2021 NFL Draft: 5 contenders that got betterBy Matt Verderame
Every team added some talent in the 2021 NFL Draft, but which among the contenders did the most to make our list?
5. Buffalo Bills
If the Bills are going to catch the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s all about putting pressure on Patrick Mahomes. Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane was smart in this regard, adding a pair of pass-rushers with his first two picks in Miami’s Gregory Rousseau and Wake Forest’s Boogie Basham. If one of them turns into a quality player, that’s a big lift for a Bills team which only sacked Mahomes twice in two meetings last year.
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4. San Francisco 49ers
To make the list, you really had to be a playoff team last year, but the Niners get a break due to the injuries. San Francisco added what could be the future at quarterback in Trey Lance but also did some nice things in the later rounds with Notre Dame guard Aaron Banks and Ohio State running back Trey Sermon on Day 2. That trio could be a huge set of building blocks for another run in 2021.
3. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens know this is a critical year. They’ve made the playoffs each of the last three years — twice as an AFC North champion — and only have a single win. In the draft, Baltimore did a nice job of helping quarterback Lamar Jackson by taking receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round and nabbing mauling guard Ben Cleveland in the third. On Day 3, the Ravens took a shot on Ohio State corner Shaun Wade, who has good potential.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The last thing the rest of the league wanted to see. Kansas City is impressively on this list considering it didn’t have a first-round pick (or a third … or seventh) after making a blockbuster trade for Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown. The Chiefs were able to grab center Creed Humphrey in the second round and guard Trey Smith in the sixth, the latter who has elite talent but fell for medical concerns. The Chiefs also got a weapon for Patrick Mahomes in Clemson receiver Cornell Powell, who starred as a senior in 2021.
1. Cleveland Browns
Yes, another AFC team. The Browns hosted the 2021 NFL draft and ended up walking away a big winner. Cleveland was able to get good value in the first round with cornerback Greg Newsome II out of Northwestern. In the second round, the Browns got a massive steal in Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah with the 52nd-overall selection. With the offense already one of the league’s best, Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry really upgraded the other side.