Why Ryan Fitzpatrick is a major winner of the 2021 NFL Draft

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Peter Hailey
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Why Ryan Fitzpatrick is a major winner of the draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Washington's 10 picks weren't the only winners this past weekend at the 2021 NFL Draft. Ryan Fitzpatrick definitely counts as one, too.

The first reason why Fitzpatrick is feeling good now that all seven rounds have been completed is the obvious reason: There was no addition to the quarterback room.

When Justin Fields slid into the double digits, Washington held still at No. 19. Instead, the Chicago Bears were the franchise to come away with Fields, while Washington opted to further reinforce the defense by choosing Jamin Davis

Ron Rivera didn't act aggressively for any of the Day 2 passers, either. Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond and Davis Mills all had their various supporters and believers, yet Rivera and his front office didn't feel strongly enough about any of them to grab them in the second round or move up for them in the third. 

Though Fitzpatrick will still have to capture Washington's starting job beginning in training camp and then perform well enough to stave off Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen, he officially won't encounter a situation similar to the one he dealt with in 2020 with the Dolphins. This time around, there is no heir apparent on the depth chart ready to overtake the veteran regardless of how well he's doing.

That's what went down in Miami last year, when the Dolphins inserted Tua Tagovailoa into the lineup despite the fact that Fitzpatrick was, by some measures, one of the most effective signal callers in the entire sport. That, to him, is no doubt a relief.

It's also not the only factor that should have Fitz excited.

After grabbing Davis, Rivera addressed the offense in two crucial ways. First, he selected Sam Cosmi out of Texas, a lineman who could very well be Fitzpatrick's blindside protector in 2021. Then, Washington landed receiver Dyami Brown from North Carolina, giving the QB another asset to find on downfield throws.

In Cosmi and Brown, Fitzpatrick's bosses spent two premium pieces of capital on rookies who have skillsets that ought to allow Fitzpatrick to perform better in his debut season with the organization. That's on top of the Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries signings, as well as the recent trade for Ereck Flowers. 

So, moving forward, it's OK to call this Fitzpatrick's team. Doing so before the draft might've been premature, but with the event over, he's the overwhelming favorite to be under center for Week 1. 

As for the team Fitzpatrick's slated to command, it's gotten more well rounded since his arrival. The receiving corps has three new targets, two of which (Samuel and Brown) are wildly fast and one of which (Humphries) is already familiar with Fitzpatrick. The offensive line, meanwhile, is deeper than it was even a few months ago.

Of course, it'll be on Fitzpatrick to take advantage of the scenario he's in as well as the talent that surrounds him. If he's tossing three picks a week, he'll be on the bench by October.

However, all along, all Fitzpatrick has wanted out of Washington is a chance to compete. As the calendar flips to May, it turns out they've handed him potentially much more than that.