Why Trevor Lawrence May Not Go First in 2021 NFL Draft
The 2021 NFL Draft is going to be front and center in just a few weeks. Unlike past years, there figures to be no uncertainty up top, with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence locked into the first overall pick.
The race for the right to draft Lawrence has been on all year, with teams like the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars seemingly fighting for the worst record in the NFL.
But was it all for naught? Is there logic to not picking Trevor Lawrence, after all?
Probably not, but it’s something that sports bettors at least need to think about. Lawrence is such a massive favorite to be the top pick that betting on him feels like a waste of time.
Bettors hoping for some upside may want to entertain the argument that Trevor Lawrence might not be the top pick.
If you plan on doing any 2021 NFL Draft betting, join me for a quick breakdown of the #1 pick odds, as well as some reasoning for why it’s possible Lawrence doesn’t go first overall.
Odds for Top Pick in 2021 NFL Draft
If you look at the latest odds for the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, this draft choice has already been but decided.
Jacksonville didn’t work hard to go 1-15 and secure this top pick for nothing, after all.
That’s what everyone thinks, anyway, and he’s presently projected as the top pick by major mock drafts.
? UPDATED 2021 MOCK DRAFT ?— PFF (@PFF) January 14, 2021
1. Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence
2. Jets – QB Zach Wilson
3. Dolphins – QB Justin Fields
Full Mock Draft ⬇️
It’s hard to knock the logic of the situation, of course. The Jaguars won one game last year, and usually, when you’re that bad – and don’t already have a franchise quarterback – you go out and get one.
The Jaguars are in position to do that with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and if you ask most draft scouts, Trevor Lawrence is one of the best quarterback prospects ever.
Whether that holds up or not remains to be seen, but the connection between elite passing talent and a dire need for an answer under center seemingly cements Lawrence to Jacksonville.
The #1 pick odds tell that story transparently, with the top NFL betting sites all listing Lawrence as the clear favorite. These -5000 odds don’t offer anything in the way of value, but they do suggest that someone else being picked other than Lawrence isn’t very likely.
Lawrence isn’t exactly alone when it comes to the top pick, though.
Odds aside, Justin Fields still projects by many as a worthwhile challenger, and stud offensive lineman Penei Sewell is a potential building block in the trenches.
Again, the Jaguars are likely to make the logical pick and take Lawrence. But is there any world where they don’t? If there is, bettors will want to know about it.
To assess the likelihood of someone other than Trevor Lawrence going first overall, let’s break down why he might not be the top pick.
Trevor Lawrence Isn’t the Only Elite Prospect
One of the biggest reasons why Trevor Lawrence might not go first overall in the 2021 NFL Draft is the presence of these other elite talents.
If you need a quarterback, you better make sure you get the right one. The Chicago Bears had a chance at Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, and they made the mistake of selecting Mitch Trubisky.
A lot of draft experts ranked and mocked Trubisky ahead of one or both of those passers, though. What does this tell us?
If there’s even a slight possibility of that being the case here, the Jaguars better do their due diligence to make sure that Lawrence is not only the right pick but that the other options aren’t potentially better.
The two options in the running per the top NFL sportsbooks are Fields and Sewell.
They stand out, as Fields is probably the only quarterback that really rivals Lawrence. Heck, some think there is a legit case that he’s the best quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.
In the event the Jags decide against taking a quarterback, Sewell appears to be a franchise tackle that could be a big piece to Jacksonville’s puzzle.
While these are the two most likely contenders to dethrone Lawrence, bettors need to at least think about guys like Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Ja’Marr Chase, and DeVonta Smith.
Wide receivers don’t go first overall, so we can probably forget about Chase and Smith. But every single team views quarterbacks differently.
Along with Fields and Lawrence, bettors should agree that it’s at least possible that guys like Wilson or Lance could be held in high regard by the decision-makers in Florida.
The Jaguars Just Hired Urban Meyer
This is undeniably the biggest reason why Trevor Lawrence to Jacksonville isn’t quite as much of a lock as the latest #1 pick odds suggest.
It still feels like a slam dunk, but that was probably before the Jaguars hired Urban Meyer as their new head coach.
Jaguars hire Urban Meyer as new head coach. pic.twitter.com/okK6t7vrFI— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2021
Meyer makes the jump to the pros for the first time ever, after years of dominance at Florida and Ohio State. The title-winning college legend has the opportunity to kick off his first NFL season with an elite quarterback prospect, and with the top pick, he has his pick of the litter.
Lawrence obviously stands out as the top passing prospect, and even Meyer himself ranked him as the top thrower in college football before last season began.
But Meyer admittedly did so by a slim margin, citing more experience as the main gap between Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Since then, Fields has closed that gap, gaining vital experience, and for the most part, quelling concerns about his ability as a passer and decision-making going into the pros.
Meyer’s ties to Ohio State are obvious. He coached there for seven seasons and recruited the dynamic Fields in his final season in 2018.
With that clear connection and the improvement of Fields, is it silly to think Meyers would bypass Lawrence and take “his guy” first overall? No, and it actually might be silly to dismiss that as a real possibility.
NFL Draft Surprises Happen All the Time
It’d be a little weird for the Jaguars to select a non-quarterback. And yes, Trevor Lawrence does seem to be the best overall quarterback prospect, so taking anyone other than the Clemson star at all could be seen as a mistake.
But NFL Draft surprises really do happen quite a bit.
Just look at the 2019 NFL Draft. Once the moment arrived, nobody was shocked to see the Arizona Cardinals take Kyler Murray first overall, but before draft season rolled around, the #1 pick was 100% in doubt.
Instead, it had been Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa that felt like the obvious call with the top pick.
But once you began connecting the dots between Murray and former coach Kliff Kingsbury, the surprising move wasn’t so surprising in the end.
The year before, Cleveland made Baker Mayfield the first overall pick. In a draft class featuring Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Bradley Chubb, and Saquon Barkley, this was an understandable surprise to many.
Usually, a top pick with odds like this is a total lock. But what if the Jaguars are primed to deliver one of the most shocking NFL Draft picks we’ve ever seen?
I’m not here to tell you Trevor Lawrence won’t be the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. By most accounts, he really is the best quarterback prospect in this draft class.
Jacksonville needs a franchise passer, so if you’re looking for the perfect spot to drop the classic “don’t get cute” line, this is it.
But you can’t ignore the allure of the odds for Fields, especially when he is himself an elite quarterback prospect. And the interest is only enhanced when you look at the clear ties between him and Meyer.
That would be a bold move by Meyer, potentially surpassing the next Andrew Luck just to get “his guy.”
So far, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest he actually will. But with Fields coming in at an appealing +1200, it’s a flier bet anyone betting on the 2021 NFL Draft probably needs to consider.
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