NFL DRAFT: Lawrence headlines, Alabama sends six in first round
CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) – The Jacksonville Jaguars made the easiest and maybe most significant selection in franchise history when they chose Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in the NFL draft Thursday night. The Jaguars made the announcement that’s been expected for months official shortly after the start of the draft. It set off a raucous celebration inside TIAA Bank Field. A sold-out draft party, which included a crowd of 8,000, cheered wildly as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stepped to the podium to call Lawrence’s name.
Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle is headed to the Miami Dolphins to provide a dynamic target for his former Alabama teammate, Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins selected Waddle with the sixth overall pick Thursday night, choosing him over another Alabama receiver, Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. It’s the highest Miami has ever taken a wideout. The Dolphins used the 18th pick to take the University of Miami’s Jaelan Phillips as the first edge rusher drafted. The speedy, 5-foot-9, 180-pound Waddle played in only six games last season because of a broken left ankle. He returned to play in the national championship game.
The Philadelphia Eagles nave selected Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith after trading up two spots to No. 10 in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night. The Alabama wide receiver reunites with former teammate Jalen Hurts, who replaced Carson Wentz at quarterback for the Eagles last season. Smith had 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior. He was the first receiver to win the Heisman in 29 years. The Eagles selected wide receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round last year, one pick ahead of wideout Justin Jefferson. They haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
The New England Patriots have selected former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the No. 15 pick of the NFL draft, their biggest move to date to bring in a player to possibly be a long-term replacement for Tom Brady. Jones becomes the first quarterback selected in the first round during Bill Belichick’s 21-year tenure in New England. Jones earned the Davey O’Brien Award in 2020 as the top quarterback in college football. He’s coming off a season that saw him lead Alabama to a national title while completing an NCAA-record 77.4% of his passes for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are turning to Alabama star Najee Harris to give their running game a jolt. The Steelers selected Harris with the 24th overall pick in the NFL draft. They hope he can help a rushing attack that finished dead last in the NFL in yards rushing in 2020. Pittsburgh is looking to maximize whatever time left it has with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The 39-year-old restructured his contract to ensure he would be back for an 18th season. Harris provided the opportunity to grab a player who could make an immediate impact.
Cornerback Patrick Surtain was picked by the Broncos and tackle Alex Leatherwood went to the Raiders.