Biggest Takeaways From The 2021 NFL Draft

By Daniel Rebain – Content Strategist

The 2021 NFL draft has come and gone and as we expected, it was bonkers. Trade ups, trade downs’, Mock Drafts exploding; the draft always lives up to expectation and this year was no different.

But the draft did take a turn when the 49ers selected QB, Trey Lance, North Dakota St. at #3. After that pick, teams were just all over the board.

Here’s how the top 10 played out….

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
  2. New York Jets: QB Zach Wilson, BYU
  3. San Francisco 49ers: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
  4. Atlanta Falcons: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
  5. Cincinnati Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
  6. Miami Dolphins: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
  7. Detroit Lions: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
  8. Carolina Panthers: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
  9. Denver Broncos: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
  10. Philadelphia Eagles: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

If you want full First Round of selections and analysis, click here. But here are MY biggest takeaways from one of the best nights of the year, THE FIRST ROUND OF THE NFL DRAFT!

5.) Patriots Got Their Guy, Staying Patient At #15

Well, well, well. It seems Bill Belichick has done it once again. Instead of trading up into the Top 10 like most people projected the Patriots to do. Belichick did it the Patriot way, by being patient and it worked, as he selected QB Mac Jones out of Alabama 15th overall last Thursday night.

We should have seen this coming because Belichick only went to one pro day this offseason. And that was Mac Jones. It is also where we got this gem video of a disgusted Belichick.

Bill Belichick shaking his head at a Mac Jones missed pass at Alabama Pro Day

Mac Jones becomes the first QB that Belichick has drafted in the first round, and the Pats first QB in round one since Drew Bledsoe first overall in 1993.

Mac is a perfect fit in an offense that made Tom Brady who he is today. At Alabama last season he threw for 4500 yards, 41 TDs while completing an NCAA historic 77.4% of his passes. This could be Brady 2.0 and he was QB5 off the board.

Tom Brady at the 2000 combine vs Mac Jones winning his first Natty in 2018

4.) WR’s Are Apparently More Important Than OT’s In The Modern NFL

This might be the biggest switch in draft philosophies in NFL history, with wide receivers being taken early over FRANCISHE building OT to protect the QB. Flash back to last season, 2020 1st overall pick Joe Burrow was the most sacked QB and tore his ACL due to poor OL play all season.

Joe Burrow suffers torn ACL due to this sack

The Bengals were set up to draft Penei Sewell out of Oregon to protect Burrows blind side for the rest of Burrow’s career. Sewell is looked at as the best LT prospect in a decade.

Instead, the Bengals grabbed Burrow’s #1 WR at LSU, in Ja’Marr Chase. The Dolphins did the same thing the next pick. Sewell just landed in their laps to protect #3 pick in 2020 Tua Tagovailoa, who has been injured multiple times in his own rights. They declined and went with WR Jaylen Waddle, Tua’s former teammate at Alabama.

Dolphin fans seemed to want Sewell over a WR

Both the Bengals and Dolphins must pray that their franchise QB do not get severely injured, again, because they passed up on a GENERATIONAL LT to get a top end WR.

3.) The Giants Got A Haul To Trade Back From #11 And Still Got A Playmaker For Danny Dimes

Would you look at that, for the first time in his career Dave Gettleman traded back in the draft and he got uber value doing so. The Chicago Bears gave up the 20th pick, a 2021 5th (later traded), a 2022 1ST, and 2022 4th, to select what many people thought was the consensus #2 pick for the last three years in QB Justin Fields out of THE, Ohio St University.

That is a LOT to move up nine spots in the draft, but the Bears thought it was worth it with Fields dropping out of the top 10. Do not get me wrong, I think Fields should have gone #2 to the Jets, so the Bears getting him at #11 could be the STEAL of the 2021 draft (More to come on that).

The Giants most likely wanted to select WR DeVonta Smith at #11, but the Eagles traded above them to snatch Smith out of the hands. So, to be able to trade back, get pick #20 and a first in 2022, that could easily be top 10 next year, is nuts value for Gettleman and coach Joe Judge.

Add the fact the Giants picked up Florida WR Kadarius Toney at pick #20 and the Giants got a game changing weapon to go with free agent signing Kenny Golladay. “Toney is one of two receivers in this year’s class (alongside #5 pick Ja’Marr Chase) to earn a max 99 athleticism score, driven by elite numbers posted in the 40-yard dash (4.37), broad jump (11’4″) and vertical leap (39.5″) at his pro day”, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Give this trade an A+++ for me.

2.) Najee Harris Will Be The Rookie Of The Year In 2021 With The Steelers

Najee Harris was my #1 RB coming into this draft and he landed in great spot in Pittsburg with Big Ben at QB and the weapons they already have at WR.

Harris is built for the modern NFL game; able to run you over like Derrick Henry but is agile and fast enough to run by you or even jump over you like Saquon Barkley.

Najee Harris is a COMPLETE RB and can do everything

Obviously, the easy answer is to say Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson or any other QB will win the ROTY. But I will give a different take. For Harris, he is the starter right away for the Steelers with the departure of James Connor.

With the Steelers looking to take the pressure off Ben in what could be his final season, look to see Harris get a possible of 250 touches, minimum, this season and exceed the yards he accumulated last season at Alabama, 1891 (1466 rushing, 425 receiving).

Najee Harris show his hops, and burst of speed against Notre Dame in CFP

1.) Justin Fields Could Have Been The Steal Of The Draft…..Except He Got Drafted By The Bears

Man, you just have to feel bad for Justin Fields through this who draft process. At the beginning of the CFB season he was considered the #2 pick by EVERYONE, and even competing for that #1 spot (but not really though).

After making it to the National Championship with broken ribs and losing to Alabama it was all downhill for the QB prospect. He fell to the QB5 on most people’s draft boards, behind Zach Wilson (played at BYU), Trey Lance (played 1 game last season at NDSU), and Mac Jones (late round pick at start of year).

But his slide down the draft board stopped when Chicago traded up to #11 to take the QB out of Ohio St. You would think that would be great…. UNTIL you realize that it was the Bears that drafted him.

The Pat McAfee show reaction to the Bears selecting Justin Fields #11

Fields to me is the STEAL of the draft, but now with him in Chicago I do not know if I still believe that statement. Just think about the last couple of QB’s the Bears drafted. Mitchell Trubisky (#2 Overall), 03′ Rex Grossman (#22 Overall), 05′ Kyle Orton (#106), 99′ Cade McNown (#12), and many other late round QB’s that you have never heard. It is only until you get to 1987 where you see QB Jim Harbaugh where the bears drafted a above average QB.

The point is the Bears have a history of drafting good QB’s out of college, but they flop sooooo hard because theyre not developed right or the fact that they have to eat not NY style pizza.

You can only hope that Justin Fields turns into a top 10 QB in this league. But unfortunately, the proof is in the pudding; until the Bears prove otherwise, Fields will not make it in Chicago.

Though Fields does have the skill and mental ability to change the narrative. So, get your popcorn, it’s going to be a dumpster fire or it’s it will be a magical time in Chi town.

The NFL draft always answers many fans questions and gives us some stories to think about until kickoff in September. That was a much need three day of actual football content. It’s a reminder that I can not wait until game one of the season. Can we just fast forward to training camp already?

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