You’ve read the player profiles, you’ve read the mock drafts (so many mock drafts), you’ve even memorized the Draft Commandments. It’s hard to imagine it, but we’re mere minutes from the kick off of the 2021 NFL Draft. Finally!
Now, we get to spend the next 3 days analyzing, dissecting, and hopefully, in the case of the Washington Football Team, celebrating the decisions throughout the draft. This article will provide a running, real time commentary on the draft, with a particular eye on the questionable (or inspired!) moves by each of the franchises. I look forward to discussing them with you in the comments.
Analysis will primarily be done through the lens of my Draft Commandments, laid out over the course of the past week. More details can be found at the links below:
I. Thou shalt not draft offensive skill positions (other than QB) in the first round.
II. Thou shalt always be looking to accumulate more picks, particularly on Day 2.
III. Thou shalt attempt to draft the best player available.
IV. Thou shalt not draft (primarily) for need.
V. Thou shalt build trust relationships with other franchises.
VI. Thou shalt draft with the future in mind
Editorial note: Finally, I’d like to thank MysteryWryter for inspiring the idea for this piece.
Team needs taken from The Draft Network.
Pick 1: Jacksonville Jaguars
QB, OT, WR, S
In likely the least suspenseful move of the night, the Jags take Trevor Lawrence, the near-consensus best player in the draft. This is a clear “best player available” (BPA) at a position of need.
Pick 2: New York Jets
The Jets, on the heels of having traded Sam Darnold, draft Zach Wilson, arguably the second best QB in the draft. Having moved Darnold, this too is a BPA at a position of need move. The potential objection is to the moving of Darnold earlier. At this position, the Jets likely could have reaped a huge draft haul to move the second pick, like the Dolphins did for pick 3.
Pick 3: San Francisco 49ers (trade up)
I struggled with including “Thou shalt not trade up in the first round” as an addition commandment. I ultimately didn’t, but I have strong opposition to it. I think this was an unwise move by the 49ers to move up to gamble on their QB of the future. Taking Trey Lance here, the 49ers are, in the minds of many, taking a serious project QB and drafting for need, while at the same time, sacrificing substantial draft capital. This is an enormous, career-defining, gamble for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.
This likely means Jimmy G. will need to stay with the team for at least another year.
Pick 4: Atlanta
The Falcons select tight end Kyle Pitts who is generally considered the best player available at a position of need.
Pick 5: Cincinnati
The Bengals make, to my mind, a highly questionable pick here, selecting wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase over tackle Penei Sewell (or Rashawn Slater). Both players were among the highest rated players still left on the board, but only one could have been protecting Joe Burrow’s blindside. Chase appears to be an incredible talent, but one wonders if Burrow will have the time to get him the ball. I think they will regret this pick.
Pick 6: Miami
The Dolphins select one of the top players on the board, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, at a position of need. Taking a tackle here would have probably been the most responsible choice, by the Dolphins have another first round pick to potentially pursue it.
The third straight violation of the first commandment.
Pick 7: Detroit
Needs: WR, CB,
The Lions take tackle Penei Sewell, a very smart move. Top talent at a position of need. Boring, but smart move.
Pick 8: Carolina
The Panthers select cornerback Jaycee Horn, continuing their streak of picking defensive players in the draft. Horn is considered the best CB in the draft - a position of need - but likely not the BPA here.
Pick 9: Denver
The Broncos take cornerback Patrick Surtain, one of the top players on the board at a position of need. If he didn’t go here, he was likely going next, to the Cowboys.
Pick 10: Eagles (trade with Dallas)
Needs: WR, TE, CB, S
The Eagles move up to pick wide receiver Devonta Smith, violating the first commandment, trading up to do so, and taking a WR who is one of the slightest players ever to be taken this high in the draft. I suspect this could end up being the third year in a row the Eagles draft a WR that busts.
Pick 11: Bears (trade with Giants)
Needs: OT, WR,
The Bears move up to select quarterback Justin Fields, the best player left on the board at a position of need. They gave up significant draft resources to get him, but this is the kind of player that teams trade up for.
Pick 12: Dallas (trade with Eagles)
Needs: CB, OT, EDGE, TE
I hate to say it, but the Cowboys make arguably the best pick of the draft so far here. They pick up an extra 3rd with a trade back, and grab linebacker Micah Parsons, arguably the best defensive player left on the board.
Pick 13: Chargers
OT, EDGE, S, CB
The Chargers take tackle Rashawn Slater, the best player left on the board at at position of need. They get a great value here.
Pick 14: Jets (trade with Vikings)
Needs: CB, EDGE, RB, WR,
The Jets trade up to guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, the best player left on the board at a position of need. Smart move to grab protection for Zach Wilson, though it did require giving up some draft capital.
Pick 15: Patriots
QB, LB, WR
The Patriots stay patient and get their quarterback, Mac Jones, at their original spot. QB is a huge position of need for the Pats, and Jones is likely the best QB left on the board. Some might consider this a bit of a reach, but Jones likely wouldn’t last to the next New England pick. It works out great for them.
Pick 16: Cardinals
LB, IOL, WR
The Cardinals select linebacker, Zaven Collins, who could potentially be considered a bit of a reach here at a position of need.
Pick 17: Raiders
The Raiders choose tackle Alex Leatherwood, who seems to be a serious reach here at a position of need, though Leatherwood projects at a guard in the NFL. This is a bit of head scratcher.
Pick 18: Dolphins
WR (EDGE, RB, LB, WR, S)
The Dolphins select EDGE Jaelen Phillips, a position of need after taking a WR earlier.
Pick 19: Washington
Needs: LB, OT
Washington was in a position to grab the best LB or OT left on the board, and they select Jamin Davis, a top talent at a huge position of need.
Pick 20: Giants (trade with Bears)
Needs: WR, LB, EDGE
The Giants trade back (plus) and pick wide receiver Kadarius Toney, likely the best WR left on the board.
Pick 21: Colts
Needs: OT, CB, WR
The Colts select EDGE Kwity Paye, which doesn’t appear to be a top position of need. Paye is one of the best player left available on the board.
Pick 22: Titans
Needs: CB, WR, OT
The Titans take cornerback Caleb Farley, the top cornerback left on the board at a position of need.
Pick 23: Vikings (trade with Jets)
Needs: IOL, EDGE,
The Vikings take tackle Christian Darrisaw after a trade back. Great pick, great value here for the Vikings at a position of serious need.
Pick 24: Steelers
Needs: CB, OT, IOL,
The Steelers violate the first commandment and take an RB, Najee Harris, in the first round. RB was a position of need.
Pick 25: Jaguars
Needs: QB, OT, WR, S
The Jaguars also violate the first commandment and take an RB, Travis Etienne. Seems like an odd choice given they already have James Robinson in the backfield.
Pick 26: Browns
Needs: IDL, WR, EDGE,
The Browns select Greg Newsome, a cornerback, and one of the top players left on the board, at a top position of need.
Pick 27: Ravens
Needs: EDGE, OT, S,
The Ravens take wide receiver Rashod Bateman, a great pick at a top position of need.
Pick 28: Saints
Needs: CB, WR,
The Saints take EDGE, Payton Turner, and up-and-comer at a position of need.
Pick 29: Packers
Needs: OT, WR,
CB, IDL, LB
The Packers select cornerback Eric Stokes, which seems like a bit of a reach at a position of need.
Pick 30: Bills
Needs: RB, CB,
The Bills choose EDGE Gregory Rousseau, which is a position of need. But, Rousseau is a player about whom there are significant doubts. This seems like a reach here.
Pick 31: Ravens
EDGE, OT, S, WR
The Ravens select EDGE Jason Oweh, one of the best players left on the board, at a position of need. Good pick.
Pick 32: Bucs
The Buccaneers choose EDGE Joe Tryon, the best remaining EDGE at a top position of need.