Imagine for a moment that the NFL decided to redistribute all of the talent in the league with a 2021 NFL Re-Draft. Can you imagine the type of ratings that would pull in for networks?
Assuming all contracts were wiped off the books, who would go inside the top 5? How many quarterbacks would be selected consecutively before the first non-quarterback went off the board?
Today, we are tackling this make-believe 2021 NFL Re-Draft — an excellent way to assess who the most valuable assets entering the 2021 season. But before we begin, there are a couple of rules we must establish.
Contracts are not considered here as this is a talent-based draft. The assumption is that each team would be able to negotiate contracts with their new players. We would also be using a “snake" draft to help balance out the squads. We will also use the reverse 2021 draft standings to assign teams. And, of course, 2021 rookies are also included in this draft.
So without further ado, here is your 2021 NFL Re-Draft Round 1.
- Before you read our 2021 NFL Re-Draft, relive our complete 2021 NFL Draft coverage.
2021 NFL Re-Draft: Round 1 Of Rebuilding Every Team From Scratch
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Patrick Mahomes
The No. 1 pick couldn’t be any more obvious. At just the age of 25, Patrick Mahomes has already tallied an NFL MVP, a Super Bowl MVP, three straight AFC Championship appearances, and back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. It feels likely that Mahomes will hold this No. 1 spot in our NFL re-drafts for at least the next half-decade.
2. New York Jets: QB Deshaun Watson
I can’t comment on the off-the-field situation regarding Watson, so let’s talk about the player. Watson led the NFL in passer rating last year at 112.4 and threw 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also had a career-high completion percentage at 70.2 and has never had a season in his NFL career with a passer rating under 98. Despite playing with one of the worst organizations in sports, Watson has thrived. If he is cleared to play, he easily deserves the No. 2 spot in our re-draft.
3. Houston Texans: QB Josh Allen
If you had told me a year ago that Josh Allen would be the third-most-valuable asset in the NFL, I would have never believed you. But Allen improved dramatically in 2020, scoring 46 touchdowns and throwing only 10 interceptions. He’s not the most polished quarterback, but with his combination of size, arm strength and youth, it’s impossible not to put Allen inside the top 5.
4. Atlanta Falcons: QB Justin Herbert
At the age of 22, Herbert had one of the best rookie seasons we’ve ever seen from a rookie quarterback. He scored 36 touchdowns and threw just 10 interceptions. Despite not having a full offseason to prepare, Herbert played incredibly well behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Much like Josh Allen, his age, size and early career production make him one of the league’s most valuable players.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Dak Prescott
I thought about putting Prescott ahead of the likes of Josh Allen and Justin Herbert, but the age difference was enough for me to leave him at No. 5. Prescott turns 28 in July and is coming off two surgeries for his broken ankle. However, he’s been one of the league’s most consistent quarterbacks since entering the NFL, with a career passing rating of 97.3 and averaging 7.7 yards per attempt.
He’s also one of the league’s best red-zone runners with 24 rushing touchdowns in 69 career games. As Prescott ages in the NFL, look for him to run less and become an even better and more effective pocket passer.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Trevor Lawrence
Our first 2021 rookie comes off the board, and of course, it’s Trevor Lawrence. I couldn’t put him in the top five as those other quarterbacks are all extremely young and already productive in the NFL. However, he belongs in the next tier of quarterbacks alongside Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, etc.
Once we see Lawrence in the NFL, it wouldn’t be surprising if he moved up to No. 2 on this list by this time next year. But as of right now, we’re being more cautious.
7. Detroit Lions: QB Russell Wilson
The only reason Wilson isn’t on this list is due to his age. The first six picks have an average age of 24.5, whereas Wilson will turn 33 during the 2021 season. On the field, Wilson is everything you would want in a quarterback. He has a career passer rating of 101.7, and he has now posted three straight years of a passer rating of 105 or better. Seattle has never had a losing season under Wilson, and he’s never missed a start.
At pick No. 7, Wilson is a steal as he still has 5-7 strong years ahead of him.
8. Carolina Panthers: QB Lamar Jackson
Does Lamar Jackson have his flaws? Yes. But is he one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL? Absolutely. Jackson is just 24-years old and has a 30-7 record in the regular season. On top of his insane rushing ability, he has a career passing rating of 102.6 and got the first playoff win of his career during the 2020 season. Jackson continues to improve as a passer and is one of the most challenging quarterbacks in the NFL to game plan against.
Getting an MVP quarterback at the age of 24 at pick No. 8 feels like a major steal here for the Panthers.
9. Denver Broncos: QB Joe Burrow
We only saw 10 games of Joe Burrow as a rookie, but he was spectacular. Despite playing behind the worst offensive line in the NFL, Burrow brought life to a lifeless franchise. His combination of accuracy, touch, and release makes him a perfect fit in a quick-strike offense.
Burrow needs to show that he’s healthy in 2021, but don’t be surprised if he is much higher on this list by this time next year. He has legit MVP potential if he can stay upright.
10. Dallas Cowboys: QB Aaron Rodgers
You can make a case that Aaron Rodgers should be No. 1 on this list in terms of ability. Rodgers is coming off his third MVP award as he threw a career-high 48 touchdowns to only five interceptions. His 121.5 passer rating was the second-best of his career, which is still crazy when I type this out.
Rodgers is 37 years old, and that’s why he falls to No. 10. But could we still see 4-5 elite levels of production from Rodgers? I think so, and that’s why he warrants this spot.
11. New York Giants: QB Kyler Murray
We are two years into the Kyler Murray experience in the NFL, and he’s certainly played well. Murray improved in 2020, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and increasing his yards per attempt to 7.1. He also saw his touchdown total increase from 24 to 37 as the Cardinals were a much more competitive team in 2020.
Because Murray is just 23 years old, we can make a case that he should be even higher on this list. But Murray’s lack of size will drop him some for some teams. Still, he’s a good pick here at No. 11.
12. San Francisco 49ers: QB Baker Mayfield
After a disappointing 2019 season, Mayfield bounced back in a big way in 2020. He had the highest passer rating of his career and the highest adjusted yards per attempt while throwing only eight interceptions. He’s not perfect, but he is still so incredibly talented and is only 26 years old.
Mayfield in Kyle Shanahan’s offense would be a lot of fun as he has the arm talent and mobility to become a star. This is a pairing that will likely never happen, but one that I would dream of seeing.
13, Los Angeles Chargers: QB Zach Wilson
The No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Wilson certainly would be taken relatively early in a draft like this. With everyone chasing the next Patrick Mahomes, Wilson has the traits and athleticism to get decision-makers excited.
While there is undoubtedly a ton of unknown here, it’s hard to imagine many more teams passing on him, given his age and potential.
14. Minnesota Vikings: QB Trey Lance
By all accounts, the NFL was high on Trey Lance coming into the 2021 NFL Draft. If the 49ers didn’t take him at No. 3 (after giving up multiple first-round picks to acquire him), it would appear the Falcons would have selected him at No. 4. Lance has the ideal body, arm talent and athleticism to become a star in the NFL.
And while he might need some seasoning, he could easily be inside the top 6 picks at this time next year.
15. New England Patriots: QB Justin Fields
Despite falling some in the 2021 NFL Draft, Fields would still go very high in a re-draft as teams search for young quarterbacks. Fields is a big, strong-armed quarterback with the mobility to make plays outside the pocket with his legs.
While he could still speed up his entire process, the tools (and age) make him too tough to ignore at No. 15 to the Patriots.
16. Arizona Cardinals: QB Matthew Stafford
It’s hard to judge how much Stafford has left after playing on a bad Lions team over the last few years. But what’s the most encouraging part of his game is that he managed to stay healthy for all 16 games in 2020. He still has one of the best arms in the NFL, and he hasn’t stopped being aggressive.
The middle part of the first round seems like the right spot for a team to gamble on his talent.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: QB Ryan Tannehill
After an impressive 10-game stretch at the end of the 2019 season, Ryan Tannehill had a career year in 2021. He threw 33 touchdowns to only seven interceptions and had a passer rating of 106.5. Tannehill has always been a competent quarterback, but he’s become far more than that over the last two years. He’s averaging 8.6 yards per attempt since 2019, which is the highest in the NFL.
Tannehill does turn 33 in July, which knocks his value some. But the quarterback we’ve seen over the last two years deserves to go much higher than this.
18. Miami Dolphins: EDGE Myles Garrett
The first non-quarterback off the board is none other than Myles Garrett. At 25 years old, he’s already totaled 42.5 sacks to go along with 10 forced fumbles and 83 quarterback hits. He is just as dominant against the run as he is in the passing game and is a complete EDGE player. Even during a year in which he dealt with COVID-19, he still managed 12 sacks in 14 games. Garrett is an easy choice to be the first positional player picked.
19. Washington Football Team: EDGE Chase Young
Our first actual team pairing! Chase Young is the second non-quarterback off the board, and it’s not hard to see why. As a 21-year old rookie, he posted 7.5 sacks to go along with four forced fumbles and four pass deflections. He is already someone offenses have to account for, and he has the potential to be the best pass rusher in the NFL as soon as next year. Young would be a lock top-20 pick in a re-draft like this.
20. Chicago Bears: QB Derek Carr
After a small run of positional players, Carr comes off the board here in the second half of the first round. Carr has steadily improved in each of the last four seasons and had the best year of his career in 2020. He’s not the flashiest quarterback, but Carr is incredibly solid and just turned 30 years old. Carr should produce high-end quarterback play for the Bears for the next seven to eight years.
21. Indianapolis Colts: DT Aaron Donald
In previous versions of this draft, Donald came off the board much earlier. He is still just as dominant as ever, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020. However, his age has caused him to “slip" a bit on this list as he has turned 30 this month. Still, Donald is the best defensive player of the year and should continue to dominate for the next half-decade.
22. Tennessee Titans: QB Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins is the last quarterback to come off the board in the first round but is a value here at No. 22. All he has done since entering the NFL is produce. Since he became a full-time starter in 2015, Cousins has had a passer rating of 100.5 and has averaged nearly eight yards per attempt. He’s not the flashiest quarterback in the NFL, but he gets the job done.
23. Seattle Seahawks: RT Tristan Wirfs
The first offensive lineman comes off the board and it’s Tristan Wirfs. While he played right tackle as a rookie, he could likely swing over the left side, if needed. Wirfs is a 22-year old tackle who performed exceptionally well as a rookie. He was dominant in the playoff run and appears to be on his way to becoming one of, if not the best, tackle in the NFL. Wirfs is an excellent pick for a team that wants to build the trenches for a team that misses out on a top quarterback.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: LT Mekhi Becton
Does Becton need to improve as a pass protector? Yes. But he is a rare athlete with elite size. He had dominant flashes as a rookie and now, with an entire season under his belt, he could become the league’s best-left tackle in the next year or two. Picking him at No. 24 might seem rich, but players like him at the left tackle position just don’t come around very often.
25. Los Angeles Rams: EDGE T.J. Watt
The next defensive player off the board is T.J. Watt, who is coming off a career year in Pittsburgh. He had 15 sacks in 2020, along with 23 tackles for a loss. He’s a bit older than Garrett and Young (turns 27 in October), and that’s the biggest reason he’s not ranked ahead of them. Still, he’s an impact defensive player whose best football still might be ahead of him.
26. Cleveland Browns: CB Jalen Ramsey
The first defensive back off the board is none other than Jalen Ramsey, who continues to produce at an elite level every year. Ramsey has made the Pro Bowl in four straight seasons, and teams are starting to completely ignore him because he’s too good. Ramsey is also a culture changer, and at this stage of the first round, he becomes a value.
27. Baltimore Ravens: TE Kyle Pitts
It’s time to get a little excited. Kyle Pitts was the highest-drafted tight end of all-time at pick No. 4 in the 2021 NFL Draft. And with all of the top quarterbacks and several EDGE rushers off the board, the Ravens decide to take the best tight end prospect since…Kellen Winslow Sr.? Pitts is a generational talent with the ability to play out wide as a receiver or inline as a traditional tight end. This may seem high right now, but he’s a 21-year old star in the making.
28. New Orleans Saints: QB Tom Brady
The rumor from last offseason was that Tom Brady was going to land in New Orleans if Drew Brees retired. He didn’t and that led to Brady signing with Tampa Bay and we know how that turned out. Obviously, Brady doesn’t have the long-term value as most of the players on this list. But how can Sean Payton pass on the chance to coach Brady for at least a few years?
29. Green Bay Packers: QB Matt Ryan
Given the choice, would the Packers pick Matt Ryan over Jordan Love in a draft like this? You bet they would. Ryan just turned 36 years old, but it’s clear he still has several years left of elite play. He’s missed just three starts in his NFL career and he’s coming off another season of at least 4,500 passing yards. He doesn’t have the strongest arm or the most athleticism, but Ryan is still a top-end quarterback and a steal at No. 29.
30. Buffalo Bills: G Quenton Nelson
Taking an offensive guard in an NFL re-draft like this doesn’t make much sense, but Quenton Nelson isn’t most guards. He’s been a first-team All-Pro selection in every season he’s been in the NFL, and he just turned 25 years old. Nelson can play offensive tackle if needed, but he is on the right track to becoming a future Hall of Fame selection. Nelson’s physical style of play would fit perfectly in Buffalo.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: QB Carson Wentz
Just a few years ago, Wentz would have easily been a top-five pick on this list. In 2017, he was arguably the league MVP before injuring his knee. In 2018, he had the best passer rating of his career. But after a decline in play in 2019 and 2020, we are left to wonder what he has left. Can Andy Reid save him? At pick No. 31, it’s probably worth the gamble to find out.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Tua Tagovailoa
If you ignore Tagovailoa’s Week 17 start against the Bills, his rookie season would have looked mighty impressive. In his first eight starts of his career, he completed nearly 65 percent of his passes while throwing 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions. His final start against the Bills was worrisome, but it’s important to remember that he’s still only 23-years old and will now be two years removed from his hip surgery in 2019. With the Buccaneers having to back-to-back picks here, it’s worth taking a chance on a quarterback and grabbing a top positional player at No. 33.