I’ll start this by saying I’m not a fan of giving out draft grades, as fundamentally they’re based on an individual’s view of where they had certain prospects ranked and how they viewed each team’s needs. The real value comes in looking at drafts 3 years down the line when you’ve finally got a good view on how each guy is truly going to pan out.
Whilst what follows will undoubtedly contain elements of my personal opinions, I’m absolutely not going to give any team a grade for their work over three days of the draft. Instead I’ll give you my favourite pick for each team as well as an overall assessment of their draft class in terms of skills and fit.
Favourite pick – Tie between Zaven Collins (16) and Tay Gowan (223)
Summary – I know a lot of people aren’t as sure on the Collins pick but he’s a guy I definitely got behind late in the process due to his versatility and ability to help a defense disguise what it is doing. Tay Gowan at 223 was excellent value for me, and in picking up speedster Rondale Moore the Cardinals have added another exciting weapon to their offense.
Favourite pick – Jalen Mayfield (68)
Summary – Taking the best non-QB at 4 was an exciting move by the Falcons and by adding Richie Grant in round two and then Jalen Mayfield in round three, Atlanta may have found themselves week one starters with all of those draft picks. Frank Darby is a heck of a character who they added in round six while the defensive line and secondary both were bolstered on day three.
Favourite pick – Rashod Bateman (27)
Summary – The addition of Bateman in round one will give this offense a whole new dimension to work with and make life even more difficult for opposing defenses. Jayson Oweh is one I wasn’t as high on, but Baltimore can normally develop edge rushers so I’ll be keen to see how he progresses, while the selection of Shaun Wade in the fifth round could also end up being excellent value if they keep him in the slot and he can go back to his 2019 form.
Favourite pick – Carlos Basham Jr (61)
Summary – Adding edge rushers in both rounds one and two was a great move for the Bills. Rousseau has a huge amount of upside to go with his unmatched athletic ability while Basham has a high motor and is incredibly consistent in both the run and pass game. Spencer Brown is another high upside guy they selected in round 3 and the Bills’ day three selections all have played at a high level in college and Buffalo will be hoping that translates to the NFL with some good coaching.
Favourite pick – Daviyon Nixon (158)
Summary – Corner was clearly a major need for the Panthers so taking their top player at the position in round one will help to solidify that spot. Carolina then went on to add a number of really productive college players – Terrace Marshall will surely be a key part of Sam Darnold’s development, Brady Christensen and Chuba Hubbard are both coming off strong 2020 seasons, but Daviyon Nixon was my DT2 and I think his game translates really well into the NFL.
Favourite pick – Justin Fields (11)
Summary – The Bears did the right thing in trading up for Justin Fields once he fell out of the top 10 in my view – they simply couldn’t go with Andy Dalton as being the best QB on their roster in 2021. I’ve said many times I think Fields should have been selected in the top 3, and to then be able to make another move to snag Teven Jenkins in the second round meant Chicago really looks to have improved their offense in this draft. Khyiris Tonga at 250 was a great value pickup late on day three too.
Favourite pick – Ja’Marr Chase (5)
Summary – I’m definitely on the side of the argument that said Chase over Sewell at 5 and actively argued in favour of it in the build up to the draft. Jackson Carman wouldn’t have been the guy I’d have gone for in round 2, but to then pick up Joseph Ossai in the 3rd round who some had talked about as being a potential 1st rounder was a good value pickup for the Bengals. 7 of the Cincinnati selections were either offensive or defensive linemen, so that tells you they know where they needed to improve.
Favourite pick – Demetric Felton (211)
Summary – There is a lot to like about this Browns draft. Greg Newsome should slot in as their CB2 from relatively early on in his career and the additions of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, James Hudson and Tommy Togiai all represented excellent value in my eyes as well as giving them all time to develop on a well stacked roster. But adding speedster Demetric Felton as late as they did was my favourite selection – he’ll give them the ability to line him up in multiple positions and create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
Favourite pick – Osa Odhigizuwa (75)
Summary – Trading back and still picking up the best defensive player in the draft in Micah Parsons was a really good move by Dallas, as was adding Kelvin Joseph in round two to bolster their secondary. Undersized defensive tackle Osa Odhigizuwa was my favourite pick though as I love what he can do in passing situations in terms of getting penetration upfield and disrupting the pocket.
Favourite pick – Javonte Williams (35)
Summary – After acquiring Kyle Fuller, everyone thought that the Broncos were taking themselves out of the race to select a cornerback here but instead they stood still and drafted Patrick Surtain. Moving up for Javonte Williams to replace Philip Lindsay was my favourite pick of theirs – Williams gives them an ability to break tackles and make major splash plays. Media darling Quinn Meinerz, Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning and Texas safety Camden Sterns also represented good value.
Favourite pick – Penei Sewell (7)
Summary – While it seems a bit cliche to pick a top 10 pick as my favourite for a team, the tone the Lions clearly want to set with Dan Campbell as their head coach could not have been any more reinforced than by picking Penei Sewell to anchor their offensive line. Later picks Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill, both defensive tackles, feel like good additions too and the Lions picked up some excellent value early on day three with Ifeatu Melifonwu, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Derrick Barnes.
Green Bay Packers
Favourite pick – Josh Myers (62)
Summary – The Packers needed to replace Corey Linsley at center early in this draft, so they have to be delighted at being able to draft Josh Myers at the bottom of the second round. Eric Stokes addressed a significant need at corner while the addition of Amari Rogers at receiver may not be enough to placate the potential future host of Jeopardy. Kylin Hill was also an interesting pickup at the end of the 7th round and I’ll be keen to see what sort of a role he will play in this offense.
Favourite pick – Nico Collins (89)
Summary – With no pick until the 3rd round it was slightly surprising seeing the Texans use the 67th pick to draft a quarterback who presumably would sit behind Deshaun Watson and Tyrod Taylor. However later selections Nico Collins and Brevin Jordan both represented good value in my eyes whilst Garret Wallow has potential to be a good special teams player.
Favourite pick – Mike Strachan (229)
Summary – With such a top surname, the Charleston receiver was always going to be my favourite pick for some team! Kwity Paye at 21 was a good choice in my book and though I was surprised to see Odeyingbo go in round two it was clear that the Colts knew they needed to address the edge position. Will Fries, the Penn State tackle, is another worthy of a place on the all-name team.
Favourite pick – Walker Little (45)
Summary – The Jaguars had a really good draft – Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and Walker Little will all instantly upgrade their offense while Tyson Campbell, Andre Cisco, Jay Tufele and Jordan Smith should all be able to find reasonably significant roles as rookies. Walker Little is absolutely my favourite of Jacksonville’s picks though – his upside is immense and now he’s going to have the job of protecting the number one pick in the draft.
Kansas City Chiefs
Favourite pick – Trey Smith (226)
Summary – I had a 3rd round grade on Trey Smith so whilst I promised I wasn’t grading picks I can definitely see him turning into a solid starter down the line. Nick Bolton and Creed Humphrey both represented needs and good value late in the second round, and I’m not expecting many contributors from the later rounds other than Smith, the likes of Cornell Powell will provide solid depth.
Las Vegas Raiders
Favourite pick – Trevon Moehrig (43)
Summary – Moehrig is a high motor, rangy safety who is just what the Raiders needed to add to their secondary. Alex Leatherwood is a plug-and-play right tackle and while their day three picks such as Malcolm Koonce, Divine Deablo and Jimmy Morrisey will all need time to develop, they all fit the Raider mould of being standout athletes who will be expected to contribute on special teams.
Los Angeles Chargers
Favourite pick – Rashawn Slater (13)
Summary – The Chargers attacked this offseason with an obvious plan to protect Justin Herbert, and that plan extended into the draft where Rashawn Slater fell straight into their laps. Asante Samuel Jr was another good pickup at a position of need in round two and then adding weapons to their offense with Josh Palmer and Tre McKitty in round three means the Chargers will surely be happy with their work.
Los Angeles Rams
Favourite pick – Tutu Atwell (57)
Summary – With no first round pick due to their trade for Jalen Ramsey, the Rams adding a legitimate burner to give new quarterback Matthew Stafford a true threat deep down field will give them a whole other dimension to add to their offense. I like the versatility that Ernest Jones will bring to this team as well as the production that Central Arkansas cornerback Robert Rochell has shown throughout his college career.
Favourite pick – Liam Eichenberg (42)
Summary – Notre Dame offensive linemen tend to have good NFL careers so I’m definitely backing Liam Eichenberg to follow in those footsteps. Jaylen Waddle is an absolute burner and his chemistry with Tua will already be there, while Jaelen Phillips has the potential to be a steal if he can return to his form pre-injury. I also liked the Hunter Long selection as someone who really stepped up in 2020 and may be one who’s development curve is still on the upturn.
Favourite pick – Wyatt Davis (86)
Summary – The Vikings knew they wanted to improve their offensive line coming into this draft and adding Christian Darrisaw in round one and then doubling down with Wyatt Davis in round three will surely make them feel incredibly good about that position group now. Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Zach Davidson are both intriguing late round selections – if only to see if the Vikings let Davidson be their punter too!
New England Patriots
Favourite pick – Mac Jones (15)
Summary – If anyone knows how to build an offense around a pocket passer, its Bill Belichick and so you know Mac Jones has found a good landing spot here. The additions of Christian Barmore and Cameron McGrone also look to be excellent value to me and for once I didn’t find myself wondering what on earth they were doing drafting a bunch of players I’d never even heard of on day two, so that has to be a win for New England.
New Orleans Saints
Favourite pick – Paulson Adebo (76)
Summary – There were a couple of head scratchers in this draft class for me – Payton Turner, while I appreciate the athleticism and upside, wasn’t even close to a 1st rounder in my book and again while Pete Werner has shown flashes of upside I’m not convinced I’d taken him in round two either. However the addition of Paulson Adebo the Stanford cornerback was definitely a redeeming feature of this draft for the Saints that also featured Drew Brees clone Ian Book.
New York Giants
Favourite pick – Elerson Smith (116)
Summary – I get why the Giants wanted to add to their receiver group so you’ll hear no dissent from me for them selecting Kadarius Toney and I’m pleased they didn’t feel the need to overdraft an edge rusher either, instead waiting patiently to select Azeez Ojulari in round two. Aaron Robinson has decent upside at cornerback but small school edge Elerson Smith was my favourite selection here – his production in college has been exceptional and he balled out at the Senior Bowl too!
New York Jets
Favourite pick – Tie between Alijah Vera-Tucker (14) and Michael Carter (107)
Summary – After drafting their next franchise quarterback, moving back up to help protect him and snagging Alijah Vera-Tucker was a great move in my eyes. Continuing to build around Zach Wilson by adding Elijah Moore and later Michael Carter will give Jets fans plenty of optimism that the offense will be better in 2021. The 6th round selection of Hamsah Nasirildeen was also an interesting one – he’s a box safety who may need to convert to linebacker at the next level.
Favourite pick – DeVonta Smith (10)
Summary – I know – another top 10 pick on my list of favourites. But this is an Eagles team that needed help at receiver and to give Jalen Hurts a real chance at becoming their franchise quarterback, and the Heisman Trophy winner gave them the best chance of delivering on both of those things. Landon Dickerson, Milton Williams, Kenny Gainwell and JaCoby Stevens were all picks I also really liked so the Eagles must be really happy with their work over the three days.
Favourite pick – Najee Harris (24)
Summary – The Steelers were absolutely right when they said in the offseason that they needed to improve their run game – and adding Najee Harris is one heck of a way to ensure that they do exactly that. Pat Freiermuth was another excellent selection for Pittsburgh in my opinion, while adding Quincy Roche in the latter half of day three could turn out to be an excellent value addition if he can reach his potential.
San Francisco 49ers
Favourite pick – Trey Sermon (88)
Summary – This was a close call and I nearly went with Trey Lance as my favourite pick given his potential and upside in a Kyle Shanahan offense. But I went with Sermon whose opportunity to shine on the biggest college stage of all was robbed from him after one play on which he sadly picked up an injury. Aaron Banks was an intriguing second round selection while Talanoa Hufanga is another who may find himself in more of a linebacker role in the NFL having been a safety at USC.
Favourite pick – Stone Forsyth (208)
Summary – Having only made 3 picks throughout the whole draft I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice here. Forsyth knows how to use his physical tools to help him win but will need to develop his footwork amongst other things if he’s going to be able to compete with the elite rushers the NFL has to offer. D’Wayne Eskridge and Tre Brown both were good solid pickups, even if Brown may be a little undersized to ever play as an outside corner.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Favourite pick – Grant Stuard (259)
Summary – Yes really, Mr Irrelevant is my favourite pick for the Bucs. He’s a high energy guy whose leadership qualities will surely be very welcomed on special teams and his hair is also quite spectacular. Jaelon Darden came close to being my choice given his big play ability, whilst the additions of Joe Tryon and Kyle Trask in particular continued to add depth to a Bucs roster that is bringing back every single starter from 2020.
Favourite pick – Elijah Molden (100)
Summary – I was convinced Molden would go earlier than this given that I felt his skill set should make him a week one starter as someone’s nickel corner. But his addition was just one part of a really good draft for the Titans – Caleb Farley could be a great addition if he overcomes his injury concerns and Dillon Radunz has significant upside and potential to be a left tackle in the NFL. Dez Fitzpatrick who I wrote about on twitter as part of my review of the Senior Bowl is another one to kee your eye on Titans fans.
Washington Football Team
Favourite pick – Samuel Cosmi (51)
Summary – I raised an eyebrow at Washington drafting Jamin Davis over JOK, but it seems many teams felt similarly given where the Notre Dame man eventually fell to. Samuel Cosmi was someone I thought would have been taken a bit earlier given the number of teams looking to bolster their offensive line. I’ll admit to not buying the hype on either Benjamin St-Juste or Dyami Brown so I’ll be interested to watch how both pan out.