The Biggest Takeaways From the 2021 NFL Draft


Emma Stark, Co-Editor for Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft was unlike any other draft fans had seen before. The Coronavirus outbreak canceled weekend festivities and forced teams to conduct their scouting remotely in the days leading up to the draft. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hosted the three-day spectacle from his basement while NFL fans gathered around their televisions to watch the draft picks unfold. Luckily, this draft this year gave fans a sense of normalcy. With Covid-19 protocols in place, the event took place from Thursday, April 29 through Saturday, May 1, in various locations across Cleveland, Ohio, including FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Although the biggest event of the NFL offseason calendar is behind us, the decisions made within these three days will have a tremendous impact on all 32 teams of the league. With that said, here are some of the biggest takeaways from the event. 

It is no surprise that quarterbacks played a central role in the draft, especially in a league defined by the position. Five out of the first 15 picks were quarterbacks. As expected, Trevor Lawrence went first to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The New York Jets selected Brigham Young University (BYU) quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 draft pick, in the first round. The team then drafted Alijah Vera-Tucker, “one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the draft,” according to NBC Sports’ Dalton Johnson. They added receiver Elijah Moore in the third round and running back Michael Carter in the fourth round. The Jets made strong draft picks, and the franchise might finally be taking a step in the right direction.

Ironically, the former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is similarly being surrounded by talent with his new team, the Carolina Panthers. The team gave Darnold LSU receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. in the second round, followed by an offensive tackle, tight end, and running back. As their first-round pick, the Panthers took cornerback Jaycee Horn. In the fifth round, the team selected defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon and cornerback Keith Taylor. On top of that, Carolina chose wide receiver Shi Smith in the sixth round. Both the offense and defense will make a striking performance on opening day. 

When it comes to the Cleveland Browns, it is safe to say that the team found great success throughout the draft. They targeted their specific areas of weakness and tackled them head-on. With cornerback Denzel Ward, safety John Johnson III, and the newest cornerback Greg Newsom II, the No. 26 pick, Cleveland’s secondary is now stronger than ever before. The team also drafted linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, a draft-day steal, in the second round who has the seventh-best odds of winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. 

On the other side of the spectrum, the Dallas Cowboys did not seem to have as much luck. The team was and still is in need of starting cornerbacks and offensive line help. Though the Cowboys did draft cornerback Kelvin Joseph, many believe he is not ready to start as a rookie. It was not until late in the fourth round when Dallas addressed the offensive line concern, making their situation worse.

However, no team is in worse shape than the Green Bay Packers. Hours before the draft began, the team was in trouble. MVP Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay. While the franchise is refusing, they attempted to appease the MVP by drafting cornerback Amari Rodgers in the first round. Amari could be exactly what the team needs, yet Rodgers seems ready to do whatever it takes to get out.

With NFL summer training around the corner and the start of the regular season just months away, it is safe to say that this season is going to be a crazy one.