2021 NFL Draft Team Grades
- 2021 NFL Draft Team Grades: AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West
- 2021 NFL Draft Team Grades: NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West
The 2021 NFL Draft is the unofficial start to the 2021 NFL futures betting season! Get in the game and sign up for one of our friendly sportsbook partners. BetMGM is offering a Risk-Free Bet of up to $600 for new players. Sign up to claim this welcome offer and start betting on 2021 NFL futures.
AFC EAST 2021 NFL DRAFT GRADES
- Round 1: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL.) (30th OVR)
- Round 2: Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest (61st OVR)
- Round 3: Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa (93rd OVR)
- Round 5: Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami (OH) (161st OVR)
- Round 6: Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston (203rd OVR); Damar Hamlin, S, Pittsburgh (212th OVR); Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin (213th OVR)
- Round 7: Jack Anderson, S, Texas Tech (236th OVR)
The Bills are one of those teams that could have gone one of two ways. They could have drafted for luxury, going all-in on a win-now asset. Or, they could have addressed needs. Buffalo went the needs route, adding a pair of pass rushers in the top 61 picks. The Bills need to beat the Chiefs. Taking a page out of the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl 55 blueprint appears to be their direction. I have no qualms about that.
With their next two selections, the Bills doubled down on one position once again. This time, along their offensive front. Highlighted by Spencer Brown, a third-round swing tackle out of Northern Iowa, could develop into a starter in the future. Brown might not see extensive playing time in year one, but he is a developmental project player at one of the most important positions in football that did not cost the Bills very much capital to land.
- Round 1: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (6th OVR); Jaelen Phillips, EDGE, Miami (18th OVR)
- Round 2: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon (36th OVR); Liam Eichenberg, OT Notre Dame (42nd OVR)
- Round 3: Hunter Long, TE, Boston College (81st OVR)
- Round 7: Larnel Coleman, OT, Massachusetts (231st OVR); Gerrid Doaks, RB Cincinnati (244th OVR)
The Dolphins had four picks inside the top 42. Jaylen Waddle and Jaelen Phillips have all the ceiling in the world but do come with injury concerns while Jevon Holland and Liam Eichenberg were borderline first-round talents, more so the latter, selected in round two.
If Waddle and Phillips could remain on the field, they should make an immediate impact on a team that won 10 games but missed the playoffs last season. What’s more, the selection of Waddle, pairing up with Tua Tagovailoa — they were teammates at Alabama — suggests that the impending second-year signal-caller better figure out in this season or he may be out of a job in the forthcoming offseason, a la 2020 Drew Lock. The Dolphins also added Will Fuller on a one-year deal in free agency, future cementing my “figure it out or else" forecast on Miami’s quarterback.
If Phillips and Jevon Holland are not Week 1 starters, they will be primed for a significant role on one of the best defenses in the NFL. Holland brings more ball-hawking versatility to a defense that accumulated a league-best 29 takeaways in 2020.
Top 2021 NFL Draft Classes:
— The Game Day NFL (@TheGameDayNFL) May 5, 2021
- Round 1: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama (15th OVR)
- Round 2: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama (38th OVR)
- Round 3: Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma (96th OVR)
- Round 4: Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma (120th OVR)
- Round 5: Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan (177th OVR)
- Round 6: Joshuah Bledsoe, S, Missouri (188th OVR); William Sherman, OT, Colorado (197th OVR)
- Round 7: Trey Nixon, WR, Central Florida (242nd OVR)
I love New England’s draft for two players. Mac Jones and Christan Barmore. Not only did the Patriots manage to land a quarterback that will fit their system without having to cede draft assets to get him, but they also landed the consensus No. 1 interior defensive lineman on the board in the second round.
Although Bill Belichick may miss on wide receivers, he excels at finding talent later in the draft. Cue Ronnie Perkins, who was a top 50 prospect on most boards. The Patriots snagged Perkins 96th overall. He should open the year as a rotational pass rusher on a defense that finished seventh in points allowed per game (22.1) in 2020.
- Round 1: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU (2nd OVR); Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, USC (14th OVR)
- Round 2: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss (34th OVR)
- Round 4: Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina (107th OVR)
- Round 5: Jamien Sherwood, S, Auburn (146th OVR); Michael Carter II, S, Duke (154th OVR); Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh (175th OVR)
- Round 6: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State (186th OVR); Brandin Echols, CB, Kentucky (200th OVR); Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas (207th OVR)
The Jets killed the draft. In fact, they are my overall No. 1 winners and it is not just because of Zach Wilson. In the first round, the Jets traded up to 14th overall to select Alijah Vera-Tucker who can play both guard and tackle, bolstering an offensive line that spent last year’s first-round pick on LT Mekhi Becton. Vera-Tucker is a Week 1 starter.
In the second round, the Jets addressed another glaring need. This time at wide receiver. Although they signed Corey Davis in free agency, there aren’t enough quality weapons on the team to ensure Wilson’s success, which is why drafting Elijah Moore, who is a fringe first-round talent, made all the sense in the world. After all, they want to give Wilson more help than they ever forwarded to Sam Darnold.
In terms of bolstering their offensive skill positions for Wilson, the Jets still were not finished, adding RB Michael Carter in the fourth round. With a questionable backfield, Carter could open the season as the starter.
The Jets finally got it right. Hats off to Joe Douglas.
*Fun Fact: The Jets drafted two Michael Carters. One, a running back out of UNC. The other, a safety out of Duke. I am not sure this has ever happened.
AFC NORTH 2021 NFL DRAFT GRADES
- Round 1: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (27th OVR); Odafe Oweh, LB, Penn State (31st OVR)
- Round 3: Ben Cleveland, OG, Georgia (94th OVR); Brandon Stephens, CB, SMU (104th OVR)
- Round 4: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State (131st OVR)
- Round 5: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State (160th OVR); Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame (171st OVR); Ben Mason, FB, Michigan (184th OVR)
The Ravens are the Ravens.
If you think of a team that does it right and would ace 2021 NFL Draft Grades, the Ravens come to mind. They entered the offseason with only a few needs for a team that finished 2020 seventh in PPG (29.3) and second in the fewest PPG allowed (18.9). As usual, Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh knocked it out of the park.
In addition to adding Sammy Watkins in free agency, the Ravens selected WR Rashod Bateman with one of their two first-round picks. Bateman was arguably the best receiver on the board at the time and he should not have been there. Bateman was only available after the Giants reached Kadarius Toney. Baltimore also selected WR Tylan Wallace in the fourth. There are no more excuses for Lamar Jackson. We will finally have a chance to evaluate him as a passer now that he has quality pass-catchers around him.
With the 31st overall pick, the Ravens took the best LB/ EDGE on the board in Odafe Oweh. Oweh is raw but could emerge as Mathew Judon’s immediate replacement by midseason. I also love what the Ravens did in the third round with the Ben Cleveland selection. Cleveland is a guard and may not see the field a lot barring injury to one of the Ravens’ starters, but long term, the Georgia alum could be Kevin Zeitler’s heir apparent.
- Round 1: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (5th OVR)
- Round 2: Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson (46th OVR)
- Round 3: Joseph Ossai, LB, Texas (69th OVR)
- Round 4: Cameron Sample, DE, Tulane (111th OVR); Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU (122nd OVR); D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina (139th OVR)
- Round 5: Evan McPherson, K, Florida (149th OVR)
- Round 6: Trey Hill, C, Georgia (190th OVR); Chris Evans, RB, Michigan (202nd OVR)
- Round 7: Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State (235th OVR)
Cincinnati’s draft starts and ends with Ja’Marr Chase. I would have gone Penei Sewell with the 5th overall pick. This isn’t a knock on Chase, who could emerge as the best wide receiver in this class when it is all said and done, but the Bengals’ priority should have been protecting Joe Burrow, not getting him another weapon.
While the Bengals did select OT Jackson Carman in the second round, Sewell was the no-brainer stud at the tackle position in this year’s class. What’s more, Carman can also play guard, which is where he may be lining up early on at the pro-level. Carman does upgrade Cincy’s offensive front, but on paper, Sewell and Terrace Mitchell would have looked a lot more promising than Chase and Carman.
Since the trade deadline, the Bengals lost both Carlos Dunlap and Carl Lawson. They filled those holes with Trey Hendrickson in free agency and with the combination of EDGE Joseph Ossai in the third round and EDGE Cameron Sample, who had a third-round draft grade, in the fourth. Both Ossai and Sample should make immediate impacts as rotational pass rushers.
I would have given the Bengals a higher grade if they went Sewell over Chase.
- Round 1: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern (26th OVR)
- Round 2: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame (52nd OVR)
- Round 3: Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn (91st OVR)
- Round 4: James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati (110th OVR); Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State (132nd OVR)
- Round 5: Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia (153rd OVR); Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia (169th OVR)
- Round 6: Demetric Felton, RB, UCLA (211th OVR)
The Browns have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. In free agency, they bolstered their biggest needs on defense. In the draft, the rich got richer. While they roster Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, two cornerbacks with immense upside, neither one of them can stay on the field. Selecting Greg Newsome in the first round gives them a bit more stability at a position of need.
In the second, the Browns nabbed LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. I had the Browns taking Owusu-Koramoah in the first round of my final mock. Owusu-Koramoah’s NFL role has yet to be defined. He is a speedy off-the-ball linebacker that can cover exceptionally well.
While the Browns employ Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, they have some serious question marks at wide receiver. Behind them, Rashard Higgins and the unproven Donovan Peoples-Jones. Third-round wideout Anthony Schwartz has immense speed and can be used all over the formation to break a secondary open. He will likely compete for snaps in three-wide sets if he pops in camp.
- Round 1: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama (24th OVR)
- Round 2: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State (55th OVR)
- Round 3: Kendrick Green, C, Illinois (87th OVR)
- Round 4: Dan Moore, Jr., OT, Texas A&M (128th OVR); Buddy Johnson, LB, Texas A&M (140th OVR)
- Round 5: Isaiahh Loudermilk, DE, Wisconsin (156th OVR)
- Round 6: Quincy Roche, DE, Miami (Fla.), (216th OVR)
- Round 7: Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma (245th OVR); Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech (254th OVR)
I understand the Steelers had a need at running back. However, their great needs come on their offensive line, which the Steelers did not address until the third round with C Kendrick Green. Najee Harris might be the No. 1 back in this class, but he has nothing to run behind. Considering Ben Roethlisberger’s regressing deep ball, Harris will see stacked boxes out the gate. Expect Harris’ pass-catching skillset to be exploited early.
The Steelers selected Pat Freiermuth in the second round. While he is the consensus second-best tight end in the 2021 class, the Steelers had bigger needs, especially with Eric Ebron still under contract.
As I said at the top, the Steelers did not address their line until the third round with Green, who can play all three positions on the interior offensive line. They came back in the fourth and took OT Dan Moore. While Moore could take time to develop, the Steelers reportedly view Green as a Week 1 starter and had him higher on their board than most.
AFC SOUTH 2021 NFL DRAFT GRADES
- Round 3: Davis Mills, QB, Stanford (67th OVR); Nico Collins, WR, Michigan (89th OVR)
- Round 5: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (Fla.), (147th OVR); Garret Wallow, LB, TCU (170th OVR)
- Round 6: Roy Lopez, DT, Arizona (195th OVR)
The Texans did not have picks in the first two rounds thanks to front office mastermind Bill O’Brien. With Nick Caserio cleaning up Billy O’s mess, he did the best he could for what he had to work with.
Considering the uncertainties surrounding the immediate playing future of Deshaun Watson, the Texans selected Standford QB Davis Mills 67th overall. Mills is a project but has the traits of an NFL starter.
The Texans are a team with ample question marks and even more needs. They seemingly signed 50 free agents — exaggeration — all to one-year deals. They are just bodies to get through that looks like will be a disastrous 2021 season. For a third-round prospect, Nico Collins has the ceiling to develop into an NFL starter. However, if Watson isn’t the quarterback, his upside could go to waste in year one.
They also added TE Brevin Jordan in the fifth round. Jordan is far from an inline blocking asset but is one of the better pass-catching tight ends in a week class. He can also make plays in space. Jordan could see immediate work in two tight end sets with Jordan Akins.
- Round 1: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan (21st OVR)
- Round 2: Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt (54th OVR)
- Round 4: Kylen Granson, TE, SMU (127th OVR)
- Round 5: Shawn Davis, S, Florida (165th OVR)
- Round 6: Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (218th OVR)
- Round 7: Mike Strachan, WR, Charleston (229th OVR); Will Fries, OT, Penn State (248th OVR)
For a team with Super Bowl-run upside in 2021, the Colts may have whiffed in the draft. While Kwity Paye should be a Week 1 impact player, he does have holes in his game and needs to be coached up to unlock his true potential at the pro level.
In the second round, GM Chris Ballard took a shot on Dayo Odeyingbo. While Odeyingbo tore his Achilles in January, he brings enough upside for Ballard to take a shot. If the Colts hit on their back-to-back pass-rushing talents to open the draft, their defense could take a drastic step up, especially if Odeyingbo rapidly recovers from his injury.
One of the biggest needs the Colts had was at offensive tackle in the wake of Anthony Castonzo’s retirement. They did not sniff the need until the seventh round with Will Fries. I would have also liked to see the Colts get new QB Carson Wentz another receiver. They did, but again, not until the seventh.
I am a Chris Ballard, guy, but this draft left me with more questions than answers. He needs to hit on those EDGE rushers, that’s for sure.
- Round 1: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (1st OVR); Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (25th OVR)
- Round 2: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia (33rd OVR); Walker Little, OT, Stanford (45th OVR)
- Round 3: Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse (65th OVR)
- Round 4: Jay Tufele, DT, USC (106th OVR); Jordan Smith, LB, Alabama-Birmingham (121st OVR)
- Round 5: Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State (145th OVR)
- Round 6: Jalen Camp, WR, Georgia Tech (209th OVR)
The Jaguars had seven picks inside the top 121 selections. However, this entire draft falls on the arm of Trevor Lawrence. No matter how the rest of the players shake out if they by any chance miss on Lawrence, the franchisee will be set back for years to come.
However, GM Trent Baalke is doing everything he can to ensure T-Law’s success. Not only did they add Marvin Jones to their talented receiving room in free agency, but the Jags also bolstered their running back room in the back of the first round with Travis Etienne.
On day two and day three, the Jaguars supported their defense. Of their five picks spread out in Rounds 2-4, they used four of them on defense. Their one offense selection in that grouping of picks came in the second round in the form of OT Walker Little. This was a draft centered around Lawrence with their early assets, as it should have been.
- Round 1: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech (22nd OVR)
- Round 2: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State (53rd OVR)
- Round 3: Monty Rice, LB, Georgia (921nd OVR); Elijah Molden, CB, Washington (100th OVR)
- Round 4: Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville (109th OVR); Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh (135th OVR)
- Round 6: Racey McMath, WR, LSU (205th OVR); Brady Breeze, S, Oregon (215th OVR)
The Titans ended 2020 with the fourth-best offense in PPG (30.7) but with the ninth-worst defense in PPG (27.4). After blowing up their secondary this offseason, the Titans began to replenish it with Caleb Farley. Farley does come with injury concerns, but if he hits, he will be an immediate difference-maker.
While the Titans had a massive need at wide receiver, they elected to address an underrated need on their offense. Right tackle. The Titans moved off of Dennis Kelly this offseason leaving a hole on one of the best Offensive lines in football. Dillon Radunz could be a Week 1 starter.
The Titans finally added a receiver in the fourth round and sixth-round respectively with Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath. McMath could be more of a depth addition but Fitzpatrick has a shot to open the year starting in three-wide sets.
AFC WEST 2021 NFL DRAFT GRADES
- Round 1: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama (9th OVR)
- Round 2: Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina (35th OVR)
- Round 3: Quinn Meinerz, OG, Wisconsin-Whitewater (98th OVR); Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State (105th OVR)
- Round 5: Caden Sterns, S, Texas (152nd OVR); Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana (164th OVR)
- Round 6: Seth Williams, WR, Auburn (219th OVR)
- Round 7: Kary Vincent, Jr., CB, LSU (237th OVR); Jonathon Cooper, DE, Ohio State (239th OVR); Marquiss Spencer, DE, Mississippi State (253rd OVR)
With so many questions at quarterback, the Broncos elected to bolster their defense in the first round, adding the best cornerback on the board to most draft gurus, Patrick Surtain. If Denver’s defense can stay healthy this year, they could emerge as a top 10 unit with the addition of Surtain. They already employ Kareem Jackson, Kyle Fuller, Justin Simmons, Bryce Callahan, and Ronald Darby on the back end of their defense. Surtain can make this unit the new “No Fly Zone."
Many have questioned the Javonte Williams pick. However, it makes sense. Melvin Goron is not getting any younger and looks like he lost some burst last season. He is also in a contract year. Denver also let Phillip Lindsay go in free agency while bringing in Mike Boone, who remains an unknown for the most part. Williams is a long-term starter at running back as soon as in 2022 but should see enough touches to make a 2021 impact and flash.
- Round 2: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri (58th OVR); Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma (63rd OVR)
- Round 4: Joshua Kaindoh, DE, Florida State (144th OVR)
- Round 5: Noah Gray, TE, Duke (162nd OVR); Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson (181st OVR)
- Round 6: Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee (226th OVR)
Let’s call it what it is. Kansas City’s first-round pick was Orlando Brown. The Chiefs traded the 31st overall pick to the Ravens for Brown earlier in the month.
In the second round, the Chiefs added Nick Bolton, whose aggressive playing style fits Steve Spagnaulo’s defense at the second level. Bolton should be a Week 1 starter. Kansas City also added Creed Humphery in the second. If Humphrey can beat out free agency signing Austin Blythe, he too will be an opening day starter. Another point on Humphrey is his versatility. He can also play guard should one of the regular starters miss time.
- Round 1: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama (17th OVR)
- Round 2: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU (43rd OVR)
- Round 3: Malcolm Koonce, DE, Buffalo (79th OVR); Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech (80th OVR)
- Round 4: Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri (143rd OVR)
- Round 5: Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois (167th OVR)
- Round 7: Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh (230th OVR)
The Raiders reached for Alex Leatherwood in the first round. He could emerge as an NFL starter for years to come, but they could have had him in the second. The Raiders did Raiders things, once again.
I do have to commend them for the Trevon Moehrig find. Moehrig was a projected first-round pick that fell into Las Vegas’ lap at 43rd overall. Big-time value.
A team with needs on both sides of the ball, did their best to fill them out. However, out the gate, players that include Malcolm Koonce, Divine Deablo, and Tyree Gillespie are likely depth assets with the potential to develop into more.
I don’t understand why the Raiders drafted three safeties. Perhaps Jon Gruden is just taking advantage of that 10-year contract. It’s a disaster in Vegas and we’re just along for the ride.
- Round 1: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern (13th OVR)
- Round 2: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State (47th OVR)
- Round 3: Josh Palmer, WR Tennessee (77th OVR); Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia (97th OVR)
- Round 4: Chris Rumph II, DE, Duke (118th OVR)
- Round 5: Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska (159th OVR)
- Round 6: Nick Niemann, LB, Iowa (185th OVR); Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri (198th OVR)
- Round 7: Mark Webb, S, Georgia (241st OVR)
I really liked what the Chargers did. Rashawn Slater was hard to pass up. He was not supposed to be there. Now, the Chargers have pieces to build around on their line, one of the team’s biggest handicaps in recent years. Paired with Brian Bulaga and Corey Linsley, Los Angeles’ line may now be a strength if Slater plays to his ability.
The Chargers also added a first-round talent, CB Asante Samuel Jr., with the 47th overall pick. New HC Brandon Staley produced one of the NFL’s stingiest secondaries last season with the Rams. He has the pieces in place to replicate that in his first year as Chargers’ head coach.
Los Angeles had two third-round picks which were used to reinforce Justin Herbert’s weaponry. WR Josh Palmer and TE Tre’ McKitty could see immediate playing time, especially if the starters miss any time. At worst, they will serve as quality depth on a loaded roster.
After you read Anthony’s 2021 NFL Draft Team Grades, catch up on all the NFL Draft’s top moments and the 2021 NFL Draft’s picks with our 2021 NFL Draft Recap.
NFC EAST 2021 NFL DRAFT GRADES
- Round 1: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State (12th OVR)
- Round 2: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky (44th OVR)
- Round 3: Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA (75th OVR); Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa (84th OVR); Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State (99th OVR)
- Round 4: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU (115th OVR); Josh Ball, OT, Marshall (138th OVR)
- Round 5: Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford (179th OVR)
- Round 6: Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky (192nd OVR); Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina (227th OVR)
- Round 7: Matt Farniok, OG, Nebraska (238th OVR)
I was in between a B and a B+ for the Cowboys. They expected one of Patrick Surtain Jr. or Jaycee Horn to be on the board, but both were taken before Dallas’ time to pick in the NFL Draft’s Round 1. The Cowboys instead pivoted and traded back two spots with the Egles to pick up an additional third-round pick in the process.
Micah Parsons may come with off-the-field concerns, but on the field, he is a top-10 talent. He could also be the best defensive player in this draft class. His skill set needs to be polished in coverage, but he is immensely fast and a terrific blitzer. The Cowboys need to pressure the quarterback, Parsons gets them three.
The Cowboys’ first five picks were on the defensive side of the ball, which makes sense. Defense is the team’s Achilles heel. We could see second-round CB Kelvin Jospch emerge as a Week 1 starter, but DT Osa Odighizuwa could be the steal of the draft for Dallas if he pops as a run-stuffer. Odighizuwa dominated Senior Bowl week.
- Round 1: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida (20th OVR)
- Round 2: Azeez Ojulari, DE/LB, Georgia (50th OVR)
- Round 3: Aaron Robinson, CB, Central Florida (71st OVR)
- Round 4: Elerson Smith, LB, Northern Iowa (116th OVR)
- Round 6: Gary Brightwell, RB, Arizona (196th OVR); Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State (201st OVR)
Ugh. For the 2021 NFL Draft Grades, I want to give the Giants a B+ or even an A. However, the Kadarius Toney reach kills it for me.
Toney needs to improve his route running and is extremely raw. They could have had Rashod Bateman instead.
I do love the Azeez Ojulari pick at 50th overall. Not only did the Giants have a vast need to an additional pass-rusher, but Ojulari was going as a first-round pick in many mocks.
The Giants drafted CB Aaron Robinson in the third round. I think they could have found value elsewhere, but I get it, you can never have too many corners in today’s NFL. Robinson brings the versatility to play in the slot as well as on the outside.
- Round 1: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (10th OVR)
- Round 2: Landon Dickerson, OG/C, Alabama (37th OVR)
- Round 3: Milton Williams, DE, Louisiana Tech (73rd OVR)
- Round 4: Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech (123rd OVR)
- Round 5: - Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis (150th OVR)
- Round 6: Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC (189th OVR); Tarron Jackson, DE, Coastal Carolina (191st OVR); JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU (224th OVR)
- Round 7: Patrick Johnson, DE, Tulane (234th OVR)
The Eagles entered the draft with the most picks. They had an eye on WR DeVonta Smith for the duration of the draft process and made sure they got him, leapfrogging ahead of the Giants to take him 10th overall in a rare intra-NFC East draft trade with Dallas.
The Eagles have a need at wide receiver after moving on from DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery this offseason while not drafting the position too well in recent memory. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner solves a lot of issues for the Eaggels on offense if he is as advertised.
In the second, I love the Landon Dickerson pick. I had him going to Green Bay at the back of the first round of my mock. The Eagles are aging on the offensive line. Importantly, at the center position as Jason Kelce can’t play forever. There are also question marks surrounding the health and longevity of Brandon Brooks. Dickerson will be a Week 1 starter for sure.
Philadelphia addressed many needs, but one luxury pick was Kenneth Gainwell in the fifth round. Gainwell adds depth at running back behind Miles Sanders. After all, are we really still buying into Jordan Howard and Boston Scott in the event Sanders misses time? I love the Gainwell value in the fifth. He fell into their laps.
- Round 1: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky (19th OVR)
- Round 2: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas (51st OVR)
- Round 3: Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota (74th OVR); Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina (82nd OVR)
- Round 4: John Bates, TE, Boise State (124th OVR)
- Round 5: Darrick Forrest, S, Cincinnati (163rd OVR)
- Round 6: Camaron Cheeseman, LS, Michigan (225th OVR)
- Round 7: William Bradley-King, LB, Baylor (240th OVR); Shaka Toney, DE, Penn State (246th OVR); Dax Milne, WR, BYU (258th OVR)
Washington is a team that had two big needs. Quarterback and left tackle. So what do they do? They bolster one of their strengths with Jamin Davis in the first. I get it, you need to pressure the enemy quarterback, but you also have to protect your own, especially their blindside.
The Football Team did get their tackle in Sam Cosmi, to whom many had given a first-round grade. Cosmi will be a Week 1 starter for the Football Team and could finally solve their issues replacing Trent Williams. Despite finishing as Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 ranked offensive line to end 2020, left tackle was an issue. Cosmi gets them closer to making it a strength.
Third round WR Dyami Brown is an interesting pick. While they have their starters in two-wide sets locked up, Brown could compete for starter reps in three-wide sets. Brown is a deep threat who fits well with Ryan Fitzpatrick’s big-play-or-go-home mindset.
NFC NORTH 2021 NFL DRAFT GRADES
- Round 1: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (11th OVR)
- Round 2: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State (39th OVR)
- Round 5: Larry Borom, OT, Missouri (151st OVR)
- Round 6: Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech (217th OVR); Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina (221st OVR); Thomas Graham, Jr., CB, Oregon (228th OVR)
- Round 7: Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU (250th OVR)
Chicago’s draft is all about Justin Fields. In a year that could spell the last for Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, they went all-in on a quarterback that many believed was the second-best in this class behind Trevor Lawrence. If Fields works out, he could shift the trajectory of the entire franchise in a positive direction.
I am also all-in on Teven Jenkins. I had him going as early as the 20th pick in my mock. While the Bears did not have another pick until round five, they solved their two biggest issues. What’s more, quarterback and left tackle are two of the biggest issues a team can have, especially at one time. Jenkins is a solid pass blocker who excels at run blocking, which bodes well for Chicago’s ground attack.
- Round 1: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (7th OVR)
- Round 2: Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington (41st OVR)
- Round 3: Alim McNeill, DT, North Carolina State (72nd); Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse (101st OVR)
- Round 4: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC (112nd); Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue (113th OVR)
- Round 7: Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State (257th OVR)
The forever rebuilding Lions had needs everywhere. And while they did not get their wide receiver until the fourth round, they got Penei Sewell, a player I did not expect to be there for them. Sewell is a franchise-altering left tackle who will help keep the statuesque Jared Goff upright.
The Lions also spent their second-round pick in the trenches, snagging Levi Onwuzurike, who many viewed as the second-best interior defensive lineman in this class. Dan Campbell is building his team from the inside out.
For Amon-Ra St. Brown, he is a fourth-round value who can see immediate playing time on a Lions’ receiving corps filled with questions. St. Brown has solid size, can run a full route tree, and is deemed an all-around good wideout. Although the Lions added a handful of players at the position in free agency — Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams are the headliners, yikes — St. Brown could emerge as an opening day starter in three-wide formations.
Green Bay Packers: B+
- Round 1: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia (29th OVR)
- Round 2: Josh Myers, C, Ohio State (62nd OVR)
- Round 3: Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson (85th OVR)
- Round 4: Royce Newman, OT, Ole Miss (142nd OVR)
- Round 5: Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida (173rd OVR); Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State (178th OVR)
- Round 6: Cole Van Lanen, OT, Wisconsin (214st OVR); Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College (220nd OVR)
- Round 7: Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State (256th OVR)
In the first round, the Packers reached for Eric Stokes. There were more talented and higher upside corners left on the board, but reports suggest Green Bay really liked him in the pre-draft process. In the second, the Packers drafted C Josh Myers, who is expected to compete for the vacant starting job left by Corey Linsley.
Finally, the Packers did the impossible. Albeit a third-round pick, they got Aaron Rodgers a new weapon. I have seen Amari Rodgers comped to Randall Cobb. They are close in skillset due to their playmaking ability and versatility to line up anywhere. Rodgers has the chance to emerge as the WR2 in Green Bay’s offense and they didn’t spend high capital to get him. Rodgers finally got his new toy in the form of Rodgers.
- Round 1: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech (23rd OVR)
- Round 3: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M (66th OVR); Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina (78th OVR); Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State (86th OVR); Patrick Jones II, DE, Pittsburgh (90th OVR)
- Round 4: Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State (119th OVR); Camryn Bynum, CB, California (125th OVR); Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida State (134th OVR)
- Round 5: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa (157th OVR); Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri (168th OVR)
- Round 6: Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh (199th OVR)
The Vikings found value in Christan Darrisaw, selecting him 23rd overall after trading back. Darrisaw was a projected top 20 pick. Minnesota needed to upgrade their offensive line and did so with the best tackle on the board. Look for Darrisaw to be an immediate starter.
Minnesota did not have another pick until the third round. In fact, the Vikings had four third-round selections. The Vikings know if Kirk Cousins doesn’t get them over the hump this season, they need to look elsewhere, so why not try to develop their future quarterback? b is a project but has a fine teacher in front of him in Cousins.
While Minnesota’s draft was not a flashy one, they addressed many needs, especially in the third and fourth round in which they had a total of seven picks. Overall, their roster is improved, Most notably, depth-wise. We see many teams faceplant because of a lack of depth. That won’t happen to the Vikings this year unless they miss more than they hit on these mid-round selections.
NFC SOUTH 2021 NFL DRAFT GRADES
- Round 1: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (4th OVR)
- Round 2: Richie Grant, S, Central Florida (40th OVR)
- Round 3: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan (68th OVR)
- Round 4: Darren Hall, CB, San Diego State (108th OVR); Drew Dalman, C, Stanford (114th OVR)
- Round 5: Ta’Quon Graham, DT, Texas (148th OVR); Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame (182nd OVR); Avery Williams, CB, Boise State (183rd OVR)
- Round 6: Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State (187th OVR)
The Falcons could have moved the fourth overall pick. However, they stayed out and selected an advertised generation talent at tight end in Kyle Pitts. Adding Pitts to Atlanta’s pass-catching arsenal is dangerous for enemy defensive coordinators. Pick your poison, you can’t stop them all.
Atlanta lost defensive assets in free agency. Notably, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee. They didn’t waste any time filling those needs, drafting Richie Grant, one of the top safeties on the board, in the second round. Grant will be a day one starter on this rebuilding defense. Fourth-round CB Darren Hall should also see snaps in nickel packages.
- Round 1: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (8th OVR)
- Round 2: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU (59th OVR)
- Round 3: Brady Christensen, OT, BYU (70th OVR); Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame (83rd OVR)
- Round 4: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State (126th OVR)
- Round 5: Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa (158th OVR); Keith Taylor, CB, Washington (166th OVR)
- Round 6: Deonte Brown, OG, Alabama (193rd OVR); Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina (204th OVR); Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama (222nd OVR)
- Round 7: Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky (232nd OVR)
The Panthers made some head-scratching moves. After going all-in on defense in last year’s draft, they opened the 2021 selection process with another splash defender, highly touted CB Jaycee Horn. No one saw it coming. Love the player, but I would have gone Rashawn Slater here to beef up Sam Darnold’s protection.
One pick I love was third-round tight end, Tommy Tremble. While he won’t do much as a receiver, the Panthers lost both TE Chris Manhertz and FB Alex Armah in free agency. Both Manhertz and Armah are high-quality blocking assets. Tremble is viewed as a true H-back and can fill both voids for Carolina.
- Round 1: Payton Turner, DE, Houston (28th OVR)
- Round 2: Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State (60th OVR)
- Round 3: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford (76th OVR)
- Round 4: Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame (133rd OVR)
- Round 6: Landon Young, OT, Kentucky (206th OVR)
- Round 7: Kawaan Baker, WR, South Alabama (255th OVR)
Whether they want to admit it or not, the Saints did not have a plan for life without Drew Brees. If they did, they would not have a quarterback battle on their hands. What’s more, the Saints are also in short-term rebuild mode. They moved off of quality players due to severe salary cap constraints.
The Saints’ biggest need was at cornerback due to the departure of Janoris Jenkins and the uncertain future of Marshon Lattimore. Rather than taking a corner in the back of the first, they reached for Payton Turner in a weak class for upside pass rushers. Sure, they had a need, filling in the void left by Trey Hendrickson, but there was more cornerback talent on the board at the time of the Turner pick.
In the second round, the Saints selected LB Pete Werner. I get the logic — Demario Davis is aging and Alex Anzalone is no longer with the club — but again, they could have addressed wide receiver or corner at that spot. The Saints finally selected a cornerback in the third round in Paulson Adebo.
While I am killing the Saints for their logic, their top three picks should see ample playing time in Week 1. Turner will be in the pass rush rotation while Adebo will see time at corner. Meanwhile, Werner could very well be an opening day starter.
- Round 1: Joe Tryon, LB, Washington (32nd OVR)
- Round 2: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida (64th OVR)
- Round 3: Robert Hainsey, OT, Notre Dame (95th OVR)
- Round 4: Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas (129th OVR)
- Round 5: K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn (176th OVR)
- Round 7: Chris Wilcox, CB, BYU (251st OVR); Grant Stuard, LB, Houston (259th OVR)
A team with no needs, the Buccaneers had the ability to do whatever they wanted. Almost, like playing Madden. If there was a semblance of a need, it was on their defensive front. Ndamukong Suh is on the back nine and Jason Pierre-Paul isn’t getting younger in his downright. Joe Tryon is an athletic freak who will be a rotational player from the start but if he pops, they won’t be able to take him off the field amidst an already potent pass rush.
Let’s keep an eye on Kyle Trask. Normally, a franchise wouldn’t spend a second on a quarterback who won’t see the field, but again, Tampa Bay did not have any real needs and could go this direction for the future. Trask, who lacks experience, will have the opportunity to learn behind the best, Tom Brady. If the Buccaneers hit on Trask, they won’t have to worry about a quarterback if/ when Brady finally decides to retire. They also have the opportunity to flip Trask for draft capital if he looks good in future preseason action.
NFC WEST 2021 NFL DRAFT GRADES
Round 1: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa (16th OVR)
Round 2: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (49th OVR)
Round 4: Marco Wilson, CB, Florida (136th OVR)
Round 6: Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke (210th OVR); Tay Gowan, CB, Central Florida (233rd OVR)
Round 7: James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati (243rd OVR); Michal Menet, C, Penn State (247th OVR)
I feel like I like Arizona’s draft more than the consensus. While I believed they’d go with a receiver or a running back in the first round, they took Zaven Collins instead. Collins is uber-athletic and versatile enough with his 270-pound frame to not only rush the quarterback but he can also maintain coverage duties. Collins gives the Cardinals the ability to exploit the hybrid skill set of last year’s first-round pick, Isaiah Simmons.
It didn’t take long for the Cardinals to get their luxury pick, WR Rondale Moore. While they don’t have a gasping need for a wideout, there was a need present. Not only is Larry Fitzgerald likey hanging up his cleats, but we don’t know if A.J. Green can stay healthy or how much he has left in the tank. Moreover, Christian Kirk has flashed but never lived up to the hype while Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson appear to be just guys. If Moore can stay healthy, he will provide Kyler Murray with a legit threat opposite DeAndre Hopkins with his dynamic playmaking upside.
- Round 2: Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville (57th OVR)
- Round 3: Ernest Jones, LB, South Carolina (103rd OVR)
- Round 4: Bobby Brown III, DT, Texas A&M (117th OVR); Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas (130th OVR); Jacob Harris, WR, Central Florida (141st OVR)
- Round 5: Earnest Brown IV, DE, Northwestern (174th OVR)
- Round 7: Jake Funk, FB, Maryland (233rd OVR); Ben Skowronek, WR, Notre Dame (249th OVR); Chris Garrett, LB, Concordia-St. Paul (252nd OVR)
Another draft, another draft in which the Rams don’t have a first-round pick. What’s also similar is the fact that in consecutive seasons, they used the 57th overall pick on a wide receiver (Van Jefferson, 2020). Tutu Atwell is a questionable pick, especially considering they have needs elsewhere plus the aforementioned capital spent on Jefferson a year ago.
While he is only 155-pounds, Atwell could be more of a gadget-type player in Sean McVay’s offense, making an impact with sporadic and situational usage.
Despite losing two starting players in their elite secondary from last season, there Rams waited until the fourth round to address the need with CB Robert Rochell. Soon thereafter in the fourth, the Rams added yet another wideout, Jacob Harris.
I don’t understand Les Snead’s logic. While he fields a team that is perennially competitive, I do question how he values the draft.
- Round 1: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (3rd OVR)
- Round 2: Aaron Banks, OG, Notre Dame (48th OVR)
- Round 3: Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State (88th OVR); Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan (102nd OVR)
- Round 5: Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan (155th OVR); Deommodore Lenior, CB, Oregon (172nd OVR); Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC (180th OVR)
- Round 6: Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana (194th OVR)
The 49ers went all-in on their quarterback of the future. So did Kyle Shanahan. The chick? Trey Lance. While Mac Jones did not have the ceiling, for me, he was the win-now guy for this club. However, it is not because I don’t believe in Lance. He is just raw, which is why he sits behind Jimmy Garoppolo until the proverbial wheels fall off of the oft-injured signal-caller. If the 49ers ultimately hit on Lance, the 49ers will be a perennial force as long as Shannahan is roaming the sidelines.
Protecting the new franchise quarterback seems to be the trend in this draft. San Francisco was no different, following up their Lance pick with OG Aaron Banks out of Notre Dame. Look for Banks to immediately compete with Justin Skule for one of the starting guard spots. To proud out day two, the 49ers took RB Trey Sermon and CB Ambry Thomas.
Although another back is not a need, the 49ers have suffered injuries at the position, forcing them to call up practice squad bodies. However, Sermon has the upside to take control of this backfield by midseason. The Thomas pick was a must-have. It looks like the 49ers won’t re-sign Richard Sherman and need to replenish the cornerback position, especially with the oft-injured Jason Verrett in line to start.
- Round 2: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan (56th OVR)
- Round 4: Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma (137th OVR)
- Round 6: Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida (208th OVR)
The Seahawks had the fewest picks in the NFL this year. Their main priorities were adding another receiver to Russell Wilson’s arsenal and depth at cornerback. D’Wayne Eskridge has a shot to earn a spot in three-wide sets in the wake of the David Moore loss and Tre Brown will provide depth at corner as the Seahawks could add a veteran lingering on the open market.