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NFL mock draft: Where the first-round QBs will land after the 49ers traded up

Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson could be drafted by the New York Jets with the second pick. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
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The San Francisco 49ers’ trade to acquire the third pick of the 2021 NFL draft raises some fascinating possibilities.

Most likely, the 49ers moved up to take a quarterback. That could lead to three quarterbacks being drafted in the first three picks, which has happened only twice in NFL history. If the Atlanta Falcons then take a quarterback with the fourth selection or another team trades up to do so, the NFL would have four quarterbacks go in the first four picks — which has never happened.

The timing of the trade was fitting, as it took place Friday when Zach Wilson was holding his pro day workout. The Brigham Young quarterback is increasingly being projected as the second pick by the New York Jets, which could mean the 49ers’ choice comes down to Alabama’s Mac Jones or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

Quarterbacks occupying the top few picks will have a trickle-down effect. Let’s take a look at how the first round could shake out with our latest mock draft:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

New coach Urban Meyer acknowledged this week the likelihood that the Jaguars would make Lawrence the top pick, which has been what everyone has been assuming since Jacksonville locked up the No. 1 selection. Lawrence is one of the highest-rated quarterbacks to enter the pros in years.

2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, Brigham Young

Wilson’s strong workout Friday came pretty close to locking him in as the Jets’ selection at No. 2. Rumors started leaking out after the workout that Sam Darnold might be available in a trade. The Jets probably would need to be willing to accept less than a first-rounder for Darnold in a trade — the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos are two possibilities — given that the acquiring team might not pick up Darnold’s fifth-year option. Wilson would give them the chance to start over with a top talent at the position.

3. San Francisco 49ers: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

Late last season, 49ers Coach Kyle Shanahan said he liked the Kansas City Chiefs’ plan of developing a quarterback that they used in drafting Patrick Mahomes and having him sit behind starter Alex Smith for a year. If they were to replicate that model with Jimmy Garoppolo, whom they said after the trade is still their starter for this year, the most logical selection is Lance. He only played one game last year and faced a lower level of competition in college but has great physical tools and upside. Mac Jones is the most NFL-ready of this year’s quarterbacks after Lawrence and should be under consideration as well.

4. Atlanta Falcons: T Penei Sewell, Oregon

The Falcons could take quarterback Justin Fields, but they still appear to be leaning toward taking a position player to help build around Matt Ryan. Sewell, the best blocker in the draft, can come in as a rookie and start at guard, then move to tackle next year.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

Sewell would make sense here if he falls to the Bengals, but if not, Pitts, who despite being a tight end could be the best pass-catcher in the draft, is a great option.

6. Miami Dolphins: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

The Dolphins didn’t mind trading down from the third pick to the 12th because it got them first-rounders in 2022 and 2023, and then they promptly sent their 2022 first-rounder to the Eagles to move back up six spots in this year’s order. Presumably, that was to land one of the top pass-catchers in this year’s draft to help second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Chase is a dynamic, big target who would pair well opposite Will Fuller V, the speedster who signed in free agency.

7. Detroit Lions: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

There might only end up being two defensive players among the first 12 selections, and Parsons has the chance to be one of them. He has the range and speed to be a playmaker on defense. The Lions could consider Justin Fields here, but they seem intent on going with Jared Goff at quarterback this year.

8. Carolina Panthers: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Owner David Tepper is willing to give up just about anything to upgrade at quarterback. His preference is Deshaun Watson, but the Houston Texans say they aren’t trading him, and it remains to be seen what will happen with his legal situation. The Panthers are a candidate to trade up and draft a passer, but in this scenario Fields drops to them.

9. Denver Broncos: OL Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

The Broncos could consider Mac Jones in this scenario if they can’t get a veteran quarterback before the draft. But they also have the luxury of taking the best player available after restocking their defense in free agency, and Slater qualifies.

10. Dallas Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

With Caleb Farley having a back procedure, Surtain became the clear-cut top cornerback in the draft. And the Cowboys need to improve their pass coverage.

11. New York Giants: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Southern California

General Manager Dave Gettleman is looking for good players along his offensive and defensive lines, and Vera-Tucker would help make up for the loss of guard Kevin Zeitler, who was cut this offseason. He has been rising up draft boards after a good pro day workout.

12. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

The Eagles didn’t mind moving back in the first round, knowing they are rebuilding and could have as many as three first-round picks in next year’s draft. Horn is a physical cornerback who is great in man-to-man coverage. Philadelphia could also draft a wide receiver here to help second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts.

13. Los Angles Chargers: T Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

The Chargers needed to fix their offensive line in front of second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, and they did well in free agency by signing Corey Linsley at center and adding the second-best available guard in Matt Feiler. Darrisaw would complete the overhaul.

14. Minnesota Vikings: DE Kwity Paye, Michigan

The Vikings have done well on defense by getting cornerback Patrick Peterson and tackle Dalvin Tomlinson in free agency, and the next move should be to address the pass rush. Paye is a great athlete and could develop opposite Danielle Hunter.

15. New England Patriots: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

Jones could go as high as No. 3, and for the Patriots to land him they might need to trade up. They are in position to do so after Bill Belichick filled many roster holes in free agency. Jones would be a good fit to develop behind starter Cam Newton, given his experience in the pro-style offense Nick Saban runs at Alabama.

16. Arizona Cardinals: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

Even after signing Malcolm Butler last week, the Cardinals still need help at cornerback following Peterson’s departure. Farley is one of the best cornerbacks in the draft and a great value at this spot.

17. Las Vegas Raiders: WR Devonta Smith, Alabama

The Raiders will be looking for a defensive lineman or an offensive lineman, but there is no way they pass on a pass-catcher as good as Smith if he falls this far.

18. Miami Dolphins: DE Jayson Oweh, Penn State

Miami traded Shaq Lawson, so edge rusher is a need. This would be a good spot for Oweh, who has great physical ability, to develop.

19. Washington Football Team: T Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

Washington has addressed its offense in free agency, signing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receivers Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries. It could bolster its line with Jenkins, who is an excellent run blocker.

20. Chicago Bears: CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

The Bears had to cut cornerback Kyle Fuller to stay under the salary cap. Newsome gives them a cornerback they can plug and play right away.

21. Indianapolis Colts: T Samuel Cosmi, Texas

The Colts are looking for a replacement for retired left tackle Anthony Castonzo. They signed Sam Tevi but gave him backup money on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Cosmi is 6-7, 309 pounds and a very good pass-blocker.

22. Tennessee Titans: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

The Titans lost Humphries and Corey Davis, so wide receiver is one of their biggest needs. Waddle has great speed and quickness and could be drafted much earlier than this, but the depth of the wideout class could lead to some teams waiting until Day 2 to draft one. Waddle is also a good returner.

23. New York Jets: CB Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky

The Jets have a desperate need at cornerback, and with good size at 6-2, Joseph fits the profile of what Coach Robert Saleh wants at the position.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: DE/OLB Gregory Rousseau, Miami

The Steelers will be tempted to take a running back with their first-round pick, but they need a replacement for Bud Dupree and have a long history of taking edge rushers in the first round.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama

The Jaguars are switching to a 3-4 defense, so they need to beef up the interior of their defensive line. Barmore is disruptive and would be a good fit.

26. Cleveland Browns: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

Collins is one of the best pure 4-3 linebackers available, so the Browns would get great value in drafting him here.

27. Baltimore Ravens: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

The Ravens lost two pass rushers in free agency when Yannick Ngakoue signed with Las Vegas and Matthew Judon went to New England. Owusu-Koramoah is known for his coverage more than his pass-rush ability, but he nonetheless fills a need at linebacker.

28. New Orleans Saints: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

The Saints had to cut Emmanuel Sanders, so they need a wide receiver who is quick off the line of scrimmage and a good route-runner. Bateman fits the bill.

29. Green Bay Packers: WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU

The Packers need to get some wideout help for Aaron Rodgers. Marshall has good size and big-play ability.

30. Buffalo Bills: DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami

The Bills are always looking for pass-rush help. They’ll feel fortunate if Phillips falls to them toward the bottom of the first round.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: T Alex Leatherwood, Alabama

The Chiefs are rebuilding their offensive line after injuries left them compromised during their Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They started by signing guards Joe Thuney and Kyle Long, but they need to add one more lineman, likely a tackle, with this pick.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Trevon Moehrig, TCU

Moehrig is the best safety in the draft, so it’s hard to see him slipping into the second round.