Sean Pendergast

NFL Draft, Day 1 — Four Winners, Four Losers

Screen grab from YouTube
Trevor Lawrence is now officially a problem for the Houston Texans, as he joins the AFC South in Jacksonville.
For the Houston Texans and their fan base, the 2021 NFL Draft really begins tonight, with the 67th overall pick, the third pick of the third round. However, for most of the rest of the NFL, the draft festivities began last night with the first round of the draft. Five teams made big swings at changing their franchises' trajectory by taking quarterbacks, but there's no doubt, every franchise making a selection last night feels more hopeful about its future.

Let's look back now at Thursday night, and we will try to assess the winners and losers of a fascinating night of franchise building. Here we go....

WINNERS

4. The pandemic winding down (we hope)
In 2020, the draft was essentially held online, with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks from his basement, wearing a sweater and sitting in a recliner. Thursday night felt like one mroe step back to normalcy, with about a dozen players walking the stage to hug Goodell, and with fans in the vicinity of the draft. No league has been more hellbent on maintaining normalcy than the NFL since the pandemic began last spring, and to see the next generation of players experience a normal draft, or close to it, was heartwarming.


3. Trey Lance
For the last three weeks, all of the conjecture and speculation surrounding the draft has centered on the third pick in the draft. Since the Niners traded up to snag the third overall pick from the Dolphins (a pick that originally befogged to the Texans, traded for Laremy Tunsil), much of the speculation has had the Niners drafting Alabama QB Mac Jones, despite very uninspiring draft evaluations on Jones. In the end, the Niners saw Lance as the right pick, and this will be fascinating to see how this plays out. Lance has played exactly ONE game in the last two seasons, after the postponement of the FCS season into the spring. Kyle Shanahan is really testing his mentoring mettle with this pick.

2. Jaylen Waddle
It's always nice to see Houston kids make good, and after a final season at Alabama that was truncated by injuries, Waddle was still able to find his way into the top half dozen players taken in the draft. In his time at Alabama, Waddle had 17 total touchdowns that went for an astounding 44.5 yards per play. In Miami, he will be reunited with his former teammate Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, and will be part of one of the rising young teams in the NFL in 2021.

1. Trevor Town
I am coming at this assessment from a Houston perspective. Last week, I was in Jacksonville for two days, and I listened to the sports talk radio shows on the Jaguars flagship station. With a week to go before the draft, the hosts conducted their shows with an extra hop in their step because (a) Urban Meyer is the new head coach of their team, and (b) Trevor Lawrence is on his way as the future franchise quarterback. Jacksonville is in the midst of a textbook NFL rebuild, and Lawrence is the centerpiece, a generational quarterback prospect with similar draft grades to Andre Luck and Peyton Manning.

LOSERS


4. Mac Jones
Imagine going through the last several weeks as the easy chalk for San Francisco to select you with the number three overall pick, a pick that the Niners traded up to go get, and then you sit and watch San Francisco select a QB who's played one game in the last two years. That's Jones' draft night, in a nutshell, until the ______ decided to make this very ordinary player their QB of the future.

3. Tim Tebow
I have no words...

2. Deshaun Watson
Two months ago, Watson had every reason to believe that he would be entering this weekend with a new team, ready to embark on the next chapter of his career. Instead, he still sits (whenever he's been holed up the last month or so), hoping to be traded while being the subject of answers like this from Goodell:

1. Houston Texan fans
Nothing quite like sitting around watching parts of the league improve their teams while your squad does NOTHING. This is the third time in four years that it's been this way, and the Texans won't pick tonight until over halfway through the proceedings. The Texans will use the 67th overall pick in an attempt to improve their team. The most buzz worthy thing that could happen would be the selection of a quarterback. Here are some of the names to watch, if they go that route — Davis Mills (Stanford), Kellen Mood (Texas A&M), Kyle Trask (Florida and Manvel High School), and Jamie Newman (Wake Forest).

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