We made it. All the months of hype and speculation led to this. The 2021 NFL draft is officially in the books, and the ripple effects from the past few days could define the league for years to come.
Which teams could see the biggest immediate impacts from this rookie class? Which teams best positioned themselves for the future? And which teams could be kicking themselves when all is said and done?
Without further ado, here are the complete team grades for the 2021 draft. For my first-round-specific grades, check out The Ringer’s NFL draft guide.
LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa (Round 1, Pick 16)
WR Rondale Moore, Purdue (Round 2, Pick 49)
CB Marco Wilson, Florida (Round 4, Pick 136)
EDGE Victor Dimukeje, Duke (Round 6, Pick 210)
CB Tay Gowan, UCF (Round 6, Pick 223)
S James Wiggins, Cincinnati (Round 7, Pick 243)
C Michal Menet, Penn State (Round 7, Pick 247)
The Cardinals made one of the most intriguing picks of the first round when they grabbed Collins at no. 16. The former Tulsa star combines throwback size―he reportedly weighed 270 pounds at combine medical checks―with a new-school skill set, as he has the ability to cover and rush the passer. He’ll man the middle of Arizona’s defense alongside the team’s top 2020 draft pick, Isaiah Simmons, giving the Cardinals what could be the most versatile linebacker duo in the NFL.
In the second round, Arizona took Moore, who will provide quarterback Kyler Murray with another electric pass-catching target. Given that Moore stands just 5-foot-7, my big question is whether he can be a field-stretching deep threat―something this offense desperately needs―or whether he’ll be more of a gadget player who’s used on screens and sweeps near the line of scrimmage. After missing most of the past two seasons to injury, Moore also needs to prove that he can stay healthy.
TE Kyle Pitts, Florida (Round 1, Pick 4)
S Richie Grant, UCF (Round 2, Pick 40)
OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan (Round 3, Pick 68)
CB Darren Hall, San Diego State (Round 4, Pick 108)
C Drew Dalman, Stanford (Round 4, Pick 114)
DT Ta’Quon Graham, Texas (Round 5, Pick 148)
DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame (Round 5, Pick 182)
CB Avery Williams, Boise State (Round 5, Pick 183)
WR Frank Darby, Arizona State (Round 6, Pick 187)
The Falcons effectively bolstered soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback Matt Ryan’s supporting cast, especially with their first pick. Pitts is the crown jewel of Atlanta’s haul: He’s probably the most talented non-quarterback in this draft, and the athletic playmaker with rare pass-catching talent will team up with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to give this offense one of the league’s most frightening skill-position groups. Adding Mayfield in the third round and Dalman in the fourth also gives Atlanta a whole lot more depth on the offensive line. The Falcons are betting on Ryan―their draft sends a clear message that 2021 won’t be a rebuild; they’re looking to contend.
WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota (Round 1, Pick 27)
EDGE Jayson Oweh, Penn State (Round 1, Pick 31)
OG Ben Cleveland, Georgia (Round 3, Pick 94)
CB Brandon Stephens, SMU (Round 3, Pick 104)
WR Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State (Round 4, Pick 131)
CB Shaun Wade, Ohio State (Round 5, Pick 160)
EDGE Daelin Hayes, Notre Dame (Round 5, Pick 171)
FB Ben Mason, Michigan (Round 5, Pick 184)
The Ravens had a characteristically solid draft on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they brought in one of the most intriguing prospects in this entire class: Oweh posted underwhelming production in college, but he brings elite athletic traits to develop in the pros. I trust the Ravens to coach him up and cultivate his potential.
Offensively, Baltimore did exactly what it needed to do, surrounding Lamar Jackson with some much-needed pass-catching talent. Bateman is a long, athletic, and skilled wideout who could emerge as a true no. 1-type receiver; if he does, that would allow Marquise Brown to shift to a more logical no. 2 role. Grabbing Wallace in the fourth round looks like a great value too, as he adds a big-play, contested-catch specialist to Jackson’s receiving corps. Factor in Cleveland, who looks like the Mountain from Game of Thrones, and I like what Baltimore has done.
EDGE Gregory Rousseau, Miami (Round 1, Pick 30)
EDGE Carlos Basham, Wake Forest (Round 2, Pick 61)
OT Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa (Round 3, Pick 93)
OT Tommy Doyle, Miami (Ohio) (Round 5, Pick 161)
WR Marquez Stevenson, Houston (Round 6, Pick 203)
S Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh (Round 6, Pick 212)
CB Rachad Wildgoose, Wisconsin (Round 6, Pick 213)
G Jack Anderson, Texas Tech (Round 7, Pick 236)
The Bills got a whole lot tougher in the trenches by grabbing a pair of high-upside power rushers with their first two picks. I like that they’re adding some youth to an aging pass-rush group, and Rousseau and Bahsam both offer intriguing upside and should contribute in rotational roles immediately. On the offensive line, Brown and Doyle are exciting developmental tackles who have length, athleticism, and the potential to start down the line. While Buffalo’s draft wasn’t flashy, it improved the team’s roster heading into the 2021 campaign.
CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina (Round 1, Pick 8)
WR Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU (Round 2, Pick 59)
OT Brady Christensen, BYU (Round 3, Pick 70)
TE Tommy Tremble, CAR (Round 3, Pick 83)
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (Round 4, Pick 126)
DT Daviyon Nixon, Iowa (Round 5, Pick 158)
CB Keith Taylor, Washington (Round 5, Pick 166)
G Deonte Brown, Alabama (Round 6, Pick 193)
WR Shi Smith, South Carolina (Round 6, Pick 204)
LS Thomas Fletcher, Alabama (Round 6, Pick 222)
DT Phil Hoskins, Kentucky (Round 7, Pick 232)
Committing to Sam Darnold for the immediate future instead of picking Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at no. 8 could end up looking like a mistake for the Panthers in retrospect. That’s the only thing keeping me from giving this haul an A. Nevertheless, I think Carolina came out of this weekend with a handful of great players. Horn is a day-one starter with a feisty attitude and lockdown skills. Marshall is a first-round talent with the upside to develop into a star, and could thrive after being reunited with former LSU offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Christensen and Tremble should help Darnold out from the jump. And I approve of the Panthers picking Nixon (the 39th-ranked player on my board) in the fifth round and Brown (the 73rd-ranked player on my board) in the sixth. All in all, this has the makings of a strong first draft for general manager Scott Fitterer.
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State (Round 1, Pick 11)
OT Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State (Round 2, Pick 39)
OT Larry Borom, Missouri (Round 5, Pick 151)
RB Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech (Round 6, Pick 217)
WR Dazz Newsome, North Carolina (Round 6, Pick 221)
CB Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon (Round 6, Pick 228)
DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU (Round 7, Pick 250)
The Bears went with quality over quantity, trading up twice over the draft’s first two days to nab a pair of instant-impact players in Fields and Jenkins. Fields has the potential to change the entire trajectory of the franchise, as his abilities as a dual-threat passer make him well worth the cost Chicago paid to move up and take him. And despite the Bears saying Andy Dalton remains their starter heading into the season, I expect that Fields will get the keys to the offense sooner rather than later. Jenkins, meanwhile, is a physical and feisty right tackle who brings first-round talent to this offensive line. The arrow is pointing up in Chicago.
WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (Round 1, Pick 5)
OT Jackson Carman, Clemson (Round 2, Pick 46)
EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas (Round 3, Pick 69)
EDGE Cameron Sample, Tulane (Round 4, Pick 111)
DT Tyler Shelvin, LSU (Round 4, Pick 122)
OT D’Ante Smith, East Carolina (Round 4, Pick 139)
K Evan McPherson, Florida (Round 5, Pick 149)
C Trey Hill, Georgia (Round 6, Pick 190)
RB Chris Evans, Michigan (Round 6, Pick 202)
DE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State (Round 7, Pick 235)
The Bengals’ decision to go with Chase over Penei Sewell at no. 5 was controversial, and I probably would have taken the foundational offensive tackle instead of this draft’s top wide receiver. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love Chase, who could put up massive numbers after being reunited with his former college quarterback Joe Burrow. And Cincinnati did address its offensive line needs by taking Carman in the second round, Smith in the fourth, and Hill in the sixth. They should give Burrow a little more time to operate than he had during the 2020 season.
CB Greg Newsome III, Northwestern (Round 1, Pick 26)
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame (Round 2, Pick 52)
WR Anthony Schwartz, Auburn (Round 3, Pick 91)
OT James Hudson, Cincinnati (Round 4, Pick 110)
DT Tommy Togiai, Ohio State (Round 4, Pick 132)
LB Tony Fields II, West Virginia (Round 5, Pick 153)
S Richard LeCounte III, Georgia (Round 5, Pick 169)
RB Demetric Felton, UCLA (Round 6, Pick 211)
The Browns had an exciting draft, particularly given their unfamiliarity picking so late in each round. They grabbed talented cover man Newsome (the 29th-ranked player on my board) in the first round before selecting spark-plug playmaker Owusu-Koramoah (the ninth-ranked player on my board) in the second. The latter represents incredible value, and both offer day-one starting potential. I’m also a fan of Schwartz, who has world-class speed. He could be a field stretcher and gadget player in head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense―with the upside to develop into something more.
LB Micah Parsons, Penn State (Round 1, Pick 12)
CB Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky (Round 2, Pick 44)
DT Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA (Round 3, Pick 75)
EDGE Chauncey Golston, Iowa (Round 3, Pick 84)
CB Nahshon Wright, Oregon State (Round 3, Pick 99)
LB Jabril Cox, LSU (Round 4, Pick 115)
OT Josh Ball, Marshall (Round 4, Pick 138)
WR Simi Fehoko, Stanford (Round 5, Pick 179)
DT Quinton Bohanna, Kentucky (Round 6, Pick 192)
CB Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina (Round 6, Pick 227)
G Matt Farniok, Nebraska (Round 7, Pick 238)
The Cowboys took a defense-first approach to this draft, and were able to land Parsons even after trading back in the first round. But many of their picks come with concerning background issues. Parsons was named in a federal lawsuit about a hazing incident at Penn State; Joseph transferred away from LSU after being suspended for a violation of team rules; and Josh Ball was dismissed at Florida State after his ex-girlfriend said he was a “violent person” and described multiple accounts of domestic violence.
CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama (Round 1, Pick 9)
RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina (Round 2, Pick 35)
OG Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater (Round 3, Pick 98)
LB Baron Browning, Ohio State (Round 3, Pick 105)
S Caden Sterns, Texas (Round 5, Pick 152)
S Jamar Johnson, Indiana (Round 5, Pick 164)
WR Seth Williams, Auburn (Round 6, Pick 219)
CB Kary Vincent Jr., LSU (Round 6, Pick 237)
DE Jonathon Cooper, Ohio State (Round 7, Pick 239)
DE Marquiss Spencer, Mississippi State (Round 7, Pick 253)
If the Broncos somehow figure out a way to finagle a trade with the Packers for Aaron Rodgers, this draft grade will suddenly look a lot different. But as of now, I find it hard to believe that Denver passed on the chance to take Justin Fields with the no. 9 pick. Surtain is supremely talented, but sticking with the quarterback combination of Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater is uninspiring. Then the Broncos traded up in the second round just to pick a running back. This doesn’t look like a team that’s especially close to pushing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for AFC West supremacy.
OT Penei Sewell, Oregon (Round 1, Pick 7)
DT Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (Round 2, Pick 41)
DT Alim McNeill, NC State (Round 3, Pick 72)
CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse (Round 3, Pick 101)
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC (Round 4, Pick 112)
LB Derrick Barnes, Purdue (Round 4, Pick 113)
RB Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State (Round 7, Pick 257)
The Lions put together the most on-brand, build-through-the-trenches type of draft imaginable. This group has big bite-your-kneecaps energy: Sewell is a dominant tackle who plays with a glass-eater mentality; Onwuzurike and McNeill are both brawling interior defensive linemen; Melifonwu has elite size; and Barnes is an athletic and rangy hitter at linebacker. Oh, and St. Brown is a tough, physical slot receiver who bullies defensive backs in the red zone. New head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes laid a solid foundation with their first draft.
Green Bay Packers
CB Eric Stokes, Georgia (Round 1, Pick 29)
C Josh Myers, Ohio State (Round 2, Pick 62)
WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson (Round 3, Pick 85)
G Royce Newman, Ole Miss (Round 4, Pick 142)
DT Tedarrell Slaton, Florida (Round 5, Pick 173)
CB Shemar Jean-Charles, Appalachian State (Round 5, Pick 178)
G Cole Van Lanen, Wisconsin (Round 6, Pick 214)
LB Isaiah McDuffie, Boston College (Round 6, Pick 220)
RB Kylin Hill, Mississippi State (Round 7, Pick 256)
Reports that Aaron Rodgers wants out of Green Bay hung like a dark cloud over the team all weekend, but overall I thought the Packers did a nice job in this draft. Stokes should start for this defense, and Myers replaces Corey Linsley at center. Amari Rodgers is a Randall Cobb-like pass catcher who can line up all over the formation and make plays, giving the team some much-needed depth at receiver.
QB Davis Mills, Stanford (Round 3, Pick 67)
WR Nico Collins, Michigan (Round 3, Pick 89)
TE Brevin Jordan, Miami (Round 5, Pick 147)
LB Garrett Wallow, TCU (Round 5, Pick 170)
DT Roy Lopez, Arizona (Round 6, Pick 195)
Mills is a developmental prospect with the tools to surprise some people in the pros; with Deshaun Watson’s future in limbo, the Stanford quarterback has an outside shot to become the Texans’ starter. Collins and Jordan also both offer intriguing traits and could become valuable pieces of this offense. Still, there doesn’t appear to be a day-one impact player in this class, as Houston didn’t have a pick before the third round. Their grade reflects that.
EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan (Round 1, Pick 21)
DE Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt (Round 2, Pick 54)
TE Kylen Granson, SMU (Round 4, Pick 127)
S Shawn Davis, Florida (Round 5, Pick 165)
QB Sam Ehlinger, Texas (Round 6, Pick 218)
WR Mike Strachan, Charleston (Round 7, Pick 229)
G Will Fries, Penn State (Round 7, Pick 248)
The Colts added a day-one impact rusher in Paye, who has prototypical size and athleticism. They also could get long-term value in Odeyingbo, who has major upside but is likely to miss his rookie season after going down with a torn Achilles in January. This Indianapolis haul won’t make many national headlines, but it could prove effective. Paye and Odeyingbo both add toughness and physicality to an already talented defensive line.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (Round 1, Pick 1)
RB Travis Etienne, Clemson (Round 1, Pick 25)
CB Tyson Campbell, Georgia (Round 2, Pick 33)
OT Walker Little, Stanford (Round 2, Pick 45)
S Andre Cisco, Syracuse (Round 3, Pick 65)
DT Jay Tufele, USC (Round 4, Pick 106)
EDGE Jordan Smith, UAB (Round 4, Pick 121)
TE Luke Farrell, Ohio State (Round 5, Pick 145)
WR Jalen Camp, Georgia Tech (Round 6, Pick 209)
I didn’t love the value Jacksonville got by selecting a running back with the 25th overall pick, but I still thought the Jags came away with an excellent group of players this weekend. The Lawrence selection carries most of the weight in this grade, but the team added future starters on all three days of the event. Campbell bolsters the cornerback group, with excellent length and high-end athleticism. Little is a former five-star recruit with an exciting blend of size and power. Cisco offers length, speed, and an aggressive mindset at the safety position. And Tufele distinguishes himself with his first-step burst and strong motor.
Kansas City Chiefs
LB Nick Bolton, Missouri (Round 2, Pick 58)
C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma (Round 2, Pick 63)
EDGE Joshua Kaindoh, Florida State (Round 4, Pick 144)
TE Noah Gray, Duke (Round 5, Pick 162)
WR Cornell Powell, Clemson (Round 5, Pick 181)
G Trey Smith, Tennessee (Round 6, Pick 226)
If we account for the addition of offensive tackle Orlando Brown―as Kansas City acquired him from the Ravens in exchange for its 2021 first-round pick―then this draft class looks outstanding. But it’s a quality group even if we don’t. Bolton brings great instincts and an aggressive style to the linebacking corps; Humphrey could be a day-one starter at center; Kaindoh is a long, athletic edge rusher; and both Gray and Powell profile as valuable role players. Then there’s Smith, the sixth-round pick. He has big upside, but fell in part because of concerns around prior issues with blood clots. There’s a chance he goes down as one of the steals of this draft.
Las Vegas Raiders
OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (Round 1, Pick 17)
S Trevon Moehrig, TCU (Round 2, Pick 43)
LB Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo (Round 3, Pick 79)
S Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech (Round 3, Pick 80)
S Tyree Gillespie, Missouri (Round 4, Pick 143)
CB Nate Hobbs, Missouri (Round 5, Pick 167)
C Jimmy Morrissey, Pittsburgh (Round 7, Pick 230)
The Leatherwood pick felt like a reach. The Moehrig pick was excellent value. We’ll call that a wash, as both players should start for the Raiders as rookies. Meanwhile, Koonce and Deablo offer depth for this season and the potential to emerge as something more down the line. Add it all up, and this was a solid if unspectacular weekend for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock.
Los Angeles Chargers
OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern (Round 1, Pick 13)
CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State (Round 2, Pick 47)
WR Josh Palmer, Tennessee (Round 3, Pick 77)
TE Tre’ McKitty, Georgia (Round 3, Pick 97)
LB Chris Rumph II (Round 4, Pick 118)
OT Brenden Jaimes, Nebraska (Round 5, Pick 159)
LB Nick Niemann, Iowa (Round 6, Pick 185)
RB Larry Rountree III, Missouri (Round 6, Pick 198)
S Mark Webb, Georgia (Round 7, Pick 241)
I love what the Chargers did this weekend, especially in the early rounds. Los Angeles nabbed its long-term solution at left tackle, offering reliable protection for second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, and added depth and playmaking talent to an already strong defensive backs group. Plus, I really like Palmer, who offers big-play potential and has the skill set to be the eventual replacement for Mike Williams, who will play this season on his fifth-year option.
Los Angeles Rams
WR Tutu Atwell, Louisville (Round 2, Pick 57)
LB Ernest Jones, South Carolina (Round 3, Pick 103)
DT Bobby Brown III, Texas A&M (Round 4, Pick 117)
CB Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas (Round 4, Pick 130)
TE/WR Jacob Harris, UCF (Round 4, Pick 141)
EDGE Earnest Brown IV, Northwestern (Round 5, Pick 174)
RB Jake Funk, Maryland (Round 7, Pick 233)
WR Ben Skowronek, Notre Dame (Round 7, Pick 249)
EDGE Chris Garrett, Concordia-St. Paul (Round 7, Pick 252)
The Rams wanted to add speed to their offense in this draft, and they did just that by taking Atwell. The Louisville star is extremely undersized at 155 pounds, but he has elite acceleration and blazing speed in the open field. He should be a factor on sweeps, screens, and downfield bombs, but his struggles as a blocker could limit his utility in head coach Sean McVay’s offense. Among L.A.’s later picks, Jones, Brown, and Rochell could all play situational or rotational roles in 2021, and I’m intrigued to see what the team can get out of Harris, a hybrid pass-catcher with rare athletic traits.
WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (Round 1, Pick 6)
EDGE Jaelen Phillips, Miami (Round 1, Pick 18)
S Jevon Holland, Oregon (Round 2, Pick 36)
OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame (Round 2, Pick 42)
TE Hunter Long, Boston College (Round 3, Pick 81)
OT Larnel Coleman, Massachusetts (Round 7, Pick 231)
RB Gerrid Doaks, Cincinnati (Round 7, Pick 244)
The Dolphins added two impact players in the first round, as both Waddle and Phillips have Pro Bowl upside and should be starters from the moment they join the team. Holland is an interesting addition too, as his versatility could allow him to wear a number of hats in head coach Brian Flores’s defense. Eichenberg has the size and footwork skills to man the team’s right tackle spot, and Long could be a valuable part of Miami’s future. He complements Mike Gesicki at tight end in the short term, and brings the tools to become Gesicki’s eventual replacement in the long run.
OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech (Round 1, Pick 23)
QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (Round 2, Pick 66)
LB Chazz Surratt, North Carolina (Round 3, Pick 78)
G Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (Round 3, Pick 86)
EDGE Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh (Round 3, Pick 90)
RB Kene Nwangwu, Iowa State (Round 4, Pick 119)
CB Camryn Bynum, Cal (Round 4, Pick 125)
EDGE Janarius Robinson, Florida State (Round 4, Pick 134)
WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa (Round 5, Pick 157)
TE Zach Davidson, Central Missouri (Round 5, Pick 168)
DT Jaylen Twyman, Pittsburgh (Round 6, Pick 199)
I like that the Vikings were able to trade back in the first round and still take Darrisaw, one of the top-ranked tackles on my board. I also like their Surratt pick, as he’s an ascending playmaker who’s new to the linebacker position but has already shown excellent instincts. Davis has the potential to be a starter at guard, and players like Nwangwu, Smith-Marsette, and Davidson could surprise in this offense because of their high-end athletic traits.
Then, of course, there’s Mond. He offers an intriguing skill set, and could be groomed as Minnesota’s quarterback of the future. Kirk Cousins’s performance this season will be under close scrutiny.
New England Patriots
QB Mac Jones, Alabama (Round 1, Pick 15)
DT Christian Barmore, Alabama (Round 2, Pick 38)
EDGE Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma (Round 3, Pick 96)
RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma (Round 4, Pick 120)
LB Cameron McGrone, Michigan (Round 5, Pick 177)
S Joshuah Bledsoe, Missouri (Round 6, Pick 188)
OT Will Sherman, Colorado (Round 6, Pick 197)
WR Tre Nixon, UCF (Round 7, Pick 242)
I’d be more excited about the Patriots’ draft if they had traded up to take Justin Fields instead of waiting for Jones to fall into their laps at no. 15. Yet while the Alabama quarterback doesn’t match Fields’s potential, he’s a great fit for this offense who instantly raises this team’s offensive ceiling.
Later, the Pats moved up in the second round to take a first-round-caliber talent in Barmore. And they grabbed a few intriguing playmakers on day three: Perkins provides some juice off the edge, and Stevenson―his former college teammate―should play a rotational role as a rookie.
New Orleans Saints
EDGE Payton Turner, Houston (Round 1, Pick 28)
LB Pete Werner, Ohio State (Round 2, Pick 60)
CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford (Round 3, Pick 76)
QB Ian Book, Notre Dame (Round 4, Pick 133)
OT Landon Young, Kentucky (Round 6, Pick 206)
WR Kawaan Baker, South Alabama (Round 7, Pick 255)
Turner was a surprise first-rounder and the 53rd-ranked player on my board, but I like his upside, and the Saints have a history of betting big on athletic talent. I also like the Adebo pick, as he has length, ball skills, and a natural knack for anticipating routes. Outside of those two, though, I’m finding it tough to get excited about this New Orleans group.
New York Giants
WR Kadarius Toney, Florida (Round 1, Pick 20)
EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia (Round 2, Pick 50)
CB Aaron Robinson, UCF (Round 3, Pick 71)
EDGE Elerson Smith, Northern Iowa (Round 4, Pick 116)
RB Gary Brightwell, Arizona (Round 6, Pick 196)
CB Rodarius Williams, Oklahoma State (Round 6, Pick 201)
I didn’t love the Toney pick in the first round―he’s a raw route runner who freelances too often and may need some time to adapt to the NFL―but there’s no doubt he brings a dynamic playmaking element to this offense that no other Giants receiver can. The team’s next two selections, Ojulari and Robinson, were both home-run picks; Ojulari was the 16th-ranked player on my board, and fell to the second round largely because of concerns over knee and ankle injuries. Add in that GM Dave Gettleman finally traded back, and all in all this was a great weekend for the Giants.
New York Jets
QB Zach Wilson, BYU (Round 1, Pick 2)
OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC (Round 1, Pick 14)
WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss (Round 2, Pick 34)
RB Michael Carter, North Carolina (Round 4, Pick 107)
S Jamien Sherwood, Auburn (Round 5, Pick 146)
CB Michael Carter II, Duke (Round 5, Pick 154)
CB Jason Pinnock, Pittsburgh (Round 5, Pick 175)
S Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State (Round 6, Pick 186)
CB Brandin Echols, Kentucky (Round 6, Pick 200)
DT Jonathan Marshall, Arkansas (Round 7, Pick 207)
It’s hard to not like what the Jets did this weekend. Wilson has a dynamic skill set that both raises the floor for this team’s offense in 2021 and gives that unit the chance to reach an elite level in the future. Vera-Tucker is a plug-and-play guard who can line up next to Mekhi Becton and solidify the left side of the line. Moore is one of my absolute favorite players in this class, a receiver with sure hands, high-end athleticism, and natural instincts after the catch. And Carter represents great value in the fifth round, as he’s an elusive back with jitterbug quickness. New York has its quarterback of the future―and the makings of a strong offensive nucleus to surround him.
WR Devonta Smith, Alabama (Round 1, Pick 10)
OL Landon Dickerson, Alabama (Round 2, Pick 37)
DT Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech (Round 3, Pick 73)
CB Zech McPhearson, Texas Tech (Round 4, Pick 123)
RB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis (Round 5, Pick 150)
DT Marlon Tuipulotu, USC (Round 6, Pick 189)
EDGE Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina (Round 6, Pick 191)
S JaCoby Stevens, LSU (Round 6, Pick 224)
EDGE Patrick Johnson, Tulane (Round 7, Pick 234)
The Eagles sent Dallas a third-round pick to move up two spots in the first round and select Smith, but that seems worth it: They come away with a big-time playmaker and the no. 1 receiver for their offense. Philly doubled down on Alabama players by nabbing Dickerson, who should bolster the interior of their line right away. I’m intrigued by Gainwell, as the fifth-round pick could complement Miles Sanders and become a pass-catching threat in space. And on defense, the Eagles did well by nabbing Williams and Tuipulotu. The former has the tools to emerge as a subpackage rusher early in his career.
RB Najee Harris, Alabama (Round 1, Pick 24)
TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State (Round 2, Pick 55)
G Kendrick Green, Illinois (Round 3, Pick 87)
OT Dan Moore Jr., Texas A&M (Round 4, Pick 128)
LB Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M (Round 4, Pick 140)
EDGE Isaiahh Loudermilk, Wisconsin (Round 5, Pick 156)
EDGE Quincy Roche, Miami (Round 6, Pick 216)
CB Tre Norwood, Oklahoma (Round 7, Pick 245)
P Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech (Round 7, Pick 254)
The Steelers are clearly looking to maximize the last season (or two?) of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, as both Harris and Freiermuth should be able to contribute immediately. But Pittsburgh’s decision to take a running back and tight end with its top two picks seems less than ideal as a long-term strategy for a roster that has several pressing needs. I did like the team’s addition of Roche in the sixth round, though; he could bring value as a rotational player on the defensive line.
San Francisco 49ers
QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State (Round 1, Pick 3)
G Aaron Banks, Notre Dame (Round 2, Pick 48)
RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State (Round 3, Pick 88)
CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan (Round 3, Pick 102)
OT Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan (Round 5, Pick 155)
CB Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon (Round 5, Pick 172)
S Talanoa Hufanga, USC (Round 5, Pick 180)
RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana-Lafayette (Round 6, Pick 194)
The 49ers’ decision to take Lance at no. 3 makes a hell of a lot more sense than going with Mac Jones would have. Still, the North Dakota State star brings plenty of risk, as he lacks experience against top-level competition. While he may need time to adapt to the speed of the NFL, he offers huge upside in both the passing and running games. By subsequently picking Banks, Sermon, Moore, and Mitchell, San Francisco furthered its clear commitment to the ground-and-pound lifestyle. I like what the Niners did.
WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan (Round 2, Pick 56)
CB Tre Brown, Oklahoma (Round 4, Pick 137)
OT Stone Forsythe, Florida (Round 6, Pick 208)
The Seahawks came into this draft with just three selections, so it was always going to be tough for them to win the weekend. But I think they did just fine. Their first pick, Eskridge, is a late-breakout prospect who jumped into the second round after dominating MAC competition and impressing scouts at the Senior Bowl. He’s exactly the type of playmaker the Seattle offense is missing, as he has scintillating run-after-the-catch skills and the ability to turn a quick slant into a big gain. Brown is another old prospect (he’ll turn 24 in September) who lacks the traits the Seahawks typically look for in cornerbacks (they typically target tall, long-armed players), but he’s a feisty competitor who could compete for a starting role as a rookie. And Forsythe is a nice value pick in the sixth round―he ranked 98th on my board―who has the potential to emerge as a starter down the line.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington (Round 1, Pick 32)
QB Kyle Trask, Florida (Round 2, Pick 64)
OT Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame (Round 3, Pick 95)
WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas (Round 4, Pick 129)
LB K.J. Britt, Auburn (Round 5, Pick 176)
CB Chris Wilcox, BYU (Round 7, Pick 251)
LB Grant Stuard, Houston (Round 7, Pick 259)
The Buccaneers did an outstanding job of keeping the band together this offseason by re-signing virtually all of their important free agents. But the team’s draft haul doesn’t offer many instant-impact players. I like the Tryon pick, though, as the Washington star should give an already strong Tampa Bay pass-rushing group a boost in 2021.
CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech (Round 1, Pick 22)
OT Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State (Round 2, Pick 53)
LB Monty Rice, Georgia (Round 3, Pick 92)
CB Elijah Molden, Washington (Round 3, Pick 100)
WR Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville (Round 4, Pick 109)
EDGE Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh (Round 4, Pick 135)
WR Racey McMath, LSU (Round 6, Pick 205)
S Brady Breeze, Oregon (Round 6, Pick 215)
Farley was set to be a top-10 pick before he suffered an injury and had recent back surgery. If the Virginia Tech star can return to form and remain healthy, he’ll go down as one of the biggest steals in this draft. The Radunz pick makes a ton of sense considering the Titans’ 2020 draft miss on Isaiah Wilson, while Molden represents incredible value in the third round. He’s an instinctive slot corner with excellent ball skills.
Washington Football Team
LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky (Round 1, Pick 19)
OT Samuel Cosmi, Texas (Round 2, Pick 51)
CB Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota (Round 3, Pick 74)
WR Dyami Brown, North Carolina (Round 3, Pick 82)
TE John Bates, Boise State (Round 4, Pick 124)
S Darrick Forrest, Cincinnati (Round 5, Pick 163)
LS Camaron Cheesman, Michigan (Round 6, Pick 225)
EDGE William Bradley-King, Baylor (Round 7, Pick 240)
EDGE Shaka Toney, Penn State (Round 7, Pick 246)
WR Dax Milne, BYU (Round 7, Pick 258)
It’s tough to poke holes in Washington’s draft. Davis is a long and rangy playmaker who will make an already good defense that much better in 2021. Cosmi offers starting potential at left tackle. St-Juste has intriguing length at corner. And Brown is a tough-to-defend deep threat who should pair nicely with Ryan Fitzpatrick’s YOLO style. There’s no wow pick among this bunch, but Washington’s class looks solid across the board.