April 30, 2021
Three teams in the NFC East had high picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, and the 7-10 division winner had the highest pick among any NFL team that made the playoffs. Let's analyze each pick that the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Washington Football Team made on Day 1.
• Pick 12, Cowboys: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State. The Cowboys originally held the 10th overall pick, but when CBs Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain came off the board at picks 8 and 9, they traded back with the Eagles, picking up a third-round pick (84th overall) from the Birds. They now have 10 remaining picks
With the 12th pick, they grabbed Parsons, a 6'3, 246-pound linebacker who ran a 4.36 at Penn State's pro day. Parsons opted out of the 2020 season, but in 2019, he had 109 tackles (14 for loss), five sacks, and four forced fumbles. Highlights here.
The Cowboys value the linebacker position more than most, and they've spent heavy resources on it in the draft.
• In 2018, they spent a first-round pick (18th overall) on Leighton Vander Esch.
• In 2016, they spend a second-round pick (34th overall) on Jaylon Smith.
And now Parsons becomes the third linebacker the team has selected in the top 35 picks in the last 6 drafts. The fit makes sense. Sean Lee retired this offseason after an injury-plagued career, and Vander Esch has sort of taken that injury torch from Lee.
Persons should be a Day 1 starter for Dallas, and could immediately be their best linebacker.
• Pick 20, Giants: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida. After the Eagles jumped ahead of the Giants to select DeVonta Smith, the Giants quickly traded out of the 11th pick with the Chicago Bears. It was the first time Dave Gettleman has ever traded back in his nine years as a general manager, in any round, and he got himself quite a haul.
|Giants got||Bears got|
|20th overall pick||11th overall pick|
|2021 5th round pick (164th overall)|
|The Bears' 2022 1st round pick|
|The Bears' 2022 4th round pick|
That's well done by the Giants.
I don't quite understand the pick. The Giants seemed hellbent on taking a receiver, despite already being strong at the position.
After getting jumped for Smith, the Giants seemingly just took the next receiver on their board.
Toney is a former quarterback who became something of a versatile piece in the Florida offense. His numbers over his four-year college career (120-1590-12 as a receiver, 66-580-2 as a runner) aren't super impressive, but he is an explosive athlete that Florida used in a variety of ways. There's no doubt that he's a fun player to watch.
Toney can make plays, but his game is not as refined as many of the other top receivers in this draft class. This felt like a bit of a reach, though certainly, the Giants made a good trade, grabbing three extra picks (including what could be a high 2022 first-round pick from Bears) for moving back.
• Pick 19, Football Team: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky. The Football Team were the only team in the NFC East to "stick and pick," and they landed Davis, an athletic freak of nature with good length.
In 2020, Davis racked up 102 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and three INTs. He was a lesser-known prospect who began getting first round buzz as the draft got closer and closer. A look:
The Football Team had a clear need at linebacker, and with with former linebackers serving as the head coach (Ron Rivera) and defensive coordinator (MagaJack Del Rio), they felt likely to address that position. Like Parsons above, Davis should immediately be a Day 1 starter, and Davis could be the Football Team's best linebacker out of the gate.
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