4 winners and 2 losers from the 2021 NFL Draft
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesFour teams crushed the draft. Two drafts made some highly questionable choices. The longest weekend in the NFL is over and the league looks a lot different as a result. In totality the 2021 NFL Draft was an armchair scout’s dream. What the class lacked in top-end, sure-thing superstar talent it more than made up for with a deep, varied group of players with the potential to be average-to-great starters.
We already recapped the winners and losers after night one, but with all seven rounds in the books things look very, very different. Some of the teams that killed it in the first round fell off considerably when the dust settled, while others who made questionable opening night decisions ended up with monster classes with years of tone-setting potential. Then there’s the Texans, who I’d say tried their best, but I’m not sure they tried their best.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
Rd 1: Jaycee Horn, CB, South CarolinaRd 2: Terrance Marshall, WR, LSURd 3: Brady Christensen, OT, BYURd 3: Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre DameRd 4: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma StateRd 5: Daviyon Nixon, DT, IowaRd 5: Keith Taylor, CB, WashingtonRd 6: Deonte Brown, OG, AlabamaRd 6: Shi Smith, WR, South CarolinaRd 6: Thomas Fletcher, LS, AlabamaRd 7: Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky
I was extremely critical of Carolina’s decision on night one to take Jaycee Horn. It had nothing to do with Horn the player, who will be a difference maker at corner. It was more that I felt the decision making was resigned and uninspired at a time the team needed to make a splash.
What followed on days two and three was a masterclass in drafting. First year GM Scott Fitterer had an innate understanding of his team’s weaknesses, and worked all weekend long to trade back and amass more capital, while still landing numerous players with starting potential. In isolation no pick jumped off the screen, but in totality the class filled every single one of the team’s needs, without feeling at any point that they really reached to fill a gap.
The Panthers entered the draft with seven selections. They finished with 11 selections, while banking a 2022 fourth round pick from the Texans. This is important, because by trading Teddy Bridgewater for a 6th rounder this year, and getting a future fourth from Houston, Fitterer mitigated the majority of the Sam Darnold trade. The only pick left outstanding is one second round pick in 2022 which they owe the Jets on the balance of the trade.
Whether you believe in Darnold or not is immaterial. The Panthers do, and they showed in by surrounding him with every opportunity to succeed the season. If Terrance Marshall can remain healthy he’ll form a formidable receiving corps with two 1,000 yard pass catchers in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, a shaky offensive line lacking depth now has two rotational players who can develop into starters. Tommy Tremble is one of the best pass blocking tight ends in the draft, and Chuba Howard will take some of the pressure off Christian McCaffery.
To do all this on offense, while revamping the secondary with two corners and adding defensive line depth is simply stunning. Fitterer set the Panthers franchise record for draft day trades his very first year in the hot seat, and the Carolina front office has to be over the moon with what they took home.
Loser: Houston Texans
Rd 3: Davis Mills, QB, StanfordRd 3: Nico Collins, WR, MichiganRd 5: Brevin Jordan, TE, MiamiRd 5: Garrett Wallow, LB, TCURd 6: Roy Lopez, DT, Arizona
This draft, much like all of Houston’s decisions for the last year, simply makes no damn sense. The Texans were in a really, really bad spot after trading away DeAndre Hopkins and replacing him with Kenny Stills left them with almost no draft capital.
The smart thing to do in this case is accept things are bad, cut your losses, and do everything in your power to trade back and amass more picks. This was a really deep draft after all, and the Texans needed help at a lot of positions.
Instead, Houston did the opposite. They traded up like there were absolute can’t-miss prospect on the board, not only losing much of their dwindling class, but giving up future assets. Forced to spend their top pick on a quarterback because of Deshaun Watson, the Texans followed with Nico Collins, who underperformed for much of his college career and whose selection is tantamount to a handful of magic beans.
I don’t think any of these picks makes the team better, and if you accept you’ve got to move on with a new QB then why spend a third rounder now, instead of waiting a year, knowing your dumpster fire of a team will be picking top 5?
Winner: Chicago Bears
Rd 1: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio StateRd 2: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma StateRd 5: Larry Borom, OG, MissouriRd 6: Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia TeckRd 6: Dazz Newsome, WR, North CarolinaRd 6: Thomas Graham Jr, CB, OregonRd 7: Khyisis Tonga, DT, BYU
This was a playoff team in 2020. Do not forget that. Chicago made the postseason in sp
May 3, 2021 - SB Nation
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesFour teams crushed the draft. Two drafts made some highly questionable choices. The longest weekend in the NFL is over and the league looks a lot different as a result. In totality the 2021 NFL Draft was an armchair scout’s dream. What the class lacked in top-end, sure-thing superstar talent it more than made up for with a deep, varied group of players with the potential to be average-to-great starters. We already recapped the winners and losers after night one,..