The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft has concluded. What moves did the Jets and Giants make in order to improve their rosters?
A night full of surprises; a night full of cheers; a night full of boos.
As it always is.
The 2021 NFL Draft‘s opening round is over, and it did not disappoint whatsoever.
Of course, the draft truly started at No. 3 overall when the 49ers chose North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. From there, we saw a number of crucial decisions, such as the Bengals passing on tackle Penei Sewell for wideout Ja’Marr Chase, the Eagles swapping picks with the Cowboys, and the Bears trading up to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Numerous teams were at the forefront of significant moves — the Jets and Giants were no exception.
How did either local team improve its roster during this memorable evening?
Jets make obvious No. 2 selection, trade up to add OL help
It was clear what the Jets were going to do at No. 2 overall — that’s why we stated the draft truly began with the third pick.
Gang Green decided to use its prestigious choice on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. The young signal-caller will most likely start right away and do his part to lead an offensive unit that was last in total yards and scoring in 2020.
There’s not much arguing to be done in regard to this move. The Jets needed a quarterback after trading Sam Darnold to the Panthers and Wilson was the top one on the board at No. 2, simple as that.
The organization is hoping Wilson can lead the team back to the postseason for the first time since the 2010 campaign, but in order to find success, he’ll need superb offensive assistance.
That’s why the Jets pulled off a huge trade later on in the night.
Having originally possessed the No. 23 pick, the Jets sent the late first-round selection to Minnesota along with the No. 66 and 86 picks for the Vikings’ No. 14 and 143 picks.
And with that valuable 14th selection, the Jets took versatile offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC.
I understand it’s tough to give up multiple picks, but if you can move up in the first round and draft someone like Vera-Tucker, you need to do it, especially if you’re about to start a rookie quarterback.
Vera-Tucker adds talent to the offensive line and will certainly make an impact alongside 2020 first-round left tackle Mekhi Becton.
“I’m gonna come in, compete my butt off like I always do with everything I do. Whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m gonna come in and do,” Vera-Tucker told the media Thursday night.
One of the top goals for this organization should be to make Wilson’s development at the professional level as efficient as possible — pulling off this trade and subsequent pick is important for that critical assignment.
Check out ESNY’s Jets NFL Draft Tracker by clicking here.
Dave Gettleman finally trades back, drafts Kadarius Toney
The Giants could’ve been eyeing Alabama receiver and 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith at No. 11. However, the Eagles swapped picks with the Cowboys, moved from No. 12 to No. 10, and took the talented wideout.
Dave Gettleman was playing chess though.
For the first time, the Giants general manager traded back in the draft, swapping picks with Chicago and moving down to No. 20 overall. In the deal, the Bears acquired the 11th pick while the Giants earned the 20th pick, a fifth-rounder this year (No. 164), along with first- and fourth-round selections in 2022.
And then at No. 20, the Giants took Florida’s Kadarius Toney, one of the more underrated and talented wide receivers in this draft class.
Toney employs speed, elusiveness, and sheer athleticism every time he hits the field.
“A lot of versatility,” Kadarius told the media Thursday night when asked what he brings to the Giants offense.
“My game is kind of like Davante Adams, [Alvin] Kamara — just quick, dynamic, explosive,” he said.
Toney now joins a receiving corps that includes free-agent pickup Kenny Golladay, who will take on the role of the team’s No. 1 receiver. The former Gator should be a great complement to the veteran red-zone threat and be that versatile weapon in the slot that Daniel Jones needs.
But it wasn’t just the pick that was superb — the return in the trade was additionally excellent.
The bottom line is this: the Giants needed to acquire another weapon to assist in Jones’ development, and the fact they were able to snag numerous draft picks — including a future first-rounder — in the process of doing that is spectacular.
Knock Dave Gettleman all you want; you can’t disagree with him on this move.
Check out ESNY’s Giants NFL Draft Tracker by clicking here.
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