by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
May 20th, 2021
Draft Picks: Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa; Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue; Marco Wilson, CB, Florida; Victor Dimukeje, EDGE, Duke; Tay Gowan, CB, UCF; James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati; Michal Menet, C, Penn State
Arizona had a very interesting 2021 draft in that they made some interesting moves in their draft strategy that ultimately paid off. Grabbing Zaven Collins in the first was a bit of an eyebrow-raising move because they already grabbed a versatile outside linebacker in the first round last year with Isaiah Simmons. Collins is a different player completely though, excelling at getting into the backfield and soaking up tackles while Simmons is more versatile when going away from the line of scrimmage. Either way, I think I like the pick considering the defensive dynamic and versatility that Collins brings.
The other interesting thing about Arizona taking Collins was that it wasn’t really a need and there were excellent wide receivers and secondary players still on the board. Ultimately the Cardinals made out well, though, getting really nice value in Rondale Moore and a player with a lot of upside, but needs a lot of work, in Marco Wilson. Dimukeje, Gowan, and Wiggins are all guys who might not be superstars but ought to be usable in some capacity this season and holding off on an offensive lineman until late also paid off because Menet is a very skilled blocker. I think there could have been some better prioritizing done by the Cardinals but overall the team is much better and the offense should be able to retain its dynamism.
Draft Picks: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida; Richie Grant, S, UCF; Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan; Darren Hall, CB, SDSU; Drew Dalman, C, Stanford; Ta’Quon Graham, DE, Texas; Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame; Avery Williams, CB, Boise State; Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State
For a lot of the draft process I felt as though Penei Sewell was the best non-quarterback in the draft, but as I kept studying film of the top players I quickly realized that not only is Kyle Pitts the best non-quarterback, he may be the best player overall. Atlanta needed a lot of things and you can argue that a pass catcher wasn’t one of them, but when you have this opportunity to grab a player that we aren’t debating is going to be great, but rather debating whether or not he’s a Hall of Famer, you must take him. Kyle Pitts can’t play quarterback but he’ll help make Matt Ryan better for the remaining years of his contract while the Falcons figure out how to address the position.
As for the rest of Atlanta’s draft, I was split on some of the picks. I really liked the Jalen Mayfield pick and assume he’ll immediately step into a starting roll. At the same time I felt as though there were some reaches with other picks. Darren Hall and Drew Dalman both could have been picked lower in my eyes and Frank Darby was a bit of a reach as well. I understand if you like the players and I assume that was the case for Atlanta, but I would have liked to see them use their picks in a more efficient way. I’m concerned about the safety position for the team and I don’t see any players who can really make a difference this year outside of Pitts and Mayfield. I know the cap situation is terrible so getting rookies to help seemed paramount. It will be interesting to see how this class pans out.
Draft Picks: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota; Odafe Oweh, EDGE, Penn State; Ben Cleveland, G, Georgia; Brandon Stephens, CB, SMU; Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State; Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State; Daelin Hayes, EDGE, Notre Dame; Ben Mason, FB, Michigan
Baltimore saw clear needs on their roster and they made their draft strategy revolve around filling those needs. If you think that’s something obvious that all teams should do, you’re right, but teams still rarely do it. Just ask Aaron Rodgers. Baltimore looked at their offense and felt that it was much better when Lamar Jackson had options and time instead of constantly running for his life, so Baltimore drafted a stellar receiver in Rashod Bateman, an outstanding value in Tylan Wallace, a very good blocker in Ben Cleveland, and another talented player that will help protect Jackson in Ben Mason. The offensive picks alone filled needs and ought to bring the offense back to it’s 2019 level. Bateman and Wallace are both very forgiving receivers (especially Wallace) and will work extremely well in this offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, I still like the picks. Odafe Oweh is a couple of tightened screws from being a game-breaker and that development will absolutely happen in Baltimore. Brandon Stephens is a high-floor, high-ceiling type of guy who ought to work well in a rotation or as a nickel this season. Daelin Hayes is the same type of player, and a flyer on Shaun Wade, a player who was expected to be at the top of the class, is just good business. I really like the direct strategy and smart business done by Baltimore and John Harbaugh.
Draft Picks: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami; Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest; Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa; Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami (OH); Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston; Damar Hamlin, S, Pittsburgh; Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin; Jack Anderson, G, Texas Tech
Buffalo was another team that employed a very detailed game plan for this draft and seemingly got exactly what they were looking for in the process. This game plan was interesting because it seems like Buffalo not only identified their needs, but put those needs in order and attacked them that way, making both their and my jobs a bit easier. First Buffalo went for edge rushers and got a pair that were fairly productive. Rousseau was an absolute wrecker for Miami in 2019 and sat out 2020, dropping his stock a bit, and though I felt the pick for Boogie Basham was a reach, I know a lot of other analysts felt it was an appropriate appraisal. Either way, both players will feature in the team this coming season.
Buffalo then moved on to another area of need, tackle depth. I don’t think either of these small school players, Spencer Brown or Tommy Doyle, will play too much this season, but they do provide solid depth and starting potential for the future. Marquez Stevenson is a player that should accentuate the massive arm of Josh Allen with his burning speed, providing a nice blend next to Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs. After Stevenson, Buffalo moved onto the secondary where Damar Hamlin and Rachad Wildgoose were taken. Neither player is great but could develop into useful players in the future. Jack Anderson at the end of the draft is a really nice player who could turn into a starter very quickly.
Draft Picks: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina; Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU; Brady Christensen, OT, BYU; Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame; Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State; Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa; Keith Taylor, CB, Washington; Deonte Brown, G, Alabama; Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina; Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama; Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky
Having a lot of needs when you go into a draft can actually make life a lot easier because you’re able to pick from anywhere at any point and not feel too much pressure about it. Carolina was afforded that “luxury” and took full advantage of it. Jaycee Horn is a really impressive player at cornerback and while he might not have the upside of a lot of the top guys, he’s a constant and won’t drop as low if he isn’t great. Terrace Marshall Jr. is another good player with okay upside and a high floor, I just can’t see him being a superstar. He’s going to be a typical Carolina receiver.
Past the second round, though, I thought Carolina had a very nice draft with a lot of good value and starting potential. Brady Christensen was part of an elite BYU line that kept the pocket spotless for Zach Wilson and Deonte Brown is an absolute mammoth guard who will dominate out of Alabama.Tommy Tremble is a very nice pass catcher and should do well in the middle of the field while Shi Smith is a good fourth or fifth option for an offense that will be trying to find itself this season. Another compliment to the offense will be Chuba Hubbard who is an elite sprinter and could be the best backup in the NFL already considering his talent.
On the defensive side of the ball Carolina was still able to find a lot of value. Daviyon Nixon is a huge nose tackle out of Iowa who will be able to operate effectively in a three or four man front and step into the rotation right away considering that position room. Keith Taylor is an excellent cornerback out of Washington who I think could end up as a starter by the end of the year, or at least a prominent member of the rotation. Finally, Phil Hoskins is mainly a depth player, but the lack of talent at defensive tackle may make his presence necessary in particularly grueling games. Thomas Fletcher rounds out the class as the best long snapper in the country, not surprisingly, from Alabama. Overall Carolina went for players who will not be massive flops if they don’t pan out. There’s a ton of players who will be adequate this season and should make the team at least somewhat competitive in a division that could be up in the air.
Draft Picks: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State; Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State; Larry Borom, OT, Missouri; Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech; Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina; Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon; Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU
For a team that’s been largely incompetent around the draft and offseason transactions for about as long as I can remember, I think the Bears did great in this draft. My blood was chilled when I saw they traded up because there was really only one reason to do that, but they nailed the pick. Justin Fields has extremely high upside and if he pans out he’s going to be the first really successful Bears quarterback since the 80s, and maybe in the team’s existence. That’s less to do with Fields’ upside, though, and more with the Bear’s incompetence around the position. The team’s next pick, Teven Jenkins, was a great pick as well. The Bears also traded up to get him and considering he was trending towards being a ford round pick, the Bears got great value and a starting left tackle in one.
The third pick looks to also be a starting candidate in Larry Borom. The Missouri tackle has a very low ceiling and ought to fit in on the right side or as depth. Either way, the offensive line gets better. After Borom were a string of players with really nice upside that should show their mettle fairly quickly. Khalil Herbert is a really nice backup running back with flexibility, Dazz Newsome is a pacey receiver with very high upside, Thomas Graham Jr. could end up as a very valuable member of the secondary rotation, and Khyiris Tonga will be integral in maintaining the rotation at defensive tackle. I think the Bears nailed this draft in terms of needs and players.
Draft Picks: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU; Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson; Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas; Cameron Sample, EDGE, Tulane; Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU; D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina; Evan McPherson, K, Florida; Trey Hill, C, Georgia; Chris Evans, RB, Michigan; Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State
No matter how much I think of this pick I just can’t get myself to come around on the Bengals taking Ja’Marr Chase over Penei Sewell. I get the LSU connection and need for pass catchers, but after seeing Burrow get chased (no pun intended) around the backfield and ultimately severely damage his leg, I can’t figure out when they don’t go for Sewell. Regardless, here we are. I liked the Jackson Carman pick in the second round and whether he starts at tackle or guard, he ought to be a nice player who can make the field this season. I’m also a fan of the edge rushers picked. Ossai gives fantastic value and some real versatility while Cameron Sample should be able to play a part in the rotation, even if it’s small.
Tyler Shelvin might be the best pure run stopper in the entire draft so I’m inclined to like this pick to an extent. His effectiveness might be capped considering how the NFL is changing, but he’s at least a great early down option. D’Ante Smith is something of an upside flyer and could be a nice piece if developed correctly, but seems like a big reach. Cincy followed up with Evan McPherson who’s the best kicking option out of college football this season, so I have no issues there. Trey Hill is a great value in the sixth round and gives the Bengals a player who I think could start this season if it was asked of him. Chris Evans is another high upside flyer at a position that could use some depth and Wyatt Hubert was extremely productive at getting into the backfield at Kansas State and pass rushing depth is always a plus. Other than the first pick I think Cincinnati did well in this draft and has a lot of potential, but it’s a class that will require a lot of work and care.
Draft Picks: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern; Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, ILB, Notre Dame; Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn; James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati; Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State; Tony Fields II, DT, West Virginia; Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia; Demetric Felton, WR, UCLA
I figured that Cleveland would have an overwhelming majority of defensive players selected compared to offensive players and I was right, but I even expected more defense than the 5 to 3 ratio that settled. The Browns nabbed Greg Newsome II out of Northwestern with their first pick, a player who bloomed relatively late in the process but should be able to hold down a starting spot in the secondary this season. He’s a good man coverage player and does well to deflect passes, but only one career interception in college raised a flag for me. Regardless, the pick is fine and should work out well. I’m a huge fan of the second pick as well. Cleveland has needed a tackle sponge since losing Joe Schobert and they got a great one at a fantastic value. Owusu-Koramoah fell because there was an apparent heart condition at some point but none of the medical records said there was an issue at all. However, because football guys think they’re smarter than everyone else while they’re actually idiots, a great player fell precipitously and the Browns benefited from it.
I do not like the Anthony Schwartz pick. He’s an extremely fast person but I don’t think he’s a good enough wide receiver to make a living in the NFL. I really like the James Hudson pick because he’ll be able to grow into a starting job when a contract expires and do really well in case of an injury. I also really like the Tommy Togiai pick. There was a need for another defensive tackle and there are few who are better than Togiai in this draft class. Following up with Tony Fields II as some insurance also made sense as the player has a high floor. Another pick I really liked was for Richard LeCounte. He’s an extremely experienced safety with a lot of talent but even more leadership. I could see him becoming a leader in the locker room and starting very quickly. Finally I felt as though Demetric Felton was a nice flyer as well because he can play wide or as a running back and has great speed that will be valuable to the offense. The Browns did really well in this draft and lucked into a great steal in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
Draft Picks: Micah Parsons, ILB, Penn State; Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky; Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA; Chauncey Golston, EDGE, Iowa; Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State; Jabril Cox, ILB, LSU; Josh Ball, OT, Marshall; Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford; Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky; Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina; Matt Farniok, G, Nebraska
Dallas was another team that needed to really focus on defense and while I’m surprised at how hard they pursued defenders in the draft, I think it was the correct strategy. Starting at the defensive line, the Cowboys grabbed Chauncey Golston, Osa Odighizuwa, and Quinton Bohanna. Golston is a talented edge rusher who can play effectively with power, so expect to see him on the field this season. Odighizuwa has a very high floor with a moderately limited ceiling and should be good in the rotation at defensive tackle while Bohanna is a bit of the opposite, with a high ceiling and low floor, but I like the trends for the player. Moving into the middle of the field we get Micah Parsons. Parsons was an excellent pick in the first round because he was the best defensive player on the board, plain and simple. There’s a ton to clean up with this defense and an anchor like Parsons is the perfect player to build upon, plus his pairing with Jaylon Smith should be devastating. In addition to Parsons Dallas took Jabril Cox who will be a good backup and a versatile player who might be able to play a bit of Cash along with his regular Mike duties.
In the secondary Dallas grabbed Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright, and Israel Mukuamu, all cornerbacks. Kelvin Joseph felt like a reach but I trust the secondary evaluators in Dallas enough to be okay with the pick. I would like to think Nahshon Wright is good enough to step into the secondary right away and considering his tackle and interception numbers I like his chances. Finally, I love Israel Mukuamu at the back end of the draft. The player is a freak athlete and has incredible ball skills. The pick is exceptional and has a very high chance of turning out serious dividends.
On the offensive side of the ball the Cowboys grabbed Josh Ball, Simi Fehoko, and Matt Farniok. Ball was a really nice player for Florida State and Marshall and would have been picked much higher were it not for off the field issues. Jerry Jones likes to take in players with issues and make the most of them so this pick makes sense, but the player is extremely talented to begin with. Also along the offensive line is Matt Farniok, someone who should be a backup guard in a “In case of emergency” type situation. Finally, Fehoko is a very large wide receiver who’s talented at grabbing jump balls and averaged nice yard per catch numbers at Stanford so he should be a good fourth or fifth option. Overall I think Dallas did a really nice job in filling positions of need in this draft. They grabbed a ton of defenders, some upside offensive linemen, and another receiver to keep the room fresh. I think this was a quality draft from a team who needed it badly.
Draft Picks: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama; Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina; Quinn Meinerz, C, Wisconsin-Whitewater; Baron Browning, OLB, Ohio State; Caden Sterns, S, Texas; Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana; Seth Williams, WR, Auburn; Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU; Jonathan Cooper, EDGE, Ohio State; Marquiss Spencer, EDGE, Mississippi State
Denver came into draft night with a ton of needs and I actually think they did a nice job of hitting all of them on a surface level. Patrick Surtain II is the best defensive prospect in this draft and getting him at nine for a position of need was really nice for the team. He’s going to start for this team as long as he’s in Denver. As for Javonte Williams, I was confused as to why they took a running back but considering the quality of the player and the contract situation in the running back room, I’m willing to concede that this is a pretty good pick. The third pick was Quinn Meinerz who I thought was a recipient of a lot of hype at the Senior Bowl that inflated his stock. He’ll be a fine interior lineman, but I thought even a 3rd round comp pick was high.
The Broncos grabbed three players who will operate on the end of the line in Baron Browning, Jonathan Cooper, and Marquiss Spencer. Browning will be a nice change of pace from Von Miller on the outside and should soak up a lot of tackles. Cooper and Spencer are both upside flyers but I would be surprised if one of them doesn’t pan out. They’re quality defenders from big programs and that can go a long way if trained correctly. The secondary also got deeper with Caden Sterns and Jamar Johnson at safety plus Kary Vincent Jr. at corner. Sterns and Johnson are both excellent players who might actually end up as the starting combination by the end of the season. I’m very high on both players. Vincent is actually another player who could end up as a starter but is more likely to be a back end platoon corner or nickel. Finally the Broncos took Seth Williams as a 6th round comp pick and I think that was flatly an excellent pick. Williams has serious potential when once he gets partnered with a professional passer and he slots in well among the wide receivers already on the roster.
Draft Picks: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon; Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington; Alim McNeil, DT, NC State; Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse; Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC; Derrick Barnes, OLB, Purdue; Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State
Detroit seemingly went into this draft with a few loose needs and a plan to get the best player available with some room for play. I think the new regime did a fantastic job. Penei Sewell is the best blocker in this draft by a huge margin and will be a beloved cornerstone on the offensive line for a very long time. There’s an argument to be made that he’s the second best player in this draft and Detroit getting him at seven is just stellar. The next two picks were both defensive tackles, both players with decent upside and both with a chance at playing a role in the rotation this season. Onwuzurike was one of the best defensive tackles in the draft and should be able to blow holes in the line while McNeil is a very talented run stopper with a nice ability to get into the backfield.
Detroit moved off the line of scrimmage with the rest of their picks but were still able to find great value and talented players. Ifeatu Melifonwu was overlooked in the Syracuse secondary but is good enough to hold down a rotational corner position across from Jeff Okudah. I love his talent and prospects and believe he’s good enough to challenge many of the wide receivers in the division. St. Brown had a less than desired draft process which dropped his stock a bit, but he’s more than talented enough to be productive this season and considering the state of Detroit wide receivers the player could actually be the top target getter on the team. Derrick Barnes out of Purdue won’t bring much flash or a wealth of production, but he will be a dependable player who might be able to get on the field somewhat regularly.
Green Bay Packers
Draft Picks: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia; Josh Myers, C, Ohio State; Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson; Royce Newman, G, Mississippi; Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida; Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State; Cole Van Lanen, G, Wisconsin; Isaiah McDuffie, ILB, Boston College; Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
I don’t get how Green Bay can act like they’re actually trying to support Aaron Rodgers when they refuse to give him good weapons. NFL Twitter was shocked and celebrating when Green Bay drafted a third round wide receiver. When your aging quarterback just had the best year of his career and you still aren’t drafting him top tier weapons, that’s a disgrace. The weapons given to Aaron Rodgers in this draft were Amari Rodgers and Kylin Hill. Both of these players are ones I was admittedly high on, but both could have been improved upon by drafting skill positions earlier in the draft. Rodgers will pair well with his namesake and will be the number two option behind Adams while Kylin Hill should see plenty of time both in the backfield and out wide, benefitting from the few game showcase last season at Mississippi State.
The offensive line was also an apparent priority for the Packers as three were drafted, Josh Myers, a center, and Royce Newman and Cole Van Lanen, both guards. These picks did not make sense in terms of team needs and they didn’t make sense in terms of who was on the board. The pick after Myers was taken, Creed Humphrey went off the board. Humphrey is an objectively better prospect. While I like Royce Newman, Deonte Brown was still available, and Trey Smith and Jack Anderson both went after Van Lanen. That’s simply poor management from the front office, something we’re used to seeing out of Green Bay.
On the defensive side of the ball Green Bay started with Eric Stokes. While I thought the team should only shoot for a wide receiver, the need for another cornerback was also looming large and Stokes will be able to fill that need. I don’t know if he’s a starter or platooning for the second spot, but he’ll be used a lot. Tedarrell Slaton was also taken and should be a decent option in the interior defensive lineman rotation. He’s capable of collapsing the pocket and does well against the run so we should see him every so often. Shemar Jean-Charles was another perplexing selection considering the players that were still on the board at the time. I doubt he factors into the game plan for Green Bay too much this season. Isaiah McDuffie will be tasked with cleaning up some of the tackles left over from the defensive line, though like Jean-Charles, he isn’t likely to feature much this season. The Packers were just bad yet again in the draft and it’s no surprise at all that Aaron Rodgers wants to leave the organization.
Draft Picks: Davis Mills, QB, Stanford; Nico Collins, WR, Michigan; Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami; Garret Wallow, ILB, TCU; Roy Lopez, DT, Arizona
Houston is in a really bad situation for a number of reasons. Obviously the Deshaun Watson situation is very difficult to work around, but the fact that they didn’t have a pick until the third round of the draft and lost multiple top players on either side of the ball doesn’t make life easier either. In addition, the McNair family is widely disliked by players around football so signing top free agents won’t be an easy task either. However, considering the circumstances, I don’t dislike the draft for this team. Davis Mills wasn’t anyone’s top choice at quarterback but he was one of the better options in the draft. Don’t listen to the Andrew Luck comparisons because he’s nowhere near that good, but he is a quality passer who elevated the offense at Stanford. He’s going to struggle as the starter in Houston but there’s a good chance he turns into a decent quarterback.
After Mills, Houston decided they needed players to catch passes from their new quarterback and did well to find some that will adapt quickly. Nico Collins is a very high-upside athlete out of Michigan who will have a chance to be extremely talented as the top target in Houston. Brevin Jordan has a chance to thrive in the same way. He plays a lot like Kyle Pitts and though he doesn’t have the physical attributes that Pitts does, Jordan will still operate at a very high level at an increasingly important position. The final two picks of the Texan draft were spent on defenders. Garret Wallow was the best middle linebacker in the Big 12 last season and will do a good job of soaking up tackles in the rotation while Roy Lopez will be a good big body to plug holes. The new regime in Houston correctly identified that they needed usefulness out of this draft and despite having big limits they did a good job of finding value.
Draft Picks: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan; Dayo Odeyingbo, EDGE, Vanderbilt; Kylen Granson, TE, SMU; Shawn Davis, S, Florida; Sam Ehlinger, QB, Florida; Mike Strachen, WR, Charleston (WV); Will Fries, G, Penn State
Indianapolis seemed to have something similar to that Buffalo had going on in their war room where they identified various needs and then ranked the needs based on urgency. Buffalo went even more specific deeper in the draft, but Indianapolis definitely had the same mindset coming into Thursday night. The need for edge rushers was obvious and it was likely that either tackle or EDGE would be addressed in the first round so Kwity Paye coming off the board was no surprise. It was something of an eye-raiser when Odeyingbo was taken in the second round, but the move makes sense. Indianapolis needs to make the most of DeForrest Buckner being on the roster and the best way to do that is by making his life easier. Paye and Odeyingbo are both NFL quality players and will get a lot of snaps this season. Their presence alone will make Buckner’s life easier and if they’re good enough to draw double teams as well, then you really have an efficient front running. I love both of these guys in this situation.
The only other defender taken was Shawn Davis, a safety out of Florida. Florida’s secondary in general was very disappointing in 2020, but Davis has all the makings of a very talented and physical safety. Maybe a change of scenery and better coaching will make the difference that he needs. The rest of the draft was spent on the offensive side of the ball which makes sense considering the needs of the team. The Kylen Granson pick made me scratch my head, as did the Mike Strachen pick at wide receiver. I can get on board with Granson because he played in a very fast paced and high-powered offense at SMU and should adjust to the pace of the NFL well, but Strachen still doesn’t make sense considering the other names on the board. Will Fries will be a fine backup guard for the first couple years of his contract, but I don’t see much upside to the player.
The pick I’m most interested in though was the 6th round compensatory selection of Sam Ehlinger. The tragic news recently broke that Ehlinger’s brother, a linebacker at Texas, was found dead near the campus, but I don’t want to get into that awful story. Ehlinger probably wasn’t drafted just to be a backup or failsafe in Indianapolis. I think it’s likely that the Colts have hope he can one day take the job over and excel. Yes, this pick is a flyer and while the hopes may be high the confidence probably isn’t, but it’s a really interesting selection because of those implications. Ehlinger, though he doesn’t have the abilities yet, plays the position the way the NFL shifting into and that could be a massive win if Frank Reich can develop the player into a starter.
Draft Picks: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson; Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson; Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia; Walker Little, OT, Stanford; Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse; Jay Tufele, DT, USC; Jordan Smith, EDGE, UAB; Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State; Jalen Camp, WR, Georgia Tech
Jacksonville had a very important 2021 NFL Draft with all of the swirling circumstances. The team was a quarter away from the Super Bowl a few years ago and now they have the top overall pick. Urban Meyer is running the organization and the team had a ton of picks to sift through with a ton of needs to address. Grabbing Trevor Lawrence was a no-brainer at number one overall. He’s the franchise guy and will be counted on to lead the team for the next decade. The second pick was a surprise though with Travis Etienne being picked. Jacksonville needed a running back but very few people expected them to grab one with their second first round pick. Etienne is one of the best runners in ACC history and Lawrence’s teammate at Clemson. This fits everything and it was a great selection.
The third pick from Jacksonville was a Georgia cornerback, Tyson Campbell. I’m not sure he can lock down the top spot on the team but he’s going to be very effective as part of a platoon and will be able to cover both out wide and the slot. After Campbell, Jacksonville selected Walker Little at tackle. Little didn’t play in 2020 but was considered one of the top prospects at the position in the draft. I think he might need some time adjusting to the speed of the game and could be better off at right tackle to start, but there’s absolutely starting left tackle potential in this player. Andre Cisco at safety was another selection that I liked. Cisco was part of a very talented Syracuse secondary and he could end up being the best player out of it. He and Campbell will do a really nice job starting in the secondary as rookies and should be able to force some turnovers as well.
Past Cisco is a player that got a lot of hype that I didn’t really understand. Some outlets had Jay Tufele as their second or third best defensive tackle and he just isn’t that good. He’s a nice player but he has very set hips that don’t allow him to move fluidly or quickly. He’s extremely powerful but has to work on his movement a lot to be a top end tackle in this league. Jordan Smith was another player that I liked for this team. He’s something of a regional guy and won’t have issues with the climate, plus he’s a fantastic and underrated edge rusher. He’ll get a number of snaps in the rotation and will do well with them. The last two picks were spent on pass catchers for Lawrence to target. The first was Luke Farrell out of Ohio State and should be targeted a lot. He wasn’t the top choice for Ohio State but was relied upon heavily later in the year so he should thrive. The last pick was Jalen Camp out of Georgia Tech. He’s very unproven but could be a deep ball threat if he pans out.
Overall I really like what the Jaguars did with this draft. They gave Lawrence room to breathe while supporting both sides of the ball with picks that ought to be sustainable. I know a lot of people are split on the management of Jacksonville because Urban Meyer can be a bit despicable at times, but you can’t argue that the team didn’t do well in this draft.
Kansas City Chiefs
Draft Picks: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri; Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma; Joshua Kaindoh, EDGE, Florida State; Noah Gray, TE, Duke; Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson; Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
Kansas City made a splash just before the draft that saw them require Orlando Brown Jr. from the Ravens in exchange for their first round pick. I think Kansas City could have used that first round pick to get a tackle but grabbing a player who is proven for the same price is obviously the better fit. I’ll say up front that the Chiefs did very well in this draft. Every pick found them grabbing quality and value together and though some of the players didn’t fit an exact need, the roster is undoubtedly better than it was a few weeks ago.
Nick Bolton was the first pick off the board and will be asked to take over a lot of the tackling duties. I expect to see him starting this season and reaching triple digit tackles behind an inconsistent front. Creed Humphrey was shockingly still around for the Chiefs to get with their second pick and I believe will also step into the starting spot. He’s a very mobile and athletic center and played in a pro-style offense at Oklahoma so don’t be surprised to see the player snapping the ball this season and blocking very well. The third player taken was an edge rusher that will just help get more pressure on opposing backfields. Kaindoh isn’t going to win games on his own but he will contain well and help make a few important plays per game and that’s really good value if it happens.
The back end of the draft was all offense for Kansas City and after what happened in the Super Bowl, you can’t really blame them for that. Noah Gray was a really nice piece at Duke and will be an awesome weapon in 12 sets with Travis Kelce. He’ll need some getting used to in terms of the pro speed but he’ll do well once he adjusts. Cornell Powell is another player that will be a really nice weapon to use if the star players are covered. Powell put up nice numbers in his last season at Clemson and will take to the pro game extremely quickly. Finally we have Trey Smith who could end up as one of the steals of this draft. Smith was one of the most impressive guards I watched play in college this season and a player that I felt could have gone on Day 2. Smith might not start immediately with all the veterans that Kansas City brought in this offseason, but he’s good enough to take over a job by the end of the season.
Las Vegas Raiders
Draft Picks: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama; Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU; Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Buffalo; Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech; Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri; Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois; Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh
Just as I was last year around this time, I’m just not sure that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have any idea what they’re doing in terms of the draft. I like Alex Leatherwood as a player and don’t think he’s a guard like Mel Kiper Jr. believes, but I do think he was a big reach in terms of how a lot of teams were approaching the tackle position this season. There were plenty of tackles that would have gone before Leatherwood and I think the Raiders could have better maximised their pick value. I did think the second pick was excellent value though as Trevon Moehrig is clearly the best safety in this class. He’s going to anchor that defense very effectively.
Past Moehrig I can’t really figure out what the Raiders were doing. They took Malcolm Koonce with their third pick while they already have three pass rushers who will take snaps over him. I understand taking Divine Deablo, but I don’t get why the team then tripled back on safeties and took Tyree Gillespie as well. Are they planning to run three rookie safeties all season? Thank can’t be the case. I suppose I understand grabbing a cornerback, but why not get a better corner with the Gillespie pick and worry about a third rookie safety with a UDFA or later pick? It just didn’t make any sense to me. I did like the last pick, however, in Jimmy Morrissey. The player is an above average blocker and should fit in well with the Raiders. He might not start at center this season but I could see him sliding over to guard in the event of an injury. That being said, I just didn’t get what the Raiders were trying to do. There were so many better moves they could have made and so many better approaches.
Los Angeles Chargers
Draft Picks: Rashwan Slater, OT, Northwestern; Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State; Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee; Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia; Chris Rumph II, OLB, Duke; Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska; Nick Niemann, ILB, Iowa; Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri; Mark Webb, S, Georgia
The direction that Los Angeles wanted to head with their first pick was obvious and essential, but after that the choices were pretty up in the air. Grabbing Rashawn Slater with their first pick was an easy choice. He’s a stellar pass blocker with great movement and strength, plus he’s able to slide around the line to any position. Asante Samuel Jr. was a nice second pick at cornerback and even though he’s a touch diminutive I think he’s good enough to win battles against the receivers in the NFL. He’ll need some help to start but will grow into a good pro.
This next pick is really the only one I have a problem with in the entire Charger’s draft. Josh Palmer is not that good. There was no reason to reach so high for him when there were so many good receivers left on the board, especially ones that fill the same role as Palmer. It’s ridiculous that he was selected where he was. Moving on.
I really liked the Tre’ McKitty selection. He was the tight end that was most likely to shoot up draft boards after some really nice draft process showings and I think he could be one of the better pass catchers in the draft. The Chargers have plenty of options for Justin Herbert to pass to and McKitty makes the corps better. Chris Rumph II will be an effective linebacker when playing towards the line of scrimmage. He’s very adept at finding his way into the backfield and I expect to see him making plays in the rotation this season. Brenden Jaimes was just drafted for depth and won’t see many snaps this season, but he could start on the right side in the future if he works on his hips and mobility. Nick Niemann should be able to find his way onto the field every few series at middle linebacker, but he’s mainly another depth addition that will play behind Kenneth Murray.
I know Austin Eckeler has running back locked down for the Chargers and is one of the best dual threat players in the NFL, but Larry Rountree III is still an excellent addition to the roster. He’s going to bring a bit more power to the run game and while he won’t get many individual carries, I could see him getting a lot of leak out passes and blocking reps. Mark Webb is another player that probably won’t see a ton of snaps but should be able to sneak onto the field a few reps a game. The Chargers have a good starting safety combination already so having Webb learn the position and grow in it is the best bet. Los Angeles did their best to bolster their roster with reinforcements and for my money they did a good job of it.
Los Angeles Rams
Draft Picks: Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville; Ernest Jones, ILB, South Carolina; Bobby Brown III, DT, Texas A&M; Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas; Jacob Harris, WR, UCF; Earnest Brown IV, EDGE, Northwestern; Jake Funk, RB, Maryland; Ben Skowronek, WR, Notre Dame; Chris Garrett, OLB, Concordia-St. Paul
The Rams are a pretty well run organization and have helped blaze the trail of innovation in the sport since bringing in the Sean McVay regime, but I haven’t been a fan of their drafts. It seems like the team has taken to the philosophy that they’re better off trading picks for established players and I would agree for the most part, but even when they do draft I have a tough time getting behind their picks. Tutu Atwell, a great player at Louisville, is just too small. I get the NFL has no real moral conscience, but come on, 149 pounds? It feels like this pick is lining up for disaster, plus there were other pass catchers available who are better football players than Atwell. The other offensive skill players the team took were Jake Funk, a running back out of Maryland, Jacob Harris, and Ben Skowronek, wide receivers out of UCF and Notre Dame. Skowronek and Harris are worth a flyer as the UCF and Irish wide receivers are generally very talented, but I don’t get the Funk pick. There were better players available that just weren’t selected.
I suppose the Rams addressed some light needs with their defensive picks. Ernest Jones is a pretty reliable tackler and does well to stop the ball when he hits it, Bobby Brown III isn’t a big sack threat but he will command a double team when he’s playing well and that can open the line up for other players. I really like Robert Rochell as a rotation corner or nickel. He has nice ball skills and should enhance the secondary with his man cover skills. Earnest Brown IV had a nice 2020 season with an uptick in tackles behind the line of scrimmage so I don’t really mind that pick. I don’t know much about Chris Garrett so I can’t really comment on that pick, but I felt as though most of the Rams picks were reaches and they didn’t feel too comfortable in this draft. I suppose they could have just felt those players were their guys and were okay with sacrificing draft value for their own appraisals, but it still seemed like a lot of questionable decisions were made.
Draft Picks: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama; Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami; Jevon Holland, S, Oregon; Liam Eichenburg, OT, Notre Dame; Hunter Long, TE, Boston College; Larnel Coleman, OT, Massachusetts; Gerrid Doaks, RB, Cincinnati
Miami was one of the teams I was very excited to see make their picks in this draft but I ended up almost a touch disappointed with the way things turned out for them. I think we all knew what direction they would be going with their picks, wide receiver, edge, safety, offensive line, running backs, and tight ends, but I was surprised at some of the players. I did not love the Jaylen Waddle selection but I have to assume that he was the pick Tua preferred and for that we cannot fault the team. However, if Waddle is a bust and DeVonta Smith is great in Philadelphia, there will be a lot of angry fans who saw Smith as the easy selection.
The only defensive picks from the draft were from the two areas of need, edge rusher and safety. Jaelan Phillips was seen as one of the top pass rushers in this draft but I did not see anywhere that he was the best in the class. The two top candidates seemed to be Paye and Rousseau and while both of them went in the first round as well, Phillips was taken first. This will be the same situation as Waddle, if Phillips is bad while either other player pans out, there will have been hints. Jevon Holland is yet another player in that exact scenario. Holland was the first safety taken in the draft and I didn’t see a single outlet that had him as the top safety. If Moehrig pans out well and Holland doesn’t… well, you get the idea.
I thought both offensive linemen selected were pretty good picks for the Dolphins. Liam Eichenburg was a monster on the left side of Notre Dame and even though he wasn’t the best in his class, he’s still an excellent blocker that could start if he’s needed. Larnel Coleman will be a suitable backup, but I doubt we will ever see him taking snaps when the games actually matter as he’ll be a deep backup. Hunter Long and Gerrid Doaks were the other selections in this draft for the Dolphins and I didn’t mind either of them. Long will be featured with some regularity this season as he’s a good blocker and pass catcher and could be a nice weapon in two tight end sets. Gerrid Doaks probably won’t see many carries this season but he does have a decent upside that could see him earn snaps if he works hard. However, even though the situation is bad in the running back room, I don’t think Doaks is the answer.
Draft Picks: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech; Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M; Chazz Surratt, ILB, North Carolina; Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State; Patrick Jones, II, EDGE, Pittsburgh; Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State; Camryn Bynum, CB, California; Janarius Robinson, EDGE, Florida State; Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa; Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri; Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh
In terms of value throughout the draft, I don’t think many teams did better than Minnesota, especially from top to bottom. There was great value at so many positions of need and even though I felt that there could have been better selections at times, I can’t really argue with more than two of the 11 selections. Grabbing Christian Darrisaw at 14 was pretty lucky, but it was a really good selection regardless. He’s going to start and anchor a line that improved a lot during this draft. Wyatt Davis will also start next to Darrisaw at guard as he was one of the best players at that position in the entire draft.
The defense saw selections at all three levels and I really liked all of them. Chazz Surratt will be a big contributor to the defense and ought to start at least some games at middle linebacker. He’s a massive physical player that should do well in this defense. Patrick Jones II was one of my favorite edge rushers in this class and the fact that they got him so late in the third round means they got great value for a player that will probably start games. Camryn Bynum might not be good enough to start in the Minnesota secondary Week 1, but he will be able to take starting snaps by the end of the season at cornerback as his upside is really, really high. Janarius Robinson will be a good third or fourth option for the defense on passing downs and could maybe cover some slower running backs out of the backfield. Finally, the Vikings took Jaylen Twyman with their last pick, a defensive tackle out of Pitt. I doubt he plays much, but like Bynum, he’s good enough to break into the rotation. I think the defensive side of the ball was a great success.
The rest of the offense is filled out by Kellen Mond, Kene Nwangwu, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, and Zach Davidson. I can definitely get behind ISM as he’s a very talented and versatile player who does well with the deep ball. He will play a good amount this season. Zach Davidson, He’s a fine backup tight end, but don’t expect to see him too much. However, Kellen Mond and Kene Nwangwu? I don’t like these picks so much. Nwangwu was a backup running back at Iowa State and was taken while at least eight players who are objectively better football players were on the board. This was a wasted pick. And finally, I’m really not sure about Kellen Mond. I don’t like how poor he looked for most of the season, especially against defenses that played good football. I was surprised they took a quarterback to begin with, but I felt there were many more players who were worthy of selection over Mond.
For the most part I really like this Minnesota draft, though. Maybe I’ll be wrong about Mond and the class will be exceptional, but even without that quarterback panning out this is a really commendable draft full of starters and potential. Good all around for the Vikings.
New England Patriots
Draft Picks: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama; Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama; Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma; Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma; Cameron McGrone, ILB, Michigan; Joshush Bledsoe, S, Missouri; William Sherman, OT, Colorado; Tre Nixon, WR, UCF
Hmm. Hmmmmmm. Right? Don’t you think? Mac Jones was potentially the third pick in this draft and while most of the people who knew what they were talking about said that would be a stupid pick, many people did not. Mac Jones had the professional offense around him at Alabama to make him look great, but that offense in New England is far different. I don’t think Jones has the physical tools to start in the NFL and we’ll see that quickly. Maybe I’m wrong and he can work into a nice spot, but I have massive doubts about the player.
The next two picks for the Patriots came on the defensive line which is exactly where they needed to take place. Christian Barmore is the best defensive tackle in this class and even though it’s not saying much, he’ll start and be a good player for the Patriots but don’t expect him to be an All-Pro. The next player was Ronnie Perkins who played EDGE at Oklahoma and was very productive for that team. The Oklahoma defense wasn’t great this season but Perkins was one of the high points and will battle for starting snaps at the position.
After the defensive line, two more picks were eventually spent on defense in the form of Cameron McGrone and Joshuah Bledsoe. Cameron McGrone is a really nice middle linebacker who can soak up tackles, but I don’t think we’ll see much of him this season. The middle linebacker situation at New England is pretty good as it is so I expect McGrone to be an asset starting next season. The last defensive pick was Joshuah Bledsoe who should be a good third safety or backup for the team. I don’t think he would be a very good starter but he might end up as a quality backup with the defensive scheming that this team does.
The last players to talk about are the other offensive players outside of Mac Jones. Rhamondre Stevenson, William Sherman, and Tre Nixon were the selections and I’m up and down on them. Rhamondre Stevenson was a really good pick I felt because he’s the best blocking running back in this draft and will fit well to give Mac Jones an extra beat or two to pass. William Sherman is a fine offensive tackle but I can’t see him ever starting for this team. Maybe there’s something that I missed in his game, but I don’t see the upside. Finally, Tre Nixon will be a fine player on the outside but I don’t think the wide receiver room got significantly better. I would have liked to see the offense get better in the skill positions and I think Jones, Stevenson, and Nixon do that very much.
New Orleans Saints
Draft Picks: Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston; Pete Werner, ILB, Ohio State; Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford; Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame; Landon Young, OT, Kentucky; Kawaan Baker, WR, South Alabama
Everyone has an opinion on everyone’s draft class and they’re all valid, but I have to say that I think New Orleans had a shockingly awful draft this time around I don’t think they found value in a single pick outside of Paulson Adebo and I think most of these players they took flatly are not good, or at the very least, not good enough. Paulson Adebo is a fantastic cornerback with the upside to end up as one of the best corners in this entire draft. If he’s great, the draft could be a wash, but right now it’s a failure.
Payton Turner was a gross reach for the Saints. He’s not an awful player, but no team was going to take him in the first round. If the Saints were set on him they could have waited until later in the draft and made a much more valuable selection in the first round. It was the worst pick in the first round by far and maybe the worst of the draft. The next pick being Pete Werner wasn’t all that much better. He was going to be available later in the draft and he doesn’t have the physical skills to be a top end middle linebacker in the NFL. I don’t get why they didn’t go with a different player.
Next we had Ian Book? Really? Shane Buechele, Jamie Newman, Brock Purdy, any number of players were still on the board, but the team took Ian Book. I do not understand why the Saints are trying to make their work as difficult as possible by drafting such raw players when there were more pro ready talents on the board. Landon Young wasn’t a bad pick considering how late in the draft he was taken, but he won’t be a starter either. Finally the Saints took Kawaan Baker with their last pick and again, the pick came so late that it couldn’t really have been upgraded upon, but short won’t be a starting player which will leave Michael Thomas to be doubled all game. I think New Orleans maybe got one starter from this draft and that’s only if Paulson Adebo pans out. What a miss on all levels.
New York Giants
Draft Picks: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida; Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia; Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF; Elerson Smith, EDGE, Northern Iowa; Gary Brightwell, RB, Arizona; Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State
So coming into the draft there was a good amount of talk surrounding the Giants and Dave Gettleman’s lack of trading back in the draft. Gettleman said that this was all a myth (it indisputably wasn’t) and put the streak to bed by trading back with the Bears to 20. With that selection, Gettleman reached for a player at one of the only positions that they didn’t really need to address. Kadarius Toney is a pretty good and large wide receiver, but he’s far from a first round player and was not necessary for the Giants. They already have plenty of pass catchers and needed an edge rusher, a position where only a single player had been selected to that point.
After Toney, however, I really liked what the Giants did with their draft. I think New York generally does pretty well in the draft and they had a lot of hits after Toney. Azeez Ojulari was one of the best edge rushers in the SEC and will do well, but I can’t help but think of what a true first round guy could do on this roster. Ojulari will be a good starter with nice upside, though, and New York will do well with that on the line. Elerson Smith was the other edge rusher taken by the Giants and I don’t mind that pick either. Smith is a really solid player who will do well in the rotation and could be in the league with decent production for a long time.
The other defenders taken were both cornerbacks, Aaron Robinson and Rodarius Williams. I doubt either player will be a starter but both will be excellent rotation pieces in some capacity. Robinson might have a chance of breaking into the starting rotation at some point but will do a nice job of playing nickel whenever the package calls for it. Williams will be a back end guy but won’t have an issue of transitioning into the NFL. The final player taken was Gary Brightwell out of Arizona and while I wouldn’t have made the selection, I can see him being a decent backup and blocker behind Saquon Barkely. It wasn’t a terrible draft but I think the first pick was really bad.
New York Jets
Draft Picks: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU; Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC; Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi; Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina; Jamien Sherwood, S, Auburn; Michael Carter II, S, Duke; Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh; Hamsah Nasrildeen, S, Florida State; Brandin Echols, CB, Kentucky; Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas
The Jets, like Miami, were one of the teams I was most looking forward to analyzing after the draft. With so many picks, a new regime, and a clean slate at the offensive skill positions, I had high hopes for the team. While I know Jets fans are probably sick of hearing they had a great draft just to end up with another top five pick the next season, I think this is really a draft that can change the fortunes of the team. Zach Wilson is a ridiculous arm talent and if he can get a clean pocket, not a big ask considering this team’s offensive line, he should do great things. I still want to see more targets for him to target, but he’s going to be a good player with his touch and accuracy.
The next player taken was Alijah Vera-Tucker, the best guard in the draft by some distance. Some people preferred to see him as a tackle but his best work by far was done at guard. He’s a mauler in the run and is just impenetrable in pass protection. I love the selection and he makes this line elite. The next two picks were also offensive and should help take some pressure off Wilson. Elijah Moore is an incredible wide receiver with fantastic athletic skills. He’s not a big man but plays a lot larger thanks to his radius and leaping ability which will make Zach WIlson’s life even easier. Finally, The Jets went after a speedy running back and began filling out their Lil’ Wayne discography with Michael Carter. Tha Carter is a very shifty running back out of UNC and was part of the best one-two backfield punch in college football. He’s a speed demon and will fit very well behind this line.
The next two picks from New York were safeties, one out of Auburn and the other out of Duke. Jamien Sherwood was the Auburn player and while he will probably start, I don’t think he’s quite ready for the NFL and will take some time to get adjusted. He can do it on the fly, but there may be some mistakes. Tha second Carter taken was Michael Carter II, commonly referred to as Tha Carter II. Don’t fact check me. I doubt Carter II will start at safety but I do see him playing a decent amount of minutes. The last safety taken was Hamsah Nasirildeen and I think he has the best chance of panning out. Nasirildeen is a really talented player out of FSU and I could see him starting over both Carter II and Sherwood by the end of the season.
There were also a pair of cornerbacks taken by the Jets, Jason Pinnock and Brandin Echols. Pinnock was part of a great Pitt defense and should be a nice nickel option throughout the season. I have pretty high hopes for Echols and if he plays well I could see him getting more minutes than Pinnock and maybe even grabbing a starting job if things are great. The final player drafted was Jonathan Marshall out of Arkansas. Marshall is a massive body and while he might not get many snaps, he is an SEC body and that alone holds potential. I didn’t love the Jets draft but I think it’s a pretty nice crop of players with a few different guys who could be difference makers this season.
Draft Picks: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama; Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama; Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech; Zech McPherson, CB, Texas Tech; Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis; Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC; Tarron Jackson, EDGE, Coastal Carolina; JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU; Patrick Johnson, EDGE, Tulane
Philadelphia did most of their shuffling of picks before the draft started so we thought it might be easier to forecast their intentions, but moving back into the top 10 to draft DeVonta Smith was a move that I loved for this team. They saw the opportunity to finally grab a franchise wide receiver and jump at the chance, especially when it meant reuniting Jalen Hurts with his old battery partner. Smith will be the top target getter on this team this season. The next pick was another reunion for Jalen Hurts as Landon Dickerson, Alabama’s heartbeat this past season, was selected to play center for the Eagles. The player is a very good athlete and should help stabilize the center of the line from Day 1.
The next two picks were both on the defensive side of the ball in Milton Williams and Zech McPherson. Williams at defensive tackle and McPherson at corner will both have the chance to fight for a starting spot, but I think both will just be rotation guys for the most part. I don’t love their upside but they do have high floors. The next pick was one that I really like in Kenneth Gainwell. Philadelphia has plenty of runners but there’s always room for a 2,000 yard guy in college. Gainwell has a great name for a running back and should get snaps and carries in plenty of looks.
Draft Picks: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama; Pat Friermuth, TE, Penn State; Kendrick Green, G, Illinois; Dan Moore, OT, Texas A&M; Buddy Johnson, ILB, Texas A&M; Isaiahh Loudermilk, DT, Wisconsin; Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami; Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma; Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech
Pittsburgh was somewhat notorious for never drafting running backs in the first round but that all changed in this draft when they found themselves without a starting quality back and Derrick Henry 2.0 staring them in the face. Najee Harris is a Rolls Royce of a human being and will be an excellent back while taking some of the heat off the shoddy offensive line. Harris may not have the best time early in his career, but he will be recognized as one of the best pure runners in the NFL in a few years time. I’m a pretty big fan of the second pick of the Steelers’ draft as well, Pat Friermuth. The Penn State product would have been the best tight end in the draft if not for Kyle Pitts and should be a passing game staple for the next few years. A lot of players are labeled “baby Gronk” but Friermuth is actually pretty close to just that.
Kendrick Green was an interesting choice out of Illinois, as was Dan Moore from Texas A&M, but Pittsburgh has a trenches culture that they love to follow so I won’t really argue with their picks. Both players will fight for starting spots in camp this offseason and I think Green could probably slide into a guard spot while right tackle could be in the cards for Moore. I think they’re low floor guys who could pan out nicely and be cheap protection.
The last four picks were all essentially defense and for the most part I liked the lot. The only pick I’m iffy on is Isaiahh Loudermilk at defensive tackle. I didn’t think any Wisconsin players really warranted a draft pick this season but Loudermilk was snagged for depth. I doubt he’ll see much time this season. Buddy Johnson will be a nice asset and will probably start some games at middle linebacker. He was a tackle machine at TAMU. Quincy Roche is a fantastic pick and will be an excellent compliment on the defensive line across from T.J. Watt. Roche will probably start out in a rotation but I could see him taking the starting position on the edge fairly quickly.
Tre Norwood is going to be a really nice rotation piece at corner. The secondary isn’t as stacked as it was back in the days of Troy Polamolu and Ryan Clark, but it’s still decent with Minkah Fitzpatrick anchoring things. Norwood will be really nice depth in the rotation and will hold his own. Pressley Harvin III was the best punter in college football last season. I don’t think there’s much more explanation required. He’s good at kicking. I liked the Steelers’ strategy of grabbing players who are talented with low floors so they don’t have to devote too much time getting the kids up to speed.
San Francisco 49ers
Draft Picks: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State; Aaron Banks, G, Notre Dame; Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State; Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan; Jaylon Moore, G, Western Michigan; Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon; Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC; Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana
All I can say is ‘Thank goodness they didn’t overcomplicate things’ by doing something stupid, i.e. drafting Mac Jones. Trey Lance has the most talent upside of any player in this draft and even though his floor is beneath the metaphorical basement, I think his upside is a better bet. Lance has the chance to be great under a coach that can do really nice things with quarterbacks and I think Lance is a pick that will work out.
Aaron Banks was a nice pick that should compete for a starting spot on the offensive line. San Francisco has a nice line as it is but Banks is a good athlete who absolutely kills in run block. If he doesn’t start this season I would bet on him starting next season. Trey Sermon is a nice pickup out of Ohio State who ought to make contributions this season as a 3rd down and short yardage back. He’s a powerful runner who blocks well and that’s enough to get him on the field. Jaylon Moore is another offensive lineman who was taken for depth purposes. If things go correctly, fans will probably forget his name. Elijah Mitchell was the other offensive player taken and, ona flyer, could end up as the best player out of this draft class for the 49ers. Mitchell was a massively productive back for Louisiana and could take over the running job in a year or two. He’s wildly talented.
Ambry Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir, and Talanoa Hufanga are the three defensive players that were taken and they will have varying degrees of usage this season. The secondary absolutely needed a shot in the arm and they got it as Ambry Thomas is good enough to nab a starting job by the end of the season. It will be tough sledding, but he’s capable, plus he was a nice value with his pick. Hufanga should be able to make a run at safety if things go well for him. He’s a fine athlete with really physical attributes. Lenoir should make some appearances this season but don’t expect him to be out there often. He may grab some snaps every few games in the rotation but for the most part he’s a flyer. San Francisco had a nice crop of players and could get some eventual starters from later in the draft. That’s really smart operating.
Draft Picks: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan, Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma; Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida
This shouldn’t take long. Seattle vastly values actual players over draft picks and it’s easy to see why, but when the team struggles that means the rebuild takes a lot longer. D’Wayne Eskridge will be a really nice slot option for Russell Wilson to pass to, but don’t expect monster production from the player. He’s going to be a 10 or 01 package guy and will get good looks, but won’t be relied upon to move the sticks. Tre Brown is an exciting cornerback out of Oklahoma who has massive upside, but will likely just be a usable part of the rotation. If he can get his hands on a few passes a year I would be happy. Finally, Stone Forsythe will have his eye on the right tackle spot for Seattle but should not expect to start right away. I think Seattle did fine with their picks, but there’s just not much to work with.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Draft Picks: Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington; Kyle Trask, QB, Florida; Robert Hainsey, G, Notre Dame; Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas; K.J. Britt, ILB, Auburn; Chris Wilcox, CB, BYU; Grant Stuard, OLB, Houston
If you’re a team in the NFL and you’re not based in Tampa, you should be really, really afraid about how this team is being put together. Not only are they drafting players who will have an impact now, they’re expertly setting up for the future so that when payday rolls around, they can keep it manageable without losing production. Getting Joe Tryon in the room to learn from the best front four in the NFL is a fantastic move considering how much he emulated Shaq Barrett. He’s going to be good enough to take over when money and age become an issue and will keep up the double digit sack numbers. He’ll get a lot of snaps this year and be immediately productive.
The next three picks all came on the offensive side of the ball and all three are really smart plays. Kyle Trask is obviously a pick for the future but the quality of the player right now and his willingness to learn makes him a nightmare-inducing tool under the tutelage of Tom Brady and Bruce Arians. This is a player who can be very, very successful in the NFL. Robert Hainsey may not be needed this season but will definitely be given a chance to take a starting guard spot. He’s talented enough to take it if there’s any slip up. Finally, Jaelon Darden will join the wide receiver room. Tom Brady loves his little guys and Darden was one of the most incredible players in college football this season. He put up ridiculous numbers at North Texas and will see a lot of looks this season from the slot. He’ll be used with a very large route tree.
The final three picks of the draft were all on the defensive side of the ball for Tampa Bay and they were all pretty good picks as well. K.J. Britt is going to be a really nice middle linebacker behind Devin White and if he takes even a fraction of White’s swagger, Tampa will be set for a long time. Chris Wilcox is a bit of a flyer but has the athleticism to be a nice addition in the back end of the cornerback rotation. Finally, Grant Stuard is another really nice pick that should scare teams around the country. There’s a legitimate chance that in a few years we’re talking about the premier edge rushing combination of Stuard and Tryon. That’s the upside. This was a great draft from Tampa that covered all three bases of current production, future assets, and positions of need.
Draft Picks: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech; Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State; Monty Rice, ILB, Georgia; Elijah Molden, CB, Washington; Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville; Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh; Racey McMath, WR, LSU; Brady Breeze, S, Oregon
Tennessee had some very specific areas of need and with their specific picks I thought it might be tricky to fill them adequately, but I think they did a nice job of making the right decisions along the way to fill their needs with talented players. Their first pick was a cornerback that many people mocked to be the best in the class. Caleb Farley had issues with his back this offseason but he’s still more than capable of being one of the best players in this draft so getting him in the 20s is a really nice selection for the team. They also grabbed the best nickel option in the draft in Elijah Molden and I would not be surprised if these two players were the starters in a couple of years. The secondary was further strengthened with Brady Breeze out of Oregon. The safety should be able to get some rotation snaps but shouldn’t be seen as a starting candidate.
The offense only saw a couple of additions in the draft and they were all at needed positions. Dillon Radunz was pretty good in his North Dakota State career and should be seen as a starting candidate on the right side. He was initially seen as a top candidate at the position but fell off later in the process. Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath are both wide receiver additions but I don’t see them as candidates to make a huge difference either. They’re both going to see regular snaps but I don’t expect more than 500 yards out of either player.
Finally we have a couple more defenders in Monty Rice and Rashad Weaver. Rice should be able to make a difference this season at middle linebacker with his versatility and ability to find the ball. He’s a lot of fun to play and can cover a lot of ground very quickly. Weaver is going to be a player that probably gets stashed, but with the way Tennessee’s line looks, he could get on the field ever once in a while. I think Tennessee did a really nice job and the team got a lot better.
Washington Football Team
Draft Picks: Jamin Davis, ILB, Kentucky; Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas; Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota; Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina; John Bates, TE, Boise State; Darrick Forrest, S, Cincinnati; Camaron Cheeseman, LS, Michigan; William Bradley-King, EDGE, Baylor; Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State; Dax Milne, WR, BYU
Washington’s biggest needs were pretty evident coming into the draft but the team could really afford to pick good players all around, and for the most part they did just that. There wasn’t an overarching strategy for the draft other than it seemed like they had a position for each pick and filled it with a good player each time. The first pick was largely thought to be an inside linebacker and it ended up being Jamin Davis. I didn’t love the player coming into the draft but I certainly understand the hype and believe he can be a good player. He can certainly soak up tackles and that’s all that’s really required behind that line. The second pick was another player that has really nice upside in a position of serious need. Samuel Cosmi was initially one of the top candidates at tackle in this draft but an off year saw his draft stock fall. However, if the player is good enough to get the initial hype, he’s good enough to summon it again. I love th pick.
After that pick, Washington just started targeting guys at the top of their position. Dyami is a dynamic wide receiver who played in a professional offense at North Carolina and should be featured pretty regularly opposite of Terry McLaurin. John Bates is another player who we should see pretty often in both the passing and blocking game, but I would also not be surprised if he sat most of the season. Darrick Forrest is an interesting player because I’m really not sure how he’s going to pan out. Cincinnati had a great defense this season and Forrest played well in it, but with their level of competition and the professional players around him, Forrest might be overhyped.
Camaron Cheeseman is a very good long snapper from Michigan who will be looking for long term housing in D.C. because those dudes never change teams. William Bradley-King and Shaka Toney are both really high upside edge rushers who will be rotational behind the great edge rushers Washington currently employs. The team got significantly better in that room and I’ll be watching to see how those players pan out. Finally, Dax Milne was a very productive player in the BYU offense so it’s worth a flyer to see if he can carry the production over. He might be used on special teams, but he probably won’t see too much time in the NFL. I liked the draft for Washington for the most part, but it was a bit too hectic for my liking. Good player, though.