Matt Williamson is co-host of the SNR Drive program on Steelers Nation Radio. Subscribe to the podcast here.
As we stepped away from the 2021 NFL Draft, I took a look around the league and examined how some teams addressed needs or changed the make-up of their squads over the three-day extravaganza. Below is a look at some of what I saw for the Steelers 2021 Opponents and a take on what they did in the draft.
Baltimore - The Ravens had obvious areas to address via the draft - and that is exactly what they did. They have been searching for wide receiver answers for some time now and they hope to have found it with their first selection, Rashod Bateman, and they then grabbed Tylan Wallace in the fourth round. After losing Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon in free agency, adding Odafe Oweh with their second first rounder made perfect sense. Ben Cleveland is the massive run blocker that Baltimore looks for at guard as well.
Cincinnati - Cincinnati grabbed Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth overall selection. A fantastic playmaker, Chase should make a huge immediate impact in the Bengals passing game. The Bengals offensive line certainly needed upgraded. Second round Jackson Carmen should slide right in at guard while D'Ante Smith is a high upside project at tackle. The Bengals also used three straight picks between the 69th and 122nd pick to really boost their defensive line.
Cleveland - Greg Newsome fell into the Browns lap and could be an immediate starter at outside cornerback. This offseason was all about reinforcing the defense in Cleveland and they remained aggressive in doing so by trading up in the second round for Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah, a playmaker on the second level. The Browns also added wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, a take-the-top-off speedster that complements Cleveland's run game well.
Denver - It was somewhat of a surprise that Denver didn't draft a quarterback in the first round, but maybe there is more to be written about that story if they can pry Aaron Rodgers out of Green Bay. But Denver did add an elite cornerback in Patrick Surtain, giving the Broncos a very impressive trio of corners. The combination of Javonte Williams and Quin Meinerz (coached up by Mike Munchak) could really pay dividends for Denver's run game.
Kansas City - Without question, the Chiefs number goal this offseason was to upgrade their offensive line. Well, they sure accomplished that feat via free agency, trade and now with the second round selection of Creed Humphry who should be their starting center. The Chiefs also used a second round selection for the second year in a row on a linebacker, Nick Bolton, who could have a big impact in his rookie year.
Las Vegas - The Raiders had one hole on offense. That was at right tackle, where they snagged Alex Leatherwood in the middle of the first round. Then, as you would expect, Las Vegas really focused on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, they drafted three safeties - all with different skillsets.
Los Angeles Chargers - This draft fell right into the Chargers lap with Rashawn Slater being an easy decision with the 13th pick overall. Slater completes Los Angeles' offensive line overhaul. Then, Asante Samuel was available for the Chargers in the second round-another choice that probably wasn't difficult to make for this franchise. Samuel should ably replace Casey Hayward. Justin Herbert also got two young pass catchers to mature with in Josh Palmer and Tre McKitty.
Chicago - Chicago made the splash pick of the draft by trading up to get Justin Fields, a supremely gifted quarterback prospect. But who is to know when Fields will take over the starting gig for the Bears. The only other move of note for Chicago was then trading up for Teven Jenkins who should start right away at offensive tackle. This was basically a two person draft haul for Chicago, but they might have acquired some useful pieces in the late rounds.
Detroit - The Lions could have gone one of many directions as they dig into their rebuild. But this draft was all about getting bigger and more physical. Taking Penei Sewell with the seventh overall selection was a great place to start in that regard and should make offensive line the strongest area of Detroit's roster. The Lions then went with back-to-back defensive tackles. Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeal have a great chance to be the Lions starting defensive interior in Week 1. Even cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu is a king-sized player for his position. Amon St. Brown also could be the Lions starting slot receiver very early in his career.
Green Bay - The Packers drafted three offensive linemen. The first one selected, Josh Myers, should be their immediate starter at center. Green Bay's first selection, Eric Stokes, could start opposite Jaire Alexander at outside cornerback in his rookie year and Amari Rodgers has a clear path to playing time as the Packers slot receiver in the Randall Cobb mold.
Minnesota - After making 15 selections last year, the Vikings drafted 11 players in 2021. Drafting 26 players over a two year span is unheard of, but bringing in all those youngsters could really jumpstart this team overall. Even after a trade down, the Vikings were still able to land Christian Darrisaw, an immediate starter at left tackle. Third rounder Wyatt Davis could also plug in right away at one of the starting guard spots.
Buffalo - The Bills like to bring their pass-rush in waves and really expanded on that concept by drafting Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham with their first two picks. After taking those two to really address their defensive front, Buffalo then used their next two selections on offensive linemen, although Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle might not be in the starting lineup this season.
Tennessee - Caleb Farley is an elite cornerback talent that fell to Tennessee at 22. He could be a homerun selection for the Titans though and it was rather obvious that Tennessee's top offseason priority was to address their pass defense. Elijah Molden should really help that cause as well from his slot cornerback position. Tennessee got nothing from last year's first round pick, Isaiah Wilson, at right tackle. So, they went back to the well for Dillon Radunz with the 53rd pick overall.
NFC West First Place Team
Seattle - After trading for some veteran players, the Seahawks only had three draft picks. They could have landed their third receiver in D'Wayne Eskridge as well as their top slot cornerback in Tre Brown. Eskridge along with free agent signing Gerald Everett now gives Russell Wilson a full complement of receiving weapons along with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.