259 selections were made in the 2021 NFL Draft, with hundreds more signing as undrafted free agents. Although just shy of 260 prospects heard their names called in Cleveland, many endured an agonizing fall from their projected draft slot like Brevin Jordan and Kenneth Gainwell. Who were the players that fell the furthest and resulted in 2021 NFL Draft steals for their respective franchises?
Top 10 potential late-round steals in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 5 and 6
Not everyone can be a Day 1 or 2 pick, but who were the Day 3 selections with Round 1-3 talent?
Houston Texans: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (FL) – Pick 147
The Texans are undergoing a total rebuild this offseason and favorites to own the first overall selection next season. As such, their priority during the 2021 NFL Draft was to accumulate as much talent as they could. They came away with the No. 3 tight end on PFN’s consensus board in the fifth round.
Miami TE Brevin Jordan is a bit of a tweener at 6’2” and 247 pounds. He is not your traditional inline tight end, but he does not have to be to produce. The former Hurricane is a YAC monster and owns the athleticism to create mismatches against linebackers. With a subpar receiving corps, expect Jordan to receive a healthy workload as a rookie.
Philadelphia Eagles: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis – Pick 150
Memphis has quietly produced a steady stable of running backs over the past few years. Next up is Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell — one of the best receiving backs in this class. He opted out of the 2020 season, but his 2019 tape highlights his potential to be a three-down runner in the NFL. He finished fourth in the nation in all-purpose yards during that season and was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award.
With Miles Sanders already on the roster, Gainwell can build on his frame and reach the NFL speed at his own pace in Year 1.
Denver Broncos: Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana – Pick 164
There were draft pundits who viewed Jamar Johnson as one of the top five safeties in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Thus, he is a 2021 NFL Draft steal falling to the Broncos in the fifth round who already drafted Caden Sterns. Although Sterns was the higher selection, I would not be surprised to see Johnson above him on the depth chart come Week 1.
The Indiana alum may not have elite athleticism or tackling ability, but his range and ball skills on the back end are worthy of a Day 2 pick.
Minnesota Vikings: Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh – Pick 199
Despite possessing immense talent as a pass rusher, Jaylen Twyman fell to the sixth round. His drop was presumably due to a disappointing outing at Pitt’s Pro Day and opting out of the 2020 season. Unlike Twyman, the Vikings were ecstatic to see one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles available at pick 199.
This offseason, Minnesota has gone from one of the worst DL units to one of the best in the NFL.
Top 10 potential late-round steals in the 2021 NFL Draft | Round 6 compensatory picks and beyond
From the compensatory picks in the sixth round to the end of the draft, who could do damage in their respective circumstances?
Chicago Bears: Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina – Pick 221
Ushered by the Justin Fields selection, the Chicago Bears enjoyed arguably the best draft in 2021. Dazz Newsome is a human highlight reel and is yet another receiving threat for Andy Dalton and Fields. Operating primarily from the slot, Newsome could start right away while also offering versatility as a kick returner.
The Bears stole a playmaking option with the 173rd pick last year in Darnell Mooney, and they look to have done the same here.
Arizona Cardinals: Tay Gowan, CB, Central Florida – Pick 223
Amongst the most fun cornerbacks to watch from this class was UCF’s Tay Gowan. His combination of physical tools and ball production is what teams look for in a starting defensive back. The level of competition and being a 2020 opt-out likely hurt his draft stock, but he decided to leave the Knights’ program due to his health conditions surrounding his family.
At any rate, Gowan’s chances of sticking on Arizona’s roster are high as they have little to no depth at the position. I will not be shocked if he progresses into a starter as early as Year 1.
Kansas City Chiefs: Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee – Pick 226
This pick saw the rich get richer — the Kansas City Chiefs are loaded on the interior of their offensive line. Smith will not need to make an immediate impact with the talent ahead of him. Nonetheless, he can develop into the left or right guard of the future in Kansas City.
Chicago Bears: Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon – Pick 228
With the final selection of the sixth round, the Bears bolstered their cornerback room by bringing in Thomas Graham. No, he is not an exceptional athlete, nor is he big in size. Yet, Graham is an intellectual corner with fluid movements. He can flourish in Chicago’s defense if allowed to see the field early.
Las Vegas Raiders: Jimmy Morrissey, OC, Pittsburgh – Pick 230
There is not much about the Las Vegas Grudens, I mean Raiders, that I care for. Still, they lucked into a late-round steal in Pittsburgh’s Jimmy Morrissey. Thanks to the Raiders selling their stout offensive line for parts, Morrissey will be competing for the starting center role in training camp.
A former walk-on, Morrissey has a chip on his shoulder to aid Las Vegas in the trenches.
Green Bay Packers: Kylin Hill, Mississippi State – Pick 256
Although he does not carry the receiver designation, Kylin Hill is another weapon for future Jeopardy host Aaron Rodgers to utilize. Hill proved he was an elusive and powerful ball carrier in 2019. He racked up 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns off 242 attempts against SEC competition.
His one question mark entering 2020 was his receiving prowess. He put those to rest in three games, setting single-season highs with 23 receptions for 237 yards and 1 touchdown in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. However, Hill chose to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft, as his family health’s remained his first priority.
San Francisco 49ers: Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC – Pick 180
Seattle Seahawks: Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida – Pick 208
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