Thursday, December 2News That Matters

2021 N.F.L. Draft Live: Quarterbacks Taken Early

April 29, 2021, 9:33 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:33 p.m. ET

Credit…David Dermer/Associated Press

Yesterday’s trade to acquire quarterback Teddy Bridgewater signaled that the Denver Broncos competition for inconsistent starter Drew Lock.

As rumor swirl that Denver will attempt to trade for Aaron Rodgers, the team chose not to selected Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, son of cornerback Patrick Surtain, a second-round draft pick in 1998, who played 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City, and was named to three Pro Bowls. The younger Surtain will add speed to the Broncos’ secondary and help a team that is led by defensive-minded Coach Vic Fangio and outside linebacker Von Miller.

April 29, 2021, 9:30 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:30 p.m. ET

Speaking of quarterbacks, it’s looking possible — likely? — that the Patriots can sit at 15 and, barring any other team moving up, get Jones or Fields.

No. 9 Pick

The Broncos pick Patrick Surtain II at cornerback.

College: Alabama | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 208

April 29, 2021, 9:25 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:25 p.m. ET

The Carolina Panthers took cornerback Jaycee Horn from South Carolina with the eighth pick, the first defensive player to go in the draft. Horn (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), the son of former Saints receiver Joe Horn, will help bolster a defensive backfield that lost its best cornerback, James Bradbury, to free agency.

The pick was something of a surprise because the Panthers opted not to pick another offensive weapon to support their new quarterback, Sam Darnold, who they acquired this month from the Jets, and because Carolina had been rumored to be a trade partner for a team hoping to move up to select a quarterback.

April 29, 2021, 9:23 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:23 p.m. ET

There’s believed to be a dropoff between Horn and Patrick Surtain II and the next tier of cornerbacks. Which means that it’s possible that the Eagles (No. 12) need to overtake Dallas (No. 10) to get Surtain if they want him.

April 29, 2021, 9:21 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:21 p.m. ET

Horn is a good player, but the Panthers definitely could have traded back and still have gotten him.

April 29, 2021, 9:19 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:19 p.m. ET

Another pivot point in the Aaron Rodgers sweepstakes. If Denver takes Justin Fields or Mac Jones, count the Broncos out.

April 29, 2021, 9:18 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:18 p.m. ET

With CB Jaycee Horn going to Carolina at No. 8, this is longest it’s ever taken the N.F.L. to draft a defensive player.

No. 8 Pick

The Panthers take Jaycee Horn at cornerback.

College: South Carolina | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 205

April 29, 2021, 9:15 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:15 p.m. ET

Penei Sewell opted out of the 2020 college football season.
Credit…Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

The Fighting Goffs just might have the worst roster in the N.F.L. this side of Houston. In other words, they need upgrades eh-vree-wear. Taking Penei Sewell, the stud offensive tackle from Oregon, not only gives Detroit a franchise cornerstone at a premium position. It also reflects the big FOOTBALL GUY energy given off by the new coach, Dan Campbell, his staff and a front office that now includes former linebacker Chris Spielman.

No. 7 Pick

The Lions select Penei Sewell at offensive tackle.

College: Oregon | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 331

April 29, 2021, 9:08 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:08 p.m. ET

Jaylen Waddle  
Credit…Butch Dill/Associated Press

With Ryan Fitzpatrick gone and Tua Tagovailoa entrenched as the starting quarterback, the Miami Dolphins added another weapon to their roster with wide receiver Jaylen Waddle from Alabama.

Equipped with a stout, aggressive defense, Miami opted to draft an offensive player to help Tagovailoa in his second N.F.L. season, and took one of the best prospects off the board. Tagovailoa, who often struggled to throw downfield as a rookie last season, now has another dependable receiving option to couple with Will Fuller, whom Miami added this off-season in free agency.

April 29, 2021, 9:06 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:06 p.m. ET

With Jaylen Waddle off to Miami, Jalen Hurts and Jalen Reagor lament the Eagles’ failure to corner the market.

No. 6 Pick

The Dolphins take Jaylen Waddle at wide receiver.

College: Alabama | Height: 5-9½ | Weight: 180

April 29, 2021, 9:03 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 9:03 p.m. ET

Ja’Marr Chase after a fumble recovery for L.S.U.
Credit…Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

This year, the Bengals focused on helping second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. With the fifth pick in the draft, they chose wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who played with Burrow at L.S.U. during their national championship run in 2019.

Chase, who is 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, clocked a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at L.S.U.’s pro day after not playing in the 2020 college season because of the pandemic. The Bengals chose not to use their first pick to bolster their offensive line even though they gave up the most sacks last year and were 29th in pass blocking.

No. 5 Pick

The Bengals choose Ja’Marr Chase at wide receiver.

College: Louisiana State | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 201

April 29, 2021, 8:53 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:53 p.m. ET

Florida’s Kyle Pitts was the first tight end to finish in the top 10 in Heisman Trophy voting.
Credit…Sam Craft/Associated Press

Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback … tight end! The Falcons had the audacity to snap the streak by taking the unicorn Kyle Pitts from Florida with the No. 4 pick. Putting Pitts, who was basically unguardable with the Gators, into a playmaking group that includes Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst? YES, PLEASE. Let’s see how new coach Arthur Smith — who looooooooooves using multiple tight-end sets — maximizes Pitts.

April 29, 2021, 8:50 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:50 p.m. ET

An empty set with Pitts, Ridley, Jones and Hurst will be absolutely absurd.

April 29, 2021, 8:49 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:49 p.m. ET

Riley Odoms, move over. Pitts now highest drafted TE.

No. 4 Pick

The Falcons select Kyle Pitts at tight end.

College: Florida | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 245

April 29, 2021, 8:47 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:47 p.m. ET

Clearly, this knocks the 49ers out of any potential Rodgers derby.

April 29, 2021, 8:47 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:47 p.m. ET

I second what Ben said. Hard for me to see Lance failing with San Francisco’s coaches and offensive scheme.

April 29, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

Personal opinion: Trey Lance is going to be a star.

April 29, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:45 p.m. ET

The 49ers chose North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. 
Credit…Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

All eyes shifted to the San Francisco 49ers last month when they traded two future first-round picks to the Miami Dolphins for the third overall pick this year.

They finally ended the speculation by selecting North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, a pivot from the widely debated prediction that they would choose Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. By selecting Lance over Jones, Coach Kyle Shanahan signaled that his offense will evolve with a quarterback who can extend plays with his legs and stress defenses. It also brings into question the future of starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who in two of the last three seasons sustained major injuries and played in fewer than seven games.

April 29, 2021, 8:44 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:44 p.m. ET

You don’t have to go to Alabama to be a high draft pick, kids. B.Y.U. and North Dakota State reppin’ top 3 tonight.

April 29, 2021, 8:42 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:42 p.m. ET

So now, how far down does Michael McCorkle Jones slide? Out of the top 10? To the Patriots at 15?

No. 3 Pick

The 49ers choose Trey Lance at quarterback.

College: North Dakota State | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 224

April 29, 2021, 8:36 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:36 p.m. ET

The Jets Try to Find a Quarterback … Again

Ben Shpigel

Ben ShpigelReporting on the N.F.L. Draft 🏈

The Jets Try to Find a Quarterback … Again

Ben Shpigel

Ben ShpigelReporting on the N.F.L. Draft 🏈

Steve Conner/Associated Press

The Jets took Zach Wilson with the No. 2 pick in the N.F.L. draft on Thursday night, their latest attempt to solve a decades-long quarterback quandary.

Let’s review some truly awful history →

8h ago

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April 29, 2021, 8:35 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:35 p.m. ET

And now we get our first hint about Aaron Rodgers’s tenuous status with the Packers. If the 49ers don’t draft a quarterback …

April 29, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

“Broadway Zach”? Is there a Broadway in Florham Park?

April 29, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:34 p.m. ET

OK, now the fun starts.

April 29, 2021, 8:33 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:33 p.m. ET

Zach Wilson in a B.Y.U. game last fall.
Credit…Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The Jets used the second pick in the draft to select Zach Wilson from Brigham Young, hoping that their long search for a franchise quarterback is over.

In a draft class rich at the position, Wilson stood out in his stellar junior year, when he threw for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions in 12 games. He also ran for 254 yards and 10 touchdowns. After relatively pedestrian freshman and sophomore seasons, Wilson finished eighth — fifth among quarterbacks — in the voting for this year’s Heisman Trophy. Wilson, at 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, hopes to build on that momentum with the Jets and prove that his junior year was no fluke.

“These guys need a good quarterback, a good leader, and I think I got those qualities,” Wilson said after he was chosen. “I can’t wait to go in there.”

It was the second-highest the team had drafted a quarterback, behind the selection of Joe Namath, who was taken first over all in the 1965 A.F.L. draft. The Jets’ inability to find a franchise quarterback capable of leading them back to the Super Bowl has defined them ever since.

The team has often used first-round picks to try to fill the position, as it did with Richard Todd in 1976, Ken O’Brien in 1983, Chad Pennington in 2000 and Mark Sanchez in 2009. Most recently, Sam Darnold was selected with the third overall pick in 2018, but his tenure with the team ended with his being traded to the Panthers this spring after compiling a 13-25 record over three seasons.

The desperation to draft a star quarterback has accelerated in recent years. Wilson is the sixth quarterback the Jets have selected in the first two rounds of the draft since 2006, according to Pro Football Reference. (Denver, Cleveland and Miami took five each heading into this year.)

Like Darnold, Wilson arrives with high expectations and a lot of work ahead to revive a franchise that went 2-14 last season and hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2010 season, the longest postseason drought in the league.

Robert Saleh, the team’s new head coach, said last week that he had no qualms about starting Wilson right away.

“I don’t think there’s risk,” Saleh told NFL Media. “I’m very comfortable with every decision that’s made, and it’s our job to put him in the best position to be successful.”

Ahead of the draft, Wilson reportedly spoke with Pennington, Sanchez and Josh McCown, a veteran quarterback who played parts of two seasons with the Jets, to get a feel for what it is like to play in the country’s biggest media market and in front of victory-starved fans.

Wilson joins a Jets team in full transition. Saleh, a first-time head coach, spent four years as defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers before the Jets hired him this off-season. Last year’s Jets had the worst offense in the N.F.L. and the second worst passing game, which General Manager Joe Douglas has tried to improve by signing receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole, as well as running back Tevin Coleman.

No. 2 Pick

The Jets take Zach Wilson at quarterback.

College: Brigham Young | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 214

April 29, 2021, 8:29 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:29 p.m. ET

For the Jaguars story Ken Belson and I reported that was published Monday, I spoke with John Caputo, a fan since their inception. I asked him how he’d celebrate tonight. He said, “I’ll drink a bottle of Dom.” Here’s to you, John.

April 29, 2021, 8:26 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:26 p.m. ET

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence went No. 1 over all to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Credit…Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

The next phase of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ grand off-season overhaul arrived with a flourish Thursday night when with the No. 1 pick they drafted Trevor Lawrence, the golden-tressed quarterback from Clemson who is considered the best prospect at the position in a decade.

Lawrence had been destined to go first in this year’s draft ever since he relieved Kelly Bryant after four games in 2018 and led Clemson to a national title. Flaunting a strong arm, preternatural pocket presence and awareness and the athleticism to run, Lawrence went 34-2 across two-and-a-half seasons as a starter in college, throwing for 10,098 yards with 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions while rushing for 943 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Not since Andrew Luck in 2012 has a quarterback been so widely deemed ready to start (and star) in the N.F.L. as a rookie. And just as fans of woeful teams back then launched “Suck for Luck” campaigns, so, too, did they pine throughout the 2020 N.F.L. season for Lawrence, who well into December seemed headed to the Jets.

But once the winless Jets upset the Rams in Week 15, the one-win Jaguars vaulted ahead of them on tiebreakers for the right to draft Lawrence, setting off celebrations throughout Duval County, Fla. — and attracting the attention of a certain coach eager to try to recreate his college success in the N.F.L.

The Jaguars’ head coaching job appealed to Urban Meyer, who won three national titles at Florida and Ohio State, in part because of the chance to draft Lawrence.

“The criteria we look for in a quarterback is competitiveness, toughness, leadership, intelligence and adaptability,” Meyer said in an interview in mid-April, “and he checks every box.”

As bad as the Jaguars have been, losing the most games in the N.F.L. since Shahid Khan assumed ownership in 2012, they had never been dreadful enough to earn the No. 1 pick or to select high in a draft teeming with strong quarterbacks. But all that dejection and despair has yielded, 26 seasons into the Jaguars’ existence, an inflection point, a transformational opportunity.

They have waited this long for Trevor Lawrence, and now he is all theirs.

April 29, 2021, 8:26 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:26 p.m. ET

1. Jacksonville JaguarsTrevor Lawrence (quarterback, Clemson)
2. New York JetsZach Wilson (quarterback, Brigham Young)
3. San Francisco 49ersTrey Lance (quarterback, North Dakota State)
4. Atlanta FalconsKyle Pitts (tight end, Florida)
5. Cincinnati BengalsJa’Marr Chase (wide receiver, Louisiana State)
6. Miami DolphinsJaylen Waddle (wide receiver, Alabama)
7. Detroit LionsPenei Sewell (offensive tackle, Oregon)
8. Carolina PanthersJaycee Horn (cornerback, South Carolina)
9. Denver BroncosPatrick Surtain II (cornerback, Alabama)
10. Philadelphia Eagles (in trade with Dallas Cowboys)
11. New York Giants
12. Dallas Cowboys (from Eagles)
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints
29. Green Bay Packers
30. Buffalo Bills
31. Baltimore Ravens
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

No. 1 Pick

The Jaguars select Trevor Lawrence at quarterback.

College: Clemson | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 213

April 29, 2021, 8:20 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:20 p.m. ET

Jags milking the clock… they’ve used five minutes of their allotted 10 minutes so far.

April 29, 2021, 8:20 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:20 p.m. ET

Did the N.F.L. even bother sending Trevor Lawrence any other teams’ hats besides Jacksonville’s?

April 29, 2021, 8:15 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:15 p.m. ET

Roger Goodell’s chair doesn’t even look THAT comfortable.

April 29, 2021, 8:12 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:12 p.m. ET

Nature is healing. Roger Goodell is urging fans in Cleveland to boo him.

April 29, 2021, 8:05 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:05 p.m. ET

Jaguars Coach Urban Meyer, left, and the team’s owner, Shad Khan, are ready for the franchise’s moment in the spotlight.
Credit…Agnes Lopez for The New York Times

The Jacksonville Jaguars, who play in one of the smallest N.F.L. markets and have the draft’s first pick, are not wasting their moment in the spotlight.

Like all teams, Jacksonville has 10 minutes to make its selection, time when broadcasters usually sell pricey slots to advertisers. On Tuesday, the team teased the moment on Twitter, daring: “Do it, @NFLNetwork and @ESPNNFL. Go to commercial break during the first overall pick. We dare you.”

April 29, 2021, 8:00 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 8:00 p.m. ET

And it lights up. Just thought you should see it.

April 29, 2021, 7:55 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 7:55 p.m. ET

Goodell announced 2020 draft picks from his basement.
Credit…Nfl, via Getty Images

One of the most prominent features of the remote N.F.L. draft last year was the weather-beaten brown leather chair in Commissioner Roger Goodell’s basement. Announcing picks in the draft, Goodell sat and eventually slumped in the chair as the rounds wore on, something viewers turned into a meme.

Recognizing the piece of furniture’s star turn, Goodell decided to ship the chair to Cleveland, where this year’s draft will be held with some players and fans in attendance. The chair will make appearances throughout the three-day event, including in the green room where the top prospects wait to hear if they have been drafted.

The chair was a rare glimpse into the personal life of the commissioner, who has watched a lot of football games sitting in it during the 30 years he’s had it. His wife, Jane Skinner, though, apparently isn’t so fond of one of his prized possessions. As one N.F.L. insider noted, “Mrs. Goodell didn’t mind it leaving the house.”

April 29, 2021, 7:29 p.m. ET

April 29, 2021, 7:29 p.m. ET

N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell was interviewed ahead of the draft on Thursday.
Credit…Matt Shiffler/Associated Press

N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the allegations of harassment and sexual assault that have been made against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson were “very concerning” and that the league was continuing its own investigation into the charges, made by 22 women in separate civil suits filed in Houston.

“Obviously, we take that very seriously,” Goodell said on ESPN before the draft, in his first public comments about the case. “Those are very concerning to us, and so we’re obviously following that and obviously looking at that ourselves independently, and there are important steps we’ll be taking obviously as part of our personal conduct policy. So when we get to that point we’ll certainly make a decision.”