Round one of the 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and as always there were some great picks, and some serious head scratchers. Let's take a look back at who the winners and losers were of Round 1.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars got the best player available in Trevor Lawrence as everyone predicted, but they followed it up by teaming him up with his star running back Travis Etienne with the 25th overall pick. This team needs all the talent they can get, and while I don't think running back was a big need for them given how good James Robinson was, Etienne certainly will help form a dynamic duo in the Jaguars backfield. His home run hitting ability as well as his ability as a pass catcher will give Trevor Lawrence a weapon he's very familiar with.
The Jaguars clearly did a good job of reading the room, as they will still be able to take an elite defensive player like Trevon Meohrig with their second round pick, which will give them the best Quarterback, Safety, and arguably Running back form this years draft class. So while fantasy managers who were excited about James Robinson being an RB1 again this season will be disappointed, this first round went very well for the Jaguars.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
As a well documented Eagles fan, I could not have been happier with how last night went us. Many fans were upset by the Eagles moving back out of the 6th spot, as most feared it took us out of the running for one of the top pass catchers. However, the Eagles still ended up with the Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, after wisely moving ahead of the Giants to get their guy.
As it turned out, neither Pitts or Chase made it to the #6 slot, and in my opinion those were the only two pass catchers worth taking that high. But by ultimately moving 4 spots back, the Eagles added more draft capital and still ended up with one of the elite receivers from this class. The Eagles may also be in very good position to land Asante Samuel Jr., or another top corner early in the second round, so the late reaches on pass rusher at the end of the first round also benefited the Eagles.
There was some fear that the Eagles might over think this pick and take Justin Fields or Kwity Paye, but Howie knew he couldn't afford to mess this one up. He got who everyone wanted and Eagles fans everywhere can be very happy.
3. Chicago Bears
Coming into tonight's draft, I'm certain Chicago wasn't feeling to great about their chances of landing the second best QB in this class (since they already announced Andy Dalton as QB1 in a tweet that really backfired), but they did just that by taking Justin Fields with the #11 overall pick. I never quite understood Fields falling in most mock drafts, he was clearly being over analyzed leading up to the draft, and no one is happier about that than the Bears.
Most would've thought the Bears would've had to trade all the way up into the top 8 to land Fields, but the Bears surely saved some draft capital with him falling to 11th. The Bears finally have a legitimate franchise QB to build around, and you could argue this is the steal of the draft.
4. Los Angelos Chargers
Although this was a very easy decision, we must applaud the Chargers for not overthinking this one. Rashawn Slater is an excellent offensive tackle with great footwork and immediately upgrades an offensive line that needed a LT. Some scouts had Slater rated higher than Sewell, so kudos to LAC for getting a perennial All-Pro tackle at 13th overall.
5. Cincinatti Bengals
Leading up to this draft, I was a VERY big believer that the Bengals needed to take Sewell at 5th overall. Even after some of their free agent signings, the Bengals offensive line NEEDS an upgrade. However, since some offensive tackles with round 1 grades will be available for them in the second round, I think the Ja'Marr Chase pick actually really worked out well for them.
The Bengals may be in a position to have their choice between Teven Jenkins, Liam Eichenburg, Dillon Radunz, or Samuel Cosmi, who all would be day 1 starters up front for them. So them getting arguably the best receiving prospect in the last 10 years, and another first round quality tackle next round, makes them day 1 winners in my book.
6. Minnesota Vikings
Trading back and still getting the player you wanted is always a huge win in my book. Christian Darrisaw was a very likely pick for the Vikings at 14th overall, and they landed him at 23rd overall while adding more picks. Big win for a team that NEEDED an upgrade at the tackle spot.
1. New York Giants
After signing Kenny Golladay, I felt the Giants receiving core had enough weapons to support Daniel Jones, and what they now needed to do was either address the offensive line, or their defense. The Giants did neither.
By trading back to 20th overall, they basically passed on an elite tackle in Rashawn Slater, which I was okay with if you felt you could address that need, or another, a few picks later and add some more future picks. I have no problem with the trade back, my issue is them taking Kadarius Toney with that pick. Not only did they fail to address bigger needs, they reached on a guy that possibly could've been there in the second round. I also don't have him rated as high as someone like Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore, or Terrace Marshall Jr.
So in my opinion, failing to address bigger needs that you have, and then reaching on a receiver who is not as good as the next three available, is a big fat L on day 1. Luckily they'll still have a quality offensive tackle available in round 2, but they couldn't gotten a better tackle, and still got Toney in round 2.
2. Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders just flat out reached on Alex Leatherwood with the 17th overall pick. He was graded as a mid 2nd rounder, so I'm really scratching my head on this one. They did address a need as Leatherwood could slide in at RT or guard, but the Raiders could've gotten someone like Moehrig, Owusu-Koramoah, or Christian Darrisaw with this pick, and still been in the running for Leatherwood in round 2 if they really loved him that much. This reeks of John Gruden trying to hard to be the smartest guy in the room.
3. New Orleans Saints
Edge rusher was definitely a need for the Saints as they're aging at that position, but I feel like they reached on Payton Turner at 28th overall. Not that I don't like Turner, he has very good upside, but I had a second round grade on him, and the Saints could've gotten him then.
With Elijah Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Christian Barmore available, I think the Saints missed out on some top talent that would've helped them immediately. Turner is more of a project in my opinion. And projects shouldn't go first round unless you have no holes to fill.
On the Fence
1. Baltimore Ravens
I thought the Ravens first pick at #27 overall was a home run by selecting Rashod Bateman. He's one of the best route runners in this draft, has great speed, good size, and can play inside and out. The Ravens had a choice between Bateman and Marsahall Jr. which they honestly couldn't have gone wrong with.
Then at #31 overall, they had two top 5 offensive tackles to choose from after trading away Orlando Brown Jr., but they instead reached on an edge rusher like Jayson Oweh. While an edge rusher was a need for the Ravens, it wasn't as big of a need as offensive tackle, and the edge rusher they took, is a major risk. Oweh didn't record a single sack last year, and even though he's an incredible athlete off the edge, this could be a huge swing and miss for the Ravens.
The Ravens also don't pick again until Round 3, and I expect a lot of the better offensive tackles to be off the board by then. So I think they missed a great opportunity to replace their All Pro tackle, by reaching on a pure upside pick in Jayson Oweh.