Figuring Out Friday…

What in the eff did we just experience on a Friday afternoon in March? All this time I thought Friday’s in the media were for news dumps… until Friday, March 26, 2021.

First we get Miami sending the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to San Francisco for the No. 12 overall pick, a 2022 third rounder, and first rounders in 2022 and 2023.

Then, just minutes later, the Dolphins turn around and deal No. 12, No. 123 and their own 2022 first-round pick to the Eagles for No. 6 and No. 156 in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Now that we’ve sorted through the two trades, let’s take a stab at what it all means. Let’s start with the 49ers who gave up a lot of future draft picks, but landed the No. 3 overall selection in this year’s draft.

It’s pretty clear that San Francisco has an upgrade at quarterback on its mind. There are reports that Jimmy Garoppolo will remain the team’s starter in 2021, but there’s absolutely no way in hell that a team would trade that many first-round picks for anything besides a quarterback.

With Trevor Lawrence assumed to be off the board after Jacksonville selects him with the No. 1 overall pick, the Jets likely dictate which quarterback the 49ers end up with. My assumption is that Zach Wilson hears his name called at No. 2, and the 49ers will have their choice between Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones.

I’d give the edge to Fields or Lance at No. 3, but there are definitely already reports circulating that tie Jones to the 49ers. This would seem like an awfully steep price to pay for Jones, however, we clearly live in an era where you pay whatever you need to pay in order to get your guy.

Onto the Dolphins where I think it’s become fairly obvious what their intentions are when it comes to the first of their two first-round picks. After trading back up to No. 6, I believe Miami has two guys in mind knowing that at least one of them has to be there.

Assuming the draft goes Lawrence, Wilson, Fields, Lance – in no particular order – it guarantees that one of Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle or Kyle Pitts has to be available. There will be analysts out there that say that if Cincinnati doesn’t take Penei Sewell at No. 5 overall then he could be in play for the Dolphins at No. 6, but I’m of the belief that you don’t send away two first rounders (No. 12 and 2022’s first) for the chance to land the draft’s top offensive lineman.

The Miami Dolphins do an outstanding job of hiding what their intentions are. Remember last year when they were tied to every single top quarterback in the draft at one time or another? Remember when Deshaun Watson was the betting favorite to take his first snap in 2021 with the Miami Dolphins? Remember when J.K. Dobbins was a “lock” to land in Miami in the second round of last year’s draft after having a marathon-long meeting with the team’s running back coach?

With that being said, I’m not ready to make any prediction as to which of the two players previously mentioned Miami has its eyes on, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it’ll be one of those four targets at No. 6 overall.

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The Eagles are the wildcard in all of this, in my opinion. They seemed destined to land Chase at No. 6 once Miami dropped back to No. 12, but now he appears to be off the table as the odds of him falling to No. 12 seem very unlikely.

Prior to all of Friday’s trades there were analysts that believed the position of quarterback was in play for Philadelphia at No. 6. I didn’t think that felt realistic as there’s no way Philly doesn’t give Jalen Hurts a fair shake after sending Carson Wentz to Indy earlier this offseason. Friday’s trade all but ensures the Eagles don’t go QB in the first round.

However, the Eagles now possess No. 12 overall in the 2021 draft, their own first and the Dolphins first in 2022, and the 2022 second rounder they received for Wentz has the potential of turning into a first rounder based on a few different factors.

If Hurts doesn’t show enough in 2021, the Eagles are well equipped to either trade up for a quarterback in the ’22 draft or package picks together for an already established signal caller. So while ’21 may be a learning year for Hurts and the Eagles, it’s going to be extremely important for Hurts to at the very least play consistently enough to show that he can be the guy moving forward, because the leash will inevitably be fairly short.

So what do the Eagles do at No. 12? Well they honestly have the freedom to go with a variety of options. This is a deep class of wide receivers and one of the top-four options (Chase, Smith, Waddle, Rashod Bateman) are nearly guaranteed to be available at this pick. If they elect to wait on receiver since the class is so deep, they could go offensive line (Rashawn Slater, Christian Darrisaw, Alijah Vera-Tucker), cornerback (Patrick Surtain, Caleb Farley or Jaycee Horn) or possibly even edge rusher (Jayson Oweh, Gregory Rousseau, Kwity Paye, Azeez Ojulari). I also don’t claim to be an Eagles expert by any means, but they appear to have the flexibility to go multiple ways and the pick would fit a current need.

The beautiful thing about all of this is the fact that we’re still in March. We still have a full month prior to the draft for additional trades, and as we all know, anything goes on draft day. Long story short, stay tuned, as I’m sure there’s more to come!

Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as we were joined by Matt Hicks of the NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated to discuss some of the top wide receiver prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft!

Ben Morgan is a co-host and blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast. Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

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