The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone and the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, and Los Angeles Chargers are all officially off the clock. So here are my picks for the best and worst selections made by each team.

When considering best and worst picks I look into:

  • Team Needs (what position needs to be addressed most via draft)
  • The value of the pick (could a selection have been taken later, did a team reach?)
  • The biggest potential impact from a draft pick

The Chiefs ran away with the division, outpacing the second-place Raiders by 6 wins. The Raiders lost five of their last six games to miss the playoffs. The Broncos and Chargers finished with losing records for the second straight season.

Did Scouts, GMs, and Head Coaches make the right moves this weekend? Let’s find out!

Denver Broncos (5-11 record)

Selections: CB Patrick Surtain II. RB Javonte Williams. G Quinn Meinerz. LB Baron Browning. S Caden Sterns. S Jamar Johnson. WR Seth Williams. CB Kary Vincent Jr. DE Jonathan Cooper. DE Marquiss Spencer.

Needs: Quarterback, Offensive Tackle, Linebacker, Running Back, Defensive Tackle

Best Draft Pick: With Phillip Lindsay leaving in free agency and Melvin Gordon in the second year of a two-year contract, a late RB selection seemed likely. I envisioned them potentially drafting a big back like Rhomondre Stephenson on day three. But nabbing one of the top three backs of the draft with their second-round pick was a genius decision by Broncos brass.

Javonte Williams, out of North Carolina, is a powerful and explosive runner with great balance and excellent acceleration. He can make an immediate impact for the Broncos, forming a two-headed monster with Melvin Gordon. Similar to what he did at UNC with Michael Carter. Williams is a proven finisher scoring 22 total touchdowns in 11 games his last season in Chapel Hill. His low usage in college coupled with his ability to understand blocking schemes give him a chance to have a lengthy career in the NFL.

Worst Draft Pick: The Broncos traded for Teddy Bridgewater before the draft to get a steady, no-frills quarterback to settle down the position. Bridgewater’s decision-making and playstyle won’t lose you any games. Which is the knock on Drew Lock. When you have a top 10 pick in the draft and you need a quarterback of the future, in an NFL Draft that features five of them, it would seem like a no-brainer to draft one.

Denver should’ve moved back from their ninth pick and taken a quarterback with Justin Fields and Mac Jones still on the board. Instead, the Broncos drafted cornerback Patrick Surtain II. A position that they addressed in free agency with two starters in Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. It’s hard to understand the logic of leaving two potential franchise quarterbacks on the board to draft a player at a position you’ve already secured. Patrick Surtain II will no doubt be a good player in this league, but Denver left some prolific passers on the board at nine.

Kansas City Chiefs (14-2, AFC West Champions)

Selections: LB Nick Bolton. C Creed Humphrey. DE Joshua Kaindoh. TE Noah Gray. WR Cornell Powell. G Trey Smith.

Needs: Center, Right Tackle, Linebacker, Defensive End, Cornerback

Best Draft Pick: Watching your $500 million dollar quarterback scramble for his life against the Bucs pass rush this past February was enough to warrant a complete makeover of the offensive line for Andy Reid. Chiefs scrapped both their starting tackles from the Super Bowl this offseason. They also inked deals with Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, and Austin Blythe on the interior. Using their first-round pick in a deal that landed them left tackle Orlando Brown, you would think the overhaul was completed even before Trevor Lawrence’s name was called.

On day two, Kansas City made their best selection. With the 63rd overall pick, the Chiefs selected center Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma. Humphrey will push Blythe in training camp for the starting center spot and win. Great value considering they lost a first-round pick in their trade with the Ravens. Humphrey is a two-time Big 12 offensive lineman of the year. A great leader, Humphrey was also a two-time captain for the Sooners. With him anchored next to Joe Thuney and 2020 opt-out Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the Chiefs offensive line is back in business.

Worst Draft Pick: It’s hard to pass up on athleticism and big hits. Especially when that type of player drops into your lap in the second round. Linebacker Nick Bolton was initially a potential first-round pick. A subpar 2020 season allowed for the Chiefs to select him 58th overall. To me, that may have been too high.

On film Bolton can be seen repeatedly giving up on plays, getting destroyed by blocks, and having absolutely no clue where the football is. Not exactly someone you want manning the middle of your defense on you’re way to contend once more for a Super Bowl bid. There’s a possibility that with coaching Bolton can figure things out, but Kansas City could have definitely selected a more sound linebacker with their second-round selection.

Las Vegas Raiders (8-8)

Selections: OT Alex Leatherwood. S Trevon Moehrig. LB Malcolm Koonce. S Divine Deablo. S Tyree Gillespie. CB Nate Hobbs. C Jimmy Morrisey.

Needs: Offensive Line, Safety, Linebacker, Defensive End,

Best Draft Pick: Las Vegas made a few selections that will instantly upgrade them at multiple positions. Trevon Moehrig is an improvement over Jeff Heath. First-round selection Alex Leatherwood is a plug-and-play at right tackle. But the Raiders’ best selection came in the third round of the draft.

With the 80th overall pick in the NFL Draft, Las Vegas selected Divine Deablo out of Virginia Tech. The 6’3, 225-pound safety translates best as a weakside linebacker in the Raiders’ defensive scheme. While using both free agency and the draft to patch holes in their defense the Raiders may have stumbled on a gem of a player in Deablo. They will be able to move him around and with his size and speed and he matches up well against tight ends as well as playing with his pads well at the second level. In a few years, teams will be looking back wondering how they missed on Deablo.

Worst Draft Pick: There was supposed buzz coming from teams in the latter half of round one, that had GM Mike Mayock convinced that he needed to take Alex Leatherwood 17th overall. By many evaluator’s standards a reach. But Leatherwood’s ability to transition to the NFL keeps him out of the worst pick category for the moment. In true Raider fashion, they reached once more in the 3rd round selecting Edge linebacker Malcolm Koonce.

Koonce is a decent pass rusher from Buffalo with upside. However, he was graded as a fifth to seventh-rounder. The Raiders added pass rush veteran Yannick Ngakoue to the edge group with Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell. It seems almost wasteful to reach so far for a player whose sacks came against teams like Bowling Green, Akron, and Ball State. With more accomplished pass rushers on the board, this pick may come back to haunt the Raiders.

Los Angeles Chargers (7-9)

Selections: OT Rashawn Slater. CB Asante Samuel Jr. WR Josh Palmer. TE Tre’ Mckitty. LB Chris Rumph II. OT Brendan Jaimes. LB Nick Niemann. RB Larry Rountree III. DB Mark Webb.

Needs: Offensive Tackle, Cornerback, Tight End, Defensive End, Wide Receiver

Best Draft Pick: The Chargers got their first-round selection exactly right. Quarterback Justin Herbert was pressured 217 times last season. Taking tackle Rashawn Slater with the 13th pick gives Herbert an opportunity to improve on his record-breaking rookie campaign. Now protecting Herbert’s blind side is a player who locked down reigning defensive rookie of the year (Chase Young) just two seasons ago. Slater uses his big body, strong hands, and great technique consistently to eliminate pass rushers.

Keeping Herbert upright is a major priority for Los Angeles. Amazingly, 7 of their 9 losses were one-possession games. It’s easy to see the selection of Slater and the work the Chargers did in the draft lifting them up and into the playoffs. Some draft boards had Slater as their top-ranked tackle. Even above Penei Sewell who went six spots ahead of him in the NFL Draft. To stand pat and get a talent like Slater, the Chargers have to be applauded for their work.

Worst Draft Pick: The Chargers did a pretty good job helping their team via the NFL Draft. One pick I would say wasn’t the best for them is linebacker Nick Niemann out of Iowa. Drafted with the 185th pick. Niemann played at Iowa for four seasons but did not have a ton of production (average five tackles a game for his career). Also, he didn’t contribute a ton of playmaking (2 sacks, 1 interception in 31 games).

Niemann will have to grind it out on special teams and hopefully find a way to crack the lineup for Los Angeles. If he finds himself on the final 53, his work ethic may propel him to success on special teams.

Looking to 2021-22

The AFC West is home to the reigning AFC Champions. The Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes behind the wheel seem primed to hoist the Hunt trophy again this season. I’m excited to see what help they get from their rookies, especially Creed Humphreys as he anchors a completely revamped offensive line.

Las Vegas fell off a cliff their last six games and Head Coach John Gruden will be kicking himself if they miss the playoffs again. Their defense drafted positional upgrades ready to help them contend with Kansas City. Look for safety Trevon Moehrig to pair well with Johnathan Abram on the back end.

The Chargers selection of second-generation cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. is exciting. Pair him with fellow Florida State alum Derwin James and you have a solid playmaking defensive backfield. With Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Noah Fant, Courtland Sutton, and Darren Waller in the West it will be huge to have those two playing at a high level right now.

Denver didn’t take a QB in the draft, giving Teddy Bridgewater the reigns. With a top 10 pick, they also could’ve nabbed a playmaking linebacker, but solidified the corner spot with Surtain II. Watch out for linebacker Baron Browning, super athletic and physically gifted. Could push either Josey Jewell or Alexander Johnson for playing time early.

Thanks as always for reading! Tell me your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!

2021 NFL Draft divisional review (NFC South)