NFL Draft 2021 – Review
The 2021 NFL Draft was the 86th annual meeting of National Football League teams to select newly eligible players for the upcoming NFL season. The first round was held on April 29, followed by the second and third rounds on April 30. The draft concluded with rounds 4–7 on May 1. The NFL held the event live in Cleveland, Ohio with limited attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. All team selections took place from Cleveland with league commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the early selections from the podium.
Five quarterbacks were selected in the first round – Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones. It was the second highest number of first-round QB selections (tied with the 1999 & 2018 drafts) after the record six selected in 1983. The draft also marks the third time the first three picks (Lawrence, Wilson, and Lance) were QBs, following the 1971 and 1999 draft classes. A total of eight QBs selected in the first three rounds, the most in NFL Draft history. Conversely, however, only two QBs were taken in rounds four through seven. The 2021 class also marked the lowest position for the first defensive player selected in a given draft in the common era, with the Carolina Panthers’ selection of Jaycee Horn at the eighth overall choice.
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In addition to the high number of QBs, six Alabama players were taken in the first round, which tied with the six Miami players in 2004 for the most 1st-round selections from an individual school. Conversely, no Big 12 Conference players were drafted in the first round for the first time since the conference’s 1994 establishment. The draft also saw no Michigan State players selected for the first time in 80 years.
The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility and an opt-out option for athletes because of the shortened season, resulting in many prospects returning to school instead of declaring for this draft class.
2020 Resolution JC-2A picks
In November 2020 the NFL passed that year’s Resolution JC-2A, which rewards teams for developing minority candidates for head coach and/or general manager positions. The resolution rewards teams whose minority candidates are hired away for one of those positions by awarding draft picks. These draft picks are at the end of the third round, after standard compensatory picks. If multiple teams qualify, they are awarded in draft order from the first round. These picks are in addition to, and have no impact on, the standard 32 compensatory picks. Four picks have been awarded for the draft pursuant to the resolution.
San Francisco received 2021, 2022, and 2023 third-round selections when its defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was hired by the New York Jets as head coach and its vice president of player personnel Martin Mayhew was hired by Washington as general manager.
Los Angeles Rams received 2021 and 2022 third-round selections when their college scouting director Brad Holmes was hired by Detroit as general manager.
Baltimore received 2021 and 2022 third-round selections when its assistant head coach and passing game coordinator David Culley was hired by Houston as head coach.
New Orleans received 2021 and 2022 third-round selections when its director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot was hired by Atlanta as general manager.
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259 Total selections in 7 rounds
First selection – Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence
Last selection – ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ – Tampa Bucs – LB Grant Stuard
Most selections (11) – Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys & Minnesota Vikings
Fewest selections (3) – Seattle Seahawks
The following is the breakdown of the 259 players selected in NFL Draft 2021 by position:
36 wide receivers
34 defensive ends
25 offensive tackles
19 defensive tackles
18 running backs
13 offensive guards
11 tight ends
2 long snappers
Selections by NCAA Conference
A new record-high 65 players were drafted from the SEC, the most in NFL history, surpassing the previous number of selections, 64, in 2019 which was also the set by the SEC.
Selections by NCAA Conference
NCAA Division I FBS Conference Totals
American – 19
ACC – 42
Big 12 – 22
Big Ten – 44
C-USA – 4
Ind. (FBS) – 15
MAC – 4
MW – 3
Pac-12 – 28
SEC – 65
Sun Belt – 4
Schools with multiple draft selections
10 Alabama, Ohio State
9 Georgia, Notre Dame
8 Florida, Michigan
6 Kentucky, Penn State, Pittsburgh
5 BYU, Clemson, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, UCF, USC
4 Auburn, Cincinnati, Duke, Florida State, Iowa, Miami (Fl), Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Texas A&M,
Virginia Tech, Washington
3 Houston, Northwestern, Wisconsin
2 Arizona, Boise State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, Minnesota, Mississippi State,
Nebraska, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Purdue, SMU, Syracuse, TCU,
Tennessee, Texas Tech, Tulane, UCLA, Western Michigan
Selections by Position
Position Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Total
Center – 8
Cornerbacks – 38
Defensive end – 34
Defensive tackle – 19
Fullback – 1
Guard – 13
Kicker – 1
Linebacker – 21
Long snapper – 2
Offensive tackle – 25
Punter – 1
Quarterback – 10
Running back – 18
Safety – 21
Tight end – 11
Wide receiver – 36