January 27, 2021

Dallas suddenly in tricky spot at 4 overall

Dallas suddenly in tricky spot at 4 overall

Every week until the final 2021 NFL draft order is set, we’ll take a look at how the top five picks are shaping up — and provide a mini-mock draft. Think of it as a snapshot of how the top of the draft is looking.

The top two spots in the draft remain the same from last week’s order, but there are noticeable changes thereafter. The Cincinnati Bengals make the biggest jump, from No. 7 in the draft order last week to No. 3 overall this week, in what has been a tough week for the franchise.

Joe Burrow’s season-ending knee injury will be an offseason story because of the extensive structural damage that was done, leaving his timetable up in the air. If they don’t make significant upgrades to the offensive line, it will be an unforgivable offense.

The Washington Football Team drops from three to five, and the Los Angeles Chargers dropped a spot, from five to six, followed by the New York Giants at 7. The Miami Dolphins own the Houston Texans’ first-rounder, and that pick lowered in value temporarily, sliding down three spots to No. 9 overall.

Filling out the top 10 as it stands now are the 3-7 Atlanta Falcons at No. 8 and the 4-7 Carolina Panthers at 10. A slew of 4-6 franchises — Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos — remain in the top-10 picture.

A quick look at how the top five picks of the 2021 NFL draft are shaping up entering Week 12. (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

1. New York Jets (0-10)

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence

Lawrence hasn’t played in more than a month but should suit up Saturday. Sam Darnold is closing in on a month since his last game, and there’s now a question of whether Joe Flacco’s respectable play the past few games hurt Darnold’s potential trade value.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9)

Ohio State QB Justin Fields

The Jags are now on their third starting quarterback of the season with Mike Glennon expected to take over this weekend. They haven’t won since the opener, and COVID has done a number on their roster. Not much can derail a top-two draft spot at this point.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7-1)

Oregon OT Penei Sewell

Ah, Cincy, we missed you in the top five. Burrow’s injury was a massive blow, but at least the Bengals are in range to nab the best left tackle in the draft. (Even though they’ll need more after that, too.)

4. Dallas Cowboys (3-7)

Penn State LB Micah Parsons

More disappointing 2020 season: Dallas or Penn State? Maybe Parsons can help solve some of the Cowboys problems? This is a tough call with how the board lays out. He’s also a gifted pass rusher who would give a layer of insurance alongside Leighton Vander Esch, who has battled injuries, and Jaylon Smith, who has been inconsistent.

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons could be in play for Dallas if they pick fourth in the 2021 NFL draft. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons could be in play for Dallas if they pick fourth in the 2021 NFL draft. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

The Cowboys have invested some serious assets into its linebackers (but with mixed returns), though we don’t believe they’d have pause drafting Parsons — who opted out this season — after using a high second-round pick on Smith knowing he wouldn’t play a snap as a rookie in 2016.

Taking a cornerback here is an option, and a trade down also can’t be ruled out.

5. Washington Football Team (3-7)

BYU QB Zach Wilson

We’re still putting Wilson here ahead of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. It’s not really a question in our mind that this is how it should go, but you could argue that bringing back Alex Smith could give the franchise a similar setup with Lance to how the Chiefs handled Patrick Mahomes.

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