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Thoughts on the 20-21 NFL Draft

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on May 10, 2021

The draft was characterized by three factors: There were more good quarterbacks in this draft than is typical. However, it was not a strong draft class overall. Finally, the teams had to make decisions based on much less information than they usually have, due to the constraints and disruptions caused by Covid-19. That said, I think most of the teams did a good job of it. I only saw one pick in the first round that I thought was a reach. (Cough, Raiders.)

Many of the top tier teams got better. Baltimore, Kansas City, Cleveland, Buffalo and Tampa Bay all did well, I thought. In fact, though I’m biased, I think KC may have gotten the steal of the draft taking center Creed Humphrey in the second round. Humphrey started for my beloved Oklahoma Sooners as a freshman and anchored the line for four years. He’s an intelligent load.

As predicted, the first three players off the board were quarterbacks. Two were expected – Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) to Jacksonville and Zach Wilson (BYU) to the Jets. The suspense was who San Francisco would take at #3. The rumors were true: the 49ers switched late in their deliberations and took Trey Lance from North Dakota State. This left Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Mac Jones (Alabama) blowing in the wind.

Fields fell to #8 where he was taken by the Chicago Bears, which made their day. After years of disappointment, I think they will be very happy with this pick. As I opined, New England grabbed Mac Jones when he fell to #15. So, the Pats won’t trade for Jimmy G at San Francisco, leaving him to start for the 49ers until Lance is ready. (The Pats also got two good players from OU: Perkins and Stevenson. OU didn’t have many players in this draft because they are so young, but these two can play and they will help New England.)

At #4, Atlanta took tight end Kyle Pitts, which was a no brainer. Except for quarterbacks, Pitts is probably best player at his position than anyone else in the draft at theirs, and perhaps even better than the three quarterbacks.

The Cowboys need defensive help, especially in the backfield, and they targeted Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) and Patrick Surtain II (Alabama) at #10. Unfortunately, they had the rug pulled out from under them when Horn and Surtain went at #8 and #9 in that order just ahead of Dallas. (I was surprised at the order. I had Surtain ahead of Horn.)

But Dallas made a brilliant recovery, dropping back from #10 to #12, for a 3rd round pick, and taking linebacker Micah Parsons at #12. Parsons is a linebacker, and there is some risk with him, but he is arguably the best defensive player in the whole draft and the Cowboys definitely need help at linebacker. Hell, they need help everywhere on the defense. It is among the very worst in the NFL, full of disappointments and overpaid underachievers. (Dallas’ first six draft picks and eight of their 11 were defensive players.)

I was surprised by how many wide receivers went in the first round. Typically, this doesn’t happen, but it seems to be trending this was as the NFL becomes more of a passing league every year. The thinking on the importance of wide receivers seems to have changed.

By the fourth round, picks scattered like a covey of quail as different teams had different needs and varying willingness to take a flyer in the later rounds. As Mark Twain said, “It’s a difference of opinion that makes a horse race.)

Correction: In my blog about the upcoming draft last week, I said Trevor Lawrence would go #1 to the Carolina Panthers. Oops. This was incorrect. The #1 pick belonged to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who did, in fact, take Lawrence. In my defense: Panthers, Jaguars. Two big pussycats. You can see the possible confusion, can’t you?

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