How Rams-Cardinals, Bears-Packers Impacts Jaguars 2021 Draft Positioning

The Jacksonville Jaguars have some draft pick positioning on the line with several NFC games this weekend, a result of the Jalen Ramsey trade from last season.
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The race for Trevor Lawrence is over and the Jacksonville Jaguars are standing alone at the finish line. But despite the fervor spreading through Florida about the top pick, there are other important draft slots that are still to be decided for the Jaguars. 

With the No. 1 overall pick officially belonging to the Jaguars for the first time in franchise history, it is understandable for most of the attention to center around that. In a way, securing the top pick before Week 17 has made some people forget that there is still, you know, an entire week of regular season football left to be played. 

Jacksonville currently holds 11 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, so they still have 10 selections to make after the No. 1 pick (pending no trades are made). One of the most valuable of these picks came via a trade that sent a Pro Bowl defender to the NFC, making Week 17's NFC slate key for the Jaguars.

So, which Week 17 games will still impact Jacksonville's draft positions? We take a look here. 

Arizona Cardinals (8-7) at Los Angeles Rams (9-6)

This is a key game for Jaguars' draft purposes due to last year's Jalen Ramsey trade. The Rams have since built their secondary around Ramsey, while the Jaguars have their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft as a result. Jacksonville got the No. 20 overall pick out of the trade last season, using it to select defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson.

So how much could this year's extra first-round pick be impacted in Week 17? Quite a bit. The Rams have a good shot to make the playoffs thanks to their record, but Sunday against the Cardinals will be interesting for both sides.

The Rams will start backup quarterback John Wolford as a result of Jared Goff's thumb injury. The Cardinals, meanwhile, haven't provided a ton of clarity on whether starting quarterback and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray will be able to play due to a "lower leg" injury.

If the season ended today, Jacksonville's second first-round pick would be at No. 21 overall according to Tankathon. This is because the Rams are currently slated to be in the playoffs.

If the Rams miss out on the postseason, the pick could fall to as low as No. 17.

Essentially, the Rams can not pick any lower than 17th overall since they will have a better record than the team at No. 16, the Las Vegas Raiders. If they miss the playoffs, the pick will be either No. 17 or No. 18, depending on who finishes in the playoff picture in the AFC. The Rams can't pick after the Titans or Colts if one of those two teams misses the playoffs, so that position would depend on if one or two AFC South teams make the postseason. 

But there is still a scenario in which the Rams lose on Sunday and still make the playoffs, which would push the pick back further down the first round until the Rams lose a game. This leads us to our next game with Jaguars implications. 

Green Bay Packers (12-3) at Chicago Bears (8-7)

The Rams will get into the postseason with either a win or tie with the Cardinals, or if the Bears lose or tie in Week 17. If they lose to the Cardinals, they can still get in with a Bears tie or loss.

This means the Bears-Packers matchup in Week 17 will play a key role in the event the Rams do lose in Week 17. If the Rams lose in Week 17 and the Bears beat the Packers, then the Rams miss the playoffs. If the Bears lose in Week 17, however, then the result of Rams-Cardinals won't matter much because the Rams would still have a spot in the playoffs. 

Perhaps unluckily for the Jaguars, the Packers have a lot to play for in Week 17. They can clinch the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye with a win or a tie over the Bears, so it is highly unlikely they are going to just let the Bears roll over their backups. 

TL;DR: The Jaguars can get a first-round pick at No. 17 or No. 18 if the Rams lose on Sunday and the Bears win.  

If the Bears lose or tie this weekend, the Rams will be in the playoffs and the pick will be somewhere in the 20s -- or potentially at No. 19 overall in the event they lose in the first round of the playoffs and the NFC East divisional winner advances ... but that can be sorted out later.

Remember, teams eliminated in the Wild Card round get picks 19-24. Teams eliminated in the Divisional round get picks 25-28, and teams eliminated in the Conference Championships get picks 29-30.