2021 NFL Draft notes; family ties and other interesting facts
Well folks, we are only one sleep away from the start of the 2021 NFL Draft.
This year's crop of prospects are a unique bunch. As we have heard over the last few months, the 2021 draft class features some special players who many believe could go on to have long, successful NFL careers. But unlike in some other years, this year's draft includes a large number of prospects with family ties to the NFL.
Below are a few of the connections between prospects eligible to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft and family members with NFL experience:
- Wake Forest EDGE Carlos Basham: Cousin, Tarell, plays LB for the Dallas Cowboys
- Stanford IOL Drew Dalman: Father, Chris, was a seven-year NFL veteran who won Super Bowl XXIX with the 49ers prior to coaching in the NFL
- Ohio State IOL Wyatt Davis: Grandfather, Willie Davis, was a 12-year NFL veteran, five-time Pro Bowler and selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Duke CB Mark Gilbert: Cousin, Darrelle Revis, was an 11-year NFL veteran, seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Super Bowl champion and member of the NFL 2010's All-Decade team. Uncle, Sean Gilbert, was an 11-year NFL veteran and the No. 3 overall selection in 1992 NFL Draft.
- South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn: Father, Joe, was a 12-year NFL veteran and four- time Pro Bowl selection
- Stanford OT Walker Little: Grandfather, Gene, and great uncle, Jack, played in the NFL in 1950's
- Purdue DT Lorenzo Neal: Father, Lorenzo, was a 16-year NFL veteran, four-time Pro Bowler and member of the NFL 2000's All- Decade team
- UCLA EDGE Osa Odighizuwa: Brother, Owa, was a two-year NFL veteran, spending 2015 and 2016 with the New York Giants
- Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr.: Father, Asante, was a 11-year NFL veteran, four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time Super Bowl champion
- Wake Forest WR Sage Surratt & North Carolina LB Chazz Surratt: Brothers are both 2021 NFL Draft prospects
- Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II: Father, Patrick, was a 11-year NFL veteran and three-time Pro Bowl selection
- Oklahoma State CB Rodarius Williams: Brother, Greedy, plays CB for the Cleveland Browns
One of the storylines leading up to tomorrow's festivities is that many draft experts believe the first round of this year's draft will lean heavily on offensive players. The most offensive players ever selected in the first round is 19, which happened in 1968, 2004 and 2009. Of course, Eli Manning was the first overall pick in that 2004 draft and wound up a member of the Giants following a draft day trade with the San Diego Chargers.
If the Jacksonville Jaguars end up selecting Trevor Lawrence (or any QB) with the first overall pick in this year's draft, as expected, it will mark 11 of the last 13 drafts in which a quarterback was selected with the No. 1 pick, including each of the last seven years (2015-2021).
In addition, Alabama will look to snap a 17-year record of most first-round selections from one college in a single year. Miami set the record with six players taken in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft- Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Vernon Carey and Vince Wilfork.
Alabama has a chance to match or even break that record this year, with seven players that many draft pundits believe could hear their names called within the first 32 picks- WR Jaylen Waddle, WR DeVonta Smith, CB Patrick Surtain II, QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris, IOL Landon Dickerson and DL Christian Barmore.
Another record that the 2021 draft looks like it could easily break is the most consecutive offensive players selected to start the draft. As of now, the most ever came in 1999 with the first six picks coming on the offensive side of the ball- Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akiili Smith, Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams and Torry Holt.
View the best players still available in NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's top 150 prospect ranking.
Blake Martinez helping build culture of accountability
Around this time last year, with the world in the thrall of a raging pandemic, Joe Judge still had a team to build. Virtual meetings were familiar, but they weren't second nature yet. The then-rookie head coach needed a solution.
To break the ice, he subdivided his team into groups. They played for prizes based on knowledge – not of the playbook, but of each other and their local surroundings.
There was nothing trivial about it.
"This team was the first team that reminded me of the college days, where everybody is buddies," linebacker Blake Martinez said recently during the Giants’ Town Hall session. "Everybody is having fun, everybody knows about each other. Just because we're so young and that's what everybody on our team is used to, it just made it simple to reach out to guys, to go have dinner with guys, go play video games during OTAs together, and just build a bond. Then when you stepped on the field, it was, oh, I'm playing with my best friend that I've known forever. That's just how I felt throughout the season."
As they found their groove, the Giants went 5-3 in the second half of the season – including a signature win in Seattle – and stayed in the running for the NFC East crown until the 256th and final game of a 2020 NFL season like no other.
Martinez, a newcomer himself from Green Bay, knew the Giants' success in November and December directly correlated to what they did in April and May - within that time, leaders emerged. He was one of them.
"The coaches allowed that nature to happen organically," said Martinez, who was elected a defensive co-captain by his teammates. "It wasn't just like, 'Hey, Blake, you have to say something.' They held us to a certain standard, and then at that point, certain guys were showing that standard and it started to become the majority. Then at that point, any guy that wasn't doing it felt like, 'Oh, I'm messing up, I need to pick it up, I need to do this.' Then other guys who were putting in that much work to make sure they were at that standard weren't going to let other guys around them not to reach that point and that level of play."
Draft Memory: Lawrence Taylor takes league by storm 40 years ago
Check out the video below to view Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor look back at the moment he became a Giant in this edition of Draft Memory.