It’s been over a week since the 2021 NFL Draft ended. I’ve had a good amount of time now to look through every NFL team’s draft class and where the more notable prospects have landed. I probably don’t need to remind you how important it is for a player to go to the right team. From the teammates he plays with to the coaches he plays for, a prospect’s surrounding environment plays a big factor in how successful they’ll be at the NFL level. Therefore, while some of these guys may have ended up in less-than-ideal situations, a few selections throughout the whole draft stood out a good amount to me. Some of my favorite selections include the following:
- QB Justin Fields going to the Chicago Bears with the 11th overall pick was monumental for that franchise. It’s also the last hope for Jim Nagy and Ryan Pace to save their jobs. Have the Bears finally found their franchise QB? If you ask me, I believe they have.
- The Cleveland Browns may have gotten the most surprising steal of the draft with LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the 2nd round, 52nd overall. I know the struggles of Isaiah Simmons last season probably contributed to JOK’s slide because teams were worried about how to use a player like him exactly. However, that’s a good problem to have in my book. He’s just way too talented to have fallen that far.
- The New York Giants getting EDGE Azeez Ojulari two picks before was another example of a near consensus 1st round talent falling to the 2nd round. He’s going to be such a welcome addition to that rising defense.
- Another NFC East team had a standout selection as well in WR Dyami Brown, who was taken with the 19th pick in the 3rd round, 82nd overall. He’s going to complement Terry McLaurin so well and is the type of downfield target Ryan Fitzpatrick loves.
- Speaking of weapons going to the DMV area, the Baltimore Ravens were able to grab WRs Rashod Bateman (27th overall) and Tylan Wallace (131st overall). The Ravens already had plenty of speed with Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, and Devin Duvernay. Now, they add 2 absolute technicians to boost their passing attack when it comes to the intermediate and high-traffic areas in the middle of the field.
- I loved that the Jacksonville Jaguars chose CB Tyson Campbell in the 2nd round and then S Andre Cisco in the 3rd round. Both are high-upside defensive backs who can be centerpieces in that secondary for years.
- I also believe that the Tennessee Titans will be reaping the rewards of teams being scared off by Caleb Farley’s medical red flags. He’ll be the best CB to come out of this draft class if he can stay healthy. Them selecting S Elijah Molden in the 3rd round could also pay off big-time for them if they use him correctly.
- To say I was ecstatic to see RB Kenneth Gainwell go 150th overall in the 5th round to the Philadelphia Eagles would be an understatement (click here for my breakdown of Gainwell’s role with the Eagles). And of course, I loved the DeVonta Smith pick for the Eagles as well!
When it comes down to it, though, I’d have to say that my favorite overall selection by any team with any player in this draft would be RB Trey Sermon to the San Francisco 49ers with the 88th overall pick (round 3, pick 25).
We all should be familiar by now with how advantageous Kyle Shanahan’s scheme is for running backs, specifically those who know who to run zone concepts. Some are under the misconception that his scheme is only for fast and elusive runners, but that’s not the case at all. If you’re a running back who has the widescreen vision and feel for where the lane is developing, the decisiveness to make the necessary cut to that lane, and the burst to attack that lane quickly and get to the 2nd level of the defense, you’re going to do well in Shanahan’s outside zone scheme.
Trey Sermon does all those things very well, and more!
Trey Sermon Draft Prospect Evaluation pic.twitter.com/yS6ZSXlQ3N
— Charles “Chux” Maranan (@ChuxMaranan) March 8, 2021
If you haven’t heard me say it already, I’m going to repeat myself: Trey Sermon has the best footwork out of any running back in this draft class. Is he the quickest or most agile? No. Is he the most explosive? No. Is he the most elusive? No. However, when I refer to his footwork I’m talking about his ability to be efficient and deliberate in where and how he moves. If he needs to take a small step to subtly find a crease, he will. If he needs to take a drastic jump cut to evade penetration in the backfield, he will. He does both of those, and everything in between, at a high level. Sermon is an example of how pure athleticism isn’t the only tool in being an efficient runner.
Right now the 49ers have a plethora of running backs on their roster, but I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as talented as Sermon. Raheem Mostert, who has developed wonderfully and has produced so well in Shanahan’s outside zone scheme, is the only player I can see preventing Sermon from being a 20-25 carry runner week in and week out in 2021. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Both DeVonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both had career years under Shanahan in Atlanta, and I can see Sermon and Mostert doing similar things for the 49ers this upcoming season. And if/when Sermon plays well and the team ends up moving on from Mostert, we could be looking at the best RB Shanahan has ever had.