5 Biggest Reaches From Round 1 of the NFL Draftby Andersen Pickard April 30, 2021 1 comment
The 2021 NFL Draft, which is set to last three days, kicked off on Thursday night in Cleveland, Ohio. After the first seven picks went according to plan, the final three-quarters of the first round featured some surprises, whether it be drastic value picks or major reaches.
Without further ado, here’s a look at five players who were taken higher than expected.
No. 8: Carolina Panthers select Jaycee Horn, CB, USC
There’s no doubt that Horn is a talented prospect, garnering plenty of attention as the consensus No. 2 cornerback heading into the draft. Still, there was little expectation that he would be the first corner off the board, nor did anyone think that he would go No. 8. You can’t complain about Carolina being aggressive to get its guy, but they likely could have moved back a few picks, racked up future compensation, and still landed Horn.
No. 14: New York Jets select Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC
Most analysts saw Vera-Tucker as the best guard in the draft, so selecting him at No. 14 was not ridiculous by any means. With that said, trading up for him and parting with a pair of third-rounders might have been a bit too pricey. If the Vikings took him at No. 14, there would be no complaints. But picks No. 21, 66, and 86 make for quite the sizable haul. It probably would have been wiser for New York to just wait until the 21st selection and see how the board fell.
No. 17: Las Vegas Raiders select Alex Leatherwood, T, Alabama
This was probably the biggest reach of the night. Leatherwood may have had late-first-round stock at some point throughout the draft process, but he fell to the 70s in most rankings as April came around. With Teven Jenkins, Samuel Cosmi, Dillon Radunz, Liam Eichenberg, and Jalen Mayfield all still available after Day 1, the Raiders could have easily landed Leatherwood in at least Round 2. This pick seems like another draft mistake for the Las Vegas brass.
No. 20: New York Giants select Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
The Giants appeared to have won the entire first round by landing two first-round selections from Chicago, including a 2022 selection that could be in the top half of the order. However, what they did with their newly acquired No. 20 selection turned some heads. Toney is a talented receiver, but players like Rashod Bateman and Kwity Paye were still on the board when New York drafted the Florida prospect. Kudos to Dave Gettleman for getting his guy, but the Giants could have moved down to get Toney or possibly even land him with their pick in the second round.
No. 28: New Orleans Saints select Payton Turner, DE, Houston
Turner is a ferocious pass-rusher who has climbed up draft boards as of late and did earn some first-rouund hype. There’s no denying that he’s a good player, but you have to wonder why the Saints passed on someone like Terrace Marshall Jr. or Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, two players who fill major positions of need for New Orleans. With the first round in the books, Turner isn’t a terrible selection by any means, but the team’s aggressive approach to select him at No. 28 was at least peculiar.
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