Michael Bagley '21
After the shocking Super Bowl LV that left many fans unhappy, the next big event for football fans is the NFL Draft. This year will be one to remember, as the draft class is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. The obvious #1 overall pick is Trevor Lawrence, a senior from Clemson University. While this should be a great pick for the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars, as one of their missing pieces in their offense is an elite quarterback, it may be a disappointment to Gardner Minsew fans. Unfortunately for them, Trevor’s arrival will mean the end of the Gardner Minshew Experience
The second ranked quarterback named as a lottery pick is Ohio State’s Justin Fields. It only makes sense for the New York Jets to select him with the #2 overall pick, but it does leave them with a bit of a dilemma. Do they give up on QB Sam Darnold, or give up the possible chance to get a franchise quarterback in Fields? Do they give Darnold time to mature as a leader for their organization? Only time will tell.
The third and final quarterback in the draft’s top five is Zach Wilson, a senior from Brigham Young University. Coming off a stellar season, Wilson flashed elite skills but off-the-field injury issues threaten his draft stock. He is projected to go 4th overall to the Atlanta Falcons, who have one of the worst cap situations in the NFL. This could mean moving Matt Ryan around to make room for future talent, or making other changes to create space.
Next is offensive tackle Penei Sewell from the University of Oregon, who is projected to go to the Cincinnati Bengals. What a great last two years for the Bengals front office. With a decent chance he'll be available at the #5 spot, Penei Sewell would be a dream come true for future franchise QB Joe Burrow. Just as a frame of reference, Sewell was the runner-up in the Heisman trophy voting to his possible future teammate, Joe Burrow. He allowed no sacks over the 926 snaps he played in 2019, and only one sack over 1,376 career snaps.
Last on the top 5 is a toss-up between WR Devonta Smith from Alabama, and WR Ja’Marr Chase from LSU. Smith, the 2021 Heisman winner, had an outstanding year with the Crimson Tide, and many project him to make a similar impact in the league. Ja’Marr Chase however, a junior at LSU, is not as highly decorated as Smith. Still, the young standout has shown streaks of greatness in his three years at LSU, winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award as most outstanding wide receiver in college football as a sophomore. Either one could go to the Dolphins at #3, or the Eagles at #6, but no matter where these two land, a large offensive boost is expected in coming years.
As for the hometown team, the Minnesota Vikings are in dire need of interior defensive linemen to stuff running backs, and interior offensive linemen to better protect veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins. We are projected to pick talented offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, a 21-year-old junior from University of Southern California. Finishing his college career with an impressive season, Alijah can play anywhere on the line, which makes him an extremely unique and flexible player. That being said, it's up to the Vikings’ front office to pick a player like Vera-Tucker, or draft another five cornerbacks in two rounds that will be out of the league in the next three years. The choice is theirs.