The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is officially in the books. It was an eventful and exciting event from the first overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars to the 32nd overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We saw five quarterbacks drafted on Thursday night, which did not come as a surprise.
We also saw three trades happen within the opening round that will have ramifications for years to come. Before we look ahead to Day 2 of the draft, let’s look at how some of the teams fared after the first 32 picks in Cleveland, OH.
Day 1 Winners
Miami did not waste anytime with the sixth overall pick on Thursday night. The Dolphins selected receiver Jaylen Waddle with the first of two picks in the first round. Miami’s wide receiver unit now features DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and Waddle, which is a big boom for second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Then with their second pick at No. 18, the Dolphins took EDGE Jaelan Phillips out of Miami (FL). The 6-foot-5 defensive end just needs to stay healthy, which was a knock on him during the draft process. At Miami, he had 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, five quarterback hits, three pass breakups, and an interception.
After trading up for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky a few years ago and seeing how that was a failed experiment, the Bears front office righted their wrong with the selection of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Chicago had to trade up from No. 20 to get to the No. 11 overall pick from New York Giants, but it was well worth it.
Fields walks into Chicago as the backup quarterback behind Andy Dalton. But if Dalton struggles, then they could start Fields. Last season with the Buckeyes, he completed 70.2% of his passes for 2,100 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. Fields also had 383 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
With a new head coach in Robert Saleh, the Jets decided to move on from Sam Darnold and traded him to the Carolina Panthers. To fill their vacancy under center, the team used the second overall pick on Zach Wilson. The former BYU QB had a tremendous 2020 season, where he completed 73.5% of his passes for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns, and three interceptions.
He can throw on the run and make electrifying plays with his arm that should give Jets fans hope for the foreseeable future. Then not too long after, the Jets traded up from No. 23 to No. 14 with the Minnesota Vikings to solidify the offensive line. With that pick, New York selected Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC. The 6-foot-4 offensive lineman played guard in college, but can also play offensive tackle in the NFL.
The Eagles took a lot of flack for moving down from the No. 6 overall pick to No. 12 overall pick back in March. Many fans thought they were making a mistake because it would take them out of the running for a star wide receiver. Well, GM Howie Roseman did not stand pat and leapfrogged the Giants to get the No. 10 pick from the Dallas Cowboys. From there, the Eagles took reigning Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith, who comes into Philly as their best wide receiver.
Day 1 Losers
The Colts have their new franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz, who they acquired earlier this offseason from the Eagles. However, they did not find their next left tackle with their first pick at No. 21, and instead went for EDGE Kwity Paye out of Michigan.
Paye is an upgrade over to what the Colts have at defensive end, but he’ll need to improve as pass rusher in one-on-one situations. Indianapolis must address their left tackle spot somewhere in Day 2 to replace recently retired Anthony Castonzo and protect Wentz’s blindside.
The pre-draft concert
For some odd reason, the NFL decided to bless us with a concert from Kings of Leon. I’ve heard of them, but never listened to one single track of theirs. Then, what made it worse is that the concert went on for about 20 minutes. I don’t think we needed a concert, before a draft. No one was there to see Kings of Leon, they were in Cleveland to see who their team was going to draft to reshape the franchise.
The Packers once again went against the grain and disrespected Aaron Rodgers by not taking a wide receiver in Round 1. Instead, Green Bay decided to use their first-round pick on former Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes.
Now granted, Stokes will help out that secondary, which saw Kevin King struggle immensely in the NFC title game against Tampa Bay. But when you have an unhappy quarterback that could use another receiver to pair with Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, it absolutely makes no sense.
New Orleans is ushering in a new era of football with Drew Brees hanging up the cleats this offseason. With their first round pick, they decided to go defense which was smart. But they used it on a defensive end, instead of a cornerback. The defensive lineman that the Saints drafted was Payton Turner. If you do not know much about Turner, just take a look at this tweet below.