The 2021 NFL Draft was completed on Saturday May 1st in Cleveland and all seven rounds are now in the books. It was refreshing to see a sold out crowd for a sporting event and a sign that things are slowly returning to some sense of normalcy after the awful Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of young men achieved their NFL dreams and have the chance to set themselves up for life financially.
As with all drafts, there were winners and losers. What teams scored the best future football players of tomorrow? Here are the eight best value picks from the 2021 NFL Draft.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars- RB Travis Etienne (Clemson)
The Jags obtained a heck of a lot of value by snagging a true ‘take-it-to-the-house’ guy like Etienne late in the first round at pick 25. Etienne has the best speed burst of any running back in the draft. By adding playmakers like Lawrence and Etienne, the Jags management is giving their fans a reason to hope again.
7. Los Angeles Chargers- CB Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida St)
Samuel may only be 5'10" in height, but this dude hits like he is bigger than Ivan Drago from Rocky IV (haha)! The former Seminole standout comes from good football bloodlines as his father played for 11 seasons in the NFL. Samuel is not afraid of contact and has plenty of high level speed to keep up with the fastest NFL receivers.
The Chargers needed to add a playmaker at corner and Samuel was a fabulous choice. Samuel is so NFL-ready that he could very well make the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
6. Philadelphia Eagles - C Landon Dickerson (Alabama)
We had to give some love to a big fella up front here and Dickerson plays with a tough, nasty attitude which is perfect for the center position. This is just what the Eagles were looking for when they drafted Dickerson in the second round on Friday night. Dickerson was a personal favorite of Alabama head coach Nick Saban because of the fire he brought to the team.
The center position requires good leadership abilities since they not only snap the ball on each play but call out the pass protection as well. Dickerson has the charisma to be a leader in the locker room for Philadelphia. The Eagles will be counting on Dickerson to protect QB Jalen Hurts for many years in the future.
5. Detroit Lions - WR Sage Surratt (Wake Forest)
Wow, it is hard to believe that a 6'3" powerhouse receiver like Surratt did not get drafted but signed as a free agent with Detroit right after the draft. Though some NFL scouts were turned off by his 4.6 second 40-yard time, Surratt is physical enough to get separation off the line of scrimmage. The Lions definitely need a big, possession type of receiver and Surratt fits the bill in that regard.
4. Cincinnati Bengals- DE Joseph Ossai (Texas)
Ossai is one of the best pass rushers in the entire draft and the Bengals were ecstatic to pick him up in the third round on Friday night. While at Texas, Ossai was a freaking nightmare for all offensive linemen because he is nearly impossible to block. Ossai has the size (6'4", 256) and ran the second fastest 40-yard dash time of any defensive linemen in the draft (4.4 seconds).
Ossai was the first player from the University of Texas to be named an All-American since 2017. The Nigeria native has the innate ability to sack the quarterback but he can also be a force in stopping the run. Ossai should fit in with the Bengals defensive scheme quite well also.
3. Chicago Bears- QB Justin Fields (Ohio State)
Bears fans were more than thrilled to nab Fields with the #11 overall pick in the first round. Head coach Matt Nagy knew the team needed to make a titanic splash with their first round pick. ‘Da Bears’ have Andy Dalton and Nick Foles in their QB room, but neither one of those aging veterans have much tread left on the tires.
Fields adds some much needed speed, arm strength, and leadership ability to a team that is desperate for some help on the offensive side of the ball. Many NFL Draft experts had Fields going as high as third overall to San Fran so Chicago got some value here. Fields should land the starting QB spot out of training camp and could potentially be a Rookie of the Year candidate.
2. Miami Dolphins- WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores got just what he wanted: a playmaking receiver for Tua Tagovailoa! Waddle was a huge get at #6 in the first round as the 5'10" speedster is simply a nightmare for opposing defenses. Waddle also displayed a ton of heart and toughness by playing hurt for Alabama in the National Title game against Ohio State.
What is kind of cool about this pick is that Waddle and Tagovailoa are former Alabama teammates so the Crimson Tide ‘blood brothers’ will reunite in Miami. It will be interesting to see how big of an impact Waddle will have on the Dolphins offense. Also, don’t forget that Waddle is an absolute BEAST at returning punts and kicks on special teams!
1. New England Patriots- QB Mac Jones (Alabama)
Mac Jones is used to having to show patience as it took him three years to win the starting QB job at Alabama. Though many draft gurus had Jones going to the Niners with the third pick, Jones waited calmly and kept cheering for his former teammates who were drafted ahead of him on Thursday night. The Patriots were probably planning to trade up to get Jones but the former Heisman finalist fell right into their lap at #15 in the first round.
Bill Belichick has to be elated to get a highly intelligent, rocket-armed, prototypical drop back passer with a winning attitude. Cam Newton may be the starter coming into the season, but expect Jones to get some reps at some point once he learns the offense. Drafting Jones could signal the beginning of a new dynasty in New England.