The 2021 NFL Draft has concluded but that doesn’t mean the analysis has to end. Evaluators and observers will spend the next few days contemplating how all 32 organizations handled the draft process while making notes on the players who could be well-positioned to make an immediate impact with their new teams.
Given the weekend to assess which players might be in the perfect environment to help them play at an all-star level from Day 1, here are my five favorite picks from draft weekend:
Jerry Jones gift-wrapped Dan Quinn an ultra-athletic playmaker with game-changing ability as a disruptive force on the second level. Parsons is a freak athlete with exceptional pass-rush skills and sideline-to-sideline pursuit quickness. He not only upgrades the speed and athleticism on the Cowboys’ defense, but he is a tone-setter with the potential to change the team’s defensive culture as a hard-hitting, high-motor playmaker in the middle.
As former NFL linebackers with impressive pedigrees, head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have a long track record of building elite defenses around five-star linebackers. Davis is a game-changer at the position with a combination of speed, instincts and play-making skills who could earn All-Pro honors early in his career playing behind a star-studded defensive line. The Kentucky standout gives Washington a difference-maker with the capacity to hit, run and cover on the second level. For a defense that nearly sparked a title run in 2020, the addition of Davis could make Washington an elite unit next season.
The Steelers’ offense hasn’t been the same since Le’Veon Bell‘s departure. However, that should change with Harris’ arrival. The Alabama standout is a mix of Matt Forte and Bell, with a game that could enable him to thrive as an RB1/WR2 in Pittsburgh. Harris’ combination of power running skills and soft hands makes him a rare find at the position as an ultra-versatile playmaker from the backfield. He should immediately alleviate some of the pressure on Ben Roethlisberger to carry the offense as a reliable runner between the tackles with pass-catching skills to turn screens, check downs and quick routes into big plays on the perimeter.
The NFL’s best players routinely feature a set of skills that perfectly mesh with their team’s scheme. Samuel should thrive from the jump in the Chargers’ zone scheme with a “see ball, get ball” playing style, enabling him to snag interceptions on tips, overthrows and misreads. The Florida State standout is well-versed in playing the position as the son of a ballhawk (Asante Samuel), and that experience should serve him well as he transitions to the pro game. With Brandon Staley adept at putting his top defenders in optimal situations to make plays, Samuel could emerge as an all-star quickly in Hollywood.
If you want to produce more turnovers on defense, you must add thieves to the lineup with a track record of taking the ball away. Cisco is an elite ballhawk with exceptional ball skills and instincts at the position. He finished his collegiate career with 13 interceptions in 24 games (21 starts), exhibiting all-star potential as a playmaker in the middle of the field. As a true center fielder in a passing league, Cisco could feast on errant throws as the Jaguars heat up opponents with an aggressive pressure package.