2021 NFL Draft First Round
By Chris Malumphy
With the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence led the Tigers to an undefeated national championship season in 2018. Clemson lost the national championship following the 2019 season and was defeated in the national championship semi-final game at the Super Bowl following the 2020 season. Those were his only collegiate losses finishing 34-2. The selection marked the first time that the Jaguars had the top pick in the draft. Jacksonville's inaugural season was in 1995. The Jaguars have had the second pick in the draft on three occasions selecting tackle Tony Boselli in 1995, linebacker Kevin Hardy in 1996 and tackle Luke Joeckel in 2013. The Jaguars will be moving on from a 1-15 season in 2020 under the command of new head coach Urban Meyer who won two national championships at Florida in 2006 and 2008 and another at Ohio State in 2014. Meyer, Pop Warner and Nick Saban are the only collegiate coaches to win the national championship at two schools.
In 2018 the New York Jets used the second pick in the draft on quarterback Sam Darnold from USC. Just three years later, Darnold has been dealt to the Carolina Panthers and the Jets used the 2nd pick to take quarterback Zach Wilson from BYU.
GM John Lynch and Coach Kyle Shanahan finally solved the mystery pundits wondered about the past several weeks since their team traded up to the third pick in the draft as the San Francisco 49ers selected Trey Lance from North Dakota State. Lance played only 17 collegiate games and just one this past season.
This is the third time quarterbacks were taken with the first three picks in the draft: 1971 (Jim Plunkett, Archie Manning & Dan Pastorini) and 1999 (Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb & Akili Smith).
The Atlanta Falcons provided quarterback Matt Ryan with an additional target by selecting Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the fourth selection in the draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals used the fifth pick in the draft to help last year's top pick quarterback Joe Burrow by selecting a former college teammate Ja'Marr Chase a wide receiver from LSU. Many thought the Bengals would pick tackle Penei Sewell from Oregon to protect Burrow who was injured last season. Chase, widely regarded as the best receiver in the draft, will take defenders in another direction.
The sixth pick in the draft was Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle by the Miami Dolphins. The selection marked the second pick in a row that reunited a wide receiver with his former collegiate quarterback, this time Tua Tagovailoa.
Oregon tackle Penei Sewell became the first selection by Dan Campbell and the new front office regime running the Detroit Lions.
Eschewing a chance to draft a quarterback and thus showing some confidence in newly acquired Sam Darnold, the Carolina Panthers used the eighth pick in the draft to select defensive back Jaycee Horn from South Carolina. Horn is the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn who once earned the wrath of an NFL Commissioner by pulling out his cell phone to celebrate in the endzone after scoring a touchdown.
The Denver Broncos also passed an opportunity to improve their quarterback position and instead selected Alabama defensive back Patrick Surtain Jr., whose father also played the position. At least for the moment, the Broncos are sticking with Drew Lock and newly acquired Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded the 12th pick in the draft along with a third rounder to the Dallas Cowboys for the 10th pick and selected talented Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith whose only questionable asset is a slight build.
The Chicago Bears traded with the New York Giants to move up to the 11th position in the draft. The Bears selected The Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who never lost a game in the Big Ten and who beat Trevor Lawrence and Clemson in the national championship semi-final earlier this year.
Hoping to rebuild a porous defense, the Dallas Cowboys used the 12th pick on Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, considered perhaps the best defensive player in the draft. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has a new protector in guard Rashawn Slater from Northwestern.
The New York Jets traded up with the Minnesota Vikings to protect their new quarterback Zach Wilson and draft USC guard Alizah Vera-Tucker.
Pre-draft, a major question was whether the New England Patriots wouldmove up to draft a quarterback or trade back as has been their want in recent years to gain additional picks. As usual, the Patriots under Coach Bill Belichick remained silent until necessary. Then they nabbed national championship winning quarterback Mac Jones from Alabama, the fourth member of the Crimson Tide drafted in the first half of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Arizona Cardinas used the 16th pick in the draft on Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins, the winner of the Bronko Nagurski award for the best defensive player in the 2020 season.
Alabama tackle Alex Leatherwood, who won the Outland Trophy, was drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders. Pundits considered him a reach being drafted so high. He may end up playing guard if not right tackle.
With their second pick in the first round, the Miami Dolphins picked defensive end Jaelan Phillips from Miami. The Washington Football Team did not get a quarterback, but continued to build a stellar defense by selecting Kentucky lineback Jamin Davis. With a pick they obtained in a swap with the Bears, the New York Giants picked wide receiver Kadarius Toney from Florida.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye with the 21st pick. Division rival Tennessee Titans countered with defense back Caleb Farley from Virginia Tech who is great at man coverage, but has had back problems and health issues. If healthy, Farley could become one of the top defenders in the league. A second straight Viginia Tech player was taken when the Minnesota Vikings picked tackle Christian Darrisaw
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected the first running back in the 2021 NFL Draft, taking Najee Harriss from Alabama, adding a much needed running back with pass-catching abilities.
Using their second first round selection, the Jacksonville Jaguars reunited Clemson teammates by selecting running back Travis Etienne to play alongside quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The Cleveland Browns, the hosts of the 2021 NFL Draft, picked Northwestern defensive back Greg Newsome II to aid a defense that already has two top rated, but oft injured, corners: Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams. Short of wide receivers, the Baltimore Ravens select Rashod Bateman of Minnesota.
Working on their defense, the New Orleans Saints added Payton Turner, a defensive end from Houston.
The Green Bay Packers, who have learned that quarterback Aaron Rogers no longer wants to be with the team, still stinging from the Packer's selection of quarterback Jordan Love a year ago, selected Eric Stokes, a defensive back from Georgia.
With the two top running backs gone, the Buffalo Bills added defensive end Gregory Rousseau from Miami. The Baltimore Ravens drafted swift Penn State linebacker Jayson Oweh.
The Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers took linebacker Joe Tryon from Washington with the last pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
|2021 NFL Draft Round One|
|1||2||2||Zach Wilson||Jets||QB||Brigham Young|
|1||3||3||Trey Lance||49ers||QB||North Dakota State||Texans via Dolphins|
|1||5||5||Ja'Marr Chase||Bengals||WR||Louisiana State|
|1||8||8||Jaycee Horn||Panthers||DB||South Carolina|
|1||11||11||Justin Fields||Bears||QB||Ohio State||Giants|
|1||12||12||Micah Parsons||Cowboys||LB||Penn State||49ers via Dolphins and Eagles|
|1||22||22||Caleb Farley||Titans||DB||Virginia Tech|
|1||23||23||Christian Darrisaw||Vikings||T||Virginia Tech||Seahawks via Jets|
|1||31||31||Jayson Oweh||Ravens||LB||Penn State||Chiefs|