The first day of the 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the fanfare and the dulcet tones of Kings of Leon have ended, but most front offices in the NFL (sorry Rams and Seahawks) are going to bed happy with the choices they made. Fans, might not be the same case. Day 2 is right around the corner and big boards are being made as we speak, so before we get into that, here are some takeaways from Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars got their guys
We knew Trevor Lawrence was the pick all along. Shoot even my grandmother knew the Jaguars were taking Lawrence, and she doesn’t even watch football. Getting a franchise changer at QB and a guy as talented as Lawrence is one of the best picks the Jaguars have made in franchise history, and they weren’t shy about letting it be known throughout the draft process. At 25, the Jaguars picked Lawrence’s teammate, RB Travis Etienne. While I question the value of picking him at 25 when he might have been there at 33, this sounded like Etienne was their guy all along. Jaguars GM Trent Baalke had this to say about the pick (via Demetrius Harvey): “Travis [Etienne] is someone we had penciled in at 25 and we’re hoping he would get to us.” Etienne is a home run hitter who will fit in great with RB James Robinson, and the Jaguars will still get their defender of choice at 33.
The Bears get a chance to correct their mistake
I’m not sure how we got to this point with Justin Fields, but he was my QB2 for the entire draft process. He’s deadly accurate, a strong pocket passer, and can create with his legs. Guys like that don’t fall to 11, where he was drafted. But luckily for the Chicago Bears, he did fall. This is the Bears’ opportunity to rewrite past mistakes, trading up for a QB who was believed by most scouts to be a top QB in this draft. He fits what Matt Nagy wants in a passer and a creator, and could quite possibly be a top QB in the NFL soon. This was their shot at fixing a mistake they made four years prior by trading up for QB Mitchell Trubisky, and with Fields they did just that.
Ravens, Vikings continue to hit homeruns
The Ravens and the Vikings are two of the best drafting teams in the league, and in this years’ draft they did it again. The Vikings traded back from 14, adding more draft capital, and still got one of the top five offensive tackles in Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw. Darrisaw is a mobile mover who fits Minnesota’s outside zone scheme, and getting him at 23 while still gaining draft capital is smart drafting by GM Rick Spielman.
Baltimore and Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman was my favorite prospect-team fit entering the draft, and it made too much sense that Baltimore picked him up at 17. Bateman is a smooth mover who can play from the slot or outside, and does what Baltimore’s other receivers can’t do. At 31, Baltimore took a swing for the fences and drafted Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh. He didn’t have any sacks his final season, but you can’t teach his size and athleticism. Baltimore is the perfect place for him to learn and develop into a talented pass rusher, while maintaining his athleticism. Good teams stay good by drafting, and that’s what Baltimore did.
Guys! Dave Gettleman traded down! A rare occasion where the Giants GM made the smart decision and got more value by trading back in the draft, especially when his team has a lot of holes. However, he used the 20th overall pick on Florida WR Kadarious Toney, which is uninspiring to say the least. Toney is a fine player, a fun player, but New York could’ve had him in the second round. Toney is a slot only player who needs a lot of designed touched, and playing for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, I’m not sure if he’s going to get that. This was a head scratcher for me, and I’m not sure the reasoning behind it.
Here are some of my superlatives, and best players available on Day 2:
Favorite Pick: LB Jamin Davis, 19th, Washington Football Team
Pick I’m iffy on: OT Alex Leatherwood, 17th, Las Vegas Raiders
Best Value: OT Rashawn Slater, 13th, Los Angeles Chargers
Most Shocking Result: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah not being selected
And here are some of the best players still on the board:
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
- Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
- Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
- Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
- Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia