NFL Draft 2021 order: How top 5 pick scenarios impact Patriots

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NFL Draft 2021 order: How top 5 pick scenarios impact Patriots originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

It will likely take too much draft capital for the New England Patriots to swing a trade into the first five picks of the 2021 NFL Draft order.

Under the right set of circumstances, New England could be looking at a trade with the Detroit Lions for the No. 7 overall pick and the right to select its quarterback of the future -- Ohio State's Justin Fields. Perhaps a slightly less splashy trade up to No. 10 will secure the team one of the draft’s premier receivers -- Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle or LSU’s Ja'Marr Chase.

There has been much speculation about how the top of the draft order will go. Here are the five most likely scenarios, ranked from least surprising to crazy enough to shut down Twitter.

Justin Fields, Trey Lance slide out of top 5

  1. Jaguars -- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

  2. Jets -- Zach Wilson, QB, BYU 

  3. San Francisco -- Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

  4. Falcons -- Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida 

  5. Bengals -- Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU 

Kyle Shanahan’s long-term plan is actualized. The San Francisco 49ers land Alabama’s Mac Jones over Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

To make matters worse for Fields and Lance, the Atlanta Falcons decide they’re good at QB with Matt Ryan and the Bengals opt to pair Joe Burrow with his favorite top target from his days in Baton Rouge -- Ja'Marr Chase.

It might look weird to see two quarterbacks fall out of the top five picks in this scenario, but Kyle Pitts is the most attractive option to Atlanta. The Florida tight end is a generational talent and ranked as high as No. 2 overall player on some big boards.

That's OK with Pats fans after the team spent big on the tight end position in free agency. In this outcome, Field and Lance give New England plenty of motivation to move up into the rest of the top 10 to take its future franchise QB.

49ers go with Trey Lance, Mac Jones takes a tumble

  1. Jaguars -- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

  2. Jets -- Zach Wilson, QB, BYU 

  3. 49ers -- Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

  4. Falcons -- Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida 

  5. Bengals -- Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon 

There’s been a lot of debate between Jones and Fields as the 49ers’ heir apparent to Jimmy Garappolo. While fans are clamoring for Fields, it appears this is a two-man race between Jones and Lance.

Under this simulation, John Lynch and Co. take the underdog for the No. 3 overall pick -- Lance. While the oddsmakers peg Jones here, Lance certainly brings a strong arm and plenty of ability to run Shanahan’s play-action scheme.

With Lance off the board at No. 3, Atlanta has no choice but to call in Pitts’ name again -- opting for the “win now” pick that serves to benefit Ryan and the team short term versus “build for the future” with Justin Fields

Unlike Pitts at No. 4, there is intrigue with Cincinnati's pick at No. 5 here. In this scenario, the Bengals decide they’ve been burned one too many times by playmakers in the top 10 of the NFL Draft (see: KaJa Carter, Peter Warrick, John Ross) and opt to protect their investment in Burrow. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft was sacked 32 times in his first season.

Tough luck, Mac Jones. There's always room for you to make throws in New England.

Lance goes fourth to Falcons, no Fields in top 5

  1. Jaguars -- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

  2. Jets -- Zach Wilson, QB, BYU 

  3. 49ers -- Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

  4. Falcons -- Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State 

  5. Bengals -- Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida 

Lawrence, Wilson, Jones … this is starting to get repetitive. But wait, there is a shake-up with Atlanta’s this time around. With limited collegiate experience on his resume, Lance is the ideal bridge QB to learn under Ryan, and the Falcons see the clear path towards mentorship. It’s a lost season with Tom Brady in the division anyway, right?

At No. 5, the Bengals make Pitts top 5 proof by again shunting Chase. Fields is the only QB available after top of the NFL Draft order. Once again, the Pats are licking their chops.

Jaylen Waddle is first WR off the board

  1. Jaguars -- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

  2. Jets -- Zach Wilson, QB, BYU 

  3. 49ers -- Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

  4. Falcons -- Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida 

  5. Bengals -- Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama 

Fields playing the odd-man-out role seems to become a trend. Under this scenario, the top 4 go as expected, but Cincinnati seemingly doesn’t learn from its past electing to go with the burner (Waddle) over the safer, physical bet (Chase). Bengal fans still trying to recover from John Ross don’t like this one, but it is plausible. As nice as it is to pair Burrow with Chase and recreate the LSU lovefest from 2019, the correct football move would be to add Waddle as a do-it-all explosive weapon who can become Cincinnati’s version of Tyreek Hill.The Bengals already have a physical receiver (Tee Higgins) and a slot guru (Tyler Boyd). All Burrow and Co. are missing -- other than a tight end like Pitts -- is a gadget who can line up all over the field and give the opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. That’s the case for Waddle as a top 5 pick.

If for some reason the Bengals buy it, then the Patriots could have a chance to get Ja'Marr Chase.

Jets go wild, draft Fields; 49ers hop on Zach Wilson

  1. Jaguars -- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

  2. Jets -- Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

  3. 49ers -- Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

  4. Falcons -- Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

  5. Bengals -- Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida 

There was the promise of Twitter blowing up, and here it is. New coach Robert Saleh makes his introduction to New York by shaking up the entire 2021 NFL Draft and taking Justin Fields second overall. Does Mac Jones still go to San Francisco at No. 3 under this crazy hypothetical? Nope, they go with BYU’s Zach Wilson -- a quarterback they were connected to in the pre, pre-draft process, and who will serve them well when being rushed out of the pocket by the likes of Aaron Donald and JJ Watt in the NFC West. 

How does Fields' presence in the AFC East impact the Patriots is the real question on everybody's mind? And perhaps most important, can Mac Jones fall all the way to No. 15? Was this Bill Belichick's fallout plan all along.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a crazy scenario without Lance going to the Atlanta Falcons in a historic moment -- four quarterbacks to go in the draft's first four picks. This leaves the aforementioned Jones as the odd man out, which might actually be the most plausible outcome of this scenario.

That or Trevor Lawrence going No. 1. He’s such a lock to go No. 1 overall that we forgot to mention him until now.