NFL Draft first round recap


photo via Pro Football Talk

The day I have been highly anticipating for the past month is finally here: the 2021 NFL Draft.

This year was one of the most hyped drafts ever, as the amount of pure talent available in the first round is incomparable to anything seen in the past. 

And let’s just say it lived up to the buzz.

Here are my biggest takeaways from the first round and a preview of players you will see in Day Two:

The Best Pick: Chicago Bears (11th) – Justin Fields

The Bears saved their future with this pick.

Analysts greatly debated where Justin Fields would end up. When San Francisco stated they would take Fields out of the running, it became a free-for-all for the former Ohio State quarterback. Many speculated the Patriots would continue their aggressive offseason moves, or maybe the Falcons would begin preparing for the end of Matt Ryan.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the Chicago Bears traded up from 20 to steal one of the most talented allstars in this draft.

The Bears did not have a successful free agency, failing to sign a startable quarterback while parting ways with former first rounder Mitch Trubisky. Andy Dalton was slated as the QB1 for the Windy City after the team failed to make a trade for former Super Bowl Champion Russell Wilson. 

Luckily for Da Bears, they were able to save their franchise and draft a quarterback that is capable of actually filling the QB1 role.

The Worst Pick: Las Vegas Raiders (17th) –  Alex Leatherwood

The Raiders looked lost last night when they were on the clock.

I get it, the Raiders are not in the best position. While the big three offensive lineman were taken (Sewell, Slater, and Tucker), there was still Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech. While he isn’t in the top 3, Darrisaw was clearly the fourth best lineman on many draft boards. And since they basically sold their whole offensive line this offseason, they were in desperate need of a powerful lineman to protect Derek Carr.

Instead, they absolutely fumbled this pick and selected Alex Leatherwood, the tackle from Alabama.

I’m not saying this is a bad pick. They addressed a need, which some teams failed to do. But this was the biggest reach of the draft. At one point, many projected Leatherwood to be taken late first round, but his stock quickly fell and he was projected to be a mid-second round pickup. 

If the Raiders truly liked Leatherwood, they could have easily traded back or picked up Jaelan Phillips from Miami. They could have then taken Leatherwood in the second round, since I’m positive nobody had them that high on their big boards.

The Sleeper: Baltimore Ravens (27th) – Rashard Bateman

In a draft with an abundance of wide receivers, Rashard Bateman was one player that was completely overlooked.

Again, another player who was not in the “big three” in his position, Bateman was regarded as the next best receiver. But he was a result of picking needs rather than talent, as teams like the New York Giants decided to add slot receiver Kadarius Toney to fill the need of a speedy threat to the already-dangerous offense.

However, this could be an amazing opportunity for the Minnesota alumni.

A team that is desperate for a WR1, the Ravens were hoping to address this issue in the first round. This was a major victory for Baltimore, because I believe Bateman will offer them a chance for Lamar to air out the ball and redesign their offense.

The Shocker: Carolina Panthers (8th) – Jaycee Horn

I’m not complaining about this selection. Jaycee Horn is undeniably one of the most talented cornerbacks in this draft.

Many thought the Panthers would focus on offense after a heavy defensive draft in 2020. Stars like Rashawn Slater and DeVonta Smith would help newly-acquired Sam Darnold find success immediately in Carolina.

However, this was one of the few teams that could draft based on talent, not needs. Horn was a ballhawk for the Gamecocks last season, and I expect his abilities to translate to the next level.

Who’s left, who’s next? 

Here are some of the top prospects that fell out of the first round and should be drafted in Day 2.

  • Elijah Moore, WR (Ole Miss)
  • Teven Jenkins, OT (Oklahoma State)
  • Christian Barmore, DT (Alabama)
  • Liam Eichenberg, OT (Notre Dame)
  • Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB (Notre Dame)
  • Trevon Moehrig, S (TCU)
  • Javonte Williams, RB (UNC)
  • Azeez Ojulari, EDGE (Georgia)
  • Rondale Moore, WR (Purdue)
  • Asante Samuel Jr., CB (Florida State)
  • Terrace Marshall Jr., WR (LSU)