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2021 NFL Draft Running Commentary

Draft King Analysis
April 29, 2021
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

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Running Commentary on the 2021 NFL Draft

Lou (5:45 p.m. CDT): Day one of the 2021 NFL Draft is here.

So much of this draft remains a mystery, even at this late hour. Not just the teams and their plans/motivations. That's always complicated.

But the entire scouting process has been drastically different, with information harder to come by than ever for many prospects.

More as the evening progresses, but for now you can check out my past NFL Draft running commentaries and/or live event experiences:

2004 (Round one)
2004 (Round two)
2005 (Part one)
2005 (Part two)
2005 (Part three)
2012 (Live event)

Lou (5:55 p.m. CDT): Here's what it looks like at this point.

1. JAX Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
2. NYJ Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
3. SF Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota St.
4. ATL Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
5. CIN Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU (probably)

If San Francisco takes Alabama QB Mac Jones at #3, it's believed the Falcons could be poised to select Lance at #4.

Reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, the longtime quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, appears to be at odds with the team per multiple published reports.

Lou (6:20 p.m. CDT): It will be interesting to see what happens tonight with Ohio State QB Justin Fields.

If the Patriots want to make a move for Fields, they might have to jump to Atlanta at #4. Miami at #6 would seem to be a likely trade partner for a team wanting Fields, but not for a division rival.

There is talk that the Saints could move into the top ten to target a cornerback. Something that specific is out there for a reason.

Lou (6:28 p.m. CDT): Non-Fungible Token giveaway time!

I'm not sure how much NFTs and the NFL Draft have in crossover, but here is a free epic tier NFT of the Nashville Fairgrounds Sports Arena.

The first person to claim it wins.

Lou (6:39 p.m. CDT): ...and it's gone.

Lou (6:40 p.m. CDT): Aaron Rodgers to Denver? 20 minutes before the start of the draft, perhaps anything is possible.

Lou (6:50 p.m. CDT): I'm watching ESPN's coverage via my Amazon Fire TV stick, as something happened with my Dish Network satellite dish when the lawn crew was here earlier this week. Not the best timing for me with that.

So once the actual draft begins, I'll have to pick my spots on checking social media with the delay.

Lou (7:07 p.m. CDT): Not sure how much of this is the slow-roll to the beginning and how much is the delay with the internet stream vs. ESPN and NFLN working in ad breaks.

Trey Wingo is missed in ESPN's coverage; Trey is working with FOX in its NFL Draft coverage this weekend.

Lou (7:09 p.m. CDT): There are certain people I know to check with regarding certain teams. And there was zero pushback on the Aaron Rodgers to Denver talk, not surprisingly after seeing how the past hour or so has transpired.

Lou (7:13 p.m. CDT): There is a certain overproduced feel that the NFL Draft has taken on in the past nine years. 2012 at Radio City Music Hall in some ways was a distinctly different experience.

At the same time, I can't complain about a band out of Nashville getting the big stage. I've been doing this so long that I remember when Kings of Leon was coming up in the industry.

Years ago I told a buddy in the radio biz in Dallas that another band out of Nashville, The Features, was playing down there. He went to the show, but got there late and missed The Features.

The band they opened for that night at the small club? Kings of Leon. And my buddy had rave reviews. (I looked and it was 2005.)

None of this is particularly relevant to the draft, mind you.

Lou (7:18 p.m. CDT): Still waiting. This has become tedious.

Lou (7:34 p.m. CDT): Lawrence to the Jags but you knew that already. This is taking entirely too long. We know it's BYU QB Zach Wilson to the Jets.

Lou (7:35 p.m. CDT): Lawrence #1, Wilson #2. Now finally something less certain with the 49ers.

Lou (7:41 p.m. CDT): The pick is in but they're making us wait. There's the draft you see on TV/in person and then the actual draft that is going on well ahead of the speed of television ad breaks.

Lou (7:43 p.m. CDT): As predicted, it's North Dakota State QB Trey Lance to the 49ers at #3. San Francisco didn't move up there without having a really good feel that Lance was going to be on the board.

The Atlanta Falcons were believed to be very interested in Lance. Now?

Perhaps it will be Florida TE Kyle Pitts, a special talent at a position that has become more important than ever in the modern NFL.

Lou (7:52 p.m. CDT): Pitts goes to Atlanta at #4. I hope it works out for Pitts in the NFL as he is a gifted prospect.

The word when the Philadelphia Eagles traded back from #6 was that they believed the Bengals at #5 were dead-set on taking LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase.

That sounded improbably specific. It could be Oregon OT Penei Sewell to the Bengals, as Sewell would fill a major need for Cincinnati.

But so would Chase.

Lou (7:59 p.m. CDT): I can't shake the feeling that much of this is filler. More than normal.

Lou (8:00 p.m. CDT): So of course the year I miss the deadline for the Huddle Report contest, I start 5-5 on my picks.

I led you to this point. We're going into the real world of the unknown with the Dolphins here at #6. I projected Alabama WR DeVonta Smith, but that was with a trade-back in mind.

Lou (8:04 p.m. CDT): The selection is in, so Miami isn't trading back here.

Lou (8:05 p.m. CDT): Correct position and school... but it's not DeVonta Smith. Instead, it's Alabama slot WR Jaylen Waddle. There were whispers out of Charlotte that Waddle wouldn't make it beyond Carolina's spot at #8, though now we'll never know for sure.

Detroit is on the clock. I projected Sewell to the Lions, but there are a wide variety of options in play here.

Lou (8:11 p.m. CDT): As predicted, it's Sewell to Detroit. The top OL prospect on nearly every board out there, Sewell should be a good fit with the Lions.

The Panthers at #8 are up next.

Hearing ESPN use Voodoo Chile made me think of a video clip from this past December, which I've embedded below. YouTube made me cut it out from a stream archive, even though it was an officially licensed song in a game I bought many years ago.

Lou (8:19 p.m. CDT): Finally a defensive player goes off the board, and it's South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn. There was plenty of talk that Horn wouldn't make it beyond Arizona at #16, but instead it's Horn off the board at #8 overall to Carolina.

Up next at #9, it's the Denver Broncos.

Lou (8:27 p.m. CDT): With all of the talk that 2022 draft picks are considerably more coveted that next-year selections typically are, it's not terribly surprising that there haven't been any trades thus far.

The Broncos stick at #9 and select Alabama CB Patrick Surtain. I had thought the Dallas Cowboys would get Surtain at #10, but he won't be an option. Back-to-back corners off the board after seven offensive selections to open the night.

Lou (8:31 p.m. CDT): Cowboys and Eagles connect on a rare intra-division trade. This looks like a potential move to take DeVonta Smith.

Lou (8:34 p.m. CDT): Philly gives up a 2021 third-rounder to move up two spots, after having moved down from their original spot at #6 well ahead of draft week.

So there's a trade, but still zero draft night trades of 2022 selections thus far.

Lou (8:39 p.m. CDT): And as anticipated, the Eagles pick up DeVonta Smith at #10.

Rule changes made for safety reasons tilted the sport in favor of passing attacks.

The big questions for 2021 NFL prospects:

1. Can you make a major difference for our passing offense?
2. Can you make a major difference for our passing defense?
3. Are you a unique player with special skills that allow you to play your position like few others?

If you can't answer yes to one of those three questions... the odds are not in your favor on night one.

In 2005, three of the first five overall selections were running backs. Those days are long gone.

Lou (8:40 p.m. CDT): Chicago has traded up to #11. We finally have a 2022 pick traded tonight.

Lou (8:45 p.m. CDT): And the Bears have drafted Ohio State QB Justin Fields. Big pickup right there for Chicago.

Now it's Dallas at #12, from San Francisco via Miami and Philadelphia, on the clock.

Lou (8:51 p.m. CDT): The first linebacker is off the board, as the Cowboys select Penn State LB Micah Parsons. Unusual mix of size and speed. You can line up Parsons in a wide variety of spots.

The L.A. Chargers are on the clock now at #13. Offensive line is expected to be a strong consideration here.

Lou (8:58 p.m. CDT): The pick is in for the Chargers, but there are commercials to be played. So we wait.

Speaking of waiting:

Maybe Mac was looking for the latest zingers from this site. Wouldn't be the first time for that to happen at the NFL Draft.

I anticipate high grades for the Chargers for landing Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater at #13. There had been some speculating that Slater could go as high as #5, though most had Slater behind Sewell in the OL pecking order.

The pundit pecking order matters even less this year than most though. Fewer opportunities for GMs and scouts to interact means less consensus. Or at least that's my perception of it.

Lou (9:07 p.m. CDT): The Jets have traded up to #14, working a deal with the Minnesota Vikings.

Lou (9:11 p.m. CDT): Back-to-back offensive linemen with the Jets selecting Southern Cal offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker.

Vera-Tucker played tackle for the Trojans, but it's expected he will play at left guard for the Jets.

And here we go, it's New England on the clock.

Lou (9:15 p.m. CDT): Mac Jones is the selection, going to the Patriots at #15. That was my projection and this matches what had been speculated, though the Pats didn't have to trade up to make it happen.

Lou (9:21 p.m. CDT): Arizona selects Tulsa OLB Zaven Collins at #16. That makes for an interesting pairing with LB Isaiah Simmons, who much like Collins is a unique talent who doesn't easily fit into an NFL mold.

Lou (9:27 p.m. CDT): With the #17 pick, the Las Vegas Raiders select Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood. The run on Alabama players and offensive linemen continues. Versatile prospect.

For the second time tonight, the Miami Dolphins are on the clock, this time at #18 overall.

Lou (9:31 p.m. CDT): It's past 10:30 east coast time, so they will likely back off here with the gimmicks and pick up the pace with the selections.

And it's another pick hitting for me with the Dolphins selecting in-town talent Jaelen Phillips, an EDGE for the U.

Eight picks have connected now for me. Up next, it's Washington FT at number 19.

Lou (9:35 p.m. CDT): I had thought Washington FT would have a new team nickname by now. Nope.

Lou (9:39 p.m. CDT): Kentucky LB Jamin Davis goes to Washington at #19. Davis has ridiculous closing speed and built on a breakout 2020 with a great pre-draft process.

We stay in the NFC East with the New York Giants on the clock at #20.

Lou (9:53 p.m. CDT): Florida WR Kadarius Toney, who runs a sub 4.4 40, went to the Giants at #20. And then at #21, it's Indianapolis filling a DL pass rusher need with Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye.

My hometown Tennessee Titans are up next at #22. This could be an offensive tackle or a cornerback. Or a wide receiver.

Lou (9:59 p.m. CDT): So the Titans are on the clock and they're playing Sweet Caroline and it reminds me of late summer 2017 for a moment.

But nevermind that story -- that's nine picks I've hit now with the Titans drafting Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley.

I had my mock frozen before the Huddle Report deadline, but I was waiting for anything late and dozed off on the couch.

The next thing I knew, it was 3:30 a.m. and the deadline was missed. Alas.

Vikings are up next at #23.

Lou (10:08 p.m. CDT): Minnesota lands Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw. And now on deck it's the Pittsburgh Steelers at #24.

There has been heavy speculation that Alabama RB Najee Harris will go to Pittsburgh here. It was my projection.

Lou (10:12 p.m. CDT): TEN!

That's ten picks hit out of 24 for me, as the Steelers drafted Harris as expected.

Jacksonville is back up again at #25.

Lou (10:23 p.m. CDT): Jacksonville doubles down on Clemson, going with RB Travis Etienne. Lawrence and Etienne on night one is quite the one-two combo as the Urban Meyer era begins to ramp up.

Cleveland is the host for this year's draft and the Browns are about to make their pick.

Lou (10:27 p.m. CDT): CB Greg Newsome becomes the second player out of Northwestern drafted tonight, selected by the Browns in front of the hometown fans at #26.

Open-ended here for the Ravens with picks #27 and #31. You'd think a wide receiver is a strong possibilities with one of these selections.

Lou (10:36 p.m. CDT): ELEVEN! As I projected, the Ravens selected Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman at #27.

The New Orleans Saints are up now at #28.

Lou (10:47 p.m. CDT): The Saints selected Houston DE Payton Turner at #28.

At #29, the Green Bay Packers picked Georgia CB Eric Stokes.

And now it's the Buffalo Bills up at #30. Three picks to go to round out night one.

Lou (10:55 p.m. CDT): Buffalo drafted Miami DE Gregory Rousseau at #30. Rousseau is one of those 2020 opt-outs who has considerable potential as an interior pass rusher.

It's approaching midnight local time, and with Rousseau being there in person this might extend into early Friday morning local time.

Baltimore is back up at #31.

Lou (11:01 p.m. CDT): TWELVE!

A dozen first rounders hit. Wow.

Baltimore selects Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh, as I projected.

Tampa Bay awaits at #32. For what it's worth, I projected Washington DT Levi Onwuzurike to the Buccaneers here.

Lou (11:01 p.m. CDT): Right school and correct side of the ball, but the wrong player for me as the Bucs selected Washington LB Joe Tryon at #32. A great pass rusher to add to the mix for the defending champs.

After being way off-base last year, I spent considerable time refining my strategy for the pandemic. And, at least for one night, it steered me in the proper direction.

Enjoy the rest of the draft and good luck to your favorite teams and players. For me it's next stop: 2022 NFL Draft.

Have a good night.

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