nfl draft 2021
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Pat McAfee isn’t expecting another NFL Draft shocker from the Green Bay Packers, just them going about their normal business. That again might not be a great thing for Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers made one of the stunning moves of the draft last year, trading up to select Utah quarterback Jordan Love No. 26 overall while still having a then 36-year-old Rodgers, who won the MVP this past season, under contract until 2023.
Love, 22, was the first offensive skill player the Packers selected in the first round since 2005, when Rodgers was taken to eventually replace Brett Favre. McAfee, the former Colts punter and host of “The Pat McAfee Show” on SiriusXM, believes it continues a trend of Green Bay planning for the future instead of doing everything it can to win a Super Bowl right now.
“If you look at the top of the AFC and if you look at the top of the NFC, there are teams that are absolutely loaded with talent, just an immense amount of talent,” McAfee, who recently joined WWE’s commentary team on “Friday Night SmackDown,” said in a phone interview. “They got weapons galore. If you went all-in around Aaron Rodgers and got him maybe a talented wide receiver, another one even though Davante [Adams is] incredible, and big Bob Tonyan’s great and MVS [Marquez Valdes-Scantling] is a stud.
“But if they would go in and get more weapons around him so if somebody gets injured they’re OK and they can make a run, or maybe bulking up that defense that seems to get beat whenever they have to make a stop. There’s a lot of things they could do, but with the Packers it seems like what they always do is they just prepare for the future and kind of mail it in.”
Green Bay, which lost at home to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game last season after going 13-3, will pick at No. 29 in the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday. Rodgers has expressed uncertainty about how much longer he will be wearing the green and gold, but Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters Monday the team remains committed to Rodgers “for the foreseeable future” and “Aaron’s our guy.”
McAfee, while unsure what the Packers will do, expects them to take the “boring route” and continue to lay a foundation for the future while the rest of the NFL’s elite teams are doing everything they can to win a championship in 2021. He could see them drafting an offensive lineman after losing center Corey Linsley to the Chargers in free agency.
“They’ll make some boring move that will end up being good for them as they get three years from now and the team will still be good, but Aaron Rodgers is the best in the game, the MVP,” said McAfee, who had Rodgers as a weekly guest on his radio show last season. “If they were just to make some moves and go all-in and think differently than they’ve chosen to do it would be great news for everybody, including Packers fans.”
While McAfee is leery of Green Bay’s willingness to go for it all, he loves how aggressive the Giants have been in free agency with co-owner John Mara saying he’s tired of losing. He could see Big Blue also drafting an offensive lineman to get further protection for quarterback Daniel Jones.
“I just like the fact that it seems like the mindset of the Giants is that they are gonna go all-in and try to win some games,” McAfee said.
As the Giants look to take the next step with Jones, the Jets are starting over again at quarterback. McAfee hasn’t seen a ton of film on quarterback Zach Wilson, whom it’s presumed the Jets will take No. 2 overall, but those he’s talked to about the former BYU star have spoken highly of him. He believes Wilson has “all the traits to be a great pro” and his success will come down to what pieces general manager Joe Douglas is able to put around him.
“He’s incredibly athletic, he has this incredibly calming demeanor, he’s been there, done that with everything it feels like,” McAfee said of Wilson.
He also isn’t ready to give up on Sam Darnold, whom the Jets traded to the Panthers for a bevy of draft picks. McAfee believes the former No. 3 overall pick still has a chance to be a great quarterback. We will soon find out if former Jets coach Adam Gase was part of the reason he never panned out in New York.
“Is Sam Darnold an absolutely incredible football player? We just don’t know because of the situation he’s been in,” McAfee said. “We’ll find out in Carolina. I think he needed a fresh start. I think the Jets needed a fresh start.”
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