We’ve made it to draft day. Before Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off at 8 p.m. on Thursday night, we wanted to touch on some of the hottest topics, including how many quarterbacks might go in the first round, whether the Bengals will take Penei Sewell or Ja’Marr Chase and which prospects we have our eyes on. Our national NFL writers Tim Graham, Dan Pompei and Mike Sando will be providing roundtable reactions to big moves and events all draft weekend long, and we kick it off below with thoughts on the Broncos’ trade for Teddy Bridgewater.
The Broncos traded a sixth-rounder for Teddy Bridgewater on Wednesday. Do you think that will change their approach to their first-round pick, which was assumed to be a QB?
Tim Graham: A sixth-round pick is not a significant investment. Sacrificing a late-Day 3 selection for a quarterback with 49 NFL starts is good value for an insurance policy in case another team jockeys in front of the Broncos to disrupt their board. With the ninth pick, I can understand why the Broncos would be getting nervous about such a maneuver. If the right quarterback still is available, then I think the Broncos draft him.
Dan Pompei: Most likely, though the fact that the price for Bridgewater was only a sixth-round pick and his contract was reworked means the Broncos still have the flexibility to take a quarterback if the right one falls to them. Bridgewater certainly is a potential starter, as is Drew Lock. It would be difficult to add a rookie and have a three-way competition, unless the idea would be to draft a third quarterback and let him sit and develop. The Broncos might be best served drafting an offensive player who can help make it easier for the two quarterbacks already on their roster.
Sando: I see this as an indication that the Broncos probably will not draft a quarterback at No. 9, under the assumption that both Bridgewater and Drew Lock will be with the team in 2021. The Broncos knew they needed more than just Lock at the position. They also employ a general manager in George Paton who is a true evaluator. I think true evaluators have a harder time reaching for quarterbacks early in a draft. The feeling here is that too many quarterbacks will be off the board by No. 9 for Paton to feel great about using his very first draft selection as a GM for what could be the fourth or fifth quarterback taken. We’ll have to see who’s available.
Give us your final prediction of how many quarterbacks will be taken in the first round.
Graham: There’s a big drop between the fifth- and sixth-best quarterbacks in this year’s class, but those top five are all considered worthy of being drafted early Thursday night. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are the safest predictions of the entire draft. I have no inside information on the rest, but let’s say Mac Jones to San Francisco, Trey Lance to Atlanta and Justin Fields to Denver.
Pompei: Five quarterbacks will go: Lawrence to the Jaguars; Wilson to the Jets; Jones to the 49ers; Fields to the Falcons; Lance to the Eagles.
Sando: I see five going in the first round and could see it being Lawrence (Jaguars), Wilson (Jets), Jones (49ers), Fields (Falcons) and Lance (Bears), but I don’t feel strongly about those last couple of teams. The betting markets have five possibly going among the top 10 picks, but that’s harder than expected to make happen when going through the actual selections one by one. If the Falcons do take a quarterback, which could be a big if, then the action intensifies. I feel as though the Bears can’t go into 2021 with what they have right now. The GM will feel pressure to make a splash to extend his window.