If NFL fans decided to unplug from the 2021 NFL Draft after the first round on April 29, it may turn out to be a short-sighted move.
While round one of the draft usually is most compelling due to franchise-altering top 10 selections and headline players we’ve heard about for months, general managers and front offices really set themselves apart on Day 2 and Day 3 of the event.
That’s when roster depth can be greatly bolstered, which will come into play more than ever now that the NFL has expanded their regular season to 17 games.
It’s also not unheard for teams to uncover hidden gems in the third round or later, who end up becoming NFL superstars.
Let’s take a closer look at two 2021 third-round picks who could develop into NFL stars.
Jalen Mayfield, Offensive Tackle, Atlanta Falcons
On paper, the Atlanta Falcons figure to be an offensive juggernaut once again in 2021.
The weapons they have in the receiving corps are about as dynamic as any team in the league, and Matt Ryan still figures to have enough left in the tank to guide a team into the playoffs.
But none of that potential can be realized if the offensive linemen up front can’t give the veteran signal-caller a clean pocket.
Ryan turned 36 years old last month, and will not be rolling out to extend plays by design.
Atlanta’s selection of University of Florida tight end Kyle Pitts garnered the most attention (rightfully so), but picking Jalen Mayfield in the third round of the draft may prove to be as important of an addition.
There were some evaluators who considered Mayfield a first-round talent, so this could end up being a massive value selection for the Falcons.
Although he’s extremely raw, Mayfield flashed signs of being a potentially impactful pass-blocker at the next level.
On a team that figures to air it out quite a bit, his presence on either side of the offensive line could prove valuable in giving Ryan the extra second he needs to get a pass away.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) May 23, 2021
Amari Rodgers, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers
For many years, it was tight end Richard Rodgers who occupied the role of “the other Rodgers” in Green Bay.
The Packers once again will pair another Rodgers with their future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron, as the franchise drafted wide receiver Amari Rodgers out of Clemson University.
— Amari Rodgers3️⃣ (@arodgers_3) June 2, 2021
The narrative for a few years has been the lack of help Green Bay brings in to make Aaron’s life easier, and while this selection did not come in the first round, Amari has a chance to become a major contributor if Aaron is not moved out of town.
Although somewhat diminutive in size, Rodgers certainly played big in big games with the Tigers as an important part of the offensive attack with Trevor Lawrence.
He reeled in 77 catches in 2020, which is a solid total for an NFL player in 16 games—Amari posted that production in just 12 contests.
Rodgers has great hands, impressive route-running ability, and a toughness to play bigger than his frame would suggest.