The NFL Draft is an imperfect science. Every year, we see players that nobody expects to go high who end up going in the first round along with players who end up falling to Day 2 or Day 3 and sometimes out of the draft entirely after having been projected to go much higher. And while there are always some first-round picks that don’t pan out, there will also be players picked on Day 3 who are able to make contributions on a roster right away. Here are 10 value picks – based on where the 33rd Team had them ranked — from the 2021 NFL Draft:
Trey Smith, IOL, Kansas City Chiefs
33rd Team Rank: 35 (4th best IOL)
Draft Result: Round 6 / Pick 226
After a season that culminated in the Chiefs struggling immensely to protect Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV, getting more talent and depth on the offensive line was an absolute must. The Chiefs added Joe Thuney and Orlando Brown Jr., among others, prior to the draft, but these moves did not stop them from continuing to address the offensive line in the draft. One of the best value picks the Chiefs made according to our prospect rankings was their sixth-round selection of Tennessee IOL Trey Smith. He fell in the draft due to concerns over blood clots, but he could very well be a key contributor along the Chiefs’ offensive line this upcoming season. Smith has a huge frame and is incredibly athletic along with having great instincts on the interior. He could be a huge help for the Chiefs being able to get their run game going this season after it took a step back in 2020.
SEE ALSO:The 33rd Team’s Scouting Reports
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions
33rd Team Rank: 56 (9th best WR)
Draft Result: Round 4 / Pick 112
A well-documented issue the Lions had this offseason was their lack of wide receiver talent. After letting both Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay depart in free agency, many people figured the Lions would target wide receiver early in this year’s draft; however, the Lions decided to build up their trenches on both sides of the ball since those were also two of their biggest weaknesses from last season (42 sacks allowed and only 24 sacks on defense in 2020). When the Lions did decide to select a wide receiver, they chose one who the 33rd Team had ranked highly in the pre-draft process in the form of Amon-Ra St. Brown, our ninth-best wideout heading into the draft. The past few seasons, the Lions had been relying on Danny Amendola mainly as their primary slot receiver with varying results. St. Brown is a clear upgrade in that department. Despite lacking elite speed (St. Brown ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at USC’s Pro Day), St. Brown makes up for this with his tremendous route running abilities and physicality. Jared Goff loved throwing to Robert Woods in Los Angeles, so St. Brown could be in line for some early success even though he was not selected as high as our rankings suggested he would be.
Seth Williams, WR, Denver Broncos
33rd Team Rank: 81 (13th best WR)
Draft Result: Round 6 / Pick 219
With Courtland Sutton missing the majority of the 2020 season with a torn ACL, the Broncos had a very inconsistent year on offense. They lacked a physical receiving threat on the outside despite the fact that Tim Patrick had his best year in 2020 (51 receptions, 742 yards 6 touchdowns). He showed flashes of being a great physical presence on the outside, but it was not always consistent. With DaeSean Hamilton getting released recently, this could open the door for former Auburn wideout Seth Williams to make a name for himself in 2021. We had Williams ranked as our 13th-best receiver in this class, yet he fell all the way to the latter part of the sixth round. Williams has shown some flashes of having good vertical speed, but he mainly does his damage as a blocker and his ability to outmuscle defensive backs for 50-50 balls. He uses his 6-3 frame effectively to wall off corners and helps his quarterback out in contested catch situations. He hasn’t always been able to put everything together, but he was certainly somebody you had to worry about when playing Auburn.
Quincy Roche, EDGE, Pittsburgh Steelers
33rd Team Rank: 84 (10th best EDGE)
Draft Result: Round 6 / Pick 216
The Pittsburgh Steelers have experienced a plethora of changes since their tough loss in the wild card round to the Cleveland Browns, but there may not have been a bigger loss than that of Bud Dupree, who decided to take his talents to the Tennessee Titans, signing a 5-year $85 million deal to bolster their pass rush. Dupree’s absence was greatly felt when he tore his ACL in 2020 as Pittsburgh’s defense looked vulnerable and the team lost six of its last seven games including the postseason. Furthermore, Pittsburgh allowed teams to score at least 23 points in their final seven games, a feat that had only been done three times prior to Dupree’s injury. It will be tough to replace Dupree’s 31 total tackles and 8.0 sacks in 2021, but sixth-round pick Quincy Roche has a chance to contribute right away on passing downs. We had Roche as our 84th best player overall, but he ended up falling all the way to 216th in this year’s draft. Roche is an explosive pass rusher who wins with change of direction, speed and short area burst. This is welcoming news for Pittsburgh as they look to find new players who can help them to remain competitive in the AFC North for the foreseeable future.
Jabril Cox, LB, Dallas Cowboys
33rd Team Rank: 64 (5th best LB)
Draft Result: Round 4 / Pick 115
Defense was clearly a point of emphasis for the Cowboys in this year’s draft with the hiring of defensive coordinator (and former 33rd Team member) Dan Quinn. In fact, the Cowboys only spent three of their 11 picks on offensive players with two of them being offensive linemen. After a year that saw the Cowboys struggle immensely against the run (158.8 yards allowed per game on the ground) and against tight ends like Logan Thomas, it was important to get somebody who can add much-needed depth and pass coverage abilities to the Cowboys’ linebacker corps. The Cowboys’ linebackers have had a hard time staying healthy, and the retirement of Sean Lee certainly left a hole. Lee’s retirement could help former LSU Tiger Jabril Cox break into the rotation early, even with rumors of safety Keanu Neal playing linebacker with Dallas. LSU specifically used Cox to cover tight ends, and the former Tiger also has enough length to help him improve quickly in the run game. Seeing that he was our 64th ranked player overall, this could be a great value pick, as he was selected with the 115th pick.
Brevin Jordan, TE, Houston Texans
33rd Team Rank: 59 (2nd best TE)
Draft Result: Round 5 / Pick 147
Few people expected Brevin Jordan to be available when the Texans were on the clock with the 147th selection. In fact, we had Jordan ranked as the second-best tight end in this year’s draft due to his vertical threat ability along with his ability to read zone coverages well; however, with Jordan lacking in other important areas like his play against press and his blocking prowess, it is certainly possible that teams did not want to use a higher pick on this player. Regardless, Jordan got drafted into a great situation, as Houston just lost veteran TE Darren Fells and neither Jordan Akins nor Pharaoh Brown look like long-term solutions at the position. Moreover, if the Texans are without Deshaun Watson this season, Jordan could be an important security blanket for either Tyrod Taylor or rookie QB Davis Mills. Overall, this is a low-risk, high-reward get for Houston as they look to turn things around under a new regime.
Richard LeCounte III, S, Cleveland Browns
33rd Team Rank: 76 (4th best S)
Draft Result: Round 5 / Pick 169
Richard LeCounte III was a standout player for the Georgia Bulldogs the past few years, but he slipped during the draft all the way to the fifth round. A reason for this could have been his lack of great size for the safety position–LeCounte measured in at a little over 5-10 at Georgia’s Pro Day; however, LeCounte boasts incredible versatility for the safety position as he can play centerfield as a high safety, in the box and even cover players in the slot. For a Browns team that struggled against the pass in 2020 (247.6 yards per game through the air), this type of versatility is a welcome addition as the Browns look to build off their best season in years. Also, LeCounte will have a chance to learn under John Johnson III, which could certainly help him to get playing time early. LeCounte was ranked as the 76th best player in this class by us during the pre-draft process, and it could become apparent why we thought this way early on in the season.
Larry Rountree III, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
33rd Team Rank: 82 (6th best RB)
Draft Result: Round 6 / Pick 198
Running back wasn’t the biggest need for the Chargers heading into this draft as they still have Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley, but it is still possible that Larry Rountree III could compete for some playing time early due to Ekeler’s inability to stay healthy and Joshua Kelley’s decline in play down the stretch of last season. There was a clear reason why Kalen Ballage was getting consistent playing time over Kelley during stretches of the season. Rountree has the ability to make something out of nothing along with being an overall smart back with exceptional change of direction ability. This is certainly something the Chargers lacked when Ekeler was injured last year, and it could lead Rountree to see snaps early on in his young career. He is an overall very consistent player, which is why we had him slotted as our 82nd best player in this year’s draft. If Ekeler goes down early once again, Rountree could be in line to help out, especially if Kelley does not perform up to par. With more pressure on QB Justin Herbert now that defenses have more film on him, it will be important for the Chargers to have an effective run game to alleviate some of that pressure.
Tay Gowan, CB, Arizona Cardinals
33rd Team Rank: 114 (14th best CB)
Draft Result: Round 6 / Pick 223
The Arizona Cardinals came into this draft with a clear need at corner as Patrick Peterson left for the Vikings in free agency and they let Dre Kirkpatrick go after signing Malcolm Butler to a one-year deal. Arizona does not have a long-term solution at corner heading into this season, but they did select two corners in this year’s draft: Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan. The latter could be a great value pick for the Cardinals, as we had him as our 114th best prospect in this year’s draft, and Gowan was even ranked higher on our board than Wilson. One reason Gowan didn’t go higher might have been because he opted out of the 2020 season, giving teams less film on him. Gowan is a ball-hawking corner who excels at mirroring at the line of scrimmage and at knocking away passes. Arizona only had 11 interceptions last season, which contributed to Arizona missing the playoffs. With Gowan’s ball-hawking abilities–he had two interceptions, but eight pass breakups in his one year of playing time with UCF–it is certainly possible that the Cardinals could get better in this aspect on defense. This will be crucial considering how much the NFC West has improved in the arms race this offseason.
Deonte Brown, IOL, Carolina Panthers
33rd Team Rank: 41 (6th best IOL)
Draft Result: Round 6 / Pick 193
Deonte Brown is a behemoth of an offensive lineman, as he measured in at 6-3, 344 pounds at Alabama’s Pro Day. Carolina wasn’t particularly poor at protecting Teddy Bridgewater last season, but they still finished 15th in the league in sacks allowed with 36 in 2020. Carolina did need to upgrade its offensive line, as it lacked long-term solutions aside from Taylor Moton. This could open the door for Brown to contribute right away. In the pre-draft process, Brown was our 41st best player in this class along with the sixth-best IOL. This was due to his prowess as a puller in the run game along with his great body control for his size. If he is able to continue to utilize his size well, he could be a great low-risk pick for this regime in Carolina. With Sam Darnold in as the new QB, it is important to give him every chance to succeed. That starts with a good foundation along the offensive line.