The Panthers selected Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble in Round 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Tremble caught just 35 passes across 2 seasons of action with the Fighting Irish, scoring all 4 of his career TDs in 2019. He was a hellacious blocker, though, often lining up at FB and leading run plays. Upon entering the draft early (2 years of eligibility left), Tremble indicated that he believes he brings untapped receiving potential. We’ll see about the plans of Carolina’s staff. As long as he’s not pegged for a Kyle Juszczyk-type role, Tremble presents some upside at the very end of rookie drafts in a TE-premium dynasty format such as the FFPC.
Washington selected North Carolina WR Dyami Brown with the 82nd pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. After a quiet freshman season, Brown topped 1,000 yards in each of the past 2 years, totaling 20 TDs and averaging a huge 20.1 yards per catch. He has good-not-great speed (4.45-second 40 time) but explodes off the snap and is a strong ball tracker. Brown ranked top 5 in the nation in both deep catches (12) and yards (543) last year, according to Pro Football Focus. The 6’1, 189-pounder has some work to do in the short and intermediate games -- but he does flash the potential to develop as a route runner. He earned an 84th percentile Relative Athletic Score and is only 21 years old. Brown has a real chance to win a top 3 role in Washington this season alongside Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.
The Dolphins grabbed TE Hunter Long in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Long enjoyed a productive past 2 years as a pass-catcher at Boston College. He earned 2nd-team All-America honors with a 57-685-5 receiving line in 2020, and even his 28 catches for 2019 fell just 1 short of the team lead. Long averaged a nice 14.6 yards per catch for his BC career but doesn’t look like a deep threat by NFL standards. He might, however, offer enough as a blocker -- on top of his reliable hands -- to win a regular role early in the NFL. This, of course, isn’t a good fantasy landing spot with Mike Gesicki dominating TE targets in Miami.
The Bengals grabbed Joseph Ossai in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Ossai was very productive at Texas the past 2 years, racking up 29 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He arrived as an edge player, moved to off-ball LB and then moved back to DE in 2020. Ossai brings a nice mix of pass-rush moves, strength and speed (7th-best speed score in this edge class). Cincinnati let Carl Lawson walk in free agency but replaced him with Trey Hendrickson. Sam Hubbard returns to start on the other side. Ossai should fight for a spot in the edge rotation, though.
The Chargers nabbed Tennessee WR Josh Palmer with the 77th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6’1, 210-pounder clocked a decent 4.51-second 40 time at his Pro Day but disappointed with a 34-inch vertical. That was a surprise because Palmer shows plenty of contested-catch ability on tape. He also has some of the stickiest hands in this year’s WR class, with only 4 drops on 164 career targets (2.4% drop rate). Palmer never reached even 500 receiving yards in any of his 4 college seasons, though. And even as a senior last year, he accounted for a modest 23% of Tennessee’s receiving yardage. Palmer will compete with Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton for snaps behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams this year. Williams is set to become a free agent next offseason, though, so there could be opportunity for Palmer.
The Texans selected Stanford QB Davis Mills with the 67th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. A 2-year college starter, Mills posted a 65.8% completion rate, 8.0 yards per attempt and 18 TDs vs. 8 INTs. He was the #1 QB in the 2017 recruiting class (ahead of Tua Tagovailoa), so there's obviously ability here. But Mills is largely unproven. He's also suffered multiple left knee injuries, which teams were reportedly concerned about. Houston's QB situation, of course, is up in the air with Deshaun Watson's legal troubles. Mills joins Tyrod Taylor as QB depth for the Texans.
The Vikings added Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond with the 66th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Mond spent nearly all of his 4 years starting at Texas A&M, logging 44 starts over that span. That’s 8 more starts than Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. Mond improved his completion rate each season and posted a 2.6-to-1 TD-INT ratio for his career. His accuracy didn’t fare quite as well in advanced metrics, but Mond adds rushing upside after tallying 1,609 yards and 22 TDs on the ground for the Aggies. He’ll compete to be Kirk Cousins’ backup in 2021. Cousins is currently signed through the 2022 campaign.
The Saints grabbed Ohio State LB Pete Werner in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Werner posted solid production over 3 starting seasons, especially the 15.5 tackles for loss and 13 passes defensed. He proved above average in speed score and agility. We'll see about his fit in the New Orleans LB corps.
The Bucs used the final pick of the 2nd round on Florida QB Kyle Trask. A 22-game starter, Trask truly emerged this past season. Across 12 appearances, he recorded 4,283-43-8 on a 68.9% completion rate. Throwing to guys like Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney helped, but Trask still brings NFL-quality size (6’5, 236), pocket mobility and intangibles. It’s worth noting that Trask barely played in high school, as he sat behind current University of Miami QB D'Eriq King. So perhaps we’ve yet to see Trask’s best ball. He’ll spend some more time on the bench in Tampa behind Tom Brady. Trask is obviously off the redraft radar and is only worth considering late in 2-QB or superflex dynasty rookie drafts.
The Bills selected DE Carlos Basham Jr. in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Basham ranks 2nd in this edge class in speed score and 2nd in final-year solo tackles per game. That senior season included just 6 games. Basham racked up 29 tackles for loss in 25 games over the prior 2 seasons, though, including 10 sacks in 2019 alone. He also forced 7 fumbles over his final 2 college campaigns -- including 4 in last season’s 6 contests. Basham is the 2nd edge defender drafted by the Bills this year, following Gregory Rousseau. We'd bet on Basham seeing more playing time early after Rousseau opted out of 2020 and played just 1 college season.
LB Nick Bolton joined the Chiefs in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Bolton racked up 198 tackles over 2 starting seasons, including 16.5 tackles for loss. He added 12 passes defensed. Bolton followed that up with a 64th-percentile speed score at his pro day. The biggest question for IDP purposes might be what his arrival means for Willie Gay Jr.'s outlook, but there's room for both to earn full-time roles and displace the lineup incumbents. Bolton looks like the safer bet for regular duty and production, with Gay the higher-upside athlete.
The Panthers added LSU WR Terrace Marshall with the 59th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Marshall brings an elite combination of size and athleticism. He checked into his Pro Day at 6’3, 205 pounds and ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash with a 39-inch vertical. It earned him a 97th percentile Relative Athletic Score. He was stuck behind Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase for his first 2 seasons at LSU but did well to come away with a 46-671-13 line in 12 games as a sophomore in 2019. With Jefferson off to the NFL and Chase opting out this past year, Marshall emerged as the top dog, averaging 6.9 catches, 104 yards and 1.4 TDs per game. (He missed the Alabama game with an injury and opted out of the final 2.) He soaked up 27.6% of LSU’s catches, 33.3% of the receiving yards and 58.8% of the receiving scores in his 7 games. Marshall is a bit raw as a route runner and has some drop issues. But he plays as athletically as he tested, winning downfield and after the catch with speed and out-jumping DBs for 50/50 balls. Marshall also has extensive experience both outside and in the slot. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah reported last week that some concerns popped up for Marshall at the medical check in Indianapolis after he broke his left fibula as a high school senior and suffered a fractured left foot in 2019. There’s plenty of bust potential here. But Marshall has the upside to develop into 1 of the top WRs in this class. “He’s got a chance to be like a Brandon Marshall-type player,” a scout told The Athletic’s Bob McGinn. This is a sneaky good landing spot in Carolina. There’s a clear path for Marshall to be the #3 WR this year. And WR Robby Anderson will be a free agent next offseason.
The Rams went with Louisville WR Tutu Atwell with the 57th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Atwell measured in at 5’9 and 149 pounds at his Pro Day, which would make him a major outlier if he hits as a pro. Only 3 WRs of 160 pounds or lighter have caught a pass in the NFL since 2000: J.J. Nelson, JoJo Natson and Brandon Banks. None of those guys was a fantasy factor, of course. Atwell does have sub-4.4 speed and broke out for a 69-1,272-11 line as a true sophomore back in 2019. But he took a step back this past year, finishing with fewer yards than fellow 2021 WR prospect Dez Fitzpatrick. And that size is just tough to get over. Landing with a strong offensive mind in HC Sean McVay is good news. But we’re still not betting on this guy becoming a reliable fantasy factor.
The Seahawks took Western Michigan WR D’Wayne Eskridge in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. One of the fastest receivers in this class, Eskridge clocked a 4.40-second 40 time at his Pro Day and routinely ran by defenders last year on his way to a 33-768-8 line in just 6 games. That came as a 23-year-old, 5th-year senior against weak MAC defenses, though. Eskridge played RB in high school and bounced between WR and CB over his first 4 seasons at Western Michigan. So while his speed and athleticism is intriguing, he’s a project. “He’s like a classic track guy playing receiver as far as the routes and the straight-line (speed) and doesn’t quite know what he’s doing,” a scout told The Athletic’s Bob McGinn. “He is sudden and fast in open space, but I just don’t think he really knows how to play football that well. He’s like a backup gadget-type player.” The pick is a head-scratcher considering Seattle wants to be a run-first offense and already has WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who are signed through 2022 and 2025, respectively. Don’t bank on Eskridge being a fantasy factor this season. And we’re not excited about his long-term outlook.
The Colts spent a 2nd-round pick on Vanderbilt DE Dayo Odeyingbo. That makes 2 straight picks spent at the position, after Indy started its draft with Kwity Paye. Odeyingbo isn't likely to contribute this season, though, as he's coming off an Achilles' tear. That has to ding his dynasty value as well. Odeyingbo did tally 20 tackles for loss in 20 games over the past 2 years. We'll see about his recovery and IDP outlook for 2022 and beyond.
Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth went to Steelers in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Freiermuth delivered early at Penn State, ranking 2nd among 2018 Nittany Lions in catches, yards and TDs -- trailing only Broncos WR K.J. Hamler. Freiermuth again ranked 2nd on the team in each category as a sophomore, earning team offensive MVP honors over Hamler. He got off to an even hotter start in 2020 but went down early with a shoulder injury that required surgery. That recovery could impact his rookie-year preparation, but we’ve learned to not expect early fantasy returns from TEs. Long term, Freiermuth looks like the clear 2nd TE in a weak draft class at the position. His combo of blocking and receiving should earn him a regular role -- and perhaps a full starting gig -- within the next couple of seasons. In Pittsburgh, Freiermuth figures to start out behind Eric Ebron, who’s only signed through 2021.
The Browns grabbed LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. JOK is light, at 221 pounds, but he flies to the ball and specialized in impact plays for the Irish. That included 24.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 7 INTs and 5 forced fumbles over his 2 seasons at Notre Dame. Cleveland traded up to get Owusu-Koramoah, who figures to compete for a full-time job right away.
OLB Azeez Ojulari has joined the Giants in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Ojulari racked up 9.5 sacks among 12.5 tackles for loss in 10 games last season, adding 4 forced fumbles. Pro Football Focus awarded him the 2nd-highest pass-rushing grade among 325 draft-eligible edge defenders nationally for the season. The Giants have an immediate need at the spot, and Ojulari doesn’t turn 21 until mid-June. He's a high-upside option for dynasty leagues that favor sack/pressure scoring.
The Cardinals added Purdue WR Rondale Moore with the 49th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Moore turned in 1 of the most impressive freshman seasons you’ll ever see back in 2018, racking up 114 catches for 1,258 yards and 12 TDs. He added 21 carries for 213 yards (10.1 YPC) and 2 TDs while also serving as Purdue’s primary return man. He set a Purdue record with 2,215 all-purpose yards and was named a consensus All-American. Unfortunately, multiple hamstring injuries limited Moore to just 7 games over the past 2 seasons (although he remained uber productive, averaging 9.1 catches and 94 yards per game). Size is also a concern for this 5’7, 180-pounder. There’s only been one 1,000-yard season by a WR 5’7 or shorter in NFL history. Moore has the goods to buck that trend, though. He blazed a 4.29-second 40-yard dash and posted a ridiculous 42.5-inch vertical at his Pro Day to earn a 93rd percentile Relative Athletic Score. The tape shows incredible burst, quickness and change-of-direction to create separation on routes and make plays after the catch. Moore also has RB-like vision on end arounds and jets sweeps. He joins DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green in the Cardinals WR corps. Kirk and Green are both set to hit free agency next offseason. Moore’s arrival is probably the nail in Andy Isabella’s coffin in Arizona.
S Trevon Moehrig joined the Raiders in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He has simply produced at every level. Moehrig collected 7 INTs over his 3 seasons at TCU, with 26 total passes defensed over his 2 years as a full-time starter. He earned 1st-team all-conference in 2019, and then claimed the Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s top DB) last year. Even as a freshman part-timer, Moehrig was voted Horned Frogs’ special-teams MVP. Moehrig looks like a strong candidate to win the FS role right away in Vegas.
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