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Where is Zach Wilson headed in the latest Mel Kiper mock draft? One team trades up for former BYU quarterback

ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has BYU quarterback Zach Wilson going to the Atlanta Falcons in his latest mock draft, this time via a trade up to the No. 2 selection.
George Frey, Associated Press

Once again, ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has BYU quarterback Zach Wilson being taken by the Atlanta Falcons in his latest mock draft, released Thursday.

Kiper had Wilson headed to Atlanta in his initial 2021 mock draft a month ago, at the Falcons’ No. 4 selection. This time, though, the ESPN draft expert explained how Atlanta could move up to the No. 2 spot to get its eventual quarterback successor for 35-year-old Matt Ryan.

“Trading up to get Wilson would help sort the future under new coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot,” Kiper wrote. “Remember, if you’re Smith and Fontenot, you don’t expect to be drafting this high, so you never know when you’re going to have a chance on a quarterback like Wilson. They have to get their guy now.

“Ryan would likely remain the starter in 2021 while Wilson adjusts to the pro game. He could take over in 2022. Ohio State’s Justin Fields could be in play, too, but I see Wilson as the ideal option for the Falcons.”

What would Atlanta need to do to trade up two spots — the New York Jets have the No. 2 selection — from No. 4 to snag Wilson? Kiper’s comparison for the deal was what Chicago did in 2017 to move up from No. 3 to No. 2 to grab quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in 2017, when it gave up the Nos. 3, 67 (third round) and 111 (fourth round) picks and a third-rounder the next year to San Francisco.

“So for Atlanta to move up two spots, it’s going to have to send the Jets the No. 4 pick, likely its second-round picks this year and more picks,” Kiper said. “That’s a lot to give up, sure, but there is going to be competition. The Jets should take the best deal on the table, and this one means they only drop two spots and pick up prime assets after that.”

QB-heavy top of the draft

Quarterbacks make up five of the first nine picks in Kiper’s latest mock draft, with several teams trading up to get their signal-caller. They include:

  • No. 1, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • No. 2 (trade), Wilson, Atlanta Falcons.
  • No. 7 (trade), Ohio State’s Justin Fields, San Francisco 49ers.
  • No. 8, Alabama’s Mac Jones, Carolina Panthers.
  • No. 9 (trade), North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, New England Patriots.

What about Penei Sewell?

Former Desert Hills High and Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell is also a top 5 selection in Kiper’s latest mock, going to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 5. It’s the same spot Kiper had Sewell, who opted out of the 2020 season, going in his previous mock draft.

The reasoning for Sewell to Cincinnati is simple, according to Kiper.

“No team in the top 10 has a clearer need than the Bengals’ hole at tackle. They have to keep quarterback Joe Burrow on his feet,” wrote Kiper, who has Sewell as the No. 2 overall prospect in this year’s draft class. “Even though he didn’t play last season, his tape from the previous two years is enough to make him the top tackle in this class. Cincinnati could get a 10-year starter.”