NFL Round 1 Draft Recap and Grades

The 2021 NFL draft had many surprises, lucky picks, unusual choices and many more. Here is a general recap with some notes and grades for all of the first 32 picks of the draft.

By Keagan Dipietro

Jacksonville Jaguars Pick 1-Trevor Lawrence:

This pick came as no surprise for anyone, with the Jaguars in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, and a 5-star 34-2 record QB still on the board, it was a no-brainer. Jacksonville got a star. A+

New York Jets Pick 2- Zach Wilson:

This pick also didn’t come as much of a surprise either. Before the draft, the Jets traded their former QB Sam Darnold to the Panthers, and therefore were in need of a new one. In the opinion of Joe Douglas, their general manager, Zach Wilson had the next best talent on the board other than Trevor Lawrence. They also got a great player. A

San-Francisco 49ers Pick 3- Trey Lance:

This is the point where the picks get more unpredictable. The 49ers decided to trade up to this pick from the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans. This is because they had issues with their starting QB, Jimmy Garroppolo, and decided to go for a new one. Trey Lance, among many others, was still left, and the Niners decided to go for it. They drafted Lance at 3rd overall in hopes of getting a franchise Qb. A

Atlanta Falcons Pick 4- Kyle Pitts:

This was a very good pick on the Falcons end, taking the best non qb- offensive player in the draft. There was some question as to whether they should take Mac Jones, another QB to replace Matt Ryan who is seemingly on a downtrend, but instead they gave him some more weapons to throw to. A-

Cincinnati Bengals Pick 5- Ja’Marr Chase:

This pick came as a surprise to many, with desperate need for some protection for their QB Joe Burrow who was injured almost half of the last season. The smartest pick would have been to take tackle Penei Sewell, but the Bengals skipped on him. Instead they took debatably the best receiver in the draft in Ja’Marr Chase. Disregarding the need of protection, this was a smart pick, and will give Burrow some future weapons. B-

Miami Dolphins Pick 6- Jaylen Waddle:

This was another of the controversial picks of the draft. The Dolphins filled their need of an offensive weapon in Waddle, but there were debatably other better receivers left at this early of a time. The biggest was Devonta Smith the Heisman winner, who was an amazing college player, and most likely a better pick, but Waddle is still an explosive receiver and can make a big difference to the team, and give some help to their current QB Tua Tagovailoa. B+

Detroit Lions Pick 7- Penei Sewell:

This was a great pick by the Lions. They filled a big gap in their line to protect their new QB Jared Goff. This was also a lucky pick, with most experts predicting Sewell would go before the Lions got a chance. Overall, great pick, and it will make a visible difference for the Lions. A+

Carolina Panthers Pick 8- Jaycee Horn

This was an overall solid pick by the Panthers. They needed some defensive spark, especially in a cornerback, and took a pretty great player in Jaycee Horn, a top two corner. The only concern was that Patrick Surtain II was predicted to go higher, because he might be a bit better, but Horn was still a good pick. A-

Denver Broncos Pick 9- Patrick Surtain II:

This was a horrible pick hands down. The Broncos had many needs, with the last being another Corner. They already have 4 decent ones, and had a desperate need for a good QB. At the point in the draft Mac Jones and Justin Fields were still in, and would’ve been a good alternative to Drew Lock, but instead they took a corner. C

Philadelphia Eagles Pick 10- Devonta Smith:

This was another great and lucky draft pick. Devonta was projected to go very early in the draft, yet fell right to the Eagles. This filled a big need for the Eagles and will give their new Qb Jalen Hurts some targets. Again, a very lucky pick. A

Chicago Bears Pick 11- Justin Fields:

This was another good draft pick. Before the draft, the Bears traded their old QB Mitch Trubitsky to the Bills, and needed a replacement who wasn't Andy Dalton. Their solution was to go with Justin Fields, the next best Qb still available in the draft. This should really help improve their offense, and give them another good season. A

Dallas Cowboys Pick 12- Micah Parsons:

This was a good pick for the Cowboys, but not the best possible. Before the draft, most experts expected the Broncos to go with a QB leaving Surtain for the Cowboys, but this did not happen. Instead the cowboys went with the best possible defensive position in Micah Parsons, which was an overall good pick despite the Broncos situation. B+

Los Angeles Chargers Pick 13- Rashawn Slater:

This was another solid pick, filling a decent need for the Chargers. Drafting some protection for their new QB Justin Herbert was a good idea, and should give him more time to make explosive plays next year. A good pick. B+

New York Jets Pick 14- Alijah Vera Tucker:

This was a decent pick for the Jets, giving their brand new QB, Zach Wilson, some more

protection, bettering their weak offensive line they had in past seasons. This fills a decent

need for the Jets, and could definitely pay off in the future. B+

New England Patriots Pick 15- Mac Jones:

After their recent loss of their 6 time super bowl champ Tom Brady, and implementation of sub-par Cam Newton, the Patriots were in desperate need of a new QB. Their solution was taking the best one still left on the board in Mac Jones. Overall this was a great, and lucky pick by the Pats, and Mac should make a visible difference A+

Arizona Cardinals Pick 16- Zaven Collins:

Not too much to say about this pick, other than it was another solid pick. Zaven will hopefully fulfill a big need in their line. He was debatably the best at his position in the draft, and might just help the Cardinals to a playoff appearance. A-

Las Vegas Raiders Pick 17- Alex Leatherwood:

This was most likely the weirdest pick in the draft. While somewhat of a need for the Raiders, Leatherwood was predicted to be available by most in the 3rd round. This pick was probably too early for someone like Leatherwood, and the Raiders could have saved him for a later pick, and picked up someone better. D

Miami Dolphins Pick 18- Jaelan Phillips:

This was another great pick for the Dolphins. Although there are some injury concerns with Philips, they are worth the risk, and ignoring the injuries, Philips was one of the best prospects of the draft, expected to go much earlier than he did. Pretty good pick. A-

Washington Football Team Pick 19- Jamin Davis:

Another decent draft pick and a need for the Football Team. Davis was ranked by many as a good draft pick, and about the 20-25th best player in the draft. Once again this should fill a big need on the team. B

New York Giants Pick 20- Kadarius Toney:

This was a much needed pick by the Giants. While Daniel Jones isn’t the best of quarterbacks, this draft along with a free agent trade for Kenny Golliday from the Lions should give Jones some big weapons to throw to next season. A-

Indianapolis Colts Pick 21- Kwity Paye:

This was another decent pick of the draft. Paye is a strong player, and will help the Colt’s Defensive line improve next season. This was also another lucky pick, after most predicted he would go much earlier in the draft. B+

Tennessee Titans Pick 22- Cayleb Farley:

A smart pick made by the Titans at 22. This was possibly the most needed position to fill on the team to strengthen the defense. Farley was the best possible CB still on the board at the time, and was projected to go earlier as well. Overall good pick. A

Minnesota Vikings Pick 23- Christian Darrisaw:

Reguarded to as one of the best picks of the draft, Darrisaw was a great pick. Darrisaw will give some protection to an underrated Kirk Cousins, and some blocking room for star rb, Dalvin Cook next season. This explosive offense along with Darrisaw, could lead the vikings to some great results. A+

Pittsburg Steelers Pick 24- Najee Harris:

This was a somewhat surprising pick, but overall a good one by the Steelers. After their recent loss of James Connor, their last rb, they were in need of a new one, and Najee was first up. Some experts raked him as the best RB in the draft, and it filled a big need, so overall a good pick. B-

Jacksonville Jaguars Pick 25- Travis Etienne:

This was a pretty confusing pick by the Jaguars. Last year the Jaguar’s best player was James Robinson, an undrafted rookie running back, who ended up being almost pro bowl worthy. A running back should have been on the bottom of the Jaguars' needs, but instead they took one anyways. C-

Cleveland Browns Pick 26- Greg Newsome II:

Newsome is a pretty good pick for the Browns, and once again fills a decent need in the team that almost made it to the Afc Championship last year. With Newsome, and their other rookie additions, the brows could be a real threat for the championship this year. Taking a corner was a great idea. B

Baltimore Ravens Pick 27- Rashod Bateman:

This was a great pick by the Ravens, by taking the next best available wide receiver to fill their biggest team need for one. With the implementation of Bateman, their QB Lamar Jackson will finally have a main weapon to throw to other than just running the ball. B+

New Orleans Saints Pick 28- Payton Turner:

Not too much to say about this pick, it was pretty decent other than the Saints might have wanted to go with a QB after their recent loss of Drew Brees, but it could have been a smart decision to pass on one since they still have Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. A Defensive end should help get some more sacks for the Saints. B

Green Bay Packers Pick 29- Eric Stokes:

This wasn’t the best pick by the Packers. They decided to pick a corner, despite the fact that they have the highest ranked Corner in the NFL, and it was at the bottom of their needs. Additionally, Stokes was ranked as the 10th best corner in the draft, yet only 4 others had been picked. There were much better corners left such as Aaron Robinson or Kelvin Joseph. D

Buffalo Bills Pick 30- Gregory Rousseau:

Overall this was a decent pick. There weren’t any big desperate needs on the Bills, but a DE or RB would have been the best choices. Since they went with the next best DE in the draft in Rousseau, this was a good pick from the bills. B

Baltimore Ravens Pick 31- Odafe Oway:

The Ravens traded up to this spot from the Cheifs to pick Oway, the next best offensive linebacker on the board. This was a decent pick, and should strengthen the Ravens offense for next season. B

Tampa Bay Buccaners Pick 32- Joe Tyron:

And to Close out the first round of the draft, The Bucs went with a pretty strong player in Joe Tyron, another Offensive linebacker. They didn’t have any desperate needs after resigning all of their starting players, but going with a lineman was smart to help Tom Brady with some protection. B+

The 2021 draft was one of the most exciting and unusual drafts, being done part virtually and part in person, and also with the crazy 1st round picks such as Alex Leatherwood, Eric Stokes and more. We’ll soon see how this draft affects the next season.