Monday, May 3, 2021
2021 NFL Draft: Stallions and Scallions
Here's who got the brand new cars — and who got the zonks — in the NFL's version of Let's Make a Deal:
Minnesota Vikings — After leading the 2020 draft solely with 15 picks, they had to "settle" for a three-way tie for most picks in this draft, with "only" 11. And whenever you trade down nine picks in the first round and still get the player you were targeting — Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw — that's totally brilliant. Then they compounded the "felony" by snapping up another offensive lineman, Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, with one of the picks obtained in the trade-down (with the Jets). Awesome job by Rick Spielman.
Carolina Panthers — One of the other two teams with 11 picks. Their selection of South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn extended their streak of drafting only defensive players under Matt Rhule to eight (all seven of their 2020 picks were on that side of the ball), but then they went on offense in their next four — and may have saved the best for last in Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, who could provide valuable insurance if Christian McCaffrey keeps getting injured.
Dallas Cowboys — Defense ranked next-to-last against the run in 2020, and linebacker Sean Lee retired this spring. So, understanding how Jonah felt in the whale and Noah in the ark, they accentuated the positive by making Micah Parsons, like Lee a Penn State grad, their first-round pick, and snapping up fellow linebacker Jabril Cox of LSU, who inexplicably was still there in the fourth round, with two of their 11 picks.
New England Patriots — Rolled with the Tide with their first two picks — quarterback Mac Jones and interior defensive lineman Christian Barmore. They then went west, to Oklahoma, for their next two picks — edge rusher (since when did this become a position?) Ronnie Perkins and Rhamondre Stevenson, a poor man's Najee Harris. After reaping a draft harvest like this, maybe Bill Belichick will discover the art of tanking?
Los Angeles Chargers — Only knock on Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater is that he opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID; followed that pick up with Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. with the No. 47 overall pick after the Eagles so foolishly passed on him at No. 37. With the Chiefs plagued by the Super Bowl Runner-Up Jinx and the Raiders being, well, the Raiders (the Broncos need not apply), this team has real chances at becoming the new kings of the AFC West hill this autumn.
Seattle Seahawks — Three picks! You have to go all the way back to 1999, when the Saints, under Mike Ditka, traded away the rest of their entire draft for Ricky Williams, to find a team that had fewer.
Houston Texans — Didn't have a pick until the third round — and when they finally did get to make a pick, they ominously selected Stanford quarterback Davis Mills. Bet on this team to "earn" the top pick in the 2022 draft and that's one wager you won't lose.
Los Angeles Rams — Their quick-fix beat goes on — their streak of years without a first-round pick will reach seven in 2023 after they traded their 2022 and 2023 first-rounders for a 33-year-old quarterback who is 74-93-1 as a starter and has never won a playoff game (Washington went 11 consecutive years without a first-round pick — from 1969 through 1979). This is no way to run a football team.
Philadelphia Eagles — One would think that when a team not only has the easiest schedule in the league in the upcoming season, but is also taking the biggest drop in strength of schedule from what every team played the previous season, based on the previous season's records, that team would try to draft some key players who will help them improve right away. But squandering their first-round pick on a wide receiver after drafting three wide receivers last year (and a wide receiver over whom both size and speed questions hover), their second-round pick on a center who has two bad knees and two bad ankles, and their third-round pick on a dude who might be 30-years-old before he sees any significant playing time because the position he plays (defensive line) just happens to be the team's strongest unit by far? Finally drafted a cornerback, their number one area of need (Texas Tech's Zech McPhearson) in the fourth round, but then added yet another colossal blunder by drafting Memphis scatback Kenneth Gainwell, who is as necessary as a fence around a cemetery on this depth chart, in the fifth round. Terrible!
San Francisco 49ers — Five years after the Eagles traded up to grab a non-AQ quarterback in Carson Wentz, they did the same thing to put themselves in a position to not only draft a non-AQ quarterback, but one from the same non-AQ school as Wentz. When will they ever learn?