2021 NFL Draft bold predictions for Day 2: Falcons reunite Gators, Packers again pass on helping Aaron Rodgers

Everyone in the football world was prepped for a certain set of storylines heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. With little to no drama surrounding the first- and second-overall picks, all eyes were on what the San Francisco 49ers would do at No. 3 and who the Atlanta Falcons would grab at No. 4, or if they’d trade out and shake up the entire first round. No one expected that, just hours ahead of the festivities getting underway in Cleveland, news would break of reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers informing the Green Bay Packers of his intention to never play for them again. 

And, from there, a whirlwind 2021 draft was underway — conflicting reports battling for supremacy as prospects waited to see where they’d land. As Day 2 readies to get underway, Rodgers remains in Green Bay (at least for now) and the 49ers finally revealed that all of the Mac Jones speculation was smoke and mirrors, choosing Trey Lance instead, while the Falcons sat firm at No. 4 and selected all-world talent Kyle Pitts; essentially doubling down on their belief in Matt Ryan for the future. 

Or did they?

With several unexpected moves having already occurred on Day 1, let’s take a look at a handful of decisions that would be considered nothing short of bold and spicy in the second and third rounds of the draft.

Falcons reunite Kyle with Kyle

With Pitts now in the fold, rest assured Ryan is safe for at least the 2021 season.

Beyond that, however, who knows? This is where making a move to select Pitts’ former quarterback at Florida, Kyle Trask, makes plenty of sense. Terry Fontenot, the team’s new general manager, made it clear he’d like to have a QB developing in the wings and that’s why some believed he’d use the No. 4 pick on Justin Fields, if available. Well, Fields was and Fontenot didn’t, but that doesn’t negate what he said ahead of the draft. And if the Falcons would like to set up Pitts for the most success in the post-Ryan era — be it in 2022 or 2023 — why not bring in the QB that helped make him a household name in their time together as Gators? Look out, Mr. Ryan, because you’re not quite out of the woods yet. 

Packers wave off receiver, again

No way Green Bay is this insane, right? 

Let’s answer that question by laying out a few key points. First, they reportedly told a disgruntled Aaron Rodgers they’d trade him this offseason following an NFL MVP year, and then doubled back and instead attempted to sign an even more upset Rodgers to an extension — the future Hall of Famer now feeling disrespected. And that wasn’t the first time he felt that way, harkening back to the team’s decision to trade up in the first round last year for quarterback Jordan Love, despite Rodgers desperately seeking more firepower on offense. Fast forward to April 2021 and, despite the latest round of fractures that require Rodgers be appeased or else, the Packers spent their first-round pick not on a wide receiver, but on cornerback Eric Stokes. So while it’s easy to believe they’ll make up for it with a second-round receiver, that’s no guarantee and, if they don’t, get ready for more pain in Wisconsin. That’s the prediction here.

Steelers grab Kellen Mond as heir to Big Ben

This is likely the last season for the Steelers’ future Hall of Famer.

As a matter of fact, last season nearly was, but the club decided to rework Ben Roethlisberger’s contract and allow him to stay onboard after watching his wheels come off when they needed him most on the back half of the season and in the playoffs. This means it’s time to identify who’s next at the position, and it’s not Mason Rudolph. That said, if for some reason you believe Dwayne Haskins or Joshua Dobbs will run away with the mantle, good luck. Mond and the Steelers had several conversations ahead of the draft and the former Texas A&M star is impressive to the front office and head coach Mike Tomlin. So why would this be bold? Well, it’s because the Steelers already have four quarterbacks on the roster (Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs, Dwayne Haskins and Big Ben), and this would be them saying out loud what we already believe: Ben is on his way out and his backups aren’t much more than pieces of hope.

Rams use Mansion Magic on CB position

“Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you.”

That age old classic comes to mind when thinking about the NFL and how teams operate, with owners and GMs alike constantly trying to one-up each other. Sometimes, this spills over into off-the-field instances, like when the Las Vegas Raiders sought to outdo the Los Angeles Rams/Chargers in building their home field, who themselves sought to outdo Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys after seeing the glitz of AT&T Stadium. So it stands to reason when Jones stole headlines by performing the Cowboys draft in 2020 from his mega-yacht, that someone would try to take it to another level, and that team is the Rams — who will make their first-ever pick from a Draft Mansion setup on Day 2. They’ll have options on who to select, but let’s assume they give the historic nod to a cornerback, considering the loss of Troy Hill in free agency. That would be a nice way to intercept headlines on Friday evening.

Sam Darnold is now secured by the Panthers through the 2022 season.

Also, so what? Point being the Panthers waited until the conclusion of Day 1 to execute that contract move, having had since the first week in April to do so. What exactly were they waiting for, assuming Darnold is indeed their guy? The answer is now clear, because they wanted to see who would be available to them in the first round, having also made calls to see if they could move up from the No. 8 spot. They eventually plucked cornerback Jaycee Horn instead, grabbing the highest-rated defender on their board who would’ve otherwise fallen to either the Denver Broncos or Dallas Cowboys. This doesn’t put them out of the QB running, though, and particularly with intriguing prospects still available in the second round, so let’s mock Davis Mills to them here. The former Stanford quarterback checks all the boxes for a coach like Matt Rhule, including his ability to process quickly. They’d love to believe Darnold will be the face of their franchise, but the position is too valuable to chance it, something the Panthers likely understand, unlike the team they traded Teddy Bridegwater away to. 

The veteran is set to become a free agent in 2022, and the Broncos still passed on Justin Fields for Patrick Surtain, II. Now that’s bold.