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NFL Draft

6 Teams That Must Ace 2021 NFL Draft

  • The Draft Network
  • April 8, 2021
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Each year is a different story for each organization as late April approaches. Some have addressed needs by opening their wallet, acquiring both day-one contributors and depth via the veteran free agent cycle. Some remain frugal in the open signing period, opting to remain quiet with spot signings that fail to show up in your daily headlines. With free agency now in its latter stages, it’s full steam ahead for the annual NFL draft, where, in hindsight, Super Bowls are won... or lost. 

With an expected heavy dose of change this offseason with a run on quarterbacks early in the selection process, here are six teams who must ace the draft process, with each selection hinging on positional success for years to come. 

Philadelphia Eagles

Total Picks: 11

I’m not going to go into the rash history of unsuccessful drafts for Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. What matters is this year, and it could be his final straw if he fails to add an influx of talent with a multitude of selections in this year's draft. 

It starts at No. 12 for Philadelphia following a trade with the Miami Dolphins saw them pick up an extra fourth-round pick this year and a first next year. It was a head-scratcher with Philadelphia in desperate need for pop on the outside at receiver, where at No. 6 overall they sat in prime position to take one of the premier pass-catching talents in the class in an ultra-deep wideout pool. It would be wise to complement the roster with talent on the boundary throughout the draft, even if Jalen Hurts isn’t their future under center moving forward. With 11 total picks, this is a do-or-die campaign for Roseman.

Houston Texans

Total Picks: 8

It really can’t get much worse for Houston, who are now enveloped in Deshaun Watson’s legal battle. For newly hired general manager Nick Caserio, it’s a harrowing draft that awaits with just ONE selection within the first 100 picks of the draft. 

The Texans roster is below below-average, and that’s being nice. Following the departures of DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and J.J. Watt, there are little to no playmakers left on the roster. Fuller’s departure to Miami in free agency has left a crater in the Texans’ receiving room with slot men Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb set to align as the team’s top two wideouts. Houston should approach each selection in a “best player available” mentality on the heels of a 4-12 season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Total Picks: 10

With Urban Meyer in place, it all starts at No. 1, where Trevor Lawrence will be taken as the first player off the board. Following an expensive free agency period where general manager Trent Baalke wasn’t shy in addressing needs on both sides of the ball, the Jaguars now look to supplement Lawrence following a slew of rather unsuccessful drafts over the last couple of seasons. Outside of Josh Allen (2019), and Jalen Ramsey (2017), the Jaguars have failed to hit on top-10 selections in the past decade. You could argue Leonard Fournette should be included in that group, but his production was not of the standard for a running back taken in the top five. He’s also now in Tampa Bay following just three years in Duval, if you forgot. 

This draft will serve as the foundation for everything Jacksonville will look to do in the foreseeable future with Lawrence as the face of the franchise.

San Francisco 49ers

Total Picks: 9

Barring anything unforeseen, the 49ers are set to select a quarterback third overall. Who exactly is taken remains the question, but it’s the headline in and of itself with Jimmy Garoppolo seemingly on the outs in San Francisco. No matter who is taken at No. 3, general manager John Lynch MUST get it right with zero first-round selections in 2022 or 2023 after moving up to acquire the third overall selection with the Dolphins just weeks ago. Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, one of the three will end up in the Bay with an opportunity to lead the 49ers from the NFC West cellar to the top of the division.

Chicago Bears

Total Picks: 8

Both head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are in a glass house as they enter the 2021 campaign. Everything they do is under a microscope from ownership as they enter potentially their last draft in the Windy City. For a roster now without Mitchell Trubisky, Roy Robertson-Harris, and Kyle Fuller, an influx of talent is desperately needed following consecutive .500 seasons. The Bears have their first first-round selection since the trade for Khalil Mack back in 2018, and they have plenty of options at No. 20. 

A quarterback falling to them seems out of the question—for now—with Andy Dalton expectedly serving as a veteran stop-gap option this year, but nothing can be completely ruled out. Despite their illustrious franchise history, the Bears have never drafted, developed, and reaped the benefits of a young quarterback. 

Not once. 

This would be the year to take one, and it presents an intriguing storyline as the draft swiftly approaches. 

New York Jets

Total Picks: 8

Following the trade of Sam Darnold, general manager Joe Douglas and newly hired head coach Robert Saleh have banked their future success on the shoulders of BYU’s Zach Wilson, who looks to become the second Cougar quarterback in school history taken in the top two picks, joining Hall of Famer Steve Young in 1984. With the addition of Corey Davis at wideout to pair with Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder in the slot, Wilson will have a nice group to work with at the onset of his career. 

With a second first-round selection at No. 23, the Jets are primed to add two elite talents from the college ranks before the draft really gets underway. They need all the help they can get to wash away the Adam Gase era.

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