Last weekend, the NFL Draft 2021 took place in Cleveland, Ohio and it was Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence who was, as expected, the very first pick of the draft, taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first of their two First Round picks.

The 7 rounds of picks were made from Thursday night through to Saturday and of course, there has been plenty of talk around how each of the 32 teams in the NFL performed in the draft. Who had a good draft and picked players that can make an immediate impact for their team, while others speculate on which teams had a poor draft and over-reached for players in certain positions.

For UK fans, seeing how the Jaguars performed at the top of the draft is interesting with the Jaguars being regular visitors to these shores. With plenty of interest in the draft and the NFL in the UK nowadays, many betting sites are already offering some pre-season betting on who will be the winner of the Super Bowl, their conference or their division in the new season. If you would like to get involved, then bet365 Sport offers excellent American Football betting.

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If you are based in the United States and would like to consider a bet on the potential Super Bowl winners for the forthcoming NFL season, or you just want the latest news and offers for sports betting in your state, then bestbetusa.com is the place to head for all your betting needs.

Of course, the whole point of the NFL Draft is to ensure that the next generation of talent coming through the college system is distributed fairly across the NFL. So which teams have made moves that will massively improve their chances this season? Which teams made picks that are hard to fathom out?

And has anybody pushed themselves into contention with the bookmakers on becoming Super Bowl Champions later this year?

Let’s take a look at some of the teams who hit, as well as some that missed in this year’s NFL Draft

NFL Draft 2021 – Winners

Chicago Bears

I’m not normally a fan of big Draft Day trades, they do smack a little of desperation at times, but despite the Bears giving up two first round picks, plus a couple of others to land quarterback Justin Fields, it was definitely the right move for the team.

Fields is a potentially huge talent in the Patrick Mahomes mould and like Mahomes, he will have the benefit of sitting a year behind an experienced current starter in Chicago, Andy Dalton. Head coach Matt Nagy saw that system work well at the Chiefs and he has followed that process in Chicago too.

However, what makes the Bears draft was their second round pick of Teven Jenkins, who will be a fantastic addition to the offensive line that also needed help. Larry Borom, their third round pick, is another lineman who could develop into a solid left tackle in years to come. Thomas Graham Jr. is also a fantastic addition in the sixth round at cornerback too.

Los Angeles Chargers

I don’t think any team matched their needs with solid picks better than the Chargers this year. Offensive tackle Rashawn Slater will be a massive upgrade for the offensive line, and should offer Justin Herbert the protection that the talented quarterback lacked last season.

They also addressed a big need at cornerback by landing Asante Samuel Jr in the second round, a potential first round quality corner who surprisingly slipped to the Chargers in the second. As a one-two first/second round combo go, these two are hard to beat.

Finally, taking Josh Palmer at wide receiver was also a great move. He will add huge pace for Herbert in deep situations and he will likely be a fantastic third choice receiver this season behind the talented Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

NFL Draft 2021 – Losers

Yes, it is a little harsh judging these teams as the losers from the 2021 NFL Draft, but the teams outlined below have all either over-reached for a player (picking them too early in their draft for their relative talent), not addressed needs that the team had from last season or have drafted players that are a questionable fit for how they want to play on offense or defense.

Any of these teams and picks can still go on to have very successful seasons and prove me wrong, but for the time being, these teams picks left me puzzled.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers problems on offense at the end of last season after a 11-0 start, all stemmed from a porous offensive line. The lack of running game was not down to a credible running back not being available (John Conner is not a bad RB) but simply that he didn’t have anywhere to run to when he was handed the ball.

Drafting Najee Harris, arguably the best RB in the draft, is an upgrade in this position, but this is a classic case of building the house before the foundations have been set. The Steelers badly needed help on the offensive line and the consensus opinion now is that running backs should not be taken in the first round in the now pass-heavy NFL.

With holes on the edge and at cornerback too, this was a very puzzling pick by a team who usually get things right on Draft Day.

Las Vegas Raiders

Not surprisingly, the Las Vegas Raiders, who have a history for left-of-field picks in the draft, surpassed themselves yet again with the oddest pick of the First Round, drafting Alex Leatherwood. Many experts felt that the offensive tackle would be available when the Raiders picked at 48th in the Second Round.

With the likes of Christian Darriawa and Teven Jenkins still available, this was a huge reach for the Raiders and definitely ranks as the most puzzling pick of the entire draft. Especially for a team hoping to be in contention in a division containing the Super Bowl favourites, Kansas City Chiefs.

Of course, the proof of the pudding in any NFL Draft only comes a few years along the line when the picks have played a few seasons in the NFL (or not in some cases) and either failed to meet, matched or surpassed expectations of their potential.

Success is not a guarantee in the NFL wherever you are picked. Plenty of number 1 picks have vanished without hardly leaving a trace in the NFL (Tim Couch, Ryan Leaf), while some lower picks have gone on to become arguably the best players in the game (Tom Brady was picked by New England 199th in the 2000 Draft).

Hard work, good fortune allied to talent and self-belief is required for any of this year’s picks to make the grade and it is going to be interesting to see how many of them pan out over the forthcoming season.

The new NFL Season starts with pre-season games in August, with the first game of the Regular season taking place in early September.

 

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