By Matteo Venieri
Boston University News Service
After months of film study and speculation, league commissioner Roger Goodell finally kicked off the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland on Thursday night. One position dominated the first round: quarterbacks. Three quarterbacks were selected with the first three picks for the first time since1999.
After the highly anticipated picks of Trevor Lawrence by the Jaguars and Zach Wilson by the Jets, the 49ers selected Trey Lance from North Dakota State in the first big surprise of the four-hour event.
Kyle Pitts was the first non-quarterback selected, landing in Atlanta at No. 4 and becoming the highest tight taken in the common draft era. With the unknown future of star wide receiver Julio Jones, the Falcons secured another great offensive weapon for Matt Ryan.
When at No. 9, the Broncos shocked many by picking the first defensive player of the night in Patrick Surtain II, QBs Justin Fields and Mac Jones inevitably fell out of the top 10. But not for long. The Bears seized the opportunity and traded up to No. 11 to select the former Ohio State standout. Four spots later, Jones fell to the Patriots.
Another consistent trend of the night was the reunion of many young quarterbacks with their former college teammates. It started at No. 5, where the Bengals reunited Joe Burrow with Ja’Marr Chase, his favorite target at Louisiana State University (LSU).
The Dolphins and the Eagles paired two more offensive duos — both with Alabama roots. In Miami, Jaylen Waddle will catch passes from his former Crimson Tide teammate Tua Tagovailoa. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts celebrated DeVonta Smith’s arrival in Philadelphia on Twitter.
Lastly, at No. 25, Jacksonville reunited Lawrence and Clemson running back Travis Etienne, recreating a duo that took the Tigers to a national championship in 2019.
By the time Green Bay was on the clock at No. 29, another story from Wisconsin had already captured the attention of most NFL fans. In fact, the biggest news of the day was that Aaron Rodgers’ discontent with the team had reached its breaking point and he reportedly wanted out of Green Bay.
With two more days to go in the draft and team executives for the 32 teams all in town at the same time, many teams might decide to rethink their strategy and try to pry away the three-time MVP from the Packers.
Below is the complete list of the players selected in the first round.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence | QB | Clemson
- New York Jets – Zach Wilson | QB | BYU
- San Francisco 49ers (via HOU, MIA) – Trey Lance | QB | North Dakota State
- Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts | TE | Florida
- Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase | WR | LSU
- Miami Dolphins (via PHI) – Jaylen Waddle | WR | Alabama
- Detroit Lions – Penei Sewell | OT | Oregon
- Carolina Panthers – Jaycee Horn | CB | South Carolina
- Denver Broncos – Patrick Surtain II | CB | Alabama
- Philadelphia Eagles (via DAL) – DeVonta Smith | WR | Alabama
- Chicago Bears (via NYG) – Justin Fields | QB | Ohio State
- Dallas Cowboys (via PHI, SF, MIA) – Micah Parsons | LB | Penn State
- Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater | OT | Northwestern
- New York Jets (via MIN) – Alijah Vera-Tucker | OL | USC
- New England Patriots – Mac Jones | QB | Alabama
- Arizona Cardinals – Zaven Collins | LB | Tulsa
- Las Vegas Raiders – Alex Leatherwood | OT | Alabama
- Miami Dolphins – Jaelan Phillips | DE | Miami
- Washington Football Team – Jamin Davis | LB | Kentucky
- New York Giants (via CHI) – Kadarius Toney | WR | Florida
- Indianapolis Colts – Kwity Paye | DE | Michigan
- Tennessee Titans – Caleb Farley | CB | Virginia Tech
- Minnesota Vikings (via NYJ, SEA) – Christian Darrisaw | OT | Virginia Tech
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Najee Harris | RB | Alabama
- Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR) – Travis Etienne | RB | Clemson
- Cleveland Browns – Greg Newsome II | CB | Northwestern
- Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman | WR | Minnesota
- New Orleans Saints – Payton Turner | DE | Houston
- Green Bay Packers – Eric Stokes | CB | Georgia
- Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau | DE | Miami
- Baltimore Ravens (via KC) – Jayson Oweh | DE | Penn State
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joe Tryon | LB | Washington