2021 NFL Draft First Round reaction: Belichick gets his chance, Lions punt on future
What a day. The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and it was a rollercoaster. Before the draft even began the NFL world was rocked with the Aaron Rodgers drama, and the theatrics didn’t stop there. It was a night filled with bold moves and blind faith.
We won’t be able to tell how tonight truly went for years, but we still learned a lot on Thursday. With that in mind, here are a few takeaways that jumped out at me:
The Lions punted on their future
I’m not surprised, but I’m a little disappointed with the Lions. Penei Sewell isn’t a bad pick at seven, but I was hoping Detroit would be more aggressive. As a rebuilding team, they should’ve either gotten their quarterback of the future, or traded down to stockpile picks for the future. Sewell isn’t going to remake this team, and they’re about to waste a year with Jared Goff.
Meanwhile, Detroit stood idly by as their division rival made a splash and traded up for their franchise passer. The Bears got Justin Fields, and if he hits then the Lions are going to look awfully foolish for taking an offensive tackle. The Lions are essentially punting the 2021 season, ensuring the Dan Campbell era gets off to a horrible start.
Giants get great value
Speaking of that Fields trade, the Bears are understandably going to get most of the attention for that. But the Giants got a ton of value, and I think polarizing GM Dave Gettleman deserves a lot of credit. There were a lot of articles written this cycle about how Gettleman never trades down, and then he goes and does this. The Giants only moved down nine spots from 11 to 20, and they got a king’s ransom. Not only did they get next year’s first-round pick from Chicago, they also added fourth and fifth-rounders.
The Bears are either going to have Andy Dalton or a rookie Fields under center in 2021. Their defense has crumbled, and there’s a chance they’re very bad this season. I won’t be at all surprised if the 2022 pick the Giants now own ends up being better than 11th overall. It’s a coup for New York, who still got the best receiver on the board anyway. Not a single wideout went between 11 and 20, so it didn’t even make much of a difference for the Giants, who were apparently locked in on pass-catchers.
Belichick gets his chance
Well, it’s put up or shut up time in New England. Unlike the Lions, the Patriots didn’t punt on their future. Mac Jones fell into Bill Belichick’s lap, and now he’s got his potential Tom Brady replacement. Jones tumbled all the way to 15, and Belichick didn’t have to give up any draft capital to land a top passer. The time is now for Belichick to show he can win without Brady, and I’m confident he’ll do it.
But the Pats won’t be able to blame their problems on Cam Newton anymore. This isn’t a veteran free agent they got stuck with. This is now Belichick’s handpicked successor, and the pressure will be enormous. I can’t wait to see what happens, and the game where the Pats and Buccaneers will play at Gillette Stadium this fall is going to be unreal if Jones is under center.
"With the 15th pick in the 2021 #NFLDraft, the 6X World Champion New England Patriots select @MacJones_10."
📺: #PatsDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/juGmJ893Uj
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 30, 2021
Steelers just don’t get it
The Steelers just don’t get it. They showed that by drafting a running back in the first round. After the team completely collapsed down the stretch, it was an offseason of change. The offensive line is a shambles, with Maurkice Pouncey retiring and others moving on. The secondary also lost some key guys, and they really could’ve used reinforcements there as well.
But an offensive tackle, in particular, would’ve gone a long way. I just don’t get how they can look at last year’s struggles and conclude that James Conner was the problem. Najee Harris won’t be able to fix their ground game if he doesn’t have anyone blocking for him. Again, the pick wasn’t shocking, it was just disappointing. It showed Pittsburgh still has an antiquated way of thinking.
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