Winners: Chicago Bears & Pittsburgh Steelers
In my opinion, a lot of teams have a solid Day One, which is usually not words that I find coming out of my mouth too often. So when it came to deciding who was actually the biggest winners out of the group, there’s no way I could look pass the Chicago Bears, who got an absolute steal with grabbing Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at the #11 overall pick.
Fields could’ve been the #2 or #3 pick if the Jets or 49ers saw things differently and instead, the Bears could have their quarterback of the future, just for simply not being greedy. As for Pittsburgh, they played their hand as it was drawn to them as well, snagging Alabama running back Najee Harris with the #24 overall pick, which gives them the hard-nosed backfield option that they’re looking for as well. With the Steelers offense expected to enter some transitional modes in the near future, a stable back like Harris could pay dividends in the long run.
Losers: New York Giants & New Orleans Saints
On a night where cross-town rivals New York Jets addressed their needs with a franchise-defining selection at quarterback and an offensive lineman to sure up the mix in Round 1, the Giants had to land on the other end of the spectrum and go for Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick. While Toney is a solid talent who can fill the slot around some of the team’s other options, if Daniel Jones can’t get a damn second to find any of these guys with a new offensive line, none of it will matter one bit. A classic Giants decision.
As for New Orleans, they outbid themselves for Houston defensive end Payton Turner late on Day One, which means there’s now some expectations for the 6’ 6”, 270-pounder who is an all-potential selection. Turner is a bit of an odd fit who’s a bit too upright to play inside, but will lack the speed to play in any sort of hybrid-edge role. He’ll need the Saints to want to invest their time into him and that doesn’t always work out the way it’s shaped up to be. Overall, I think New Orleans could’ve gone in many different directions to find a player better suited for their needs.
Winners: Chicago Bears
Chicago has a bad history with the quarterbacks they draft, and Ohio State quarterbacks have a bad history of flopping when they hit the NFL. Even with that history, I think today’s selection of Justin Fields by the Bears is a good one. Chicago needed a quarterback they could build around, and while Fields has slipped a bit behind the other QBs in the run up to the draft, he’s still a steal where the Bears got him. That said, the best news for Chicago is how bad a day Green Bay had.
Losers: Green Bay Packers
Hearing that the reigning NFL MVP wants to leave your team is never a good thing, but Green Bay had to know something was brewing. Rodgers has expressed his dissatisfaction with the state of the Packers on several occasions, after several early playoff exits. Today appears to have been a breaking point, and while there’s time to repair the relationship before the start of training camp, the Packers’ draft today is not going to help matters. Eric Stokes is a solid enough player, but he’s a reach in round one. The Packers defense needed to get better rapidly, and they haven’t made the moves necessary to make that happen.
Winner: New York Jets
How dare you, John. The punk literally took both my winner and loser picks. It’s all good, cause I got backups. But how weird is it to see the Jets as draft winners? Well, at the very least, they nailed round one. They took the uber-talented quarterback Zach Wilson out of BYU to become the new face of the Jets. Then, just 12 picks later, the Jets used their two third-round picks to trade up to 14 and secure guard Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC to give Wilson some much-needed protection. The Jets not only secured their quarterback of the future, but they added more offensive line protection after drafting Mekhi Becton at offensive tackle in the first round of last year’s draft. Wilson will be stepping into a Jets offense with significantly better protection than any Jets QB has had in some time.
Loser: Cincinnati Bengals
Listen, this pick is nothing against Ja’Marr Chase. In fact, I think this is a great destination for Chase, and being reunited with his college QB will do wonders for his career. Chase realistically should develop into a true number one receiver for the Bengals. The problem I have with this pick lies within the tweet posted below...
The Bengals really did a photo shoot with Joe Burrow's knee and then passed on a tackle in the same month. pic.twitter.com/jDNgQ3QEj5— Wreck This League (@wreckthisleague) April 30, 2021
Don’t see it? Take a look again, but this time look closely at Joe Burrow’s knee cap. Yup, that’s the incision mark from surgery after Burrow tore his ACL last season behind a TERRIBLE Bengals offensive line. The Bengals desperately needed quality offensive linemen to protect Burrow. And yes, they will have some guys on the line returning from injury next season, but they still need help along the line in the worst way. There will be some quality tackles available in round two tomorrow, but the Bengals whiffed at drafting an elite tackle prospect to protect their franchise QB in round one.
The Jacksonville “Clemson Tigers” / Jaguars massively upgraded their offense on Thursday night. Trevor Lawrence is the most can’t miss QB prospect to enter the NFL in years. To top it off they also nabbed his backfield partner in RB Travis Etienne. The Jaguars have floundered offensively for several years now, but that could all change in 2021.
Losers: Las Vegas Raiders
Many pundits argued that there were about 15 elite prospects in this draft and then a big drop off in talent after that. The Raiders at #17 weren’t exactly in an ideal spot, but reaching for a tackle prospect in Alex Leatherwood that isn’t ready to anchor the offensive line might not have been the way to go. Maybe Leatherwood is going to be a great player, but at the very least the Raiders could have traded down and still gotten their guy while adding some draft capital.