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The ripple effect the Sam Darnold trade has on the 2021 NFL Draft

Sam Darnold is now a member of the Carolina Panthers, and this trade has a ripple effect on the 2021 NFL Draft.

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Monday was an exciting day for the NFL wire, and that was with the news of the New York Jets sending former first round pick Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for the following draft stock:

2021 6th Round Pick
2022 2nd Round Pick
2022 4th Round pick

In return, the Panthers bring on Darnold for the 2021 season before having the option to pick up his 5th year option.

For Pittsburgh Steelers fans, this news doesn’t really matter much. There might have been a small contingent who thought, or hoped, the Steelers would make a run at Darnold to be the replacement for Ben Roethlisberger when he decides to hang it up for good. But the reality of the situation is it was highly unlikely the Steelers would pull off this trade. It just wasn’t in the cards, if you were being realistic.

However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a ripple effect after the trade within the 2021 NFL Draft. When you look at the draft order, you see there are specific teams who will want a quarterback. Up until Monday, the Panthers were one of those teams, but with them getting Darnold it doesn’t seem feasible the team would want to add a rookie quarterback high in the draft. They could still pull the trigger on a quarterback, but it seems highly unlikely.

Let’s first take a look at the upcoming draft order.

2021 NFL Draft order:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars *
2. New York Jets *
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans) *
4. Atlanta Falcons *
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles)
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers)
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams)
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints
29. Green Bay Packers
30. Buffalo Bills
31. Kansas City Chiefs
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The teams who have an asterisk next to their team name are seemingly locks to take a quarterback in the draft. The Top 5 quarterbacks in the draft would be:

Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
Zach Wilson (BYU)
Justin Fields (Ohio State)
Trey Lance (North Dakota State)
Mac Jones (Alabama)

This means there will be one quarterback who will likely slide in the draft. Which quarterback is up for debate, but there are teams like the Patriots,, Lions and Broncos who also could be in the mix for a quarterback.

But this ripple effect isn’t just about the quarterbacks entering the draft. This also could have an impact on other position groups. If a team like Carolina was going to take a quarterback, they now will likely be selecting another position taking another talented player off the board.

There could be more moves made before the draft begins at the end of April, and all will have an impact on the entire process. That includes the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are sitting at pick No. 24 and have to see who will be available when it is their turn to pick.

A lot can change between now and then, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.