McShay’s NFL draft buzz: Which QB do the 49ers like? Could Carolina surprise?

  • ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
  • Joined ESPN in 2006
  • Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.

It’s finally NFL draft week, and the 2021 class is exciting. We have five high-end quarterbacks who could all be selected in the top 10. We have tons of offensive playmakers worthy of early picks. We have difference-makers on defense, especially at cornerback. And we’ve already seen three trades involving first-round picks since the beginning of the month, including a late-Day 1 move by the Baltimore Ravens on Friday.

But what is actually going to happen on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week? Which draft prospects do teams with top picks like? Who is moving up draft boards? And when should we expect the quarterbacks to be selected?

I’ve been talking with general managers, coaches, execs, scouts and other evaluators around the league to get the most recent buzz on how each team might use their draft picks and who each team likes more than others. Of course, we won’t know exactly what will happen until the clock starts ticking on Thursday night — there are big surprises every year — and you can always expect some smoke screens at this stage, but we are starting to get a good idea of what to expect once the draft kicks off.

Here’s what I’m hearing around the league and the current direction that the wind is blowing for teams with top-10 picks and a handful of other franchises with intrigue around their selections. Plus, we check in with the quarterback outlook and other prospects who are getting a lot of buzz in the final days before the draft.

THE TOP 10 PICKS

Jacksonville Jaguars (Pick Nos. 1, 25)

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