Okay, gang. We are nearing the halfway point of the 2021 NFL draft, and with two days and three rounds through, it has already been a bit of a wild event thus far. The boos were flowing for commissioner Roger Goodell, Sean McVay is starting a true streak of legendary war rooms, and trades are flying like crazy.
With such an eventful draft already, some winners and losers are starting to emerge from the scrum of hopeful teams. The first three rounds of any draft are definitely the most important before a sizeable drop-off in talent generally around the fourth round, so these picks will likely have the most influence going forward. That said, these are the biggest winners and losers so far in the 2021 NFL Draft:
2021 NFL Draft: Biggest Winners And Losers
Winner: Rookie Quarterbacks
Too often, we’ve seen stellar quarterback talents (Sam Darnold) absolutely wasted, while others (Patrick Mahomes) get elevated into the stratosphere by the right or wrong atmosphere around them. Luckily, in this case, every quarterback picked in the NFL draft thus far has managed to find an incredible situation. It’s rare to find the most signal caller-needy teams be so competent in any draft, but this one gives hope.
Normally, one would be worried about Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson going to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets respectively, but Urban Meyer is running the show in Jacksonville, and Adam Gase no longer haunts the Jets with his thousand-yard stare. Both rookies will be entering shockingly competent organizations, at least for now.
As for the rest: Trey Lance gets to learn under Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco while he develops, Justin Fields stays in the Midwest with a team that’s literally only missing a franchise QB, and Mac Jones gets to go to the most organized and historically competent organization/head coach combination in the league with Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Hell, even Kyle Trask gets to go to the reigning Super Bowl champs and learn under Tom Brady!
Every single quarterback in this class should be thanking their lucky stars: no one will be sabotaged by incompetent coaching or management, at least not yet.
Loser: Denver Broncos
Justin Fields and Mac Jones were right there, and you decided to stick it out with Drew Lock.
Winner: Chicago Bears & New England Patriots
See above. They got to benefit from the hilarious incompetence of the Denver Broncos, and two teams that were deemed too low in the NFL draft order to snag a franchise QB got exactly what they wanted.
Loser: Joe Burrow
Listen, Joe. Everyone is really happy for your awesome reunion with former teammate Ja’Marr Chase. We all know and well remember how much history you two made in 2019. But you won’t be able to throw to him if you’re either constantly on your back or in rehab, will you Joe?
The Cincinnati Bengals had a chance to grab a generational prospect in Penei Sewell. They already have a decent receiving corps that can do work when Joe Burrow is protected. Yet they decided to lean further into acquiring weaponry at the expense of fielding the same offensive line that got their franchise quarterback injured for an entire season.
Winner: NFC East
Look, there is nothing that can definitively prove that the NFC Least will be any better than they were last season. But at least three of the teams got definitively better at glaring holes over the first three rounds of this draft. The Dallas Cowboys have surprised many by opting to go for substance over flash by investing in their woeful defense. Micah Parsons leads the crew of Dallas rookies as the consensus best defensive player in the class, while Dallas’ four picks on day two were spent bolstering both the defensive front and secondary with solid athleticism.
The New York Giants fleeced the Bears for the 11th overall pick (four picks in return), and still got arguably the quickest receiver in the 2021 NFL draft (the team’s receiving core just went turbo), and were able to trade back again to get the guy they wanted in the second round, OLB/DE Azeez Ojulari, who profiles like a young Osi Umenyiora.
The Philadelphia Eagles also managed to shore up their injury-riddled offensive line with solid pieces even after giving away assets to draft Devonta Smith, who might end up being the best receiver in this class one day.
Finally, the Washington Football Team doubled down on its incredible defense, and will be even harder to score on this season.
Expect an NFC East resurgence coming sooner than expected.
Loser: Houston Texans
You know the old idiom that goes: “even if you’re scared, don’t act scared”? The Houston Texans are acting scared.
They had to wait until day two to get their first pick. Well, this draft is deep at several positions, and there’s plenty of value at almost every position except the quarterback spot. Oh, wait.
Not only did Houston completely walk back their claims to never trade Deshaun Watson with this pick, but they didn’t even get any good value from it. Of course, Davis Mills might just turn out to be a decent quarterback, but the Texans had already lost out on any franchise-level talent at this point in the draft. If they wanted to move off of Deshaun Watson and groom his replacement, they would have easily gotten a king’s ransom for him if they’d just bitten the bullet earlier and dealt him for a high first round pick. Now, they opt to select his heir apparent while the rest of the team is crumbling into dust.
It’s going to be a rough season for Texans fans. There’s always next year’s NFL Draft.