We have now seen the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft come and go. On Thursday night, the first round brought a few surprises, but Day 2 saw the floodgates open. Some teams rocked it, while others couldn’t quite live up to the moment.
There is still another full day left with Round 4 through Round 7, but we at least have an idea of how these draft classes are shaping up. With that said, I decided to go ahead and break down the draft hauls I love, like and hate through the first three rounds.
So far, there are a few drafts I think are home runs. In fact, it would be difficult for me to change my mind on these teams, regardless of what happens on Day 3. With others, I liked some or most of their picks, but I had a few questions. Then there were those classes that I hate — and it’ll be obvious why.
Drafts I love so far …
- CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern (R1, Pick 26)
- LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame (R2, Pick 52)
- WR Anthony Schwartz, Auburn (R3, Pick 91)
Analysis: I had the Browns selecting Owusu-Koramoah at No. 26 overall in my mock draft. Considering they landed that impactful of a second-level defender at almost the same spot in the second round, of course I’m going to love that draft.
Newsome was a slight value in the first round too. Cleveland’s secondary was a weak spot in 2020, and they’ve done a lot to remedy that issue. Between Newsome, John Johnson III, Troy Hill and getting Grant Delpit back, this unit should make substantial improvements.
Also love adding more vertical speed for the offense in Schwartz.
New York Jets
- QB Zack Wilson, BYU (R1, Pick 2)
- OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (R1, Pick 14)
- WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss (R2, Pick 34)
Analysis: I like the Wilson pick a lot. There is bust potential, but the ceiling is absolutely ridiculous. Still, it was the other two selections that have me so excited for this group. The Jets offense has been a struggle to watch, but we could see that change soon.
Not only did they grab Wilson, but they also did what they needed in order to provide him with a premium piece in Vera-Tucker for more protection. After signing Corey Davis and Keelan Cole in free agency, Moore wasn’t a necessity, but he was fantastic value at No. 34.
Jamison Crowder’s remaining time in New York is probably limited.
- QB Justin Fields, Ohio State (R1, Pick 11)
- OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State (R2, Pick 39)
Analysis: Once again, if you take a player in the second round that I had mocked to your team in the first, I’m probably going to love your draft. Jenkins is an instant candidate to replace Bobby Massie at right tackle in Chicago, and that addition should really bolster what’s been a subpar unit.
But I also love what the Bears did in the first round. Folks, they finally went for it. They went with the unfinished, high-ceiling quarterback in Justin Fields. With Andy Dalton in the fold, Fields won’t have to start right away, but the future is bright.
Absolutely love what Chicago has done.
Kansas City Chiefs
- LB Nick Bolton, Missouri (R2, Pick 58)
- IOL Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma (R2, Pick 63)
Analysis: The Chiefs didn’t make their first pick until almost the end of the second round. But boy, did they make the two almost back-to-back picks count. They needed a field general at linebacker, and Bolton provides that with impressive instincts and an ability to locate and bring down the ball-carrier.
More importantly, I love what Kansas City did with the No. 63 pick. After watching Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV, the front office has done a fantastic job building up the offensive line in front of him. Humphrey, along with free agent signings Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and Austin Blythe, makes for a heck of an improvement.
If you include the picks used to acquire franchise left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., this draft looks even better. Home run.
Almost made the love list: Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos
Drafts I like so far …
- WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (R1, Pick 6)
- EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami (R1, Pick 18)
- S/CB Jevon Holland, Oregon (R2, Pick 36)
- OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame (R2, Pick 42)
- TE Hunter Long, Boston College (R3, Pick 81)
Analysis: Tua Tagovailoa needed more help offensively, and the Dolphins have answered the call — not only through the draft, but through free agency as well. Providing him with a familiar weapon in Waddle will go a long way towards making him more comfortable — and effective — in Year 2.
Also adding another long-term piece for the offensive line in Eichenberg, as well as an in-line tight end to eventually take over for Durham Smythe, means the reinforcements on the offensive side of the football are arriving.
The defense was already in great shape, but a true top-tier pass rusher was needed. Phillips can be just that, as long as he can stay healthy. Holland brings versatility on the back half of the defense, which I’m sure Flores will utilize properly.
- CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama (R1, Pick 9)
- RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina (R2, Pick 35)
- IOL Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater (R3, Pick 98)
- LB Baron Browning, Ohio State (R3, Pick 105)
Analysis: I came dangerously close to sliding Denver into the “love” category after the Browning pick to finish up the third round. I originally had the Broncos taking an off-ball linebacker with some pass rush ability at No. 9, but Browning at No. 105 is incredible value.
I had a mid-second round grade on him.
There was a part of me that thought they’d move away from cornerback in the first after signing Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, but Surtain is more a long-term option to pair with Michael Ojemudie. Cornerback has gone from a weakness to one of the strengths.
As for the offense, Williams is a top-shelf running back prospect who will eventually handle three-down duties, and Meinerz is a personal favorite along the offensive line. Now go get Aaron Rodgers and win a couple Super Bowls, Denver.
Los Angeles Chargers
- OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern (R1, Pick 13)
- CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State (R2, Pick 47)
- WR Josh Palmer, Tennessee (R3, Pick 77)
- TE Tre’ McKitty, Georgia (R3, Pick 97)
Analysis: I wasn’t thrilled with the McKitty pick, which is what bumped this draft down from a love to a like. Still, the other three picks are fantastic. First off, Rashawn Slater provides Justin Herbert with a blindside protector for the next decade-plus.
That in itself makes this a good draft. But from there, the Chargers did a good job continuing to add immediate contributors.
The defense was in desperate need of more help at cornerback, and I felt like Asante Samuel Jr. was a borderline first-round talent. Getting him down at No. 47 is solid value. Meanwhile, Josh Palmer is a sneaky good pick too. Provides Herbert with another weapon that can make contested catches.
- QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (R1, Pick 1)
- RB Travis Etienne, Clemson (R1, Pick 25)
- CB Tyson Campbell, Georgia (R2, Pick 33)
- OT Walker Little, Stanford (R2, Pick 45)
- S Andre Cisco, Syracuse (R3, Pick 65)
Analysis: Things got off to a strong start for the Jaguars after adding the trio of Lawrence, Etienne and Campbell in the first 33 picks. Those selections had me considering Jacksonville in the “love” column, but Little and Cisco softened things a little bit.
Don’t get me wrong, I like both prospects, but I felt like Little was taken too early. He hasn’t played in two years, and the injury history is somewhat of a concern. There just wasn’t enough to go on to justify taking him in the top 75. Still, there’s a high ceiling if he can reach it.
Cisco provides a potential starter at safety after electing to pass on a premium talent such as Trevon Moehrig. Really good draft, but not one of my absolute favorites.
Almost made like list: Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots
Draft I hate so far …
Los Angeles Rams
- WR Tutu Atwell, Louisville (R2, Pick 57)
- LB Ernest Jones, South Carolina (R3, Pick 103)
Analysis: I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I absolutely hate this draft. We’ve made such a big deal about DeVonta Smith’s weight. And yet the Rams take a 155-pound Atwell in the second round when wide receiver was already a strength of the team.
It’s wild that he went in front of a guy like Terrace Marshall Jr.
Combine that with the Ernest Jones pick, and I just can’t get behind what the Rams are doing. The South Carolina product is limited as athlete, and I just don’t see him providing second-round value in the modern NFL era. He just doesn’t have the ability needed in pass coverage.
This draft haul has been a head-scratcher so far. For a team without a first-round pick, I was hoping they could find some better value on Day 2.
Green Bay Packers
- CB Eric Stokes, Georgia (R1, Pick 29)
- IOL Josh Myers, Ohio State (R2, Pick 60)
- WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson (R3, Pick 85)
Analysis: I actually like Josh Myers and Amari Rodgers fine. They weren’t great value picks, but I think they’ll both do well and carve out roles in the Green Bay offense, especially Myers after Corey Linsley’s departure in free agency.
My issue with this class — at least so far — comes in Round 1.
First off, how can you pick another defensive back while you’re in the middle of trying to fix things with Aaron Rodgers? I get sticking to your board, but this is an all-timer you’re trying to please. Stokes isn’t even the best cornerback prospect coming out of Georgia.
Almost made hate list: New Orleans Saints
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.