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

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

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CLEVELAND — 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.”

That was only the start.

Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle catching passes from college teammate Tua Tagovailoa in Miami.

“Chemistry is there for sure,” Waddle said. “I’m coming to work. I’m sure he is too.”

Alabama’s DeVonta Smith rejoining quarterback Jalen Hurts — who transferred from the Crimson Tide to Oklahoma — in Philadelphia.

And Clemson teammates Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick, and running back Travis Etienne beginning their NFL careers together in Jacksonville.

Amid reports that Hall of Fame-bound quarterback Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay — and could possibly wind up in Denver — other teams were creating more comfortable situations for their young quarterbacks.

There was no public movement on the Rodgers situation, only speculation and hand-wringing, but there was plenty of action in a draft that doubled as a commercial for University of Alabama football.

A record-tying six Alabama players were selected in the opening round. That matches the six by Miami in 2004.

The NFC West is looking awfully mobile, with Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Arizona’s Kyler Murray and now San Francisco’s Trey Lance.

One of the aspects of Lance that Kyle Shanahan has to love is he took so many snaps from under center. That’s rare in shotgun-crazy college football. Lance is raw, but he can learn at the elbow of Jimmy Garoppolo, who seems destined to stay with the 49ers as a mentor to the rookie.

NFL Films’ Greg Cosell, widely regarded for his ability to evaluate quarterbacks, says Lance is an easy deep-ball thrower but has an elongated throwing motion he needs to make more compact.

Amazingly, coming out of high school, Lance didn’t field a single scholarship offer from an FCS school to play quarterback.

The Atlanta Falcons have never had a tight end with double-digit touchdowns, notes ESPN Stats and Info, even with Hall of Famer Tony Gonzales in the lineup.

Now they have Florida’s Kyle Pitts, who had 12 touchdowns in eight games last season.

Will Philadelphia finally get it right with a wide receiver? The Eagles have spent a lot of draft capital on the position in recent years and last season had the third-fewest receiving yards in the league. Alabama’s Smith is already in rare company. He’s just the fourth receiver to win the Heisman Trophy.

With his electric blue suit and tie, it’s almost as if Rashawn Slater knew the San Diego Chargers were going to take him.

So New England coach Bill Belichick broke new ground, using a first-round pick on a quarterback for the first time in his career. Mac Jones played for Nick Saban — Belichick’s close friend — at Alabama, and though he might not be a dangerous running threat, Jones is walking into an offense built for Tom Brady. Extreme mobility isn’t a must.

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, Snead 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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