NFL Draft Live: Round 1 Pick by Pick Analysis and News on Aaron Rodgers

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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. Dropping 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.

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

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

The Falcons select Kyle Pitts at tight end.

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

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

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

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

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 in exchange for the third overall pick.

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

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.

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

The 49ers choose Trey Lance at quarterback.

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


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 →

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

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

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.

The Jets take Zach Wilson at quarterback.

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

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.

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.

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 Bengals
6. Miami Dolphins
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. Philadelphia 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

The Jaguars select Trevor Lawrence at quarterback.

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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

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.”

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.”

Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II will probably be one of the first defensive players drafted Thursday. He is the son of a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback.
Credit…Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

This weekend, three N.F.L. draft prospects — Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn and Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. — are projected to be chosen in the early rounds, and they are among the sons of former players who are expected be drafted.

Surtain’s father, cornerback Patrick Surtain, a second-round draft pick in 1998, played 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City, and was named to three Pro Bowls. Wide receiver Joe Horn, a fifth-round selection in 1996, played 12 seasons with Kansas City, the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, earning four Pro Bowl nods. Asante Samuel, drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 draft by the New England Patriots, played 11 seasons, winning two Super Bowls and was named to the Pro Bowl four times.

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick but will not attend the N.F.L. draft in person.
Credit…Richard Shiro/Associated Press

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is expected to be picked first by the Jacksonville Jaguars, will be at his home outside Clemson, S.C., not onstage in Cleveland. Lawrence chose to celebrate in his living room with about a dozen family and friends and forgo the hoopla of a nationally televised bro-hug with Commissioner Roger Goodell, calling to mind last year’s all-remote draft.

Lawrence will be surrounded by his parents, Jeremy and Amanda; his older brother and sister-in-law, Chase and Brooke; his younger sister, Olivia; his wife, Marissa; and his college coach, Dabo Swinney. Other friends may join them in Lawrence’s living room.

Zach Wilson walked the red carpet before the first round of the draft.
Credit…David Dermer/Associated Press

Last year, as the coronavirus pandemic raged, N.F.L. prospects in the draft were welcomed to the league with television cameras in their living rooms. Now, as the N.F.L. stages a hybrid format for the 2021 draft, a limited number of players will be on site in Cleveland, while others will participate remotely.

Twelve players are confirmed to be there. Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, a quarterback from Clemson, declined the N.F.L.’s invitation and will watch at home with his wife, Marissa, and other family members. Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, who had originally accepted the invitation, tested positive for the virus and will quarantine at home.

Those in attendance will be:

Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance

Louisiana State wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts

Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater

Alabama defensive lineman Christian Barmore

Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons

Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II

Aaron Rodgers recently tried out for another job — hosting “Jeopardy” after the death of the quiz show’s longtime star, Alex Trebek.
Credit…Carol Kaelson/Jeopardy Productions, Inc., via Associated Press

According to ESPN, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is fed up in Green Bay. Again. The three-time N.F.L. most valuable player is apparently so unhappy that he does not want to return to the team. Rodgers has expressed dissatisfaction with his coaches and a lack of offensive support, and last year the team sparked his ire by drafting a quarterback, Jordan Love, in the first round.

Rodgers, 38, is likely to stay put. General Manager Brian Gutekunst does not want to trade him, and Rodgers can’t opt out of his current contract until 2022. Rodgers would forgo millions of dollars in bonuses if he sat out this season.





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