Surprises, smiles, and shiny shoes: An NFL Draft Round One recap

Surprises, smiles, and shiny shoes: An NFL Draft Round One recap

It was a draft night full of laughter..and some spectacular shoes courtesy of Jaylen Waddle.
It was a draft night full of laughter..and some spectacular shoes courtesy of Jaylen Waddle.
Image: Getty Images

Night one was super fun. I’m so glad that we’re done speculating about where all the top prospects are going to go, and now can begin looking at actual fit and actual expectations. I was sitting at home looking like Joe Rogan in response to George Masvidal’s flying knee. There’s plenty to break down — so let’s get to some of the key picks, aside from Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, since those two were the expected picks.

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Trey Lance — San Francisco 49ers

Trey Lance — San Francisco 49ers

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Shockingly, the Niners gave up a massive haul of picks a few weeks ago to move up to No. 3 overall to take an unproven, raw-but-gifted quarterback. It’s one hell of a gamble. Lance only had 17 career starts playing against a lower level of competition at North Dakota State. Kyle Shanahan and Co. have stuck their necks out far on this prospect.

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Justin Fields — Chicago Bears

Justin Fields — Chicago Bears

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Hell. Yes. The fall for Fields was inexplicable based on his talent, but I fully believe the Bears made a wonderful decision trading up to No. 11 with the New York Giants for the young stud. They gave up a decent haul for him — No. 20 and their fifth-round pick this year, as well as their first- and their fourth-rounders next year. Still, it’s a lot less than the Niners gave up to move to No. 3. I’ve waxed poetically about Fields for months, and believe the Bears, who potentially stole him away from the Patriots at No. 15, hit a jackpot and have their quarterback of the future.

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Mac Jones — New England Patriots

Mac Jones — New England Patriots

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Michael McCorkle Jones is a New England Patriot, and man that just feels like an “of course he is.” From Alabama and Nick Saban to New England and Bill Belichick. He’s an accurate passer without a cannon of an arm, but if any franchise can utilize the skillset of an immobile accurate pocket passer (sound like Tom Brady much?), it’s freaking New England.

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Ja’Marr Chase — Cincinnati Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase — Cincinnati Bengals

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Not shocking, but disappointing. In my opinion, the best option for the Bengals would have been offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who went two picks later to the Detroit Lions. You simply have to protect Joe Burrow, who was essentially killed by his leaking offensive line last year. They decided adding his former weapon from LSU was more important, so now offensive line has to be the top priority on Day 2.

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Jaylen Waddle — Miami

Jaylen Waddle — Miami

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Waddle, who sported the bling-iest shoes of the night, went ahead of college teammate DeVonta Smith, because the NFL is obsessed with raw athleticism and speed. Waddle is a burner, and is electric in and out of his routes. They pair him with this former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suddenly is surrounded by a track team of weapons.

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DeVonta Smith — Eagles, via Dallas

DeVonta Smith — Eagles, via Dallas

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This was a huge shock — not that the Eagles wanted Smith, who in my opinion is the best wide receiver in this draft, but that the Eagles and the Cowboys actually negotiated a trade with each other, which like never happens. To boot, everyone viewed it as them screwing over their other NFC foes, the Giants. Philly and Dallas swapped first round picks, and the Eagles sent their third-rounder to the Cowboys in the deal. The Eagles desperately needed to address the receiver position, and they crushed it by taking the Slim Reaper.

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Rashod Bateman — Baltimore Ravens

Rashod Bateman — Baltimore Ravens

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Remember that one time I said the Ravens, who traded offensive tackle Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs, should be all-in on surrounding Lamar Jackson with talent? They did that. I specifically mentioned Bateman as a great target for them, and I’m thrilled that it happened. Fantastic pick.

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Kyle Pitts — Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts — Atlanta Falcons

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If the Falcons weren’t going to trade out, taking the unicorn Kyle Pitts is certainly a great way to go. The kid has the upside to be the best tight end in the league, and if they’re stuck with Matt Ryan for the next couple years, adding a weapon makes sense. Pitts will last a long time and will be a cornerstone of the organization for years.

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Zaven Collins — Arizona Cardinals

Zaven Collins — Arizona Cardinals

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This one’s fun. Collins, out of a smaller program at the University of Tulsa, shot up draft boards and went at No. 16 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals blend him into their defense, but any time a small school talent gets selected in the first round, it’s a special story.

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Najee Harris — Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris — Pittsburgh Steelers

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The Steelers deeply needed to address their running game after parting ways with James Conner. Taking arguably the best running back in this class in Harris, the Steelers clearly have prioritized taking pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger with a balanced attack. What remains to be seen, however, is how the Steelers will address the multiple losses to the offensive line.

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Travis Etienne — Jacksonville Jaguars

Travis Etienne — Jacksonville Jaguars

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For the first time in NFL Draft history, a quarterback and running back from the same school were drafted in the first round by the same team. Etienne partners up with Lawrence in Jacksonville, which was a surprise to many after the breakout and unexpectedly high production from 2020 undrafted free agent James Robinson. The chemistry will be baked in from years of playing together, and will give Lawrence a security blanket as he transitions to the NFL.

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