AP Photo/David Dermer
The teams that lost during Wild Card Weekend surely won’t take much solace in it, but the one silver lining is an improved draft position as they turn their attention toward the future.
The first 18 picks were already decided by the regular-season standings, but the remaining selections will be locked in as the playoffs unfold.
With that in mind, here is a look at the updated draft order following the Los Angeles Rams’ win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.
While the final eight choices could change depending on outcomes, the current order is courtesy of Tankathon.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Detroit Lions
3. Houston Texans
4. New York Jets
5. New York Giants
6. Carolina Panthers
7. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears)
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Denver Broncos
10. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks)
11. Washington Football Team
12. Minnesota Vikings
13. Cleveland Browns
14. Baltimore Ravens
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins)
16. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts)
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. New Orleans Saints
19. Philadelphia Eagles
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. New England Patriots
22. Las Vegas Raiders
23. Arizona Cardinals
24. Dallas Cowboys
25. Cincinnati Bengals
26. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers)
27. Buffalo Bills
28. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams)
29. Kansas City Chiefs
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
31. Tennessee Titans
32. Green Bay Packers
One of the biggest question marks for any draft is how many quarterbacks will be taken in the first round, especially after so many were selected in the early going last year.
In fact, five of the first 15 picks were signal-callers in 2021, including the first three. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Alabama’s Mac Jones all heard their names called in those opening 15 picks and could be the franchise quarterbacks for their respective teams for years to come if they live up to their potential.
There may not be that many taken this year from a quarterback class that is considered comparatively weak, although the nature and overall importance of the position often convinces teams to take chances on prospects they otherwise wouldn’t in different areas of the depth chart.
B/R NFL Scouting Department’s post-regular-season mock draft underscored this reality with just two quarterbacks going in the first round: Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder (No. 9 overall) and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett (No. 11 overall).
While Ridder helped the Bearcats become the first Group of Five school to make the College Football Playoff and Pickett led the Panthers to an ACC championship, even they aren’t considered surefire top prospects like Lawrence and Joe Burrow have been in recent years.
That could open the door for other positions to dominate on the first day of the draft, which is good news for teams that need pass-rushers and wide receivers.
B/R NFL Scouting Department’s draft has Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux (No. 2), Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson (No. 3) and Purdue’s George Karlaftis (No. 4) as three pass-rushers going in the top five alone, which could give some of the league’s worst teams the opportunity to bolster their future defenses by addressing one of the most important areas on the field.
As for the pass-catchers, USC’s Drake London (No. 8), Ohio State’s Chris Olave (No. 13), Alabama’s Jameson Williams (No. 17), Penn State’s Jahan Dotson (No. 18), Arkansas’ Treylon Burks (No. 21) and Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson (No. 27) are six wide receivers who could hear their names called in the first round.
The 2021 draft, like so many others, was defined by its quarterbacks in the first round.
This year’s could be characterized by the players pursuing the quarterbacks and catching passes from them.