What to remember from the 2021 NFL Draft first round


NFL Draft 2021

Quarterbacks, crashes and surprises, here’s what to take away from the evening of the first round during the NFL Draft 2021.

A trio of quarterbacks on the podium

We expected it and there weren’t any surprises in the top 3 of this year’s draft, which was made up entirely of quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance, here is the trifecta winner of the 2021 vintage, which respectively take the direction of Jacksonville, New York and San Francisco. While there was almost no doubt as to the selection of the first two, Lance got him the favor of the 49ers who hesitated with Mac Jones, insistently announced in the Bay until the last moment.

Receivers are always popular

If the quarterbacks monopolized the first places, the targets quickly followed with three receivers / tight ends to complete the top 6. A real phenomenon, Kyle Pitts was chosen by Atlanta in fourth position, making him the tight end drafted the most. high since Vernon Davis (chosen in sixth position in 2006) and quite simply the first player in history to slip into the top 4 on this position.

Behind, Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle landed in Cincinnati and Miami, respectively. Fate of fate or forced meeting, they will each find the quarterback with whom they played in NCAA last year: Joe Burrow (LSU) for the first, Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) for the second.

With six skills players to the first six positions, the Draft 2021 became the second ceremony since 1967 (along with that of 1999) to take such a start. Note that three other receivers were chosen in the first round (Devonta Smith in No. 10 by the Eagles, Kadarius Toney in No. 20 by the Giants and Rashod Bateman in No. 27 by the Ravens), thus tying the score of the last year and proving that this position is still valuable.

Justin Fields, savior of Matt Nagy

If the top 10 was relatively calm in terms of trade, things started to get going as soon as they left these top ten places. If Philadelphia rose two ranks to close the said top 10 (thanks to an astonishing exchange with Dallas, yet a historic division rival), we will especially remember the trade up of the Bears in eleventh position to set their sights on Justin Fields. Long considered the second best quarterback in the draft, the Ohio State prospect finally falls into the hands of Matt Nagy who will try to save his skin with this talented young pitcher.

Mac Jones has indeed fallen

Long hoped for in third place in San Francisco, Mac Jones did not live the happy evening to which he was intended. Present in the green room, he had to wait for the fifteenth choice to hear Roger Goodell pronounce his name and make his entrance on the podium. If the former Alabama quarterback can be enraged to be down twelve places compared to expectations, he can only be happy to land at the Patriots where the comparisons are already fuse with a certain Tom Brady. Note that Jones is the first QB selected in the first round of the Bill Belichick era and that he will therefore have some pressure on his shoulders when he recovers the position of Cam Newton, for the moment still presented as the holder for 2021.

The defense plays the latecomers

Announced as a rather offensive vintage by observers, the 2021 vintage did not deliver any surprises on this side. Five quarterbacks, three receivers, a tight-end and three offensive linemen, the first half of the first round was taken over by players from the offensive squads. If Jaycee Horn (Panthers) and Patrick Surtain Jr. (Broncos) are invited in the top 10 and the duo Micah Parsons (Cowboys) / Zaven Collins (Cardinals) have rocked in extremis in the top 16, it is clear that the defenders were rather called in at the end of the evening.

Nine defenders out of the sixteen last choices (including six edge rushers or defensive ends) but no inner defensive lineman or safety player, it will surely be necessary to wait until tonight to see the NFL franchises take care of the necessary positions on the defensive side. This lack of defenders is however to be qualified, because the number of selected in the first round is almost equivalent to last year (13 in 2021, 14 in 2020) even if five had been chosen in the top 10. Almost as many therefore, but later.

Alabama, official supplier to the NFL

It’s no secret that Alabama is one of the top talent providers for the professional world and it was true again this year. Indeed, six Crimson Tide players (Waddle, Surtain Jr., Smith, Jones, Leatherwood, Harris) were selected in the first round, tying a record previously held by the University of Miami. Another proof, if more were needed, that Nick Saban knows how to send his players to the NFL.

The draft is unpredictable

If some choices are indisputable, the situation of some players still raises questions at the end of the first round. Astonishing falls and players who invited themselves to the first round to everyone’s surprise, 2021 has not escaped logic. Among the players who slipped much lower than where they were expected, the most surprising remains Christian Darrisaw. Considered the third best tackle of this vintage – behind Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater – he had to wait the twenty-third choice and a call of the Vikings to find its base. This situation was all the more surprising given that Alex Leatherwood, expected out of the first round, was invited to seventeenth position when he landed with the Raiders. Astonishing but in the style of GM Mike Mayock since his arrival in Las Vegas, with a reflection similar to that carried out last year when choosing Damon Arnette.

Same story at the end of the first round with risky choices from the Saints and the Packers. While Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame) or Azeez Ojulari (Edge, Georgia) kept falling, New Orleans bet on the intriguing defensive end Payton Turner, while Green Bay bet on Erik Stokes as cornerback ; a nice snub to Aaron Rodgers, cold with the franchise and who would surely have preferred an offensive choice. If it is too early to speak of bad choices, the term reach may, on the other hand, seem quite appropriate.

Besides that, the logic of Big Boards has been foiled again. Jaycee Horn (Panthers) chosen just before Patrick Surtain Jr. (Broncos), Jamin Davis (Football Team) in the first round and not Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jayson Oweh (Ravens) and Joe Tryon (Buccaneers) at the end of the first round or even Kadarius Toney (Giants) in the top 20, nothing was written in advance. If some forecasts seem more than some before the event, the reality of the ceremony is often quite different.

Appointment tonight from 1:00 am for the continuation of the NFL Draft 2021, with the second and third rounds that will be on the program.

Image on top credit: Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics



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