On what is supposed to be the day where the lives of 32 young men change forever, shockwaves were sent through the NFL world as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers wants out of the franchise.
Throughout the afternoon and early on in the draft, many eyes were focused on Green Bay to see if they would move Rodgers Thursday night, but that never happened and, instead, the draft went on without any major, groundbreaking trades occurring.
With that said, there were still a handful of winners and losers after the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, who were they? Let’s find out.
WINNERS: Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville opened up the evening by soaking in every minute they were on the clock. The DUVAL community got their franchise player as Trevor Lawrence’s name was called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
However, Jacksonville’s night with Clemson University football alumni was not over as with the No. 25 pick, the Jaguars went ahead and took running back Travis Etienne to pair him back up with Lawrence. Together, the two won a national championship in 2018, collected the last three ACC Player of the Year honors and earned First-Team All-ACC honors in 2019 and 2020.
While some may have wanted Jacksonville to get an offensive lineman, it cannot be denied that there is a lot to be excited about in northeast Florida.
LOSERS: Green Bay Packers
This was the blatantly obvious take of the night as the fate of Rodgers and, essentially, the entire state of Wisconsin, is hanging in the balance as we speak. You have to feel for Eric Stokes, selected No. 29 by Green Bay. This is a highly-underrated pick for the team and one that could end up being a steal as we get to the 2021 season. On this man’s biggest night, the city of Green Bay is going to leave him hanging as they panic over what happens with Rodgers.
However, this is karma for the Green Bay front office because just over a year ago, they went out of their way to draft Jordan Love.
It’s truly tough times up in the Frozen Tundra.
WINNERS: Detroit Lions
Now, many may not care about who the Lions picked, but University of Oregon alumnus and offensive lineman Penei Sewell fell right into the hands of the Kings of the Motor City after the Cincinnati Bengals decided to reunite Ja’Marr Chase with Joe Burrow. The humorous part here is that it took after the great and gritty career of Matthew Stafford for Detroit to land a big-time offensive lineman. Let’s hope Sewell isn’t wasted by Dan Campbell.
LOSER: Joe Burrow
Speaking of Burrow, the Bengals decided to go with LSU nostalgia by pairing him back up with Chase. What was the sacrifice? How about more years off the promising QB’s career.
Sewell should’ve been a no-brainer for Cincinnati, but instead, they think this connection will score more points. Now, Cincy is in a potential lose-lose situation because if Burrow goes down with another bad injury, it will surely take the expected production away from Chase.
Last season, Burrow was in the top half of times getting hit (47), per Pro Football Reference. He only started 10 games in 2020 before going down with that devastating leg injury. In those games, he was pressured 109 times, equating to about a quarter of his dropbacks.
The two will be explosive together, but the risk is way too high.
WINNER: Chicago Bears
Congratulations, Chicago! Just a few years after trading up for Mitchell Trubisky, you actually traded up to get a promising talent in Justin Fields. You did not pull a 49ers or Jets by reaching for high-risk picks in Trey Lance and Zach Wilson.
For the first time in a while, there is true hope at the QB position in the Windy City. Now, Chicago gave up a lot to get into this position, but in the end, it has to work out this time for the Bears, right?
LOSERS: Pittsburgh Steelers
“But Cam, Najee Harris is going to be stud.”
Harris is going to be great someday in the NFL, but it may take a couple of years as the Steelers didn’t have the play calling or offensive line to produce any positive results in the ground game. It was a bunch of errant throws from Big Ben and when they handed the ball off, it was always out of shogun with either a banged up James Conner or Benny Snell.
Pittsburgh was dead-last in almost every rushing statistic out there last season. I really don’t think drafting a running back will solve the problem when it’s the O-line and play callers at the forefront of the issues.
Sure, there are a handful of linemen still available in the draft, but why Harris was the man to come off the board first for Pittsburgh, I truly don’t know. It’s just another addition to the list of bad decisions from Steel City. They might as well cook all their eggs in olive oil instead of butter.