NFL Draft Grades For After An Exciting Round 1

Day one of the draft is over and the top picks are heading to their new homes. Who made the best pick? Who reached? Who hit the nail on the head? Find out here with draft grades for the first round.

 

Round 1, Pick 1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

There was no surprise here, the Jags got their franchise cornerstone for the next 20 years. Strong, accurate and amazing leader; no question Urban Meyer just made his tenure easier in Jacksonville.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 2. New York Jets

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

The Jets just changed their franchise, Wilson is the swagger you need to start a new era. He is a competitor with excellent skills to go along with it. Think of a cleaner Baker Mayfield.

Grade: A

 

Round 1, Pick 3. San Francisco 49ers (via MIA)

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Kyle Shannahan got his big, strong and athletic quarterback here in Lance. He will make an immediate impact in the locker room with his competitive spirit and he doesn’t have to start early.

Grade: A-

 

Round 1, Pick 4. Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Arthur Smith loves tight ends. I mean he was a tight ends coach for the early part of his career. He gets a generational talent here at that very position in Pitts, so expect a potent offensive attack from Atlanta this year.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 5. Cincinnati Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Weird pick here for the Bengals due to the fact that Joe Burrow was hit a lot last year (73 times) leading to a season ending ACL/MCL injury. Picking Chase at five is risky without the proper protection around your young quarterback. Only time will tell with this pick.

Grade: C+

 

Round 1, Pick 6. Miami Dolphins (via PHI)

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Big reach here for Miami. They needed to protect Tua Tagovailoa and missed an opportunity to get a generational tackle who fell in your lap. Waddle is a good talent but the Dolphins could’ve gotten weapons later in the draft.

Grade: C-

 

Round 1, Pick 7. Detroit Lions

Penei Sewell, Tackle, Oregon

No question, getting a generational tackle talent to protect your new quarterback, Jared Goff, is a God-send. He improves the offense just with his blocking alone but his leadership is just as valuable as his physical skills.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 8. Carolina Panthers

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Wide Receiver was a need here but getting a physical cover corner in Horn was paramount in the NFC South division. The only issue is there were two corners who were better on the board.

Grade: B+

 

Round 1, Pick 9. Denver Broncos

Patrick Surtain Jr, CB, Alabama

Grabbing the best corner prospect in the draft at this spot is amazing. Surtain Jr. can mirror quick receivers, press bigger receivers and play jump ball in the end zone. The Broncos have a rich history of great corners and add another to the fold.

Grade: A

 

Round 1, Pick 10. Philadelphia Eagles (via DAL)

DaVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Getting a receiver with the big play ability of Smith is huge. Jalen Hurts will connect with him early and this offense will be electric.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 11. Chicago Bears (via Giants)

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Matt Nagy saved his job with this pick. Justin Fields is a franchise ready quarterback with the athleticism and arm to run an NFL offense. If he can improve his ability to get through his progressions, he will be the Deshaun Watson of this draft.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 12. Dallas Cowboys (via PHI)

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Picking a rangy linebacker in Parsons to pair with Jaylon Smith greatly improves a weakness for Dallas. Parsons is a sideline-to-sideline tackler who can cover in the passing game. He makes this defense 10x better today.

Grade: A

 

Round1, Pick 13. Los Angeles Chargers

Rashawn Slater, Tackle, Northwestern

Your young quarterback gets a young blindside protector. The Chargers improve, Justin Herbert improves and the running games improves…it’s a win all the way around for the Chargers.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 14. New York Jets (via Minnesota Vikings)

Alijah Vera-Tucker, Tackle, USC

You get the tackle you needed to protect your new signal caller but one you could’ve drafted later. Even though they moved up to get Vera-Tucker it’s a great pick for the Jets.

Grade: B-

 

Round 1, Pick 15. New England Patriots

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Tom Brady 2.0 is now in New England. Mac Jones is maybe the most pro ready mind in the draft and his accuracy is only second to Zach Wilson. Bill Belichick broke his norm here.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 16. Arizona Cardinals

Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

Secondary help was needed here after having a depleted cornerback corps. Getting Collins here solidifies the middle of the defense with his athleticism and instincts but there were better players on the board.

Grade: C+

 

Round 1, Pick 17. Las Vegas Raiders

Alex Leatherwood, Tackle, Alabama

Leatherwood is a mountain and fits Mike Mayock’s “positional value” philosophy. His ability to move the pile in the run game and set up a wall in pass protection is some of the best in the class. He will definitely help the Raiders in every facet of the offense.

Grade: B

 

Round 1, Pick 18. Miami Dolphins

Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami

Phillips is the perfect replacement for Shaq Lawson. The Dolphins went to their backyard and got a gem who will be an immediate starter for this Brian Flores’ coached defense.

Grade: A

 

Round 1, Pick 19. Washington Football Team

Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

Washington had their pick of the litter here at linebacker with players like Jeremiah Owusu-Karomoah still on the board. I don’t why they took Davis here. He is a solid tackler but that’s it, maybe he will develop under Ron Rivera.

Grade: C

 

Round 1, Pick 20. New York Giants (via CHI)

Kardarius Toney, WR, Florida

The Giants got a solid slot receiver that can develop into an excellent No. 1 or No. 2B. Toney gets open quickly and can make things happen with the ball in his hands. He immediately helps the Giants in an area of need.

Grade: B-

 

Round 1, Pick 21. Indianapolis Colts

Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan

The Colts covered an area of need here with one of the best edge rushers in the draft. Paye can move up and down the line and be an impact player at any spot along the front. He helps the Colts in a division full of good running backs and mobile quarterbacks.

Grade: A-

 

Round 1, Pick 22. Tennessee Titans

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

The Titans had two positions that they needed to address early, corner and receiver. They get maybe the best man-to-man cover guy in the draft in Caleb Farley to pair with 2020 second rounder Kristian Fulton. Tennessee has had some luck drafting players recovering from injury in the first round and this may not be any different.

Grade: A-

 

Round 1, Pick 23. Minnesota Vikings (via NYJ)

Christian Darrisaw, Tackle, Virginia Tech

Darrisaw is an easy mover and excellent athlete at the tackle position. He has a nasty streak in the run game that makes him perfect for the Vikings who love to get lineman going with the run early. Both Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook should be jumping for joy right now.

Grade: B-

 

Round 1, Pick 24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

The Steelers get the most dynamic running back prospects in the draft in Najee Harris. Though a bit of a reach with premium positions of need in the board, this pick sets the Pittsburgh offense up for success in 2021.

Grade: B+

 

Round 1, Pick 25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR)

Travis Ettienne, RB, Clemson

Drafting a running back here doesn’t make sense when you have a thousand-yard rusher on the roster. This pick could’ve been used to improve the defense, instead of a luxury pick. Nonetheless, Ettienne is a great talent.

Grade: C

 

Round 1, Pick 26. Cleveland Browns

Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

The Browns just reloaded an already stout defensive backfield with a great all-around corner. Newsome is long and has the ability to cause chaos for opposing receivers. The Browns will now boast two lockdown corners on either side of the field in a stacked offensive division.

Grade: A

 

Round 1, Pick 27. Baltimore Ravens

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

The Ravens must have called Ozzie Newsome because this pick has him written all over it. Bateman is a pro-ready route runner with good size and deceptive speed. He will provide Lamar Jackson with a reliable target who can make big plays after the catch.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 28. New Orleans Saints

Payton Turner, Edge, Houston

The Saints reached here, Turner is solid but not worth a first round pick. His tape shows potential but with guys like Azeez Ojulari still on the board, they had better options.

Grade: D.

 

Round 1, Pick 29. Green Bay Packers

Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

Stokes is a bit of a reach here seeing his teammate Tyson Campbell was still on the board but his speed and coverage skills boosted his stock. Stokes fills a need for a defensive playmaker opposite incumbent shutdown man Jaire Alexander and can develop into a solid coverage corner at the next level.

Grade: B-

 

Round 1, Pick 30. Buffalo Bills

Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

The Bills walked away with the most pro-ready pass rusher in the draft without having to move up. Rousseau joins an already established group of capable players and gets to do what he does best, get after the quarterback. Expect fireworks early from this young man.

Grade: A+

 

Round 1, Pick 31. Baltimore Ravens (via KC)

Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State

Way to fill a need here Baltimore. Oweh has some production concerns but all tools are there. With Matthew Judon leaving, getting younger is good and Oweh’s speed makes him dangerous in passing situations.

Grade: A-

 

Round 1, Pick 32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington

The defending champs are returning their entire roster from last year essentially but with better options on the board, this pick is puzzling. Jason Pierre-Paul is getting older so I get the logic behind taking an edge rusher that doesn’t have to produce early.

Grade: C-

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