The Tank for Trevor sweepstakes is in full gear.
According to many, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is the most polished, NFL-ready quarterback the league has seen since Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, leaving teams at the top of the draft order ready to go all out to secure that top pick. To that end, the 2020 NFL season has produced minimal surprises regarding who is at the top, with the team that lands the No. 1 overall pick likely choosing the Tigers’ young-buck passer.
The Jets are elite when it comes to being awful: Currently in the lead for that No. 1 pick, they have looked wildly non-competitive, resulting in an 0-8 record and a real opportunity at a winless season and the rights to Lawrence. Hot on their tail are the 1-7 Jaguars, who have jumped back into the mix for No. 1 after being the early favorites to get Lawrence.
Both the Jets and Jaguars have very difficult schedules remaining, with few winnable games left on either slate. While results are uncertain, one thing is for sure: Whoever ends up with the No. 1 overall pick is going to be crowned le champion of the Tank for Trevor sweepstakes, and while a lot of what Lawrence will be in the NFL is a projection, teams at a crossroads shouldn’t fear the rebuild with the Clemson wunderkind under center.
The race is definitely getting tight at the top, but with eight weeks remaining in the regular season, there’s still room for two-win teams to “sneak” back into it — so long as New York and Jacksonville learn how to win some games.
Here’s the current top-10 order for the 2021 NFL Draft, and a little bit on each team therein:
NFL Draft order 2021
The current top 10 picks for the 2021 NFL Draft are as follows, courtesy of Tankathon (updated Sunday, Nov. 8):
|1||New York Jets||0-8||.585|
|4||New York Giants||2-7||.511|
|5||Washington Football Team||2-6||.466|
|6||Los Angeles Chargers||2-6||.508|
|7||Miami Dolphins (via Houston)||2-6||.562|
|8||New England Patriots||2-5||.530|
No. 1: New York Jets
Current QB: Sam Darnold
Questionable coaching, roster-limiting injuries and mediocre quarterback play have all led to a nasty 0-8 record. While there was a little reason for optimism heading into Year 3 of the Darnold era, the USC product has been hampered by a patchwork receiving corps and coach Adam Gase, who looks like he’s on his way out of New York. Whether that’s during the season or following it remains to be seen. Unfortunately for the Jets and their fans, it’s apparent that Darnold has gone from franchise savior to one-winged angel.
If the Jets end up with the No. 1 overall pick — a very real possibility, at least at this point in the season — there’s a good chance that they will move on from Darnold and turn to Lawrence. Drafting Lawrence would once again reset the Jets’ clock on a rebuild, give a potential new head coach a moldable prospect and give the Jets a controllable, affordable contract at QB.
Though, with so much football left to play, wait for the Jets to find a way to blow it. Per usual.
No. 2: Jacksonville Jaguars
Current QB: Jake Luton (Gardner Minshew injured)
The early favorites to secure Lawrence’s services have crashed New York’s private party thanks to their nosedive following a surprising Week 1 win over the Colts.
While Minshew’s mercurial play is exciting to watch, there’s still a question of whether he’s the franchise’s passer of the future. Jacksonville’s very difficult remaining schedule doesn’t paint a rosy picture when it comes to wins, so Jags fans should get ready for a top-three pick if things continue play out the way they have in the first half of the season.
Things became more challenging in Week 9 when Jacksonville faced fellow one-win team Houston without Minshew. The Jags turned to Luton, a rookie sixth-round draft pick who played surprisingly well in his first career start. The Jags and Texans played to the final whistle, with Jacksonville just a two-point conversion away from tying the game. Still, the Jaguars were handed the loss, leaving the door open in the jostling for the Clemson Tiger.
No. 3: Dallas Cowboys
Current QB: Garrett Gilbert
The Cowboys are going to have to figure out the QB position heading into 2021. Do they bring back Dak Prescott at his asking price even though he’ll be coming off a brutal injury? Do they franchise-tag him for a second time? Do they look elsewhere, like the draft? Dallas has options, but who knows what head coach Mike McCarthy is thinking — and if he will even be the one to help figure that out.
The Cowboys also lost Andy Dalton to a concussion on a brutal hit to the head in Week 7, but Dalton wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire in three starts. If the drama and inconsistency continues, Dallas’ record will be in the tank along with their playoff hopes at the end of the season.
Sitting at No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft order after nine weeks, Dallas could end up with a quarterback of its choosing — if that’s the route it chooses to go.
No. 4: New York Giants
Current QB: Daniel Jones
The proud and powerful Giants have played a little better than their record indicates, but Jones’ turnover issues are at the forefront of Big Blue’s offensive woes. Jones has thrown nine interceptions and lost four fumbles through nine games this year, including a game-sealing pick vs. the Rams in Week 4, a game-ending fumble vs. the Eagles in Week 7 and a pair of back-breaking INTs in a Week 8 loss to the Bucs.
Jones has seemingly taken a step back under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, although a fair amount of his non-success in 2020 can be attributed to a less-than-good offensive line and questionable skill position cast. If he can’t get the turnover issues figured out, then Jones’ third year in the league might be for a different team.
Still, in a hapless NFC East and with a surprise win here or there, the Giants will likely take themselves out of the Tank for Trevor sweepstakes, giving New York and Jones another year to figure out which way he’s going as a QB. They took care of the Washington Football Team in Week 9, holding on for a close win. If the Giants can continue to close out games, then they’ll be just fine.
No. 5: Washington Football Team
Current QB: Alex Smith
Haskins, Washington’s 2019 first-round pick, is MIA. Coach Ron Rivera turned to Kyle Allen, former Panthers QB, who stunk and then suffered a gruesome ankle injury in Week 9 vs. the Giants. Alex Smith threw three interceptions in that game.
Washington has serious issues at quarterback, and the fact Rivera refuses to play Haskins no matter what is an indictment of either his talent or his maturity — especially since Smith has already been named the starter ahead of Haskins.
Washington will almost certainly be looking toward the future at quarterback in 2021. There may not be options, but it will be looking.
NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD:
Top 50 players in the 2021 draft class
— No. 6: The Los Angeles Chargers look to have their passer of the future in Justin Herbert. While there are no moral victories in the NFL, LA can take solace in knowing Herbert is legit, especially after his monster game and win in Week 7.
— No. 7: The Miami Dolphins sit at No. 7 with the Texans’ first-round pick. Tua Tagovailoa played extremely well in his second NFL start in Week 9, and while the jury might still be out, the Fins will likely decide that Tua is the future in South Beach.
— No. 8: Is anyone else shocked to see the New England Patriots this high in the draft order? Bill Belichick will have to decide on a franchise passer moving forward. At this point, it doesn’t look as if that will be Cam Newton given how he has played in recent weeks and with the Patriots falling to 2-5.
— No. 9: Joe Burrow was selected No. 1 overall in 2020 for a reason, and it’s because he’s very, very good. The Cincinnati Bengals will be sitting pretty with a great pick and also knowing that Burrow is the real deal.
— No. 10: The Carolina Panthers gave Teddy Bridgewater a ton of money this offseason, and even if Bridgewater is a bridge quarterback for whoever might be the future in Carolina under Matt Rhule, it feels as if the team is a season or two away from figuring out the QB position.