2021 NFL Draft: First Round Analysis Of Every Pick, From The College Perspective

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2021 NFL Draft: First Round Analysis Of Every Pick, From The College Perspective

2021 NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft: First Round Analysis Of Every Pick, From The College Perspective

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2021 NFL Draft: First round breakdown and analysis of every pick, from the college perspective.


2021 NFL Draft: First Round Analysis

Welcome to my self-serving, pretentious stream-of-consciousness notes for the first round of your 2021 NFL Draft, commenting during and after each and every pick.

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CFN 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings
from the college perspective …
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Top 105 2021 NFL Draft Prospects
First Round Pick Breakdown & Thoughts
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2021 NFL Draft: Pre-Draft

The whole 2021 NFL draft thing was hijacked by Aaron Rodgers. Apparently he wants to get paid a whole lot more for a whole lot longer, he’s throwing a fit, and now he wants out of Green Bay … for now. So for every team other than Jacksonville that’s looking to draft a top quarterback prospect, the game has just changed.

How hilarious would it be if the Packers traded Rodgers and then FINALLY took a wide receiver in the first round?

Rodgers probably isn’t going anywhere, but you’re not doing your job if you’re the Jets, Niners, Lions, Panthers, Giants, Eagles, Vikings, Patriots, Raiders, Football Team, Bears, Titans, Steelers, Saints, and yeah, Packers, if you’re not seeing what it might take to get the reigning MVP – besides the $150 million for 4 years.

By the way, to everyone on social media trying to get San Francisco to trade the third overall pick to right the wrong of 2005, here’s your fun fact of fun facts – no quarterback selected with the third overall pick has ever won a Super Bowl. The Niners are going to take Mac Jones (probably). They’re not getting Rodgers.

Meanwhile, from the Department of Fine, Whatever … Tim Tebow might play tight end for Jacksonville. Fine. Whatever.

This whole NFL Draft thing should be held in a bar.

Okay, draft stuff. Before this all gets started, I believe 1) Justin Fields sliding will be the big story. 2) It doesn’t matter. Eight of the top nine passers in 2020 were selected after the 5, and 3) Elway, Aikman, Manning, Manning. Those are the only QBs taken in the top nine since 1983 who won a Super Bowl for the team that drafted them or traded for the pick.

It’s this simple. If you’re good, you’ll play. If you’re not, you won’t. Don’t get into a twist about draft position.

Let’s have some fun. Welcome to the 2021 NFL Draft.

1. Jacksonville

CFN Best Available Player: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Pick: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (1st overall CFN ranking)

Here’s the one of ones. Here’s the main man. Here’s the guy we’ve been waiting for over the last three years. He would’ve been picked No. 1 over Joe Burrow last year, and he would’ve been picked first over Kyler Murray in 2018.

He’s the franchise guy you build everything around. If it doesn’t work, it’ll be because of injury or something else catastrophic. Talent-wise, it’s all there, it was all there coming out of high school, and now he’s going to be one of the best players in the NFL over the next 15 years.

2. New York Jets

CFN Best Available Player: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
Pick: QB Zach Wilson, BYU (16th overall CFN ranking)

Zach Wilson has all the pressure in the world on his shoulders. He’s the guy drafted after Trevor Lawrence, and he’s taken ahead of Mac Jones, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields. And, don’t forget, the Jets gave up on Sam Darnold for him.

He’s got the moxie, and he’s got the arm to be everything to handle the pressure. All the skills are there starting with the unteachable accuracy. Don’t expect miracles right away, but he’ll start from Day One. He has to.

Rick Mirer, Ryan Leaf, Donovan McNabb, RGIII, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz, Mitchell Trubisky. Since Bert Jones was selected in 1973, those are the quarterbacks drafted No. 2 overall. Other than McNabb, the word you’re looking for is yeeeeeeeesh.

And now the draft starts. I picked Mac Jones in every mock and in every article, but it’s feeling like something funkier now. It feels like this is when we’re getting the Trey Lan …

3. San Francisco (from Miami from Houston)

CFN Best Available Player: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
Pick: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State (7th overall CFN ranking)

And now it’s on. Again, I thought it would be Mac Jones, but nope. You don’t trade up to the 3 for safe and sane.

This is my guy. He’s my No. 2 quarterback because he’s the shot for the stars. Once he adjusts and gets through his mistakes, there’s phenomenal upside on the other end.

Lance has the tools and the upside to be the second-best player in the draft behind Trevor Lawrence, but you’re going to have to be really, really patient.

I don’t buy that you sit him until he’s ready. If the problem is his lack of experience, then get him experienced.

No way Atlanta takes Mac Jones or Justin Fields. The Falcons love Kyle Pitts. Everyone loves Kyle Pitts. They can go defense later.

4. Atlanta

CFN Best Available Player: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
Pick: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida (4th overall CFN ranking)

Yeah, it was way too obvious. There are some prospects that teams are sheepish about, and some that teams just like to talk about in casual conversation. Pitts is such an obvious talent that everyone just openly said anything they wanted to knowing he was gone before the 5.

But he’s a tight end. If you’re taking him at the 4, you’re demanding a transcendent perennial All-Pro who becomes one of the three best tight ends in the NFL very, very soon. They passed on a whole lot of superstar talents for him.

5. Cincinnati

CFN Best Available Player: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
Pick: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (8th overall CFN ranking)

I’ve tried to make this pick happen for the last three months, and I failed. Cincinnati should’ve gone with the can’t-miss, All-Pro offensive tackle talent in Penei Sewell, and they didn’t.

Wide receivers are always, always, always flaky. It’s rare that a top ten overall receiver pick matches the value – the stars are all taken later, especially in the first round – so now it’s all on Cincinnati to prove that he’s really worth it.

They should’ve gone Sewell. This is a very, very, very deep draft of receivers. Chase might be fantastic – and he will be – but if you can get the superstar offensive tackle, you do it.

Ooooohhhhhhhh no, ESPN. If Chase is AJ Brown, that’s not good enough at the five. You don’t take the best wide receiver in THIS class to be AJ Brown – as wonderful as he is.

NOW is when Sewell should go. Protect Tua, build up the line, and …

6. Miami (from Philadelphia)

CFN Best Available Player: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
Pick: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (16th overall CFN ranking)

I disagree, but I get it. I like protecting my franchise quarterbacks.

Amari Cooper and Mike Evans are the only good receivers taken in the top ten since 2011. Taking receivers early is generally a wasteland, but … Waddle with Tua. That’s going to be fun.

Again, it’s hard to argue with this – Waddle is a fantastic talent with elite speed and athleticism – but he’d better be next-level amazing and a true No. 1 target going at the 6. That’s a call over Sewell, that’s a call over DeVonta Smith, that’s a call that he’s going to be the game-changer who’ll make the Miami O rock.

Tua needed to be better down the field. Here you go.

Cincinnati had better be right with Chase at the 5 if Waddle is worth this pick at the 6.

With Waddle and Chase off the board, watch the Lions run that Sewell pick up to the podium …

NEXT: 2021 NFL Draft First Round: Picks 7-12

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