The 2021 NFL Draft, the most unprecedented draft in the NFL’s history, has officially come and gone. COVID threw a wrench into the 2021 NCAAF season and for context, the 2021 draft only included about 650 prospects that were signed with an agent compared to around 1,800 last year. The lack of eligible players made each team’s pick more important than ever, and the COVID-ridden season made it even more difficult to evaluate each prospect.
Throughout the three-day draft, there were no shortages of good trades and great picks, but unfortunately for some teams, there were some lackluster selections made. For this exercise, I will be taking a look at the latter – let’s dig deep and analyze what the worst picks of every round of the 2021 NFL Draft were.
When making this list there were a few factors I considered when naming a player the worst pick of their round. For starters, I took a look into my grades for each player coming out of school to analyze if the pick was a reach. Furthermore, I dug into team needs – does this player have the ability to fill a glaring hole on the selecting team’s roster? And finally, I evaluated the players and determined if I believe they have a chance to not only make a roster spot but become a quality starter for their franchise within two seasons. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the worst picks from each round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
1.20 | Giants | Kadarious Toney | WR | Florida
Dave Gettleman had never traded back in his entire career as a General Manager until the 2021 NFL Draft. Gettleman’s first trade back in his history was a great one – The G-Men traded back from pick 11 to pick 20 and secured a 2022 first-round pick in the process. Unfortunately for Giants fans, I believe Gettleman made a mistake with the player he elected to select at 20th overall.
Kardarious Toney is an elite playmaker – in space Toney has the open field speed to create opportunities with the ball in his hands after the catch. However, what makes this pick difficult for me to digest is that the Giants are not exactly devoid of playmakers. The G-Men inked Kenny Golladay to a 4 year $72 million pact this off-season and also have RB Saquon Barkley coming back. Daniel Jones struggled in year two and the Giants did well by getting him an elite WR1, but I do not understand where Toney fits into this equation.
By drafting Toney, the Giants neglected to address their real offensive concern, their offensive line. Yes, the Giants spent the fourth overall pick in 2020 on LT Andrew Thomas, but his play was subpar as a rookie. NYG is also weak at both guard spots and could have sat tight and selected Alija Vera-Tucker from USC with their first-round pick.
2.56 | Seahawks | D’Wayne Eskridge | WR | Western Michigan
I’m not sure if John Schneider and Pete Caroll forgot, but about three weeks ago there were rumblings of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson being unhappy with the team’s inability to protect him. Fast forward to this past weekend and the Seattle Seahawks still neglected to add big men up front to protect Wilson with their first selection of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now, this is not a knock to Eskridge, who was one of my favorite Day two WRs – Eskridge was an All-Mac selection and he dominated at the Senior Bowl. What makes this pick so bad for me is the talented group of linemen selected after Eskridge. Players like Brady Christenson, Jalen Mayfield, Creed Humphry, and Josh Myers all came off the board after Eskridge and I believe Seattle would be in a better spot if they made one of these selections.
3.89 | Texans | Nico Collins | WR | Michigan
It is no secret that Deshawn Watson will never don a Texans’ jersey again – Watson’s lawsuit has overshadowed this entire off-season and Houston selected Stanford QB Davis Mills with their first selection of the draft in round three. While there certainly will be a wide-open competition for WR snaps, I do not believe the Texans should have addressed this issue at this point in the draft.
While on paper it makes sense to draft Mills a player that he can potentially grow with, Mills is also no guarantee to start in 2021. Mills only played 13 games in college and was oft-injured – but his tape showed a player with enough potential upside to warrant a day two selection. Nico Collins has the makings of a good NFL WR, but with so many needs and so much uncertainty, I would have liked to see the Texans try to rebuild their defense, which was one of the worst in the NFL in 2020, before focusing on their offense which will probably be one of the worst in the NFL in 2021.
4.141 | Rams | Jacob Harris | WR | Central Florida
While I am a big fan of UCF’s Jacob Harris, this is another pick that confuses me for a few reasons. For starters, Los Angeles drafted Louisville WR TuTu Atwell in the second round to an already crowded WR room that features Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and newly signed Desean Jackson. I was already perplexed by their second-round selection and continue to be with their fourth-round selection as well – I am not sure where Harris fits into their future plans and I would have liked to see the Rams add more depth to their IOL or secondary.
5.145 | Jaguars | Luke Farrell | TE | Ohio State
In my 7-round mock for the 2021 NFL Draft for the Washington Football Team, I had Farrell as a 7th round developmental prospect for Washington’s TE room. Though there was a steady stream of tight ends coming off the board on days two and three, Farrell in round five seems too rich for my taste. Jacksonville already has TE’s James O’Shaughnessy and last year’s day three pick Tyler Davis on the roster and while I appreciate the Ohio State connection, I think Urban Meyer reached too high on his TE in round five.
6.194 | 49ers | Elijah Mitchell | RB | Louisiana
Kyle Shanahan has been one of the biggest advocators for a running back by committee approach and it is essential to his offensive scheme. However, the 49ers roster already consists of RBs Jeff Wilson Jr, Raheem Mostert, and 3rd round pick Trey Sermon. With a roster that already consisted of firepower in the run game combined with drafting Sermon and Shanahan’s ability to find UDFA RB talent, drafting two running backs in this draft seems odd to me. I would have liked to see Shanahan add another developmental prospect on either the offensive or defensive line with this pick.
7.244 | Dolphins | Gerrid Doaks | RB | Cincinnati
When looking at the potential worst selection of the final round of the 2021 NFL draft, this decision becomes more of a nitpicking exercise. With that disclaimer in mind, I chose the Miami Dolphins selection of Cincinnati Gerrid Doaks to be the worst pick of the round. At this point in the draft, I had higher grades on RBs Kylin Hill, Jermar Jefferson, and Jarett Patterson. I would have selected any of those three over Doaks to add to Miami’s RB room.