2021 NFL Draft First Round Grades

After months of compiling rankings, hours and hours of watching film, and thousands of words typed on various word documents and google spreadsheets I can finally say: The 2021 Draft Cycle is officially closed. This year was a weird year for a lot of people, myself included, but nonetheless it was a fun journey to see all the hard work be paid off in one full weekend of talking about the NFL Draft. 

Before I get into the full first round draft grades I just want to say thank you to everybody that have supported me and helped me continue to grow during this draft cycle. I have learned a ton this year, and although I didn’t produce as much longform content and I had hoped when the year started, I still had a ton of support from the draft community, so I am grateful for that. 

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @JoshBerg0611 for all my latest article updates, as well as all my sports takes!

In this article I will be going in-depth on all the first round selections that were made Thursday night. These grades are based off my personal big board rankings, positional rankings, team needs, team fit, and the value of the selection when the team took them. Then throughout the next few weeks I will be releasing articles grading each team’s draft classes as a whole going in depth on all their selections. Many of these grades may be controversial, but this first pick and the grade that was given definitely is not.  

CLEMSON, SOUTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 12: Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers runs with the ball against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Memorial Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Round One Grades

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence/QB/Clemson

Big Board Rank: #1

Position Rank: #1

This pick has been known for months, and Jacksonville made the easy decision. Lawrence will come in right away and be the immediate starter in hopes of growing this franchise into a contender again. Lawrence is a slam dunk selection here by Urban Meyer and company. He has all the traits and tools to become a top tier quarterback in the NFL. Jacksonville’s main priority now has to be surrounding Lawrence with help, and filling the holes on defense. They had one more selection in the first round, however what they did with their later pick is a bit of a head scratcher. 

Grade: A+

  1. New York Jets: Zach Wilson/QB/Ohio State

Big Board Rank: #13

Position Rank: #3

The New York Jets knew exactly the direction they wanted to go, and they were able to execute it. Zach Wilson was linked to the Jets all along, and they got their guy. It is no secret that I am not the biggest fan of Zach Wilson. I believe wholeheartedly that Justin Fields was the second-best QB in this draft, and although I have Wilson one spot higher than Trey Lance in my rankings, I think Lance has the higher ceiling. However, I understand the pick. Wilson has a big time arm with highlight reel tape and big boom potential. The Jets will have to do a better job building around him and getting him some help on both sides of the ball than they did with their former first round QB, Sam Darnold.

Grade: B+

  1. San Francisco 49ers (via Miami thru Houston): Trey Lance/QB/North Dakota State

Big Board Rank: #14

Position Rank: #4

Congratulations 49ers fans. Your team made the right decision and dodged a massive bullet here when they bypassed Mac Jones for the higher upside and overall better player in Trey Lance. This is a home run pick for John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. Trey Lance SHOULD be the starter week one for San Francisco, whether that is the case we will have to wait and see. Lance possess all the necessary traits to shine in this Shanahan offense. He has a big arm, is super mobile, and he is an incredibly high IQ to learn this system and do a lot of fun things. I love this pick for San Francisco. Although Justin Fields was still the higher rated QB on the board for me, there is no doubting Lance’s upside and fit within this offensive system. 

Grade: A-

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – SEPTEMBER 14: Kyle Pitts #84 of the Florida Gators runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
  1. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts/TE/Florida

Big Board Ranking: #2

Position Ranking: #1

This seemed like the move from Atlanta for the last several weeks as rumors increased that linked the Falcons to Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. I know several people that were not thrilled about this pick because it was not a QB for the future. However, I stand by the fact that I believed the only QB that Atlanta would have considered was Trey Lance. With him off the board at three to the 49ers, Atlanta decided to load up for another potential run with Matt Ryan. Pitts was a top five player in this draft and rightfully so. He is so much more than a tight end and will be a dynamic playmaker for this offense. 

Grade: A-

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase/WR/LSU

Big Board Ranking: #12

Position Ranking: #3

Another selection that seemed like a foregone conclusion for the last month or two was Cincinnati reuniting their franchise quarterback with his college teammate Ja’Marr Chase. There is no doubt that Chase has the ability to be an electric playmaker in the NFL, and pairing him back up with Joe Burrow will allow them to build on the success they had at LSU. However, Joe Burrow is coming off of a significant knee injury, and the Bengals offensive line was a wreck last season. Even after bringing in Riley Reiff this off-season, a pick addressing the offensive line should have been the priority for Cincinnati, especially with both Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater on the board. 

Grade: B+

  1. Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle/WR/Alabama

Big Board Ranking: #4

Position Ranking: #1

The rumor all off-season was Miami wanted to add some dynamic playmakers on the perimeter to pair up with franchise QB Tua Tagovailoa. They ended up coming away with his former teammate at Alabama: Jaylen Waddle. Waddle was my number one wide receiver coming into the draft due to his big playmaking ability in the open field, and the versatility he brings to an offense. Waddle will allow Miami to become a little more creative offensively, and use more of the playbook to open up the passing attack. As long as Jaylen Waddle, who is coming off of a nagging ankle injury, can stay healthy. Miami will have some serious firepower for Tua on the perimeter. 

Grade: A+

  1. Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell/OT/Oregon

Big Board Ranking: #3

Position Ranking: #1

Dan Campbell said he wanted to bring in players that would “bite off kneecaps” for a lack of a better phrase. Nobody will be able to bring that type of dominant mentality to the table than Oregon’s Penei Sewell. Sewell was touted by many as the best or second-best player in this draft regardless of position. Detroit was able to snag him at pick seven after a flurry of quarterbacks and pass-catchers at the top pushed him down the board. Sewell will bring Detroit a very high-upside tackle who will likely begin his career in Detroit on the right side opposite of Taylor Decker. Sewell has the versatility to be able to play either tackle spot, or kick inside to guard if he was needed to (although I recommend keeping him at tackle). Sewell is a franchise building block for a team in a rebuild and will be an All-Pro level talent very soon. 

Grade: A+

COLUMBIA, SC – OCTOBER 17: Jaycee Horn #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts after an interception against the Auburn Tigers in the second quarter of the game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 17, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
  1. Carolina Panthers: Jaycee Horn/CB/South Carolina

Big Board Ranking: #15

Position Ranking: #3

I want to preface this before I dive into this selection that I believe Jaycee Horn is a fantastic football player, and think he will do great things in Carolina for the Panthers secondary. But I have two major problems with this selection for two different reasons. Number one: Justin Fields was still sitting on the board, and regardless if you have Sam Darnold on your roster or not, Justin Fields is a substantial upgrade at QB than what is currently on the depth chart. I am a Sam Darnold believer and want him to succeed, but he has yet to showcase that he can succeed in the NFL, and I am of the mindset that if you have a chance to upgrade the QB position, then you do it. Reason number two why this pick is a head scratcher for me is quite simple. If you do believe that Sam Darnold is your future at the QB spot, then why use your first round pick on a defensive player? Especially when you have a gaping hole at left tackle and Rashawn Slater is sitting right there for the taking. I love the player in Jaycee Horn, and it does fill a need, but the direction this pick is going is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. 

Grade: C+

  1. Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II/CB/Alabama

Big Board Ranking: #8

Position Ranking: #2

I will be prefacing this pick exactly like I did with the Carolina pick by saying that I do love Patrick Surtain as a prospect and think he is an incredible fit for this defense. However, Justin Fields is still sitting there on the board, and for a team that was in the discussion for just about every QB that was available this off-season to pass on Justin Fields is mind-boggling to me. Trading a late day three pick away for Teddy Bridgewater should not have swayed them from deciding to take a QB, and I believe it did. That being said, that is not my only issue with this pick. Denver spent a lot of time and money on their secondary this off-season when they signed both Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller, and locked up Justin Simmons long-term. I understand that Fuller is only on a one-year deal, but this secondary is absolutely loaded, so to me spending a top premium draft pick on a position that was already heavily addressed in the offseason, while passing up a chance on taking a franchise level QB is a little confusing to me. 

Grade: C+

  1.  Philadelphia Eagles (via Dallas): Devonta Smith/WR/Alabama

Big Board Ranking: #6

Position Ranking: #2

I give Howie Roseman a lot of grief on Twitter, (which you should follow me on by the way @JoshBerg0611) and I think most of the grief is rightfully deserved. He has not drafted well the last year or two, and has had major misses at critical positions, especially at wide receiver. With that being said this was some really smart general managing by Roseman and his team in Philadelphia. To have the wherewithal to realize that New York was going to take the player you wanted, and you convinced a division rival to trade back with you to make sure you landed your guy. Well done. As far as the player itself and what he brings to the table, Philadelphia got it right. Smith can do it. He can create separation, has good long speed, and plays a lot bigger than his slight frame will suggest. Overall his pairing (with former teammate Jalen Hurts) will help this offense out quite a bit. Really nice job here by Howie Roseman, which isn’t something I say an awful lot. 

Grade: A-

  1. Chicago Bears (via New York): Justin Fields/QB/Ohio State

Big Board Ranking: #5

Position Ranking: #2

I am not used to saying this very often, but Ryan Pace did one heck of a job on night one trading up to get his new franchise quarterback. Coming into the draft everybody knew the pressure was on GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy to make something happen at the QB spot. Andy Dalton was not received well by fans and analysts and rightfully so. He is not an answer for the Bears long-term. There is no doubt that this trade to move up with the Giants was a last ditch effort to try and save their job. Giving up the future first round pick in next year’s trade was all the indication that Bears fans should need that this pick was a move to try and be competitive this season. Justin Fields possess all the right tools and traits to be a great NFL player. He has the arm strength, accuracy, and athletic ability to be in this league a long time. 

COLUMBUS, OH – NOVEMBER 7: Quarterback Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ohio Stadium on November 7, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Grade: A+

  1. Dallas Cowboys (via Philadelphia): Micah Parsons/LB/Penn State

Big Board Ranking: #10

Position Ranking: #1

Micah Parsons was considered by many as the best defensive player in this draft class. However, with some significant off-field red flags some teams had taken him completely off their boards. Dallas takes the risk here at 12 to bring him into a linebacking group that includes Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. This is what I will say about this about Micah Parsons. He is a big boom or bust playmaker that Dallas is betting on the 4.3-4.4 speed and athletic ability to be molded into a more true linebacker. I am not entirely sure about his fit in Dallas for multiple reasons. I don’t believe Parsons can be a true MIKE in the middle of the field because I don’t think his instincts are at the level needed to be a starting middle linebacker. Another reason why this fit is hard for me to dissect is because when Parsons was at Penn State, a lot of his plays were made because his defensive line was giving him wide open lanes to make plays through, and Dallas does not have the high level defensive line play to give Parsons those clean looks he needs to make plays. 

Grade: B-

  1. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater/OT/Northwestern

Big Board Ranking: #9

Position Ranking: #2

I love what Tom Telesco did here on night one of the NFL Draft. You found your franchise QB with Justin Herbert last season, and now you have to protect him. The Chargers didn’t panic, and they didn’t have to give up draft capital to move up. Los Angeles let the board come to them and was able to land their franchise left tackle in Rashawn Slater. Los Angeles needed to sure up the offensive line to keep Justin Herbert protected, and they got the lineman with the highest floor with their first round selection. Slater is a plug and play tackle from day one and can perform at an incredibly high level extremely early.

Grade: A+

  1. New York Jets (via Minnesota): Alijah Vera-Tucker/IOL/USC

Big Board Ranking: #29

Position Ranking: #1

Joe Douglas is making sure that the New York Jets don’t make the same mistakes with Zach Wilson as they did with Sam Darnold. New York has a franchise left tackle in Mekhi Becton, who when healthy, showed flashes of pure dominance last season. The rest of the offensive line needed some serious work. I really liked the aggressive move here by New York to go up and get more help along the line with Alijah Vera-Tucker. AVT can be plugged in at tackle or at guard and offers the Jets some power and versatility along the front. I think his best fit will be at left guard next to Mekhi Becton for some obvious reasons. Pairing those two up together on the left side will create one of the most powerful left sides of the line in the NFL. They will be able to create wide running lanes in a LaFleur offense that will want to utilize the running game. From a value perspective AVT was a late first round/early second round player for me, but he was going to go early in round one and this is a really good fit for what the Jets want to do. 

Grade: B

  1. New England Patriots: Mac Jones/QB/Alabama

Big Board Ranking: #60

Position Ranking: #5

I felt New England was a team that could have made a move up to take a quarterback in round one, especially knowing Bill Belichick’s willingness to move up and down the draft board as he sees fit. Instead of trading up for a player like Justin Fields, who ultimately was taken by Chicago, the Patriots stayed pat at pick 15 and let the board fall to them. I am not the biggest fan of Mac Jones. He isn’t the most athletic, he doesn’t have the biggest arm and his job was made incredibly easy at Alabama with the weapons at his disposal within that high octane offense. I will say this, I don’t like the value of the pick because I had a 2nd-3rd round grade on Mac Jones, and he was taken in the top 20, but fit means everything for a young rookie QB is fit. Who his coach is, what the system is and the players that are surrounding him on the roster. Mac Jones’ best chance to succeed in the NFL is in New England with Bill Belichick, but it will definitely be an uphill battle for the former Crimson Tide QB in my eyes. 

Grade: C-

Nov 14, 2020; Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane linebacker Zaven Collins (23) intercepts a pass late in the fourth quarter in the game against Southern Methodist Mustangs at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. TU won the game 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
  1.  Arizona Cardinals: Zaven Collins/LB/Tulsa

Big Board Ranking: #26

Position Ranking: #3

When I first say this pick, confusion was the first word that came to mind. Not because I believe Zaven Collins is a bad player, because he is a very good one, but the fit within the defense and the role he would play for Arizona didn’t immediately resonate with me. I felt Arizona had a glaring need in the secondary at corner that needed to be addressed and there were two premier options in Caleb Farley and Greg Newsome available on the board. However the more time I had to think about this pick, I actually think it’s a fun fit on this Vance Joseph defense. Loosing Haason Reddick to the Carolina Panthers in free agency left a hole at one of the outside linebacker spots on the defense, and Collins can kind of fit that role and do a few different things on the defense. His upside is huge because of his incredible athletic ability for his size and his ability to rush the passer and ability to drop in coverage. It will not be a question of how good Zaven plays in the NFL, but if Arizona will utilize him in a way that highlights his strengths and his athletic upside. 

Grade: C+

  1. Las Vegas Raiders: Alex Leatherwood/OT/Alabama

Big Board Ranking: #68

Position Ranking: #8

I know Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden don’t really care what the media or the “draft experts” say about this pick, but I am going to be giving my very strong opinion anyways. This was bad. This was a massive reach and a massive miss for the Las Vegas Raiders. I definitely expected a weird pick from Mayock and company simply because of what history with his regime has shown us, but this was completely out of left field. Leatherwood, to me, will see the most of his success as a guard. He does not have the lateral quickness and movement skills to keep up with edge rushers in the NFL. He is incredibly stiff in his hips and because of his stiffness, he gets off balance at times when he tries to keep up with players that are quicker, faster and better athletes. I do not doubt that Leatherwood can be a decent starter in this league, but the value of taking him in round one is a massive reach. The Raiders obviously view him higher than anybody else, especially those in the draft community, but this pick just is a massive miss to me.  

Grade: F

  1. Miami Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips/EDGE/Miami Fl

Big Board Ranking: #22

Position Ranking: #2

Jaelan Phillips was one of the more polarizing storylines in the entire draft this season. He was a dominant prospect at UCLA, but battled with concussion problems to the point where the Bruins forced him into retirement. He then transferred to Miami this past season and absolutely dominated. Phillips is one of the very few edge rushers that can do it all against both the run and the pass, and he can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt. If Phillips can pass medicals and stay healthy, then he can be the best defensive player to come out of this draft. Phillips is a stud, and this fits a need for Miami as well. This pick was a fantastic one for Chris Grier and Brian Flores. 

Grade: A-

  1.  Washington Football Team: Jamin Davis/LB/Kentucky

Big Board Ranking: #34

Position Ranking: #4

 I will start off by saying I love the fit of Jamin Davis to Washington. He fits the mold of linebacker they desperately need in the middle of their defense and he is an excellent fit for Ron Rivera. However, in the top 20 Jamin Davis is a little rich for me. There is no doubting his athletic traits and his ability to make sideline to sideline plays all over the field, but from a value and position of need standpoint, I think Davis misses the mark a little bit. MIKE linebacker was a need for Washington, but I thought that left tackle was a bigger need for them, and Christian Darrisaw was sitting there for the taking. I know what they did later in the draft, and we will get to that selection later in the article, but from a draft pick standpoint here with Davis, I think there was better value on the board. 

Grade: B-

  1. New York Giants (via Chicago): Kadarius Toney/WR/Florida

Big Board Ranking: #45

Position Ranking: #6

Dave Gettleman traded back! It is a miracle! He was able to get a future first round pick in return to move back nine spots with the Chicago Bears. That in itself is a massive win for the Giants who are loaded with draft capital next year. Now onto the player in Kadarius Toney at pick 20. Value wise, I don’t love it. I had a mid-2nd on Toney, and he went mid-1st. His skillset is in high demand in the league right now, so I understand why he was taken so early, but the Giants invested heavily in offensive weapons this off-season with the additions of Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph, who alread add to Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Evan Engram, so to me wide receiver wasn’t the best position to go with your first selection of the draft. However, Toney is a completely different style playmaker than the rest of the guys I listed above, and will bring a dynamic and unique wrinkle to this offense. Factoring in the trade as well for this pick, I really can’t say many negative things about this choice for the Giants at pick 20. 

Grade: A- 

  1.  Indianapolis Colts: Kwity Paye/EDGE/Michigan

Big Board Ranking: #31

Position Ranking: #3

The Colts are like that best friend that has a very specific type of significant other they approach and are attracted to. They only look for that one type and won’t be convinced that there are other options out there. For the Colts, their type of pass rusher are players with super athletic profiles, and high upside, but are not the most technically sound. They have taken these players in the past with Kemoko Turay in round two back in 2018, and also Ben Banogu in the second round in 2019. Chris Ballard falls in love with players with huge athletic upsides. That being said, those names I mentioned have not exactly turned out the way that Ballard may have wanted. Technical issues that were shown on college tape, translated over to the NFL and both have been underwhelming to say the least. I do believe Kwity Paye is different than the previous pass rushers Ballard has identified. He has better hand usage then the previous players Ballard has taken in the past, and I do think both his floor and ceiling exceeds them as well. The Colts desperately needed to address pass rush and I think they did a good job at doing that in round one. 

Grade: B

  1.  Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley/CB/Virginia Tech

Big Board Ranking: #7

Position Ranking: #1

Caleb Farley witnessed a draft fall due to some significant back issues that required two surgeries to try and get them corrected. On the field, there are no questions about Farley’s game. He was one of my favorite prospects to evaluate this past season, and quickly became one of my top prospects in this entire class. He has incredibly physical tools from an athletic standpoint, and possess all the speed, length and ball skills to match up with anybody in man coverage. The Titans needed to address the secondary badly after letting go of Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler this offseason. I do like Kristian Fulton a lot, but he didn’t showcase anything special last season to give the Titans any reason to believe he can be a number one corner. Assuming Farley stays healthy, the Titans got an elite shutdown corner that should’ve gone in the top 10 of this draft. 

Grade: A

  1.  Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw/OT/Virginia Tech

Big Board Ranking: #16

Position Ranking: #3

I will try my very best to keep my bias’ aside on this selection, but I love what Rick Spielman and the Minnesota Vikings did in round one. Minnesota had a huge void and left tackle, and could’ve selected Darrisaw at pick 14 when he was just sitting there for the taking. Instead, they traded back and picked up two extra third rounders and still landed their guy at pick 23. This was a great reading and understanding of the draft board by the Vikings front office, and Darrisaw is a plug and play left tackle for them week one. Easily one of the best selections in the first round when you factor in the trade down. 

Grade: A+

  1.  Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris/RB/Alabama

Big Board Ranking: #18

Position Ranking: #1

Najee Harris is a damn good football player, and myself along with others had linked him to Pittsburgh for the majority of the draft process. But let’s just take a step back here for a moment and analyze the Steelers roster as a whole for a second. They have a 39-year-old quarterback, who gets beaten up a lot, and their left tackle left in free agency and their star center retired. Najee Harris can do a lot of things well, and he’s going to be a great player in the NFL, but there is one thing he doesn’t do that Pittsburgh needed, and that is play offensive line. Harris’ impact on the offense will be much lower than expected because he will not have running lanes to run between, and his QB won’t have time to deliver the ball to his playmakers. I love Najee Harris as a player, and I think the fit with Pittsburgh is a good one, but the Steelers had far too many needs to take a luxury pick in round one. 

Grade: C 

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne (9) finds open field during the Allstate Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Clemson Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2021 in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
  1.  Jacksonville Jaguars (via Los Angeles): Travis Etienne/RB/Clemson

Big Board Ranking: #42

Position Ranking: #3

I have a few very simple rules that I tend to like to follow when it comes to the NFL Draft. The first rule is don’t take specialists until day three, and the second is to not overdraft running backs. RB’s are super fun to watch on film, but at the end of the day you can find good backs at any point in the draft, and taking one in round one, unless a generational talent, isn’t my style. Travis Etienne is an electric playmaker in the open field and will be a fun addition to this offense with Trevor Lawrence. But Jacksonville already has a productive back in James Robinson, and for an offense that I am sure will want to spread the ball around a bit, Etienne isn’t the best pass catcher. With a need at left tackle, corner and tight end, Etienne just wasn’t a good selection in my eyes. 

Grade: D+

  1.  Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome II/CB/Northwestern

Big Board Ranking: #24

Position Ranking: #4

Cleveland is a Super Bowl contender. There is no other way to say it. Andrew Barry has built himself a dangerous roster. They have drafted incredibly well the last few years and they started the 2021 Draft off with an incredible player. The Browns went into the draft with really two major needs. A linebacker (or two) and an outside corner to play opposite of Denzel Ward. Knowing that Cleveland hasn’t valued linebackers in recent draft classes, corner was the most likely the choice in round one. Newsome is a baller with incredibly length that can excel in both man and zone coverage. He is one of the most technically sound corner in the draft and is super versatile in how he can be used on defense. The Browns hit a home run here in round one, and what they did the rest of the draft was equally as impressive. 

Grade: A

  1.  Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman/WR/Minnesota

Big Board Ranking: #20

Position Ranking: #4

I thought there was a chance that Cleveland would take Bateman in front of Baltimore here and cause the Ravens to go in a different direction, but ultimately they got their man. The story for the Ravens for years was the lack of talent at the WR position. Marquise Brown has been significantly underwhelming, and the names behind him like Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay are unknowns at the moment, although I do like their potential as a WR2-3. I know some Ravens fans might point to the Watkins signing as the weapon that they need on the outside, but Watkins fails to stay healthy and definitely shouldn’t have deterred them from selecting Bateman. Bateman had a rough 2020 due to the COVID shortened season and poor usage within the offense, but if you go back to his 2019 tape he was dominant. He can emerge as the Ravens top target for Lamar Jackson within his rookie season. 

Grade: A

  1.  New Orleans Saints: Payton Turner/EDGE/Houston

Big Board Ranking: #47

Position Ranking: #6

I know a lot of people feel like the Saints reached here, but I actually really don’t mind this pick. I was put onto Payton Turner a little while ago by a good friend of mine over at Blue Chip Scouting, Ben Glassmire. He did a thread over on his feed awhile ago on Turner and after following up the thread with some film watching of my own, I was hooked. He’s a perfect fit for the Saints as a 4-3 defensive end, with a wicked first step and a massive frame. His size and athleticism combination is something that is very rare and special. He didn’t have a ton of tape from this past season due to some injuries and a run in with COVID 19, but the flashes were definitely present. Many people are lower on this pick, simply because they didn’t know a ton about Turner, but the Saints got a good football player here. It might have been a little early, but with his ceiling and potential the pick can easily pay off. 

Grade: B-

FAYETTEVILLE, AR – SEPTEMBER 26: Eric Stokes #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after returning a interception for a touchdown during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Fayetteville, Arkansas The Bulldogs defeated the Razorbacks 37-10. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
  1.  Green Bay Packers: Eric Stokes/CB/Georgia

Big Board Ranking: #40

Position Ranking: #6

The Packers had a massive need in the secondary, and it showed with the way Tampa Bay was able to throw all over this defense in the NFC Championship game. Kevin King’s play has diminished and although Jaire Alexander is great, he cannot cover everybody on the field at one time. Eric Stokes is a very good player, and an incredible athlete with a great combination of speed, strength and size for the position. He didn’t have a ton of ball production in his career, and isn’t the most technically sound for the position, and he won a lot of reps at Georgia for just being the superior athlete, which doesn’t always create production in the NFL. This pick also gets a lower grade from me given the situation going on with Aaron Rodgers. Your MVP quarterback is frustrated with the way your running the front office, and I am not saying that it would’ve helped but you also have a glaring need at wide receiver. Dont you think that taking a playmaker on the outside for Aaron Rodgers could’ve at least given you a bargaining chip in trying to convince him to stay? Stokes is a good football player, but to me this selection needed to be help for the QB. 

Grade: C

  1.  Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau/EDGE/Miami Fl

Big Board Ranking: #89

Position Ranking: #9

One of my least favorite prospects found his way into round one. Least favorite is probably not the right term to use here because as an evaluator I don’t root for any prospects to fail in the NFL. However, Rousseau was a very highly touted prospect heading into the season, and after opting out in 2020 the only true tape we had to go off of was 2019. And although 2019 was an incredibly productive season for Rousseau, I was underwhelmed with the tape. He is a freak athlete with incredible length, but doesn’t have a ton of strength or build to him. He is caught leaning a ton, and is super raw overall as a defensive end. I will say that if he were to succeed, Buffalo is quite the landing spot for him to go. With the defensive scheme they run, and the versatile fronts they like to use with their front seven, Rousseau could find himself finding have a lot of one on one opportunities, and open lanes to get into the backfield. He is a player where Buffalo is betting all on his athletic upside to translate to the NFL, and I am not entirely sure if that will happen or not. 

Grade: D

  1.  Baltimore Ravens (via Kansas City): Odafe Oweh/EDGE/Penn State

Big Board Ranking: #56

Position Ranking: #6

This pick is such a Ravens pick. Odafe Oweh, (formerly known my his middle name Jayson) is a freak athlete. I mean an absolute MONSTER of an athlete. He ran a 4.36 at his pro day and that speed shows on tape. He is an explosive and super twitch specimen that won because of his size and speed. That being said, he is probably the rawest prospect at his position in this draft class. He did not have any sack production this past year at Penn State, and with his size/speed combination that is notable. However, Baltimore is very good at developing defensive lineman, so Oweh is a great fit not only for this defensive scheme, but for this team as well. I am not in love with the value of the pick here, because Oweh was more of a mid-late 2nd rounder for me. But, we say it all the time with QB’s and it stays true with other positions: fit matters and Oweh fits perfectly in Baltimore. 

Grade: C+

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Tryon/EDGE/Washington

Big Board Ranking: #96

Position Ranking: #12

I have to be missing something with Joe Tryon. Many people that I consider close friends, and people I do trust with their evaluations were incredibly high on Tryon this draft cycle, and I just had a hard time seeing it. He’s a decent athlete and has a really high motor, which is commendable. I just wasn’t blown away by his tape. As soon as I say all of these negative things he is going to blow up and be a big time player. Why? Because fit matters, and joining a pass rush group of Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh. If Tryon were to succeed this fit is a great one for him, because he can become a rotational piece his first year or so in the league. For me, the value was not good at all for the Bucs, as Tryon was barely in my top 100 for this cycle. 

Grade: D+

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.