Last week, we presented 10 players from the 2021 NFL Draft that we considered “value picks” – players that were available much later than projected via the 33rd Team’s overall rankings. This week, we’ll look at the other side of that equation – five players, based on our rankings, that would appear to have been drafted too high. Did these teams make a mistake with these picks? Only time will tell.
Jackson Carman, OT, Cincinnati Bengals
33rd Team Rank: 111 (15th-best OT)
Draft Result: Round 2 / Pick 46
With the fifth overall pick in the first round, many people expected the Bengals to go with offensive tackle Penei Sewell from Oregon, the consensus top OT in this draft, in order to get more protection for Joe Burrow after his horrific injury in 2020. Instead, the Bengals elected to take Ja’Marr Chase and bolster their wide receiver group. The Bengals still had a chance to take an offensive tackle early in the second round, and they did with the selection of Jackson Carman from Clemson. This pick was considered a reach by our rankings, as players like Jalen Mayfield, Samuel Cosmi and Liam Eichenberg were still on the board at this time. Carman most likely went this high due to his size and strength; however, his lack of length (32.5-inch arms), bend, and change of direction ability will most likely move him over to guard. This is a similar issue the Bengals have with former first-round pick Jonah Williams, so while the Bengals may be able to plug in Carman or Williams inside, it seems like they could have taken this player later on and drafted a long-term solution at tackle who could eventually replace free-agent signee Riley Reiff.
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Las Vegas Raiders
33rd Team Rank: 61 (8th-best OT)
Draft Result: Round 1 / Pick 17
Coming into the 2021 draft, the Raiders had glaring holes across the offensive line after parting ways with Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown and Gabe Jackson this offseason. It was evident the Raiders were going to have to address the offensive line at some point in this draft. The Raiders’ offensive line, when healthy, was not poor last season, as it only gave up 28 sacks in 2020 (10th-fewest in the league). Las Vegas decided to get younger on the offensive line and took Alex Leatherwood from Alabama with its first selection in this year’s draft. While Leatherwood comes from a winning culture, this pick looks like a bit of a reach due to his questionable pass-blocking ceiling. Even though Leatherwood has the size, length and strength one wants in a starting right tackle, he lacks the reactive athleticism, hand timing and high-level motor to be a top-tier pass blocker on an island. He was also another player we felt could be moved to guard, since he has a tendency to lunge often in the run game. This was a player who may have been available in the second round when the Raiders selected again, and they passed up players such as Christian Darrisaw, Jalen Mayfield, Samuel Cosmi and Teven Jenkins, all of whom we had ranked higher than Leatherwood.
Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Los Angeles Chargers
33rd Team Rank: 168 (21st-best CB)
Draft Result: Round 2 / Pick 47
Asante Samuel Jr. is very similar in size to his father, who was a rare exception to corners succeeding in the NFL at a height of 5-10 or shorter. Since 2010, there have only been seven corners this size or smaller who have had a career approximate value of 10-plus – and only six of those seven played the majority of their snaps in the slot. In college, Samuel Jr. only played about 11% of his snaps from the slot, which could be an issue for the Chargers moving forward. Samuel Jr. is not quite big enough to play on the outside, and he also lacks great recognition on quick-breaking routes even though he does have tremendous athleticism for the position. One has to wonder if the Chargers could have gotten a player with more hustle, play-strength, and ability in run support from a slot corner than Samuel. With players like Elijah Molden and Zech McPherson still on the board, it is very possible the Chargers missed out on some players with much more experience as a slot corner.
Joe Tryon, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
33rd Team Rank: 85 (11th-best EDGE)
Draft Result: Round 1 / Pick 32
Most people would agree the Bucs did not have much to improve on from last year as they were able to retain key players like Chris Godwin, Shaq Barrett, and Lavonte David while also adding more veterans to what was already a complete roster. With the 32nd pick, the Buccaneers selected former Washington Husky Joe Tryon, an edge rusher. The Buccaneers selected Tryon knowing they would have time to develop him with all of the players in front of him, but that seems like more of a pick you can make in any other round beside the first. Jason Pierre-Paul is not getting any younger, so it is very possible Tryon is thrown into the fire much earlier than anticipated. But this wasn’t the biggest of needs due to the fact that the Buccaneers were fifth in sacks and second in QB hits in 2020. They could have gone after other positions at this point in the draft. Despite being an explosive pass rusher with an excellent repertoire of pass-rush moves, Tryon struggles with reading his initial keys and is merely adequate at setting the edge, meaning he will likely start the season in a rotational role. Tryon was also a player who opted out of the 2020 season, so it is to be determined how much he will need to develop at the next level. It is possible the Buccaneers may have missed out on some players who can contribute right away to help defend their Super Bowl crown.
Milton Williams, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
33rd Team Rank: Unranked
Draft Result: Round 3 / Pick 73
Milton Williams was a relatively unknown player to most casual fans until his pro day, where he had 34 bench reps, a 38.5-inch vertical and a 10-1 broad jump while weighing 284 pounds; however, this was not good enough to get him ranked on our big board, which consisted of 283 prospects. The Eagles’ defensive line wasn’t the biggest issue for them in 2020, but there is always room for depth. The issue with Williams is that his pro-day athleticism is not really featured on his tape. He appears to be a good – not great – athlete, while having very short arms. Williams’ arms measured 31 1/2 at his pro day, and he struggles to disengage from blocks as a result. He also has a limited amount of pass rush moves in his arsenal and needs to improve his footwork. Although Williams will not be pushed to contribute heavily right away, the Eagles could have focused on some of their bigger holes at 73 or even selected a player like Bobby Brown III, Osa Odighizuwa or Tommy Togiai, all of whom are more well-rounded players at this point in time than Williams.
Stats from: Pro-Football-Reference