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2021 NFL Draft Winners and Losers: Browns, Eagles, Giants, Ravens Find the Gems as the Colts, Raiders, Saints Slip Up

The 2021 NFL draft is in the books. Before you know it, all eyes will be back on the field and the new season is fast approaching. Until then, however, we now have 32 teams’ rookie classes to (prematurely) evaluate. Which clubs got significantly better over the weekend? Who may have stumbled? We’re glad you asked, because we’ve identified 15 of the most notable movers.

We present winners and losers * from the 2021 draft:

* = From immediately after the draft. If you know anything about the NFL, it is that draft classes cannot be judged accurately until literally many years later. That’s how everyone sees it on social media anyway, right?


Baltimore Ravens

Most notable choices:

  • WR Expenditure Bateman (1
  • OLB Odafe Oweh (1)
  • OG Ben Cleveland (3)
  • CB Brandon Stephens (3)
  • CB Shaun Wade (5)

Lamar Jackson should be happy because Bateman has the opportunity to start a day a wide. Oweh and Cleveland, meanwhile, are physical freaks who could fill stains in the trenches rather than later. And the Stephens-Wade duo gives them a couple of well-built development opportunities behind Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey on the corner.

Carolina Panthers

Most notable choices:

  • CB Jaycee Horn (1)
  • WR Terrace Marshall Jr. (2)
  • OT Brady Christensen (3)
  • TE Tommy trembles (3)

They may regret having passed Justin Fields in the first, but Horn brings a fighter’s mentality to an emergency position. And at least Sam Darnold wants a legitimate cast. If Marshall Jr. staying healthy, he can be a reliable No. 3 behind DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. And both Christensen and Tremble offer lots of athletics.

Chicago Bears

Most notable choices:

  • QB Justin Fields (1)
  • OT Teven Jenkins (2)

It feels too early to crown Chicago, by any team, for its huge strength moving up, mainly because it has previously been misread or mismanaged by the QB site. But let’s face it: Fields was a top-five talent in this class, and he injects all sorts of play options into a Bears QB space that is temporarily “heading” by Andy Dalton. Jenkins is also underrated as a likely plug-and-play right tackle.

Cleveland Browns

Most notable choices:

  • CB Greg Newsome II (1st round)
  • LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (2)
  • WR Anthony Schwartz (3)

If you are hesitant to call Brown’s frontrunners in AFC North, do not be. Cleveland added a rock solid list with each of the first three picks. Newsome brings premium insurance to a CB site that is often hampered by injury. Owusu-Koramoah can be a hybrid play-maker at the heart of the defense. And Schwartz offers even more juice to a receiving corps with three other advanced starters.

Minnesota Vikings

Most notable choices:

  • OT Christian Darrisaw (1)
  • QB Kellen Mond (3)
  • LB Chazz Surratt (3)

Darrisaw would have been perfectly acceptable at No. 14 overall, but the Vikings got him at No. 23 after a pull down. It’s a starting left tackle right there, with more long-term upside than the late Riley Reiff. Surratt is an athletic specimen for an LB corps that lost Eric Wilson. And Mond is the most exciting of them all: A confident, rocket-armed project that can push or challenge Kirk Cousins.

New York Giants

Most notable choices:

  • WR Kadarius Toney (1)
  • OLB Azeez Ojulari (2)
  • CB Aaron Robinson (3)

Dave Gettleman, take a bow. Toney was a little too damaging to justify the overall No. 20 pick, but combined with Ojulari, a consensus-first-round that fell to the second, his addition looks even better. The Giants addressed almost every need (except the O-line) in this draft, and as an added bonus, they picked up a first, fourth, and fifth in the 2022 draft thanks to Gettleman’s trades.

Philadelphia Eagles

Most notable choices:

  • WR DeVonta Smith (1)
  • OL Landon Dickerson (2)
  • CB Zech McPhearson (4)
  • RB Kenny Gainwell (5)

Look no further, but Howie Roseman may have found a handful of game changers for his stripped eagles. Smith immediately becomes the team’s No. 1 receiver and a sure goal for QB Jalen Hurts. Dickerson has an injury history but looks like a potential opening day guard and future Jason Kelce successor. McPhearson and Gainwell both offer great games upside down.

San Francisco 49ers

Most notable choices:

  • QB Trey Lance (1)
  • RB Trey Sermon (3)
  • CB Ambry Thomas (3)

It starts and ends with QB, and the 49ers made the right choice after moving all the way up to No. 3. Lance may be raw, but he may offer the highest ceiling for any beginner calling up on this side of Trevor Lawrence. And he fits perfectly with Kyle Shanahan with his running ability. The sermon, meanwhile, is a luxury addition that packs some punch into a good backfield.

Washington football team

Most notable choices:

  • LB Jamin Davis (1)
  • OT Samuel Cosmi (2)
  • WR Dyami Brown (3)

Man, Ron Rivera is really putting together a tough team, right? Davis should immediately step in as a leader in the defense, Cosmi offers long-term support where Trent Williams once stood, and Brown gives them another chess piece in the offense. These moves will help them in 2021 with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, but they also bode well in the distant future.


Denver Broncos

Most notable choices:

  • CB Patrick Surtain II (1)
  • RB Javonte Williams (2)

Surtain gives them a premium plug-and-play corner in a place that already exclaims Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. And Williams can be a fun crusher for the backfield. But unless they have an Aaron Rodgers mega-deal up their sleeve, Justin Fields continues to force them to hope for a Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater breakout. Also, why switch to an RB when you already pay Melvin Gordon?

Green Bay Packers

Most notable choices:

  • CB Eric Stokes (1)
  • C Josh Myers (2)
  • WR Amari Rodgers (3)

They added some dynamism to the CB and WR, with Rodgers in particular bringing some long-awaited juice to the slot spot, but Myers – a traditional center – was undoubtedly a reach in the second, though Corey Linsley’s departure rang loud and clear. More importantly, they came in and left the draft without anything close to a decision with Aaron Rodgers looking to leave town.

Indianapolis Colts

Most notable choices:

  • DE Kwity Paye (1)
  • DE Dayo Odeyingbo (2)
  • S Shawn Davis (5)
  • QB Sam Ehlinger (6)

Paye was an underrated find in the back half of the first, and he feels like the kind of guy who quietly logs 10 sacks like a rookie. Davis could also take early reps to safety, and Ehlinger brings fragile competition behind Carson Wentz. But goodness, they really needed some tackle help. Two straight pass rushers, with one all but one lock missing most of 2021? Are they not in wind-now mode?

Las Vegas Raiders

Most notable choices:

  • OT Alex Leatherwood (1)
  • S Trevon Moehrig (2)

Always good for a range in the first round, they spent No. 17 at Leatherwood despite clearer starting caliber linemen like Darrisaw and Jenkins still sitting on the board. Moehrig, on the other hand, is a tempting free agent to pair with the feisty Johnathan Abram, but his addition would have made more sense if the Raiders had not continued to work out two more assurances (!) Later.

New Orleans Saints

Most notable choices:

  • DE Payton Turner (1)
  • LB Pete Werner (2)
  • CB Paulson Adebo (3)
  • QB Ian Book (4)

Adebo have drawn high marks as a day two addition in the corner where they lost Janoris Jenkins, and Book could be an underrated piece of the QB competition. But they may have been able to catch him later. After a quiet free agency due to their own restrictions on the ceiling, the Saints also felt changed in the draft, leaving without a single safe safety starter.

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