2021 NFL Draft: Day One’s Biggest Surprisesby Charlie Parent April 30, 2021 0 comments
The dust is still settling from a chaotic first round of the draft last night. Trades all over the place, players sliding and players rising… it seemed to be a night that no one could have predicted. We break down the biggest surprises from day one and what some of them could mean for day two.
You can find all of our draft coverage here.
The Quarterback Slide
Arguably the biggest headline of the night was the fall of Justin Fields and Mac Jones. The two quarterbacks were almost surefire picks for the top 10 until they weren’t. The Chicago Bears stopped Fields’ slide when they traded up to pick 11 with the New York Giants. While they did give up a haul, the Bears have secured the franchise quarterback and immediately shifted gears out of the Mitchell Trubisky era.
The New England Patriots halted Jones’ slide at pick 15 which they are surely happy about. Rumors were swirling before the draft about the Patriots trading up for a signal-caller, but they didn’t even have to lift a finger to select their future quarterback. Although they weren’t selected where most believed they would, Fields and Jones both end up in great spots to begin their careers.
Zero Trades in the Top Nine
After weeks of rumors going back and forth about certain picks in the top-nine, there were no trades here. The fans were certainly disappointed by this, as trades make the draft a bit more exciting. That said, a lot of the picks in this range made sense. Teams like the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers stuck at their pick and selected blue-chip prospects who can bring an instant impact to their teams. While none of the rumors appeared to be true, there were some fun trades at picks 10, 11, and 14.
Early Run of Cornerbacks
Coming into the draft, Patrick Surtain seemed like a lock to the Dallas Cowboys at pick 10. He was expected to be the first cornerback off the board but this was not the case. They struck a deal with the division-rival Eagles. The Panthers surprised a lot of people with their selection of Jaycee Horn at pick number eight. The Denver Broncos then followed up the cornerback surprises by taking Surtain at pick nine. This mini-run of cornerbacks is what set up the slide of other players and it seemed to take the teams by surprise as well.
The Unexpected Offensive Tackle Situation
This loaded offensive line class did not end up how it was looking like it would last night. Obviously, Penei Sewell would be selected in the top 10, but that was it. Rashawn Slater fell a bit farther than expected and for all the hype Alijah Vera-Tucker was getting, he was still only taken at 14, where he was believed to go.
We saw a massive fall for Christian Darrisaw, Teven Jenkins, and Samuel Cosmi. Darrisaw was expected to go in the middle of the round, but it seems a groin injury held him out of there. The Vikings getting him at 23 is still an absolute steal and one of the best picks of the night. Jenkins and Cosmi did not even go in the first round and are easily two of the top players available on day two.
Another very unexpected situation was the Raiders taking Alex Leatherwood. Leatherwood is a borderline first-round talent but should not have been picked at 17. With the way the tackle situation was shaping up, the Raiders could have easily traded back and gotten him later in the round.
Two Running Backs Taken
Two very talented running backs in Najee Harris and Travis Etienne were taken at pick 24 and 25 last night. These are really good players but the selections are not. The Steelers took Harris at 24 which is extremely questionable. The Steelers need line help more than anything. They had all the top talent available for them. It was a dream situation, but they chose to go running back.
The Jaguars then follow up by selecting Etienne at 25. The Jaguars already have a true starting running back in James Robinson and a good backup in Carlos Hyde. Head coach Urban Meyer has already said they will use Etienne as a third-down back. Taking him in the first round with so much more talent than a third-down back is also questionable, at best.
After some really interesting runs of certain positions, there’s a ton of talent still on the table for day two of the draft. Second-round picks could be at a premium tomorrow and the teams at the top are set up really nicely. The players who had unexpected slides are very likely to be taken within the first 10 tomorrow and we can expect some shuffling around in the early second round.