The 2021 NFL Draft is behind us. Now it's time to break it down. Here's our look at the biggest winners from the weekend.
Any time you land the best quarterback prospect I've ever scouted, you are a big winner. The Jaguars walked away from this draft with Trevor Lawrence. They also got better in all corners of the roster. Travis Etienne (No. 25) should be an excellent, versatile running back Urban Meyer can figure out how to deploy. Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell fell out of the first round, but the Jaguars snagged him at No. 33 and he'll compete for a starting spot immediately. Walker Little (No. 45) was a top left tackle prospect before a few injuries sent him down draft boards, Syracuse safety Andre Cisco (No. 65) is a ball-hawk who missed most of 2020 with a torn ACL and USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele (No. 106) has a ton of upside as a run-plugger with some pass-rushing ability. This group will be excellent if it remains healthy.
The Jags are changing the way they do things with Meyer in charge and they added a ton of talent, headlined by a generational quarterback prospect in Lawrence. You can't feel bad about their draft.
New York Giants
Dave Gettleman traded down for the first time in his career (twice!) and it was the right move both times. He added a 2022 first-rounder from the Bears to move down nine spots, and next year's draft should be deeper. That was a savvy move. I also loved their first few picks. Kadarius Toney at No. 20 was right about where he should have been picked. He's the kind of speedy playmaker New York hasn't had since the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Landing edge rusher Azeez Ojulari at No. 50 was a steal, as I had him in my top 30. And UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson (No. 71) was projected as a late first-rounder for much of the pre-draft process. Northern Iowa OLB Elerson Smith could wind up being a gem as well. All-in-all, the Giants drafted well and picked up huge value by landing a first-rounder in 2020.
Chicago Bears fans
Justin Fields is now a member of the Chicago Bears, giving the franchise its best quarterback prospect in a generation. It's not hard to see Fields developing into a legitimate star. That the Bears were able to get Teven Jenkins at offensive tackle in the second round should only add to fans' joy. Party like crazy, Chicago, you haven't had it this good under center in quite a long time.
New York Jets
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really liked what the Jets did. They zeroed in on the quarterback they wanted and took BYU's Zach Wilson at No. 2. We can debate whether he was the right guy to take there or not, but the Jets wanted him and they got him. Then they wisely traded up using their second pick in the first round to get him some protection, landing versatile USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker at No. 14. If that wasn't enough, they got Wilson a weapon by snagging Ole Miss game-breaking receiver Elijah Moore at No. 34. North Carolina running back Michael Carter was a great value at No. 107, and New York spent the next five picks on defensive backs. They needed a cornerback early but that didn't happen, so here's hoping one of the late-round guys works out.
The Jets helped Wilson a ton with the three picks after he was drafted, which is exactly what they didn't do for Sam Darnold.
The Dolphins had two major needs in heading into the draft: wide receiver and edge rusher. They addressed them both in the first 18 picks. Miami selected Jaylen Waddle with the No. 6 pick, which was a reach for me, but not by much. I thought DeVonta Smith would be better, but if they specifically think Waddle fits their scheme better, then I can't quibble with it. At No. 18 they landed the best edge rusher in the draft in Miami's Jaelen Phillips. If he stays healthy, Phillips could be a beast in the NFL. They got a nice value with Oregon safety Jevon Holland at No. 36 and Liam Eichenberg (No. 42) could start at right tackle immediately. Boston College tight end Hunter Long was a steal at 81. On Day 3, the Dolphins didn't have a pick until No. 231 and got value in UMass tackle Lamel Coleman, who could be a depth guy at a few o-line spots.
The Dolphins addressed their biggest needs and found value along the way. If they believe in Tua Tagovailoa, getting him weapons and protection should be the goal. Phillips also filled a major need and has unlimited upside.