Let’s get to it. How did teams do in adding talent to their roster thru the 2021 NFL Draft. No grades… you should know by now that I don’t like that concept. However, I would be glad to tell you what I thought teams had, and had not, accomplished for that weekend a month ago. Let’s start with the NFC East, in good part because that will allow Colin to critique what I thought of his GIANTS effort.
COWBOYS The JONES family philosophy seems pretty well established since STEPHEN and GERRY took over the reigns. The team will use the Draft each year to solidify and fill holes in their potential 53-man roster. If JERRY craves a star-power name, he is more likely to play in VFA if he has the money to do so. Wait a second here, I misspoke. He has the money, but the NFL Salary Cap somewhat controls how much he is allowed to spend on his team. After spending a bundle to lock up his QB DAK PRESCOTT for half of this decade, the JONES Boys moved around a bit and ended up drafting 11 players that they hope will augment their roster. Of those 11 Picks, 8 were used on Defense, which made sense given how porous the COWBOYS Defense was last season. What was most evident was their emphasis on their LB talent pool. At Pick 12, they added MICAH PARSONS/Penn State and at Pick 115 they selected JABRIL COX/LSU. With SEAN LEE retiring, and LEIGHTON VANDER ESCH having recurring neck/cervical issues, the future for these two Draftees could be of an immediate nature. Then the team went trolling for DL help, especially at DE opposite of DeMARCUS LAWRENCE. With two 3rd Round Picks, the team added OSA ODIGHIZUWA/UCLA and CHAUNCEY GOLSTON/Iowa as athletic looking DE prospects. Late on Day 3, they added QUINTON BOHANNA/Kentucky, a monstrously large, but athletically limited DT to take up space on the Nose. Stir in 3 DB’s, all of whom have size and athleticism, and it can force some heavy competition on that defense for roster spots and playing time. Of those 3 DB the guy most likely to contribute soonest is 2nd Rounder KELVIN JOSEPH/CB, who led the SEC in INT last season. JOSH BALL/Marshall is their biggest hope to add help along their OL, which has lost some serious talent in recent seasons, and is not the elite unit it was several seasons ago. If even half of these defensive Rookies earn significant playing time, you can label this effort a success going forward.
GIANTS Funny thing happened here when GM DAVE GETTLEMAN decided to become Trader Dave and flipped some Picks. This was after repeated pressers where he joked about his noted propensity not to trade back in his career as a GM. Our records show the GIANTS with 10 Picks accumulated for next year’s Draft, including 7 in the first 4 Rounds. But it also resulted in the GIANTS having only 6 Picks in this year’s extravaganza. My gut tells me part of the willingness to whittle back the number of Picks for 2021 is that fact that GETTLEMAN had already brought in over 20 VFA roster additions. I believe the extra Picks in the next Draft will be part of a big push to add the talent needed to put this team seriously in the Play-Off hunt for 2022. KADARIUS TONEY, in Round 1, is the attempt to add the deep threat to an already solid, but not explosive, receiving corps. AZEEZ OJULARI/Georgia is a serious edge-rush specialist, though still young. AARON ROBINSON/UCF could be the final piece to their rebuilt secondary. ELERSON SMITH/DE from little Northern Iowa could also add some edge-rush pressure and build up the DL depth. I am not sure who did the scouting on RB/GARY BRIGHTWELL, but his most noticeable talent in my eyes is lack of ball security. He’s a fumble waiting to happen with the ball in his hands. RODARIUS WILLIAMS is the brother of GREEDY WILLIAMS, though not as athletic. Those first 4 Picks are legit pro prospects and should combine with their big VFA group to boost this team up, especially if SAQUAN BARKLEY comes back at full health.
EAGLES It looks like rebuild time from top to bottom for the EAGLES organization. They got old, and kinda stale, last season, so HOWIE ROSEMAN is rolling the dice on a bunch of new faces in key positions. HC DOUG PEDERSON went from genius, to bum, in only a couple of seasons for the EAGLES. Same with QB CARSON WENTZ, who looked totally lost last season. They purged their WR group of vets like JEFFERY & JACKSON, and for the second straight year took a WR in Round 1, with Heisman winner DeVONTA SMITH joining JALEN REAGOR as the top two wideouts. A “sleeper” in the mix could be URFA TREVON GRIMES, who has excellent size (6’4) and athleticism, not to mention starring on Special Teams as a Gator. JALEN HURTS was finally named their starting QB after the trade of WENTZ to the COLTS. Signing vet JOE FLACCO looks like a good move because he should be willing, at age 36, to mentor HURTS most of the time, but can step in if HURTS misses time. Another ‘Bama pick, in Round 2, was LANDON DICKERSON, who when healthy, will get a shot this year at OG, perhaps replacing aging stalwart JASON KELCE in 2022 as the starting OC. RB KENNETH GAINWELL, in Round 5, could be a solid piece in a rebuilt RB corps which welcomes back JORDAN HOWARD after a failed year in MIAMI. They need to lighten the load on MILES SANDERS, who has the talent for RB-1, but also gets nicked up and misses time if overworked. They also decided it was time to restock their DL group, which has always been the key to their Defense, both stopping the run and pressuring the passer. The top guy is 3rd Rounder MILTON WILLIAMS, who is explosive and athletic. JACOBY STEVENS/LSU was a tackling machine for the Bayou Bengals, and looks like he could fill a hybrid/S/LB spot for their Defense, at 6’1/216. Add him to a LB group that includes second year man DAVION TAYLOR, VFA ERIC WILSON, and ex-CFL’er ALEX SINGLETON, and their LB group looks more talented than it has in recent seasons. The EAGLES secondary was pretty bad last season, and the only Draft addition there is from 4th Rounder ZECH McPHEARSON/Texas Tech. This guy was rising up prospect lists leading up to the Draft, and plays with energy and ball skills. If he can capture a Corner job, their secondary could take a big jump with ANTHONY HARRIS, VFA VIKINGS, coming on board to fill one S slot. It was a good Draft for the EAGLES, but I would still bet that the COWBOYS and WASHINGTON will be the front runners for an NFC East title.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM Anybody else wondering when they are finally going to come up with a new team name for this organization to hang their hat on? Merchandising opportunities hang in the balance, waiting for a decision. For now, HC RON RIVERA is busy rebuilding the team in his image. And signing grizzled vet QB/RYAN FITZPATRICK to guide his team is the most obvious example of that. Riverboat RON got him some Offensive help in their Draft effort. SAMUEL COSMI, 2nd Round OT, will be given every chance to win a starting job with the release of MORGAN MOSES. In Round 3, the team selected DYAMI BROWN/WR/UNC, a dynamic receiver/returner to match with No. 1 wideout McLAURIN. I also like the Round 4 selection of TE/JOHN BATES to help converted QB LOGAN THOMAS, who exploded last season as a receiving threat. I was a bit surprised the team did NOT select a RB, but am getting the impression that mini-mite JARET PATTERSON/Buffalo, despite his 5’6/195 frame, may be counted on to fill several roles as a jitterbug RB backup. Most of the rest of the Draft was dedicated to their Defense. JAMIN DAVIS/Kentucky, their First Round Pick, was a tackling machine for the Wildcats last year, and is quite the physical specimen at 6’4/235. He should start as a Rookie. BENJAMIN ST.-JUSTE/CB has a limited resume’ from his college career at Minnesota, but also has nice size at 6’3/200, and very long arms. He impressed at the Senior Bowl. He should help immediately on Special Teams, and at least see the field from scrimmage in sub-packages right away. DARRICK FORREST/Cincinnati is a good athlete with good ball skills for a S slot. COLLINS/CURL are a solid combo at S, but depth is questionable, giving FORREST a chance to push for playing time. Penn State’s SHAKA TONEY was a Round 7 Pick with 2nd Day athleticism. However, it will take time to train him as an edge-rushing LB. In a few years, he may look like a steal that late.
These teams had solid Drafts, but no one really hit on glamour position guys except perhaps for SMITH in PHILADELPHIA. In the year of the QB Draft, none of these teams added one, though several may be looking for help there next Draft. PARSONS and DAVIS could put up numbers to get themselves Defensive Rookie of the Year votes. KADARIUS TONEY could be the Sleeper here if JONES can get him the ball in stride often enough.