Here’s five winners and five losers from the first round of the 2021 NFL draft in Cleveland.
Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence is as close to a sure thing as quarterback prospects go, and now new head coach Urban Meyer and Jacksonville have fresh momentum — and a franchise centerpiece to build around.
Falcons — With a pick that indicates Matt Ryan’s tenure in Atlanta isn’t over yet, the Falcons got the best overall athlete on the board in tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4. Versatile, strong and fast, Pitts could be the next Travis Kelce.
Joe Burrow — The Cincinnati QB gets to re-connect with Ja’Marr Chase, who set SEC records in 2019 in TDs (20) and receiving yards (1,780) with Burrow throwing him the football. Chase will be a deep threat right away.
Tua Tagovailoa — After a strong rookie season petered off at the finish, the Miami quarterback was all smiles after the Dolphins added another weapon to his arsenal in wideout Jaylen Waddle, Tagovailoa’s former Alabama teammate.
Patriots — Cam Newton’s coming back for a second year in Foxborough, but Bill Belichick might have snuck away with his franchise QB in Alabama’s Mac Jones, who tumbled all the way down the draft board to land in the Pats’ lap at No. 15.
49ers — Debate raged for weeks about who the 49ers were going to take after trading up for the No. 3 pick. It turned out to be North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, the riskiest and most unproven of all the top quarterback prospects.
Raiders — Alex Leatherwood is a solid NFL tackle prospect and won the Outland Trophy in 2020. But still, selecting a lineman when Las Vegas has many other pressing positions of need feels like… a very underwhelming Raiders move.
Justin Fields — Projected to go as high as the top five, Fields, like Alabama’s Mac Jones, slid down the draft board. He had a less-than-enthused reaction to getting picked by the Bears, who just ran Mitch Trubisky out of Chicago.
Panthers — Carolina let Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II — widely viewed as the top cornerback in the draft — fall to Denver at No. 9, instead electing to take South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn at No. 8. Horn’s NFL ceiling is not as high as Surtain’s.
Aaron Rodgers suitors — The Packers QB, reportedly disgruntled in Green Bay, is still with the Packers. So Rodgers is stuck in Green Bay for now, and with the draft’s first day over, chances are higher that he stays there in 2021.
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