The 8 worst picks in the 2021 NFL draft, from Alex Leatherwood to Nahshon Wright
The selection of players in the NFL Draft is difficult.
Some choices are easy to make, like the Jaguars taking Trevor Lawrence to the top of the overall standings. But it gets harder as the draft progresses because there’s a tough balance between picking the guy you want and not hitting that player. It doesn’t always come out perfect, however.
Below, we’ll go over some of the worst value picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. That doesn’t necessarily mean the pick is a. wrong player. It just means that, based on all the information available, the team has likely been contacted for their selection. In other words, they picked the player much earlier than expected.
During their classification, there is obviously more weight on the first laps. You won’t see too many late picks because by the time you get to Round 6 and Round 7 it’s hard to get “bad value” – you might as well pick up a player flyer that late.
We will reference NFL.com Preliminary Notes, NFL Mock Draft Database great consensus council, Athletic’s great consensus council and ESPN’s Seth Walder draft projections to help determine the value of these choices.
So, let’s get into the choices.
Raiders: Alex Leatherwood, OL
We are not the first to call this choice a litter. The Raiders surprised a lot of people by selecting Alex Leatherwood of Alabama at the age of 17 overall. He was 40th and 45th overall on the Big Consensus Boards and was seen more as a second-round prospect, but that’s not the only problem. Leatherwood mainly played left tackle in Alabama, and Kolton Miller already has that job for Las Vegas. So Leatherwood will probably have to go into custody, which he played a bit in Alabama; but that makes the selection even more confusing. Walder’s projection draft indicated that there was a 69% chance that Leatherwood would be available in the No.43 pick when the Raiders were subsequently drafted.
Saints: Payton Turner, DE
Payton Turner is a talented athlete, but few saw him make it to the end of the first round. It was ranked 68th and 60th on the major consensus charts, respectively. It was also a curious selection, given that Gregory Rousseau, who also plays at the defensive end, was still available and was ranked higher on all major tables. We’ll find out in the long run if the Saints saw something the rest of the NFL Draft didn’t.
49ers: Aaron Banks, OL
The 49ers took Aaron Banks from 48th place overall, which was considered “a turn too early“By Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN. He finished 93rd and 90th overall on the Big Consensus Tables, which matches Kiper’s suggestion that he was taken a lap too early. Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski had this to say of Banks ‘picks: “Banks isn’t the type of lineman often screened for the San Francisco 49ers’ zone stretch. Typically, a heavy outside zone system requires athletic inside blockers that display a Exceptional lateral movement Walder’s projection metrics only had a 3% chance for banks to pick 48 or earlier.
Packers: Josh Myers, C
Josh Myers had only a 4% chance that he would be selected as No.62 or earlier pick, according to Walder’s screening project. The Packers probably could have waited, as Myers had a 60% chance of hitting 92% using Walder’s metrics. Kiper agreed the pick was a reach, saying, “I see him more as a development prospect, not a clear NFL starter. I’m surprised the Packers passed on Creed Humphrey, my second ranked center.” Myers was Kiper’s 117th overall seed.
Chargers: Tre ‘McKitty, TE
Tre ‘McKitty was the 97th player overall, which is way above his consensus ranking of 186 and 163. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein had McKitty as his 6th-7th round talent, so c was surprising. to see it go into the third. Zierlein had a 5.64 rating on McKitty, which means he has a chance “to make the list or train.” It’s not exactly what you want when you take a player in the 3rd. The choice of chargers WR Josh Palmer could also be considered bad value.
Cowboys: Nahshon Wright, CB
Nahshon Wright had NFL.com’s lowest Zierlein draft score among all drafted players in the first three rounds. Zierlein screened Wright as a 7th round pick, or as an undrafted rookie free agent. His selection in the third round draft shocked many analysts, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who had Wright as his 44th corner. He was rated so poorly that he wasn’t even on The Athletic’s big consensus board, which ranked the top 300 prospects (Wright finished 99th overall). “I’m really surprised Wright came here, because I didn’t see a choke when I watched his tape,” Kiper said of this choice.
Titans: Dez Fitzpatrick, WR
Fitzpatrick had one of the lowest NFL.com Zierlein draft scores among the selected players. Zierlein viewed Fitzpatrick more as a Round 7 prospect, or a potential undrafted free agent. He was the 16th wide receiver in the table and was the 32nd wide receiver prospect in the big table in the NFL Mock Draft database. What made this decision even more interesting was the fact that the Titans traded up in order to write Fitzpatrick. Maybe the Titans knew something the rest of us didn’t.
Washington: John Bates, TE
John Bates had Zierlein’s lowest draft score among the players selected in the first four rounds. In fact, Bates was the fourth worst pre-draft score among all the players selected. He doesn’t offer much as a receiving threat as he’s mostly seen as a tight blocking end. He was the 124th overall, and was the 248th overall prospect on Athletic’s big consensus table. It was the tight sixth end overall while it was tight 12th overall on Athletic’s big consensus table. Based on all the information available, it certainly looks like Washington could have drafted Bates much later in the draft.