NFL draft is always entertaining


Brentton Wharton, staff writer

As any football fan would know, this past weekend was the 2021 NFL Draft, and there was a mix of predictability and surprises in the first 32 picks.

To the surprise of no one, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was drafted first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Quarterback had been a position of need for the team for multiple years now, and Lawrence was one of the best quarterback prospects to come out of college this decade so it was a no brainer for the Jags to take Lawrence as the potential franchise savior.

The New York Jets are taking their chances on project prospect Zach Wilson, a quarterback from BYU. The Jets clearly thought enough of Wilson to dump 2018 first-rounder (and No. 3 overall pick) Sam Darnold. Darnold had not performed up to standards in his first three years of his career and the team felt it was time to move on.

The first swerve of the night came with the San Francisco 49ers taking North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. A pick that changed hands three times, the Niners made their bold acquisition of it last month, and it was quickly followed by rampant speculation that they would take Alabama QB Mac Jones.

But going with Lance, who has far more upside than Jones given his physical skills, seems like the better option given the franchise surrendered three first-rounders to get him. Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to be the starter for the Niners throughout the entirety of the 2021 NFL season, but after that it is to be expected that Lance will take over.

The aforementioned Mac Jones’ draft night was not much longer than anticipated, as he was drafted later in the first round by the New England Patriots. A national champion passer falls to the six-time Super Bowl champions. Many believe that this collective group of coaches is perfect for Jones’ skillset and that he will thrive once he takes the field, whenever that will be. Cam Newton is still the starting quarterback in New England as we speak, but who is to say Jones does not win that spot in training camp? Many (including myself) think that is certainly possible. 

The Indianapolis Colts looked to reload their defensive line, as they took Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye with the 21st pick in the draft. GM Chris Ballard goes pass rusher, Paye apparently replacing free agent Justin Houston, rather than addressing a hole at left tackle following Anthony Castonzo’s retirement.

Paye (6-3, 261) is an explosive athlete who played all along the line for the Wolverines and even dropped into coverage. He had 12 and a half tackles for losses and 6 and a half sacks in 2019, though that production could spike if he’s in a more narrowly focused role alongside All-Pro DT DeForest Buckner in Indy.

Paye is a player that can be used for more than one job, but adjusting to the speed of the pros will probably call for a lower scale assignment right out of the gate. 

The Alabama Crimson Tide virtually dominated draft day having six players from the school selected as first round picks, and ten players selected overall, which was tied with Ohio State for the most by any college.

The SEC once again finished the draft with the most players drafted from any conference, with the total number this year being 65. This is the 15th straight year the SEC has finished atop the conference rankings on draft day. Per usual there are high expectations for this stacked class on rookies, and as the season gets closer the anticipation for the debuts of these players will only grow larger.