The 2021 NFL draft is upon us and what a wild night it was. With teams looking to make a splash in order to turn their franchises around, we were treated to a surprising amount of well-predicted picks that didn’t come as too much of a shock. But still, the NFL Draft always gives us a few surprises along the way.
Here are the first 16 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft!
#1 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
This was as expected. If you didn’t see this coming, then I hope you enjoy your first full season of professional football. Urban Meyer starting his tenure off in Jacksonville with a bang, and if you’re #DuvalTilYouDie, you gotta love how this franchise is turning around. For Lawrence, a QB who never lost a regular-season game in high school or college, it might be a bit of a culture shock as he heads to the NFL’s basement dwellers. But then again, it’s a new year full of endless possibilities!
#2 – New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The Cobra Kai dojo is moving to East Rutherford, New Jersey. Another pick that could have been called from a mile away. Let’s just hope that this new QB is able to help the Jets take off. Seriously. New York is one of the biggest markets in the country and both teams have been consistently in the dumpster for the last few years. Can Wilson bring hope back to MetLife? Or is he another signal-caller for yet another Jets team that simply can’t take off? Relatively untested at BYU, Wilson will be entering a fiercely competitive AFC East that won’t be so easy.
#3 – San Francisco 49ers (from Miami via Houston) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
It was either Mac Jones or Trey Lance and the 49ers went with North Dakota State’s Lance. 318 career passing attempts is the fewest from a Top 3 selection ever. Lance has only started 17 games at the college level. And now? He’s San Francisco’s third overall pick. If you’re a big believer in underdog stories, Trey Lance is the player for you. A threat in the air and on the ground, Lance is a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan‘s offense. Love this pick. With Lance’s inexperience being a factor, Jimmy Garropolo would more than likely be the starter next season and then hand over the reins.
#4 – Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Matt Ryan has had deep threats, but the thing he’s been missing for the last few years is a tight end who is a matchup nightmare. Now he’s got a 6′-6″ option that can fly down the field? Kyle Pitts was an absolute no-brainer at fourth overall. Solid pick. Looks to have a similar skillset to Darren Waller in Oakland, and we all know what he can do. Cannot wait to see how he does in Atlanta.
#5 – Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Chase is the best WR in this draft class. It’s a good pick, but when Joe Burrow has no protection up front… this pick becomes a bit of a head-scratcher. Yes, Chase and Burrow played together, but he has yet to play with a decent offensive line. Sure, get the best wideout on the board, but…. the Bengals need protection up front. Bengals gonna Bengal, I guess.
#6 – Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
So, 17 collegiate touchdowns, averaging 44 yards? Yeah, Jaylen Waddle is a threat. But he’s a great piece for Miami’s offense, as it gives them a speed threat down low, and a deep target who can stretch the field. Waddle’s a Tyreek Hill type weapon, and one that can put himself on the map in Miami.
#7 – Detroit Lions – Penei Sewell, OL-Tackle, Oregon
If Sewell had stayed another year at Oregon, he’s a top-3 player in 2022. The best offensive lineman on the board and Detroit snagged him. Great solid pick. Here for it.
#8 – Carolina Panthers – Jaycee Horn, DB, South Carolina
Sam Darnold needs offensive line help. But then again, Jaycee Horn isn’t a nothing pick. “The 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback was targeted 24 times through seven games in 2020, and allowed eight catches, three for touchdowns, but intercepted two passes. He also had six pass deflections. Quarterbacks had a 54.9 passer rating when targeting him.” Not terrible according to the Charlotte Observer.
#9 – Denver Broncos – Pat Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The best, most technically sound cornerback in this draft, and Denver got him. While the Carolina Panthers moved on Horn, the Broncos are getting a guy who has played against elite competition in the SEC and will make a difference quickly in the Denver secondary.
#10 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Dallas) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The first draft trade! Huzzah! Within the division!? You love to see it. In 2020, Smith recorded over 1,800 yards with 23 touchdowns on his way to the Heisman. After Jalen Reagor didn’t pan out for the Eagles last year, the addition of Smith gives Jalen Hurts a few more weapons.
#11 – Chicago Bears (from Giants) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Passing on Patrick Mahomes? Boo. Trading up to get Justin Fields? That’s more like it! The Chicago Bears get their new signal-caller after the Mitch Trubisky Era failure. Can the Georgia-born Buckeye turn the Bears around? Well, it looks like the winds of change are blowing in the Windy City!
#12 – Dallas Cowboys (from Philadelphia from Miami via San Francisco) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Micah Parsons opted out of the 2020 season, but had already shown everyone exactly who he was. Easily the best defensive player in this draft. Big size, with speed that kills, is what Micah Parson gives the Cowboys at linebacker. If he had played in 2020, there’s no way he gets taken 12th. This a steal for Dallas.
#13 – Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater, OL-Tackle, Northwestern
Excellent footwork. Great Hands. A great addition to the Chargers O-Line.
#14 – New York Jets (from Minnesota) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL-Guard, USC
A surprising move for the Jets, who are obviously looking to turn the fate of their organization around. But what’s a great way to let your #2 pick Zach Wilson feel good about playing for Gang Green? Get him some protection.
#15 – New England Patriots – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Bill Belichick waited through 14 picks just to get a guy who fits perfectly into his offense. While the Jets, Bears, Jaguars, and 49ers all got their guys early, Bill Belichick waited. Not a single asset sent away in order to get his guy. Wild. Mac Jones is maybe the biggest boom or bust QB on the board in the first round, but as we’ve seen, Belichick is a bit of a kingmaker. Is this another case of the Patriots understanding a player’s value and letting him fall right into their hands? Only time will tell, but they have an excellent track record.
#16 – Arizona Cardinals – Zaven Collins – LB – Tulsa
Collins is the newest versatile chess piece in the ever-evolving Cardinals defense. The Cardinals now have more speed and power on the other side of the ball.
And that’s how the cookie crumbled. Lots of solid selections from teams who needed to have good draft days. The New York Jets and Chicago Bears solidified some problem areas with their respective picks. Meanwhile, the Bengals and Panthers made some truly head-scratching moves. But then again, none of the players selected tonight have played an NFL snap, so the sky remains the limit!
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