2021-2022 NFL Draft

This year’s draft seems unique, and I wanted to discuss some of the possible ramifications of this. For example, my sense is that teams have far less information about the draftees this year, due to the limitations created by COVID-19. Teams might not only have less information about the players’ talent and the way this projects into the NFL, but they may lack significant medical and psychological information. All of this creates unprecedented uncertainty, at least in terms of the last twenty years. Should teams change their approach to the draft because of this? And if so, in what way? I’ll address that in the first post.

30 thoughts on “2021-2022 NFL Draft

  1. Here are a few things I would assume if the above analysis is accurate:

    1. The number of good-to-great players that teams are confident about is really small.
    2. Choosing players outside of this group is closer to a random process.
    3. As the draft progresses, the group of good players shrinks and maybe disappears quite quickly. To say it another way, as the draft progresses, the picks become more and more like a random process.

    If this is true, the group of good-to-great players that a team is confident about becomes really valuable. If this group is small and likely to quickly disappear, teams should not give up their early picks, and they should either not trade back (gaining picks), and they should seriously consider trading up (giving up picks).

    Normally, I agree with those who believe more picks are better–so trading down is generally better. But in this case, I’m wondering if that’s true. If you get more picks of players that you have good information on, that might make sense, but more picks that are closer to random may not be so helpful. A team might have to dramatically increase their picks to make this approach worthwhile, and I would guess most teams can’t do this. What do you guys think? Is this sound thinking or not?

  2. What positions do you want your team to address?

    Seahawks:
    I would like them to find a LT that could be a solid replacement for Duane Brown in a year or two. If they can get a good-to-great O-lineman, at C or actually position, I’d be happy.

    I’d be happy with a good outside corner, WR or LB as well.

    Raiders
    They lost so much on the OL. If they could get at least one good one, at any position that would be great.

    But they still need a lot of help on defense. They have gone a long time without good linebacking play (maybe the longest in the NFL?). If they addressed that, I’d be happy. Or if they could also finally get a good corner.

    Don, what do you want for the Cowboys? My knee-jerk reaction is that if they can get a great O-lineman, they should. They need help on D, but I think I might prioritize the OL above the defense.

    1. My first options would be the two tackles: Sewell and Slater, not because they need they more than defense, but because these guys seem to be a notch above the others at their position whereas it doesn’t seem that big a difference with the defensive players. If they cannot get either, I would prefer them to trade back or get Micah Parsons, who seems a freak athlete. I’m not super enthusiastic about the corners although there are a few good to great ones. But none of them seem like shut down types.

      This is supposed to be a deep OT draft so you may get your wish in terms of both the Seahawks and Raiders getting o-linemen.

    2. Cowboys got help on defense so I think that’s a positive.

      I’m happy the Raiders got a lineman. I hope he’s good.

      1. Dallas probably got the guy they wanted plus an additional third round pick by trading back two spots. That’s a win-win. The Eagles cost themselves that third round pick because Smith would have been there at 12 with the Giants trading back.

        I like the move for both the Giants, who got a haul of picks, and the Bears, who got a potential future starter at QB. My guess is the Pats was hoping for Fields. I wonder if they didn’t even try to move up to get him?

    3. The Giants got more picks in this draft? I don’t know if that’s good. I think they really need to address their OL. I think they could be good if they do.

      Fields seems like a good gamble for the Bears. (They have to try something.) No idea about the Pats, but my understanding is that they like Mac Jones.

      1. The Giants got Chicago’s 20th pick and a fifth round pick this year. They also got a first round and fourth round next year. I think if you are not ready and in the case of the Giants, not completely sure of their QB, trading back and getting future picks may be a smart move. I heard that’s sort of what Detroit is doing by not going after a QB right now.

        I heard that the Pats were interested in Mac Jones too, but my guess, between the Jones and Fields, they would have taken Fields. Fields is very much like Cam, which really peaked the Pats’ interest, is the theory a lot pundits had. I like that theory.

    4. First and fourth round next year? Oh, I like that. Same with Detroit. I think next year’s picks will have more value than this year’s. (On a side note, I read this article that argued the talent wasn’t very good in this year’s draft. One evidence they cited: the number of players that signed with agents was really low–something like 600+. In the previous two drafts that number was 1,800-1,900+ . The author argued that agents are going to sign people they think are good, which makes sense to me. Ergo, there aren’t that many players agents think are good.)

      As for fields, I think Mike Lombardi was saying Fields doesn’t really fit what Belichick wants, at least that’s what I thought he said.

  3. Trey Lance at three. Sorry Mac…

    I heard they were offering the third (and I don’t know what else) for Rodgers, who said he wants out of Green Bay. Man, that would have been fun, but not for the Seahawks I’m guessing.

    1. Yeah, it would not be fun for the Seahawks. But don’t you think the 49ers would need more than just Rodgers? I mean, even if he played for 5 more years, at the same level, would that be worth it? And there’s no guarantee of that. He’s been known to get hurt.

      1. My guess is Rodgers would make the Niners the favorite for the next Super Bowl. That would be enough for me to be willing to give a reasonable amount for him. They took a huge risk with Lance, who one could argue has the most tools of the rookie QBs, but has the least amount of playing experience against the quality opponents.

    2. But they gave up a lot. I don’t think that would be worth it for a good shot at the Super Bowl next year.

      Lance is a gamble, but if he pays off, they’re going to have a good QB on a rookie contract. That is something worth the gamble in my view. But Lance having so little experience would make definitely make me nervous.

      1. Shanahan said that Lynch, Niners GM, never contacted Green Bay. Supposedly, Shanahan reached out to LaFleur and LaFleur said, “no chance they trading Rodgers”, and that was it. That being said the situation in Green Bay seems really contentious right now. Of the Seahawks, Texans, and Packers, the Packer situation seems the worse, but part of that is Watson’s off-field problems. Wilson never came out to say he wanted out. What should the Packers do? I think of three situations, Rodgers has the greatest leverage. He might be willing to sit out a year and do Jeopardy or whatever. That being said at least Green Bay has Love. It will get worse before it gets better for sure.

    3. What should the Packers do?

      I don’t know, but it’s a mess–and based on the little I know, they seem completely to blame for this. For example, drafting Love, moving up to do so, is one thing. But to not talk to Rodgers about this? If they didn’t even give him a heads up, that would be going out of their way to disrespect him.

      I’m not sure how they get out of this. They can apologize, but I don’t think that will be enough. If Mark Murphy fires Guntekunst maybe that might help, but I think that might hurt the public perception of Rodgers. It also sends a bad message to the other players–i.e., a QB can have so much power that he can get someone in management fired.

      As for leverage, if he’s truly willing to retire than he probably does have leverage. If he really wants to play and win a Super Bowl, that’s going to be really tough, especially after coming close in the last two years. If he goes to the right team, he’ll could definitely win at least one more, too. Can he walk away from that?

    4. Addendum:

      I just wanted to add something else regarding the beef between the Rodgers and Packers. Some pundits point out the lack of weapons the Packers gave Rodgers. But I don’t think that was a big problem.

      Based on what I’ve seen, the Packers prioritized defense, especially the secondary, and the OL. WRs and TE were the last priority. To me, this is a sound formula–IF the Packers also had a run-based offense–or at least an offense where the run game was a big threat. With a good OL and solid RBs (which they’ve had), this was a viable formula.

      But they never really did that. Instead, they mostly ran a pass-heavy offense–that was the problem. If they were going to run that kind of offense they should have surrounded Rodgers with more receiving weapons–like what KC’s doing for Mahomes (and provide a good OL).

      The DC and injuries were the other problems. Dom Capers was there a long time. He and LeBeau just never made a good adjustment to the pass-first offenses in the modern NFL.
      Additionally, from what I recall they consistently had a ton of injuries on defense–the type that would ruin a season. I think they drafted good players, but they lacked coaching and too many players got hurt.

  4. Chase over Sewell. If I was Burrows, although I played with Chase, I would have said give me the left tackle.

    1. Me, too.

      You better be a) super confident Chase is going to be elite and/or b) you’re not super confident about Sewell. In don’t care for taking WRs in the top 5, even if they may be a top 3 WR. Maybe if they have potential for a hall of famer, OK.

      1. I’m guessing you would prefer a QB and a o-linemen in the top 5. Would you also prefer a DB? What about a LB, edge rusher, or safety? I think it’s close for me between LB, edge rusher, and safety.

    2. In general, I would say if your team doesn’t have high confidence that the player will be top 3 at their position, and maybe even greater ceiling, you should trade down. QB, OL, and maybe an edge-rusher would be an exceptions. That is, they may not have to meet that criteria for me to choose them in the top five.

      Would you agree with that?

      1. I think Chase was a consensus number one in a draft with three top receivers. I think that speaks volumes of Chase. I agree with trading back if they are no sure fire guys, but I don’t think it’s as easy as you think. I also think a team does not want to trade back too far, and I tend to agree with that. For example in the beginning or middle of round one, I wouldn’t want my teams to trade back more than 5-7 spots. The drop off after that is usually big in terms of talent in the draft.

    3. To be clear what I mean by “sure fire” guys: There should be strong consensus and high confidence among GM, HC, and scouts. Is that sure fire? No. The player may not become as good as you expected. But the situation above is the time you take that chance.

      As for a WR, while having an elite one is important, but I prefer an elite O-linemen (or QB) or an elite defender (e.g., corner). I feel like these other players are just as hard to find, but also have a slightly bigger impact on the team.

  5. Detroit’s pick might determine how much of a chance the Cowboys have a chance to trade back with the Pats. If Detroit goes non-QB, and based on what I’ve heard, seems like a good plan. I heard they would develop “around” the QB, use Goff as a bridge, and then get a QB in two years from now.

    The Broncos will go QB, which will leave either Mac or Fields left for the Pats. The Pats may be able to stand pat and still get their QB at 15, but a trade with the Cowboys might be preferable.

  6. I’m not crazy about Miami getting a WR and not addressing their OL. (Ditto the Bengals.)

    I like what the Chargers are doing–they’re really investing in their OL.

  7. Raiders

    The comments below make me feel good about the Raiders first pick:

    “Coach Cable has been all over him for months now,” Mayock said. “Gruden loved this guy. Our scouts loved this guy. And what I like is, when the second floor in our building, which is all the coaches, and the third floor, which is all the scouts, when we’re united on a conversation like Leatherwood, that makes me feel really good about the pick.”

    Now, this is based on the assumption that the coaches and scouts are competent at talent assessment. If they are, I feel good about this pick. There’s no guarantee, but when there is consensus like this, it should be an easy decision.

    I’m a little concerned about their drafting two safeties–which seems to bode badly for Jonathan Abrams (and they recently re-signed Karl Joseph).

    They did draft a LB. I don’t know anything about him, but I really hope he’s good.

    Seahawks

    Seahawks didn’t trade down, and got a speedy slot receiver. He can return kicks, too. I’m really excited. The Hawks need both, so if he’s good, I’m happy with this pick.

  8. Reid,

    Because I follow the Cowboys and their drafting of Parsons, I’ve been hearing a lot about how the Will LB is becoming like the RB of the defense and that teams shouldn’t be picking Wills with high draft picks. But the reasoning is something I wanted to ask you about. The reason is the Will LB is a run stopper normally. Obviously the Sam is on the TE side, so the TE is his responsibility whereas the Will has no real responsibility or the RB is his responsibility. And playing the run is not as important in todays game. Most teams play nickel (even on early downs) and it’s the Will that is taken out (in 4-3 formations). Do you subscribe to the theory that Will LBs shouldn’t be drafted high? I’m thinking that because you are a Seattle fan and Carroll has always been a stop the run first guy, that you might not buy into that theory. FWIW, some Cowboy insiders think Parsons can be a good edge rusher, which would mean he would move to the edge on passing downs, with a d-tackle coming off the field.

    1. Does the WIL come out on nickel situations? I think KJ Wright played WIL for most of his career. In nickel situations, I’m pretty sure he’d stay in with Bobby. (Not sure if he switched to the SAM, but that sounds wrong.)

      My impression is that the SAM is less important than the WIL, at least in Carroll’s defense. I feel like that is more critical position in terms of the run game–the SAM has to be able to set the edge against the run. I don’t feel like the SAM makes huge plays–although KJ did last year (and he played at the SAM position). My sense is that they normally do grunt work. I could be totally wrong about that.

      When Thomas Davis was with the Panthers, was he a WIL or SAM backer? What about when Vander Esch and (Jaylon) Smith played together?

      One thing I would say is that I think it’s the wrong time to devalue players crucial to run defense. Some of the good teams can run well. If a defense is not good against the run, I think they’ll have a hard time winning the Super Bowl.

      Have you read much about Brandon Stayley’s defense with the Rams last year? I don’t know a lot, but it seems like they mostly allowed opponents to run, focusing more on the pass. The 49ers, even with injuries, did well against them–being productive on the ground. The Packers run game was also critical to beating the Rams in the playoffs.

      I’m very skeptical of a defense that doesn’t worry about the run much.

      1. In a 4-3 the WILL position definitely sits in the nickel, but as you said the player in the WILL can move positions if he’s one of the better LBs. With Dallas, Vander Esch is the SAM and Smith is the MIKE, so they never go out in the nickel. Teams that play the 3-4, if you can imagine their set up, 3-4 teams look like they have five defensive linemen. I believe most 3-4 teams will remove a d-linemen and they their defense will look like they have a four man front. And 3-4 teams only have a SAM and a WILL because the other two LBs play like edge players on the d-line. You are right though, the SAM is more the grunt work guy sort of like David with the Bucs, whereas the WILL has a little bit more freedom like White. But the SAM should be able to play coverage and this is why people have questions with Parsons and why everyone pegged him to be a WILL.

        Weird, but I thought Staley’s D was sort of like Carroll’s in that they sell out to stop the run on early downs. But to tell you the truth I’m not 100% sure. I just thought Staley was more willing to leave his corners playing man on running downs.

        I tend to agree with you and I prefer the Carroll method of trying to stop the run on early downs. It’s a more aggressive type of a defense on early downs, and become a little bit less aggressive on passing downs. I just hope Parsons can play the run well.

    2. I believe most 3-4 teams will remove a d-linemen and they their defense will look like they have a four man front.

      I never really focused on this, but I assumed it was just moving the OLB on the line, making him put his hand in the dirt. My sense is that a lot of 3-4 teams look (and maybe) play more like 4-3 defenses. But I believe 4-3 defenses (like Carroll’s) incorporate 3-4 concepts. The lines seemed to be really blurring between the two defenses–but most defenses seem to function more like 4-3s.

      And 3-4 teams only have a SAM and a WILL because the other two LBs play like edge players on the d-line.

      Not the MIKE and WILL?

      Weird, but I thought Staley’s D was sort of like Carroll’s in that they sell out to stop the run on early downs.

      That could be, but the write-up I read of his defense suggested that it intentionally gave up yards on the ground–although I must say I find that hard to believe.

      Isn’t Keanu Neal going to play LB (WILL?)? I’m curious to see what Quinn’s defense looks like. I read that he has tweaked his defense.

      1. Yes Keanu Neal was brought in to play LB. I’m going to guess he would play the WILL. I didn’t hear of any tweaks by Quinn, but to tell you the truth I’m not sure how they were playing in Atlanta. Did Quinn still try to do the single high (one safety) in Atlanta? I heard that Dallas’ issues and why Vander Esch and Smith had a bad year was because the interior d-linemen was garbage last year. Tristen Hill, Gerald McCoy and Tyrone Crawford got injured and Dontari Poe was horrible, so the o-linemen would just move to the second level and block the LBs. Dallas didn’t spend big on interior d-linemen this year even though Crawford retired and McCoy was released. I hope the guys they got in the bargain bin (Carlos Watkins and Brent Urban) can play or at least get some snaps.

    3. I think Quinn ran the single-high at Atlanta, for the most part, but I’m not sure.

      It’s hard to know what was wrong with the front seven and the defense overall. Was it a slow transition to the 3-4? Was Nolan just not a good coach? Were the players the problem? It’s hard to say. There were times when the defense would looked solid for portions of the game, but then they would look really bad.

      Of the coaches from the Carroll tree, I tend to think Quinn might be the best one. (I would have wanted him over Gus Bradley, for example.) He’s a D-line guy, so he should be able to help bring improvements there.

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