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What we learned from day one of the 2021 NFL Draft

The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft took place Thursday night under the league’s strict hierarchy: quarterbacks came first, followed by those who catch passes from them and protect them, with defenders tasked with keeping them in check. prevent riding in the back.

And just to add further drama to the proceedings, a member of the league’s quarterback aristocracy has done his best to outshine the newcomers.

For the first time since 1999, quarterbacks were selected with the top three picks: Trevor Lawrence of Clemson by the Jacksonville Jaguars at No.1, Zach Wilson of Brigham Young by the Jets at No.2 and Trey Lance of the State of North Dakota by San Francisco. 49ers at n ° 3.

The Lawrence and Wilson selections were dropped weeks ago. Lance’s choice of San Francisco over Alabama’s Mac Jones or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, on the other hand, had been a well-kept secret.

Lance led the Bison to the National Football Championship Subdivision in 2019, with 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions against a competition of a much lower caliber than Fields or Jones in their Power 5 conferences. He only played one. only game in 2020 due to postponements and cancellations related to coronaviruses before declaring himself for the draft. A coach of Kyle Shanahan’s insight, however, can undoubtedly accurately assess a small program prospect with limited playing time.

Lance will replace Jimmy Garoppolo, the small program prospect with limited playing time for which Shanahan’s 49ers traded in 2017, vastly overpaid and ultimately disenchanted.

Fields, who led the Buckeyes to back-to-back college football playoff appearances, fell to the Chicago Bears, who traded to draft him with the 11th pick. He is expected to quickly supplant Andy Dalton and Nick Foles, the NFL versions of Art Garfunkel and John Oates.

The New England Patriots then selected Jones with the 15th pick overall. Jones led the Crimson Tide to the national championship in 2020 under near ideal conditions; five of his college teammates were selected from the top 24 picks in the draft. Now he joins one of the most successful American sports franchises of the 21st century. Some guys are lucky.

Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith were the last quarterbacks to be selected with the top three caps in an NFL Draft. Only McNabb has had a remarkable career, which is a reminder that the best quarterbacks usually find themselves at the mercy of consistently dysfunctional franchises like the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. Or, in this year’s case, the Jaguars and Jets.

After the quarters there was a series of pass catchers.

The Atlanta Falcons have selected tight end Kyle Pitts, who caught 12 touchdowns in eight games for Florida last year, at No. 4. Most-drafted tight end in history, Pitts is expected to revolutionize the way NFL offenses use tight ends, just like Kellen Winslow, Tony Gonzalez, Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle, Travis Kelce and many more have revolutionized the position over the past 50 years. Apparently, the tight final position has undergone as many revolutions as 19th century Italy.

The Cincinnati Bengals selected Louisiana state receiver Ja’Marr Chase with the fifth pick, reuniting him with Joe Burrow, Chase’s varsity quarterback and first pick in last year’s draft. If the Bengals transform into a team of LSU alumni, it will at least give them an identity for the first time since Boomer Esiason left in 1993.

Alabama quick receiver Jaylen Waddle joined the Miami Dolphins with the next pick, No.6 overall, edging out his more accomplished teammate DeVonta Smith, who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 10th. choice.

Smith is dubbed the Slim Reaper, which sounds like the only Eminem / Iron Maiden tribute band in the world, but instead refers to the fact that Smith weighs around 166 pounds, a few Waffle House breakfasts below the NFL minimum threshold. Smith should have worn the 45-pound Heisman Trophy he won last season on a ladder with him to put the evaluators more at ease.

Like Chase, Waddle and Smith will return to their college quarters Tua Tagovailoa (in Miami) and Jalen Hurts (in Philadelphia). But it’s not really noticeable when this sort of thing happens to the Alabama players.

By the time NFL teams started drafting defenders, their top picks turned out to be cornerbacks with famous dads.

The Carolina Panthers selected Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) with the eighth pick. Horn’s father, Joe Horn, was an outstanding wide receiver, best known for using a cell phone as an accessory during a touchdown celebration against the Giants in 2003. Horn used a flip phone, retroactively gagging a “daddy joke”.

Patrick Surtain II (Alabama) joined the Denver Broncos with the ninth pick. His father played for the great defenses of the Miami Dolphins in the early 2000s, which are poorly remembered mostly because their crimes were terrible.

Other second-generation cornerbacks will be drafted in subsequent rounds, including Asante Samuel Jr. of Florida State, whose father allowed an Eli Manning interception to bounce off his hands in the fourth quarter of the game. Super Bowl XLII, making him the only eligible New England Patriots player. for the giants’ ring of honor.

The Jets traded to the 14th pick of the 23rd pick (acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in last year’s Jamal Adams deal) to select Southern Cal offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, who will provide insurance against the Too many Wilson’s early career hits as did the Jets’ last fourteen quarterback prospects.

As for the Giants, general manager Dave Gettleman chose to trade in the first round for the first time in his long career, dropping from the 11th pick to get an additional first round pick in 2022, plus the change. In their adjusted 20-place spot, the Giants chose versatile Florida wide receiver-rusher Kadarius Toney.

Gettleman said last week that he was always willing to trade down, but the price was never right. “I don’t want to be robbed,” he said.

No NFL personality looks more like a crotchety uncle who trades at a used car dealership than Gettleman, but he seems to have struck a smart deal this time around.

A report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that a disgruntled Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to return to the Green Bay Packers sent shockwaves through the league in the hours leading up to the draft. Rodgers, the most valuable defending player and a recent “Jeopardy!” the guest host, wasn’t so secretly upset when the Packers drafted their potential replacement, Jordan Love, in last year’s opening round and other organizational decisions.

The Packers could have picked a wide receiver with the 29th pick, which would have been the day’s equivalent of a diamond brooch draft and a tearful apology. Instead, they picked Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes.

As Rodgers’ situation continues to evolve, few teams have the resources to trade for him. What if Rodgers chooses to retire, “Jeopardy!” better to hire LeVar Burton.

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