2021 NFL Draft

Saturdays Are For The Scouts: 2021 NFL Draft Recap


Welcome to the 14th entry in the scouting notebook I call, Saturdays Are For the Scouts.

With the 2021 NFL Draft behind us, the 2022 Draft Cycle is now officially in full swing. We’ve got four months of summer scouting ahead of us before the season kicks off. This is a key time to set our opening draft boards and get to know the class before their final seasons.

With this edition of SAFTS, we’ll take a dive into the New York Giants‘ draft class, and analyze some of my favorite fits, values, and classes of the 2021 NFL Draft.

I’ll kick things off with the Summer Scouting profile series next week, with a first look at the Quarterback class.

Saturdays Are For The Scouts: 2021 NFL Draft Recap

2021 NFL Draft – The New York Giants’ Draft Class

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Day 1

The Giants’ 2021 NFL Draft started off in spectacular fashion, with Gettleman pulling the trigger on his first-ever trade down in the first round of an NFL Draft. The Giants dealt their 11th pick to the Chicago Bears, allowing Ryan Pace to draft his future franchise quarterback in Justin Fields.

On the other side of the trade, the Giants secured the 20th overall pick, a 5th round pick (164th), the Bears’ 2022 first and fourth-round picks. A nice haul with good 2022 capital for a nine-pick drop. Additionally, the move allowed the Giants to be in range to consider edge and wide receiver as viable options after the Eagles jumped them to secure DeVonta Smith.

All Giants fans (myself included) were hoping for the Giants to address the need at pass rusher first. Instead, the Giants chose Kadarius Toney.

In hindsight, the move makes a ton of sense for the Giants, given the stage of the rebuild. New York needed more weapons to correctly evaluate Daniel Jones in his third season. Toney provides gadget, after-the-catch spark the Giants were actually lacking in their WR room.

The first-round price tag might be a bit steep, but I believe Toney represents one of the “safer” options among the many small/shifty receivers in the 2021 class. And I really doubt he would’ve slipped out of the first round anyway.

Day 2

On day two, both fans and the front office seemed to agree pass rusher was the priority for the Giants. Dave Gettleman masterfully traded back out of the 42nd spot (unbelievable), into the Dolphins‘ 50th spot, and saw Azeez Ojulari fall right into their laps. My ideal scenario would have been Ojulari first round, and an after-catch playmaker à la Kadarius Toney in the second. We got both, in reverse order, but we got both.

The medical checkups at the Combine raised uncertainty around Ojulari’s knee, which certainly caused his slide out of the first. But at 50th overall, this is terrific value for a player I had ranked in my top-15.

Ojulari brings a blend of toughness, explosiveness and flexibility to the OLB position for the Giants. He’s young and may need some time to reach his potential, but his playmaking instincts and pass rush savvy should have a strong impact for a group that struggled to rush from the edge since the Vernon/JPP era.

With their third pick, the Giants brought in Aaron Robinson. A solid presence on the interior. He brings size and length to the slot corner role that is missing from Darnay Holmes. He’s long and physical at the catch point with solid play against the run. He should be a solid rotational contributor for a secondary that keeps stacking talent.

Day 3

I think we all would’ve liked to see some depth added to the offensive line on day three. But I’ve come to terms with the Giants’ day three, and believe we need to trust, not only Gettleman but Joe Judge as he was just as involved in the process. This tells me that the Giants like where they’re at with the offensive line and want to give more time for the young, recent picks to develop.

I’m not 100% sure Gary Brightwell will make the roster. He’s a physical back, with good straight-line speed. But he’s a bit stiff and doesn’t show a ton of short-area wiggle. He adds some depth and competition. I think we could’ve gone elsewhere with the pick.

Rodarius Williams is a solid depth pick. He was Oklahoma State’s top corner, usually seeing a ton of one-on-one coverage traveling with the Big 12’s best receivers. He’s a good athlete with ball skills at the catch point. He’ll have to rely on special teams if he wants to carve out a role on the 53 early.

Favorite Fits and Values of the 2021 NFL Draft

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The Eagles’ draft class

As much as it pains me to say this, the Eagles put together a really solid class after an underwhelming 2020 cycle. I think all nine of their picks should make the 53-man roster.

I’m a big fan of adding Landon Dickerson in round two, who only slipped out of the first round because of the two ACL injuries. He’s a nasty blocker with terrific IQ and leadership for the Eagles’ interior that should allow them to keep rolling after Kelce retires.

Marlon Tuipulotu and Milton Williams are really solid pieces on the interior. Williams is twitched up with pass-rushing tools to develop into a good interior rusher if he can overcome the length limitations. Tuipulotu is stout, instinctive, and powerful in run defense.

Zech McPhearson looks like a starting nickel corner on film. He’s smooth in coverage and physical to match up in the slot really well. Gainwell in the fifth round is a spectacular value (my RB4). He brings a lot of juice to both the passing game and running game, with good vision, angles and elusiveness in space.

The Chiefs‘ Round 2 Haul

The Chiefs’ linebackers were non-existent, just like the offensive line. Guess what positions they addressed in the second round.

Nick Bolton profiles to be an immediate starter at middle linebacker. He’s super instinctive with exceptional eyes and play recognition. He beats blockers to the point of attack in a blink and lays the hammer as a tackler.

They also added a rock-solid pass protector at the pivot spot in Creed Humphrey. He’s patient with a stout base and a powerful upper body. He’ll sit behind Blythe and Thuney at first but projects to be their long-term starter. He’s a terrific leader with a great football IQ.

The Lions Built Through the Trenches

It’s no surprise really, following Dan Campbell‘s introduction presser, that the Lions want to start with winning the line of scrimmage. They addressed the trenches with their first three picks.

Penei Sewell is a high-upside, powerful athlete that should step right in at right tackle from day one. He’s flexible, quick, explosive and extremely physical. He has everything you look for in a tackle prospect. He’s a bit raw but probably improved since we last saw him (2019), and should be a star at the next level.

Onwuzurike and McNeill are good opposites on the defensive interior, with Onwuzurike bringing the juice and movement skills, while McNeill is the athletic nose with stack/shed power. They both have substantial developmental upside.

The Panthers‘ Haul

I loved what the Panthers did on the first two days of the draft. Jaycee Horn gives them a star presence on the outside with the potential to line up in man coverage, on an island from Day 1. He’s physical in press with great technique, smooth movement skills, and terrific ball skills at the catch point. He’s a stud, with great character, IQ, and NFL bloodlines.

Bringing Terrace Marshall in to play under Joe Brady seems like a perfect situation for the young receiver. He brings that height/weight/speed presence the Panthers’ wide receiver room was missing. Christensen is a solid offensive tackle for a unit that needed to add reinforcements to protect Darnold. He has good functional athleticism, length, and flexibility.

Tommy Tremble is an outstanding pick for McCaffrey and the Panthers’ run game. His film as a run blocker is just a treat. He’s explosive, physical, and operates with terrific timing and angles. His athleticism is a plus to develop as a pass-catcher, where he didn’t see a ton of reps for Notre Dame.

I also love the value, snatching Deonte Brown in the sixth round (wow). He’s a stout, extremely powerful offensive guard. I loved his film against now-teammate Derrick Brown. Although his range and mobility are limited, he has legitimate power as a drive and down blocker. Brown could emerge as a starter if he can keep weight discipline away from the football field.

Saturdays Are For The Scouts

I’ll be back next week with some 2022 Quarterback breakdowns!

You can find me on Instagram for the film, and Twitter for the takes!

Back to the film room!

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About Selyan Lonqueux

Junior NFL Draft analyst, and aspiring football coach. Active Wide Receiver across the pond, in Europe. The truth lies in the tape, the whole tape and nothing but the tape.

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