Power Rankings: Post-Draft 2021 - Quarterback carousels cause rises and falls
3 May 2021 | Josh Henwood
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa’s main work was done in re-signing their starters last year and managing their cap situation. No-one thought they’d get the entire band back together but here we are.
The draft felt more like a prospective succession planning discussion than looking for right now. Many will follow the second-round pick up, Kyle Trask, as we see whether he can follow in his starting QB’s footsteps from mid-round draftee to future of the franchise.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (+1)
Kansas City addressed a couple of holes they had in Round 2 with Nick Bolton and Creed Humphrey. The additions they’ve made on the offensive line both over the weekend and with Orlando Brown Jr. in return for their first-round pick looks like good business that should keep them as the ones to beat in the AFC.
3. Buffalo Bills (-1)
Buffalo got mean on the line with their picks addressing both lines with their first four picks. The slight bump down is more down to the Chiefs filling their needs, than it is Buffalo’s draft performance, which provided them with the strength needed to challenge the top-brass.
4. Cleveland Browns (+1)
There’s a bigger reason why the Browns now crack the top four, which you’ll see at six.
However, the Browns for a second draft in a row seemed to have a cheat code. I was crying out for Andrew Berry to select roving LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at pick 26 as he continued to fall. The Browns board went with top CB prospect Greg Newsome II and were able to move up a few spots in the second round to nab the Notre-Dame prospect and complete the Browns secondary. Other picks were to test out prospects and add depth.
The Browns go into training camp with a stacked roster on both sides of the ball that will feel they can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Chiefs, Bills, and Ravens.
5. Baltimore Ravens (+1)
Speaking of the Ravens, there’s no reason for them to slide after a stable draft where they got a couple of much needed wide-receivers and two great line players in Jayson Oweh (EDGE) and Ben Cleveland (G).
Rashod Bateman was a smart pickup in the first round, and will calm fears some Baltimore fans had about their receiving core.
6. Green Bay Packers (-2)
The Packers were the talk of the draft only a couple of hours prior, and not for the right reasons. A report surfaced that Aaron Rodgers has no intention to return to Green Bay for the 2021 season, and that calls were being fielded in regards to a trade for the 2020 MVP.
The front office has said that there is no intention to trade the veteran, and they certainly didn’t do anything in regards to his status over the weekend. But Brian Gutekuntz certainly didn’t do anything to win him over through his draft picks this year, opting to go to cornerback and center before reaching a good thirty odd spots to draft wide-receiver Amari Rodgers in the third round.
There’s no smoke without fire, and Green Bay will now be on high alert as the quarterback carousel looks to wreck havoc going into the summer. If that is the case, Packers fans may need to be prepared for a couple of years on the opposite side of this table as there’s no telling how ready Jordan Love is.
7. San Francisco 49ers (+3)
I like the 49ers taking Trey Lance with a view to the long term, focusing on their offensive line, and their general approach of adding depth at running back and corner. Injuries were the West Coast side’s biggest issue last year, and this broad addition of talent and future franchise QB acquisition makes them a very strong and interesting team moving forward.
The only thing I was not a fan of was just how much San Francisco gave up to make the trade to three. You could argue that Trey Lance could’ve fallen to them without trading up, but certainly would’ve fallen to a much cheaper slot at around 8-10. I guess we’ll never know, but two firsts and a third to move up for someone that you may have got regardless takes the gloss off for me.
8. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle had three picks and made selections based off their fit into the Seahawk system than projected best player available, but that’s the kind of thing that’s worked for great franchises in the past and I don’t see it affecting their season ahead.
9. Los Angeles Rams
Another team that didn’t have a first round pick and used their first pick to select a wide receiver with question marks. A mainly depth filling year for a franchise that likes to utilise its picks as trade leverage.
10. Indianapolis Colts (+1)
Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo are perfect matches with the Colts scheme and add fire power to the Colts’ defensive line. The Sam Ehrlinger grab is an interesting one that shows that they aren’t convinced on the long-term stability or longevity of Carson Wentz (good call!), but a stable draft for a side looking like they’re in line to win the AFC South this year.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (+2)
I loved the Chargers’ draft this weekend. Rashawn Slater and Asante Samuel, Jr. fill needs for the Bolts that will plug in to a side looking ahead towards a play-off push in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.
Josh Palmer is a legitimate option in a WR room that has been hit by injuries recently, and offers something different to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. It’s an exciting team to be watching right now.
12. Miami Dolphins (+2)
I could copy and paste the Chargers blurb, changes some names and positions, and paste it right back in for the Dolphins. It was a great weekend for them with some gutsy trades prior as well.
They had five picks inside the first two days and all five could feature heavily off the bat. On paper, Miami has what it takes to get themselves into the postseason, but question marks remain about Tua.
Oh, and New England are back in an Emperor Palpatine like way…
13. New Orleans Saints (-6)
One of my heavy sliders as the reality sets in that the Saints are regressing from last year. Jameis Winston is set to be the QB1 on opening day, and their moves weren’t ones that lit any fires with any of the major scouting networks or pundits.
The team is good enough to get into the second slot in the NFC South and in as a wildcard, but beyond that it’s tough to see them go deep into January at this point.
14. Tennessee Titans (-2)
The Titans had a good draft but seemingly still have a number of holes to address. It doesn’t help that one of their higher acquisitions is now embroiled in a legal dispute. One of the AFC’s better sides, but I feel a more lateral season is ahead based on the ups and downs of this weekend.
15. New England Patriots (+6)
Billy B seems to have saved up those vouchers and money he got for a decade’s worth of birthdays and Christmases and spent them all in this off-season. The Patriots have been very (no, ‘unpatriotic’ doesn’t work here…) un-Patriot-like and got their weapons in the offseason before drafting their QB of the future by sitting tight and waiting for Mac Jones to come to them at pick 15.
An instant upgrade from Cam Newton in my opinion, and a new project for Bill Belichek to get into. I see them challenging the Dolphins for that #2 spot in the AFC East.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
The Steelers got Najee Harris, the running back that they were clamouring for in the first round, and then picked up a number of players whose comparisons were that of similar players already in their squad, or from squads of the past. It’s how you keep an identity, sure, but bigger questions laid before remain unanswered for the most part.
17. Minnesota Vikings
With only one pick in the first two rounds, the Vikings traded back from pick number 14 for a couple of third rounders and still got a top-15 player from many pundits’ big boards in T Christian Derrisaw, and packed their squad with high scoring, solid picks in the third round with four selections including QB Kellen Mond who could be one to watch for the future.
An efficient draft to set themselves up for the season. They could end up bumping up should this Aaron Rodgers news turn out to be true.
18. Arizona Cardinals (-2)
Three names come to mind when looking at the Cardinals draft: Zaven Collins is a great linebacker pick-up but probably a reach at 16. However it was probably because they wanted Rondale Moore later in the draft to add to their compliment of wide receivers in Arizona. An embarrassment of riches at WR and CB won’t stop Kyler Murray from having to scramble around though which was seemingly a big issue for the Cards last year.
In any case they’re a few beats off the Rams and Seahawks.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (-1)
Does anyone else think that the Raiders are sleepwalking into another frustratingly insignificant year?
The rumours of Aaron Rodgers to the Broncos almost had the Raiders facing three playoff-expectant teams in their division, and even without that their pick of Alex Leatherwood was both surprising and not surprising in that it was an unconventional reach for a need that is likely to cause an eye-roll or three among residents of the Black Hole.
20. Dallas Cowboys (+1)
The Cowboys didn’t go flashy for the first time in God knows how long!
Their first six selections were on the defensive side of the ball, and picking up some great names including Micah Parsons at 12, Kelvin Joseph in the second round, and most notably by performance metrics: Jabril Cox in the fourth round after many had him as a second round prospect.
A stable draft that addressed real needs on D, it could convert some Ls into Ws next season as a Dak-led offense put up some scores last year, they just couldn’t shut the door the other end.
21. Washington Football Team (-3)
Ryan Fitzpatrick is set to be the undisputed starter of the Washington Football Team. He’s shown up for every team he’s been asked to lately and I expect that to be the case again with 2021 and Washington. The Football Team decided to go for a need in the first round with LB Jamin Davis, which solidifies the mean defensive set the capital has.
The issue is with the offense, but they’ll be right in what is a close battle for the NFC East.
22. Chicago Bears (+2)
I was on my feet when the Bears made their move for Justin Fields. The nine place move up cost them a fifth rounder this year, and a first and fourth next year, but it will mean a lot if Fields matches his potential. The Bears fans can now be excited by a QB1 rather than ready to riot!
In a division that might be all up for grabs, this was an exciting move that was backed up with two offensive tackles to protect their new quarterback in what can only be called smart business.
23. New York Giants (-1)
The top two picks for the Giants could be excellent pick ups indeed. Kadarius Toney has all the athletic attributes you’d want in a playmaking WR, it’s just whether he’s able to pick up on the subtle nuances of the position in good time to make an impact in the NFL as he’s still getting to grips with the position.
Azeez Ojulari was one of those I thought could have gone towards the back of the first round, and was a nice pick up for the Giants in a position that they sorely needed.
On paper, the Giants should make a run for the NFC East this year. It’s just whether Daniel Jones can make that leap with the players he’s now got around him.
24. Denver Broncos (+1)
The Broncos had a solid draft with one of the higher early-door ratings available. Patrick Surtain II, Javonte Williams, Quinn Meinerz, and Baron Browning is a great haul from the first three rounds that should provide value and starting firepower from the outset.
25. Carolina Panthers (-2)
Carolina had 11 picks in this draft so they could take chances on more as they went into Day 3 which is probably why they fall against those looking at value versus the boards.
However Jaycee Horn and Terrace Marshall Jr. will be much needed injections into a flatlining Panthers side right now, and if Christensen and Tremble can convert potential into NFL form going forward, and some of their gambles later down the line pay off, it could be a great draft for the Carolina side.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Outside of the sure-fire, couldn’t miss generational talent pick of Kyle Pitts at TE for their pick at #4 it seemed a fairly missable draft for Falcons fans. In fact, it’s all anyone is talking about for the Falcons. That and the fact that it looks like they’re rolling with Matt Ryan.
27. Philadelphia Eagles
Giants fans must have been livid to see the Eagles trade spots with the Dallas Cowboys to move up and get Devonta Smith. True shithousery from NFC East rivals there in what was an interesting little caveat to the draft’s premier evening.
Landon Dickerson is a good grab too if he is able to move past his injuries. It takes time for a situation like the Eagles’ to heal, and this will be a big acid test for Jalen Hurts this autumn, but they’re in a division that’ll be up for grabs.
28. New York Jets (+1)
Zach Wilson becomes the latest young quarterback saviour of the Gang Green. Grabbing Alijah Vera-Tucker to stack up their offensive line and giving Wilson a weapon in Elijah Moore and all within the first 34 picks shows that the Jets are committed to giving this a real shot.
The main issue? They’re now a far and distant fourth in a stacked AFC East.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (+1)
I’ve been slated for this internally and will continue to do so for putting my critique to paper: The Bengals had one clear need in the draft and they totally botched it.
Ja’Marr Chase will no doubt be a star in the NFL and his repertoire with current Bengals QB Joe Burrow will no doubt aid that, however the elite offensive line talent Penei Sewell was there for the taking and I argue far more of a need with a similar impact.
Instead, they went about drafting a tackle in the second round, but not before trading down, the result of which saw a slew of offensive lineman jump off the board before the Bengals could get their man: Jackson Carman.
I like Ossai in Round 3, and Sample is the insurance pick the round after, but I feel that they got too cute, and suffered for it. Overall they’re better for the draft, just not most efficiently.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (+1)
I won’t waste too many lines here. Lawrence was a home-run pick. Etienne a head scratcher in the first round. Got at least a couple of these weekends to go until they’re in any shape to contend.
31. Detroit Lions (+1)
Was anyone else pumped when Detroit GM, Brad Holmes, started banging his chest and celebrating after confirming the Penei Sewell pick? Lions started their long rebuild by looking at the lines with Sewell on the offensive side and Levi Onwuzurike on the other with two good picks. Long road ahead though one feels.
32. Houston Texans (-4)
Rich Eisen said it best when he said ‘What the hell is that all about?’. The Texans didn’t pick until the third round, then picked a QB. Davis Mills out of Stanford who is a good prospect but that’s not the story here. The selections are now not the story.
Is this admittance that the Texans are not returning with Deshaun Watson? Their WR selection in the third round too was noted as not being very productive too, which will surely worry a Texans fanbase that’s losing its identity and its arsenal bit-by-bit. The four place drop is because I can’t see Watson back now one way or another.