The NFL Draft presents a dichotomy. On the one hand, it’s one of many greatest annual occasions on the sports calendar, and there’s a pure need to guage how groups did as quickly because it ends. On the opposite, it’s an inherently long-term train, and it doesn’t turn into totally clear how groups fared till these gamers truly get onto the sector. Gamers want time to regulate to the league and show whether or not they had been value their alternatives or not.
Even so, we are able to make some educated guesses based mostly on which groups appeared to get good worth and which gamers have already offered motive to assume they’ll achieve success within the NFL. Under, a handful of the most important winners and losers from this 12 months’s NFL draft.
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars spent the No. 1 total decide on Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, who is as close to a surefire superstar because the draft will ever produce. Getting Lawrence means the Jags had an especially profitable draft. They didn’t need to do the rest after that. Lawrence immediately takes Jacksonville from a moribund franchise that may’t do something proper to a group that may be across the nook from a playoff chase. He single-handedly adjustments the franchise’s long-term outlook and possibly, ultimately, the league’s steadiness of energy.
Loser: Inexperienced Bay Packers
It wasn’t precisely draft-related information, nevertheless it dominated draft weekend greater than something besides the Jaguars selecting Lawrence at No. 1: The Packers have upset franchise QB Aaron Rodgers. ESPN reported that Rodgers had advised members of the Packers group that he was so disgruntled with the group that he didn’t need to return in 2021.
Why is Rodgers so offended? It’s not solely clear, however a few strong theories counsel that he’s aggravated the Packers drafted a quarterback (Utah State’s Jordan Love) within the first spherical of final 12 months’s draft and he needed the Packers to have prolonged his contract by now. (The group says it has provided to take action.) If Rodgers doesn’t return to Inexperienced Bay, the group would lose the reigning league MVP and probably the greatest passers ever.
Winner: Chicago Bears
The Bears share the NFC North with the Packers, so Inexperienced Bay’s misfortune with Rodgers stands to make Chicago an enormous winner. Past that, they made one of many strongest picks of the NFL draft once they took Ohio State QB Justin Fields at No. 11 total. Every little thing about Fields’ monitor report suggests he should have been the second pick in the draft, one decide behind Lawrence, however he was someway the fourth quarterback taken, behind Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. The Bears traded up within the draft to get Fields, in all probability as a result of they realized he could be their best QB in decades.
Loser: Detroit Lions
The Lions are additionally within the NFC North, in order that they profit from any Rodgers-Packers drama as effectively. However their draft technique may damage them. With the seventh decide within the NFL Draft, the Lions chosen Oregon offensive sort out Penei Sewell. Itemizing the Lions as a loser right here isn’t any knock on Sewell, who is likely one of the greatest offensive line prospects to come back via the draft in years. Detroit can have probably the greatest QB protectors within the league, and he’s a strong match for the group’s dashing technique.
The issue is, who’s the QB? I believe it would sting within the lengthy haul that the Lions let a division rival come away with a star QB like Fields. However possibly, with Jared Goff at quarterback, the Lions might be so dangerous in 2021 that they’ll get one other excessive decide and might nab a long-term quarterback within the 2022 draft. Nonetheless, Fields might’ve been that man.
Winner: Atlanta Falcons
Florida tight finish Kyle Pitts, whom the Falcons took at No. Four total, is likely one of the most proficient move catchers I’ve ever seen. His highlights communicate for themselves (see the video above).
A number of the Falcons’ late-round picks are attention-grabbing, too. I actually like their second-rounder, College of Central Florida security/linebacker/slot cornerback Richie Grant. He can play many roles for Atlanta’s protection, and that versatility is vital within the trendy NFL, the place a defensive again who can’t defend each the run and the move is more and more exhausting to placed on the sector.
Loser: Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders took Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood with the 17th decide. It’s not probably the most outrageous decide in draft historical past––Leatherwood was a four-year contributor for Alabama, and he performed on probably the most proficient O-line in faculty soccer––however few, if any, anticipated him to get picked that early.
Even when he wasn’t an enormous reach for the Raiders at that spot, it’s exhausting to not assume they may have traded backward a couple of picks (thus gaining additional alternatives) and nonetheless wound up with the participant they needed. From that standpoint, this decide feels somewhat wasteful, even when Leatherwood seems to be efficient.
Winner: Working backs
Two operating backs (Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne) acquired picked within the first spherical, at No. 24 and No. 25 respectively. Final 12 months’s draft solely had one operating again within the first spherical, and it took till the ultimate decide of the spherical for the Chiefs to take LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
NFL groups have more and more come to view operating backs as interchangeable and usually don’t use premium draft picks to accumulate them. Groups have additionally cooled significantly on giving RBs costly free agent contracts—none landed more than a $5.5 million salary or something past a two-year contract this offseason. Harris and Etienne are unlikely to vary these dynamics, however their alternatives are a proud second for the place regardless.
Winner: New York Giants
First-round extensive receiver Kadarius Toney out of Florida (No. 20 total) is likely one of the most electrical gamers within the NFL draft––as proven within the video above, the place he embarrassed South Carolina’s protection for probably the greatest touchdowns of 2020. Within the second spherical, at No. 50 total, the Giants additionally landed Georgia pass-rusher Azeez Ojulari, who was extensively anticipated to be a first-round decide himself.
Loser: New England Patriots
The Patriots had been rumored to be fascinated about Fields at quarterback, however as a substitute they traded up for a lesser QB in Alabama’s Mac Jones. However as a result of that is the Patriots and Invoice Belichick continues to be on the helm, it’s not possible to rule out Jones someway profitable a number of Tremendous Bowls throughout his time in New England.
In an effort to take each Jones and his new group down a peg, it’s on the remainder of America to insist this was a nasty decide till we’ve spoken it into existence. (Until you’re a Pats fan, in fact.)
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