The 2021 NFL Draft is over, all 259 selections have been made, and all that's left to do is brace for the knee-jerk reactions from media folk, ourselves included. We liked what most of the teams did over the weekend because, in reality, this is nothing more than an exercise in checking boxes -- Did Team X fill those needs it was unable to fill in free agency?
If the answer is yes, then Team X typically got a favorable grade. Variations in those grades might occur when the player Team X selected wasn't as popular among the mock-draftniks as NFL evaluators. Again, this is what happens when you try to rate a draft that's a few days old when a few years is what's needed. So instead of the traditional post-draft grades we're all used to, we're doing something a little different here. We're comparing where he had each draft pick graded with where they were actually selected.
So, for example, if a team took a safety in the middle of the third round but we had him going in the middle of the second round, that team got second-round value in Round 3. Likewise, if a team takes a safety in Round 3 who we had graded as a fourth-rounder then they've overdrafted that player. Again, this is one person's draft board vs. an entire organization of evaluators. Put another way: this list isn't identifying the "best" or "worst" draft classes, but instead showing how the actual draft stacked up against our draft board. It's more instructive than definitive and hopefully that's how you'll take it. (In related news: we're already bracing for the social-media outrage.)
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Below, we go team-by-team and discuss favorite pick, best value (comparing our draft board with where the player was actually drafted) and most surprising pick.
*Note that we also list the entire draft for each team with the actual round and pick listed first, followed by the player's name, position and school, and then, in parenthesis, where we had them graded on our final big board. So, for example, Tutu Atwell's entry reads like this: "R2.25. Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville (4.15)." Atwell was actually drafted in Round 2, 25th overall but we had him graded as a mid-fourth-rounder (4.15.)
OK, let's get to it.
32. Los Angeles Rams
R2.25. Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville (4.15)
R3.39. Ernest Jones, LB, South Carolina (5.15)
R4.12. Bobby Brown III, DT, Texas A&M (4.24)
R4.25. Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas (4.25)
R4.36. Jacob Harris, WR, UCF (5.29)
R5.30. Earnest Brown IV, DE, Northwestern (7.15)
R7.05. Jake Funk, RB, Maryland (PFA)
R7.21. Ben Skowronek, WR, Notre Dame (7.15)
R7.24. Chris Garrett, LB, Concordia University St Paul (PFA)
Favorite pick: UCF WR Jacob Harris is all about physical traits and upside. He hasn't played a lot of football -- his sport was soccer until late into his high school career -- but he's the type of talent you take on Day 3 and groom to be much better in the NFL than he ever was in college. Big, strong, fast and can contribute on special teams immediately, Harris' future might even be at tight end.
Best value: Arkansas State CB Robert Rochell was drafted with the 25th pick in the fourth round ... and we had him as a late fourth-rounder. (By the way, this was the rare example in which a team didn't take a player that we had rated higher than where he was selected.)
Most surprising pick: Louisville WR Tutu Atwell was the Rams second-round pick (and their first pick of the draft), and while he's electric, he's also just 149 pounds. We had him as a mid-fourth-rounder and while it's tough to disagree with the weapons Sean McVay chooses to employ, it's not clear what Atwell's role will be on a roster that includes Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Vance Jefferson and DeSean Jackson.
31. Baltimore Ravens
R1.27. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (2.16)
R1.31. Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State (1.25)
R3.30. Ben Cleveland, G, Georgia (5.10)
R3.40. Brandon Stephens, CB, SMU (7.0)
R4.26. Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State (2.25)
R5.16. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State (4.24)
R5.27. Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame (6.10)
R5.40. Ben Mason, FB, Michigan (6.09)
Favorite pick: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman, who had an up-and-down 2020 campaign, in part because he contracted
Covid over the summer and we're convinced it affected his performance, and in part because it can be difficult to find any rhythm in a shortened season where games are postponed and rescheduled due to the pandemic. Bateman was one of the best players in the Big Ten in 2019 and we expect him to return to that form in the NFL.
Best value: Oklahoma State's Tylan Wallace. He suffered an ACL injury in 2019 but bounced back last season. He's not considered a top-end athlete but he plays with a mean streak. Despite his 5-foot-11, 193-pound frame, he plays like a much bigger receiver, regularly winning at the catch point, and especially in contested-catch situations. The Ravens got him at the bottom of Round 4 and we had him as a late-Round 2 target.
Most surprising pick: SMU's Brandon Stephens. The Ravens took him late in Round 3 and we had a seventh-round grade on him, mostly because he's raw. But he's a big, physical corner and at 6-feet, 215 pounds, he shares a similar frame to the current crop of Ravens corners who have been so successful in Baltimore. We fully expect him to outplay our grade and we won't be surprised if he outplays where he was actually selected.
30. Dallas Cowboys
R1.12. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State (1.09)
R2.12. Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky (2.01)
R3.11. Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA (3.13)
R3.20. Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa (5.10)
R3.35. Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State (PFA)
R4.10. Jabril Cox, LB, LSU (3.1)
R4.33. Josh Ball, OT, Marshall (7.05)
R5.35. Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford (6.15)
R6.08. Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky (7.15)
R6.43. Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina (6.15)
R7.10. Matt Farniok, G, Nebraska (PFA)
Favorite pick: LSU LB Jabril Cox. We expected him to go early in Round 3 and thought he might even sneak into Round 2. The North Dakota State transfer had little trouble assimilating to the SEC and has the speed and athleticism to line up just about anywhere on the field.
Best value: Jabril Cox. The Cowboys got him a full round after we had him going off the board.
Most surprising pick: Oregon State CB Nashon Wright, and this should come as no surprise. This feels like a Dan Quinn selection, which in hindsight, makes perfect sense, even Wright went some four rounds before most media folks expected. But this highlights another important point: these "consensus" big boards are only a consensus for the media and fans that create and consume them in their pre-draft bubbles. The 32 NFL teams have 32 different draft boards and have the luxury of not being persuaded by group think, at least from outside the organization.
R1.32. Joe Tryon, LB, Washington (2.13)
R2.32. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida (3.27)
R3.31. Robert Hainsey, G, Notre Dame (5.01)
R4.24. Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas (4.10)
R5.32. K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn (7.0)
R7.23. Chris Wilcox, CB, BYU (PFA)
R7.31. Grant Stuard, LB, Houston (7.20)
Favorite pick: Washington's Joe Tryon. We had a mid-second-round grade on Tryon although we had him going to the Bucs at No. 32 in our final mock draft. Tryon is a specimen who is just scratching the surface on his potential, and if he had not opted out in 2020 he very easily could have been the first edge rusher off the board.
Best value: North Texas WR Jaelon Darden is a touchdown machine. He had 19 in 2020 and 12 in 2019 and lined up all over the field, stressing defenses from just about every conceivable way. He's also a threat in the return game and we love the idea of him joining a Bucs receiver corps that's already among the best in the league. We had him as a mid-fourth-rounder.
Most surprising pick: OL Robert Hainsey. This discrepancy is pretty easy to explain away. The Bucs took Hainsey late in Round 3 and we had an early fifth-round grade on him as a right tackle, his position at Notre Dame. But Hainsey's NFL future will be at guard and if he's a round better at that position than right tackle, it's perfectly reasonable to select him there.
28. Las Vegas Raiders
R1.17. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama (2.21)
R2.11. Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU (1.25)
R3.15. Malcolm Koonce, LB, Buffalo (6.25)
R3.16. Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech (4.01)
R4.38. Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri (4.25)
R5.23. Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois (6.10)
R7.02. Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh (7.0)
Favorite pick: TCU's Trevon Moehrig was our No. 1 safety and we had a low first-round grade on him. But he ended up as the third safety drafted after Jevon Holland and Richie Grant (both went in Round 2). He's a true centerfielder with sideline-to-sideline speed, and he can also come downhill in run support. He'll complement 2019 first-rounder and strong safety Johnathan Abram.
Best value: Trevon Moehrig was the only value pick the Raiders made, and though we liked both Divine Deablo and Nate Hobbs, we had them coming off the board about a half-round before they did on draft weekend.
Most surprising pick: Buffalo's Malcolm Koonce. You thought we were going to say Alex Leatherwood, right? (We'll just say this: We had a second-round grade on Leatherwood and as we mentioned above, we had a first-round grade on Moehrig. So if it makes you feel any better, just pretend the Raiders took Moehrig in Round 1 and Leatherwood in Round 2. Different path to get to the same conclusion. As for Koonce, we liked the edge rusher as a late sixth-rounder but clearly the Raiders felt differently. And to their credit, they liked Maxx Crosby better than we did two years ago and he's been solid for them.
R1.28. Payton Turner, DE, Houston (2.30)
R2.28. Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State (4.29)
R3.12. Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford (2.19)
R4.28. Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame (6.10)
R6.22. Landon Young, OT, Kentucky (7.0)
R7.27. Kawaan Baker, WR, South Alabama (PFA)
Favorite pick: Houston's Payton Turner. There had been some pre-draft buzz that the edge rusher could make his way into Round 1 and even though he never got there for us, we regularly had him going in the second-round of our multi-round mock drafts. Our final grade for Turner was a late second-rounder, but he has the physical tools to grow into a legit NFL pass rusher.
Best value: CB Paulson Adebo opted out in 2020 and had he played he likely would've gone higher. It's why we had a mid-second-round grade on the Stanford corner . He's long, can run, and can make plays on the ball at the catch point, he just needs to be more consistent. The Saints need depth in the secondary opposite Marshon Lattimore and Adebo fits the size/speed/length criteria.
Most surprising pick: Ohio State's Pete Werner went two full rounds before we expected. And while he timed well at his pro day (4.58 40-yard time), he didn't play quite that fast. In fact, we loved his teammate, Baron Browning (our LB6), to be selected where Werner (our LB13) ended up going. But the Saints have a history of drafting players that surprise us in the media. And it's hard to criticize them too much given all the winning they've done in New Orleans.
R1.13. Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern (1.11)
R2.15. Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State (2.05)
R3.13. Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee (5.22)
R3.33. Tre' McKitty, TE, Georgia (5.2)
R4.13. Chris Rumph II, LB, Duke (5.11)
R5.15. Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska (5.15)
R6.01. Nick Niemann, LB, Iowa (7.0)
R6.14. Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri (6.05)
R7.13. Mark Webb, S, Georgia (5.15)
Favorite pick: We expected offensive tackle Rashawn Slater to go off the board anywhere from 10 to 15 and that's exactly what happened. What's more, the Northwestern standout is a perfect fit for the Chargers, who need to upgrade the offensive line as Justin Herbert heads into Year 2. Added bonus: Slater can play tackle, guard and even center.
Best value: Mark Webb flashed at times at Georgia and he went two full rounds later than we expected (the Chargers took him in the middle of the seventh). He didn't move to defense until 2017 and he's a corner/safety hybrid whose versatility could be his best asset in the NFL.
Most surprising pick: WR Josh Palmer. Sometimes the toughest thing to do is to separate the player from his circumstances (at Tennessee the QB play was inconsistent at times). It's why we had Palmer as a mid-fifth-rounder only to see him go two rounds earlier. Our colleague Pete Prisco has been high on Palmer throughout the process and the Chargers agreed.
R1.29. Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia (3.1)
R2.30. Josh Myers, C, Ohio State (3.12)
R3.21. Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson (2.28)
R4.37. Royce Newman, OG, Ole Miss (7.10)
R5.29. Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida (7.0)
R5.34. Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State (6.15)
R6.30. Cole Van Lanen, OT, Wisconsin (PFA)
R6.36. Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College (5.32)
R7.28. Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State (6.12)
Favorite pick: Amari Rodgers was one of Trevor Lawrence's favorite targets last season at Clemson and the hope is that he reprises the Randall Cobb role in Green Bay. The biggest issue, of course, is who will be playing quarterback. And even if it's not Aaron Rodgers, the good news (if you can call it that) is that at least Jordan Love will begin his career with Davante Adams and Rodgers on the field.
Best value: Boston College's Isaiah McDuffie impressed us a high-motor player who has the speed (4.59 40) to do what a lot of we see from undersized off-ball linebackers in the league. He's not as twitchy as some of the top LBs in this class but we liked him as a late fifth-rounder, a full round earlier than when he heard his name called.
Most surprising pick: Eric Stokes. The Georgia cornerback fills an obvious need in Green Bay's secondary, it's just that a) you'd expect the team to try to placate Aaron Rodgers with a wide receiver, something they didn't do at all in the 2020 draft and waited until Round 3 to address over the weekend, and b) we liked Stokes' secondary mate at Georgia, Tyson Campbell better. In fact, we had a first-round grade on Campbell while we had Stokes as an early third-rounder. We were in the minority on that opinion but that's OK too -- we'll all find out together in the coming seasons.
R1.21. Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan (1.16)
R2.22. Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt (4.05)
R4.22. Kylen Granson, TE, SMU (5.18)
R5.21. Shawn Davis, S, Florida (5.10)
R6.34. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (6.25)
R7.01. Mike Strachan, WR, Charleston (WV) (6.24)
R7.20. Will Fries, OT, Penn State (PFA)
Favorite pick: Michigan's Kwity Paye. We expected Paye to be the first edge rusher off the board, and we had him going 11th in our final mock draft. Jaelan Phillips ended up going ahead of Paye, who lasted until No. 21. He's a difference-maker off the edge and plays with speed and leverage that translates to the next level.
Best value: Kwity Paye.
Most surprising pick: We had Dayo Odeyingbo as an early fourth-rounder in part because he suffered an Achilles injury and also because we thought he needed to get stronger. But the Colts clearly liked him enough to take an edge rusher and then defensive lineman with back-to-back picks. In fact, Colts Director of college scouting Morocco Brown called the Vandy standout "a tropical storm" who "showed an ability to dominate the game in stretches."
R1.03. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State (1.18)
R2.16. Aaron Banks, G, Notre Dame (2.20)
R3.24. Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State (4.01)
R3.38. Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan (5.25)
R5.11. Jaylon Moore, OG, Western Michigan (4.32)
R5.28. Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon (6.13)
R5.36. Talanoa Huganga, S, USC (4.10)
R6.10. Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana (5.20)
Favorite pick: Aaron Banks is a tone-setter and in our mind, he was the best offensive lineman on Notre Dame's roster last season and two of his teammates, Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey, were also Day 2 picks. Kyle Shanahan's offense is all about wide zone and play action off it and Banks has the athleticism to get into space and wreck people. We had a mid-second-round grade on him.
Best value: We found a lot to like about Talanoa Huganga's game at USC. For starters he can play both safety positions, in the slot and even come off the edge. He doesn't possess elite speed coming from centerfield but he's always around the ball and making plays. We had a mid-fourth-round grade on him.
Most surprising pick: The correct answer is Trey Lance, but only because we had all talked ourselves into thinking Mac Jones was going No. 3. But we're going with Michigan's Ambry Thomas, who went nearly two full rounds before we expected. Thomas opted out in '20 but he at times looked a little stiff when running with wide receivers which led to him being too handsy at times downfield. But nearly two years between games can be a lifetime and Thomas could be a completely different player by the time we all see him this season.
R1.01. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (1.01)
R1.25. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (1.30)
R2.01. Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia (1.27)
R2.13. Walker Little, OT, Stanford (4.01)
R3.01. Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse (3.15)
R4.01. Jay Tufele, DT, USC (3.15)
R4.16. Jordan Smith, DE, UAB (5.20)
R5.01. Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State (PFA)
R6.25. Jalen Camp, WR, Georgia Tech (PFA)
Favorite pick: Tyson Campbell. The Georgia cornerback had a late first-round grade from us and ended up as the first selection of Round 2. He's a long, physical corner who is smooth in his transitions, he just needs to be more productive in creating turnovers.
Best value: USC'S Jay Tufele was a mid-third-rounder for us but a weak defensive line class depressed the position's value throughout the league. It started at the top, with Christian Barmore (first-round talent who went early in Round 2) all the way through 250th pick Khyiris Tonga.
Most surprising pick: Stanford's Walker Little was the 13th pick of the second round and we liked him more as an early fourth-rounder. But there's an easy explanation: Little opted out last season and prior to that he battled injuries. We just haven't seen a lot of him, though a year ago he was certainly in the first-round conversation (Little made an appearance in our way-too-early 2021 mock draft that was published last May). The Jaguars were clearly comfortable with his medicals and his decision to opt out and perhaps in a few years' time we're talking about this as one of most prescient picks in this draft.
21. Houston Texans
R3.03. Davis Mills, QB, Stanford (3.08)
R3.25. Nico Collins, WR, Michigan (4.29)
R5.03. Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (3.24)
R5.26. Garret Wallow, LB, TCU (5.15)
R6.11. Roy Lopez, DT, Arizona (PFA)
Favorite pick: Brevin Jordan. The Texans had a ton of needs and very few picks to address them. Jordan was dominant at times last season for the U but he sometimes struggled in contested catch situations. Still, his athleticism was hard to overlook and we liked him as a late third-rounder.
Best value: Brevin Jordan. Again, the Texans didn't have a lot of picks, and the ones they did have weren't exactly inspiring upon first glance.
Most surprising pick: WR Nico Collins. Also acceptable: Davis Mills, though he wasn't overdrafted (we had him as an early third-rounder, and he was the third pick of Round 3). Collins, meanwhile, opted out in '20 but showed up to the Senior Bowl 10-15 pounds lighter than we last saw him at Michigan. He appeared quicker though he still struggles to separate at the catch point. That doesn't mean there's no place for him in the NFL -- there is -- it's just that we had him as a late fourth-rounder in this deep WR class.
20. Washington Football Team
R1.19. Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky (1.29)
R2.19. Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas (2.09)
R3.10. Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota (4.05)
R3.18. Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina (3.14)
R4.19. John Bates, TE, Boise State (6.15)
R5.19. Darrick Forrest, S, Cincinnati (5.20)
R6.41. Camaron Cheeseman, LS, Michigan (PFA)
R7.12. William Bradley-King, DE, Baylor (7.10)
R7.18. Shaka Toney, DE, Penn State (5.13)
R7.30. Dax Milne, WR, BYU (5.27)
Favorite pick: Texas' Samuel Cosmi is an athletic left tackle who can also play on the right side. At times during the offseason we had Cosmi sneaking into the first round and he feels like one of these players who will smoothly transition from college to the NFL. We had Cosmi as an early second-rounder.
Best value: WR Dax Milne reminds us of Hunter Renfrow in that he's not the quickest, fastest or most athletic player on the field but he consistently finds ways to make things happen. Milne isn't the route runner Renfrow is but he was one of Zach Wilson's most reliable targets at BYU. He was so reliable, in fact, that we had him as a late fifth-rounder, two full rounds ahead of where he was selected.
Most surprising pick: MInnesota's Benjamin St-Juste is long and physical and is just scratching the surface on his potential. That said, we liked as an early fourth-rounder, which is less than a round difference from where WFT selected him. He's another athletic playmaker (along with first-rounder Jamin Davis) joining an already athletic defense in Washington.
19. Atlanta Falcons
R1.04. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (1.02)
R2.08. Richie Grant, S, UCF (2.22)
R3.04. Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan (2.20)
R4.03. Darren Hall, CB, San Diego State (6.10)
R4.09. Drew Dalman, C, Stanford (6.20)
R5.04. Ta'Quon Graham, DT, Texas (6.15)
R5.38. Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame (4.20)
R5.39. Avery Williams, CB, Boise State (7.15)
R6.03. Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State (5.26)
Favorite pick: UCF's Richie Grant gives the Falcons a much-needed enforcer in the secondary. Grant was our third-rated safety (behind Moehrig and Holland) and we had him as a mid-second-rounder. He'll be an immediate contributor who can play free safety, in the slot and who also holds up in run support.
Best value: Jalen Mayfield opted out then opted back in only to get injured early in the '20 season. We liked what we saw from him though it was clear that he need to get stronger and play with more consistency. Still, he's a high-upside prospect, which is why we had him with a mid-second-round grade. Mayfield played right tackle at Michigan but he may kick inside to guard in the NFL.
Most surprising pick: Stanford's Drew Dalman was our seventh-rated center and we liked him more as a late sixth-rounder primarily because he struggled to anchor at times and lacked the strength to consistently battle NFL defensive linemen. But the Falcons liked him more than we did and it makes sense to bolster the offensive line since the plan is to roll with Matt Ryan for the next season or two.
18. Miami Dolphins
R1.06. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (1.10)
R1.18. Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami (1.17)
R2.04. Jevon Holland, S, Oregon (2.20)
R2.10. Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame (2.31)
R3.17. Hunter Long, TE, Boston College (3.17)
R7.03. Larnel Coleman, OT, UMass (7.0)
R7.16. Gerrid Doaks, RB, Cincinnati (PFA)
Favorite pick: Tight end Hunter Long flew under the radar for the entirety of the draft season even though he was coming off a productive season for Boston College and showed many of the traits NFL teams look for. More importantly: He'll give Tua Tagovailoa another middle-of-the-field security blanket. We had Long as a mid-third-rounder.
Best value: Miami's Jalean Phillips was one of the top prospects in this class but there was a reason we left him off our final mock draft: concussions. He was forced to retire after beginning his career at UCLA but transferred to the U where he was unstoppable last season. If he Phillips stays healthy he could be special. We gave him a mid-first-round grade (injuries excluded).
Most surprising pick: And it wasn't even that surprising when Miami selected Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg because a) we knew they had needs along the offensive line and b) we had a late second-round grade on him so, essentially, he went about 20 picks earlier than we expected. But with Robert Hunt moving inside to guard, the expectation is that Eichenberg will play right tackle and bookend last year's first-round pick, left tackle Austin Jackson. In the last two drafts, Miami has selected three offensive linemen with top-40 picks.
17. Tennessee Titans
R1.22. Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech (1.29)
R2.21. Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State (2.20)
R3.28. Monty Rice, LB, Georgia (4.25)
R3.36. Elijah Molden, CB, Washington (2.20)
R4.04. Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville (5.24)
R4.30. Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh (4.02)
R6.21. Racey McMath, WR, LSU (6.15)
R6.31. Brady Breeze, S, Oregon (PFA)
Favorite pick: Caleb Farley was our CB1 for much of the draft process but that changed after he had a back procedure in March. Effectively, that meant any team willing to take a chance on him would be getting a top-10 talent. The Titans have enormous needs at pass rusher and in the secondary so for them to get him with the 22nd overall pick feels like stealing -- assuming Farley stays healthy. We ultimately had a late first-round grade on him.
Best value: Washington's Elijah Molden.The Titans didn't get an edge rusher until the fourth round (Rashad Weaver), but we have no issue with the decision when it came to their third-round pick; Molden didn't time well at his pro day but you wouldn't have known it to watch him at Washington. He's primarily a slot corner but as his former teammate Levi Onwuzurike told us earlier this year, Molden was one of the smartest players he's ever seen, comparing him to Tyrann Mathieu. Tennessee reshaped its secondary with two of its first four selections. We gave a mid-second-round grade on Molden.
Most surprising pick: Louisville's Dez Fitzpatrick went a nearly a full round and a half before we expected in part because the wide receiver didn't always separate from defensive backs and he wasn't a top-end yards-after-catch guy. That said, his speed (he blazed a 4.43 40 at his pro day) and 6-foot-2 frame indicate that he can get better in both areas of concern.
R1.05. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU (1.05)
R2.14. Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson (3.16)
R3.05. Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas (2.19)
R4.06. Cameron Sample, DE, Tulane (4.06)
R4.17. Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU (5.05)
R4.34. D'Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina (4.15)
R5.05. Evan McPherson, K, Florida (5.25)
R6.06. Trey Hill, C, Georgia (5.25)
R6.18. Chris Evans, RB, Michigan (7.0)
R7.07. Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State (7.15)
Favorite pick: Florida's Evan McPherson. We'll hand the scouting report over to our Pick 6 Podcast partner -- and longtime Bengals fan and special teams expert, John Breech: "McPherson is so good he was given the starting job as a freshman at Florida and he didn't buckle under the pressure. He has a strong leg and is extremely accurate -- he hit 90 percent of his field goals in both his freshman and sophomore year. He did so well in college that he actually came out early! That's right, he's only a junior. The biggest questions about him: can he kick in cold weather after spending three years at Florida, and can he bounce back from a 2020 season where he struggled for the first time (just 6/11 on from field goals beyond 40 yards)."
Best value: Texas' Joseph Ossai. The Bengals need edge rushers and Ossai, who we had as a mid-second-rounder, has the highest motor of anyone in this class. He's also only been playing on the edge for a season after starting his career at inside linebacker.
Most surprising pick: We graded Clemson's Jackson Carman as a mid-third-rounder, but that was as a left tackle. It sounds like he'll kick inside to guard while former first-rounder Jonah Williams and free-agent signing Reilly Reiff man the tackle positions. You could argue that Cincy should've taken Penei Sewell in Round 1 and gotten a wide receiver in Round 2 but we're more than happy with the Ja'Marr Chase-Jackson Carman combo -- and more importantly, we're guessing Joe Burrow is happy with it too.
R1.23. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech (1.16)
R3.02. Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M (3.02)
R3.14. Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina (3.15)
R3.22. Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State (2.32)
R3.26. Patrick Jones II, DE, Pittsburgh (3.32)
R4.14. Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State (7.0)
R4.20. Camryn Bynum, CB, California (4.20)
R4.29. Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida State (5.15)
R5.13. Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa (7.05)
R5.24. Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri (6.05)
R6.15. Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh (5.16)
Favorite pick: Texas A&M's Kellen Mond was our QB6 and, like the Vikings, had him as an early third-rounder. Mond was a lot of fun to watch in 2020 and made huge strides during his senior season. He could end up being one of the best picks in this draft class if it all comes together.
Best value: Ohio State's Wyatt Davis didn't play with the consistency many wanted to see in '20 but we all saw how dominant he could be the year before. He's great value here (we had him as a late second-rounder) and to come out of Day 1 with both left tackle Christian Darrisaw and Davis feels like a home run.
Most surprising pick: We had Iowa wideout Imhir Smith-Marsette as an early seventh-rounder for few reasons: He only weighs 179 pounds, he sometimes had focus drops and he didn't break many tackles. But he also ran a 4.43 and can run by cornerbacks all day long, is an asset in the return game and he was underutilized at Iowa which complicated his draft evaluation. Clearly, the Vikings liked what they saw.
14. New York Jets
R1.02. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU (1.09)
R1.14. Alijah Vera Tucker, OL, USC (1.15)
R2.02. Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss (2.20)
R4.02. Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina (2.25)
R5.02. Jamien Sherwood, S, Auburn (4.08)
R5.10. Michael Carter II, S, Duke (PFA)
R5.31. Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh (PFA)
R6.02. Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State (3.30)
R6.16. Brandin Echols, CB, Kentucky (6.15)
R6.23. Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas (6.15)
Favorite pick: Auburn's Jamien Sherwood was a lot of fun to watch in 2020 -- he lined up in the box, at deep safety and in the slot and he did a little bit of everything. We liked Sherwood as an early fourth-rounder but his stock fell in part because he ran a 4.75 40.
Best value: UNC's Michael Carter was our RB4, behind Najee Harris, Travis Etienne and former teammate Javonte Williams and we thought he would be off the board by late in Round 2. Instead, the Jets got him at the top of the fourth round and in the process get a much-needed boost in the backfield. Carter is near-impossible to get a hand on -- let alone tackle -- in the open field and he's also a threat as a pass catcher.
Most surprising pick: Duke's Michael Carter II was a surprise selection not just because he shares the same name as the Tar Heels running back who went a round earlier to the Jets but because we had this Carter graded as a priority free agent. Clearly, the Jets liked the slot corner enough to take him in Round 5 and his pro day numbers (4.32 40, 6.90 three-cone) show that he has the traits to compete in the NFL.
13. Cleveland Browns
R1.26. Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern (1.25)
R2.20. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame (1.30)
R3.27. Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn (5.25)
R4.05. James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati (3.30)
R4.27. Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State (3.15)
R5.09. Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia (5.15)
R5.25. Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia (6.15)
R6.27. Demetric Felton, WR, UCLA (3.35)
Favorite pick: UCLA's Demetric Felton is, to borrow a phrase from colleague Pete Prisco, an air back. That's the term Prisco used to describe Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. And while Felton isn't either of those players, he possesses some of the same traits. He was a running back at UCLA but worked out at wide receiver at the Senior Bowl and was impressive. We had a late Round 3 grade on him.
Best value: Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had a late Day 1 grade from us but lasted until the middle of Round 2, in part because of reports about a heart condition. The Browns weren't concerned, loved what the linebacker/safety put on tape for the Fighting Irish, and got one of the best players in the draft with the 52nd pick.
Most surprising pick: Auburn's Anthony Schwartz reminds us on some level of Mike Wallace, the speed merchant who tormented the AFC for several years back when he was with the Steelers. Like Wallace, Schwartz was a third-round pick but we liked him more as a late fifth-rounder because we just didn't see game-breaking plays on a consistent basis. Part of that is because of the offense he played in and the feeling is that he's nowhere close to a finished product. Plus, he doesn't have to be a finished product anytime soon with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on the roster. All Schwartz has to do is use his sub 4.3 speed to scare the daylights out of NFL secondaries.
12. Seattle Seahawks
R2.24. D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan (3.10)
R4.32. Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma (4.01)
R6.24. Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida (3.15)
Favorite pick: Florida left tackle Stone Forsythe is enormous, even by NFL offensive tackle standards. At 6-foot-9 he towers over everyone, and the two-year starter for the Gators can play either on the left or right. He is susceptible to speed rushers (who isn't?) and he's not considered an "elite" athlete but he does a lot of things well and checks the "We really need to make Russell Wilson happy" box. We liked him as a mid-third-rounder.
Best value: Stone Forsythe. The Seahawks landed Forsythe three full rounds later than we thought he'd be off the board. Since Seattle had just three picks in the entire draft, we'll also mention Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown (4.32) because few people on the planet were more physical than he was. He's undersized, and will likely have to move inside because he's only 5-foot-9, but we had him as an early fourth-round pick.
Most surprising pick: Western Michigan's Dee Eskridge played both receiver and cornerback in college but his future will be as an ankle-breaking playmaker for Seattle. We love (LOVE) the idea of him lining up alongside Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf but we wonder if Seattle could've addressed their o-line here (Jalen Mayfield and Brady Christensen were still available). That said, we had a mid-third-round grade on Eskridge and he is electric. It's hard to get too worked up about this pick, especially since the Seahawks got Forsythe in the sixth round.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
R1.24. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama (1.29)
R2.23. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State (2.15)
R3.23. Kendrick Green, G, Illinois (2.29)
R4.23. Dan Moore Jr., OT, Texas A&M (5.12)
R4.35. Buddy Johnson, ILB, Texas A&M (5.32)
R5.12. Isaiahh Loudermilk, DT, Wisconsin (PFA)
R6.32. Quincy Roche, LB, Miami (3.25)
R7.17. Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma (PFA)
R7.26. Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech (PFA)
Favorite pick: Illinois' Kendrick Green can play guard or center and he does both with a nasty streak. He's also one of the most athletic interior linemen in this class. We had him as a late second-rounder so the Steelers got him a full round after we thought he'd be off the board.
Best value: Miami's Quincy Roche transferred from Temple where he was just about unstoppable. The production didn't follow him to South Florida but we were surprised to seem him get out of the fourth round (we had a late Round 3 grade on Roche). The Steelers have a knack for unearthing edge rushers and the hope is that Roche is the latest because the team lost Bud Dupree to the Titans in free agency.
Most surprising pick: We had Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth as a mid-second-rounder so the Steelers actually got value where they selected him. That said, many of the top offensive tackles were off the board, and even though edge rusher Boogie Basham was still available, Pittsburgh considered tight end a bigger need.
R1.08. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (1.14)
R2.27. Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU (2.22)
R3.06. Brady Christensen, OT, BYU (3.20)
R3.19. Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame (3.15)
R4.21. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State (5.29)
R5.14. Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa (4.10)
R5.22. Keith Taylor, CB, Washington (4.25)
R6.09. Deonte Brown, OG, Alabama (3.32)
R6.20. Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina (5.10)
R6.38. Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama (PFA)
R7.04. Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky (PFA)
Favorite pick: Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble is the best blocking tight end in this class. And while that was his primary role in South Bend he has the tools to be a pass-catching threat too. We had him as a mid-third-rounder.
Best value: Alabama RG Deonte Brown is enormous, and at times plodding, which likely led to his draft slide. We had him as a mid-third-round prospect but lasted nearly three rounds later. He fills a need along the offensive line in Carolina but clearly concerns about his weight saw him slip.
Most surprising pick: Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard is a one-cut-and-go home run hitter who we thought was more likely to go late in Round 5. That he went a full round earlier tells you that the Panthers really liked him -- and liked the idea of him in an offense that currently features Christian McCaffrey.
R1.20. Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida (1.29)
R2.18. Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia (1.15)
R3.07. Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF (3.05)
R4.11. Elerson Smith, LB, Northern Iowa (6.01)
R6.12. Gary Brightwell, RB, Arizona (PFA)
R6.17. Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State (5.01)
Favorite pick: UCF's Aaron Robinson was one of the most physical slot corners in this draft class and he has the size and speed to match the aggressiveness. He sometimes looked a little stiff when turning to run with receivers but the Alabama transfer can blanket tight ends and running backs and more than hold his own against slot receivers. We liked him as an early third-round pick.
Best value: We liked Georgia's Azeez Ojulari as a mid-first-round pick but he lasted a full round later because of one reason: injury concerns. But if he's healthy, the edge rusher is a Day 1 contributor on a Giants defense under Patrick Graham that got better as the season progressed in 2020.
Most surprising pick: Northern Iowa's Elerson Smith didn't play in 2020 because the season was cancelled due to the pandemic. And based on his 2019 tape we liked him as an early sixth-round pick. That said, Smith impressed at the Senior Bowl and like many players in this draft class, it's hard to gauge just how much they've improved when you haven't seen them play in well over a year. The Giants were comfortable adding another edge rusher in Round 4 based on the information they had and the workouts they attended (neither of which we had access to).
R2.26. Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri (2.11)
R2.31. Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma (3.15)
R4.39. Joshua Kaindoh, DE, Florida State (4.15)
R5.18. Noah Gray, TE, Duke (6.30)
R5.37. Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson (3.15)
R6.42. Trey Smith, G, Tennessee (4.01)
Favorite pick: Clemson WR Cornell Powell had just one year of production but he took full advantage of the opportunity. He reminds us in some ways of Sammy Watkins, especially his role in Kansas City. This could be a great fit for both player and team. We had a late second-round grade on Powell.
Best value: Tennessee's Trey Smith was getting first-round buzz a year ago at this time but medicals saw his stock fall to Day 3. We liked him as an early fourth-rounder, so the Chiefs are getting more than two rounds of value here. It's also another indication that Kansas City is serious about fixing it's o-line; they traded for Orlando Brown (which is effectively their 2021 first-round pick), signed several offensive linemen in free agency, and drafted two more over the weekend (center Creed Humphrey was the team's third-round selection)
Most surprising pick: Duke's Noah Gray is a move tight end who is undersized by traditional NFL tight end standards but who is a legit threat in the passing game. We had him as a late sixth-rounder just becaus we didn't know where he might fit at the next level, but if Andy Reid likes you there's a good chance you're going to be set up for success.
R1.30. Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (1.32)
R2.29. Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest (1.29)
R3.29. Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa (4.12)
R5.17. Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami (OH) (5.04)
R6.19. Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston (6.01)
R6.28. Damar Hamlin, S, Pittsburgh (4.15)
R6.29. Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin (PFA)
R7.08. Jack Anderson, OG, Texas Tech (7.0)
Favorite pick: Houston's Marquez Stevenson has speed to burn and we love the idea of him joining a wide receiver group that includes Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis. He'll likely be given a chance to step into the John Brown role and we'll be watching to see if even Josh Allen has the arm strength to overthrow him. We had an early Round 6 grade on Stevenson.
Best value: We figured Wake Forest's Boogie Basham would be long gone by the bottom of Round 2 (we liked him as a late first-rounder) and we expect him to be a Day 1 contributor, along with Bills first-rounder Gregory Rousseau.
Most surprising pick: Northern Iowa's Spencer Brown is a mammoth human being and dominated the FCS competition. He also showed well at the Senior Bowl and truth be told, this pick isn't all that "surprising" because we had a mid-fourth-round grade on Brown, who adds much-needed depth to the Bills o-line.
R1.10. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (1.09)
R2.05. Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama (3.10)
R3.09. Milton Williams, DT, Lousiana Tech (3.25)
R4.18. Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech (4.32)
R5.06. Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis (2.25)
R6.05. Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC (3.10)
R6.07. Tarron Jackson, DE, Coastal Carolina (5.25)
R6.40. JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU (7.0)
R7.06. Patrick Johnson, OLB, Tulane (6.30)
Favorite pick: It's not particularly original to claim Alabama's DeVonta Smith as our favorite pick (we had him as a top-10 selection) but we love everything about his game. The only issue is that he weighs 166 pounds but he was one of the toughest, most durable players in college football and we expect that to translate to the NFL.
Best value: Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell opted out in 2020 but we expected his draft journey to mirror that of former Tigers teammate Antonio Gibson, who was a 2020 second-round pick of Washington. Instead, Gainwell, who is as much a threat as a running back as a receiver, fell to the fifth round, almost three rounds later than we expected.
Most surprising pick: Alabama's Landon Dickerson was a first-round talent so we understand why the Eagles took him at the top of Round 2. We had a mid-third-round grade on him for one reason: Injuries. He suffered an ACL injury at the end of last season and has battled injuries throughout his college career at Florida State and Alabama. That said, he can play all five o-line positions and was dominant at center last season before he got hurt.
R1.11. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (1.12)
R2.07. Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State (2.01)
R5.07. Larry Borom, OT, Missouri (7.0)
R6.33. Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech (5.21)
R6.37. Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina (5.19)
R6.44. Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon (5.05)
R7.22. Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU (5.25)
Favorite pick: Ohio State's Justin Fields was No. 12 on our Big Board and we get the sense that he'll use the fact that he was the fourth quarterback drafted as motivation to prove everyone wrong. Hopefully, GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy won't force Fields onto the field before he's ready but this could be the move that saves a lot of jobs in Chicago.
Best value: At 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, BYU's Khyiris Tonga is not only hard to move off the spot but has a surprisingly quick first step. He's a high-motor guy who flashed the ability to wreck the pocket, he just needs to play with more consistency. We liked him as a late fifth-round selection.
Most surprising pick: Missouri Larry Borom, who started eight games at right tackle last season, had a seventh-round grade from us, but if the plan is to move him inside (he started two games at guard in '19) we see the value here. If nothing else, there's nothing wrong with overdrafting offensive lineman, particularly on Day 3.
R1.07. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (1.08)
R2.09. Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington (1.25)
R3.08. Alim McNeill, DT, NC State (3.27)
R3.37. Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse (2.10)
R4.07. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC (3.25)
R4.08. Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue (4.10)
R7.29. Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State (6.01)
Favorite pick: Washington's Levi Onwuzurike lasted until midway into Round 2 in part because of some medical concerns. We gave him a late Day 1 grade because even in a relatively weak defensive line class, Onwuzurike was dominant, whether he was playing 0, 3 or 5 technique.
Best value: Syracuse's Ifeatu Melifonwu is a big, fast, physical cornerback who we expected to be off the board by the middle of Round 2. He tested off the charts but his play showed off those athletic traits too.
Most surprising pick: NC State's Alim McNeill. Truth be told, the Lions had a really good draft, at least when measured against where we had their draft picks graded. In fact, McNeill was the only player the Lions drafted before we thought they should go -- and it was only by a few spots. We had a late third-round grade on McNeill, who is going to be a lot of fun to watch alongside Onwuzurike.
R1.09. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama (1.11)
R2.03. Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina (2.11)
R3.34. Quinn Meinerz, G, Wisconsin-Whitewater (3.21)
R3.41. Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State (2.25)
R5.08. Caden Sterns, S, Texas (6.01)
R5.20. Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana (3.05)
R7.09. Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU (4.20)
R7.11. Jonathan Cooper, DE, Ohio State (6.10)
R7.25. Marquiss Spencer, DE, Mississippi State (PFA)
R6.35. Seth Williams, WR, Auburn (4.11)
Favorite pick: Ohio State's Baron Browning really impressed us when we first watched him, to the point that we considered him a late second-round pick. Instead, he lasted until the bottom of Round 3 and it sure feels like the Broncos got a steal here. Browning is slightly undersized by off-ball linebacker standards but he can line up just about anywhere and has speed and athleticism to make plays all over the field.
Best value: Indiana's Jamar Johnson was an early third-round pick for us all day long based on his ball-hawking ability from deep centerfield. He needs to improve as a tackler, for sure, but it's hard to coach up the instincts he showed on a weekly basis at Indiana.
Most surprising pick: Texas' Caden Sterns is another free safety who is coming off a solid season for Longhorns. And while he ran a 4.40 at his pro day he was our 18th-ranked safety (by comparison, Jamar Johnson, who went 12 picks later, was our 4th-ranked safety). Still, we had an early sixth-round grade on him which means the Broncos took him some 20 picks sooner than we would have. Getting Sterns and Johnson both in Round 5 is impressive.
R1.16. Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa (1.19)
R2.17. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (1.32)
R4.31. Marco Wilson, CB, Florida (4.15)
R6.26. Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke (6.29)
R6.39. Tay Gowan, CB, UCF (4.25)
R7.15. James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati (5.15)
R7.19. Michal Menet, C, Penn State (6.02)
Favorite pick: Tulsa's Zaven Collins was an easy selection -- for us and the Cardinals. We had him as a mid-first-rounder based on what he did last season and the most pressing question now is where will he play? He's up to 270 pounds, which is a load for an off-ball linebacker but he has the athleticism and versatility to move around a defense that already has Isaiah Simmons. This is going to be fun.
Best value: UCF CB Tay Gowan opted out last season but we liked what we saw in 2019. He's long, athletic, runs well and is physical at the catch point. He does need to add weight, but we had him as a late fourth-rounder.
Most surprising pick: Purdue's Rondale Moore is only "surprising" here because two years ago the Cardinals used a second-round pick on Andy Isabella, who comes in the same small package and does many of the same things Moore does on the field. That aside, we love this pick and had Moore with a late first-round grade.
R1.15. Mac Jones, QB, Alabama (1.11)
R2.06. Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama (1.29)
R3.32. Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma (1.32)
R4.15. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma (3.30)
R5.33. Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan (4.15)
R6.04. Joshua Bledsoe, S, Missouri (5.25)
R6.13. William Sherman, OT, Colorado (7.15)
R7.14. Tre Nixon, WR, UCF (PFA)
Favorite pick: Alabama's Christian Barmore continues the Tuscaloosa-to-Foxborough pipeline, and is the first defensive lineman off the board. We had him as a late first-rounder.
Best value: Oklahoma's Ronnie Perkins has first-round talent (we gave him a late first-round grade) but needs to refine his pass-rush moves and play with more consistency, something that will certainly be impressed upon him with the Patriots. Still, to get a high-upside pass rusher two full rounds later than we expected is one of the reasons the Patriots are atop our 2021 rankings.
Most surprising pick: Alabama QB Mac Jones. We're joking. Other than San Francisco there was no better landing spot for Jones who told former GM Scott Pioli back in the fall that he didn't care where he was drafted he just wanted to play for the Pats. We had Jones as our No. 11 player on our Big Board.