Quarterbacks dominated the first-round of the 2021 NFL draft as teams looked to grab the players they hope will be franchise cornerstones for years to come.
There was little surprise at the No 1 overall pick in Thursday night’s event in Cleveland. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, considered one of the best college prospects in decades. Similarly, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson had long been predicted as the second overall pick for the New York Jets, and those predictions came true.
The first surprise came with the San Francisco 49ers, who had traded up for the third pick. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said he had been drawn to Trey Lance since starting the draft process in January and the Niners made that decision official when they drafted him despite speculation in recent weeks that Alabama’s Mac Jones would be the choice.
“If the whole NFL is assuming you’re doing one thing and you’re not doing that, we’re not going to work hard to correct that,” Shanahan said. “So let that be. Whatever way that went, it was going to go. It was crazy to watch where it all went, but no one has known anything but us. It’s been fun to watch. I haven’t been in many situations in my career like that.”
Lance started only 17 games at North Dakota State, where he displayed a strong arm, mobility and mastery of a pro-style offense against lesser competition. Lance played only one game in 2020 because the FCS moved its season to the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. But his production in 2019 was off the charts as he threw for 2,786 yards, 28 TDs and no interceptions and ran for 1,159 yards. Lance threw his only collegiate interception last fall against Central Arkansas in a game North Dakota State played in part to give him more exposure to NFL teams.
The Chicago Bears traded up nine spots with the New York Giants to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the No 11 overall pick. Fields threw for 5,373 yards, 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions for the Buckeyes.
“I feel like I know myself, I know how much work I’ve put in the game,” Fields said. “I know how much I love the game. I know how much I want to be great. It just comes a point in time when you have to cut all that criticism out.”
The Bears sent the No 20 pick and a fifth-rounder this year along with a first-rounder and fourth-rounder next year to the Giants for Fields.
The next quarterback off the board was Alabama’s Jones with the No 15 pick to the New England Patriots, their biggest move to date to bring in a player to possibly be a long-term replacement for Tom Brady.
It was believed the Patriots would have to trade up to get one of the consensus top five quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. It turned out Jones fell right into their lap. He becomes the first quarterback selected in the first round during Bill Belichick’s 21-year tenure in New England.
The Atlanta Falcons picked the most talented non-quarterback in the draft, tight end Kyle Pitts, at No 4. The first defensive player off the board was cornerback Jaycee Horn who went to the Carolina Panthers at No 8.
Full first-round draft selections
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, quarterback, Clemson.
2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson, quarterback, BYU.
3) San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, quarterback, North Dakota State.
4) Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, tight end, Florida.
5) Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, wide receiver, LSU.
6) Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle, wide receiver, Alabama.
7) Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell, offensive tackle, Oregon.
8) Carolina Panthers: Jaycee Horn, cornerback, South Carolina.
9) Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, cornerback, Alabama.
10) Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith, wide receiver, Alabama.
11) Chicago Bears: Justin Fields, quarterback, Ohio State.
12) Dallas Cowboys: Micah Parsons, linebacker, Penn State.
13) Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, guard, Northwestern.
14) New York Jets: Alijah Vera-Tucker, offensive tackle, USC.
15) New England Patriots: Mac Jones, quarterback, Alabama.
16) Arizona Cardinals: Zaven Collins, linebacker, Tulsa.
17) Las Vegas Raiders: Alex Leatherwood, guard, Alabama.
18) Miami Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips, defensive end, Miami.
19) Washington: Jamin Davis, linebacker, Kentucky.
20) New York Giants: Kadarius Toney, wide receiver, Florida.
21) Indianapolis Colts: Kwity Paye, defensive end, Michigan.
22) Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, cornerback, Virginia Tech.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, offensive tackle, Virginia Tech.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, running back, Alabama.
25) Jacksonville Jaguars: Travis Etienne, running back, Clemson.
26) Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome II, cornerback, Northwestern.
27) Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, wide receiver, Minnesota.
28) New Orleans Saints: Payton Turner, defensive end, Houston.
29) Green Bay Packers: Eric Stokes, cornerback, Georgia.
30) Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau, defensive end, Miami.
31) Baltimore Ravens: Jayson Oweh, linebacker, Penn State.
32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Tryon, linebacker, Washington.
Sources from: The Guardian