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2021 NFL Draft Day 1 Recap: Winners & Losers

The first round of the NFL Draft Is over, but the drama is just getting started
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Jacksonville Jaguars: Winners

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Following Trevor Lawrence’s impressive freshman campaign in 2018 with the Clemson Tigers, it was a forgone conclusion that Lawrence would be drafted first overall in the NFL draft.

That sentiment stood true throughout his collegiate career, and if we’re being completely honest the entire sports world has known for months that Trevor was headed to Jacksonville.

Lawrence passed for over 10,000 yards and threw 90 touchdown passes in his three seasons with the Tigers.

His ability to read the defense, and adjust on the fly makes him a once in a generation talent.

Urban Meyer should be ecstatic that in his first tenure as a NFL head coach he will be coaching the undisputed best quarterback in this year’s draft.

New York Jets: Winners

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The Jets have a history of missing on quarterbacks.

In 1983, they selected Ken O’Brien over hall of famer Dan Marino.

In 2009, they traded up to grab the butt-fumbler himself Mark Sanchez

They reached on Geno Smith by drafting him 39th in a historically bad draft class in 2013.

And the most recent example is the #3 overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft Sam Darnold.

Darnold was traded this off-season to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the Panthers’ sixth round pick in 2021 and their second and fourth round picks in 2022.

While I believe this was premature, it was clearly evident that once the trade happened the Jets were going to draft a quarterback.

Zach Wilson is an incredible prospect that is going to bring an awe factor to the New York franchise.

Wilson is a natural passer, and his ability to accurately throw on the run makes him a perfect candidate for this new age of NFL quarterbacks.

He delivers strong throws and has an underrated amount of grit to to his game.

However, Wilson does have a tendency to throw into contested areas which might get him into trouble throwing against the tough defenses of the AFC East.

I would have gone with Justin Fields here, but this pick works.

San Francisco 49ers: Losers

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I spent hours pondering on whether or not the 49ers went in the right direction with North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, and couldn’t come up with any argument to justify the pick.

Hear me out. Lance has a tremendous ceiling that if reached gives me Russell Wilson vibes. He is elusive outside of the pocket, has decent accuracy when throwing downfield, and has all the intangibles that you would want in a mobile quarterback.

But I’m just not sold that he will reach the potential that everyone else seems to think he will.

The Niners traded away two future first-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to move up to #3 in this year’s draft, and it just doesn’t make sense why they wouldn’t draft Justin Fields here.

Atlanta Falcons: Depends on Julio

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The success of this pick depends on Julio Jones’ status with the team come next season. There has been speculation that Jones will be traded to free up cap space for the organization.

If Julio ultimately ends up departing from the Falcons, Kyle Pitts is an excellent choice to replace the 7x Pro-bowler.

Pitts is probably the most talented tight-end to ever play college football.

His explosiveness off the ball and physicality make a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He is too quick for outside linebackers, and he is too strong for defensive backs.

Pitts has a go up and get it capability that makes him a highly sought after prospect in the draft.

However despite all of the positives that Pitts brings, Atlanta drafting Pitts and keeping Julio could spell doomsday for the Falcons future.

Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Kyle Pitts could be a monstrous receiving core, but it doesn’t really help the Falcons in their quest to win a championship.

Matt Ryan is by no stretch a bad quarterback, but I’m not sure how far the Falcons can go with him at the helm.

Ryan is one of the most sackable quarterbacks in the NFL.

With an only average offensive line and a grotesquely bad defense, Atlanta needed a quarterback that can escape pocket pressure and extend plays.

Justin Fields would’ve been that for them.

It only makes sense, right? Draft the player that grew up just 30 miles from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It seems like a simple solution, but that’s what is expected from a team that blew a 28-3 lead (sorry Falcons fans).

Cincinnati Bengals: Losers

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This might have been the most puzzling pick of the night. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 32 times last season, and was on pace to be sacked 51 times had he not tore his left ACL in week 11 of the season.

Penei Sewell who was rumored to go as high as #2 in some mock draft picks was still available at the fifth pick, but instead the Bengals decided to go with Ja’Marr Chase.

We all know what Chase brings to the table so this is not me questioning his ability.

I also understand the concept of trying to reunify Ja’Marr with his former LSU teammate Joe Burrow, but the fit just isn’t right.

Burrow was having success passing to Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd last season, but his offensive line played a detrimental part in limiting the Cincinnati offense.

The offensive line was a hole that desperately needed to be filled, yet the Bengals chose to go in the opposite direction.

While Ja’Marr Chase might very well be the Bengals best receiver now, it won’t matter if Joe Burrow doesn’t have the time to get him the ball.

Miami Dolphins: Winners

Not much to say about the Dolphins. They took care of their needs in last year’s draft by boosting their offensive line, so I don’t have an issue with them drafting Jaylen Waddle with the sixth pick.

Waddle’s 4.37 40-yard dash time will be helpful for the Dolphins offense as he is a menace in the open field.

He is the definition of speed kills.

Waddle is joining his former quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The two had great chemistry at the University of Alabama, so we should expect nothing less from them in the NFL.

Dolphins fans should be excited about the future

Chicago Bears: Absolute Winners

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It was frustrating to watch Justin Fields sit as long as he did Thursday night.

Fields was considered to be the second best quarterback in the 2021 draft class for nearly two years, but for some reason the last six weeks have been a complete reversal of the once decisive narrative?

It’s idiotic.

Did people just forget what he did in the CFP Semifinal Game against Clemson? Did people forget about his raw athletic potential, his arm strength, versatility, etc?

Two guys that did not see any Power-5 competition all season were drafted before him.

The Jets, 49ers, and the Falcons were all teams that were in need of quarterback, but passed?

The Bears refused to make the same mistake.

The Bears traded up nine spots with the New York Giants to draft Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick.

For Ryan Pace and the rest of the Bears organization, this has to feel like an absolute steal. The city of Chicago should throw a parade. They just pulled a straight up finesse that no one saw coming.

Dallas Cowboys: Winners

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“How Bout’ Dem Cowboys?!”

Trust me I hate the saying just as much as the next guy, but the Cowboys have actually made a logical decision here.

The Cowboys used their first-round pick to select Micah Parsons out of Penn State.

I like this pick for them, because Parsons is a freak of nature that has explosive strength and speed. He excels when blitzing, but can just as easily drop back in pass coverage.

The Cowboys defense is steadily improving.

Their linebacker core will now consist of Micah Parsons, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch. They have also added free agent Keanu Neal.

Good pick for Dallas.

Day 2

The NFL Draft will continue tonight with rounds 2-3 airing on ESPN/ABC beginning at 7PM EST.

 

Author

  • just a sports casual who happens to write about the NBA and college football. Primarily based in Atlanta, GA. UGA undergrad.