There is an incredible amount of certainty at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft. Trevor Lawrence will be a Jacksonville Jaguar, and barring something unforeseen, Zach Wilson looks to be headed to the New York Jets.
However, after QB1 and QB2, there are loads of questions. Which of the three remaining top-end quarterback talents will the 49ers draft? Will the Falcons address their future or give their current roster one last crack at a Super Bowl run? Many believe the 2021 Draft starts after Atlanta at pick number four, but I believe the draft starts with the Falcons, and that’s why I see value on Ja’Marr Chase as the first non-quarterback to be selected on Thursday.
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Mock Draft Love For Kyle Pitts Has Created Opportunity to Bet on Ja’Marr Chase
The majority of mock drafts have Kyle Pitts penciled to Atlanta at pick number four, and because the potential selection of the Florida tight end has become almost second-nature to mock draft readers and bettors, Pitts sits at -150 to be the first non-quarterback off the board. Atlanta’s selection is far from a foregone conclusion, and the notion that the fourth overall pick is already signed, sealed, and delivered has created some value on Ja’Marr Chase.
Chase, the former standout LSU wide receiver, is +250 to be the first non-quarterback taken in the Draft, and I think those odds are far too strong to pass up. There is way too much uncertainty around the 49ers selection at pick number three, which creates a ton of potential scenarios for the outcome at pick number four, and only one of those potential scenarios involves Pitts being drafted before Chase.
Atlanta Could Trade the Fourth Overall Selection
According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, San Francisco has ruled out Justin Fields at pick number three and is focused on either Trey Lance or Mac Jones.
From NFL Now: The #49ers are down to two. What now for SF as they pick between Mac Jones and Trey Lance. pic.twitter.com/KJMS3gPR0F
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 26, 2021
Many scouts, writers, and reporters around the league view Fields as not just the third-best quarterback in this year’s crop of signal-callers but as the second-best. If many in the media feel strongly about Fields, there are certainly NFL front offices who feel the same. If he’s on the board at pick four, the Falcons can expect an influx of calls from teams looking to acquire the fourth overall pick to select Fields.
I've always felt the #49ers were going to take Trey Lance at no.3 overall. Recent buzz backs that up, so much so odds makers have changed. What's interesting to note is this plays into #Broncos hands if that's the case. Moving up for Fields should be their plan. @1043TheFan 1of?
— Cecil Lammey (@CecilLammey) April 26, 2021
The Broncos, Patriots, Bears, Panthers, and Washington all have a need at quarterback, so there will be no shortage of potential trade partners for Atlanta.
If the Falcons trade down, four quarterbacks will be taken with the top four selections in the draft, leaving the Cincinnati Bengals with their pick of the litter at five. Obviously, the Bengals don’t need a quarterback after taking Joe Burrow first overall in 2020, so in this scenario, our bet hinges on who they pick.
There hasn’t been a ton of smoke connecting Pitts to Cincinnati, but there has been a bevy of rumors linking Chase to Cincinnati. Remember, Chase and Burrow were teammates and won a National Championship together at LSU in a season where they connected for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. The pre-existing rapport between the two could sway the Bengals into making him the fifth overall pick.
The Falcons May Opt to Build Towards the Future
If Atlanta doesn’t trade out of the fourth spot, they theoretically could draft a quarterback themselves. Matt Ryan will be 36 at the start of next season, and trade rumors have been swirling around Julio Jones over the last few days. Atlanta also has a brand new head coach and GM, and both could be inclined to start filling the roster with “their guys,” the most important of which could be a quarterback.
Again, this would mean the first four players taken are all signal-callers, and the Bengals would be on the clock with Ja’Marr Chase staring them right in the face. The Bengals ran three-receiver sets nearly 80% of the time in 2020 – when Burrow was healthy -, and after the departure of A.J. Green, the team has a clear need for a number-one-type wide receiver. As good as Kyle Pitts is, Chase fits what the Bengals want to do much more seamlessly.
The Pick: First Non-Quarterback Drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft – Ja’Marr Chase (+250)
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Mike Wagenman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @mjwags23.
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