2021 First Round Grades
*Click on the Prospect's Title for their full draft profile
This was a slam dunk pick and I appreciate the Jaguars for not overthinking this. Lawrence was far and away the best quarterback prospect in the draft and the Jaguars were not wasting anytime on this pick. I have a good feeling that the Jaguars may have given Lawrence an early one month jump on the playbook. Expect lots of long blonde wigs being sold in Duval county for the next decade plus.
This pick was like going to the Cheesecake factory, whatever you get will be good it's just based on your preference. The Jets had a lot of options, but they fell in love with Zach Wilson. I can't get mad at a team picking "their guy" and Zach Wilson was "their guy". Wilson reminds me of a more athletic Baker Mayfield and he fits perfectly in the Mike LaFleur offense. This is a great start to the Robert Saleh era.
Anybody who follows me knows how much I love Trey Lance. He was my number two rated quarterback and I believe he's the next Josh Allen. He is my favorite player in the draft and my number three rated prospect. This dude is a dog and he gets to learn from a great veteran quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Shoutout to Jimmy G for already reaching out to Lance, that is pure class. Lance was my favorite player in the draft and now he's going to my favorite team. I absolutely LOVE this pick!
I love Kyle Pitts, he's my number two overall player in the draft and this was a phenomenal pick to start Arthur Smith's regime. I thought they should have considered trading back and getting some more picks because there are a lot of holes on the defense. With that being said, if they were to stay put this had to be the pick. With Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and now Pitts, this might be the scariest offense in the league. It all comes down to what Matt Ryan is capable of.
To be completely honest, I thought the Bengals should have selected Penei Sewell. I felt like Joe Burrow's mom last year; I was scared watching him run for his life last year. He needs to be protected better in order for him to have a long career. However, Ja'Marr Chase is a stud. Between him, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, the Bengals might have the best young receiving core in the NFL. I love college teammates being reunited, all I have to say is... Geaux Bengals!
This is another pick that I thought should have been Penei Sewell. I expected the Dolphins to go all in on Waddle, but I also wanted to see Tua Tagovailoa be protected. This is another case where I can't be mad because the Dolphins got their guy. Once again, we see college teammates being reunited and I love it. Between him and Will Fuller, there is so much speed in Miami and Tua has no excuses this year.
7. Lions select Penei Sewell RT Oregon: A+
I'm super high on Penei Sewell and he fits the mold of what the Lions are trying to do perfectly. He is a player who fits perfectly in the Dan Campbell culture and this is exactly how you establish that foundation. The Lions are filled with player coaches and while they probably won't be too good this year, I like what they're building. I see their vision, they're going to build through the draft and get culture guys. They may suck for a few years, but when they eventually get their quarterback, this team will be on the rise again. I wasn't expecting to be so passionate about the Lions, but their fans need to stay patient because I like what's coming.
Jaycee Horn was my number one rated defensive back in the draft. Horn is a dog and brings a similar mentality to what Josh Norman brought to Carolina years ago. This is a great pick for Carolina. The one thing I wish they did was wait to trade for Sam Darnold. If they waited until after the draft, I feel that his asking price would have gone down. The Panthers would have also been able to take Justin Fields instead of Darnold. Everybody can agree that Fields is a better player than Darnold and that would have been a better situation for them, but since that didn't happen this is the best case scenario.
Patrick Surtain is an absolute dog. He's very fluid and he's a technician. I felt like there were three top dogs at corner this year; 1A,1B, and 1C with Surtain, Horn, and my guy Kelvin Joseph. I just didn't think this was a big need for the Broncos. Now Denver has a loaded secondary and are building the no fly zone 2.0. I know they just traded for Teddy Bridgewater, but Justin Fields is a prospect that you just can't pass up. I wish Denver didn't trade for Bridgewater and would have drafted Justin Fields.
This may have been the biggest surprise of the night... The Eagles trading with the Cowboys! That is insane! I never would have guessed that in a million years. That's just another reason I love the draft. What makes it even better is that they leap frogged their division rival who would have taken Devonta Smith. Smith is my number one receiver in the draft and I think he is a beast. This is a steal to get both Smith and a first round pick next year (from the Dolphins via 49ers). Once again, we see college teammates reunite with Jalen Hurts and Devonta Smith. Howie Roseman crushed this pick.
Justin Fields was one of my favorite players in the draft. He's my third rated quarterback and my fourth rated overall prospect. The Bears finally were aggressive and got a quarterback. I know this may sound like an overreaction, but I genuinely believe Fields will be the greatest Bears quarterback of all time. Ryan Pace's aggressiveness surprised me, but I have no doubts that just made the right move. I haven't always been on the Matt Nagy bandwagon, but he may have just saved his job.
12. Cowboys select Micah Parsons LB Penn State: A-
Micah Parsons is one of my favorite players in the draft. He was my highest rated defender and I think the dude is a stud. With Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, I just didn't think this was a big need for Dallas. My thoughts are that they were flustered that they didn't get one of the top corners, so they just went with the best player on their board. They said they're excited that Parsons is such a good blitzer when the Cowboys only blitzed on 22% of the snaps last year and Dan Quinn's defense only blitzed on 22.8% of snaps. I don't mind the pick, I just don't see the fit.
13. Chargers select Rashawn Slater LT Northwestern: A
The Chargers crushed this pick. I have to tip my hat to Tom Telesco because I thought they'd have to trade up for one of the tackles, but they were able to stay put and get Slater. Slater is a tank and will be Justin Herbert's left tackle for the next decade. Chargers fans should be thrilled because this was one of the best picks of the night.
14. Jets select Alijah Vera-Tucker LG USC: B+
The Jets continue to stack up their offensive line. With Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton, Zach Wilson's blindside will definitely be protected. Robert Saleh found "his dude", and I can't be mad at that. I love what the Jets are building, but I thought they could have potentially waited and found other great interior offensive linemen at #23. This is still a very, very good pick and their new QB must be stoked.
15. Patriots select Mac Jones QB Alabama: C
Everybody who reads my articles know how I feel about Mac Jones. I am not a fan, I had a fourth round grade on him and I can't believe Belichick drafted him. If you don't have a big arm, I feel like you need to be able to make plays with your legs and extend plays. Jones isn't mobile and doesn't have a strong arm. I know he's looked at as some genius, but if he was so smart he probably shouldn't have DUI's and videos of him wasted at clubs. I hate when people attack players for doing stuff when they were young 21 year old kids, but I just really am not a fan of this pick.
The Cardinals had to have fallen in love with Zaven Collins. I'm confused because they just lost Patrick Peterson and drafted Isaiah Simmons the year prior. I felt like they were destined to go corner, but if they really love Collins you can't be mad at that. Rhis pick is the George Kittle effect; Collins is the draft's best linebacker in coverage. He is a player who can be matched up with Kittle, so I like this pick in that aspect. I think Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah would have been a better pick, but Steve Keim won't ever hesitate to get his guy so I respect him for that.
17. Raiders select Alex Leatherwood LT Alabama: D
I'm starting to feel like a hater here, but I don't know what Mike Mayock is doing. Leatherwood seemed like a guy who would definitely go on day two, so if you're going to take him in the first round at least trade back first. I loved Mayock as an analyst, but I don't always trust his judgement. I remember in 2017, the year with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, he had Deshone Kizer as his number one rated quarterback. With all do respect, this is probably the worst pick of the night.
I had this pick in my mock draft, I loved this move for the Dolphins. There aren't any ELITE edge rushers in this draft, but Phillips has the highest potential. He doesn't have to move very far and he's a perfect scheme fit in Brian Flores' defense. Phillips knows how to get to the quarterback, and the Dolphins are coming for the Bills #1 spot. Josh Allen will need to be on high alert when playing the Dolphins this year.
I wanted to see the Washington Football Team draft Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, but I would bet money that Jamin Davis ends up in the top three for defensive rookie of the year this year. He's in a top three defense and he's going to be a tackling monster in the Thomas Davis or Luke Kuechly role. I didn't have a first round grade on Davis, but he is going to be a star in Ron Rivera's defense.
Kadarius Toney is one of my favorite players in the draft and the Giants got him after trading back. I have him rated as my number two receiver in the draft and now he is going to be playing alongside Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton. Toney can be used all over the field and I loved that Dave Gettleman got an extra pick in the process. The one thing I'm worried about with this pick is that Giants offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, lacks creativity. Toney is extremely versatile, but Garrett has never had a player like that. Ingredients without the recipe is just a whole lot of junk. Toney's success really depends on how Jason Garrett utilizes him.
This is a culture pick. Chris Ballard has a type of player that he likes and those players are ones with a lot of heart. Darius Leonard, Rock Ya-Sin, and now Kwity Paye. This is a perfect fit for the Colts and I actually wrote about his fit in Indy when writing his draft profile (which you can see by clicking on the photo below). Paye is twitched up and extremely quick. I was expecting Indianapolis to trade down, but Paye wouldn't have been there if they did. The Colts got their guy and they should be excited about it.
I love that Caleb Farley plays with a chip on his shoulder and his potential is through the roof. Last year, the Titans lost the draft. Everybody knows what happened with Isaiah Wilson so you'd think that the Titans would go with a safe pick. Nope, they went with a player who hasn't shown he can stay healthy. I'm very concerned with his health and I wish the Titans would have gone after a guy like Teven Jenkins to put on the other side of Taylor Lewan or Elijah Moore. I really didn't like this pick.
23. Vikings select Christian Darrisaw LT Virginia Tech: A
Every year there are players who the media view in higher regard than teams. Christian Darrisaw is one of those guys this year. I thought there was a chance that Minnesota takes Darrisaw at 14, but they were able to trade back and still get him. Gaining two additional third round picks to get a guy they would have taken at their original pick is awesome. Overall, this was a really solid pick by Rick Spielman.
The best running back to come out since Saquon Barkley is Najee Harris. He didn't get enough love in the pre-draft process, I think he's a top ten player. I also want to shout him out for throwing a pre-draft party for the kids at the homeless shelter he used to live in. What a beautiful gesture. I have no doubts that Harris will be a star, but the Steelers had bigger needs than at running back. They lost both Alejandro Villenueva and Marcus Pouncey this offseason. With Teven Jenkins on the board I thought that should have been the pick. They also could have gone corner, but I have no doubts that Najee Harris will be an all-pro player one day.
I love Travis Etienne don't get me wrong, but this should not have been the pick. James Robinson was the best rookie running back last year and the Jaguars went 1-15 last year. They had holes bigger than running back and I couldn't believe this was the pick. Now let's look at the positives, I love when college teammates reunite. Etienne is a home run hitter and I really enjoyed watching his tape. The Jaguars just gained a lot more fans in South Carolina.
Greg Newsome was one of my favorite corners in the draft and the Browns saw Ja'Marr Chase go the Bengals and predicted the Ravens would go receiver, so this was a great choice. I thought Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah would have been in play here, but Newsome is a really good player. Newsome is going to play in that Richard Sherman role in Joe Woods' defense. This is a pickup that will help Cleveland down the stretch in the ladder half of the season.
I know some people who absolutely love Rashod Bateman, they have him as a top three receiver. I don't love Bateman like that, but this is great value for a potential number one wide out. He's a route running savant, I compared him to Allen Robinson. Standing at 6'2, Bateman is tall and lean. Now the Ravens have a speed guy in Marquise Brown, a vet in Sammy Watkins, and a route runner with Bateman. I still think they should add a big body receiver like Terrace Marshall or Seth Williams, but this is a great start.
This pick has received a lot of hate, but I personally am a big fan of the move. I saw the value of Turner and his potential, but I didn't realize other teams did as well. Turner is a big body, old school defensive end. He actually reminds me of Cameron Jordan so it's funny how that turned out. If you want to go back, think of Jonathan Abraham the old Falcons defensive end. His bull rush is his best move, but he gets a ton of bend at the top of his rush. Turner's best chance to become a star is in New Orleans.
Eric Stokes is a pure athlete. He's big, he's fast, and he'll be a good player across from Jaire Alexander. I just don't know what Brian Gutekunst is doing. Aaron Rodgers is clearly upset and wants more weapons. Elijah Moore fell into their lap perfectly, but they chose to pass on him. I like Stokes, but he's my tenth rated corner. I'm not sure what's going on in Green Bay, but I sure as hell don't like it.
I love this pick... Gregory Rousseau is a guy with monster potential. He's a great kid and will fit into the Bills culture perfectly. Rousseau's ability to convert speed to power in his rush is really impressive. The Bills didn't reach on a running back, which was one of my concerns. In order to beat the Chiefs, they need to get pressure on Mahomes and Rousseau is a step in the right direction. This was a phenomenal pick up.
Odafe Oweh, previously regarded as Jayson, was an interesting pick. He said in his press conference last night that he wants to be called Odafe, but I loved his reaction to being drafted. He's super raw and he's a freak athlete. I didn't think he was a first round caliber player, but if any franchise can develop him it would be the Ravens. The Ravens have a pattern of drafting a player, developing him, then letting him walk and getting a compensatory pick. Oweh is in the best position for him to succeed.
This is a very similar situation to the Ravens pick. The Buccaneers fell in love with Joe Tryon, so I can't blame them for selecting him. Tryon is a similar player to Jerry Hughes on the Bills. He hasn't played since 2019, so there may be an adjustment period for him, but he ends up in the perfect spot. He gets to play alongside a Super Bowl winning defensive line, this is a really good spot for him to develop.