2021 NFL draft: Biggest steals, reaches of the 1st round

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The first round of the 2021 NFL draft was full of big trades, bigger surprises, and healthy mix of bargain picks and head-scratching selections.

Here are our picks for the biggest steals and reaches from Thursday night:

STEAL | QB Justin Fields, Chicago Bears | No. 11 overall

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Andy Dalton was never a solution to get excited about, but as boring as that move was earlier this offseason, trading up for Fields is the exact opposite. The Bears made a splash by trading up nine spots for Fields, giving up a future first-round pick for a quarterback that can turn them into a Super Bowl contender sooner than later. Fields should have been the No. 2 overall pick, so getting him outside the top 10 was an incredible move for the Bears.

REACH | LB Zaven Collins, Arizona Cardinals | No. 16 overall

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Collins is an intriguing prospect with an impressive size/athleticism combination, but he wasn't viewed as a top-20 prospect, and he doesn't fill any of the Cardinals' biggest needs on either side of the ball. Similar to last year's top pick, Isaiah Simmons, Collins might have trouble finding the right position fit at the next level. Hey, at least the Cards have a type.

STEAL | LB Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys | No. 12 overall

Micah Parsons
Micah Parsons

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The Cowboys made the rare trade within their own division on draft day, dropping back two spots with the Philadelphia Eagles after both of this year's top cornerback prospects came off the board with the two picks right ahead of them. The move paid off, though, as the Cowboys netted an extra third-round pick, and still ended up with the best overall defensive prospect in the entire draft.

REACH | OT Alex Leatherwood, Las Vegas Raiders | No. 17 overall

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We should be used to this by now, but the Raiders gave us another puzzling pick Thursday night. The position made sense, as most of the offensive line was sent packing earlier this offseason, but there were other blockers on the board who were much more worthy of a top-20 selection. There's a decent chance Leatherwood would have been available for the Raiders in the second round.

STEAL | OT Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers | No. 13 overall

(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

The Chargers came into this draft with one clear-cut need at the top of their list: A franchise left tackle to protect their present and future investment in Justin Herbert. They knocked this pick out of the park, as the board fell the right way and dropped a top-10 talent into their lap. Slater is polished and pro-ready and gives Herbert the blind-side protector he needs to reach his full potential.

REACH | WR Kadarius Toney, New York Giants | No. 20 overall

(AP Photo/John Raoux, Pool)

I'm not sure anyone had "trade down for the first time ever and then draft an undersized wide receiver" on their Dave Gettleman Draft Bingo card. The Giants made a smart move trading down nine spots with the Bears, but they passed up a ton of talented prospects at their biggest position of need (edge rusher), and spent their top pick on an explosive but small pass-catcher in Toney, even after landing a No. 1 receiver in free agency with Kenny Golladay. Similar players would have been available in the second round.

STEAL | OT Christian Darrisaw, Minnesota Vikings | No. 23 overall

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The Vikings did what the Giants should have done, trading back a handful of spots and adding more picks, but then stealing a top prospect at their biggest position of need. Darrisaw was a top-15 talent in this class, and plays a premium position, so landing him at No. 23 was a huge bargain. He's an immediate upgrade at left tackle, and should have been long gone by the time this pick rolled around.

REACH | EDGE Payton Turner, New Orleans Saints | No. 28 overall

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The Saints proved a few years ago how much they love, big athletic pass rushers with long arms and tons of upside when they traded up for Marcus Davenport. Despite mixed results from him so far, New Orleans spent this year's top pick on a similar player, banking on the untapped potential with Turner. Still, this is a playoff team that could have had a more polished, pro-ready rusher at this pick, or addressed one of their bigger needs at corner or linebacker.

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