The winners (49ers) and losers (Steelers) from the NFL draft first round
This is the Morning Win. Charles Curtis is filling in today for Andy Nesbitt.
What a Thursday of the NFL draft that was.
Oh, sure — there were the 32 picks of the first round with some trades and surprises.
But there were other reasons outside the draft that got our attention. Aaron Rodgers drama! Tim Tebow, tight end? And some of that, as you’ll see, might seep into the list below.
Before we look ahead at Friday’s second and third rounds, let’s look back at the winners and losers from the first round, which provided plenty of entertainment and drama and changed the fates of so many franchises. And make sure to check out the first-round grades for each pick from our Steven Ruiz and Charles McDonald.
The 49ers (and the art of the smokescreen): We don’t really know what happened after weeks of hearing that the Niners were probably ending up with Mac Jones. I hope we will someday. But the fact that San Francisco went with the QB with the higher ceiling — and fooled everyone in the process — was perfect.
The Chicago Bears and New York Giants: We all figured someone would trade up to grab Ohio State QB Justin Fields if he dropped. And that someone was Ryan Pace, giving the Bears a potential QB1 (sorry, Andy Dalton) they’ve needed for … forever.
The Giants, meanwhile, had lost out on Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith, and although GM Dave Gettleman NEVER trades down, he made the right move there, dealing out of the No. 11 pick and grabbing an extra first-rounder (the Bears’ 2022 pick) among the selections in exchange. He then ended up with a WR in Florida’s Kadarius Toney.
They both win here.
The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles: Heck, let’s do another win-win trade here! When does that ever happen? The Eagles get the Heisman Trophy winner in Smith, adding a much-needed receiver.
The Cowboys moved back two spots and nabbed an Eagles’ third-rounder in the process. Smart!
Bill Belichick: He didn’t have to do anything but wait until Mac Jones fell into his lap. Simple. I know: he probably should have traded up for Fields. But we’ve learned to never question Belichick, and maybe he sees something in Jones that others don’t.
QBs reuniting with college wide receivers: Waddle reunited with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. Ja’Marr Chase is back with Joe Burrow on the Bengals. Jalen Hurts was once teammates with Smith, the new Eagles receiver.
Hey, that’s cool! That probably makes your quarterback happy, and that’s a smart move.
Baltimore Ravens: It feels like they win the draft every year. But this time around they got what could be a top WR in Rashod Bateman and a pass-rusher in Jayson Oweh. Solid.
Green Bay Packers: We’ve got to talk about it, right? Aaron Rodgers’ discontent with the franchise is now a huge problem, and that put a damper over everything they did on Thursday, including NOT taking someone to help Rodgers (they took cornerback Eric Stokes from Georgia). What a mess.
Pittsburgh Steelers: It felt like every single projection had them taking a running back, and they did just that with the Najee Harris pick. There are other areas of need, and we all know taking running backs in the first round is usually a bad idea. C’mon.
James Robinson's fantasy football value: Oh man. That sound you heard was anyone in a keeper league who had Robinson, screaming “NOOOOOOOOO!” The Jags used the No. 25 pick on Clemson RB Travis Etienne, which is great news for his former college teammate Trevor Lawrence, but the Jags already had a breakout stud last year with Robinson. And he was heading into this season as a super valuable keeper pick!
Alas. Also, see above re: running back picks. No wonder this pick earned an F from our experts.
Roger Goodell's chair: Did we really need a fan from each team selecting sitting in the chair from Goodell’s basement? I like getting fans a spotlight, but what a weird gimmick.
Quick hits: Draft fashion! … Jaylen Waddle becomes a meme … LeBron responds to a heckler … and more!
— We saw some really nice NFL draft looks on Thursday night.
— Waddle's exit after being picked wins for meme of the night.
— LeBron James' response to a heckler was perfect.
— Fans loved seeing Joe Girardi eject an umpire before he was ejected.
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