The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft now has come and gone and there were was a lot to like.
… Then again, for a number of NFL teams, there was a lot to dislike, too.
Anyway, here are the winners and losers from Round 1:
Bill Belichick and New England Patriots
Belichick, who has disappointed fans on draft night in the past, let the chips fall as they may. Now he has a new franchise quarterback in Alabama product Mac Jones. Jones, whom many pegged as the San Francisco 49ers’ target at No. 3 overall, fell all the way to New England as the fifth QB drafted.
It’s a perfect fit both for Jones, who is thought to be NFL-ready, and for the Patriots. Now we’ll just have to see if (or when) Jones beats out Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham to win the starting job.
Jared Goff and Detroit Lions
The Lions stayed away from the shiny new offensive playmaker to replace Kenny Golladay and instead opted to build from the ground up with Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, their pick at No. 7.
Sewell fell into Detroit’s lap after the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins picked star wideouts Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively. Would the Lions’ decision have been different if that wasn’t the case? Maybe. But now, first-year head coach Dan Quinn, as animated (or insane?) as any in the league, gets a massive asset who will bite much like he will.
Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and Chicago Bears
There’s no doubt about it, jobs are on the line for both Pace and Nagy after a string of down seasons and the failure of first-round QB Mitchell Trubisky, who is no longer with the organization. But Chicago may have made up for it by making an aggressive move up the board — from No. 20 to No. 11 — in order to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The Bears traded picks No. 20 and 164 this year as well as 2022 first- and fourth-rounders for the right to draft Fields.
We could very well look back and shake our heads that Fields was not only the fourth QB off the board, but also still available after the first 10 picks. It should be a welcome sign for star wideout Allen Robinson, too.
Justin Herbert and Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers should have set out Thursday with priority No. 1 being to protect franchise quarterback Justin Herbert, and they proved just that with the selection of Rashawn Slater at No. 13 overall.
Slater was just the second offensive lineman taken off the board behind Sewell, and there were some who had him as the No. 1 player at the position.
Lamar Jackson got the big-bodied receiver he’s been waiting for in Minnesota wideout Rashod Bateman. And then the Ravens, just four picks later, bolstered their defense with Penn State linebacker Jayson Oweh.
Both picks presented great value for Baltimore, and the selection of Bateman could be what really unlocks Jackson’s potential.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders undoubtedly needed to bolster their offensive line after parting ways with three of their top five linemen from 2020. But doing so with Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood at No. 17 overall was a bit of a reach. ESPN’s broadcast immediately speculated he might have been available with Las Vegas’ second-round pick.
The selection was even more of a head-scratcher given the fact both Christian Darrisaw and Teven Jenkins, believed to be sure things as NFL tackles, were still available.
Green Bay Packers
Admittedly, the draft didn’t even have to start for the Packers to be considered draft-day losers after news broke that NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay.
The Packers then decided to go cornerback in the first round — undoubtedly an area of need — rather than provide one last push to keep Rodgers happy will a receiver like, say, Ole Miss wideout Elijah Moore.
Remember the Bears’ QB1 tweet in reference to Dalton back in late March? Yeah, it seems like that won’t be the plan for long after Chicago traded up for their franchise QB in Fields.
Denver Broncos’ QB plan
OK, so this is completely contingent on the fact that the Broncos started draft as the focal landing spot for Rodgers and ended it with neither the Packers QB nor a first-round talent. Obviously, if Denver does trade for Rodgers, this will be completely scrapped.
But the Broncos, instead of grabbing either Fields or Jones, drafted Atlanta cornerback Patrick Surtain. Surtain likely will become a very, very good corner in the NFL, but if the Broncos are leaving it up to Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock on the other side of the ball, they could regret the decision.