The 2021 NFL Draft wrapped up about a week ago and what a draft it was. The quarterbacks, of course, stole the show early with five going in the top 15 picks, but there were plenty of other storylines the 2021 NFL Draft had to offer. The first defensive player drafted went eighth overall, which is an NFL record for how late the first defender was chosen. We saw a groundbreaking trade with the Chicago Bears trading up for quarterback Justin Fields, securing their franchise quarterback for years to come. Lastly, we had a big run on cornerbacks with five going in round one. In all the 2021 NFL Draft proved to be one of the most exciting drafts in NFL history and was well worth the hype.
One of the things I love to do after the draft is to take a step back and look at each team’s classes holistically and get a feel at how each team has improved their roster. A trendy thing to do after the draft is over is to announce winners and losers on draft day, and while that exercise may seem futile in a few years once these players get to prove their worth on the field, it is a fun exercise to see how teams valued players compared to how you personally valued them
Below are five players who I think are the steals of the 2021 NFL Draft and who will out-produce their draft position.
Round 3: Baron Browning, LB, Denver Broncos
Our scouting staff at The Draft Network had Browning ranked as the 19th overall player in this class and he didn’t get drafted until pick No. 105 late in the third round. Look, I get why teams may have been hesitant around Browning. His tape showed an inconsistent player who was slow to react to things happening in front of him, but one thing to remember is that early in his career he was asked to play MIKE and SAM for the Buckeyes defense but was able to finally find a home at WILL late in his senior season. Blessed with outstanding physical tools, Browning has the speed, size, and range to excel at the second level of an NFL defense. For Denver, Browning will add coverage ability to a linebacker unit that is desperately seeking help defending the pass.
Round 5: Cameron McGrone, LB, New England Patriots
Another athletic Big Ten linebacker who has good size and a physical temperament, McGrone is a two-year starter who played much better in 2019 than he did in 2020 but there is no reason that he should have fallen all the way to the fifth round. McGrone has very good size and excellent athleticism for the linebacker position. He possesses a very quick trigger with downhill explosiveness to shoot gaps and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. McGrone offers the movement skills to play sideline to sideline and has very good range in coverage. This pick is just another in the long line of late day-three steals by head coach Bill Belichick and I fully expect McGrone to have a year-one impact with him being a core special teams player but also finding his way in the linebacker rotation sooner rather than later.
Round 2: Trevon Moehrig, S, Las Vegas Raiders
Moehrig falling all the way to the middle of the second round was a travesty. I had Moehrig as my 17th overall player in this class and ranked him the No. 1 safety by a wide margin. Moehrig lasted all the way until pick No. 43 and was ultimately the third safety off the board behind Jevon Holland and Richie Grant. Reports came out quickly after Moehrig was selected by the Las Vegas Raiders that he tweaked his back during TCU’s pro day and when doctors took a look at it there were some flags raised upon further review. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock already went on record saying they are good with his medicals and expect no issues moving forward. If that is indeed the case, the Raiders arguably got the steal of the draft. Moehrig is a hyper-instinctive ballhawk who offers excellent range and fluidity in the backend of the defense. He has the ability to play single-high in the Raiders' Cover 3 defense and can also play and cover in the slot.
Round 3: Elijah Molden, CB, Tennessee Titans
I had a tweet back in December saying Molden was one of the easiest evaluations in this class and he will likely be a day-two pick that after his rookie year everyone will ask why he didn’t go in round one. I hit the nail on the head with Molden going on day two, but when I sent that tweet, I had expected him to go at the top of round two, not all the way at the bottom of round three. I just simply don’t understand why teams still don’t value nickel corners in the draft when they play almost 60-70% of snaps in today’s NFL. Does Molden have elite size or speed? No, but he offers outstanding instincts, quickness, toughness, and ball skills and I have very little doubt that he will step in day one and make a difference for Tennessee.
Round 2: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns
Little needs to be said here. Owusu-Koramoah was my 15th overall player in this class and he ended up falling all the way to pick No. 52. Now, whenever a player of Owusu-Koramoah’s status starts to have a major draft-day fall, it's likely due to a medical concern that popped up late at combine rechecks. As it turns out, reports did come up that Owusu-Koramoah had a heart issue that allegedly scared teams and allowed him to fall into the arms of the Browns. According to Adam Schefter, doctors have cleared Owusu-Koramoah and he will be good to go come OTAs.
This value for Cleveland is insane, as I would have called Cleveland drafting him at pick No. 26 with their first-round pick an excellent value selection. Owusu-Koramoah has a rare skill set in that he is physical enough to play WILL linebacker but can cover in the passing game better than most traditional safeties. I know folks out there are hesitant to take a risk on hybrid players as it is hard to find a role for them, but to me, Owusu-Koramoah's skill set is an easy one to deploy. Play him at WILL, play him at strong safety, or play him as a nickel or dime backer, just get this young man on the field and let him flourish.