(Photo of Dez Fitzpatrick: Winslow Townson - USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A key facet of the college football offseason is just around the corner, as the 2021 NFL Draft is now less than a week away. When the draft gets underway on Thursday, Apr. 29, three Louisville football players are likely to hear their name called: wide receivers Tutu Atwell & Dez Fitzpatrick, and running back Javian Hawkins.
As we inch closer to the finding out where the trio of former Cardinals will be heading to start their respective professional careers, mock draft season continues to be in full swing.
All three of Louisville's top NFL prospects have found themselves on a wide variety of big boards and mock drafts alike. With outlets beginning to publish some of their final mocks of the draft season, where are they being projected to go?
Over the last week, the folks over at CBS Sports have released two separate seven-round mocks from both Josh Edwards and Ryan Wilson. Edwards has Atwell and Fitzpatrick both going to the Los Angeles Rams with the No. 88 and No. 252 overall picks, respectively, but does not list Hawkins. Wilson has Atwell going No. 133 overall to the New Orleans Saints, Fitzpatrick at No. 205 overall to the Tennessee Titans, and Hawkins five picks later at No. 210 to the Baltimore Ravens.
Of note, Chris Trapasso has an interesting three-round mock. He has Atwell going No. 97 overall to the Los Angeles Chargers, which isn't all that surprising, but what does come as a bit of an eyebrow-raiser is that he lists Fitzpatrick as going No. 105 overall to the New Orleans Saints.
As always, Dane Brugler has provided a wealth of knowledge this draft season between his annual 'The Beast' draft guide, to his seven-round mock where he breaks down every pick. He has Atwell going No. 85 overall to the Titans, Hawkins at No. 199 overall to the Minnesota VIkings, and Fitzpatrick going undrafted. For what it's worth, he lists him as the No. 231 overall prospect in the class, meaning he still has potential to be called as part of the 259 total picks this year. Additionally, Atwell and Hawkins were the No. 95 and 202 prospects, respectively.
Unlike most of the draft pundits on this list so far, Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer has all three of Louisville's top NFL prospects on his seven-round mock. Continuing with the trend, Atwell once again is the first Cardinal off the board, this time going No. 95 overall to the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After that, he has Hawkins going No. 169 overall to the Cleveland Browns and then Fitzpatrick at No. 193 overall to the Carolina Panthers. If this does come to fruition, hopefully former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater remains in Charlotte.
When you think of NFL mock drafts, the two people that usually come to mind first for most people are Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay. Both recently took place in an interesting exercise where they played GM and drafted against each other in a three-round mock. McShay was the one to select Atwell, doing so with the No. 38 overall pick belonging to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Both draft analysts have each listed Atwell on their most recent individual two-round mock drafts as well. Unsurprisingly, McShay is higher on Atwell than Kiper, and has him barely missing the first round by going No. 33 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars - but also notes Green Bay could pick him up at No. 29. Kiper lists him at No. 49 overall to the Arizona Cardinals.
When NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah released his mock draft 1.0, he listed Atwell as the No. 29 overall pick to the Packers. As of his mock draft 3.0, Atwell is not listed in the first round mock. In Cory McCann Ezring's three-round mock, who write for Sports Illustrated's NFL Draft Bible, he has Fitzpatrick going No. 102 overall to the San Francisco 49ers.
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