Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and here are a few key takeaways:
All about offense
The first six picks of the draft were all quarterbacks or pass-catchers. Three QBs went first – Trevor Lawrence followed by Zach Wilson and Trey Lance. They were followed by tight end Kyle Pitts and receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle. It shows you where this league is going. In today’s NFL, teams can never have enough weapons in the passing game.
Three moves that surprised me: The 49ers taking Trey Lance over Mac Jones with the third overall pick … South Carolina cornerback Jayce Horn – not only the first CB drafted, but the first defensive player off the board when Carolina took him at 8 … Chase over Oregon OT Penei Sewell to the Bengals at 5.
It’s always surprising to see a trade within a division, so it was a big deal when the Cowboys and Eagles swapped spots. The Eagles moved up two spots to take DeVonta Smth with the 10th pick, while Dallas received a third-round pick to move down, selecting Penn State LB Micah Parsons at No. 12.
What’s more intriguing is that another NFC East rival, the Giants, were sandwiched in between at 11. So the Eagles only made the trade because they feared the Giants might take Smith. With the Heisman Trophy winner off the board, Giants GM Dave Gettleman traded down for the first time in his career. New York moved down nine spots in a deal with Chicago and took Florida WR Kadarius Toney at 20 (perhaps an indication they would have taken Smith at 11 if they had the chance).
This was one of the themes of the night: The Dolphins drafted Waddle, former Alabama teammate of Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa … Chase is reunited in Cincinnati with former LSU teammate Joe Burrow. Just two years ago, Chase was on the receiving end of 20 Burrow TD passes … DeVonta Smith played two seasons with Eagles QB Jalen Hurts before Hurts transferred to Oklahoma … And perhaps the biggest surprise of the reunion tour was Clemson RB Travis Etienne joining Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville.
After the first 24 picks of the first round, 25% of the players drafted were from the University of Alabama – six of the first 24.
And it wasn’t just Alabama – the entire SEC showed its dominance. Six of the top 10 picks were SEC players. Overall, 12 SEC players were picked in Round 1, representing six different schools.