There are usually two types of philosophies when it comes to the NFL Draft – You can take the best player that’s available when you pick, or you can try to address some of your most important needs. The absolute sweet spot is finding the best player(s) available to fill your most important need(s), and there were a few teams who achieved that in round one of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Your team’s philosophy will often come down to where they currently find themselves. Rebuilding teams with a ton of needs might as well take the best player, while championship contenders will often need to reach to fill one or two vital spots
2021 NFL Draft: Jets Meet Two Needs in Round One
1.2 | Zach Wilson | Quarterback and 1.14 | Alijah Vera-Tucker | Guard
Have lessons finally been learned in New York after the Sam Darnold disaster? It certainly looks like it. There’s a huge chance that we’ll never really know how good Sam Darnold could’ve been as he’s now viewed as damaged goods following his time as a Jet, but a large part of that was down to having little help on offense and a dreadful head coach.
Robert Saleh will be looking to change that as he takes over, but they were aggressive in this draft to ensure they actually started to build pieces of a unit instead of simply taking a great player and wondering why they weren’t able to turn it all around single-handedly. Zach Wilson was the unanimous choice as the 2nd best QB in this Draft class so he should solve that problem, but the move to trade up and take Vera-Tucker is also huge as the pairing of him and Mekhi Beckton make the O-line look more formidable.
Receiver help was also taken early in the 2nd so that arguably makes their first three picks an overwhelming success in finding the best players to fill the big needs on offense, and they should be competitive in every game as a bare minimum next season.
2021 NFL Draft: Other Needs Met in Round One
1.1 | Jacksonville Jaguars | Trevor Lawrence | Quarterback
Drafting does become much easier when you get to make the first pick, while you can also argue that we saw both philosophies at play from the Jags in round one as they went with a running back at number 25 overall. There wasn’t a great deal of mystery about who was going to be taken first and Trevor Lawrence has been a presumed Jag every since the 2020 season ended, but he does appear to be exactly what Jacksonville needed on and off the field.
Taking a QB high in the draft isn’t anything new in recent years past first-round quarterbacks have both come and gone, but Lawrence is expected to be a generational talent and he’s the kind of guy that a franchise can be built on. Stories have emerged to suggest he’s shattered records for merchandise sales and season ticket sales are going through the roof for next season, so this does look like a home-run pick.
1.13 | Los Angeles Chargers | Rashawn Slater | Offensive Tackle
There was plenty of talk about which teams might trade up to get a QB and what could go down in the top ten of this year’s draft, but the Chargers were able to quietly sit at number 13 and get exactly what they needed. With Los Angeles having the 11th most-sacked QB in the league last year despite starting a game less than many of his peers so addressing the O-line had to be a major issue for the Chargers.
They made a splash in free agency to strengthen inside with Corey Linsley coming in from Green Bay, but the lack of protection at Left Tackle was a major concern. Obviously, the dream here would’ve been Penei Sewell but he was never dropping down that far, but managing to nab Slater with the 13th pick was heralded as a huge success as they found one of the best players in the draft to strengthen their biggest need.
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