The NFL Draft returned to the big stage and bright lights in 2021, and it began with a bang on Thursday night in Cleveland as a crowd of football fans welcomed in 32 of the newest NFL rookies.
After the 2020 spectacle was held virtually from Roger Goodell’s living room in the wake of COVID-19, Cleveland allowed for a proper return to the stage that we know the NFL draft to be. Players dressed to the nines walked down the runway after their names were called, fans cheered (and booed), and the die-hard Cleveland Browns fans were on display all night.
Of course, events began just how we all expected they would. The Jacksonville Jaguars fooled no one by selecting Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick, making the Clemson quarterback their new franchise signal-caller and pairing him with new head coach Urban Meyer.
However, that was just the first of a run of three quarterbacks who went 1-2-3 to start the evening. Next, the New York Jets nabbed BYU’s Zach Wilson with the second overall pick and aim to give him the keys to the offense.
All eyes were on San Francisco in the third pick, after they traded up into the position over a month ago. The Niners played their cards close to the vest, and ended up going with Trey Lance at quarterback with the #3 overall pick.
Florida phenom tight end Kyle Pitts became the first skill-position player off the board at No. 4, going to the Atlanta Falcons and joining an offense already loaded with big names. The Bengals followed suit at No. 5 with a fellow SEC pass-catcher, getting Ja’Marr Chase out of LSU – former teammate of Bengals QB and the first pick in last year’s draft, Joe Burrow.
As the picks went along, opportunities arose for teams in the middle of the first round to move up a few spots and select one of the remaining first-round hopeful quarterbacks. Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones both waited a bit longer than they may have expected, but each ended up in an intriguing destination.
The Chicago Bears then made their move. Shooting up to the No. 10 overall pick after a trade, the Bears aimed to solve their QB woes by selecting Justin Fields as they hope for him to inject some life into a struggling offense.
Mac Jones ended up being the fifth out of five quarterbacks to go in the first round, and you can bet he’ll be entering the league with a chip on his shoulder. Well, it’s fitting that he joins an organization in the New England Patriots that will offer him one of the best systems suited to his skill set.
There were no shortage of big-time picks outside of the quarterback position, even if the signal-callers always tend to steal the spotlight. The Jets grabbed offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker to protect their new rookie QB, while the Jags paired Trevor Lawrence with his college running back from Clemson, Travis Etienne. Meanwhile, the Steelers filled a hole at running back by drafting Najee Harris.
Below, you’ll find plenty of jersey options for some of the top picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Keep an eye ahead to the rest of the weekend, when rounds 2-7 will take place.