2021 NFL Draft in Review (First Round and First 15 Picks)

Julia Henry, Staff Writer

  • Jacksonville Jaguars: QB, Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) 

To no one’s surprise, Trevor Lawrence was picked by the Jaguars with the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. There are higher expectations for the Jaguars this year with the addition of Lawrence. Eight out of the last ten seasons, they have had losing records. His strong arm, speed, and athleticism should help the Jaguars. He looks like the franchise quarterback of the future for Jacksonville. 

  • New York Jets: QB, Zach Wilson (BYU)

The Jets also took a quarterback. They look to Wilson to hopefully be their next great. In the last ten seasons, they’ve had twelve different starting quarterbacks. He has a very strong arm and a mostly accurate throw. His decision making on deep throws are questionable at times as well as his somewhat common tendency to throw off his back foot. He may become easy to intercept. It will be interesting how Wilson does in the NFL playing against much tougher defenses than what he faced at BYU.

  •  San Francisco 49ers: QB, Trey Lance (NDSU)

With Justin Fields and Mac Jones still on the board, this pick comes as a shock. At the moment, Garoppolo looks to be the starting quarterback, with Lance as the backup. Lance is a mobile quarterback which has become quintessential in the modern era NFL. At NDSU, he did not face teams with high caliber defenses which may be a disadvantage for the transition from college to pro. He is a good quarterback, but no one really knows if he will be great. For the third pick in the draft, it seems like the 49ers made a risky decision drafting Lance. 

  • Atlanta Falcons: TE, Kyle Pitts (Florida)

Opting to not draft a quarterback with Matt Ryan on the decline is interesting with prospects like Fields and Jones available. Nonetheless, this is a very strong pick for the Falcons. Adding another elite receiver to a roster with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley makes Ryan’s job easier. The expectations are high for the Falcons this year and especially for new head coach Arthur Smith. He is a former TE coach which is the probably the reason behind Pitts selection (minus his impressive skills). This selection should play out well for the Falcons as they look to improve from last season’s disappointing 4-12 record. 

  • Cincinnati Bengals: WR, Ja’Marr Chase (LSU)

Franchise quarterback Joe Burrow and Chase reunite. They both played together at LSU and experienced success. This addition brings a third quality receiver to the Bengals. Burrow looks to return from injury this season and the addition of Chase should help him complete more passes and hopefully release earlier in order to prevent getting hit and injured again. 


  • Miami Dolphins: WR, Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Another quarterback and wide receiver reunite. The Dolphins look to Tua Tagovailoa to be their starter this season following Ryan Fitzpatrick’s departure in the offseason. Brian Flores, head coach did not seem like Tua’s biggest fan, often putting Fitzpatrick in the game in close games. The Dolphins need to rely on Tua to take control of the offense this season. The addition of Waddle will help achieve that goal. 

  • Detroit Lions: OT, Penei Sewell (Oregon)

Sewell opted out of the fall 2020 college season to prepare for the NFL Draft. The new Lions head coach, Dan Campbell, stated that the Lions are going to “‘bite a kneecap off…And…we’re going to take another hunk of you,”’ in his opening press conference in January. Sewell may be that guy for the Lions. An aggressive and hardworking OT, he will be defending Jared Goff, the Lion’s new quarterback they received in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams. He is likely to play right tackle and an adjustment period will occur with speedier rushers but he should be a talented addition. 

  • Carolina Panther: CB, Jaycee Horn (South Carolina)

This comes as a shocking pick. The Panthers did not pick a quarterback which maybe they will draft in the later rounds or they will stick with their newest quarterback addition, Sam Darnold. Horn was the first defensive player selected. Surtain II is projected to be the better CB, but only time will tell. This athletic and long CB should help the Panthers as they rebuild. 

  • Denver Broncos: CB, Patrick Surtain II (Alabama)

Again, the Broncos not picking a quarterback here comes as a surprise. Their quarterbacks being Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, who are decent at best, makes this pick intriguing. They already have a deep roster of cornerbacks but Surtain II available at the 9th pick may have been too good to pass up. It’s a low percentage of the Broncos land Aaron Rodgers, but if they do, this will be a better pick than it seems. 

  • Philadelphia Eagles: WR, Devonta Smith (Alabama)

This draft was full of quarterback and receiver reunions. Smith reunites with Hurts who played with him at Bama. The Eagles traded with the Cowboys for this pick. Intriguing spin on the divisional rivalry with the Giants, as the Eagles, snag Smith a spot ahead of the Giants pick before they traded it to the Chicago Bears. Smith’s 170lb self may seem small but many have called him a generational talent. His speed and football IQ should help the Eagles as they look to improve under new head coach Nick Sirianni this season. 

  • Chicago Bears: QB, Justin Fields (Ohio State)

After a few seasons of mundane play in Chicago, the Bears look to improve with a strong player in Fields. Matt Nagy, the head coach, is clinging to his job. If Fields can prove himself early and become a strong partner with receivers Jimmy Graham and Allen Robinson II, the Bears may have a good chance to make the playoffs. The Bears have a strong defense led by Khalil Mack and they look to improve their offense this season. 

  • Dallas Cowboys: LB, Micah Parsons (Penn State)

Micah Parsons will be a dominant pass rusher. He is very talented and the best LB in the draft. As good as this pick sounds, it is somewhat risky for the Cowboys. Their defense was ranked 28th last season, and definitely needs an improvement but drafting a linebacker in the first round when they already have two on their roster is questionable. A cornerback would be the perfect position, but with Surtain II taken with the 9th pick it seems the Cowboys settled for Parsons. 

  • Los Angeles Chargers: OT, Rashawn Slater (Northwestern)

The Chargers are looking to find protection for their quarterback Justin Herbert as he enters his second year in the NFL. Herbert may be the best quarterback of last year’s draft. He looked to be dominant last season and with better blocking by Slater, he will have more time to create a play. This is a strong pick.

  • New York Jets: OT-OG, Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC)

With Wilson as the quarterback, the Jets need a strong OL to create time to throw and block for him to run. As a rookie, giving Wilson as much time as possible to look downfield and decide whether to run or pass will help him become better and more confident. 

  • New England Patriots: QB, Mac Jones (Alabama)

Bill Belichick is looking to find the next great after Tom Brady’s departure last season. With 2021 College Football Champion quarterback Jones, the Patriots may have found their guy. He is not the best quarterback in the draft, but under the leadership of a mastermind coach in Belichick, he could very well be a better quarterback than expected.