2021 NFL Draft Recap: The Biggest Winners and Losers

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The NFL Draft presents a dichotomy. On the one hand, it’s one of many greatest annual occasions on the sports calendar, and there’s a pure want to guage how groups did as quickly because it ends. On the opposite, it’s an inherently long-term train, and it doesn’t develop into totally clear how groups fared till these gamers really get onto the sector. Gamers want time to regulate to the league and display whether or not they had been price their choices or not.

 

 

Even so, we are able to make some educated guesses based mostly on which groups appeared to get good worth and which gamers have already supplied cause to assume they’ll achieve success within the NFL. Under, a handful of the largest winners and losers from this yr’s NFL draft.

Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars spent the No. 1 general choose on Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, who is as close to a surefire superstar because the draft will ever produce. Getting Lawrence means the Jags had a particularly profitable draft. They didn’t must do anything after that. Lawrence immediately takes Jacksonville from a moribund franchise that may’t do something proper to a crew that is likely to be across the nook from a playoff chase. He single-handedly modifications the franchise’s long-term outlook and possibly, ultimately, the league’s steadiness of energy.

Loser: Inexperienced Bay Packers

It wasn’t precisely draft-related information, but it surely dominated draft weekend greater than something besides the Jaguars choosing Lawrence at No. 1: The Packers have upset franchise QB Aaron Rodgers. ESPN reported that Rodgers had informed members of the Packers group that he was so disgruntled with the crew that he didn’t need to return in 2021.

Why is Rodgers so indignant? It’s not solely clear, however a few strong theories recommend that he’s aggravated the Packers drafted a quarterback (Utah State’s Jordan Love) within the first spherical of final yr’s draft and he wished the Packers to have prolonged his contract by now. (The crew says it has provided to take action.) If Rodgers doesn’t return to Inexperienced Bay, the crew would lose the reigning league MVP and the most effective passers ever.

Winner: Chicago Bears

The Bears share the NFC North with the Packers, so Inexperienced Bay’s misfortune with Rodgers stands to make Chicago an enormous winner. Past that, they made one of many strongest picks of the NFL draft after they took Ohio State QB Justin Fields at No. 11 general. The whole lot about Fields’ observe report suggests he should have been the second pick in the draft, one choose behind Lawrence, however he was one way or the other the fourth quarterback taken, behind Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. The Bears traded up within the draft to get Fields, in all probability as a result of they realized he could be their best QB in decades.

Loser: Detroit Lions

The Lions are additionally within the NFC North, so that they profit from any Rodgers-Packers drama as effectively. However their draft technique would possibly harm them. With the seventh choose within the NFL Draft, the Lions chosen Oregon offensive deal with Penei Sewell. Itemizing the Lions as a loser right here isn’t any knock on Sewell, who is likely one of the finest offensive line prospects to return by way of the draft in years. Detroit may have the most effective QB protectors within the league, and he’s a strong match for the crew’s dashing technique.

The issue is, who’s the QB? I believe it is going to sting within the lengthy haul that the Lions let a division rival come away with a star QB like Fields. However possibly, with Jared Goff at quarterback, the Lions will likely be so dangerous in 2021 that they’ll get one other excessive choose and may nab a long-term quarterback within the 2022 draft. Nonetheless, Fields may’ve been that man.

Winner: Atlanta Falcons

Florida tight finish Kyle Pitts, whom the Falcons took at No. Four general, is likely one of the most proficient move catchers I’ve ever seen. His highlights communicate for themselves (see the video above).

A few of the Falcons’ late-round picks are fascinating, too. I actually like their second-rounder, College of Central Florida security/linebacker/slot cornerback Richie Grant. He can play many roles for Atlanta’s protection, and that versatility is necessary within the fashionable NFL, the place a defensive again who can’t defend each the run and the move is more and more exhausting to placed on the sector.

Loser: Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders took Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood with the 17th choose. It’s not essentially the most outrageous choose in draft historical past––Leatherwood was a four-year contributor for Alabama, and he performed on essentially the most proficient O-line in school soccer––however few, if any, anticipated him to get picked that early.

Even when he wasn’t an enormous reach for the Raiders at that spot, it’s exhausting to not assume they might have traded backward a number of picks (thus gaining additional choices) and nonetheless wound up with the participant they wished. From that standpoint, this choose feels just a little wasteful, even when Leatherwood seems to be efficient.

Winner: Operating backs

Two working backs (Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne) obtained picked within the first spherical, at No. 24 and No. 25 respectively. Final yr’s draft solely had one working again within the first spherical, and it took till the ultimate choose of the spherical for the Chiefs to take LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

NFL groups have more and more come to view working backs as interchangeable and customarily don’t use premium draft picks to amass them. Groups have additionally cooled significantly on giving RBs costly free agent contracts—none landed more than a $5.5 million salary or something past a two-year contract this offseason. Harris and Etienne are unlikely to vary these dynamics, however their choices are a proud second for the place regardless.

Winner: New York Giants

First-round large receiver Kadarius Toney out of Florida (No. 20 general) is likely one of the most electrical gamers within the NFL draft––as proven within the video above, the place he embarrassed South Carolina’s protection for the most effective touchdowns of 2020. Within the second spherical, at No. 50 general, the Giants additionally landed Georgia pass-rusher Azeez Ojulari, who was extensively anticipated to be a first-round choose himself.

Loser: New England Patriots

The Patriots had been rumored to be fascinated with Fields at quarterback, however as an alternative they traded up for a lesser QB in Alabama’s Mac Jones. However as a result of that is the Patriots and Invoice Belichick remains to be on the helm, it’s unimaginable to rule out Jones one way or the other profitable a number of Tremendous Bowls throughout his time in New England.

With a view to take each Jones and his new crew down a peg, it’s on the remainder of America to insist this was a foul choose till we’ve spoken it into existence. (Except you’re a Pats fan, after all.)

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