BEST DRAFT PICKS BY EACH TEAM

I am still in draft mode and enjoying the process of piecing together all that happened throughout the event.

Everybody loves watching and reacting to each pick as they are announced and you begin to get a picture forming of which teams are having a strong draft.  Once the dust has settled, it is fun to start reviewing each NFL team’s final draft class and who are the standout selections.

This is what we are going to do now.  With a few extra names inevitably mentioned to enhance the context of how teams built their class, join me as I offer my favourite pick from each NFL team.

AFC EAST

BUFFALO BILLS – Spencer Brown, OT, Round 3, Overall Pick 93
A 6’8”, over 300lbs strong offensive tackle with the athletic profile of a running back.  Out of small-school Northern Iowa, I had hoped Brown would ascend into the third round, which is where the Bills nabbed him.  They focused on defensive line early before taking Brown, a move designed to solidify depth at OT to help keep Josh Allen in the pocket and, with Brown’s quick movement skills, he can contribute to a run game that struggled last season.  Brown immediately celebrated in true Buffalo tradition…

Buffalo Bills 3rd Round Draft Pick Spencer Brown Join Bills Mafia by jumping through Table

MIAMI DOLPHINS – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Round 1, Overall Pick 6
The super-fast Jaylen Waddle was a great selection for the Dolphins to start their draft.  He will once again hook up with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who he played with for a couple of years at Alabama.  That familiarity will help them both next season.  Waddle is as capable as any receiver from this draft of breaking a game open, due to his speed and yards-after-catch ability.  He can also make plays on special teams.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Christian Barmore, DT, Round 2, Overall Pick 38
Another Alabama prospect with a high ceiling.  Barmore is a first round talent and New England traded up to make sure they got him at the start of day two.  He’s a big-game player with powerful technique and the ability to push blocks backwards and hit gaps.  It has been a busy off-season for the Patriots with many new faces arriving and Barmore has the skills to play early on the interior of the defensive line.

NEW YORK JETS – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, Round 1, Overall Pick 14
Yes, the Jets took my guy Zach Wilson to be their new quarterback with the second overall pick, but my favourite part of their draft was actually this one.  They traded up nine picks to get the versatile Vera-Tucker, who can play at both tackle and guard.  His skill set should see him play along the line straight away; I hope they put Vera-Tucker at left guard next to the Jets’ first round selection from last year, Mekhi Becton.  How about that?  No worries for Zach Wilson from that side!  One last thing of note on this draft class for the Jets: They drafted two players named Michael Carter (the second of which is named Michael Carter II).  Wonderful!

AFC NORTH

BALTIMORE RAVENS – Rashod Bateman, WR, Round 1, Overall Pick 27
Year after year, no matter who the general manager is, the Baltimore Ravens have a habit of making the draft process look easy.  They began with the selection of Bateman in the first round.  The Ravens passing game needs improving and Bateman will be a viable target as a rookie, wherever he is lined up on the offense.  Throughout the draft, Baltimore found value, including another good receiver in Tylan Wallace in round four.  Both he and Bateman are exciting options to have come into the team.

CINCINNATI BENGALS – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Round 1, Overall Pick 5
With the way the board was going to fall, Cincinnati were always going to be in a nice spot at the fifth overall pick.  Getting offensive tackle Penei Sewell to protect quarterback Joe Burrow would have been great; instead selecting Burrow’s old LSU buddy Ja’Marr Chase feels like a decision that will excite the offense and the duo should hit the ground running.  The two broke records together and won a National Championship in college and I look forward to seeing them play with each other again in the Bengals uniform.

CLEVELAND BROWNS – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Round 2, Overall Pick 52
The Cleveland Browns had a good draft, addressing needs and finding good value along the way.  Owusu-Koramoah is a tough, fast linebacker with coverage skills, who was expected to be a first rounder.  The ex-Notre Dame defender slid, reportedly due to health concerns, and the Browns traded up to get him in the second.  He can be placed in different areas of the formation and will be a great fit to the Browns’ scheme.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Quincy Roche, EDGE, Round 6, Overall Pick 216
I’m not completely sure what to make of Pittsburgh’s draft class.  They found good talent, including a shiny new running back in Najee Harris in round one, but I don’t think they addressed the areas of concern early enough.  The selection of Roche, a smart and athletic edge rusher, was a highlight.  He had great production at Temple and as a Miami Hurricane.  I especially like the value here; the Steelers got Roche in the sixth round.  He will fit in Pittsburgh’s pass rush rotation, doing so from a two-point stance out wide.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON TEXANS – Garret Wallow, LB, Round 5, Overall Pick 170
Only five picks for the Houston Texans, across the middle rounds.  They chose to concentrate on the offensive skill positions with their first three selections, then in round five turned to defense and TCU’s Garret Wallow, who is one of my sleepers in the draft at linebacker.  Wallow was a production machine at college, a downhill thumper when bursting to a tackle and he also has good coverage ability.  He stays in the state of Texas and I expect him to push for a starting role early in his NFL career.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – Kwity Paye, DE, Round 1, Overall Pick 21
Given the depth in this year’s offensive tackle class, it was a little surprising the Colts did not find a starting LT during the process.  An area that does need improving is pass rush and Indianapolis looked to sort this out early by taking Kwity Paye.  He is a really nice scheme fit and can contribute from various spots along the defensive line; the Colts can try him off the edge and also push him further inside the formation on certain downs.  I expect Paye to push for a starting role immediately.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Round 1, Overall Pick 1
We all knew it was coming.  Long before we heard the words “With the first overall pick…”.  Now finally, Trevor Lawrence is officially a Jaguar.  Jacksonville had a pretty good draft overall and also took Lawrence’s Clemson teammate Travis Etienne in the first round to add at RB.  Lawrence is of course the headline act, with a top-class skill set that has had him set to be a franchise quarterback since his freshman college year.  I cannot wait to watch him play on Sunday’s.  Jacksonville fans need to enjoy this moment and get behind Lawrence, accept that there may be some early teething issues and embrace that they have perhaps the most gifted QB prospect to hit the NFL in the last 20 years.

TENNESSEE TITANS – Elijah Molden, CB, Round 3, Overall Pick 100
The Titans had some holes to fill on their depth chart within the defensive backs.  Last year they drafted cornerback Kristian Fulton, who was one of my favourites in 2020, then in the first round this year they selected CB Caleb Farley and added Elijah Molden in the third.  I thought selecting Molden to play the slot or deep safety role was excellent when added to those other two names.  Those are three really talented players who could be roaming the secondary together for years to come.  Good luck trying to pass on Tennessee!

AFC WEST

DENVER BRONCOS – Javonte Williams, RB, Round 2, Overall Pick 35
Another team that appeared to put together a solid class were the Denver Broncos.  They were also rumoured to be close to a deal with the Packers for disgruntled quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  Denver could have had a great weekend!  There is still a good chance of getting Rodgers in June.  The highlight of their draft was trading up a few places to grab North Carolina running back Javonte Williams.  He has a bit of everything to his rushing game and would have been sought after at the top of the second round.  I also liked Denver’s selection of offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz in the third.  Whether or not it’s Rodgers at QB, Williams should be a valuable contributor as a rookie.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Creed Humphrey, C, Round 2, Overall Pick 63
The offensive line for the Chiefs will have a totally new look to it when the 2021 season begins, following the business they did in free agency.  Humphrey will also be a welcome addition; a first round talent who slid all the way to Kansas City at the end of round two.  He is capable of fighting for a starting place instantly and this is a great value pick.  Another of which was when the Chiefs took offensive guard Trey Smith in the sixth.  Talk about the rich getting richer.  I bet the Chiefs draft room could not believe their luck when Humphrey fell into their lap.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS – Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Round 3, Overall Pick 79
I felt as though the Raiders had an inconsistent draft.  They seemed to spend too many picks on the same area of the field.  My favourite moment from them was the selection of Malcolm Koonce in the third round.  If you listened to the EDGE episode of our Full10Yards scouting podcast, you would have heard that both Lee and I like Koonce as a sleeper at the position.  I was still pleasantly surprised he made it into day two and the variety in his pass rushing makes him an exciting prospect.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – Rashawn Slater, OT, Round 1, Overall Pick 13
Unlucky for some.  Pick number 13 was not so for the Chargers.  Having already found a new starting quarterback last year in Justin Herbert, the next-best thing is finding a new offensive tackle to protect him.  They certainly found that in Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, a strong and technically brilliant talent.  I would have said that Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater were the only two OT’s worth trading into the top 10 for.  As it happened, the Chargers did not need to move and still got their guy.  Great drafting.

NFC EAST

DALLAS COWBOYS – Jabril Cox, LB, Round 4, Overall Pick 115
Jabril Cox is one of my favourite players in this entire draft class.  A talented coverage linebacker who moved during his college career from North Dakota State to LSU, putting up great production at both along the way.  I was expecting that Cox would have a chance to rise into the second round, so was disappointed to see him still on the board in the fourth.  The Cowboys made some strange selections, but they got this one right.  Cox is a quality linebacker prospect and Dallas got him at good value here.

NEW YORK GIANTS – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Round 2, Overall Pick 50
A good draft class for the New York Giants, who set about adding to a defense that looked promising last season.  Ojulari was my top EDGE player pre-draft and unfortunately dropped out of the first round with the dreaded injury red flags.  His skill set fits the New York Giants defensive scheme nicely and his potential is sky high.  Ojulari can be a part of the rotational pass rush as a rookie.  As an added bonus, New York were able to trade down a few places and still make this pick.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – DeVonta Smith, WR, Round 1, Overall Pick 10
The Eagles traded up a couple of places to guarantee themselves DeVonta Smith.  I like the fit here; some extra star-power is needed in the Eagles receiving group and Smith will challenge all types of defensive coverages from different spots on the formation.  It’s a case of friends reunited once again, as Philadelphia will likely start the season with Jalen Hurts at quarterback, who was teammates with Smith at Alabama.

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Round 2, Overall Pick 51
There is a nice balance to the class that Washington came away with.  They took advantage of the deep number of tackles and selected Samuel Cosmi in the middle of the second.  Cosmi is a rangy and athletic player who will be in contention to start for Washington early at either OT position.  His quick movement works well in open space, so he can have an impact as a run blocker.  A close second and an honourable mention here goes to Washington’s selection of WR Dyami Brown in round three.  Brown will really stretch the field for the offense.

Photo Credit: Black and Teal

NFC NORTH

CHICAGO BEARS – Justin Fields, QB, Round 1, Overall Pick 11
Bravo, Chicago!  Perhaps THE moment of the first night was when the Bears decided to deal with the Giants to move up from pick 20 to 11 and make Justin Fields their new signal caller.  Fields should not have fallen this far; the ex-Ohio State quarterback is super-talented.  He can make all the throws and has a great mentality, so I expect him to grow and succeed in the NFL.  Whatever your opinions on current veteran Chicago QBs Andy Dalton and (Super Bowl winner) Nick Foles, they are a great brain trust to help Fields develop.

DETROIT LIONS – Penei Sewell, QB, Round 1, Overall Pick 7
I thought the Lions may be one of the candidates to trade down before the draft started.  Then Penei Sewell fell to them and I bet they could not get the pick in quickly enough!  Even with the early run on quarterbacks it would not have been a reach for a team to make Sewell a top 5 selection.  Detroit took the opportunity to add Sewell to a tough-looking offensive line where he will help protect new QB Jared Goff and assist a rushing attack that was near the bottom of the league last season.  The Lions found good value throughout their draft, and it all began by taking the best offensive lineman in the class.

GREEN BAY PACKERS – Eric Stokes, CB, Round 1, Overall Pick 29
Aaron Rodgers may not have liked it, but Green Bay’s first round selection of Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes was my favourite of their draft.  I have been high on Stokes as a prospect over the last year and during the scouting process.  He has some nice scheme diversity to his game and the speed to take away quick throws instantly.  Stokes can potentially make a good CB tandem with Jaire Alexander in the secondary.  The Packers taking versatile O lineman Josh Myers in round two was also a good pick, but given the reports, he may not be blocking for Aaron Rodgers next season.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Round 1, Overall Pick 23
It’s another first round hit for the NFC North.  Riley Reiff’s exit in free agency made me feel sure the Vikings would target a new left tackle early.  To be able to deal with the Jets in the aforementioned trade, slide down to 23 overall and still get Christian Darrisaw was great business.  His zone blocking qualities will fit excellently in Minnesota and add some powerful body-moving that will create space for the running game.  As a result of the trade, the Vikings were able to add a bunch of talent over the three days.

NFC SOUTH

ATLANTA FALCONS – Kyle Pitts, TE, Round 1, Overall Pick 4
With the fourth overall pick, the Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest selected tight end in NFL history.  They could not resist his all-round skill set and the dominant performances he produced in college while playing for Florida.  I like the fit with the Atlanta offense; Pitts will be another weapon to go with an already strong receiving group.  A huge positive is that he was able to be so productive while lining up at different spots along the offense.  Pitts has all of the potential to become one of the premier players at his position in the league.

CAROLINA PANTHERS – Terrace Marshall Jr, WR, Round 2, Overall Pick 59
Choosing a favourite pick from the list of the Panthers draft class is difficult as they made so many good picks.  In fact, I think Carolina may have had the best draft of all.  They found talent and value all the way through the rounds.  Carolina’s best moment came in the second round when LSU receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. fell to them, a player who fills a need and has previously worked under Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who you expect will know how to get the most out of Marshall Jr.  The best part of this for the Panthers?  They began the round at pick 39 and traded down twice, twenty places, and were still able to make this pick.  Good work.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – Paulson Adebo, CB, Round 3, Overall Pick 76
The Saints focused on defense in the opening three rounds.  Selecting edge rusher Payton Turner and linebacker Pete Werner with their first couple of picks, New Orleans then decided to fill a need at cornerback by picking Paulson Adebo.  The ex-Stanford CB comes with some risk having really played only one high-level season at college, but Adebo is physical with great movement skills and could hold down a role on the outside of the Saints secondary opposite Marshon Lattimore.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – Jaelon Darden, WR, Round 4, Overall Pick 129
The reigning Super Bowl champions have spent the off-season making sure to keep all of their starters from last season.  Tampa Bay then selected good rotational and backup players throughout the draft to fill their roster.  In the fourth round they picked North Texas receiver Jaelon Darden, a quick slot WR who will have a role on the depth chart.  The Buccaneers offense is exactly the type of situation Darden needed to thrive in at the next level and he could be a playmaker early in his pro career.

NFC WEST

ARIZONA CARDINALS – Rondale Moore, WR, Round 2, Overall Pick 49
Another division and another small, fast wide receiver prospect.  I thought this was a bit of an uninspiring draft from the Cardinals, albeit they did manage to fill some needs.  As long as Moore can stay healthy, he will operate as a gadget player across the Arizona formation while other receivers line up on the perimeter.  It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals attempt to get Moore to work on their offense.  I’d like to also mention Arizona’s decision to select versatile safety James Wiggins in the seventh.  He is one of my favourite players in this draft and could prove to be a steal.

LOS ANGELES RAMS – Bobby Brown III, DT, Round 4, Overall Pick 117
I really liked a few of the Rams’ mid-round picks.  They went for guys with upside that can be worked into their system.  Bobby Brown III is a high ceiling defensive tackle out of Texas A&M, who displays a good motor and the strength to fight blocks, with room to improve in terms of his technique.  With draftees like Brown III, this is the sort of situation you like to see them go to so they can realise their potential by learning from good veteran players.  In this case, he will have the chance to learn from the best DT in the league, Aaron Donald.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – Trey Sermon, RB, Round 3, Overall Pick 88
When choosing between my favourite draft picks for the 49ers, it came down to the two Trey’s.  Despite Justin Fields still being available, I like that San Francisco made quarterback Trey Lance the number three overall pick and think he has a real chance to start this season.  In the third round, the Niners traded up to take Ohio State running back Trey Sermon.  I’m a fan of his game and think he too can contribute to the offense early.  Sermon’s tough, tackle-breaking ability will help to gain yards in the right situations.  As Andy stated in his draft winners and losers article, this pick may not be good news for the running backs already on the roster, but Sermon’s style can be a valuable asset.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – Tre Brown, CB, Round 4, Overall Pick 137
Not much to choose from with the Seahawks, who made only three picks.  I expected them to address wide receiver and they did in round two with the selection of D’Wayne Eskridge, a fast, reliable playmaker who also has value in the return game.  Seattle then filled a need in the secondary in taking Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown.  He likes to play in close coverage and has positional versatility; Brown can line up on the outside and in the nickel.  I think the Seahawks will enjoy developing Brown’s skill set and figuring out where he best fits on their defense.

By Liam Lodge (@Liam66NFL).

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