The NFL Draft can always bring unexpected outcomes and the 2021 version did not disappoint. A surprising trend emerged from round one with top draft picks reuniting with their college quarterbacks.
Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow – Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow is reuniting with his top pass-catcher from college after the Cincinnati Bengals selected Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5 overall. During their time together at LSU, Chase logged 1,780 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns, received the Fred Biletnikoff Award, and locked down a National Championship. Whether they can work the same magic in the NFL is yet to be seen but reconnecting increases their chances of success.
“I think our chemistry is so good from the summer of my sophomore year. We were always working on routes. Even during game weeks, we would run routes after practice just to get that chemistry going full speed. We kept doing it over and over and it worked.”
Chase has always been big on his work ethic. He spoke to Double Take Sports about how that made him better than the other receivers in his draft class and how it will translate to the NFL.
Jalen Waddle and Tua Tagovailoa – Miami Dolphins
No one is happier about Jalen Waddle landing with the Miami Dolphins than his former Alabama teammate Tua Tagovailoa. Drafted No. 6 overall, Waddle played two seasons with Tagovailoa in 2018 and 2019. Now they have an opportunity to carry that chemistry over to the NFL stage.
“He’s gonna make me better. I’m gonna make him better. We’re just gonna push each other and try to get better every day.” He added that it won’t take long to get timing back with Tua.
Waddle caught 106 passes for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns in his collegiate career. He had at least 120 yards receiving in each of Alabama’s first four games in 2020, but broke his ankle and missed much of the season. Waddle returned to play in the national championship game, making three receptions for 34 yards.
DeVonta Smith and Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles
When the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, it catapulted him right back into a familiar situation. Smith will pair up with his former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Smith and Hurts were together at Alabama in 2017 and 2018. At the time, he wasn’t the top talent that he is now but under Hurts he caught 42 passes for 693 yards and six touchdowns that year.
Before he had an opportunity to experience Smith blossom, Hurts had transferred to Oklahoma. Nonetheless, their experience was still impactful.
“Jalen taught everybody the game,” Smith said. “He was just one of those guys that was a student of the game and taught everybody the game. When you got reps with him, he was always telling you about coverages and rotations. The connection is there, the chemistry is there. Overall, he’s just always helped everybody else be better on the field.
Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne – Jacksonville Jaguars
Former Clemson stars Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne will be teammates again in Jacksonville. After taking Lawrence with the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jaguars set their sights on Etienne with the No. 25 overall pick.
With Lawrence and Etienne both being selected by the Jaguars in the first round, the Clemson teammates became the first quarterback/running back duo from a single school ever drafted by the same team in the first round of an NFL Draft in the common draft era, according to NFL Research.
One of the most productive backfields in college football, the Clemson dynamic duo played together for three seasons, leading the Tigers to a 39-3 record from 2018-2020, including three consecutive ACC titles and one National Championship win out of two appearances.
After the pick became official, Lawrence took to Twitter to celebrate his reunion with Etienne in the NFL.