2021 NFL Draft Generates Many Surprises

Terrence Allen, Staff Writer

Looking at some of the moves that teams made in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 2021 National Football League Draft marks the exciting beginning for a crop of college athletes to enter the league. It is also the second phase of the new season for teams to add depth and talent to their respective rosters. This year’s draft posed a few surprises and interesting looks into many teams’ futures.
The first two picks went as they were reported to happen, and there was no surprise that Trevor Lawrence of Clemson University and Zach Wilson of Brigham Young University went number one and two to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, respectively.
The intrigue of the draft started at pick number three with the San Francisco 49ers. Previously in the offseason, they traded up from number 12 to number three in this year’s draft. This move was undoubtedly for a quarterback.
The QB that the 49ers reportedly were eyeing was Alabama QB, Mac Jones. This caused a lot of conversation by many sports analysts because Jones was projected as a mid to late first-round draft pick. Despite the reports, head coach Kyle Shanahan said Trey Lance was their guy the whole time.
“I know how we felt about Trey the whole time. To watch that happen and to kind of watch everyone just assume, because a couple people say something, that’s exactly how you feel, we weren’t going to work to correct that. At all. I thought that could be an advantage for us,” Shanahan said.
The very next pick had a lot of questions surrounding it as well. The Atlanta Falcons had the fourth pick in the draft and an aging QB. They could take a young QB to groom behind veteran Matt Ryan, or they could take the best non-QB in the draft that had some of the highest pre-draft grades ever.
They chose the latter and went with University of Florida’s tight end Kyle Pitts. He has been heralded as the next great tight end and should immediately help the Falcons offense that was ranked 16th in points last season.
Another surprise is the reuniting of college teammates at QB and WR for a few teams. The Cincinnati Bengals paired last year’s number one pick Joe Burrow with his college teammate Ja’Marr Chase.
Interestingly, they didn’t pick an offensive lineman because Burrow got hurt last season behind a sub-par line, but the need at wide receiver was there as well. He will get to throw to a familiar target for the foreseeable future.
The Miami Dolphins did the exact same thing the next pick taking Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle to pair with last year’s number five pick QB Tua Tagovailoa. This team had a glaring need at receiver and filled it with a familiar face for their young QB.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded up from 12 to 10 to select Alabama WR Devonta Smith. Smith won the Heisman Award last season and will get paired up with former Alabama QB Jalen Hurts. Continuity was a theme this draft for teams that drafted QBs last season.
The Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted QBs in either the first or second round. The Bears drafted Justin Fields number 11, looking to get this pick right after drafting Mitchell Trubisky with the third pick in 2017.
The Patriots need a QB of the future as Tom Brady departed last season, leaving many questions at the position. The Bucs, who Brady won a Super Bowl with last season, need a succession plan for when he retires. Brady is 43 years old, and his playing days will have to come to an end at some point.
This draft will be under a microscope for years to come based on the amount of controversy and debate surrounding it. There were five QBs selected in the first round and until the draft, no one knew where they were going.
All eyes will be on this class as it shapes the league for years to come. Many teams took chances on their futures this draft and only time will tell if it pays off.