Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft has concluded. As expected there were some surprises and some questionable picks with regards to fit for that particular team. Overall, many teams improved their rosters after Day 1.
Winner: Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears were in a life-or-death situation. With both general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy put on notice that this is a critical year in their tenure and they needed a proverbial Hail Mary to keep their jobs. They had been seemingly linked to every major quarterback this offseason. So, with limited resources available, how would they acquire a QB that would excite a fan base and buy Nagy and Pace more time with ownership? Justin Fields, out of Ohio State, happened to slide, giving Chicago the opportunity to move up to No. 11 and make the selection. He should be the Day 1 starter.
Loser: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers have been afforded the luxury of having back-to-back Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has been pleading for the team to draft more offensive weapons in recent years. He’s also made it known that he feels under-respected, is underpaid, and wants a new contract. In response, Green Bay’s first-round draft choices were a cornerback (in 2018), linebacker (2019), a quarterback (2020), and another cornerback now in the 2021 draft; the Packers are effectively entering a staring contest with their HOF QB who subsequently said he no longer wants out even prior to the selection of Eric Stokes in Round 1. The day before the draft, Rogers’ agent and general manager Brian Gutekunst could not agree on a contract extension. It feels like the beginning of the end in Green Bay.
Questionable pick: Arizona Cardinals
Let me begin by saying, I love Zaven Collins the player. However, the pick was confusing for a number of reasons. First, the Arizona Cardinals have more pressing needs than linebackers, particularly after drafting a linebacker in the first round of last year’s draft. Secondly, while Collins is a good player, he’s not an ideal fit in the 3-4 defense that Arizona runs; neither on the outside or inside. His skill set fits better in a 4-3 defense. At this stage, it is clear that the Cardinals lack direction and are seemingly on different pages than the coaching staff with regards to evaluations.