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NFL draft breakdown: QBs Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance go 1-2-3

A pick-by-pick breakdown of the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, which opened with three quarterbacks being selected by the Jaguars, Jets and 49ers.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks to pass during a game.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was selected No. 1 by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 NFL draft on Thursday.
(Josh Bazemore / Associated Press)

CLEVELAND — After months of anticipation and countless mock drafts, 32 players found out which NFL teams they’ll be playing for this season. Thursday’s NFL draft ushered in a new class of players poised to be game-changers for their respective teams for years to come.

The second and third rounds will take place Friday, with rounds four through seven set for Saturday. Here’s a recap of the first round.

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First round of NFL draft morphs into reunion for top offensive duos

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence holds up a jersey after being selected No. 1 by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday.
(Logan Bowles / Associated Press)

Seems like old times.

Not just with the NFL returning to an actual draft after last season’s virtual one, but with teams reuniting quarterbacks with some of their most dangerous offensive weapons from college.

It’s Louisiana State receiver Ja’Marr Chase joining Joe Burrow in Cincinnati, making it clear which way the Bengals were heading.

The quarterback sent his old receiver an encouraging text Thursday morning.

“I believed him this morning when he said pack my bags,” Chase said after the Bengals took him with the fifth pick. “That’s when I finally was like, ‘Dang, he might really be calling it.’ That’s when I took his word.”

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Rams general manager Les Snead says he tested positive for COVID-19

Rams general manager Les Snead stands on the field before a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks in January.
(Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)

Rams general manager Les Snead tested positive for COVID-19 and will conduct the draft from home rather than at the Rams’ sponsored draft house in Malibu, he told reporters during a videoconference Thursday night.

Coach Sean McVay, who also was exposed to a staff member who has COVID-19, tested negative, a team official said.

The Rams have a second-round pick and two third round picks Friday.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Washington edge Joe Tryon at No. 32

Washington's Joe Tryon kneels with a tackling dummy during practice.
Joe Tryon
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Joe Tryon was a high school sprinter who was a one-year starter for the Huskies. It was an impressive year, though, in which he collected 12½ sacks and was second team All-Pac 12.

The Buccaneers are getting all 22 starters back, and with Travis Etienne off the board, they looked to bolster their pass rush with a player they love.

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Baltimore Ravens select Penn State edge Jayson Oweh at No. 31

Penn State defensive end Jayson Oweh plays against Michigan.
Jayson Oweh
(Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

An outstanding physical specimen who seemed more focused on basketball until his junior year of high school. Jayson Oweh didn’t have a sack last season and is still raw as a football player.

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Buffalo Bills select Miami edge Gregory Rousseau at No. 30

Miami defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau celebrates a turnover with teammates against Central Michigan.
Gregory Rousseau
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

A former high school receiver, Gregory Rousseau had 15½ sacks in 2019 but opted out of the 2020 season. Second Hurricane ever to be named ACC Defensive Freshman of the Year.

Rousseau, with his super-quick first step, can learn behind Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. He’s versatile and highly productive.

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Green Bay Packers select Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes at No. 29

Georgia defensive back Eric Stokes returns an interception.
Eric Stokes
(Michael Woods / Associated Press)

Eric Stokes has a strong ability to read the quarterback and routes. A physical corner who isn’t afraid to blitz and use his explosive speed. This addresses a big need for the Packers.

Kevin King can’t seem to stay healthy, so the Packers add a corner who can blanket receivers — a welcome addition to a secondary that includes Jaire Alexander.

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New Orleans Saints select Houston defensive end Payton Turner at No. 28

Payton Turner of Houston (runs during the American Team practice for the NCAA Senior Bowl.
Payton Turner
(Matthew Hinton / Associated Press)

Payton Turner is a bit of an unexpected first-rounder who put up impressive numbers in college but has had problems staying healthy.

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Baltimore Ravens select Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman at No. 27

Rashod Bateman makes a catch during Minnesota's pro day.
Rashod Bateman
(Andy Clayton-King / Associated Press)

Rashod Bateman has good size, knows how to find the holes in a defense, and is accustomed to playing in the cold, so he’s comfortable with discomfort.

Scorching receiver that makes the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens offense even faster. Bateman is an excellent route runner.

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Cleveland Browns select Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II at No. 26

Northwestern defensive back Greg Newsome II plays against Stanford.
Greg Newsome II
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

Wiry and light on experience (21 games in three seasons), Greg Newsome II is still fluid and refined. He played in only three of Northwestern’s nine games last season.

First time Northwestern has had two players drafted in the opening round. Greedy Williams missed entire 2020 season with nerve damage in shoulder.

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Jacksonville Jaguars select Clemson running back Travis Etienne at No. 25

Clemson running back Travis Etienne runs for a touchdown against Notre Dame.
Travis Etienne
(Brian Blanco / Associated Press)

A blistering-fast threat to score from anywhere on the field, Travis Etienne is the career rushing leader in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 4,952 yards.

It didn’t take long for the Jaguars to reunite Etienne with Trevor Lawrence. A dangerous playmaker who Tampa Bay coveted — instead another Florida team.

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Pittsburgh Steelers select Alabama running back Najee Harris at No. 24

Alabama's Najee Harris walks to the sideline during the Senior Bowl.
Najee Harris
(Rusty Costanza / Associated Press)

The 6-2, 230-pound Najee Harris is built like Le’Veon Bell. He ran for 3,843 yards in four seasons for the Crimson Tide. Has drawn comparisons to Derrick Henry with his ability to run over people. Harris scored five touchdowns in the SEC championship.

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Minnesota Vikings select Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw at No. 23

Christian Darrisaw runs a drill at Virginia Tech's pro day.
Christian Darrisaw
(Matt Gentry / Associated Press)

A three-year starter at left tackle, Christian Darrisaw an outstanding run blocker whose pass-blocking skills have dramatically improved over the past couple of years.

The Vikings need a replacement for Riley Reiff at left tackle, and find some blindside protection for Kirk Cousins in the agile Darrisaw.

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Tennessee Titans select Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley at No. 22

Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley returns an interception for a touchdown against Georgia Tech.
Caleb Farley
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Once projected to be the top corner in this class, Caleb Farley is recovering from back surgery and opted out of the 2020 season. Excellent in man-to-man coverage.

The Titans passed on the chance to take a pass rusher or receiver, instead taking a talented corner who is still recovering from back surgery.

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Indianapolis Colts select Michigan edge Kwity Paye at No. 21

Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye plays against Michigan State.
Kwity Paye
(Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

Kwity Paye’s numbers —11 ½ sacks for his career, just two in an injury-shortened 2020 — do not reflect his potential. Compact and powerful, he’s got impressive burst off the line.

Paye joins a defensive front that includes DeForest Buckner, and Paye can step in and immediately impact a team than needs a better pass rush.

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New York Giants select Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney at No. 20

Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney looks on during a game.
Kadarius Toney
(Phelan M. Ebenhback / Associated Press)

Not a polished route runner but Toney is a playmaker capable of stretching a defense with his pure speed. He can create separation and is a tough blocker, too.

The Giants are getting down to decision time with Daniel Jones. Why not put him in the best position to succeed?

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Washington selects Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis at No. 19

Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis rushes UT Martin quarterback John Bachus III.
Jamin Davis
(Bryan Woolston / Associated Press)

Jamin Davis is not overpowering, but a great tackler who compiled 104 in his last season at Kentucky. Missed only one game in three seasons, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Washington, building a defensive beast, had a pressing need at linebacker. Now the team has a playmaker at the position.

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Dolphins select Miami edge Jaelan Phillips at No. 18

Miami's Jaelan Phillips celebrates a defensive stop against Virginia Tech.
Jaelan Phillips
(Matt Gentry / The Roanoke Times via AP)

Jaelan Phillips, out of Redlands, first went to UCLA before transferring to Miami. It looked as if his career might have been derailed by concussions.

Phillips adds a ferocious pass rusher to Dolphins’ defensive front. They didn’t have to go far to scout this guy.

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Las Vegas Raiders select Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood at No. 17

Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood prepares to block against Notre Dame.
Alex Leatherwood
(Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press)

Alex Leatherwood made the step up from right guard as a sophomore to left tackle his last two seasons. He likely would move back inside at the next level, at least at first.

Raiders need a right tackle and right guard, and Leatherwood likely can play either. Team is rebuilding interior of its line.

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Arizona Cardinals select Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins at No. 16

Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins celebrates after scoring a touchdown.
Zaven Collins
(Mark LoMoglio / Associated Press)

Zaven Collins was an All-American at Tulsa who went on to earn second-team All-ACC honors in his second season. Last year won the Bednarik Award as college football’s top defensive player. In 2020, returned two of his four interceptions for touchdowns, including a 96-yarder.

Collins fits in Vance Joseph’s defensive scheme because he’s big and versatile enough to play in lots of different fronts. Getting a corner remains a priority.

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New England Patriots select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at No. 15

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama throws during Senior Bowl practice.
Mac Jones
(Matthew Hinton / Associated Press)

Mac Jones put up monster numbers last season, with 4,500 yards passing, 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Arrived at Alabama in the same recruiting class as Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick by Miami last year.

Bill Belichick does what he had never done in New England, and never did in Cleveland. He used a first-round pick on a quarterback.

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New York Jets select USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker at No. 14

USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker participates in his school's pro day workout.
Alijah Vera-Tucker
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Alijah Vera-Tucker played left guard in 2019 and was USC’s offensive lineman of the year. Moved to left tackle last season. Seen as the premier interior lineman in this class.

The Jets pulled off a trade with the Minnesota Vikings to move up the No. 14 pick. In addition to the No. 14 pick, the Jets also received the Vikings’ No. 143 pick in exchange for the Nos. 23, 66 and 86 picks.

Vera-Tucker can play guard or tackle. Either way, he can provide protection for Zach Wilson from the left guard spot.

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Chargers select Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater at No. 13

Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater participates in the school's pro day workout.
Rashawn Slater
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

Reliable and tough, Rashawn Slater gave Ohio State’s Chase Young all sorts of problems when they faced each other — and Young wound up being the No. 2 pick by Washington last year.

The Chargers have pinned their hopes to quarterback Justin Herbert, and what better gift than a reliable blindside protector?

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Dallas Cowboys select Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons at No. 12

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons plays against Purdue.
Micah Parsons
(Barry Reeger / Associated Press)

Micah Parsons was among the first players to opt out of the 2020 season. All-American as a sophomore in 2019, and he knows how to rush the passer.

Leighton Vander Esch, good as he is when healthy, is hurt a lot. Parsons is a solid option in the middle of the defense.

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Chicago Bears trade up to draft Ohio State QB Justin Fields at No. 11

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields passes against Clemson during the second half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football.
Justin Fields
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

After playing sparingly for Georgia in 2018, Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State. He led the Buckeyes to a victory over the Trevor Lawrence-led Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl.

Chicago traded a future first-round selection as part of a reported trade deal with the New York Giants to move up nine spots in this year’s first round.

The Bears, still smarting from the Mitch Trubisky decision, grab a quarterback who never lost a game in the Big Ten.

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Philadelphia Eagles trade up to select Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith at No. 10

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith runs with the ball against Notre Dame.
DeVonta Smith
(Roger Steinman / Associated Press)

DeVonta Smith, who last year became the first receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since 1991, had 117 receptions and 23 touchdowns in 2020.

The Philadelphia Eagles shipped their No. 12 and No. 84 overall picks in this year’s draft to the Dallas Cowboys to move up to No. 10.

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Denver Broncos select Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II at No. 9

Alabama defensive back Patrick Surtain II looks on during a game.
Patrick Surtain II
(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

Big and rangy, Patrick Surtain II is widely regarded as the top corner in his class. His father and namesake was a Pro Bowl corner who played for Kansas City and Miami, and later coached his son.

The Broncos are confident they can get a QB elsewhere. Surtain joins an AFC West that has Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr.

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Carolina Panthers select South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn at No. 8

South Carolina defensive back Jaycee Horn plays against Vanderbilt.
Jaycee Horn
(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

The son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee started 29 of his 30 games in college, although he collected just two interceptions. Very physical.

The Panthers take the first defensive player off the board, and in doing so, opt not to take a left tackle to protect the newly acquired Sam Darnold.

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Detroit Lions select Oregon OT Penei Sewell at No. 7 overall

Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell looks on as Oregon plays Auburn.
Penei Sewell
(Ron Jenkins / Associated Press)

Widely regarded as a generational talent at offensive tackle, Penei Sewell is someone who plays the position with the ferocity of a defensive lineman.

The seventh consecutive offensive player selected, Sewell is a gift to new Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who will need all the protection he can get.

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Miami Dolphins select Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle at No. 6

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle carries the ball against Auburn.
Jaylen Waddle
(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

Although he played just six games last season because of a broken ankle, Jaylen Waddle was a dangerous slot receiver and excellent route runner who likely will double as a returner at the next level.

Dolphins are building solid weapons around Tua Tagovailoa. Super-fast Waddle has returned two punts and a kickoff for touchdowns.

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Cincinnati Bengals draft LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5

Ja'Marr Chase points skyward during a game.
Ja’Marr Chase
(Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

An All-America receiver in 2019 who set SEC records for receiving yards and touchdowns, Ja’Marr Chase opted out of the 2020 season.

The Bengals passed on an offensive tackle to protect the surgically reconstructed Joe Burrow and take one of his favorite college teammates.

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Atlanta Falcons select Florida tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts tries to get past Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine.
Kyle Pitts
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

Considered by many evaluators the best athlete in this draft, Kyle Pitts last year was the first tight end to finish in the top 10 in Heisman Trophy voting since 1977.

The best athlete in the draft. Pitts led all tight ends last season with 0 drops on 49 catchable passes. This 6-foot-6 weapon can line up at tight end or receiver.

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San Francisco 49ers select quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance rushes against Central Arkansas.
Trey Lance
(Bruce Kluckhorn / Associated Press)

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance only had one full season as a starter, in 2019, but had 28 touchdowns with no interceptions. He was an accurate passer even though the Bison had a run-based offense. Comes from the same school as Carson Wentz.

Lance, from the same college as Carson Wentz, started 17 games at the FCS level. Didn’t get a single FCS scholarship offer to play QB.

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New York Jets draft BYU QB Zach Wilson at No. 2

BYU Zach Wilson warms up before participating in his school's pro day.
Zach Wilson
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Zach Wilson broke out in his final season at BYU, directing his team to a 11-1 record with his 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His father, Michael, played defensive tackle for Utah in the early 1990s.

For the third time in 13 drafts, the Jets used a top-five selection on a quarterback. Before Wilson were Mark Sanchez (2009) and Sam Darnold (2018).

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Jacksonville Jaguars select Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks to pass during a game.
Trevor Lawrence
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Trevor Lawrence isn’t used to losing. He was 52-2 in four years at Cartersville (Ga.) High and 34-2 at Clemson with five postseason wins.

The Jaguars, picking for the first time at No. 1, draft a quarterback for the fourth consecutive year. Their last last three QB picks were in the sixth round.

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Rams aren’t the only NFC West team making big moves ahead of the NFL draft

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, left, and general manager John Lynch talk during a team practice.
San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, left, and general manager John Lynch.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

The Rams’ trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford was not the only blockbuster move by an NFC West team this offseason.

The Arizona Cardinals signed three-time NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt. The San Francisco 49ers traded up so they can make the third pick in the NFL draft, which starts Thursday. The Seattle Seahawks did not complete the deal, but reportedly flirted with parting ways with quarterback Russell Wilson.

So which team is set up best entering the draft?

Along with trading Jared Goff and two future first-round picks for Stafford, the Rams re-signed edge rusher Leonard Floyd. They also signed veteran receiver DeSean Jackson and retained cornerback Darious Williams.

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Chargers aren’t only AFC West team fixing offensive line ahead of NFL draft

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock prepares to snap the ball during a game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock prepares to snap the ball during a game against the Las Vegas Raiders in November.
(David Becker / Associated Press)

The Chargers entered draft week Monday with the 13th overall selection and eight more.

The nine picks represent a career high for Tom Telesco, who is preparing for his ninth draft as Chargers general manager and clearly understands the math.

“The more picks you have, the more at-bats you have,” Telesco said, “the better your chances of getting a hit.”

A swing and miss at No. 13 on Thursday would be particularly significant, given the screaming needs the Chargers have at left tackle and cornerback. Telesco has rebuilt the offensive line, with only right tackle Bryan Bulaga returning. The center (Corey Linsley) and guard spots (Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi) were filled in free agency.

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Here are 32 things to know about the 2021 NFL draft in Cleveland

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle appears on the red carpet before the NFL draft in Cleveland on Thursday.
(David Dermer / Associated Press)

CLEVELAND — Thirty-two tidbits on the first NFL draft to be held in Cleveland:

1. The draft stage in Cleveland is enormous — 220 feet wide, 225 feet deep and 95 feet tall — with a surface area bigger than the combined stages of the drafts in Nashville and Philadelphia.

2. Waiting in the wings are four No. 1 jerseys of all 32 teams. When a first-rounder in attendance is selected, the league can print his name on the back of a given jersey in 45 seconds for his big moment on stage. The garment is still warm from the iron.

3. The NFL shipped out commissioner Roger Goodell’s leather recliner from last year’s virtual draft in his basement. That will be a centerpiece on stage.

4. Goodell will have a jar of M&M’s next to his chair, just like last year. The candies are dark blue and white, as the league was careful to stay away from the colors of any particular team.

5. Gone are the 32 team desks, and the jars of M&M’s in the colors of those clubs. Those candies and the jars tended to go missing after the first night of the draft.

6. In order to recreate Goodell’s basement, designers also brought out the Mike Ditka bobblehead he had in there. Last year, after every selection, that toy would be moved to a different spot behind the commissioner’s. Keen viewers noticed that, because the league didn’t say anything about it.

7. The best seats in the house belong to the “Inner Circle” boxes in front of Goodell. Each team selected 12 vaccinated fans who get to sit in those prime spots.

8. Teams aren’t arranged at random in the Inner Circle. Cleveland is up front, as the host city, as are Jacksonville (first pick) and Tampa Bay (Super Bowl champion). Then the teams are clumped by divisions and rivalries, so for instance, Green Bay and Minnesota are next to each other, as are the Rams and San Francisco, Chargers and Las Vegas, etc.

9. Behind the Inner Circle is the Fan Zone, filled with 4,400 vaccinated spectators, most of them local educators, front-line and essential workers.

10. Everyone in those sections will be given a big blue, shiny sticker that reads “COVID-19 Vaccinated,” as part of the league’s effort to promote vaccinations.

11. Twelve of the top prospects are in attendance, and 46 more received “tech kits” featuring a directional camera that’s controlled by the league and a computer, allowing those future pros to turn their homes into makeshift TV studios.

12. That number was originally 45 tech kits, but Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley had to pull out of attending because of a positive coronavirus test.

13. Five of the 12 players in attendance are from the University of Alabama.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones appears on the red carpet at the NFL draft in Cleveland on Thursday.
(David Dermer / Associated Press)

14. The projected top pick, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, isn’t at the draft, nor is Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Quarterbacks Zach Wilson, Mac Jones and Trey Lance are on site.

15. FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, is being used as part of the NFL Draft Experience for youth clinics, and so fans can run 40-yard dashes.

16. An expected 50,000 people per day will attend the NFL Draft Experience.

17. The NFL experimented with live music at the Nashville draft in 2019 and will do so again in Cleveland. Kings of Leon will play on the main stage tonight, followed by Black Pumas on Friday, and Machine Gun Kelly on Saturday.

18. Ann Wilson, who along with her sister, Nancy, formed the rock band Heart, will sing the national anthem. Heart was inducted into the neighboring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

19. There are lots of nods to rock and roll at this draft. The NFL has created unique record album covers for every team — Chicago’s for instance is burnt orange with a growling bear under the words “Monsters of the Midway” — preserved in shrink wrap. Everyone sitting in the Inner Circle will receive one of the collectables. There isn’t a record inside, but a piece of vinyl that features an NFL draft etching.

20. The album covers all have price tags on them, and the amount is the established date of when each of the teams came into the league. So the Chargers album is $19.60, whereas the Houston Texans are $20.02.

21. When a selected player makes the “hero walk,” from his individual green room to the stage, it will be through a rock-and-roll-themed hallway, decorated with old-style speakers that have team marks on them, and other speakers that light up in that particular team’s colors.

22. When a club is on the clock, the entire venue will glow in that team’s colors. There are lights in the pits on either side of the stage, and one of the buildings downtown, the historic Terminal Tower, will likewise be lit in the different team colors. That’s visible when looking out from the stage.

23. Players attending the draft will wait in individual pods — part green room, part living room — along with their families. They’re carpeted with stylish couches lining the walls. Just like in a game, a camera on a cable will hover overhead, zipping from pod to pod.

24. Waiting in the room for each player is an NFL football embossed with his name, footballs stitched at the Wilson factory in Ada, Ohio, 160 miles to the west.

25. The production is in Cleveland, but the nuts and bolts of the draft will be handled in a nerve center at NFL headquarters on the sixth floor of 345 Park Ave. in New York City. The NFL management council will be in touch throughout, online and via phone with the 32 teams, who submit their selections and trades to the league office.

26. Fifteen teams will be in draft rooms in which everyone is vaccinated, so they can operate without face coverings and eat in the rooms. Every club is staging some type of draft-related fan event.

27. The second day of the draft will feature 32 NFL legends — seven Hall of Famers — or current players who will announce the selections. One of them is former Dallas Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson, who revved up Cowboys fans, and grated on Eagles fans, with his boisterous remarks from the podium during the Philadelphia draft.

28. NFL Network will kick off the event with a special opening by Browns icon Jim Brown against a backdrop of U2 music.

29. In its Day 3 broadcast, NFL Network announcers will play its annual game of “Stump the Truck,” in which the production crew is challenged to dig up footage of the most obscure of selections. “We’ve been stumped, but we’ve gotten a lot of guys, too,” said Charlie Yook, who oversees the draft broadcast. “We had footage of a punter through a chain-link fence. We’ve had grainy footage of prospects from Division II schools. It’s a testament to preparation of the men and women of our staff.” Stay tuned for Saturday.

30. NFL Network has 39 cameras on site, including a “snoop cam” in Goodell’s green room for a peek at what he’s doing between picks.

31. “Run Rich Run,” the tradition of NFL Network host Rich Eisen running a 40-yard dash for charity will be a Saturday sidelight. This year, he ran at SoFi Stadium with legendary NFL players Jerry Rice, Ray Lewis, Cris Carter, Rod Woodson, Michael Vick, Torry Holt, Eric Metcalf and Terrell Davis.

32. The next two drafts will be in Las Vegas and Kansas City. The 2024 site has yet to be determined but likely will be announced at the 2021 fall meetings.

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Sam Farmer’s NFL mock draft 3.0: Who goes after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson?

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson passes during a game.
The New York Jets are expected to select Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

If this year’s NFL draft were a football team, it would start its season with a bye week.

It’s generally accepted that quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and Zach Wilson of Brigham Young will be the first two selections Thursday, by Jacksonville and the New York Jets.

But that’s when the drama starts.

San Francisco traded up to the No. 3 spot with a quarterback in mind, but there’s plenty of debate regarding which player that should be — Alabama’s Mac Jones, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

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With nine Chargers draft picks, GM Tom Telesco’s work is no day at the beach

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco watches players warm up before a game against the Jaguars.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

As their draft base this week, the Rams will be using a 9,000-square-foot Malibu home that has an infinity pool and a title sponsor.

The Chargers will be in Costa Mesa, home to — among other things — the corporate headquarters of El Pollo Loco.

Crazy?

Asked about the differing approaches, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco grinned and referenced Rams coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead in a response that he explained was meant to be a compliment.

“Sean and Les just scream Southern California to me,” Telesco said. “I think that the Malibu beach house, for them, is a great fit. I’m from Buffalo, N.Y., as you know. Brandon [Staley, the Chargers new coach] is from Cleveland, Ohio. I don’t know if the beach house is our style.

“Now, if [team owner] Dean [Spanos] wants to go to Manhattan Beach and do it, I think it would be fun. But I don’t know if that’s our style. I think we’ll probably just stay here in the office.”

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Top value NFL draft prop bets from sportsbooks across the country

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
(Getty Images)

The 2021 NFL draft will take place Thursday through Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio. While it isn’t the Super Bowl or NCAA tournament in terms of sports betting handle, there are plenty of value bets out there to make from a growing number of bookmakers.

Will Mac Jones go No. 3 overall? Will Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith be the first wide receiver off the board?

VSiN’s experts — Danny Burke, Kelly Bydlon, Adam Candee, Paul Howard, Brady Kannon, Tim Murray, Wes Reynolds and Matt Youmans — are here to give their best bets on the multitude of prop bets available at U.S. sportsbooks, leading up to the NFL draft.

Offensive players drafted in Round 1: UNDER 18.5 (+ 100)

Kannon: The first half of the first round looks to be very offensive player heavy. Because of that, and the way the NFL is so dominated by quarterbacks and offense, I believe this number is inflated by at least 1.5. I think the highest total of offensive players taken in the first round will be 17 — and it’s probably more like 15 or 16. This should stay well under 18.5, not allowing too big of a sweat for bettors.

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Gaffes, gags, busy signals and a dog named Buttercup: Wacky NFL draft stories

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VIDEO | 07:16
Jimmy Johnson shares his favorite NFL draft memories

Former Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson shares his favorite NFL draft moments and how he developed a value chart to help him get Emmitt Smith and other players.

The NFL will stage its annual draft in Cleveland this week, and despite the social distancing, video links to players in their homes and the like, a lot will be familiar.

There will be drama, hugs with the recently vaccinated commissioner, players pulling on the hats and jerseys of their new teams, and those agonizing waits in the green room.

“Draft time is not real time, it’s water-torture time,” said agent Leigh Steinberg, who has represented 62 first-round selections, eight of whom have gone No. 1 overall. “Every second is elongated like a minute, every minute an hour. The time between picks can be excruciating.”

But over the years, some of the behind-the-scenes stories of the draft are timeless. The gaffes, the gags, and the misunderstandings are the stuff of NFL lore. Some of the stories:

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Rams’ draft house missing only coach, general manager and first-round pick again

The Rams’ NFL draft headquarters for this week, a house in Malibu with a pool in the back.
(Gary Klein / Los Angeles Times)

The infinity pool glistened in the coastal sunshine. Flames in the fireplace accented the immaculately staged modern living room. And sleek desks, computer monitors and TV screens filled other airy rooms in the sprawling Malibu house where the Rams plan to conduct the NFL draft.

The only missing on-site element Tuesday for a predraft news conference?

Coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead.

On Monday, both were exposed to a person who had COVID-19, McVay said, so the scheduled in-person event at the showcase venue was conducted with McVay and Snead answering questions from their homes virtually.

“Just following the protocols,” McVay said on a videoconference call. “We wanted to be smart and, hopefully, as long as we remain asymptomatic and our tests come back negative … we’ll be able to have fun.”

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Undersized UCLA prospects Demetric Felton and Osa Odighizuwa fit well in changing NFL

UCLA's Demetric Felton takes part in a Senior Bowl practice on Jan. 28.
(Matthew Hinton / Associated Press)

Demetric Felton didn’t need a full senior season to show NFL scouts what he could do.

The UCLA running back/receiver led the Pac-12 and ranked sixth in the nation in all-purpose yards with 165.83 per game in 2020, and enters this week’s NFL draft as “one of the most intriguing prospects,” Pac-12 Networks analyst Yogi Roth said.

UCLA’s top prospects Felton and defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa are undersized at their positions but can pin their draft chances on athleticism that could translate well to a rapidly evolving NFL. In the copycat league that’s seen recent success from small players such as Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Felton stands to benefit most after his diminutive 5-foot-9 frame raised concern early in his college career.

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Many questions for Chargers to tackle with 13th pick of NFL draft

FILE - Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater participates in the school's Pro Day football workout.
Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater participates in the school’s pro day workout on March 9.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

When Tom Telesco took an offensive lineman in the first round most recently, the pick immediately was criticized by many observers as being a reach.

He could draft a tackle at No. 13 overall Thursday and already there is talk of reach.

This time, though, the subject is actual reach, as in the arm length of the leading tackles coming out of college.

“It’s something we’ve looked at since I’ve been in this business,” said Telesco, who is preparing for his ninth draft as Chargers general manager. “It’s not the biggest trait we look for, but it’s part of it. I don’t get too caught up in the arm length.”

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Without No. 1 draft pick again, it wouldn’t be a first for Rams to find later-round gems

Rams general manager Les Snead speaks during a news conference at the NFL scouting combine.
Rams general manager Les Snead
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

The first day of the NFL draft almost certainly will be another quiet one for the Rams. For the fifth consecutive year, they do not have a first-round pick.

Not that general manager Les Snead sounds concerned.

Snead, never shy about making draft-day trades, joked that he might explore a big one when the three-day, seven-round draft begins Thursday in Cleveland.

“I hear there’s a few picks for sale,” he said. “The [Atlanta] Falcons and maybe we move up to four? See what happens.”

Snead is more likely to begin dealing Friday when the second and third rounds commence. Rounds 4 through 7 will be held Saturday.

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USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, Talanoa Hufanga ready to make impact in NFL draft

USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker participates in the school’s pro day workout on March 24.
USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker participates in the school’s pro day workout on March 24. Vera-Tucker is projected as a first-round pick in this week’s NFL draft.
(Jose Marcio Sanchez / Associated Press)

When Alijah Vera-Tucker declared for the draft the first time, he hadn’t played left tackle since high school. His NFL future seemed assured on the interior, where’d remained for three seasons, starting for one.

But then, in October, the Pac-12 decided to play a COVID-altered season and Vera-Tucker returned for it. USC, desperate to replace departing first-round pick Austin Jackson, decided to move Vera-Tucker, its top lineman, to left tackle.

The move might’ve been made out of necessity. But for Vera-Tucker, who excelled as USC’s left tackle, it seems to have solidified his place in the first round of this week’s NFL draft.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 NFL draft

The 2021 NFL draft logo.
The 2021 NFL draft will be held Thursday through Saturday in Cleveland.
(Steve Luciano / Associated Press)

The 2021 NFL draft is going to be quite different from last year’s edition.

That is, this year’s draft is returning to normal ... or at least much closer to normal than the 2020 safer-at-home (or in Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ case, safer-inside-a-$250-million-yacht) version of the annual event.

Sure, it was fun to peek into New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s kitchen and see whatever it was the teenagers at Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel’s house were up to during last year’s remote draft.

But there were no festivities. No war rooms. No opportunities for fans to boo Roger Goodell (the commissioner performed his duties from the friendly confines of his own basement).

All of that is returning this year, although with certain COVID-19 protocols still in place, as the NFL takes its biggest offseason event to Cleveland.

Here’s everything you need to know to watch and enjoy the 2021 NFL draft.

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NFL beat writers mock draft: Will it be a historic year for QBs?

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones passes against Ohio State during the College Football national championship game on Jan. 11.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

Are we heading for a historic NFL draft?

Quad QBs?

That’s what is prognosticated in the 2021 version of the Los Angeles Times’ annual beat writer mock draft, in which writers who cover teams on a day-to-day basis make the picks. This scenario projects the first four teams selecting quarterbacks, which would be a first in the Super Bowl era.

Quarterbacks went 1-2-3 in 1971 and ’99, but four in a row is mind-boggling. But we’ll find out when the first round kicks off Thursday night in Cleveland.

Here’s how beat reporters from across the country see the first round of the 2021 NFL draft unfolding:

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