Photo courtesy of Houston Texans
With every winner, there has to be a loser.
The 2021 NFL Draft is no different. Some teams hit home runs in the NFL Draft, some hit doubles into the gap.
Other teams? They hit soft groundballs to the shortstop or struck out completely.
There is no saying that those disappointing drafts can become good. The 2013 Seattle Seahawks’ draft was given a negative grade by many. Then Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner became potential Hall of Famers. Now, it’s probably the best draft Pete Carroll has ever had.
The Biggest Loser: Houston Texans
Draft Picks: QB Davis Mills (Stanford), WR Nico Collins (Michigan), TE Brevin Jordan (Miami), LB Garret Wallow (TCU), DT Roy Lopez (Arizona)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Bill O’Brien really screwed the Houston Texans.
Thanks to O’Brien, the Texans had no picks in the first two rounds and didn’t make their first pick until the early third round. With that pick, the Texans chose Stanford quarterback Davis Mills. While Mills has some starter potential in the NFL, he’s going to need a talented team around him to help take him to the next level.
The situation around Deshaun Watson is still up in the air, and there’s a good chance he never plays for Houston again. That, however, doesn’t mean Mills was the right pick. The Texans, in the middle of a rebuild, had other holes to fill.
Nico Collins is a solid but not terrific pick. The Texans need a wide receiver and at 6-foot-4, Collins adds a different element to the wide receiver room. Collins was probably the Texans’ best pick.
Brevin Jordan is a headscratcher. The former Miami Hurricane has injury concerns and did not impress during his Pro Day. Houston has a crowded tight end room already.
Jordan Akins has tallied 400 yards over the last two seasons and is a solid but not spectacular tight end. Kahale Warring is a former third-round pick and hasn’t received the opportunities (partly due to injury). Jordan can certainly be good but it seems too much like a luxury selection.
Garret Wallow and Roy Lopez fill needs and are both solid players. While the Texans finished the NFL Draft strong, their early draft picks are disappointing.
Loser: Pittsburgh Steelers
Draft Picks: RB Najee Haris (Alabama), TE Pat Friermuth (Penn State), IOL Kendrick Green (Illinois), OT Dan Moore Jr. (Texas A&M), LB Buddy Johnson (Texas A&M), DL Isaiahh Loudermilk (Wisconsin), EDGE Quincy Roche (Miami (FL)), CB Tre Norwood (Oklahoma), P Pressley Harvin III (Georgia Tech)
Drafting a running back in the first round is bad value, but Najee Harris is a good player and fills an immediate need.
The problem more so comes with who they chose not to select. There were plenty of talented offensive linemen available at No. 24, and Pittsburgh has a desperate need there after losing two starters in the offseason.
Teven Jenkins would have immediately filled their need at right tackle – a spot currently occupied by Zach Banner – for years to come. The Steelers, however, had a second-round selection available, and certainly, they used that to address the offensive line… right?
No. Not at all. Despite multiple options available, the Steelers instead opted for Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth. Eric Ebron isn’t spectacular and certainly isn’t a long-term option but he’s still coming off a 558-yard season, which is fourth-most on the team.
While Freiermuth has the makings of a player who can make an immediate impact, it seems difficult to pass up on an interior offensive lineman like Creed Humphrey. Humprey, who has experience playing both guard and center, would have immediately replaced JC Hassenauer at center.
The Steelers did end up with Kendrick Green and Dan Moore but it seems to have happened too late in the draft. There were immediate impact guys and, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s career winding down, the Steelers should be in win-now mode.
For what it’s worth, the Steelers selecting Quincy Roche in the sixth round is terrific value. Roche won’t have to start immediately with TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith filling the roles but should be able to make an immediate impact in certain situations. A great job by the Steelers to get late-round value and fill a need.
Loser: Cincinnati Bengals
Draft Picks: WR Ja’Marr Chase (LSU), OL Jackson Carman (Clemson), EDGE Joseph Ossai (Texas), EDGE Cameron Sample (Tulane), DT Tyler Shelvin (LSU), OT D’Ante Smith (ECU), K Evan McPherson (Florida), IOL Trey Hill (Georgia), RB Chris Evans (Michigan), DE Wyatt Hubert (Kansas State)
This is less about who the Cincinnati Bengals selected. It’s more about who they should have selected.
Going into the NFL Draft, and even the offseason in its entirety, the immediate need should have been on keeping quarterback Joe Burrow upright. Burrow is coming off a season-ending knee injury. The Bengals’ offensive line is void of much talent. The offensive line is actually pretty bad.
Holding the No. 5 pick, the Bengals had the chance to select Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. That would have solved a glaring need with high-end talent. The Bengals opted instead to draft LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, teaming him up with his old quarterback.
Chase is a blue-chip prospect and one of the best wide receivers in the class, so it’s not necessarily a crime to select him. The pick, however, doesn’t help fill the glaring need.
Sewell is potentially a 15-year solution to the left tackle position, and offensive linemen like that don’t grow on trees. Chase will immediately start and should make an immediate impact but the Bengals already had two future wide receivers in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.
The Bengals had a chance to right their wrongs in the early second round but chose to trade down instead, picking up further assets. The Bengals eventually chose their offensive lineman in Jackson Carman, a tackle in college who projects better as an offensive guard in the NFL. Carman is potentially a long-term option but he’s still a project. Cincinnati would have been better off selecting Teven Jenkins at their original pick, or selecting Creed Humphrey after the trade down.
Joseph Ossai and Cameron Sample are solid picks that offer some upside but neither will likely make an immediate impact. Those are future picks, and that’s fine for a team like Cincinnati.
Overall, though, the Bengals leave the draft by not fully addressing all of their needs.
Kevin Fielder can be reached on Twitter (@TheKevinFielder) or via email (email@example.com)