The 2021 NFL Draft was one of the most highly-anticipated in years, with a plethora of quarterbacks all declaring for the same draft. However, along with the quarterbacks, there were tons of highly touted prospects NFL fans were all looking forward to seeing at the next level.
After a year in the league, some players have failed to live up to their potential thus far, while some have been major success stories. Here are five of the best picks from the 2021 draft.
#5 - Evan McPherson
Eyebrows were raised when the Cincinnati Bengals drafted kicker Evan McPherson in round five a year ago, but everyone now knows it was a smart move. McPherson was clutch for the Bengals, both in the regular season and the playoffs, as Cincinnati made it all the way to the Super Bowl.
The Florida rookie set the Bengals’ franchise record field goal with a 58-yarder against the Denver Broncos. He also matched the NFL record for field goals in a single postseason with 14. McPherson was ice cold when it mattered most, kicking game-winning field goals against the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs during their playoff run.
#4 - Kyle Pitts
Expectations for Kyle Pitts were high as the Atlanta Falcons drafted him fourth overall. Taken at this spot, Pitts became the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history. Despite the fact that he only reached the end zone once, Pitts was excellent as a rookie.
Immediately becoming one of Matt Ryan’s favorite targets, Pitts had 68 receptions for 1,026 yards. Given that tight ends usually take longer than most positions to adapt to the NFL, Pitts’ potential is sky high. He was also voted to the Pro Bowl to cap off a great debut campaign.
#3 - Mac Jones
The New England Patriots may have just found their long-term Tom Brady replacement at quarterback in Mac Jones. Jones was seen by many as the safest quarterback choice in the 2021 draft.
He threw 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, leading the Patriots back to the playoffs for the first time post-Brady.
Like Pitts, Jones was voted to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and he also came in second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.
#2 - Micah Parsons
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons was a revelation after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. During his rookie year, he put up outstanding numbers, totalling 13 sacks, 84 combined tackles and three forced fumbles. Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs became an elite combination straight away. The linebacker’s 12 sacks in his first 13 career games were the fourth-most for a rookie in league history.
The Penn State product was named first-team All-Pro, was voted to the Pro Bowl, and was the unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year.
#1 - Ja’Marr Chase
Ja’Marr Chase came into the NFL and immediately got to work proving he was worth the fifth overall draft selection in 2021. Chase was reunited with former LSU teammate Joe Burrow and the two instantly picked up right where they left off.
The wideout set the league record for receiving yards for a rookie with 1,823, including the postseason. He also totaled the most rookie receiving yards in a single game with 266.
He further broke the Bengals’ receiving yards record for one game as well as yards in a season. Chase had 13 receiving touchdowns as he helped Cincinnati reach the Super Bowl. The LSU standout won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, made the Pro Bowl, and was voted All-Pro, capping off a fantastic rookie year.