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NFL draft 2021 winners, head-scratching picks, reaches from Round 1: Mel Kiper's first-round recap

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Kiper: If Packers lose Rodgers, Fields is the best QB in the NFC North (0:33)

Mel Kiper Jr. asserts that if Aaron Rodgers leaves the Packers, Justin Fields will likely be the best quarterback in the NFC North. (0:33)

Round 1 of the 2021 NFL draft featured five quarterbacks in the top 15 picks, six Alabama prospects in the top 24 and some surprises throughout, including the Bears making a dramatic trade up for a signal-caller and the Patriots being decidedly less dramatic, standing pat and still getting a quarterback.

I said coming into Thursday night that this was a mysterious draft class, and that there would likely be many trades -- and some head-scratching picks. I was 50% correct, as we didn't see that many trades, but there were a few reaches based on how I ranked the board. Jon Gruden and the Raiders stunned me again, but that seems to happen every year now.

Below are the picks I liked and didn't like from the first round. I'm basing these on my rankings and how I have prospects graded, along with whether teams got value with their selections. Come back Saturday night for my post-draft grades for all 32 teams. And we'll be back for Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday (7 p.m. ET on ESPN, ABC and the ESPN App).

More NFL draft coverage:
Kiper: My top 300 rankings
McShay: Round 1 questions
Muench: Round 2 mock draft
Best available | Round 1