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NFL Draft does not disappoint

SAT. | 05-15-21 | SPORTS

     The 2021 National Football League (NFL) Draft occurred from Thursday, Apr. 28 through Saturday, May 1. The draft kicked off in Cleveland, Ohio, outside of the Cleveland Browns’ stadium. Across three days and 259 picks, the draft never seemed to disappoint.

     Right off the bat, something pretty rare occured as the first three picks were all quarterbacks. This has happened only twice before in 1971 and 1999. Clemson University’s Trevor Lawrence was selected first by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brigham Young University’s Zach Wilson went second to the New York Jets and North Dakota State University’s Trey Lance went third to the San Francisco 49ers. Quarterbacks continued to make history; in the first three rounds, five more were taken. Since 1967, when the NFL’s common draft era started, seven quarterbacks have been taken in the first three rounds a handful of times, but this year’s eight was a new record. After the top three, quarterbacks Justin Fields of The Ohio State University, Mac Jones of the University of Alabama, Kyle Trask of the University of Florida, Kellen Mond of Texas A&M University and Davis Mills of Stanford University were all drafted. Usually, most of these players would be on-site at the draft, but this year, only three of the eight made the trip to Cleveland.

     After a completely virtual draft last year, where NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced picks out of his basement, he ventured out and returned to the stage fully COVID-19 vaccinated. Fans were also back this year and the boos returned whenever Goodell would head to the mic as he has always been an

NFL Draft Graphic 2.png

Graphic by Keller Fraley

enemy to NFL fans. On a positive note, since he is vaccinated, he was able to once again hug each player as they were drafted. The teams making selections also got to make picks socially distances in their facilities instead of in their individual homes like last year. One team that  was an outlier to returning to their facility was the Los Angeles Rams staff who drafted together from their draft house in Malibu. The Rams have become known to not pick in the first round in recent years which they continued this year not picking until the end of the second round.

     The Rams still ended up pretty high on the total pick rankings with nine, but three teams tied atop the list with eleven. These consisted of the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings who each took their first picks in the top 25. Carolina selected Jaycee Horn, a defensive back out of the University of South Carolina to boost their secondary. Dallas selected Micah Parsons in the 1st round. They took the 6’3” 245 lb. linebacker out of Penn State University, twelfth overall. Minnesota did not pick until 23 where they selected offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech. They followed him by picking quarterback Kellen Mond from Texas A&M and linebacker Chazz Surratt out of the University of North Carolina (UNC). On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Seattle Seahawks only made three selections including wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge, cornerback Tre Brown and offensive tackle Stone Forsythe.

     Cornell Powell, who graduated from Rose in 2015, was drafted out of the University of Clemson as a wide receiver by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was picked in the fifth round and 181 overall. He joins a star- studded receiving corp and one of the fire powered offenses in the league led by their quarterback and 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. It has been said that Powell was drafted to possibly fill the shoes of another former Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins who left the Chiefs in free agency. Another Greenville related player who was drafted is D’Ante Smith who is an offensive tackle out of ECU. He was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 139th pick. One ECU player who made the jump to the NFL was wide receiver Blake Proehl who was signed by the Vikings after going undrafted. ECU only had one player drafted, but only two colleges reached the double digits in players drafted.

     The two schools that reached this pinnacle happen to be the two teams who played in the 2021 National Championship: The Ohio State University (OSU) and the University of Alabama, each having ten players drafted. Alabama had six players drafted in the first round including Jones, running back Najee Harris, wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and defensive back Patrick Surtain II. OSU did not have as many players picked at the top of the draft but Fields was selected eleventh, linebacker Pete Werner and center Josh Myers went in the second round and breakout running back Trey Sermon went in the third round. Both the University of Georgia and Notre Dame University followed Alabama and OSU with nine players each.

     The draft may seem overly technical, but there are moments that can make it very enjoyable. This year the New York Jets drafted two players named Michael Carter. One is a running back out of UNC and the other a defensive back from Duke University. Teammates were also reunited as the Bengals took wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase out of LSU. Chase was one of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s top targets in their 2019 championship winning season. Then with the 16 pick, the Jaguars selected running back Travis Etienne out of Clemson: Trevor Lawrence’s partner in crime for the last three years. There was one pair of brothers who were both signed during and after the draft, Sage and Chazz Surratt. To finish off the draft each year the final selection becomes known as Mr. Irrelevant, this year that was Grant Stuard, a linebacker out of the University of Houston. No one knows how this year's selections will play out but they will surely be entertaining to watch.

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