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Tua-Waddle, Chase-Burrow to reunite through 2021 NFL Draft

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Ja'Marr Chase, the No. 5 overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday in Cleveland. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Ja'Marr Chase, the No. 5 overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday in Cleveland. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

CLEVELAND, April 30 (UPI) -- The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft reunited several former star college quarterbacks with top playmakers. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne were among the most notable teammates to make the jump together.

Lawrence was the No. 1 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday in Cleveland. The former Tigers quarterback played with the running back for three seasons at Clemson and formed one of the most explosive tandems in college football.

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The Jaguars brought them back together when they selected Etienne with the No. 25 overall pick.

"Me and my guy are ready to go to work," Lawrence wrote Thursday on Twitter. "Man, this is amazing. Let's do it. Go time!"

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First-year Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said he got more of a chance to scout Etienne thanks to the team's extensive evaluation of Lawrence and his previous role as head coach at Ohio State. Etienne was on the receiving end of many of Lawrence's best college plays.

"The first thing we did when we got hired in January, is just watched quarterbacks [on video] over and over again," Meyer told reporters Thursday in a Zoom video conference. "I know Travis, just from my time at Ohio State and even [from evaluations] the last two years.

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"The way we've always looked at offensive football over the years is that any time you can find that dual-threat guy that can carry the ball and catch the ball [you want them], obviously the name that comes up is Percy [Harvin].

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"I'm not saying [Etienne is] Percy, we'll find out. But he's a guy that's a piece of the puzzle that is kind of hard to cover, hard to defend."

Meyer said the Jaguars plan to use Etienne, incumbent starting running back James Robinson and recent signing Carlos Hyde at different times and in unique formations in the backfield in 2021. He said the team could even split Etienne out wide as a pass catcher.

Former LSU stars Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase became the first college teammates to reunite through Thursday's first round. The Cincinnati Bengals selected Chase with the No. 5 overall pick. The Bengals snagged Burrow at No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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Burrow threw a record 60 touchdown passes and won the Heisman Trophy and a national title in his final year at LSU in 2019. Chase totaled 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 receiving scores that season.

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Chase considers Burrow a close friend. The wide receiver said Burrow told him to "get his bags packed" the morning of the draft, a hint that he was about to be the Bengals first pick.

"I said OK, I'm ready, bro," Chase told reporters Thursday in a Zoom conference.

The Bengals mentioned the chemistry built between Chase and Burrow at the college level several times throughout the draft process.

"Our chemistry became so good since the summer of my sophomore year," Chase said Thursday in a news conference. "We always worked on routes we would probably never run, even during the week.

"At practice and after practice we would run routes just to get that chemistry down to get to full speed. We did it over and over to get it working."

The Bengals added another familiar face to their roster for Burrow earlier this off-season when they signed tight end Thaddeus Moss. Moss, the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, was teammates with Burrow and Chase in 2019 at LSU.

Fellow Southeastern Conference playmaker Jaylen Waddle was another player who joined a college teammate through the first round. The former Alabama wide receiver is one of the most-explosive prospects in the 2021 draft class. He became a Miami Dolphin as the No. 6 overall pick in the draft.

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The Dolphins selected quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Tagovailoa was teammates with Waddle for two seasons at Alabama.

"The chemistry is there, for sure," Waddle told reporters, when asked about his relationship with Tagovailoa. "It definitely needs to improve. It's something that we're going to try to improve on, so it's good to be familiar with him; but I'm coming to work and I know he is, too."

DeVonta Smith, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, was Waddle's teammate last year at Alabama. He joined the Philadelphia Eagles as the No. 10 overall pick in the draft.

Smith reunites with former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. Hurts and Smith were teammates for two seasons at Alabama.

"Jalen, that's my guy," Smith told reporters in a Zoom conference. "I've was with him in my time at Alabama. Even when I was a recruit he was the guy trying to get me to come to Alabama. That's my guy. I have a great relationship and I'm ready to work."

Former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones also reunited with a college teammate through the first round. The New England Patriots selected Jones with the No. 15 overall pick.

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The Patriots selected former Alabama running back Damien Harris in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Jones and Harris shared the field briefly at Alabama in 2018.

Alabama tied the University of Miami's 2006 record for the most players picked in the first round with six selections Thursday in Cleveland.

The second round of the 2021 NFL Draft starts at 7 p.m. EDT Friday in Cleveland.

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