April 29 marked the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio. Beginning in 1936, the finest college football players in the country have annually been selected to their new homes by the now 32-team league.
It has become nearly as much of a spectacle as most regular and post-season NFL games, with fans from across the country in attendance this year, after last year’s draft was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is often not as simple as teams selecting college players in an order of least wins (Jacksonville Jaguars) to playoff teams and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many teams trade picks and players on draft night, and drama is never in short supply. This year was no exception.
“I really like when teams wait until draft day to make trades. It causes chaos … Some may be happy, and others may be angry, but that’s the fun in all of this,” said Jacob Gonzalez, a defensive tackle for the Spartans football team.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemed to be one of the angry ones before the draft even started.
“The big story that surprised me was the Aaron Rodgers drama going on about how he wants out of Green Bay,” said Castleton Spartan quarterback Jacob McCarthy. “All he wants is another receiver and the Packers drafted a defensive back. Almost like a slap in the face,” he said.
Rodgers was a selection of the Packers in the 2005 NFL Draft, and has been the signal caller for one Super Bowl win and countless playoff victories during his time in Wisconsin.
Rodgers and devoted Packer fans were not alone in their frustration. It is shared with Cincinnati Bengals fans and second-year field general Joe Burrow. Burrow missed the end of the 2020 season with a torn ACL after scrambling behind a poor offensive line in his first NFL season.
“The thing that surprised me was a questionable pick made by one team. The Bengals taking wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase makes sense to reunite the LSU duo, (Burrow and Chase played together in college) but they really needed was to help protect Burrow coming off injury,” Gonzalez said.
The draft was not all doom and gloom, however. Some teams picked up valuable pieces for the future.
“My team is the Patriots and I was happy with the Mac Jones pick. I think he fits the Patriots offense well and I’m excited to see how he performs,” McCarthy said.
Jones is a quarterback who was playing college ball at Alabama last season while Cam Newton struggled under center for New England.
“I’m a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan and I’m more than happy to have gotten Najee Harris. Coming off a season where we rushed for over 100 yards in only one game, he will solve some of that problem,” Gonzalez said.
The 2021 NFL season kicks off on Sept. 9, with a Thursday Night Football matchup featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a challenger to be determined when the league releases the schedule on May 7.