With the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft officially in the books, analysis has already kickstarted. However, no team can fix all of their needs in just one round. As a result, we have glaring needs left on the board heading into Days 2 and 3 for several teams. What franchises have the most significant holes left after Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft?
2021 NFL Draft Round 1: The Dallas Cowboys neglect the secondary
The Dallas Cowboys made an interesting choice in taking Micah Parsons at 12, a player they apparently would have taken at 10. Parsons doesn’t fix the most pressing issues on the defense, and their justification of the pick was odd. The Cowboys will likely decline Leighton Vander Esch’s fifth-year option and move on from Jaylon Smith after next season, so Parsons is a proactive move in that sense. Still, after announcing they were moving Keanu Neal to LB, it’s an odd fit.
In fairness to Dallas, both Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II were off the board there in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. Yet, there were players with fewer character concerns on the board. Dallas could easily have taken Rashawn Slater and walked out of the draft with the best offensive line in the NFL (when healthy). Parsons is a talented player, but the offensive line and secondary are still flagrant issues that Dallas has to solve on Day 2.
Dallas’s corner spot opposite Trevon Diggs is in question after losing Chidobe Awuzie in free agency. Jourdan Lewis returns, but he’ll operate from the nickel. There’s not a correct answer on the Cowboys’ roster on the boundary. They signed Damontae Kazee, but that’s a bandage and not a future plan at safety. Adding talent to their secondary is a must for Dallas on Day 2.
After passing on offensive line in Round 1, the Bengals must address the position on Day 2
The pick came down to Penei Sewell vs. Ja’Marr Chase in Round 1, and Chase won. Now, the Bengals must devote Day 2 to fixing the offensive line. Whether it’s nabbing a right guard and/or an offensive tackle that can protect Joe Burrow, they cannot ignore the group. The front office apparently feels comfortable with the current offensive line they have, but I’d bet Burrow isn’t.
They currently have an offensive line (left to right) of Jonah Williams, Quinton Spain, Trey Hopkins, a question at right guard, and Riley Reiff. That’s a decent band-aid, but none of those players are stars other than Williams. This should be their first pick in the second round. I utilize multiple selections on it, especially with the talent in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Detroit Lions wide receiver room
The Lions drafting Sewell on Day 1 of the NFL Draft was an outstanding pick. Personally, I would have gone Justin Fields, as Jared Goff has proven he isn’t a franchise quarterback. Still, acquiring a player like Sewell can never be faulted. He and Taylor Decker form one of the best offensive tackle duos in the NFL and make Detroit’s offensive line a strength on the team.
Now, Detroit must attack their receiving corps. The Lions’ projected starters are Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and Quintez Cephus. They added speed threats, but nobody stands out.
If they are wanting to make the Goff experiment work, they need to add multiple playmakers to their wide receiver room. The 2021 NFL Draft boasts a talented and deep wide receiver group. Detroit would be remiss in not at least double-dipping into this pool on Day 2 and Day 3.
Pittsburgh not taking any offensive linemen
Pittsburgh went with the best running back in the draft in Najee Harris. It’s not a bad pick at all in terms of overall talent. Harris is an excellent back in his own right. It’s more of having a bigger need elsewhere. The Steelers offensive line is a jumbled mess right now and needs an infusion of young talent at every position. There are simply too many questions along the line to justify not spending a premium pick there.
The Steelers have Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner slated to start at tackle, proving that this is a position of need. David DeCastro is elite, but he’s getting up there in age and his contract is coming up soon. Kevin Dotson is a solid young option that could develop at the other guard spot for Pittsburgh, but it’s still an unknown.
Center is wide open with no real solutions on the roster. I would expect Pittsburgh to be in the mix for players like Landon Dickerson, Creed Humphrey, and Quinn Meinerz in the second round to fix that.
The flip side is that Ben Roethlisberger gets the ball out quickly, aiding the offensive line in that sense. Nonetheless, if they want to help their first-round pick, they need to improve the run-blocking and talent on their offensive line.
The Saints cornerback spot
The Saints have stuck to their boards and roster-building. They’ve consistently drafted a defensive or offensive lineman in the first round. Six of their last seven drafts have had a first-round pick used on one of those two positions. It’s an incredible emphasis on two very important positions, but…taking Payton Turner was a bit of a head-scratcher in terms of fit. They obviously have Cameron Jordan.
Marcus Davenport’s fifth-year option was picked up just last night. Many projected Zack Baun to take over the Trey Hendrickson role of a rotational edge rusher. One of those players will either not be on the team for longer or Baun will be playing full-time off-ball as a linebacker, which seems like a waste.
The cornerback spot opposite Marshon Lattimore in New Orleans is a massive question mark. Patrick Robinson is slated to start, but he’s on a one-year deal and on the wrong side of his prime. The Saints don’t have many options on the roster. The team should be aggressive in pursuing talent at corner on Day 2.
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