First Round NFL Draft Winners and Losers

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Check out OutKick’s full recap of the 2021 NFL Draft’s first round here.

Now, onto Day 1’s winners and losers:

Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars


Trevor Lawrence’s face and long hair appear on the updating Mount Rushmore of QB prospects; it’s Lawrence Peyton Manning, John Elway, and Andrew Luck.

Lawrence has zero bust potential and a historically high ceiling. That’s what the Jags now have.

Over the next five years, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Russell Wilson are the only QBs I’d take over Lawrence.

Jacksonville also selected Lawrence’s Clemson teammate Travis Etienne at No. 25. Etienne is a stud RB, a day one difference-maker.

Loser: Chicago Bears

Not sold.

Via trade, the Bears had their pick at No. 11 of Justin Fields or Mac Jones and picked the former. While Fields has more upside than Jones, he is less of a sure thing. After the disaster that was Mitch Trubisky, Chicago doesn’t have much room to gamble.

The fit is worrisome. Matt Nagy has proven nothing as an NFL head coach and isn’t the guy a team should expect to handle a veteran (Andy Dalton) vs. rookie (Fields) battle very well.

Chicago should have waited another year to draft a QB, went with Dalton this year, and used its first pick on a player to solidify the team’s various flaws.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

Love it.

With Jimmy G still around, the 49ers are in a position to provide Trey Lance what the Chiefs provided Patrick Mahomes. Lance likely won’t be Mahomes — who is? — but his potential is through the roof.

Lance has the talent, size, strength, maturity, and vision to do what only a select number QBs have done on the field. Though I’d wait a year to start him, the 49ers have a Super Bowl-caliber roster and could, at some point, see if Lance catches fire early a la Justin Herbert last year. Herbert is great, Lance has more upside.

LOSER: Green Bay Packers

I capitalized the word “loser” for a reason. One year after the Packers were the biggest losers of the 2020 NFL Draft, the team took an even bigger L in 2021. Before the draft kicked off, reports surfaced that Aaron Rodgers wants out. There’s no way to massage that, a bigger blow cannot be dealt.

What’s more, the Packers didn’t try to do any massaging. Hours after the report, Green Bay stuck another middle finger at Rodgers and drafted a defender in the first round when quality receivers remained.

You poor, poor Packers’ fans.

Winner: Mac Jones

I could easily say the Patriots, but Mac Jones was the biggest winner of the night. It doesn’t get any better than going from Nick Saban to Bill Belichick. As we explained, Mac Jones is disciplined, smart, accurate, efficient, and a winner. He’s a Patriot, a Belichick kind of guy.

Aside from Lawrence, Jones is the most pro-ready QB of this draft. Coupling Jones’ fit in the offseason and New England’s offseason moves, the Patriots are in position to earn one of the three AFC Wild Cards next season.

Mac Jones was born to play for Bill Belichick.

Loser: ESPN

Anyone remember this week when ESPN wrote that the NFL was trying to “keep the QB position as white as the painted yard lines on the field” because Mac Jones might go No. 3?

Not only does a QB’s race mean nothing, but ESPN also looked utter like fools after Trey Lance went third and then celebrated it, proving how dishonest its week’s worth of race-baiting truly was.

Spoiler: not everything is about race, most is not.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.


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  1. Bobby: “Lance has the talent, size, strength, maturity, and vision to do what only a select number QBs have done on the field.”

    Whoa there, Bobby…Trey Lance played in the Missouri Valley Conf (Div. 1 Football — not with the big dawgs). He only played in 2 games as a freshman in 2018 (went 1/1 passing for 12 yds).
    He played all 16 games in 2019 as a soph throwing for 2,786 yds and 28 TDs/0 INTs – nice stats, but versus second-tier college programs:
    Youngstown State
    South Dakota State
    South Dakota
    Southern Illinois
    Western Illinois
    Missouri State
    Northern Iowa
    Illinois State
    Indiana State

    Those fairly-gaudy numbers as a sophomore were in 2019. He didn’t play at all in 2020 (opting out).
    On paper he checks all the boxes that you describe, but so did a lot of talented QBs who came out of big-time schools with great coaching, like Vince Young (Texas), JaMarcus Russell (LSU), Ryan Leaf (UWash) Brady Quinn (ND), Daunte Culpepper (UCF), Byron Leftwich (Marshall), and 100 more like them.
    Don’t know that anybody should be putting that kind of pressure on a young man who hasn’t even looked at the SF playbook yet.

    • I am with you 100%. North Dakota State is like the Alabama/Clemson/Oklahoma/Ohio St of FCS. I actually think all the first round QB’s are reaches except Lawrence and Jones. Jones only because the Pats didn’t go trade up for him and Lawrence I think is the best of the bunch. Wilson, Lance and Fields are all reaches.

  2. Bears going into 2021 with Dalton and Foles is admitting defeat. Next year, what QBs could we have taken? Other needs can be taken care of in later rounds this draft. We made the playoffs twice with Trubisky, surely with Fields, we can take the next step.

  3. Yes, poor us Packers fans, we’ve had 30 years of HOF QB play…2 Super Bowls (yes, should have had more, 5 MVPs, numerous NFC North titles and playoff appearances…poor us, the Browns, Lions, Bears, and Vikings would kill for that. And the lame media narrative that any pick besides a WR is a middle finger to Rodgers is absolutely ridiculous. I really expect better at OutKick. This is the type of “cold take” that I find on ESPN. It’s is a team sport, the Pack needs DBs, it’s a good pick for the Green Bay Packers franchise. Rodgers had a top 5 OL, RB, WR and TE to work with last year, he just didn’t get it done. If picking a DB is a middle finger to anyone I suppose it would be the existing Packers DBs…seriously, the media hacks are out of control.

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