For NFL fans, Christmas comes twice a year.
At the end of each and every April, American Football followers across the globe get set for three days of festivities as the best and brightest prospects from the college game discover which NFL franchise they will be representing in the first stages of their professional careers.
It all kicks off on Thursday night, as the all-important first round gets underway with the Jacksonville Jaguars in prime position to take the number one prospect in the nation - in an effort to kick-start their revival.
The 2021 NFL Draft begins on Thursday April 29 and concludes on Saturday May 1.
The 2021 NFL Draft will take place in Cleveland, Ohio.
Sky Sports Action will be showing the 2021 NFL Draft.
Coverage begins with a preview show at 20:00 on Thursday, followed by a Red Carpet show at 23:00, Good Morning Football at midnight and then the NFL Draft Kickoff show from 04:00 on Friday.
With the impact of Covid-19 making this the most unpredictable NFL Draft of all-time, the importance of meticulous research and picking wisely in the opening round has never been so prevalent.
It’s a tough ask to predict Thursday’s 32 selections from top to bottom, but Matt Temple-Marsh and Ross Williams have had a go regardless, taking into account the needs of each and every team, and the talent that has been on display in the college football arena over the past few years.
Here are their selections for the 2021 NFL Draft.
This is the lock of the draft. If Lawrence had been eligible for the past two drafts, he would have been the #1 pick in both years.
He’s one of the best quarterback prospects to ever come out of college, and he’s set to revolutionise the Jaguars.
A quarterback who has drawn comparisons to Patrick Mahomes lands in New York, as new head coach Robert Saleh gets his direct replacement for Sam Darnold.
Reports have come out regarding the Niners being ‘locked into’ picking Mac Jones or Trey Lance, but just remember that throughout the Kyle Shanahan & John Lynch regime, Niners news simply has not leaked.
The Jimmy Garoppolo, DeForest Buckner & Trent Williams trades came out of nowhere, trading up to this pick stunned the NFL just a few weeks ago, and picking Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk in last year’s first round was more than surprising.
The Niners traded a serious amount of future draft stock to secure the #3 pick – and as solid as Jones/Lance may be, they simply don’t stand out like Justin Fields.
Although the Falcons will consider taking a future franchise quarterback here, and perhaps even a trade down, the lure of providing Matt Ryan and HC Arthur Smith the Draft’s most potent weapon may just be too much to pass up.
If Pitts goes to Atlanta, Ryan has the firepower for one last run.
Reuniting Joe Burrow & Ja’Marr Chase is more than tempting, but protecting QB1 needs to be the absolute priority, especially after Burrow suffered a brutal injury last year.
Sewell can block Burrow’s blindside for many years to come, much to his delight.
Chase didn’t take the field in 2020, but his 2019 game tape speaks for itself.
The former LSU standout has every attribute required to succeed at NFL level, and he has every chance at becoming one of the league’s finest weapons very, very quickly.
There’s a serious case to be made that the Lions possess the worst roster in the entire league, so a trade back here could be on the cards – but picking Waddle here would also make a lot of sense.
Detroit lost Kenny Golladay & Marvin Jones in free agency, so Waddle would step in immediately as a key contributor, giving Jared Goff a polished deep threat with shades of Tyreek Hill.
With Cam Newton playing year-to-year and Jarrett Stidham far from the finished article, the Patriots complete an uncharacteristic offseason with one final big move – a huge trade with the Panthers on the night of the Draft.
Lance is a risk due to the fact he only played 16 games in college, but the potential upside of what we’ve seen – albeit from a small body of work - is massive.
If Denver want to compete, there is simply no way they can enter the new season with Drew Lock as their undisputed QB1.
This pick would provide instant competition in the quarterback room, with Jones having a real shot at taking over the starting duties.
Surtain’s shutdown ability as a zone corner fits Dan Quinn’s scheme like a glove, and there’s no team in the league that needs to draft on the defensive side of the ball more than the Cowboys.
Expect the Giants to address the offensive line with this pick, with Dave Gettleman needing to protect his quarterback Daniel Jones.
Slater is one of the best OL prospects in this draft, and was one of the only college tackles to successfully silence Chase Young.
Philly swung and (arguably) missed on Jalen Reagor last season, so this time around they appease the fanbase with the most high-profile move outside of the top ten picks.
He’s small for the position, but Smith’s ability at wide-out is unquestioned, and he has a Heisman Trophy on his mantelpiece to prove it.
The Chargers’ offensive line ranks as dead last in the league. With Justin Herbert blossoming into one of the best young QBs in the NFL, they simply need to invest in protection.
Darrisaw would slide in at OT instantly.
Minnesota need some help rushing the passer, so the Vikings will be overjoyed to have the full roster of EDGE prospects available to them at #14.
Kwity Paye may never lead the league in sacks, but he has the highest floor of this year’s crop, he can start right away and should be a very solid addition to the Vikes’ D.
The Panthers have had a Luke Kuechly-sized hole at linebacker since his early retirement, and Parsons would enter as an immediate starter.
The Penn State LB may be the best defensive player in the whole draft, so this could be an absolute steal for Carolina, especially considering the extra draft capital they will pick up due to trading with the Patriots.
Horn had a phenomenal pro day, showcasing some incredible athletic abilities that catapulted him up draft boards everywhere.
With Patrick Peterson now covering receivers in Minnesota, the Cards get the perfect opportunity to plug the gap here.
In recent weeks, the Raiders have lost Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown & Gabe Jackson – three of their five starters on the offensive line.
Vera-Tucker is arguably the best interior offensive lineman in this draft, and would fit straight in as a day one starter.
The jury is still out on Tua Tagovailoa, so the Dolphins take away his excuses with this pick.
Adding Chase and Harris in the first round should give Miami an arsenal strong enough to challenge Buffalo and New England for the AFC East title, so the 2021 season becomes an early do-or-die situation for their young quarterback.
WFT have spent big on William Jackson, and they still have Kendall Fuller in their ranks, too. But, you can never have enough cornerbacks.
Farley has outstanding size & speed, and can develop into a true #1 corner.
A like-for-like replacement for the Bears, as they replace Kyle Fuller with a superb prospect out of Northwestern – a school that enjoyed a rare purple patch in 2020, resulting in two first-round selections.
The Colts let both Justin Houston & Denico Autry walk in free agency, so it’s vital that they find a pass rusher early in this draft.
Phillips is a huge, fast, explosive rusher, who has just as much talent as any EDGE in this class.
Losing Corey Davis is a blow for the Titans, so it makes sense for them to attempt to bandage over the wound.
Bateman has plenty of strong attributes, some mightily impressive game tape and the potential to become this year’s Justin Jefferson, as the best receiver outside of the recognised ‘big three’.
Right now, the Jets have Tevin Coleman & Ty Johnson as their starters. Running back is a desperate need, and Etienne is one of the more exciting prospects in the entire draft.
He’s short, elusive and explosive, and a serious threat in the passing game.
Pittsburgh pick up a swiss-army knife of a linebacker, as they once again add a first-round talent to their consistently adept defence.
It’s a trend that rarely fails for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers, so why fix what isn’t broken?
The Jaguars have a plethora of holes on their roster, but taking Moehrig here would help shore up their secondary.
A safety who can do it all, the TCU star is by far the best in his position in this draft class.
Although plenty of mock drafts have Rousseau falling out of the first round, the thought of pairing this long, explosive Miami EDGE with Myles Garrett is nothing short of mouth-watering.
After a year away from the sport, it’s far from a certainty, but if Rousseau can live up to his obvious potential, Cleveland may end up with a steal and the most-feared pass-rushing duo in the league.
The Ravens are crying out for a wide receiver.
They tried to sign Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y Hilton in free agency, but only ended up with a Sammy Watkins on the decline.
Marshall would provide a tall, athletic option at WR, perfectly complimenting the speed and guile of Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown.
A no-nonsense, smash-mouth tackle who could be the perfect addition to a Saints offence that has no choice but to commit to Alvin Kamara and the ground game, in the aftermath of Drew Brees’ retirement.
After Kevin King’s nightmare end to the season, the Packers will look to strengthen their secondary. Asante Samuel Jr. plays much like his Super Bowl-winning father; a reliable, fast but undersized cornerback.
Buffalo are in a luxurious position picking at #30, so they can take a chance on one of the best defenders in college football last season.
It’s rare to see a player out of Tulsa picked in the first round, but Zaven Collins simply leaps off the screen as a player who can do just about anything that’s asked of him.
Kansas City actually offered JuJu Smith-Schuster more money than Pittsburgh, before he decided to stay home.
With this in mind, the Chiefs picking Toney here makes a lot of sense. He’s a slot receiver with shades of Deebo Samuel; yet another toy for Patrick Mahomes to play with.
With the Bucs retaining 99% of their Super Bowl-winning outfit this season, they can afford to look to the future.
Ndamukong Suh won’t be around forever, and there are few better players for Alabama’s Christian Barmore to learn his trade under, before eventually taking the starting job himself.
Odds correct at 1315 BST (27/04/21)
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