cowboys, at Steelers, at 49ers, vs. Seahawks, vs. Panthers, at Eagles
Haskins, Washington’s 2019 first-round pick, is MIA. Coach Ron Rivera turned to Kyle Allen, former Panthers QB, who stunk and then suffered a gruesome ankle injury in Week 9 vs. the Giants. Alex Smith threw three interceptions in that game, but turned it around for a 390-yard performance in Week 10. No touchdowns, though.
Washington has serious issues at quarterback, and the fact that Rivera refuses to play Haskins no matter what is an indictment of either his talent or his maturity — especially because Smith has already been named the starter ahead of the former Buckeye.
Washington will almost certainly be looking toward the future at quarterback in 2021. There will be options in the draft, whether that’s at No. 5 or later remains to be seen.
NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD:
Top 50 players in the 2021 draft class
— No. 6: The Los Angeles Chargers have a Rookie of the Year candidate with Justin Herbert under center. Where they go in the draft is anyone’s guess, but they definitely won’t go quarterback.
— No. 7: Daniel Jones had two turnover-free games the past two weeks for the New York Giants, and they’re 2-0 in those games. That’s unsurprising, really, but his up-and-down play in 2020 might not curry favor with Giants fans — or the organization — moving forward.
— No. 8: The Miami Dolphins sit at No. 8 with the Texans’ first-round pick. Tua Tagovailoa has played well through his first few starts as Dolphins QB. The jury might be still out, but Tua Time looks like its here to stay in South Beach, even with a curious benching in Week 11.
— No. 9: A new quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons? Potentially: They’re likely out of striking distance for either Lawrence or Justin Fields, but between Trey Lance and other signal-callers solidifying first-round status, they could have options.
— No. 10: The Carolina Panthers gave Teddy Bridgewater a ton of money this offseason, and even if Bridgewater is a bridge quarterback for whoever might be the future in Carolina under Matt Rhule, it feels as if the team is a season or two away from figuring out the QB position.