The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is in the books and tonight begins the second and third rounds. Plenty of talent is left on the board and perhaps teams could move up to grab one of the first round talents that slipped to round two.
With every draft comes evaluations of just how did these teams do. Here we’re going to take a crack at a draft grade for each and every pick of the first round. Players will be graded on a A-F scale with some entail into exactly why.
|Draft Grade||Grade Meaning|
Good fit or good value
Solid fit or solid value
Questionable fit or questionable value
Bad fit or bad value
1) Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson (A)
Lawrence was a no-brainer here for the Jaguars. Needing a QB and grabbing one with the physical tools to go along with the arm talent that Lawrence brings is a good match. Jaguars got their guy.
2) New York Jets - Zach Wilson QB BYU (A)
Personally, I had Justin Fields and Zach Wilson pretty close on the board. Wilson is a playmaker with very good arm talent. If the Jets surround him with the right pieces to succeed this will workout.
3) San Francisco 49ers (from HOU through MIA) - Trey Lance QB North Dakota State (B)
In terms of athleticism and dual-threat ability Lance is ready day one. Noted as a very smart player, so learning the playbook from a good head coach shouldn’t be a problem. He hasn’t played in over a year and may sit even longer. Is that the kind of player you trade up for? We’ll see.
4) Atlanta Falcons - Kyle Pitts TE Florida (A)
One of the better tight end prospects you or I have ever seen. A wide receiver skill set with a tight end build should be a matchup problem from day one.
5) Cincinnati Bengals - Ja’Marr Chase WR LSU (B)
I wanted to grade this pick a little worse for the fact that the Bengals passed up on the two top tackles. After their quarterback was crushed all year last year and eventually it became season ending, Cincinnati still didn’t pick a top tackle. Chase is a very good receiver prospect and upgrades the offense immediately and can make the home run play.
6) Miami Dolphins (from PHI) - Jaylen Waddle WR Alabama (A)
Waddle may be the closest thing to that Tyreek Hill kind of player that every team wants in this draft. Dangerous with the ball in his hands. Teams need to do everything they can for their young quarterbacks to succeed and Miami took a good step in that direction.
7) Detroit Lions - Penei Sewell OT Oregon (A)
Lions will start him out at right tackle, which should be easy for him. A future pro-bowler on either side of the line that will play just fine day one. Easy pick.
8) Carolina Panthers - Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina (B)
Horn is a very good corner prospect that will start day one for the Panthers and should be solid. Felt the Panthers could have taken the better corner in Surtain here, or some offensive help for Sam Darnold.
9) Denver Broncos - Patrick Surtain CB Alabama (B)
Going Justin Fields here made a lot of sense. Instead, Broncos grabbed a player that should immediately upgrade their defense. Lockdown potentially eventually.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (from DAL) - Devonta Smith WR Alabama (B)
The Eagles moved all around the early part of this draft, eventually taking a wideout that can do a little bit of everything. I, like many others, have concerns of Smith’s weight. If he can hold up this pick works out just fine.
11) Chicago Bears (from NYG) - Justin Fields QB Ohio State (A)
Great value here adding Fields out of the top ten. The hope is that the Bears put him in a place to succeed. Sitting half of a season (at least) and learning should help.
12) Dallas Cowboys (from Philly) - Micah Parsons LB (C)
Parsons was not draft-able in the first round for me off of pure character concerns. Cowboys have drafted heavy at the linebacker position lately and you figured they would switch it up.....
13) Los Angeles Chargers - Rashawn Slater OT Northwestern (A)
Grab a tackle to protect your franchise behind center. Easy pick and easy execution.
14) New York Jets (from MIN) - G/T Alijah Vera-Tucker USC (B)
I was not as high on Vera-Tucker as some, I thought you possibly could have gotten him later. But, he will provide protection for your rookie quarterback right off the bat. Which, is quite vital.
15) New England Patriots - Mac Jones QB Alabama (C)
Seen Mac Jones as a round-two talent. Patriots reached out of need it seems. It may workout with their coaching, only time can tell.
16) Arizona Cardinals - Zaven Collins LB Tulsa (C)
Last year the Cardinals drafted Isaiah Simmons, a player they didn’t really know where he would play. This year they did the same by drafting a 270 LB linebacker.
17) Las Vegas Raiders - Alex Leatherwood OT (D)
Raiders simply could have gotten better value here. Leatherwood has played a lot of football, but there have been some key inconsistencies. A player they possibly could have grabbed in the second-round.
18) Miami Dolphins - Jaelen Phillips DE Miami (B)
Phillips without any health concerns is a sure fire top-10 pick in any draft. If he can stay on the field he is going to produce.
19) Washington Football Team - Jamin Davis LB Kentucky (B)
Davis should be a tackling machine for WFT. Maybe just a little early for him, it should workout though.
20) New York Giants (from CHI) - Kadarius Toney WR Florida (C)
There were better options here, a decent reach. Toney should be a playmaker for the Giants. I would have traded back if I was them, though.
21) Indianapolis Colts - Kwity Paye DE Michigan (A)
Thought Paye could go a bit earlier, so I like the value here a lot. Their defense lost a little bit, but he makes a good defense even better.
22) Tennessee Titans - Caleb Farley CB Virginia Tech (C)
It is simple here, Farley is a reach until he’s proven healthy. Rumors that he could need another surgery is kind of scary. The talent is there if he can stay on the field.
23) Minnesota Vikings (from NYJ) - Christian Darrisaw (A)
Trading back and still getting your guy is a general managers dream and it actually happens a decent amount of the time. I like Darrisaw as a prospect and he should excel in Minnesota.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers - Najee Harris RB Alabama (B)
I think the Steelers should have fixed their offensive line before drafting a running back. But, here is James Conner’s replacement.
25) Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR) - Travis Etienne RB Clemson (D)
Meyer tried to explain himself after the pick and it still didn’t make sense. He called Etienne their third-down back. Since when does a third-down back go in early rounds? Big reach here, though he’s a good player, you could have gotten him later.
26) Cleveland Browns - Greg Newsome CB Northwestern (A)
Browns filled a need to give some security on the outside at the corner position. Only 20 years old and will improve a ton.
27) Baltimore Ravens - Rashod Bateman WR Minnesota (A)
Big fan of this pick for the Ravens. To me, Bateman was arguably a top three wideout in this draft and he may end up just that. On-going concerns of Lamar Jackson as a pocket passer, Bateman should help him quite a bit.
28) New Orleans Saints - Payton Turner DE Houston (C)
Turner was a late riser in the draft process because he does everything right. A high-motor player often works out and he should. Maybe, could have gotten him later.
29) Green Bay Packers - Eric Stokes CB Georgia (D)
Stokes possibly wasn’t even the top corner option from his college team. Packers had other areas they could have addressed.
30) Buffalo Bills - Greg Rousseau DE Miami (A)
Rousseau didn’t test well and it hurt him. Took a year off, but when he was on the field he was a force. Bills have a solid defensive line and he only makes it better. Good value.
31) Baltimore Ravens (from KC) - Jayson Oweh DE Penn State (B)
Slight reach here on a player that could have been had later. Fills a need for them though and his best football is ahead of him.
32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Joe Tryon DE Washington (B)
The super bowl champions brought everyone back and grabbed a nice pass rusher to end the first round. Tryon has some things to work on, but he should rotate in fine in his rookie year.