Two days are down in the 2021 NFL Draft, but before we get to the final flurry of selections — more than 150 — let's review the events that transpired on Day 2 and break down who won and who lost. Whether it be because of neglecting a position of need, having a player stolen away or taking advantage of a player falling down draft boards, here are the biggest winners and losers from Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
View PFF's 2021 NFL Draft position rankings:
WINNER: LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, I stated that if the Chargers were able to come away with both Rashawn Slater and Asante Samuel Jr. in Rounds 1 and 2, they’d be in the conversation for best offseason of any team in the NFL.
They made major strides in free agency by signing center Corey Linsley, the highest-graded player at the position in 2020, and versatile lineman Matt Feiler, but they still needed another quality linemen plus an athletic and instinctive playmaker in the secondary to suit Brandon Staley’s defense.
Somehow, the league let Samuel fall right into Los Angeles' lap at No. 47 in Round 2, and things got even better for the team as the night progressed. The Chargers added an underrated receiving weapon in Round 3 in Tennesee's Josh Palmer, who endured some of the most inaccurate quarterback play of anyone in college football. Palmer still flashed at times despite that, but he really helped his stock at the Senior Bowl, posting the highest win rate of any wide receiver in the one-on-one drills.
The Chargers may not be contenders in 2021, but they are doing a fantastic job at building a quality roster around their young quarterback, Justin Herbert.
WINNER: THE CITY OF CLEVELAND
Cleveland made two of the best signings of the offseason prior to the draft, bringing in safety John Johnson III and slot corner Troy Hill in free agency. Those two additions, along with edge defender Jadeveon Clowney, gave the Browns the second-best roster in the NFL, in our eyes, entering the draft.
But after the first two days of the 2021 NFL Draft, they are making a legitimate push to dethrone the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for that top spot in 2021. After stealing cornerback Greg Newsome II in Round 1, they committed highway robbery by taking linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at the 52nd overall pick via trade.
The Notre Dame product was slipping down boards due to role concerns and an unknown medical issue, but he was our 19th-ranked player in the class and well-deserving of a first-round selection. Yet, Cleveland got him at the end of Round 2. Owusu-Koramoah essentially manned the slot for the Fighting Irish and was damn good at it. He ranked second among all players in college football last season in slot coverage grade.
While he saw little action between the tackles, we believe he can hold up there just fine despite being undersized for that role. The NFL linebacker position is trending toward the type of player Owusu-Koramoah is, and he was arguably the last missing link on the Browns' entire roster.
Cleveland was one of the biggest winners of free agency, if not the biggest, and they're near the top again through two days of the draft.
WINNER: WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
The Football Team made a below-average selection on Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, taking off-ball linebacker Jamin Davis at 19th overall, but they made up for it with a superb Day 2, grabbing offensive tackle Sam Cosmi at No. 51, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste at No. 74 and wide receiver Dyami Brown at No. 82.
Cosmi will need to rebuild his pass sets, but he is one of the best all-around athletes in the class. He was also drafted 13 spots beyond his PFF Big Board ranking. He recorded a 117-inch broad jump, 4.84-second 40-yard dash, 4.39-second pro agility and 7.35-second three-cone at his Pro Day, all four of which rank above the 94th percentile for offensive tackles historically. The tools are there for Cosmi to be a quality tackle. The 6-foot-7, 309-pounder performed exceptionally well in college, earning pass-blocking grades of 82.8 in 2018, 86.0 in 2019 and 90.7 in 2020.
St-Juste is a massive corner at 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds with 32 ⅝-inch arms, and he knows how to use that length to his advantage at the line of scrimmage and the catch point. He earned one of the five highest press coverage grades in the FBS from 2019 to 2020, allowing only three first downs while forcing six forced incompletions across 122 coverage snaps.
It’s worth noting that the 2019 campaign was the first time he played defense since his last year of high school in fall 2016 (only three snaps on defense at Michigan in 2017 and 2018). He then balled out at the Senior Bowl, recording the highest grade of any defensive back in the one-on-one drills. Washington isn’t going to ask St-Juste to play a lot of press coverage, but his overall skill set as an NFL corner is good value for where he was picked.
Brown has NFL-ready play strength and the traits to take on a more diverse route tree after being fed vertical routes in North Carolina’s offense. He won time and time again thanks to his release package and how good he was at handling contact along the route and at the catch point. He tallied 376 yards on contested vertical targets from 2019 to 2020, the second-most in the Power Five. In that span, Brown produced more vertical route touchdowns than any other wide receiver in the country, with 16. His strength showed after the catch, too. On throws of nine yards or less downfield, Brown broke 12 tackles on 49 receptions.
Put simply, it was a fantastic Day 2 for the Football Team.
WINNER: NFC EAST QUARTERBACKS NOT NAMED DAK PRESCOTT | LOSER: DALLAS COWBOYS
The Dallas Cowboys came into the draft with big-time question marks within their cornerback unit, and they still remain after Day 2 despite the team taking swings at the position. With its 44th and 99th overall picks, Dallas added cornerbacks Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright, both of whom were reaches based on where they were slotted on PFF's Big Board.
Joseph came in as a third-round prospect and the 67th-ranked player overall on our board. He is a fluid athlete with some high-end reps on tape, but he's far from a consistent or instinctive corner. He just didn’t look ready for the NFL in 2020. Joseph finished multiple games with 80.0-plus coverage grades, but he also graded below 60.0 in a few outings. Overall, he allowed 19 catches on 34 targets for 271 yards and four touchdowns.
Wright is the more unexpected pick, as he was 274th on PFF's Big Board. He’s in the same basket as Joseph; the high-end reps are there, but he is wildly inconsistent. Wright does attack the ball well and uses his height and length to his advantage, but he’s not capable of defending a full route tree. He gave up 609 yards and six touchdowns across 535 coverage snaps in his two years on the field for Oregon State, making him a concerning projection.
LOSER: CARSON WENTZ’S BLINDSIDE
It was quite apparent that the Colts’ biggest need entering the 2021 NFL Draft was left tackle after long-time starter Anthony Castonzo retired this offseason. After opting to take edge defender Kwity Paye in Round 1, Indianapolis was expected to go all-in on addressing the gaping hole at left tackle in Round 2.
However, all the top tackle prospects were swooped up before the Colts were on the clock at No. 54. They opted to take another edge defender, Dayo Odeyingbo, as a result, which means Sam Tevi remains the penciled-in starter. Considering Tevi was the sixth-lowest-graded tackle in the NFL last year for the Chargers, this is bad news for Carson Wentz’s blindside.
LOSER: JARED GOFF’S HOPES OF REMAINING A STARTER BEYOND 2021
Goff entered the 2021 NFL Draft with his WR1 and WR2 being Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams, respectively. Through two days of picks, that remains true despite the Lions’ brass being in a position to address that problem. That’s not to say Detroit didn’t get some talent with its picks on Day 2, because it certainly did.
The Lions came in and picked up two explosive, beefy interior defensive linemen — Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill — and they also got good value for cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, our 70th-ranked prospect, at the 101st overall pick. As of now, Goff won't be in a position to prove he can be an effective starting quarterback in the NFL with his receiving arsenal.
Perriman and Williams each have only one season to their names with a PFF grade above 70.0 despite being in the NFL for six years. Both receivers have also struggled to stay on the field. After not adding a wide receiver over the first two days of the draft, I fully expect the Lions to rank at the bottom of the league in passing efficiency in 2021.