A few big draft trades just went down. The 49ers moved up to the #3 pick while the Dolphins moved down to San Francisco’s #12 spot. But then the Dolphins turned around and traded the #12 pick to Philly for the #6 pick, so overall Miami only moved back three spots. Obviously there were other future draft picks and assets included in the trades, but we’re just focused on the immediate implications for this draft.
This is the new draft order:
There are lot of ramifications here:
- The 49ers are almost certainly going to draft a quarterback.
- Which quarterback? Well, we should assume they probably tried to trade up to the Jets’ #2 pick and were turned down, which would tell us the Jets are probably going to draft Zach Wilson at #2. So the 49ers will end up with either Justin Fields or Trey Lance. I’d assume they’ll go with Fields.
- I love this move if indeed the 49ers draft Fields. San Fran has said they’re not trading Garoppolo, and nobody believes them, but I could actually see them keeping Garoppolo for a season while letting Fields develop behind him. Most draft analysts and scouts believe Fields is highly talented but raw and needs to be built up. San Fran has the ability to do that. Kyle Shanahan will work wonders with Justin Fields. I love the idea of Justin Fields in San Fran.
- The Dolphins are officially locked in to Tua. People were thinking they might use the #3 pick as a mulligan and go QB, but that’s not going to be the case. They do not want a QB; Tua is their QB of the future. It’s confirmed.
- The Dolphins will have some great options with the #6 pick. You have to assume the first three picks are going to be QBs, and Atlanta could even go QB at #4. I think Atlanta is more likely to draft Fields at 4 than Lance, because Fields is from Atlanta and I think Fields is better than Lance. So if the 49ers go for Lance, I don’t think the Falcons will be able to pass on Fields. However, if the 49ers pick Fields–and I expect them to–then it’s not a guarantee the Falcons will spring for Lance at 4. I just don’t think they’re desperate enough for a QB to spend the 4th pick on Trey Lance. I suspect they’d see Fields as a way better value at #4 than Lance. I could be completely wrong though.
- Atlanta could also opt to not go for a QB at #4 of course. Matt Ryan is only 35 and I think he’s still pretty good. If Atlanta is not completely head-over-heels in love with Fields or Lance, then they may opt to upgrade their roster instead of drafting the QB of the future. They could go Penei Sewell or Kyle Pitts. Atlanta’s main weakness last year was pass defense, though, and the top 8 or so picks of this draft are projected to be offense. Maybe even the top 9. So I could see Atlanta possibly trading down to Denver’s 9th pick to take either Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain. I don’t know though. Atlanta is a total wild-card. I think they could go QB, Sewell, Pitts or trade down to 9 and go cornerback.
- But let’s assume the first four picks are QBs. It’s more fun that way. Plus, San Fran must’ve been worried that Atlanta was eyeing a QB because San Fran felt compelled to move ahead of Atlanta. That’s an underrated aspect to all of this, too and it strengthens my belief that Atlanta is looking to go QB here.
- Now, Cincy will have the pick of the litter of all the remaining players. Which is great news for them since they already have Burrow. If the first four picks are QBs, then Cincy effectively has the #1 pick in terms of their own roster needs. They can take anyone they want now. Do they go Sewell to lock in some protection for Burrow? Do they take Kyle Pitts, who in my view is the best overall football talent in the draft? Or do they go for Jamarr Chase and reunite him with Burrow? The smart pick is Sewell, because protecting your QB is extremely important. Even if the Falcons take Sewell, I could see Cincy going for Rashawn Slater, the offensive lineman from Northwestern. It is of paramount importance to protect Joe Burrow. He’s already suffered a torn ACL and was getting hit left and right last year.
- Then, assuming the first four picks are QBs and Cincy goes Sewell, the Dolphins would then have their pick of the litter for the rest of the draft. Even if Atlanta takes Sewell, I think Cincy will go Slater. So either way, the Dolphins can take any skill player they want. They have clearly committed to Tua, so I have to imagine they’re going to go out and get him a skill player. Kyle Pitts or Jamarr Chase, probably.
- Wow, the more I think about this, Dolphins made a really, really smart move. Once they decided they were committing to Tua, they then realized that trading the #3 pick was a necessity. So they traded it to San Fran. Then, they took the excess assets they got from trading back to #12 to move up to #6. Once they committed to Tua, they then began targeting either Pitts or Chase, and now they’ll probably be able to get either one, only at pick 6 instead of pick 3. They really masterminded this with the double-trade. Huge props to Miami. Instead of drafting Pitts/Chase at #3, they will be able to draft Pitts/Chase at #6 and they got assets from San Francisco. This was a galaxy-brain move by the Dolphins. They were thinking 3 steps ahead here. Chess grandmaster-level move by the Dolphins.
- The Eagles really did well here. They got an extra first round pick for 2022, and they could have a third first round pick if the pick they got from the Colts turns into a first-rounder. However, I will say that I think this year’s is a really good draft. This is not the draft I’d want to trade down in, personally.
- If the Eagles conclude that Hurts isn’t working for them after this season, then they’re going to be choosing between UNC QB Sam Howell and Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler. Blehhhh. Is anybody excited about either of those guys? I don’t think either one would crack the top-5 QB draft prospects this year.
Really interesting development in the NFL.
So here’s the full recap of the trades, netted out:
- San Francisco receives: #3 overall pick in 2021.
- Miami receives: #6 pick in 2021, San Fran’s 2021 third round pick, San Fran’s 2023 first round pick.
- Philadelphia receives: #12 overall pick in 2021, San Fran’s 2022 first round pick.
I can’t applaud Miami enough for their wheeling and dealing here. They’re going to get the guy they always wanted (Pitts or Chase) at #6, but also snagged an extra third round pick this year, plus San Fran’s 2023 first-round pick. Incredible move by the Dolphins.
After the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford, I wrote that the pressure was suddenly on the 49ers to upgrade at quarterback because Jimmy G was now the worst QB in the NFC West. You cannot hope to win a Super Bowl with the worst QB in your division. It’s just not realistic. I wrote that the 49ers had to go all-in in pursuit of a trade for DeShaun Watson.
Well, maybe the 49ers were trying to trade for Watson this whole offseason. I don’t know for sure, but I’m reasonably certain they were trying. But after all the lawsuits started flying at Watson, I’ll bet the 49ers turned their attention to trading up in the draft, culminating in this move.