Random thoughts from 2021 day one … Let me say from the outset that I am 100% in agreement with Pigksin Paul Guillemette, my partner-in-crime here at the GBN, in his comments about what the draft has become – or at least what the NFL seems to want it to become – as a spectacle rather than a serious pro draft. Call me a purist – I am – but give me the old days where a teams made their picks, we analyzed them and then we moved on. In the end, you can have all the singers and dancers and comedians and just weird people you, but in the end its still about picking players. Lord, aren’t there enough stupid reality shows out there on TV already! And while we’re at it, why the heck do teams like Jacksonville and the Jets at the very top of the board who’ve known for weeks who their pick is going to be take their full time allotment to make their pick. What are they doing? Waiting for a trade offer that hasn’t come in the previous three months. Lastly, why do team execs when they’ve settled on a pick and sent it up to the podium start celebrating like they just won the Super Bowl. They’re the only ones on the clock. Maybe they are just trying to reassure each other they didn’t really fuck it up!
On to what turned out to be an interesting first round. The first surprise, of course, came when San Francisco selected QB Trey Lance instead of Mac Jones, who had been the huge betting favorite among the draft punditry in the weeks before the draft. But 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who everyone had been saying was the guy in the Niners’ front-office who wanted Jones, said post-draft that Lance had been their target all along and that the stuff with Jones ‘was all smoke and mirrors!’ Which begs the question who were the 49ers trying to fool? With Trevor Lawrence and Zack Wilson pretty much committed to the Jaguars and Jets with the first two picks, for all intents and purposes, the 49ers had the real ‘first’ pick in the draft so who the heck was going to leapfrog them? And where? The bigger question for the 49ers, though, remains is that they traded away two future #1s to get a guy that may very well have been there several picks farther on down the board.
One also has to wonder if the folks in Miami are asking themselves ‘wot happened’ this morning. In trading back up into the top ten after getting those two futures from the 49ers to move down to #12, the Dolphins had to believe that either or both of TE Kyle Pitts and/or WR Ja’Marr Chase, their top two targets, were going to be on the board at #6. No way Atlanta was going to take a TE that early at #4 and Cincinnati looked to be locked on OT Penei Sewell at #5. That was then though and in the end Pitts and and Chase did go 4-5 leaving the Dolphins to take WR Jaylen Waddle over his Alabama teammate DeVonta Smith at #6. And I just don’t believe there is any universe in which any team would have traded away a future #1 to move up 6 spots to get a Jaylen Waddle. Heck, the Dolphins, if they in fact wanted Pitts, might have been better staying at #3 all along, while they could have had one of the Alabama receivers (which the Eagles did in a trade up with Atlanta) for a fraction what they paid to get to 6 by trading up from #12.
Curious deal also between Minnesota and the Jets in which the Jets moved up from the 23rd pick to #14 to select G/T Alijah Vera-Tucker while the Vikings took OT Christian Darrisaw at #23. Anyone notice both teams took OL. True it ‘only’ cost the Jets a couple of third rounders to make the move and Vera-Tucker is the higher ranked player, but the difference wasn’t that great; indeed, the Vikings were really looking for a LT candidate and Darrisaw actually fits that bill better than Vera-Tucker who projects inside to OG. In fact, its not hard to imagine that the there is a better than even chance that the Jets could have gotten pretty close to what their likely to get from Vera-Tucker by using those two thirds on OGs and then still have the 23rd pick. As we said curious, but give the decision to the Vikings.
Come on home, Mike!! We have to admit that the NFL Network’s draft coverage, which we watch, just hasn’t been the same since Mike Mayock left to become G.M. with the Raiders. Seems the Raiders drafts haven’t been the same either! And the Raiders made another head-scratcher last night in line with other recent earlier selections – think DE Clellin Ferrell at #4 i 2019 and CB damon Arnette at #19 last year – when they selected Alabama G/T Alex Leatherwood with the 17th pick this year. No question that Leatherwood is a solid enough player who could in fact be a plug and play type, but it doesn’t appear as if anybody else had him rated anywhere near that high and he quite literally could have been there when the Raiders made their second round pick.
Good things come to those who wait: Prior to the draft, there was a lot of speculation that New England was likely to move up to get one of the top-ranked QBs. Instead the Patriots sat tight at #15 and still got Mac Jones; time will tell whether Jones has the athleticism to succeed at the next level, but the Patriots did end up getting one of those top 5 QBs for nothing. Other teams who did pretty well just sitting tight include Detroit, which Penei Sewell drop to them at #7; and the LA Chargers who got Rashawn Slater, this year’s other top-ranked OL, at #13.
Win-win!! You always like to see a trade in which both teams come out with what they wanted. And that appears to be the case for the Giants and Bears who swapped the 11th and 20th picks last night. The Bears moved up and got QB Justin Fields who gives them some hope for the future at the position, while the Giants were able to snag another fast explosive weapon for Daniel Jones in Florida WR Kadarius Toney while also adding a second first rounder in next year’s draft. In fact, while we are a tad biased, we kind of think maybe the Giants just maybe had the best opening round of any team out there last night, but don’t tell anyone.
Hey, I know you … Interesting that you had two young QBs who were reunited with former college teammates last night when Cincinnati took WR Ja’Marr Chase who played with Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow at LSU, while Miami reunited QB Tua Tagovailoa with former Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle. And nobody appeared to be happier that Jacksonville selected former Clemson RB Travis Etienne with their second first round pick than former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, whom the Jaguars selected with the first overall selection.