A different kind of March madness unfolded on Friday.
The 49ers, Eagles and Dolphins spent some time rearranging the 2021 NFL Draft order with a pair of trades that shook up projections and added a lot of fun to this year’s draft.
49ers-Dolphins trade details
Dolphins-Eagles trade details
There is a very real possibility that quarterbacks are now going 1-3 in this year’s draft, with potentially five quarterbacks taken in the top 10. That’s insane stuff.
The two separate deals rocked the NFL world and destroyed more mock drafts than March Madness brackets. What does it all mean? Here’s how it could affect a number of teams heading into the April 29 draft:
New York Jets
— The 49ers were one of the rumored landing spots for Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. That’s more than likely dead in the water now, with the 49ers rostering Jimmy Garoppolo and, presumably, looking to select a quarterback in the 2021 draft.
— With the 49ers jumping up to No. 3 overall, it’s difficult to believe that GM John Lynch didn’t at least speak with Jets GM Joe Douglas for the No. 2 overall pick. The fact that a deal couldn’t be struck means New York clearly has its eye on a specific player at No. 2 — likely a quarterback, too.
— Anyone looking to trade up to the Jets’ pick at No. 2 likely means that a deal starts with, at minimum, two firsts and a lot more, considering that was the market set when the Dolphins traded out of their spot to the 49ers. Expect the Jets to stick there and take a QB.
— The Dolphins trading back to No. 12 (and then up to No. 6) tells you the team is pretty sold on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. There was some speculation that the passer, entering his second year, was dangled alongside the No. 3 pick for Deshaun Watson. Sexual assault allegations have seemed to silence any and all Watson trade rumors at the moment.
— A move back up to No. 6 tells us the Dolphins are still within reach of quarterbacks, but more likely are eyeing a big-time offensive weapon for Tua in the draft. Should they stay at No. 6, there’s a good chance that one of Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith or Kyle Pitts will be there for the taking, giving the Miami offense another dimension as they continue to help Tagovailoa grow.
San Francisco 49ers
— Make no mistake, giving up two future No. 1 picks and a third-rounder means the 49ers are going to be looking at quarterback in the draft. Those are assets you just don’t give up if you’re not. At No. 3, there could be some enticing options available for San Francisco: BYU passer Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Alabama QB Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance could all be on the board there, depending on who goes 1-2 to the Jaguars and Jets.
— With Jones, Lance and Wilson having their pro days already, it could mean the 49ers view one of those quarterbacks as the guy at No. 3. Fields’ workout is scheduled for March 30.
— What does this mean for Jimmy Garoppolo? Maybe nothing. Some reports indicate that the 49ers have no current plans to trade Jimmy GQ, though plans in the NFL mean about as much as a screen door on a submarine.
— San Francisco is likely banking on being very good in the immediate future again in order to give up two first-rounders. That makes sense, considering the team was absolutely ravaged by injuries a year after reaching the Super Bowl.
— Moving back to No. 12 and netting a first-round pick in 2022 is good value for the Eagles, but it likely will take them out of the running for a top QB.
— Philadelphia reportedly was only considering a trade up to No. 3 if it meant Zach Wilson was on the board. Well, with a trade down, that could suggest the Eagles believe Wilson will be off the board by Pick 3, with the Jets the most likely suitor.
— With QBs presumably going Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the NFL Draft, the Falcons and the No. 4 pick get exceptionally interesting. While some reports suggested the Falcons are looking at QB, the restructured deal of Matt Ryan likely means the Falcons are looking to add help elsewhere to win now with Ryan.
— New head coach Arthur Smith made Derrick Henry the engine of the Titans’ offense. The Falcons should have offers to consider a trade down, depending on who might want to jump up for the fourth-best QB on teams’ draft boards.
— Justin Fields feels like something of the forgotten man in the draft shuffle. He was once considered the consensus No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Now he’s been knocked down some pegs after an uneven 2020 season. Could the Panthers, who were reportedly shopping Teddy Bridgewater, end up with Fields at No. 8? It’s still a possibility, if even a stretch.
— The Panthers could also find a way to move up to No. 5 (the Bengals), but that would require both creativity and a lot of hope that the quarterback of choice is there at the pick. It’s a risky game to play, but the class is very, very deep this year.
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