The NFL Draft has come and gone, but the fallout from the three days in Cleveland is just beginning.
Only time will tell who the true winners and losers are, but here are some of the moves in the draft that felt like good picks and good fits.
Chicago Bears drafting Justin Fields
The Bears off-season had been an embarrassing one leading up to the draft. First, they gave up on QB Mitch Trubisky, and then they replaced him with an even worse option in Andy Dalton. Bears fans were angry, the team became a joke in the media. Then they traded up in the first round to grab Ohio States QB Justin Fields.
While one can debate whether Fields was the right pick in that spot or if they should have went with Alabama QB Mac Jones, what can’t be disputed is the Bears needed a quarterback, a new potential face of the franchise — and now they have that with Fields.
Fields put up 41 TDs to just 3 picks in 2019, and had 22 TDs in just 8 games in 2020. It’s hard to succeed in Chicago, and the third largest city in the nation can be quite unforgiving when the team is losing, but Fields is used to the spotlight in the 14th biggest city (Columbus, Ohio) and playing for a loyal and sometimes maniacal fanbase.
New England Patriots selecting Mac Jones
New England needed a QB, many expected them to trade up, but trade up they did not. And an ideal QB for Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels fell into their lap in Mac Jones. Jones has faster than advertised speed (4.67 forty-yard dash) and did nothing but win at ‘Bama. En route to a National Championship victory, Jones passed for 4,500 yards, 41 TDs, and just 4 INTs in 2020. Cam Newton may start the season out for New England, but Jones is the clear-cut QB of the future for the Patriots.
Broncos defensive heavy draft, elusive RB should pay dividends.
Denver needs to figure their QB situation out between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater (and perhaps Aaron Rodgers?), but the rest of their team is getting increasingly talented with the moves they’ve made the past couple years in the draft and free agency.
Denver got a potentially great cornerback in first round choice Patrick Surtain II, then traded up in the second for elusive North Carolina RB Javonte Williams who had a NCAA-best 75 avoided tackles last year.
Denver drafted three offensive players but rolled with 7 defensive selections, adding depth to each layer of their defense and potentially getting late-round home runs in fifth-round safety Jamar Johnson and seventh round LSU CB Kary Vincent.
Ravens getting Lamar Jackson WR help, selecting high upside pass-rusher in Odafe Oweh, and drafting Ben Mason
The Ravens made a handful of picks that could get them over the hump as soon as this season. QB Lamar Jackson didn’t have enough good receiving options in 2020, now he has them with the addition of free agent Sammy Watkins, first-round pick Rashod Bateman (Minnesota), and deep threat Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State).
First round pick Bateman was a great choice, but the Ravens other first round pick (No. 31) was just as solid. Odafe Oweh could wind up becoming a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. “Wink Martindale, the defensive coordinator in Baltimore, he will love this kid. Watch him have double digit sacks next year. Watch,” ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said on draft night.
Then there’s beloved Michigan FB Ben Mason, who found a perfect home in Baltimore. The Ravens run as smashmouth a scheme as any and will find a role for Mason on offense, on top of him wrecking people on special teams. It was an all around great draft for Baltimore.
Chargers did well in Rounds 1-3
Justin Herbert was pressured 217 times in 2020, and drafting Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater should bring those numbers down a peg or two. Slater is concerned by many to be a slam dunk prospect and a potential perennial All-Pro. Los Angeles then went with Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr. in the second round, one of the best corners in the ACC who led FSU in INTs and pass breakups in 2020.
LA’s two third round choices bolstered passing game with Tennessee WR Josh Palmer and Georgia TE Tre McKitty. LA needed more juice for Herbert, and the depth is now improved because of these picks.
New Orleans Saints drafting Notre Dame QB Ian Book
Saints drafted the winningest QB in Notre Dame history. And all it took was a 4th round flier to draft the 6-foot Book. If it wasn’t for Book’s height, he would have been drafted higher. However, much like how Russell Wilson slipped to the third because of his 5-foot-11 height even though he put up great numbers, Book was never viewed as a top prospect at his position.
Book lands in New Orleans, the most perfect of spots to now call home because of head coach Sean Payton. Payton had a lot of success with a guy the same height as Book — Drew Brees. While I’m not implying Book will be even remotely the player Brees was, if there’s anyone that’s going to get the most out of Book, it’s Sean Payton.
Book can beat teams with his arm and his legs, throws an accurate ball on the move, and never gives up when his team is trailing. Book has a contagious energy. New Orleans top two options at QB are Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, both uninspiring as starting QBs, which could mean if Book excels this off-seaosn he could see the field at some point in 2021. Book passed for 8,948 yards and 72 TDs, 20 INTs, and rushed for 1,518 yards and 17 TDs.