2021 NFL draft: Patriots, Giants among six more teams that may need to make changes to address their needs

The most entertaining aspect of the NFL Draft is the moment before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces each pick in the first round and the news flash that a trade has occurred. The exchanges are born of teams targeting a specific player through months of exploring and mocking scenarios. The 2021 NFL Draft is no different; teams may have to move if they are to fill certain roles on the roster.

And it’s already started to happen, as the 49ers rose to No. 3 in a trade with the Dolphins on Friday, and the Fins turned around and made another successful deal with the Eagles. Here are six more teams that fall into that category and the paths they could take:

Current draft position: No. 11 overall

The pass rusher and linebacker are the obvious points of emphasis for New York. They may have another chance to add an offensive guard, but the above options seem to have better odds. The only linebacker worth taking this early is Penn State’s Micah Parsons. If Parsons is taken before by the Eagles, Broncos or Cowboys, then the draft board is not in New York’s favor. It’s not a particularly good year for edge defenders, and the idea of ​​picking Gregory Rousseau or Miami’s Jaelan Phillips or Michigan’s Kwity Paye may prove too rich at 11th overall. With general manager Dave Gettleman’s unwillingness to negotiate in previous years, the Giants are a tough place to find.

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New England Patriots

Current draft position: No. 15 overall

Foxborough is quiet, almost too quiet. The national media has come to a close consensus that the Patriots didn’t end up at the quarterback position and have labeled them as a team likely to move up the draft order to find the right player. It’s hard to fathom the idea that Bill Belichick would allow his strategy to be so obvious. The respect he has earned across the league has sparked paranoia as many search for an ulterior motive. If New England is passive about their quest for quarterbacks in the draft, then one is unlikely to fall to them. Washington would know they only needed to move up six spots to No. 14 overall; the difference from a third round high pick on the trade value chart.

Washington football team

Current draft position: No. 20 overall

Washington paid William Jackson III as a limit cornerback, but he has adapted better to the job. Although the team should still be open to the position, they are more likely to target an offensive tackle. With Trent Williams out of the picture, they need to strengthen left tackle. Some imagine Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw will still be available at 20th overall, but I’m less confident. They could take one of the prevailing college right tackles like Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins or Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield and turn them into left tackle like Cleveland did with Jedrick Wills, but they’re not ruling out going up a few spots if it means securing a left tackle. If the board doesn’t fall in Washington’s favor, the cornerback and linebacker would be at the top of his wish list.

Current draft position: No. 26 overall

Realistically speaking, as the roster is currently constructed, Cleveland is likely to take a running back or cornerback in the first round. If talks with free agents Jadeveon Clowney and Gareon Conley progress to the point of a contract, then that could change. In fact, I recently wrote about the Cardinals desperate for cornerback help in the draft and hours later they signed Malcolm Butler. At the moment, those are the Browns’ positions of need. General manager Andrew Berry is likely to face table scraps at every position unless he makes a move for a higher player on the team’s draft board. The business value chart suggests the team could go from No. 26 overall to No. 20 overall by breaking away from the No. 95 overall pick; doing so would normally be out of place for Berry but, with fewer holes to tackle, it might be the best decision for a player they really like.

Current draft position: No. 27 overall

Baltimore has been seeking the help of a wide receiver and a proposal for Juju Smith-Schuster fell short. Sammy Watkins visited and could choose to sign there after one of the other teams, Indianapolis, re-signed with TY Hilton. Even if the Ravens get Watkins, they could still be in the mix for a wide receiver. The problem is that a solid sized wide receiver may not be available. LSU’s Terrace Marshall Jr. is a somewhat polarizing prospect and it may be too early for the AFC North franchise to eliminate him.

If the Ravens aren’t satisfied with the wide receiver options available to them, then a running back with length would be next on their checklist, in all likelihood. Penn State’s Jayson Oweh and Miami’s Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau fall into this category.

Current draft position: No. 31 overall

Kansas City needs offensive tackle help, but it will be difficult to find a genuine Day 2 starter this late in the first round. The Chiefs don’t have many holes to fill on the roster and have already proven aggressive when targeting a specific player. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the team rose to No. 10 overall from No. 27 overall to select Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City won’t need to move up that far to get a good player at the position, but one wonders if they’re comfortable staying 31st overall rather than moving up to pick a player they covet.

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