The offseason series, 2021 NFL Draft matches, continues with another batch of dreamy scenarios. This series dives into finding the ideal fit a team is looking for in a player. We give fans a sneak-peek at the players who could be playing for their favorite teams next season and why they are a great fit for that organization. Now that the Super Bowl and 2020 NFL season has officially ended, all 32 teams are available to examine. Fittingly, we look at two dream NFL draft matches for the Kansas City Chiefs and two dream NFL draft matches for the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
2021 NFL Draft Matches: Kansas City Chiefs
USC | OL | Alijah Vera-Tucker
First on the list of dream NFL draft matches is Alijah Vera-Tucker and the Chiefs. has their QB for the next decade in Patrick Mahomes. When you make a $500 million purchase, you better be able to protect it and insure it. Their offensive line was one of the weak points in the Super Bowl loss and the situation doesn’t look much better in 2021. Mitchell Schwartz is returning from a back injury but is aging at 31. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will return after opting out to help on the frontlines of COVID-19. Eric Fisher tore his Achilles in the AFC Championship game and could still miss some of 2021. The future of this group is questionable and shaky, something you don’t want with a Super Bowl-caliber QB in his prime.
Alijah Vera-Tucker filled in for Austin Jackson at USC when the latter left for the NFL. With limited starting time under his belt, Vera-Tucker showcased versatility at being able to start at either guard or tackle. His skills in pass protection propel him to the next level despite his short time as a starter. There is athleticism that pairs greatly with smooth agility for a big man. His quick feet and natural leverage help him control some powerful pass-rushers. His weaker attribute is the ground game, but it is not a deal-breaker.
Vera-Tucker can still be a productive cog in the run game by keeping his assignment from making a tackle rather than making run lanes. As a natural left guard, he won’t have an issue since most of Mahomes’ runs are to the right.
Sure, the Chiefs have other needs as well such as adding some pass-rushers and filling FA holes. When you look at the Chiefs picking all the way at number 31, Vera-Tucker could fall to them if teams in the middle of the round decide to take skill positions first. He’s been taken as high as pick 21 to the Colts and as low as going in the second round. This is an immediate starter and his versatility makes him an “NFL Draft matches” dream pick that the Chiefs surely wished they had for Super Bowl LV.
Michigan | EDGE | Kwity Paye
32 sacks in 2020 ranked the Chiefs 19th overall in the league. Alex Okafor has been banged up since signing in 2019 and is a UFA. Tanoh Kpassagnon is also a UFA and the former second-round pick isn’t as productive as Kansas City would hope paired opposite Frank Clark. He’s had just seven sacks in four seasons. The defense has an entire unit that needs to be tweaked but your front seven has to get to the QB. Tom Brady wasn’t hit much and had plenty of time in the pocket during Super Bowl 55.
With 11.5 sacks and 23.5 TFL while at Michigan, Kwity Paye can add speed to the defensive line. Paye brings speed that rivals the Kansas City offense but the power that matches. There have been some impressive improvements to his pass-rushing fundamentals and moves over the last two seasons in college. With his powerful hands and quickness, he can get around the edge and start pressuring and hitting opponents. The ability to break down tackle sets with finesse rather than plowing through with brute force is ideal for a line that needs youth.
Clark is still Pro-Bowl caliber machine off the right side but he hasn’t had much help from the other side. The Chiefs are limited in their cap situation and Paye can solve a big issue with a smaller payday. With Clark coming at you from the right, Paye from the left, and Chris Jones in the middle, Kansas City can have a stellar pass-rush again. That sack total should go up by double-digits next year.
Paye is projected to be a late Day one prospect, and number 31 isn’t out of the question. As long as the Ravens don’t decide to take another defensive star that falls from the skies, like every year it seems, this will be one of the most dangerous NFL Draft matchups to come true.
2021 NFL Draft Matches: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pittsburgh | EDGE | Patrick Jones
After winning the Super Bowl with their pass-rushers, why would Tampa Bay need to add another star to that squad? There is a chance a few of those Super Bowl winners won’t return for 2021. Shaquil Barrett is a FA and could fetch upwards of $22 million per year. Ndamukong Suh is also on the market and could walk for more money. The same could be said for Lavonte David. Tampa Bay has $38 million in cap space and has quite a few other players they want back: Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin.
Tampa Bay can focus on making Tom Brady happy and comfortable with the offense while letting at least one stud leave their front seven. Patrick Jones from Pittsburgh can be an excellent replacement. This is someone who has fallen under the radar lately but he is a nasty bull-rusher. In 10 games in 2020, he had nine sacks and 12.5 TFL while having a total of 21.5 sacks in 39 career games. As a full-time starter in 2019, he rose the ranks and established himself as one of the best defensive ends in the ACC.
As mentioned, he bull-rushes the line by coming off the line quickly and being able to maintain that speed. The fact that he has great flexibility still is a dream trait. Jones’ spin move is dirty, dangerous, and just what Tampa Bay needs after FA is done cleaning out their roster.
Jones will be waiting to be stolen by Tampa late in the second round and is easily one of the top 6 edge rushers in this draft class. If he doesn’t replace either Suh or Barrett next year, the Bucs still land a star with their current playmakers getting up there in age. This is one of the NFL draft matches that just makes too much sense.
Louisville | WR | TuTu Atwell
Last on our list of dream NFL draft matches is the Buccaneers and Louisville WR Tutu Atwell. Even though Tampa has an impressive and sometimes underrated WR core at this moment: Mike Evans, Godwin, Brown, Scotty Miller, and Tyler Johnson. Two of them are FAs (Brown and Godwin) and odds are only one is retained. Godwin is younger and is going to have a value of up to $17 million per year on the market. Brown is cheap enough to keep as Tampa Bay remains a “win now” team with Brady.
The question is who’s going to replace Godwin as the next starting slot receiver? Tyler Johnson flashed great potential and could see more starting time in 2021. He’s untested overall, though, and will need to be pushed in the offseason. There is also a need for a backup plan if he can’t cut it as a full-time starter.
Tutu Atwell, out of Louisville highlighted his ability to separate from coverage and with yards after the catch. He can be a nice slot man in the league and the perfect candidate to help test Tyler Johnson. Even if Johnson does work out well as a starter, this still remains a dream pairing.
Thanks for reading my article on the 2 Dream NFL Draft Matches for each Super Bowl participant. Follow me on Twitter for more content and articles at @WesKeeferPSN and also follow Overtime Heroics @OTH_Football