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NFL draft could see record run of QBs taken

As soon as the San Francisco 49ers traded three first-round picks to move up to No. 3 overall, it became clear that quarterbacks would come off the board at a record pace at the NFL draft.

While QBs are widely expected to go 1-2-3 for just the third time in the common draft era that started in 1967, there are still questions about how many others will follow in the top 10 and first round.

Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are expected to be the top two picks for Jacksonville and the New York Jets, with the Niners likely picking between Mac Jones, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields at No. 3.

That would match 1971 (Jim Plunkett, Archie Manning, Dan Pastorini) and 1999 (Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith) as the only drafts with quarterbacks taken with the top three picks.

A record could be set with four QBs going in the top four if Atlanta drafts the successor to Matt Ryan or trades down to a quarterback-needy team.

If Fields, Jones, and Lance all get taken in the top 10, that would also be a first, beating the four top 10 QBs in the 2018 draft when Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen all went off the board quickly.

All five of those QBs are almost assuredly first-round picks, which also happened in 1999 when the five came off in the top 12 and in 2018 when Lamar Jackson was picked 32nd to join the four top 10 QBs.

If Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond, or Davis Mills somehow go off the board late in the first round, the 2021 draft could match the 1983 class with six first-round QBs.

That class, which whicfeaturing Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason, and Ken O’Brien, is widely considered the best for quarterbacks.

This will be the sixth time in the past seven years that a QB went first overall, with Cleveland’s defensive end Myles Garrett, the only player to break through in 2017.

It wasn’t always this way with a stretch from 1994-97 when the top picks were defensive tackle, Dan Wilkinson, running back Ki-Jana Carter, receiver Keyshawn Johnson and tackle Orlando Pace.

There was even an 11-year stretch from 1976-86 when John Elway was the only QB to go first overall.

The most popular position besides quarterback to go first overall since the merger is defensive ends with 11, followed by running backs (six), offensive linemen (3), receivers (2), linebackers (2), and defensive tackles (two). There has never been a tight end or defensive back drafted first.


With most teams at the top of the draft targeting quarterbacks and other offensive players, this could be the most extended wait ever for a defensive player to come off the board.

The latest defensive player in the common draft era beginning in 1967, was seventh overall in 1999 when Hall of Famer Champ Bailey was taken by Washington.

As recently as 2019, four of the first five players drafted came on the defensive side, with Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Clelin Ferrell, and Devin White following top pick Kyler Murray that year.

This could also mark the first time since 2012 that a defensive lineman wasn’t picked in the top 10. Dontari Poe was the first one off the board at No. 11 to Kansas City that year.


Florida tight end Kyle Pitts could make some draft history this week. If Atlanta picks Pitts at No. 4 overall, he will be the highest-drafted tight end in the common draft era.

Just 15 tight ends in all have gone in the top 10 in the draft since 1967, with the players to do it in the past 25 drafts being T.J. Hockenson (eighth to Detroit in 2019), Eric Ebron (10th to Detroit in 2014), Vernon Davis (sixth to San Francisco in 2006), Kellen Winslow Jr. (sixth to Cleveland in 2004) and Ricky Dudley (ninth to the Raiders in 1996). The only time a tight end was picked in the top five came in 1972 when Denver took Riley Odoms fifth overall. Odoms was a two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler with 396 catches in 12 seasons.


Alabama is set to have a pair of receivers picked in the first round for the second straight year, with DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle set to follow 2020 first-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy.

The only other colleges to have a pair of receivers picked in the first round in the common draft era are 2007 LSU (Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis), 2007 Ohio State (Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez), 2001 Miami (Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne) and 1997 Florida (Ike Hilliard and Reidel Anthony).

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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