Robert Garcia’s 2021 NFL Draft Recap
The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and there were plenty of great takeaways from all three days in Cleveland. Our 600 ESPN El Paso Football Guru, Robert Garcia wrote up his third installment in his NFL Draft series. He joined us on SportsTalk yesterday to offer up his winners, losers, and favorite picks. However, there are plenty of NFL Draft nuggets in this column that did not make it into his one-hour segment with us. Enjoy Robert's wrap-up below, and you can follow him on Twitter @DraftCheese. I know he would love to see his Twitter followers top the triple digit mark.
This may have been the best first round of the draft ever, seriously ever! It all started with five trades that took place prior to draft day and three more once the clock started ticking on pick one. The Eagles and Dolphins each moved draft positions twice.
Five was a popular number in round one as fifteen of the first-round picks were spread out evenly between quarterbacks, wideouts and defensive backs. Overall, eighteen selections were used for offensive players. That was somewhat of a surprise as I had expected at least two more wideouts and one offensive lineman to be selected in round one.
The highest rated defensive player on my board slipped all the way to the Cowboys at pick twelve. While I truly believe Jerry wanted one of the top two corners, he’ll be happy with Micah Parsons. In what was considered a relatively weak draft for defensive lineman we still saw four go in the first round, solidifying the league’s desperation for finding pass rushers. When it came to defense, this year’s draft certainly had some reaches as New Orleans selected defensive end, Payton Turner at pick 28, with Green Bay following that with cornerback, Eric Stokes at 29.
Here’s a quick look at my top 3 rated drafts:
1. Jets – When it comes to the NFL draft, no one else took full advantage of the process more than the Jets. They understood their situation; a third-year quarterback who had regressed, the need to free up some cap space and a cheap replacement at pick two. They picked up three draft picks by trading Sam Darnold and then added Zach Wilson, who seems to have the arm plus confidence needed to handle the New York scene. He was given a huge assist as the Jets moved up nine spots to select the best interior lineman in the draft, in Alijah Vera-Tucker. Then followed that up by getting great value at pick 34 as Elijah Moore, the dynamic slot receiver out of Ole Miss fell into their laps. Lastly, two-time thousand-yard rusher Michael Carter fell to them in the fourth round. That’s enough for an A+ out of me.
2. Chargers – Los Angeles sat back and let the most polished offensive tackle in the draft fall to them at pick 13. Rashawn Slater just became Justin Herbert’s best friend. I love Tre’ McKitty who the Chargers selected in round three. This kid has a high ceiling and the physical abilities to be a dominant tight end. Josh Palmer, another third-round selection could develop into a starter at wideout. On the defensive side of the ball, Asante Samuel Jr., and Chris Rumph II, both have a chance to make an impact early, with Samuel possibly becoming a starter by week one.
3. Miami – The Dolphins invested in their second-year quarterback as Tua now has some running mates on offense. Jaylen Waddle may be the drafts most explosive option at wideout, while also being a great return man. Liam Eichenberg will be an immediate upgrade along the offensive line and tight end Hunter Long will add depth and help ease the loss of potential free agents. On defense, Miami may have added two starters in Jaelan Phillips and Jevon Holland. Phillips was the draft’s best pass rusher, while Holland is a solid cover safety who can compete with receivers and tight ends.
Atlanta – Favorite pick: Kyle Pitts, TE – Florida
New England – Favorite pick: Ronnie Perkins, Edge – Oklahoma
Cleveland – Favorite pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB/S – Notre Dame
Minnesota – Favorite pick: Wyatt Davis, G – Ohio State
My Worst Draft:
1. New Orleans – The Saints draft just didn’t make sense to me. They selected defensive end Payton Turner in the first round when there was better talent available, and it could be argued he’d be there in the second round. I get why they selected linebacker Pete Werner, Mickey Loomis loves drafting kids out of Ohio State, but the value isn’t there in round two. Selecting Ian Book in round four was a waste of a pick. He was a great college quarterback, but his athletic talents do not transition to the NFL, He was a free agent prospect on my board.
Green Bay – The Pack could easily have won worst draft two years in a row, but I’ll be nice strictly based on the selection of Amari Rodgers, the standout slot receiver out of Clemson. I’m just not sold on Eric Stokes who I had a as a late second or high third round pick. Right now, he is more of a workout warrior than true corner. Josh Myers was another reach for me as he was selected 62 overall but had a ranking of more than a 100. I worry how he will handle bull rushers in the interior line. Lastly, not selecting a top wideout in the first round in what could be the best back-to-back years of receiving talent we’ve seen, is unconscionable.
Finally, here are my best value picks per round, based on ranking and draft position:
1st Round: Minnesota, pick 23 – Christian Darrisaw, OT – Virginia Tech
2nd Round: Cleveland, pick 52 – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB – Notre Dame
3rd Round: Washington, pick 100 – Elijah Molden, CB – Washington
4th Round: Dallas, pick 115 – Jabril Cox, LB – LSU
5th Round: Carolina pick 158 – Daviyon Nixon, DT – Iowa
6th Round: Buffalo pick 212 – Damar Hamlin, S – Pittsburgh
7th Round: Denver pick 237 – Kary Vincent Jr., CB – LSU
Here are 10 names to watch during the 2021 college football season.
1. Sam Howell, QB – North Carolina
2. Derek Stingley Jr., CB – LSU
3. Christian Harris, LB – Alabama
4. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE – Oregon
5. Chris Olave, WR – Ohio State
6. JT Daniels, QB – Georgia
7. Evan Neal, OT – Alabama
8. Kyle Hamilton, S – Notre Dame
9. DeMarvin Leal, DT – Texas A&M
10. Matt Corral, QB – Ole Miss
SLEEPER: Malik Willis, QB – Liberty