32 things we learned from the 2021 NFL draft

The 32 things we learned from the 2021 NFL draft, i.e. the 86th annual "Player Selection Meeting":

1. No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence almost became an afterthought during the predraft process given he'd essentially been pegged to go here since about 2018. Seeing him finally hoist that teal No. 16 Jaguars jersey was a visual reminder that it should be exciting to finally see him in the NFL – anchoring a talented, young team led by college coaching legend Urban Meyer. Don't be surprised if Jacksonville is in the playoff mix in 2021.

1a. Lawrence became the first-ever Clemson player to be among the draft's top three picks.

1b. He's also the fourth quarterback taken in Round 1 in Jags history – joining Byron Leftwich (2003), Blaine Gabbert (2011) and Blake Bortles (2014). Lawrence is the first tabbed first overall.

The Jaguars selected a QB in the 1st round for the 4th time in team history. The previous 3 QBs had a combined 53-91 record as starters with the team (.368). pic.twitter.com/LIXbmdUAz8

2. No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson is the highest-drafted QB in Jets history … aside from Joe Namath, who went No. 1 overall in the 1965 AFL draft. During two drafts as NYJ GM, Joe Douglas has used all of his first- and second-round picks (a total of five) on offense, so here's hoping Wilson gets a more legitimate opportunity to succeed than predecessor Sam Darnold did.

2a. Wilson became the first-ever BYU player to be among the draft's top four picks.

2b. The Jets are the first team during the common draft era (since 1967) to draft quarterbacks in the top three during a four-draft span. Previous GM Mike Maccagnan took Darnold third in 2018.

3. But you have to wonder if the Jets – and every team drafting after Jacksonville that considered a QB – made a mistake by passing on Ohio State's Justin Fields, who was rescued at No. 11 when the Chicago Bears snatched him. Lawrence and Fields had a bit of a Brady-Manning thing going since they were five-star high school quarterbacks in Georgia and later split a pair of meetings between the Tigers and Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

3a. Here's hoping Fields pans out better than the five other quarterbacks the Bears have taken in Round 1 during the common draft era: Jim McMahon (1982), who was under center for Chicago's only Super Bowl-winning team; Jim Harbaugh (1987); Cade McNown (1999); Rex Grossman (2003) and, of course, Mitchell Trubisky (2017).

3b. "Soldier Fields." Get used to it.

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4. Third-rounders played the most games (474) among rookies in 2020. Good luck to you, Davis Mills, the Houston Texans' controversial Round 3 choice … though not due to any fault of the former Stanford QB.

5. It took 14 hours and 52 minutes to complete all seven rounds.

6. Even though this was considered an offense-oriented draft – the first time the first seven picks were devoted to that side of the ball – more than half the players selected (133) play defense. 

7. Of the 259 players drafted, 100 (38.6%) were underclassmen, including the first nine off the board and 14 of the first 16. Alabama WR DeVonta Smith, taken 10th overall by the Eagles, was the first senior picked.

8. A breakdown of players by position: defensive backs (55), linebackers (38), wide receivers (34), offensive tackles (25), defensive ends (22), running backs (19), guards (14), defensive tackles (13), tight ends (13), quarterbacks (10), centers (7), nose tackles (5), long snappers (2), kickers (1) and punters (1).

8a. The eight quarterbacks selected through Round 3 were the most in draft history.

9. The Rams haven't drafted in the first round since they took QB Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016. After trading Goff (and two more first-rounders) to the Lions earlier this year for QB Matthew Stafford, LA isn't scheduled to pick in Round 1 until 2024.

9a. With Goff and Stafford changing uniforms, none of the 22 QBs taken in Round 1 between 2009 and 2016 remain with the team that drafted them.

9b. Not only that, four first-round QBs chosen since 2017 have also washed out with their original club (Trubisky, Darnold, Josh Rosen and Dwayne Haskins).

10. After drafting seven defenders in 2020 and CB Jaycee Horn on Thursday, the Panthers selected the first offensive player of the Matt Rhule era in Friday's second round, LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr.

10a. New Carolina RB Chuba Hubbard should give Rhule's wife part of his signing bonus as she texted her husband to draft the Oklahoma State product in Round 4. Hubbard burned Rhule's former team, Baylor, for 171 yards and two TDs in 2019.

Count another offensive pick for 2021 ✅

Listen in on the @Hubbard_RMN call 📞 pic.twitter.com/TTos7iTHhu

11. The Southeastern Conference had 65 of its players drafted – most ever for one conference in the common draft era – including 10 from Alabama and at least one from all 14 schools. It was the 15th consecutive draft that the SEC provided the most draftees.

11a. Four SEC wide receivers – LSU's Ja’Marr Chase, Alabama's Jaylen Waddle and Smith and Florida's Kadarius Toney – were picked in the first round, the first time that had happened for one conference.

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