Recap: NFL Draft Day 1 selections with pick-by-pick analysis
The Detroit Lions got the offensive line help that it desperately needed while trying to fix its run game under Dan Campbell, the Minnesota Vikings got a lower-ranked player at the same position, the Chicago Bears got the quarterback that'll help Matt Nagy hang on for an extra season or two in Chicago, and the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, apparently, are in complete disarray.
What's not to like, Lions fans?
Time will certainly tell as to whether this will be remembered as a successful day in Detroit, but in the meantime, get the Honolulu blue Kool-Aid flowing and find out where the rest of the picks landed in our complete recap of Day 1.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
After an offense-heavy open to the draft, we close the first round with five straight defensive players. Tryon opted out of the 2020 season, causing his draft stock to take a hit because of his limited starting experience in the seasons prior. But he's still got plenty of upside: His explosiveness and ability to get to the quarterback is going to be a welcome on a Super Bowl-winning defense that boasts speed.
31. Baltimore Ravens (from Kansas City) — EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State
Oweh has just become the first linebacker in 25 years to be drafted in the first round without recording a sack in their draft season, and honestly, good for him.
Still, Oweh's build and explosiveness give him the chance to be a difference maker at the next level and help contain the line of scrimmage, which is important in a division that contains so much offensive bang.
30. Buffalo Bills — DE Gregory Rousseau, Miami
The Bills get some great value at pick 30, as Rousseau trailed only Ohio State defensive end Chase Young in sacks during the 2019 season, but this his is a bit of a high-risk, high-reward pick.
Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season, didn't have a great pro day, and could be a bit of a project as he looks to break into the league, but Buffalo desperately needs somebody to get pressure on the quarterback, and Rousseau fits the bill.
29. Green Bay Packers — CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
Well, he's not a quarterback, so they got that going for them. Stokes should help Green Bay provide provide aid for fellow cornerback Jaire Alexander, one of the top players at his position.
The Packers re-upped 25-year-old cornerback Kevin King to a one-year deal this offseason, but they are apparently looking for a longterm replacement in the role opposite of Alexander. Stokes can play all around the field, and not being rushed into a starting spot should help the Packers develop him as he gets into the league.
But I guess what he's really made of when he lines up against Quintez Cephus this fall.
28. New Orleans Saints — DE Payton Turner, Houston
The Saints get a beast on the defensive end to play opposite of Cam Jordan in Turner. Turner has great size at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, and has the ability to put defenders in a pretzel with his combo of explosiveness and range.
After years of success in spite of a bad defense, the Saints have built up a 'D' that's run over NFL offenses with rage for the past couple seasons. Turner adds to those efforts and brings a fundamental need to a team that needs to the quarterback when it's fighting for playoff position against Tom Brady.
27. Baltimore Ravens — WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Big Ten, represent! Bateman was considered one of the top second-tier pass catchers behind the big dogs that went top 10, but he's got the size, speed and agility to make a serious difference in the NFL — especially with Baltimore, who's in desperate need of another weapon for Lamar Jackson.
For Baltimore, this will ideally open up the chance to stretch the field more often, and use the threat of a deep shot to alleviate pressure for Jackson and second-year back J.K. Dobbins at the first and second levels of the defense.
26. Cleveland Browns — CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
Newsome makes history by giving Northwestern two first-round picks in the same draft for the first time in school history. After getting bested by the air assault of Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills last season, Cleveland helps fill in the cracks on defense with a talented defensive back with speed and strength to boot.
The Browns might hope that he can slot into a starting position right away and can be a longterm solution opposite of 2018 fourth-overall pick Denzel Ward, as it looks like there might have been a reason that Greedy Williams slipped all the way to 46th a few years back.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams) — RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
Jacksonville is quickly becoming Clemson South with the pick of Etienne. An explosive runner with a great resume in the biggest games, it won't take him long to get acclimated to playing alongside new Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence — he's been doing it for years.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers — RB Najee Harris, Alabama
Harris is a major weapon on the offensive side of the ball, and like so many others before him in this draft, comes out of the Alabama football factory. Can you believe that somebody with 26 touchdowns during his draft season would become the fifth offensive player from his college team to be taken in the draft?
Either way, Pittsburgh will have to get some offensive line help on days two and three to make this a successful pick. The Steelers have struggled mightily in the trenches over the last few years, and an aging quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger that's basically immobile doesn't help in that equation.
23. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle via New York Jets) — OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
Darrisaw follows in the footsteps of their division rival Lions, who also went with an offensive tackle with their first-round pick. Darrisaw is smooth in the pocket and brings a lot of athletic traits to his game in the trenches.
22. Tennessee Titans — CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Tennessee selects a high-risk, high-reward player in Farley. Farley was extreme impressive during his last year at Virginia Tech, injury-marred though it may be, and is coming off a back surgery that caused him to slide down the board.
The Titans had the 29th-ranked pass defense a season ago (just ahead of your Detroit Lions at 30) and badly need help in the secondary. If Farley is able to stay healthy, this could be a home run pick.
21. Indianapolis Colts — DE Kwity Paye, Michigan
The University of Michigan product Paye is headed to Indianapolis. Paye had a lack-luster 2020 with the Wolverines but has no shortage of upside with the explosiveness that he's packing.
The Colts needed help with their pass rush, and after their AFC South rival Jacksonville added Trevor Lawrence tonight, that need is as urgent as ever.
20. New York Giants — WR Kadarius Toney, Florida
Oh hey, speaking of NFC East wide receivers.
With the addition of Toney, the Giants get some much-needed help for young quarterback Daniel Jones. Toney had just one particularly strong season for the Gators, but it was a really good one: He caught 70 passes for 984 yards.
The NFC East is another division that's been adding a lot of speedy, young receiver talent, with Philadelphia drafting a receiver in the first round two straight years, the Cowboys adding CeeDee Lamb to play opposite of Amari Cooper last year at No. 17, and the Washington Football Team locking down the outside with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.
19. Washington Football Team — LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky
The up-and-coming Washington Football Team has gotten some help on the defensive end with linebacker Davis. They get a big linebacker with lots of athletic ability that can play in all areas of the field, and that's as important as ever in a division that's nothing but young quarterbacks and younger wide receivers
18. Miami Dolphins — DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami
The Dolphins are loading up on big-time playmakers. They took wide receiver Jaylen Waddle with the sixth-overall pick, and now they'll get some help setting the edge on the defensive side of the ball.
The Dolphins have some talented young quarterbacks in their division — including two that entered the league tonight and another that just made the AFC Championship at age 24 — and Phillips helps make sure that their 2020 first-rounder gets all the shine. Hitting those quarterbacks helps.
17. Las Vegas Raiders — Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Offensive linemen are coming off the board quickly now, with Las Vegas being the latest team to get some help in the trenches. Leatherwood should be a solid addition for Jon Gruden and the Raiders, who is trying to keep up with three up-and-coming offenses and one established juggernaut in the Kansas City Chiefs.
Josh Jacobs has been a monster for Vegas since being drafted 24th-overall in 2019, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in his first two seasons, and Leatherwood will help set the edges to spring the young rusher free on the outside. They'll also want to allow Henry Ruggs III to get free in the secondary, and the Alabama tackle certainly has the tools to keep Derek Carr on his feet.
16. Arizona Cardinals — LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
After taking a quarterback with their first pick in two consecutive drafts, the Cardinals have now drafted versatile defenders in two straight. They had a hole to fill at linebacker with Haason Reddick moving on to Carolina, and Collins helps fit the theme that was started with the selection of Isaiah Simmons a year ago.
Collins supplies a well-diversified skillset that can play in a lot of different places on the field, and is a great building block for the up-and-comers in Arizona.
15. New England Patriots — QB Mac Jones, Alabama
Mac Jones, projected by most to go No. 3 to the San Francisco 49ers, is headed to New England. The Alabama quarterback was a late riser up a lot of draft boards, and it appears that a lot of it was a smoke screen.
Either way, New England has to be happy with the way the board fell. A lot of folks thought they'd have to trade up or settle for a second-tier quarterback, but they instead wind up with the reigning Davey O'Brien Award (best NCAA quarterback) and national championship winner.
Oh, and did we mention he threw for 4,500 yards? It's Bill Belichick...if Jones isn't a monster, I'll eat my column.
14. New York Jets (from Minnesota) — OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
While one NFC North rival trades up, the Vikings will trade down in the first round.
New York selects one of the top offensive linemen in this year's draft to immediately get new quarterback Zach Wilson some protection.
13. Los Angeles Chargers — OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
The Chargers make a smart pick to get some protection for its franchise quarterback. Justin Herbert tore up the NFL in his rookie year, and now, he has some protection to match the weapons that the chargers have on their offensive side of the ball.
12. Dallas Cowboys (from San Francisco via Philadelphia) — LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
One of the most popular mocks to Detroit now goes off the board at No. 12. Dallas is able to get some value while trading back two spots to draft a defensive player and let Chicago and Philadelphia jump ahead.
11. Chicago Bears (from New York Giants) — QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
The Bears have traded up for a quarterback, and it's automatically better than when they traded up for Mitchell Trubisky, because, well, he's not Mitchell Trubisky.
Fields could have been a top quarterback selection heading into the 2020 Draft, but put together a final season with the Buckeyes that was nothing short of sensational.
Chicago gets great value with this pick.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dallas) — WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Dallas was eyeing a cornerback, and with the top two cornerbacks coming off the board at Nos. 8 and 9, opted to instead trade their pick to one of its most bitter rivals.
Philadelphia goes up and finally calls DeVonta Smith's name, as the Heisman Trophy winner finally has his landing spot. The Eagles are entering a rebuild and is looking to get some weapons around Jalen Hurts, so reuniting him with a college teammate at Alabama makes a lot of sense here.
Also, these trade partners were totally weird, right?
9. Denver Broncos — DB Pat Surtain II, Alabama
Denver makes it a second consecutive defensive player off the board. Many had speculated that the Broncos could be eyeing a quarterback, but rumors of Aaron Rodgers possibly calling Denver home in the hours leading up to the draft could have played a factor in their selection.
Vic Fangio was looking for help on the defensive side of the ball, and this brings some top-tier upside to a secondary that's tasked with stopping Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Henry Ruggs, and a whole host of other speedsters.
8. Carolina Panthers — DB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
A lot of folks suspected that the Panthers would take this opportunity to get some help for newly acquired quarterback Sam Darnold — or even draft his heir apparent of sorts — but instead, Carolina takes the first defensive player off the board.
The Panthers' pass rush was solid last season and has a promising D-line led by Brian Burns, but it could really use some talented youth in its secondary. Horn fits the bill.
7. Detroit Lions — OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
The Lions make a pick that's on the safer side, but a solid pick nonetheless. It's hard to imagine a few months back that Sewell would be available for the Lions at seventh-overall, but the run on wide receivers leading up to their pick certainly helped.
With all of the speculation surrounding Detroit's pick — and if it would even be made at all, with a trade-back on the table — the Lions get the top offensive lineman in the draft.
The Lions haven't finished with a top-10 run game in ages, and this will further aid the effort to turn D'Andre Swift into a dangerous playmaker while helping keep new quarterback Jared Goff upright, even if he has nobody to throw to for now.
6. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia) — WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
The Dolphins go wide receiver now, making that three straight before the Lions pick. While Waddle's teammate Devonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy, the Dolphins opt to get Tua Tagovailoa a bigger body.
Buffalo is the front-runner in the AFC East for the time being, so it's no surprise to see the Dolphins stock up on wide receiver talent to keep up in the arms race. The Broncos did just that in 2020 when they drafted receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in rounds one and two, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Dolphins go back to this well as the draft wears on.
5. Cincinatti Bengals — WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
The Bengals probably could have used some help shoring up their offensive line, but instead get second-year quarterback Joe Burrows help in a different area of the field: wide receiver.
Chase opted out of the 2020 season, but built enough of a resume in big games at LSU alongside Burrow in a championship season to earn himself a top-5 pick. The two combined for over 2,000 yards together in college.
Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Penei Sewell and Devonta Smith all remain on the board with the Lions just one pick away at No. 7.
4. Atlanta Falcons — TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
And we finally have our first non-quarterback selection. Atlanta will apparently punt on drafting the future quarterback for life after Matt Ryan and select one of the most dynamic playmakers in the entire draft.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound tight end out of Florida can play tight end, line up in the slot, or just play receiver. Even if the Falcons say goodbye to Julio Jones this offseason, they'll have a lot to love about their offense in 2021 if Pitts is as good as people are projecting — the term "unicorn" is being thrown around rather freely — then maybe Atlanta isn't done chasing a championship in the Matt Ryan era.
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Houston via Miami) — QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Well, we have the first surprise of the draft so far. All the smoke coming out of San Fran over the last few weeks said Mac Jones was the guy, but it turned out it was just that: smoke.
Lance is one of the most tantalizing prospects in the entire draft, drawing comparisons to Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes with his playmaking ability and raw arm talent. That, plus his ability to take the ball from under center, makes him a perfect pair with with the terrific rushing offenses of 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Hope you're not tired of hearing "RPO" on NFL broadcasts any time soon.
2. New York Jets — QB Zach Wilson, BYU
The second quarterback has come off the board, as the Jets hope Wilson can lead them into the future with new head coach Robert Saleh. Wilson climbed up draft boards as the draft approached, and has been projected to go to New York since his pro day.
Wilson threw for 3,692 yards with 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions during his draft year at BYU. Just three of the top quarterbacks remain: Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Trey Lance.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars — QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
There must be some sort of mandate from the NFL that prohibits the team picking first-overall to submit their selection in the fist 10 minutes.
Either way, the Jaguars have finally made it official: One of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history is going to Jacksonville, where Lawrence and new head coach Urban Meyer have been installing the offense since February.
The college-to-NFL jump doesn't always work (see: Nick Saban) but it's hard to imagine somebody walking into a better rebuilding situation that Meyer did when accepting the Jacksonville job.
Lawrence thrived in every type of moment that you can imagine during his college career at Clemson, making the national championship in each of his three seasons as quarterback while adding a title to his credit in 2018.
There appears to be little certainty with the NFL Draft after the first two picks, and the Detroit Lions are no different.
And, while Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence appears to be a lock for the Jacksonville Jaguars' top pick, and BYU signal caller Zach Wilson appears headed to the New York Jets after that, what the Lions choose to do with the No. 7 pick is anyone's guess.
A new regime that includes first-time general manager Brad Holmes and first-year Lions head coach Dan Campbell will make that call.
The Lions, in the throes of a rebuild — or, retool — have needs everywhere. Could they go with one of the top five quarterbacks who all could be gone by the first half of the first round? Or, will they pluck one of the top receivers, replenishing a position that has seen plenty of turnover in the offseason? Then, there's Penei Sewell, the draft's top offensive lineman, who could be available.
Or, will they even keep the pick, instead choosing to trade down for more draft assets?
It all unfolds starting at 8 p.m. Follow along here for live updates from Detroit News contributor Nolan Bianchi.
► When: Thursday-Saturday
► Where: Multiple locations in Cleveland, including FirstEnergy Stadium, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center
► Schedule: First round, 8 p.m. Thursday; Rounds 2-3, 7 p.m. Friday; Rounds 4-7, noon Saturday
► TV: All three days will be televised on ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network
► Lions draft picks: No. 7 overall (first round), 41 (second round), 72 (third round), 101 (third round), 112 (fourth round), 153 (fifth round)