Best picks
The Bears trading up for Justin Fields is one of the many great picks in the first round. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2021 NFL Draft got off to an interesting start. In the top ten alone there were some picks that perplexed some. And further, down the board, there were some even bigger reaches. But in this piece, we’re going to go over the top value picks, and there were some good ones. With some surprising picks earlier in the draft, some teams got great value as some future stars dropped right into their lap.

Justin Fields to the Chicago Bears

While there are some other great picks in the draft, this one stood out. We saw Lawrence, Wilson, and Lance go respectively in the top three and expected some team to move up for Fields. What was surprising is how the Bears only needed to move up to pick number 11. The Lions, Panthers, and Broncos all could have easily made the pick for Fields, but after passing on him the Bears swooped in. Justin Fields is one of the better prospects we’ve seen in a while. It just so happens that he’s a part of the best quarterback class we’ve seen too.

Fields possesses a strong arm, elite athleticism, and great accuracy on deep balls. He can make any throw at any time. He now joins a Chicago Bears franchise that likely has the worst quarterback play in NFL history. Hopefully, he can break the curse. Justin Fields is surely a better player than Mitch Trubisky ever was. It’s all on the Bears now to surround Fields with talent.

Alijah Vera-Tucker to the New York Jets

Another trade-up pick turning out great. The Jets moved up to 14 with the Vikings to make this great selection. After taking Zach Wilson second overall, they made sure to not make the same mistake they did with Sam Darnold. And that’s giving him protection. Alijah Vera-Tucker comes in as a guard with tackle flexibility. Stud left tackle Mekhi Becton holds down the blindside, but more help is needed across the line. Vera-Tucker can either bolster the left side next to Becton or potentially fill a void as a right tackle.

Vera-Tucker is the best interior lineman in this class. His combination of size and athleticism is a great fit on the line. I was worried that a defensive-minded head coach in Robert Saleh would forego drafting help for Wilson, but he proved me wrong in a great way. Wilson will have the fighting chance in New York that Darnold never did.

Kwity Paye to the Indianapolis Colts

Rounding off this list is a pick on the back half of the first round. Indianapolis selecting Kwity Paye is almost a perfect fit. He is a freak athlete with all the potential to become a monster on the edge. And the Colts’ biggest need is a player of his caliber and position. Chris Ballard’s preference for athletic pass-rushers is evident, making this an even better selection.

Paye is still growing, as he puts more pass-rushing moves in his arsenal. But as a run defender, he is already elite. He is fast and strong allowing him to set the edge better than anyone. Paye will join DeForest Buckner, forming a fearsome defensive front. Getting the arguably best edge player in this draft at 21 without having to move up is just perfect value.

Honorable Mentions

Rashawn Slater to the Los Angeles Chargers

This one is simple. Justin Herbert is in desperate need of protection and the second-best offensive lineman fell into their lap at 13. He is a technician at the position while being an uber-athletic player. Even if Slater doesn’t have the physical tools to be a solid left tackle, he will surely become a pro bowl level guard for the Chargers.

Micah Parsons to the Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones does it again. After trading back two spots with the Eagles they still get their guy. After Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain went off the board before the Cowboys pick, it was certain they’d be taking Parsons. Moving down two spots got them an extra third-round pick while netting them the same player. A no-brainer move by Jerry is just another draft win for Dallas.

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