Undrafted – The Network

Draft Weekend – This was the 2021 NFL Draft

Draft Weekend for many people is one of the best of the year. It is the true start of the new season (I know, Free Agency, but this is more exciting) and is the first chance for teams to fix issues. Of course, the chance of selecting difference makers, even in the first round only sits at 50% at best. Whilst we may all be happy, or not, with who our teams took, it doesn’t mean the sure fire hits will pan out. Or for that matter that the busts will bust.

There were a surprising number of guys who went undrafted who I would have had draftable grades on. I’ll touch on those at the end but first my feelings regarding the 7 rounds we have all be glued to. I will say now, this is not a thorough review of every pick for every team. Over the coming weeks there will be deep dive articles which look at what teams did and how we think they graded out.

For now this is my initial reactions, please feel free to let me know whether you agree, or not. Everyone has differing opinions and this is the perfect time for debate and speculating about who went to the perfect team and who now has a very difficult path to NFL relevance.

Day 1

See Alex’s Round 1 recap here.

Round 1

The glamour round. This is where prospects aim for when they start out. Everyone wants to walk across the stage to shake Roger Goodell’s hand whilst receiving a jersey with “their name” and 1 on the back.

For the most part what I expected to happen here did. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson were duly anointed the saviours of their new franchises before the first real question point was answered. I was very happy to see Trey Lance go to the 49ers. I think Fields is a better QB, but Lance has the highest ceiling and is in the perfect position to succeed. Justin Fields has also landed well I think. Whilst I’d have expected him to go to Denver (more on that imminently) the Bears trading up for him is a good thing. I expect he is starting by Week 5 and winning by Week 6. He has gone to a team with a great Defence and has some solid pieces around him.

Another under the radar winner of this move is Allen Robinson. He has played with god awful QB’s his whole career, from Bortles in Jacksonville to Trubisky in Chicago. Fields gives him a chance to have a Pro Bowl caliber season before leaving the Bears at the end of his Franchise Tag. Oh and Mac Jones went to the Patriots. The highlight of his evening before this was being able to gorge on 3 large bags of Cheetos. This was while everyone else in the green room went before him (this may not be 100% accurate….it could have been 4 bags). I expect he’ll do ok on his way to becoming a career back up.

Jaylen Waddle – Image Credit (The Phinsider)

I think the Bengals made the wrong call going for Chase over Sewell. But they have another 6 rounds to cover the OL so let’s see how that goes. Much of the first half of the round was those we thought would be drafted. The Jets and the Lions focussed on the trenches, sensibly. The Raiders focused on their trenches by making a huge reach for a player. A player who could’ve been taken a round later, standard Raiders. Mike Mayock, you may have been a good analyst, you are a horrible GM.

I’d have put good money on Justin Fields going to the Broncos had he been available before the Draft started. That changed when news emerged that Aaron Rodgers was pushing, hard, for a trade. He apparently named the Broncos as one of his preferred destinations. His contract cannot be moved before June 1st without the Packers incurring huge dead cap. As such the fact nothing has been announced is unsurprising. I would not bet against Rodgers suiting up in Denver next year at this point.

…and after the QBs?

The receivers went where I thought they would albeit to different teams. Waddle in Miami could be fantastic and Toney in New York will be a lot of fun. The Ravens drafting Rashod Bateman was what fans wanted. Now Lamar really doesn’t have any excuses with regards to passing matters. A new coaching staff with a new scheme and a shiny new Number 1 who was fantastic in college. He still won’t put up huge numbers but this should all come together to get him open receivers and a Plan B that the Ravens need to have. If that clicks I will be a very happy guy as the Ravens saunter into the Super Bowl next February.

The second half of the round felt much more sensible. The one surprise was that there wasn’t the run on Tackles which had been expected, with many teams focussing on other aspects. The Vikings managing to pick up their future starting LT after trading back 9 spots was a great piece of business for them and Slater to the Chargers was perfect for Justin Herbert. We saw two RB’s go which made Alex Buck very unhappy. Najee to the Steelers, as much as I hate it, is great for them and their fans who saw nothing from that element of their game last year. I also don’t hate Etienne to the Jags, he will be the starter despite Urban Meyer saying otherwise.

Rashod Bateman – Image Credit (Ninety-Nine Yards)

A few edge guys went at the end of the round, all to teams who need them with the Ravens valuing measurables over production for once in Jayson Oweh and the Bills banking on one awesome season from their first round pick Rousseau. The Packers decided that they would focus on a weakness of theirs, CB, by making a huge reach for a guy who is going to draw the most flags of any rookie next season. Eric Stokes was not a first round talent and has just got very lucky. Can you all say Kevin King mk2 with me? Gross. They still have that weakness at CB.

Day 2

Round 2

The first big move of the day saw the Broncos move up ahead of the Dolphins to grab Javonte Williams. I’m pretty certain I heard Alex’s screams from here (there is a good 200 miles at least between us). They did take one of my favourite layers however in Jevon Holland, higher than expected but he is going to be great. He is a second shot at Minkah Fitzpatrick in my eyes for the Dolphins.

Teams made good solid picks would be the headline for the first half of the second round. Again the Bears did very well, Teven Jenkins will grow with Fields through their careers and should expect to spend many years together, love it! The Eagles also appear to be being sensible. Landon Dickerson can start at Guard but I guarantee he is the future at Centre once Jason Kelce retires.

A couple of Safeties went to the Falcons and the Raiders and both were good picks. Trevon Moehrig as the third safety off the board to the Raiders is great value at pick 43. He was a top 20 on most people’s lists. I love the Jags pick up of Walker Little, he was outstanding in 2018 as a sophomore. Yes he has been out for two years due to injury and Covid but man that talent is insane. It is a risk for sure but this is the Draft, the time for calculated risks. The Cowboys got the corner they missed in the first round which they needed, badly. The run on tackles happened between picks 39-53 as we saw 6 go in that time, as a Ravens fan this displeased me greatly.

Nick Bolton – Image Credit (ABC17News.com)

Two of the biggest surprise fallers, Nick Bolton and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, found homes in this rounds with the Chiefs and the Browns respectively. Great players, bunk teams (from a Ravens standpoint, I know they’re actually good). Such is life. The Seahawks and the Rams made their first appearances and both of them chose small speedy receivers, definitely not the number 1 need for either team. Russell Wilson’s face must have been a picture!

The round ended with some sensible picks with a lot of potential upside. Green Bay and Kansas addressed their OL issues with solid picks and Buffalo doubled down on the Edge. With the last pick of the second, the Bucs took Kyle Trask who now gets to sit and learn for a year or two from the GOAT. He then gets to inherit a hell of a team and be set up to win early if he shows the aptitude needed.

Round 3

Welcome to the party Houston. Davis Mills could have been a top 10 pick next year had he stayed in college. Getting him in now, the first tacit admission that Watson is off, is a great first move. Mills could well be the QB of the future and they can now focus on the rebuild. Kellen Mond to back up Kirk Cousins is an odd one as they are totally different kinds of QB. This round for me was watching the remaining OL guys coming off the board before the Ravens got there shot. Frustrating didn’t cover it! That said, picking up the giant Ben Cleveland at 94 was great, he should step straight in at Left Guard and has the potential to be a long term starter.

There were a lot of the big names remaining off the board here. Mayfield and Ossai were quickly snapped up and players such as Aaron Robinson and Milton Williams followed. The Saints addressed their CB need finally with the selection of Paulson Adebo, typically a guy who is likely to convert to Safety in Tom’s eyes. The Raiders did their usual huge reach, Malcom Koonce at 79 was not scheduled to be off the board for another 100 picks or so. I know that is no guarantee but you need to draft to value as well. The Raiders refusal to draft as sense would dictate is one of the reasons that they will be staying 8:8 for the foreseeable. Constant reaching for their guys means they keep missing on better quality players due to lacking patience.

Dyami Brown – Image Credit (The Game Haus)

Dyami Brown to Washington is a pick I like, they have a sneaky good WR core now. McLaurin, Samuel and Brown with Logan Thomas at TE, Ryan Fitzpatrick will have fun! The Panthers jumped all over this years Draft and their acquisition of Tommy Tremble in the third is going to go a long way to opening even more holes for McCaffrey. Packers fans will definitely get to see A. Rodgers play next year. Just maybe not at QB. Amari Rodgers out of Clemson at 85 is another sneaky good pick. He should be able to establish himself at WR3/4 this year with a view to stepping up as his career moves forwards.

Quinn Meinerz to the Broncos will go well for him. I hope he becomes as successful and that we are seeing that belly for years to come. Wyatt Davis (Guard) to the Vikings and Nico Collins (Receiver) to the Texans are other picks which I think will bear fruit sooner rather than later. At this point I could not believe the Dolphins refused to address the RB position. They selected Hunter Long (TE) whilst passing on players like Michael Carter, Trey Sermon and Kenneth Gainwell. Myles Gaskin is serviceable but he doesn’t strike fear into opposition defences. As it went, Sermon was in San Francisco not long after.

Unfortunately for me I think the pick of the round was at 100 by the Titans, Elijah Molden (CB) will end up on the opposite corner to Caleb Farley before too long.

Day 3

Round 4

Stand out picks in this round were Michael Carter to the Jets, Amon-Ra St Brown to the Lions and Ian Book to the Saints. All 3 guys walk into positions where they will either start this year or, in the case of Book, can have a legitimate shot at unseating a starter currently in situ. Jabril Cox to the Cowboys was fantastic value, he should have gone in the second, not the fourth, current Cowboys LB’s are on notice. I would be surprised if they both remain on the roster come the first game of this season.

Jaelen Darden to the Bucs fits for an offseason where we have watched them just get stronger. He caught 31 touchdowns over the last two seasons and will compete with Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson for the WR4/5 sport for now. Long term though he comes with huge upside, evidenced by his 31 touchdowns over the last 2 years. Another receiver with big college production is Tylan Wallace. He is off to Baltimore where he has a good chance to compete for a starting role against Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay and Miles Boykin.

Marco Wilson and ‘The Shoe’ – Image Credit (CBS Sports)

Marco Wilson put the final memories of his shoe throwing incident in college behind him. He turned his good Pro Day showing into a place with the Cardinals who are crying out for corner help. The Raiders decided you can never have too many CB’s. The Browns took Tommy Togiai, a hulking DT out of Ohio State. Other notable 4th rounders included Tyler Shelvin to the Bengals and Rhamondre Stevenson to the Patriots.

Round 5

The Eagles made the first big pick up in this round selecting Kenneth Gainwell out of Memphis. Denver continued adding to a very deep secondary with Caden Stearns, and Jamar Johnson, Safeties out of Texas and Indiana. The Jets just went for confusion. For the second time this Draft they selected Michael Carter, this time a Safety out of Duke. The Panthers and Ravens grabbed absolute steals at this stage of the Draft in Daviyon Nixon and Shaun Wade respectively. Wade especially was hurt by his 2020 season as he was predicted to be a 1st rounder if he had come out last year.

Other picks I was a huge fan of in this round included Richie LaCounte to the Browns, K.J. Britt to the Bucs, Cameron McGrone to the Patriots and Simi Fehoko to the Cowboys. The last one there I like the player more than the destination. Any rookie receiver going to the Cowboys has their work cut out considering the level of competition there for them.

Rounds 6

Entering the rounds where flyers are taken the name recognition for most has dried up at this point. There were still some bargains though. Number 1 and 2 for me were the Panthers. They grabbed Shi Smith with the 204th pick and I love it. He has an element of Deebo Samuel about him and should find work early in his career. They also grabbed Deonte Brown from Georgia at pick 193 and I love the value for him at this late stage.

Shi Smith – Image Credit (South Carolina Gamecocks)

The Jets added an intriguing Safety in Hamsah Nasirildeen who has a chance to see the field early as well. In part due to the lack of competition he will face aside from Marcus Maye on the Jets. The Seahawks selected Stone Forsythe out of Florida, O line help, better late than never right Russ? Khalil Herbert to the Bears is another good pick, he runs well and has great hands. With Tariq Cohen coming off a serious injury there is no harm providing some competition for him and David Montgomery. Competition is the name of the game in Indianapolis as well where Jacob Eason will have to beat out Sam Ehlinger for the QB2 job. I would hope Eason gets a fair crack because I think he offers more long term.

Receiver wise, Seth Williams from Auburn joins a swollen receiver room in Denver and Dazz Newsome is off to Chicago to complete for a role helping Justin Fields. Both players offer upside although are by no means slam dunks to become starters. A player with one of my favourite names in the Draft Cameron Cheeseman, went to Washington. I have no comment, he is a long snapper, I just like his name.

Round 7

Shots are taken in the 7th round. Names to watch out for here include Khyiris Tonga and Chicago (again, I seem to really like their Draft) and Pressley Harvin III (although this is pure entertainment). I would also expect to see a little from Michael Menet, Shaka Toney and Kylin Hill.

Pressley Harvin III – He may be a Steeler but who cares!

Really at this point I would be hard pressed to give you deeply researched expectations for these guys. Let me know what you guys think once you have delved into your own research to find out just who is ‘X’ taken by your team. My favourite name of this round? Jake Funk. I pray that the Rams let him onto the field, if only to play ‘Here comes the Funk’ at full volume.

So that’s it, the Draft is over for another year and we are all full of hopes and dreams for the next season. As it goes every year, there will be some exceptional stories of guys rising from the middle rounds to stardom and there will be some awful failures as players find they just can’t make that step up to the NFL. We will be here at Undrafted to follow it all along with you.

Notable Undrafted Players

These are our kind of guys, the ones we will follow who we think should have been drafted and we think can still make it at the next level:

  • Dylan Moses
  • Ar’Darius Washington
  • Adrian Ealy
  • Tyler Vaughns
  • Shane Buechele
  • Jamie Newman
  • Trevon Grimes
  • Sage Surratt
  • Christian Uphoff
  • Justin Hilliard
  • Javian Hawkins
  • Sadarius Hutcherson
  • Paris Ford

Let us know how the draft was for you. Who were you happy your team signed, who do you wish they had gone for instead? If you enjoyed this and the rest of our Draft coverage please drop us a follow on twitter @UndraftedTN, and share your thoughts with us!

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