Well, that did not disappoint. Before the draft even started we had bombshell news about Aaron Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay and Tim Tebow training for the Jaguars...as a tight end. Bombshell size may vary.
From there, we saw 5 QBs, 5 WRs, 2 RBs, and 1TE go in a very fantasy-friendly first round. Trevor Lawrence to the Jags and Zach Wilson to the Jets were foregone conclusions, but here are the big takeaways from the rest of the Round 1 picks from a fantasy perspective...
Najee Harris (RB) to the Steelers. Putting aside that non-transcendent running backs shouldn’t be going in the first round of the NFL draft, Harris is a perfect fit on paper for the Steelers offense with James Conner gone. Harris has an inside-track to a 3-down role which will make him an early pick in drafts going forward. Matthew’s take.
Travis Etienne (RB) to the Jags. James Robinson delivers a massive 2020 campaign as a UDFA and the Jaguars return the favor by drafting Lawrence’s college teammate. There’s no question that Etienne is a more gifted athlete than Robinson, but does it matter? Robinson crushed against stacked boxes in negative game scripts for an entire season so it’s hard to see how Etienne is a meaningful upgrade for the team. Urban Meyer is already on record that he envisions Robinson and Carlos Hyde on early downs and Etienne in the pass role. This feels like it could be a mess early, but Etienne should pull away down the stretch in 2021 similar to what Jonathan Taylor did last year.
Kyle Pitts (TE) to the Falcons. Everyone got this one right in their mock drafts. Loud applause. The addition of Pitts immediately vaults the Falcons into having a Top 3 set of pass catchers in the league (Cowboys and Bengals would round out that list). Over the years we’ve all learned to abide by the rule that “rookie tight ends don’t produce,” but Pitts might just be the exception.
Ja’Marr Chase (WR) to the Bengals. Chase is a phenomenal prospect and the Bengals offense is now all rocked up with Higgins and Boyd rounding out their 3-WR sets. Similar to what we saw with CeeDee Lamb last year, Chase has the profile to quickly become the best playmaker within a great passing offense. One thing is for sure, he isn’t lacking confidence.
Jaylen Waddle (WR) to the Dolphins. The pressure is on for Tua. The Dolphins have now surrounded him with every possible weapon, including Waddle, who is the best slot WR in the class and will be a YAC monster. Parker, Fuller and Waddle is a very fun trio of pass catchers with complementary skill sets.
Devonta Smith (WR) to the Eagles. Is this the first draft pick ever caused from local talk radio bullying? A year after passing on Justin Jefferson for Jalen Reagor, the Eagles trade up to #10 to draft the prolific Smith. Smith’s weight has been the talking point du jour throughout draft season, but the draft capital and fit with Jalen Hurts give him a path to being the No. 1 target in the passing game. Matthew’s take.
Kadarius Toney (WR) to the Giants. To put it bluntly, Toney is not a great prospect. According to Matt Harmon, Toney was 13th percentile in success rate vs. man coverage and 1st percentile against press. You could argue he’s the 5th best passing option on the team with a questionable QB. NotGreatBob.gif. Matthew’s take.
Rashod Bateman (WR) to the Ravens. We had an intense debate last night on Ship Chasing on whether Bateman—a great prospect who dominated in college and doesn’t turn 22 until November—can thrive in the Ravens run-heavy offense. The question boils down to if Bateman is good enough to make the Ravens pass more or if the targets will be too inconsistent. Count me on #TeamBatemanBallsOut. Matthew’s take.
Trey Lance (QB) to the 49ers. After months of rumors, subterfuge, smoke screen and misdirections, the 49ers drafted Lance. There are questions about Lance and the 49ers have historically been very run-heavy, but if Kyle Shannahan gives Lance more freedom to throw than Garopollo, then this could be an extremely fun fantasy offense with George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel all dominating after the catch. Matthew’s take.
Justin Fields (QB) to the Bears. Twitter was convinced that the Bears were gonna botch this and take Mac Jones (who ended up falling to the Patriots), but the team wisely selected the dual threat who many thought was the second best QB talent in the class behind Lawrence. Most importantly, for the first time in his entire career, Allen Robinson should enjoy an above average QB. Matthew’s take.
* Alabama became the first school in the Common Draft Era to have five offensive players selected in the 1st round of a single draft (h/t Schefter).
* Shout out to Josh Norris who officially registered the greatest mock draft of all time.
* Names to keep an eye on tonight from LordReebs.
Enjoy the rest of the Draft. I’ll be back on Monday for another recap.