After much anticipation, the NFL Draft 2021 is now underway with the first-round picks being decided. Who was the number one pick and what was the biggest surprise of opening night? Read on as we delve into a selection of the first-round draft picks and provide a snap shot of what to expect in their rookie seasons.
Trevor Lawrence was selected number one first-round pick
After much speculation, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence as the first-round number one pick. Lawrence was backed for months to be number one after going 34-2 as a starter for Clemson, throwing 10,098 yards and scoring 90 touchdowns with only 17 interceptions in three seasons. He won a national championship as a freshman and led the Tigers to two more playoff appearances.
The Jaguars were desperate for a QB to turn around their offense – and they believe they have the best of the best.
Who completed the top five first-round picks?
The number two selection also followed the script, as Brigham Young University’s Zach Wilson was drafted by the New York Jets. Trey Lance completed the quarterback trio when the San Francisco 49ers picked the North Dakota State alumnus as their opening pick at number three.
Tight end Kyle Pitts came in at number four when he was drafted out of Florida by the Atlanta Falcons. Pitts became the highest-selected TE in league history with Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot bullishly calling him a “special player”.
The top five was completed by LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase. The wide receiver is expected to be an immediate contributor at the Cincinnati Bengals. He will also be reunited with his former Tigers teammate Joe Burrows, who he helped lead to a national championship.
Where was 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith drafted?
Smith was the first wide receiver to win the coveted Heisman Trophy since Desmond Howard in 1991 and the Alabama alumnus, was eventually picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles made a trade to move from number 12 to number 10 to select the most prolific receiver in the draft. Smith led the NCAA in receptions (117), receiving yards (1,856), and receiving touchdowns (23). Coach Nick Sirianni will hope Smith can carry this form to the next level in his rookie season.
Were there any surprises in the NFL Draft 2021?
Ohio State’s Justin Fields was expected by many to be drafted in the top five, but after he was bypassed by both the Jets and the 49ers he had to wait until number 11 and the Chicago Bears.
Field’s will have the opportunity to become the Bears’ first true franchise QB since Sid Luckman. He may have to wait his turn though, with veteran Andy Dalton expected to open the year as the starter, but the rookie could end the season as the first choice.
History is made at NFL Draft 2021
Thursday tied the record for the most offensive skill players selected to start a draft since the common draft era began in 1967. Lawrence, Fields, Lance, tight end Kyle Pitts (Atlanta), and wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase (Cincinnati) and Jaylen Waddle (Miami) tied a record that was set during the 1999 draft.
That year, the draft started with the selections of quarterbacks Tim Couch (Cleveland), Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia), and Akili Smith (Cincinnati); running backs Edgerrin James (Indianapolis) and Ricky Williams (New Orleans); and wide receiver Torry Holt (St. Louis).