scorecardresearch Skip to main content
Live updates

NFL Draft 2021: How the first round unfolded

Mac Jones was taken in the first round by the Patriots Thursday night.Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Patriots have found their quarterback of the future in Alabama’s Mac Jones.

We had live analysis and updates all night long. See how the first round unfolded below.

Search our database of all the draft prospects | Follow along with our pick-by-pick tracker

What you need to know about Mac Jones — 12:22 a.m.

Mac Jones led Alabama to a national championship. Read more on that and other things you should know about him here.

Read more: A year after losing Tom Brady, the Patriots finally have a long-term plan at quarterback: Mac Jones


Wrapping up the first round — 12:11 a.m.

No. 27: Baltimore — Rashod Bateman, WR (Minnesota)

No. 28: New Orleans — Payton Turner, DE (Houston)

No. 29: Green Bay — Eric Sokes, CB (Georgia)

No. 30: Buffalo — Gregory Rousseau, DE (Miami)

No. 31: Baltimore — Jayson Oweh, DE (Penn State)

No. 32: Tampa Bay — Joe Tryon, LB (Washington)

Draft updates — 11:33 p.m.

No. 22: Tennessee — Caleb Farley, CB (Va. Tech)

No. 23: Minnesota — Christian Darrisaw, T (Va. Tech)

No. 24: Pittsburgh — Najee Harris, RB (Alabama)

No. 25: Jacksonville — Travis Etienne, RB (Clemson)

No. 26: Cleveland — Greg Newsome, CB (Northwestern)

Pats land on Jones — 11:22 p.m.

The latest from Ben Volin: A year after losing Tom Brady, the Patriots finally have a long-term plan at quarterback, and it’s Mac Jones.

‘Secretly wanted to go to Pats’ — 11:05 p.m.

Jones is on a conference call with the media right now. Here are a few quick quotes from New England’s newest quarterback:

“For me, I’m actually joining a really great quarterback room with Cam Newton, who’s been playing in the NFL for a really long time. He’s earned the respect of his teammates, you know going into New England, being a captain. And then you got Jarrett, who I really loved watching at Auburn and kind of used as a role model.


“So, both those guys are role models to me right now and I’m just going to go behind them and learn how they did it because, you know, they’ve seen a lot of good quarterbacks too like Tom (Brady) and everybody. So honestly, just kind of play my role and listen to them and take advice and help them however I can. Whether it’s taking notes or whatever I need to do to help the team win.

“I (have) just got to come in and work hard and good things will happen”

RI native Paye to Indy — 11:00 p.m.

The first guy with New England ties is taken at No. 21, as Rhode Island native and Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye goes to the Colts. I like this pick — Pays is a safe pick, a typical Colts’ type who could conceivably be a plug-and-play guy capable of starting Day One.

Love these moments.

Miami, Washington go defense — 10:43 p.m.

More catch-up here. The Dolphins went and got defensive end Jaelan Phillips out of Miami at No. 18 — another guy the Patriots will have to worry about twice next year. And at No. 19, Washington landed linebacker Jamin Davis out of Kentucky, a guy who was a late-riser when it came to overall draft stock.

Social media reaction after Jones’ pick — 10:40 p.m.

An interesting mix of reactions on social media Thursday night shortly after the Patriots took Mac Jones at No. 15.

Highlights of Mac Jones — 10:35 p.m.

You take it all with a grain of salt because these are generated by Lord knows who, but here are some highlights to give you a feel for what Mac Jones brings to the field.


Scouting Mac Jones — 10:30 p.m.

Get up to speed on New England’s newest quarterback here.

Playing catch-up — 10:29 p.m.

OK, catching our breath here after the Mac Jones selection. The Cardinals got themselves a really good linebacker out of Tulsa, Zaven Collins, a guy who I thought might have been a good fit for New England. He went at No. 16. The Raiders took Alex Leatherwood at No. 17, an offensive tackle out of Alabama. A Trent Brown replacement, most likely.

So what happens now? — 10:17 p.m.

A few quick-hit thoughts on Mac Jones (more to come shortly):

1. The first quarterback taken in the first round by the Pats since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.

2. Good decision maker, which is priority one at the quarterback position in Foxborough. He’ll take care of the ball — 56:7 QB to INT ratio in college. I mean, he was throwing to Smith and Waddle, but still, I’ll give him credit for that.

3. Fascinated to see how Cam responds. He’s never had to fight for his job -- he’s always been the default starter. How does he respond to the challenge? (In that same vein, what’s the future for Jarrett Stidham?)

4. So this likely means that my dream of Jimmy-back-to-New England is dead, right?

5. Wonder if we’ll see a MJ10 diet plan?

Pats take Mac Jones — 10:11 p.m.

With the 15th overall pick in Thursday’s draft, the Patriots selected quarterback Mac Jones from Alabama. In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, the 6-foot-3, 214-pound Jones completed 74 percent of his throws, finishing with 6,126 yards, 56 touchdowns and seven interceptions.


Jets take OL Vera-Tucker — 10:07 p.m.

The Jets have selected offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker. The Patriots are on the clock.

TRADE — 10:05 p.m.

The Jets have traded with the Vikings to claim the No. 14 spot. You have to figure that New York won’t be in the market for a quarterback, so…

Slater to the Chargers at 13 — 10 p.m.

The Chargers select offensive lineman Rashawn Slater at No. 13. Good protection for Justin Herbert. Mac Jones is still on the board, and we are a pick away.

Parsons to Dallas at No. 12 — 9:53 p.m.

Linebacker Micah Parsons out of Penn State goes 12th overall to the Cowboys. Bit of a surprise, but you get the feeling Dallas got shut out of a few different possibilities. A long-term replacement for Sean Lee?

Fields to Chicago — 9:44 p.m.

It’ll be Fields to Chicago with the 11th overall pick. Good move for a team that desperately needs a qusrterback. Does Mac Jones last until No. 15? Or would the Vikings be inclined to get a guy who could be Kirk Cousins’ successor before that?

TRADE — 9:42 p.m.

Bears trade up to No. 11 in a deal with the Giants. A quarterback-needy team. Do they take Mac Jones or Justin Fields here? Would make sense. Bears gave up four picks — have to think that sort of payout is geared toward getting them another signal-caller.

Who’s still out there, 2.0 — 9:40 p.m.

- QB Justin Fields

- QB Mac Jones

- OT Rashawn Slater

- LB Micah Parsons

DeVonta Smith to Philly at No. 10 — 9:39 p.m.

Philly’s trade up nets them the Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith. Great additional offensive option for Hurts. And the third case tonight of a great college quarterback/wide receiver tandem being reunited in the pros.


TRADE — 9:32 p.m.

Eagles and Cowboys just made a trade. Philadelphia will now pick at No. 10, Dallas at No. 12 ... and a third.

Here’s who is still out there — 9:30 p.m.

- QB Justin Fields

- QB Mac Jones

- WR DeVonta Smith

- OT Rashawn Slater

- LB Micah Parsons

Denver goes defense — 9:28 p.m.

Cornerback Patrick Surtain goes to Denver at No. 9. Mac Jones and Justin Fields are both still out there. And there aren’t a lot of quarterback-needy teams between now and No. 15.

What Rodgers’ frustration could mean for NE — 9:22 p.m.

Ben Volin breaks down the possible ramifications for the Patriots on draft night and beyond.

Panthers take CB Jaycee Horn — 9:19 p.m.

The Panthers go defense with my favorite corner in this year’s draft in Jaycee Horn. Great pick -- a guy who can step in and start and be an impact player on Day One.

Penei Sewell to Detroit at No. 7 — 9:10 p.m.

The best offensive tackle in the draft goes to Detroit at No. 7. Smart, safe, heady choice there for the Lions. Seven straight offensive players taken to start the draft.

Jaylen Waddle to Miami — 9:03 p.m.

The Patriots will have to worry about a whole new offensive option when they game plan for the Dolphins next year, as Jaylen Waddle is going sixth overall to Miami. Like the Bengals, another case of a college quarterback being reunited with a favorite college target, as he’ll play with his former Alabama teammate Tua in South Florida.

Chase to Cincy at No. 5 — 9:00 p.m.

Ja’Marr Chase is crazy fast and has terrific hands, and should represent a great new option for Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Burrow and Chase reunited in Cincinnati. The Alabama guys: Smith, Waddle and Mac Jones are all still out there, as well as Justin Fields.

Pitts to Falcons at No. 4 — 8:51 p.m.

If he stays healthy, Kyle Pitts has a chance to be a truly generational talent, one of the best in this draft. The size of a tight end, and speed of a wide receiver. I know DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle get a lot of (well-deserved) love, but Pitts is just a freak who should dominate for years to come. First non-QB taken in this draft.

Wes Chandler!

Lance to Niners — 8:43 p.m.

Big move here, as the Niners have taken Trey Lance. Two quick things:

1. This means Jimmy Garoppolo could be in play for the Patriots, if they can figure out the cash.

2. The Patriots could also see either Mac Jones or Justin Fields start to slide down the board as a result of San Francisco going with Lance here. Another two intriguing signal-callers.

Bottom line? Things just got very interesting for New England and the quarterback position.

Regardless, this marks the first time three straight QBs have been taken in a draft since 1999.

Wilson selected by the Jets — 8:31 p.m.

Zach Wilson is now the man in New York. I loved the combination of his speed and arm at BYU, and while there are questions about the strength of schedule — the Cougars didn’t face a Power 5 opponent all last year — he’s now going to be handed the keys to the Jets. A lot will depend on the supporting cast they put around him, and how much leeway fans will offer the rookie. But it’ll be interesting to watch. The Patriots will likely get the rookie twice next year. (Note to self: Make sure to haul out the “Belichick vs. rookie QBs stat” for next year’s Pats-Jets game.)

Lawrence goes No. 1 — 8:26 p.m.

Least surprising pick of the draft? Maybe. But the Jags and Urban Meyer are banking on the fact that Lawrence can be there guy for the next decade-plus. He’s certainly been able to get it done at the college level — we’ll see how it works in the pros. Love this stat:

Rodgers’ update? — 8:02 p.m.

Grain of salt and all that, but Schlereth is pretty dialed in in Denver...

Why three is the magic number — 7:59 p.m.

The best bets? Lawrence is going No. 1, and Wilson will be taken second. The big roll of the dice is No. 3. Does San Francisco take a quarterback? If so, my guess is that means Jimmy Garoppolo is still in play for the Patriots. If not, well ... we’ll see what happens. But if you’re New England, that third pick will be the first real indicator of how the whole weekend might go.

Draft day memories — 7:39 p.m.

Loved this piece from The Big Lead, which spoke with some ex-NFL players on their draft weekend experiences. It includes this from former Patriots’ offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, who was taken by New England in 2009:

So I take the call and it’s Berj Najarian, who is Bill Belichick’s assistant. And he goes, “Hey, is this Rich?” And I say, “Yes, it is.” He goes, “This is Berj with the Patriots, I’m gonna put you on with Bill in just a moment.” And I was like, “Belichick?” and he goes, “Yeah, I’ll put you on with the coach in just a minute.” And so he puts me on hold and I’m now in the front hallway of my house and all of a sudden the living room erupts, my family is going bonkers. I step out onto the stoop so I can hear everything that’s about to be said to me. My mind is split between trying to pay attention to my future head coach and wanting to run back into the living room and celebrate with everyone I love.

Food for thought on Jimmy — 7:33 p.m.

Nope. Not buying it. — 7:25 p.m.

Odds on No. 3 pick? — 7:19 p.m.

Per our friends at Bovada, here are the odds on who will go No. 3 tonight:

Mac Jones -190

Trey Lance +175

Justin Fields +300

Kyle Pitts +4400

Zach Wilson +5500

Ja’Marr Chase +12500

Penei Sewell +15000

Trevor Lawrence +15000

Patrick Surtain II +30000

DeVonta Smith +50000

Gregory Rousseau +50000

Jaylen Waddle +50000

Micah Parsons +50000

Rashawn Slater +50000

Alex Leatherwood +100000

Najee Harris +100000

Could Boston host the NFL Draft? — 6:53 p.m.

In a word, yes. I know the big idea is that team that might not have a shot at hosting the Super Bowl could theoretically serve as draft sites. With that thinking, I think Boston would be a good fit. Where would you put it? A few different options, in my mind: the Boston Common, the Hatch Shell, the Seaport (the Leader Bank Pavilion?), or maybe at Nickerson Field. Thoughts?

“What is an impasse?” — 6:36 p.m.

Competition conundrum — 6:33 p.m.

My dream assignment as a reporter around the NFL Draft would be to sit with a veteran player and watch as the team he plays for selects a player at his position in the first or second round. Like, with Aaron Rodgers when the Packers took Jordan Love, or even with Brady when New England drafted Jimmy Garoppolo. Of course, there’s no way you can actually predict that, but my point echoes an old Mike Vrabel quote, who once said — and I’m paraphrasing here — he watches the draft every year to see “who they’re trying to get to replace me.” You will inevitably hear all the right things from guys who have been in the NFL for years after the weekend is done, but the truth is that in some cases, the team has actively dropped competition right into their laps, and they have to deal with that in some form or fashion. I also think about it when I hear that “Football is Family” phrase the NFL trots out from time to time. “Yes, son, your Mother and I are very happy with your development, but we’ve decided to go in another direction when it comes to the role of middle son. I’m sure you’ll understand.”

Some thoughts on the Pats — 6:24 p.m.

•They need to get more clarity around thew quarterback position than they have right now. At the very least, they need to get one more quarterback by Monday. I don’t care if they end up using the 15th pick, they make the trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, or go after someone like Davis Mills. They need to get more competitive at the spot.

•It depends on where he goes, but the possibility is pretty high that Mac Jones will be a very good quarterback in the NFL for many years. He will drink his milk all the way to the bottom of the glass and say please and thank you and excuse me before he gets up from the dinner table. But I firmly believe that the ceiling is higher for Trey Lance. I know there are questions about that one year, the quality of competition, etc. But I believe that if you get him in the right offense with the appropriate coach and a passable number of offensive options, he can be a real find.

•That being said, the best possible option in my mind this weekend will have Garoppolo landing in New England.

•I said this earlier this offseason, shortly after their free-agent spending spree, and I believe it even more now: there aren’t a lot of roster spots available on this team right now. I mean, it’s not like they’re stacked, but they have some very specific areas of need where they could use some depth and youth (cornerback, receiver, etc.) They have more picks than guys who have a legit shot to make the 2021 team. In some ways, it’s a little like the 2007 Draft, which was an exercise in futility where they should have just punted instead of drafted a half-dozen tackling dummies for the rest of the roster. Basically, if there’s ever been a year to package some of those picks and move around a bit — up, down, into next year — this is the year.

•For years, the Patriots would turn over a pick to Dante Scarnecchia, and the best assistant coach in this history of the game would get his shot at the big board. Even thought it’s not an overpowering area of need and Dante is no longer in Foxborough, I’d still look for the Patriots to get an offensive lineman somewhere on Day 2.

•There is a lot of back and forth, and a lot of collective conversation going on. But when the Patriots are on the clock, I honestly believe only one guy — Belichick — knows what’s going to happen. We can sit here and wonder about the influence of a Matt Patricia or Josh McDaniels. But when it comes to that pick, Belichick is the lone, singular voice who is making that call.

Rodgers reportedly wants out — 5:45 p.m.

The biggest rumor floating around out there right now? Aaron Rodgers has reportedly expressed his displeasure with the Packers, and is looking to leave Green Bay. (Per ESPN.) I don’t necessarily dismiss the ideas Rodgers is unhappy with the Packers, but there’s a reason this trial balloon is being floated now. I think it could very well be a part of a larger plan on the part of Rodgers to secure at least one or two more playmakers in this year’s draft. We’ll see.

Single greatest NFL Draft video ever — 5:40 p.m.

This chestnut has been around for many years, but it’s always fun going back and unearthing it on draft weekend. Enjoy.

Predraft reading list — 5:30 p.m.

Here are a few stories to get you ready for tonight’s action:

Andrew Mahoney: 2021 NFL Draft: How to watch, first-round order, and when the Patriots pick

Ben Volin: The time has come: Patriots must draft a quarterback in the first round

2021 NFL Draft: 41 top prospects at key positions of need for the Patriots

Jim McBride: Mock draft: The Patriots will pick a quarterback, but not where you think

Ben Volin: 2021 NFL mock draft: See who Ben Volin thinks the Patriots will pick

Ben Volin: For this year’s NFL Draft, teams are guessing more than ever

Christopher Price: The 15 worst Patriots draft picks of the Bill Belichick era

Christopher Price: The 15 best Patriots draft picks of the Bill Belichick era

Chad Finn: Bill Belichick can’t really pull off a huge surprise in this NFL draft, can he?

Khari Thompson: NFL Draft: Every pick Bill Belichick and the Patriots have made in the top 20

Christopher Price can be reached at Follow him @cpriceglobe.