The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone, so it’s only right to react immediately. As expected Trevor Lawrence went number one overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Zach Wilson is a New York Jet. Despite all the reports before the draft, the San Francisco 49ers elected to go with the quarterback out of North Dakota State, Trey Lance.
Enough repeating what happened last night, let’s get into what everyone came here for.
Jaylen Waddle to the Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins need to give Tua Tagovailoa as many weapons as possible and they do exactly that by drafting Waddle. Waddle is an absolute speed demon and gives this offense something they don’t have right now; a playmaker who can turn a slant route into a touchdown on any given play.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban had this to say about Waddle “One of the things that I always look for in a receiver is how fast he can come out of a break and how fast he can accelerate. Jaylen Waddle probably does that better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
That is extremely high praise from a guy who has coached many 5-star players and players like Henry Ruggs, Julio Jones, and Amari Cooper among others. Pairing Waddle with his former teammate Tagovailoa was a good choice by Miami and gives this team an extremely dynamic weapon on the outside.
Justin Fields to the Chicago Bears
After falling out of the top 10, Justin Fields is now a Chicago Bear after they traded up to the 11th pick with the New York Giants. Matt Nagy and Co. have put their jobs on the line (even though they were already) for the second-best quarterback in the draft. Fields arguably has the highest ceiling of all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft and the Bears make a very good decision trading up to get him.
Due to Fields falling as far as he did we may see a guy who is carrying a bag of chips on his shoulder. Since high school, he has been battling with Trevor Lawrence as the top quarterback in his respective class but is now the fourth-best based on his selection in the draft. If Fields can reach his ceiling we could be looking at a top 5 quarterback in the NFL in a few years.
It will be interesting to see what the Bears do heading in to next season with the quarterback position. They still have Nick Foles in the room and just signed Andy Dalton in the off-season after telling him and the media that he would be the starter. Landing Fields could certainly change that thought process because he is easily the more talented prospect and gives them some of what they had in Trubisky, the ability to make plays with his feet.
Lastly, we get to finally see Allen Robinson with a good quarterback.
Rashawn Slater to the Los Angeles Chargers
Protect the young, promising quarterback and that’s exactly what the Chargers do with their first-round pick. Sitting pretty at 13, they allow the teams in front of them to trade, scramble, try to outsmart their opponents, but instead, the Chargers look like the true brainiacs sitting pat and getting one of the best offensive tackles in a very deep class.
If Los Angeles were to trot out Trey Pipkins at left tackle for another year, that’s just malpractice. He hasn’t been able to get it done and hasn’t shown any type of improvement over the past two years. The Chargers need help on the left side of their offensive line and Slater will help bring that.
Slater, despite opting out of last season is going to be able to immediately come in and compete for the starting position. Slater was one of the only linemen in college who gave Chase Young all he could handle in the 2019 season. If all else fails and he doesn’t look like a great tackle, they could move him inside to guard. Slater gives the Chargers options up-front, a luxury they haven’t had in YEARS.
Christian Darrisaw to the Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings not only land the second-best tackle in the draft, but they were able to trade back from 14 to 23 with the New York Jets and still get their guy. Landing Darrisaw outside of the top-20, hell the top-15 is an absolute steal. Had they stayed pat at 14 and still landed Darrisaw, there’s a decent chance he still makes this list.
Even with guys like Sewell and Slater, there isn’t an offensive tackle in this class who made the position look easier than Darrisaw. From his effortless movement in pass-pro to his ability to get out on the edge in space. He will be an excellent fit for what the Vikings want to do in the run game with their heavy zone scheme.
It’s feasible that when we look back at this draft in 3-5 years, that Darrisaw is the best non-quarterback pick in the draft.
Rashod Bateman to the Baltimore Ravens
I don’t know how they do it, and frankly, I’m not sure I want to because it could get the Ravens in serious trouble (they have to be holding a gun to somebody’s head), but EVERY SINGLE YEAR they just let good players fall into their lap. This year is no different.
After trading away Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs and getting another first-round pick it wouldn’t have been shocking if the Ravens traded up for one of the top-3 receivers. However, they sit tight at 27 (their first pick in the first round) and get the best receiver outside of the Waddle, DeVonta Smith, and Ja’Marr Chase.
Baltimore gives Lamar Jackson a very technical route runner who can provide Jackson with some room for error with his ability to create space in short areas. They finally get themselves a guy who can win on a slant route and in the intermediate areas of the field consistently.
Can someone start drafting good players so the Ravens don’t get them? Please.
Honorable Mention: Penei Sewell to the Detroit Lions and Greg Newsome to the Cleveland Browns.