With Ja’Marr Chase playing a pivotal role in the Cincinnati Bengals reaching Super Bowl 56, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and redraft the 2021 NFL Draft. While some picks may remain the same, the majority will be far different.
2021 NFL Draft Redraft | Picks 1-16
Trades that happened on draft night will not be included as with different players on the board, who knows if the teams would have made the same deal. Without further ado, here is how the 2021 NFL Draft could have shaken out knowing what we know now.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
No change for the first three picks. Trevor Lawrence struggled as a rookie, maybe more than some expected. However, he gets an Urban Meyer-sized pass for his performance. I think it is safe to say T-Law will rebound with Doug Pederson coming to town.
2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
While Zach Wilson doesn’t have an Urban Meyer to hang his poor play on, he still had his fair share of excuses. Wilson missed multiple games in the middle of the season with a knee injury. Furthermore, he was pressured on over 38% of his dropbacks, a top-10 figure among starting QBs. Wilson flashed at times, but he will need to be far more consistent in 2022.
3) San Francisco 49ers (from HOU via MIA): Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
We haven’t seen enough good or bad to move Trey Lance in this 2021 NFL Redraft. But Jimmy Garoppolo’s uninspiring playoff outings likely cemented Lance’s starting position in San Francisco. In his two starts this season, he completed 31 of 52 passes for 441 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Additionally, he rushed 18 times for 120 yards. The future is bright in the Bay Area.
4) Atlanta Falcons: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
This change is not a knock on Kyle Pitts but more of a nod to Micah Parsons. Parsons will win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Period. He could also come home with the Defensive Player of the Year award, though reigning sack leader T.J. Watt will likely take that. Nevertheless, Parsons is an elite breed of linebacker. He can cover, rush the passer, or stop the run.
Don’t believe me? On 35 targets and 295 coverage snaps, Parsons didn’t allow a touchdown and conceded just 7.6 yards per reception. Moreover, he generated 13 sacks (sixth-most) and 20 tackles for loss (third-most). Although losing Pitts would hurt Atlanta’s offense, especially with Calvin Ridley already out, Parsons is just too good to pass up.
5) Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
While Parsons is a lock to win DROY, Ja’Marr Chase is a lock to win OROY. Chase finished the regular season fourth in receiving yards (1,455) and third in receiving touchdowns (13). If that wasn’t impressive enough, he did so with only 81 receptions, tied for 18th. So yeah, I think the Bengals made the correct choice here — so much for all that noise about Chase not being able to catch NFL footballs.
6) Miami Dolphins (from PHI): Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
Penei Sewell may turn into the better pro by the end of their careers, but Rashawn Slater was the better player this year. A smooth mover, Slater was equally impressive as a pass and run blocker in Year 1. The Dolphins love Jaylen Waddle, and he was the second-best rookie WR behind Chase. Regardless, Miami’s offensive line woes proved detrimental this season.
7) Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Although Slater went off the board first, Penei Sewell didn’t have to wait longer to hear his name called than he originally did last April. Sewell struggled some after transitioning from the Pac-12 to the NFL. However, after finding his groove later in the season, Sewell was dominant. He and Taylor Decker will protect the bookends for years to come, no matter who is under center.
8) Carolina Panthers: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and P.J. Walker are not the answer at quarterback for the Panthers. We know it, the front office knows it, and the roster knows it. So, Carolina opts to draft their future of the franchise in Justin Fields. Matt Nagy and Co. did little to help Fields as a rookie.
Nagy played musical chairs at QB, rotating Andy Dalton and Fields due to injuries and ego. Plus, he didn’t cater the offense around Fields’ strengths. With Nagy gone as play-caller and former Packers passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy in, it’s reasonable to expect positive regression from Fields in 2022.
9) Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Selecting Patrick Surtain II is the right move in this 2021 NFL Redraft, but it wasn’t in the original draft. With Justin Fields and Micah Parsons still available, Denver took the corner out of Alabama. And while Surtain is deserving of a top-10 selection, Fields could be the answer at QB, and Parsons brings generational talent to the defense.
10) Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
The Eagles traded up for DeVonta Smith, but with how the board is falling, they don’t have to here. Instead, the Cowboys stand pat and take Jaycee Horn. I believe Dallas would’ve pulled the trigger if Horn (originally drafted eighth overall by the Panthers) or Surtain were available. As luck would have it, neither were on the board, forcing the Cowboys’ hand into taking Parsons as a “consolation prize.”
Still, Horn was electric before breaking three bones in his foot, ending his season after just three games. But across 95 coverage snaps in those contests, Horn forfeited only 1 catch for 8 yards.
11) New York Giants: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
The Giants traded down with the Bears, ultimately taking WR Kadarius Toney the first time around. But after watching the Giants’ offense this year — the equivalent of torture for fans of enjoyable football –, there is no way they make the same move. Rather, they take one of the best rookies of the class, Creed Humphrey. The Oklahoma Sooner fell to the Chiefs in the back end of Round 2, but New York rectifies that mistake in this 2021 NFL Redraft.
12) Philadelphia Eagles (from SF via MIA): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
The City of Brotherly Love swaps DeVonta Smith for his Alabama brother Jaylen Waddle. Waddle only fell down the board due to the teams above them attacking more immediate needs. He turned 104 receptions (new NFL rookie record) into 1,015 yards and 6 touchdowns, quickly becoming QB Tua Tagovailoa’s favorite weapon. Waddle’s efficiency should only increase with former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel the new head coach in Miami.
13) Los Angles Chargers: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Christian Darrisaw could easily be the pick, but Kyle Pitt’s slide stops here. Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, Justin Herbert, and Pitts. Name one defense that can stop that offense at full health — I’ll wait. Jared Cook did a serviceable job as a 34-year-old tight end, but Pitts brings elite talent to the position (1,026 receiving yards, third-most by a TE in 2021).
14) Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
The Vikings still draft Christian Darrisaw, this time nine picks earlier. Darrisaw won’t fall down boards this time around, as the rookie OT laid claim to Minnesota’s left tackle spot. He gets a bit of a pay boost thanks to the higher draft slot, and the Vikings retain their guy — win-win.
15) New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
New England stays at 15th overall and drafts their new face of the franchise in Mac Jones once again. Jones was by far the most productive rookie QB this year, throwing for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Furthermore, his 67.6% completion rate was the eighth-highest in the NFL. Josh McDaniels may have left the Patriots, but Jones should remain consistent with Bill Belichick at the helm.
16) Arizona Cardinals: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
You could switch Greg Newsome with either Surtain or Horn, and no one would bat an eye. Newsome was patient and fluid in the secondary, routinely making the correct decisions in coverage. He may not be as physical as Horn or own elite physical traits like Surtain, but Newsome is a star in his own right.