With the 2021 NFL Draft far in our rearview mirror at this point, it is time to take a look back. The draft was exciting with many twists and turns. Here I will dive into which teams won the draft. Let’s take a look at the great picks and decisions that were made.
Best Picks of the 2021 NFL Draft
Penei Sewell, OT, Detroit Lions: Round #1, Pick #7
Penei Sewell was clearly one of the five best players in this draft class in my view. Anytime you grab that at pick #7 it is a major win. But the fit makes it even more perfect. Sewell plays offensive tackle, one of the premier positions in football and is just 20 years old. He is polished but also so athletic with an extremely high ceiling. There was no better player for the Lions to start their rebuild with than Penei Sewell. He sets the tone in the trenches and will be a franchise cornerstone in Detroit for many years to come.
Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears: Round #1, Pick #11
Justin Fields was clearly the second-best quarterback in this draft and one of the best players overall in my opinion. Fields has everything you could possibly want in a franchise QB with insane athleticism, accuracy, arm strength, toughness, and leadership. The Chicago Bears eagerly moved up from pick #20 to pick #11 after seeing Fields fall in the draft. It is a move that will save jobs in Chicago as Fields is primed for early success if developed properly. This pick will look like one of the all-time great draft steals in a few years.
Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers: Round #1, Pick #13
This pick might be my favorite one in the entire draft. Rashawn Slater and the Chargers were a match made in heaven. Slater is an NFL-ready left tackle who should be a Pro Bowler from his rookie year. The Chargers desperately needed a LT but the chances Slater fell to them were very slim. He did and now he can block for Justin Hebert’s blindside for years to come. This is an absolutely perfect fit.
Teven Jenkins, OT, Chicago Bears: Round #2, Pick #39
No team nailed each of their first two draft picks quite like the Bears did. Teven Jenkins is a mauler who I ranked as a top-25 player in the draft. Him falling all the way to pick #39 was surprising and makes him a massive steal. Jenkins will be able to open up holes for the Bears running game and protect Justin Fields moving forward.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns: Round #2, Pick #52
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had the most shocking fall of any player in the draft. Owusu-Koramoah was clearly a top-15 player in this draft class talent-wise. Owusu-Koramoah is lightning fast, hits hard, and is fantastic in coverage. He is the perfect LB for modern NFL defenses. He is a bit undersized, but there is nothing he can’t do from sideline-to-sideline. Owusu-Koramoah will be a monster in Cleveland’s defense and can take them to another level.
Creed Humphrey, C, Kansas City Chiefs: Round #2, Pick #63
Creed Humphrey is a plug-and-play center who can be well above average from day one. Humphrey was a steal for Kansas City at the end of round 2 as their dramatic offensive line makeover was topped off with the addition of Humphrey. I have no doubt that he can anchor the Chiefs offensive line in front of Patrick Mahomes in the future.
Andre Cisco, S, Jacksonville Jaguars: Round #3, Pick #65
Andre Cisco is a big-time safety who will provide great value for Jacksonville after being picked at the top of round 3. Cisco has a nose for the football and is a big-play and turnover machine. He needs to learn how to play a bit more carefully, but the upside is through the roof. Cisco will be fun to watch making splashy plays for the Jaguars for a long time.
Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets: Round #4, Pick #107
Michael Carter is an extremely explosive running back who is a perfect fit for the new Jets offensive scheme. He has burst, vision, and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Carter easily could have been picked early in round 3, so to get him in round 4 is a massive steal. Carter should get a big workload in New York’s new backfield early on.
Jabril Cox, LB, Dallas Cowboys: Round #4, Pick #115
Jabril Cox falling all the way to round 4 was a major surprise. Cox is a second-round talent with insane coverage ability and smarts. He is the classic instinctual coverage linebacker who are perennially underrated. The value in this spot was insane for Dallas who got themselves another starting-caliber linebacker on Day 3 of the draft.
Jamar Johnson, S, Denver Broncos: Round #5, Pick #164
Jamar Johnson is another player who was an absolute steal on Day 3. Johnson has fantastic instincts from the safety position and can cover, force turnovers, and tackle well. He has the makeup of a starting NFL safety. Johnson will add another great piece to the Denver defense and one who will be a capable starter rather quickly.
Best Draft Classes
The Lions had a clear goal in mind this draft: build in the trenches. They understand with a new regime that they need to be tough and win on the line of scrimmage so they addressed it early and often in the draft. Sewell was a slam dunk pick in the first round. They got two defensive tackles on Day 2 in Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. These were both great picks as they should start on the interior defensive line in Detroit for years to come. The first three picks for new GM Brad Holmes and HC Dan Campbell were all on the lines as they build to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense. Amon-Ra St. Brown was an absolute steal on Day 3 and he should be a starting wideout in his rookie year. Ifeatu Melinfonwu and Jermar Jefferson were steals as well. Detroit killed this draft.
The Vikings had an exceptional draft class as well. They moved down from pick #14 to #23 in the first round, grabbed two extra Day 2 picks, and still got the player they likely wanted at #14 in offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Darrisaw was a steal and they pulled off the ultimate trade down success. They got Chazz Surratt, Wyatt Davis, and Patrick Jones II on Day 2. I am high on all three of these guys and they should all be impact starters as early as this season. They also got Kellen Mond on Day 2 who is a solid developmental QB prospect with good raw traits. Kene Nwangwu was another steal on Day 3 as an explosive change-of-pace running back. Minnesota had a fantastic draft haul.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers obviously nailed their first round pick in Rashawn Slater, but they also had a great overall class. Asante Samuel Jr. fills a huge need and was another perfect match found on Day 2. Josh Palmer has tons of talent and could be a premier starting wide receiver down the road. Chris Rumph II was an absolute steal on Day 3 and I could see him developing into a starting edge rusher early on if he adds some weight. Brenden Jaimes was another great Day 3 pick who provides solid depth. It was a very successful draft for the Bolts.
As touched on previously, the Bears nailed their first two picks in the draft. They got a franchise QB in Justin Fields and a franchise LT in Teven Jenkins for great value in those spots. That alone is enough to net them one of the top draft classes of any team. They lacked later picks since they had to trade up for each of their first two picks, but they did not do too bad later on. Dazz Newsome is an electric wide receiver who was another steal in round 6. Chicago nailed their picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Browns also had an excellent draft. Cleveland grabbed Greg Newsome in the first round. He was good value late in the first and should be a starting cornerback from day one with all the potential in the world to continue to develop. Staying healthy will be key for Newsome. They grabbed Owusu-Koramoah in the second round who as mentioned above was one of the steals of the entire draft. Anthony Schwartz was another pick who made a ton of sense. Schwartz is a speedster wideout which was exactly what Cleveland’s offense needed. The Browns had a superb draft.
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