Sometimes, the identity of the next NFL Draft #1 pick is an open question. While the honor will, as often as not, go to the best quarterback coming out of the college system, sometimes the team picking at that spot doesn’t need a QB, and has a glaring need elsewhere that can only be fixed by a plug-and-play future Hall of Famer. Hence in 2017 the Browns picking Myles Garrett to address their shoddy defensive line, or Jadeveon Clowney rocking up in Houston to fill a similar gap for the Texans four years earlier.
It doesn’t seem as though that four-year cycle will be repeated this time around, though. Although 2021 is still a while away, it’s hard to see anyone other than Clemson product Trevor Lawrence standing in front of the assembled media (or a Zoom call, depending) holding up a jersey with the number 1 on it. Week One of next season, Lawrence will be under center for an NFL ball club as the hottest prospect in the league. But which club?
New York Jets
There can be no doubting it, the Jets are rotten to the core this season and could have the top pick in ‘21. Having drafted Sam Darnold in 2018 they shouldn’t be shopping for a QB again so soon, but the one-year inking of Joe Flacco is testament to their lukewarm commitment to Darnold. They’ll need to work on their receiving corps through free agency ahead of next April if they are to prepare the ground for Lawrence’s potential arrival; both Darnold and Flacco have struggled this season, but any passer would among the mediocrity that is the Jets’ offense.
Like the Jets, Atlanta have got off to a poor start to the season and would be in a position to select a QB. Matt Ryan will be 36 when next season kicks off, and though he can still ball, he won’t be there forever. The presence of daily fantasy sports picks Todd Gurley and Julio Jones among others means that Lawrence could hit the ground running and the turnaround time here would be less than if he were playing in Kelly green. Lawrence might not turn them into a winning side immediately, but the Falcons could make use of him.
Washington Football Team
The team playing in the nation’s capital will have a new name next season, and with the defeats piling up (despite a soft schedule) they could have their pick of new quarterbacks to start the new era. They picked Dwayne Haskins to lead their offence just last year, but the former Ohio State triggerman has been benched due to coaches’ concerns over his work ethic. It’s anyone’s guess who’ll finish out the season as starter in Washington, but if they continue to be as bad as they have been, they may yet find themselves with a shot at Lawrence, thirty years after their last Super Bowl appearance.
There are teams worse than the above who could yet end up with the #1 pick, but it’s safe to say the Bengals will give Joe Burrow a while longer to make the QB job his, and the Chargers likewise with Justin Herbert. With a few months to go until the season is over, another team could easily end up picking Lawrence; but the three above are clubs who need him and have a realistic chance of being in place to pick him.