2021 NFL Draft winners, losers: Best, worst picks from event

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Dalton Johnson
·4 min read
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Winners, losers from NFL draft with plenty of 49ers ties originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone. There were insane fans freezing in Cleveland, a weird chair on the stage and many more bizarre scenes from this year's festivities. 

Personally, I'm just here for all the Twitter friends (lol) we made along the way. Fans will be both happy and angry with their favorite team well before a prospect ever sets foot on a NFL field. That's just the way it goes. 

With that being said, a NFL draft can't happen without winners and losers. It's the name of the game, and we're here for the instant reactions, both good and bad.

RELATED: Lance, Jimmy G, Rodgers, Mac and 49ers' QB what-ifs that remain

So, here are three winners and losers from this year's draft. 

Winners

 

New York Jets

How do you set a young quarterback up for success? Just look at what the Jets -- yes, the Jets -- just did. 

The Jets drafted left tackle Mekhi Becton last year to protect the quarterback. That QB now is Zach Wilson, who slowly but surely is being surrounded by talent. The Jets traded back up into the first round and selected Alijah Vera-Tucker, one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the draft. They then added a steal in the second round with receiver Elijah Moore and running back Michael Carter in the fourth round is great value. 

Robert Saleh knows what he's doing. The Jets have had strong drafts in back to back years, and this franchise finally might be back on the right path. 

Carolina Panthers

Sam Darnold has to be shaking his head at how his old team is setting up a QB for success while smiling at his new team doing exactly that. 

The Panthers gave Darnold LSU receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. in the second round, who has first-round talent. That pick was followed up by an offensive tackle, a tight end and a running back, all who should make early impacts. Oh and Shi Smith in the sixth round is unreal value.

Add in the fact that the Panthers took cornerback Jaycee Horn with their first-round pick, and somehow were able to add defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon and cornerback Keith Taylor in the fifth round, and it's clear both sides of the ball improved. 

Darnold still is 23 years old. He finally has talent all around him. There really are no more excuses for the former top draft pick.

Kyle Shanahan

Now, I can't say if the 49ers for sure are winners or losers. I'd say slight winners right now.

One thing is for certain, though: Shanahan got what he wanted. He now has his franchise QB in Trey Lance he can mold, and he added physical help with Aaron Banks, Trey Sermon and Jaylon Moore. 

Some might see Sermon as a reach trading up in the third round but Shanahan turns running backs into stars and the Ohio State product could be a great fit in his outside zone scheme with the intention to run over defenders. They even added another running back in the sixth round. Peak Shanahan.

It's somewhat surprising a receiver wasn't selected. Still, this was a Shanahan draft, cut and dry. 

Losers

 

Green Bay Packers

The Packers were losers hours before the draft even began. It seems Aaron Rodgers would rather host Jeopardy than return to Green Bay. So, how did they appease the NFL MVP? By reaching on a cornerback in the first round of course. 

Oh, Packers. 

Amari Rodgers, ironically, could be exactly what this team needs and could be a steal from the third round. But he might be catching passes from Jordan Love instead of the QB with his namesake.

Las Vegas Raiders

Jon Gruden's gonna Jon Gruden. 

Getting Trevon Moehrig is great value in the second round. Alex Leatherwood might be a reach at No. 17 overall. If their slots were reversed, that's a great start. 

Then it goes downhill.

The Raiders smartly went heavy on defense, but with a lot of players who need a lot of development. It sure felt like there were better options on the board. Maybe Gruden knows best. He hasn't shown that the past few years in the draft, though. 

Veteran starting QBs

Jimmy Garoppolo knows his time with the 49ers is ticking away. But he likely still will be their starter to begin the 2021 season. However, he isn't the only veteran whose job soon could be on the line. 

Mac Jones wound up with the New England Patriots, not the 49ers, and could push Cam Newton. The Minnesota Vikings took Kellen Mond in the second round. How soon until he takes over for Kirk Cousins? We don't know Deshaun Watson's future with the Houston Texans, but the franchise did add Stanford's Davis Mills in the second round. 

A new group of young QBs could take over in the near(ish) future.

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