2021 NFL Draft: Grades, Quick Thoughts, Analysis For Each Team

What's more inexact than drafting? Grading a team's ability to draft


The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone, and we won’t bore you with a lengthy preamble.

Here are our grades, thoughts and analysis on each team’s draft performance. You can view the full draft results here.

Arizona Cardinals, B+ — They got a lot of really good value while addressing needs. Their patience with drafting a wideout netted them a fascinating guy in Rondale Moore, while getting a likely day-one starter in linebacker Zaven Collins.

Atlanta Falcons, C+ — Kyle Pitts is going to be an absolute animal right away, and the Falcons’ air attack should be great. But despite that, they still don’t have a long-term plan at quarterback for when Matt Ryan calls it a career. They drafted plenty of defensive players, and they need some of them to work out.

Baltimore Ravens, B — The Ravens’ pick of Rashod Bateman in the first round was an admission that they learned from last year that Lamar Jackson can’t just do everything with his legs. He needs passing options. They probably could have stood to put more emphasis on offensive line, though.

Buffalo Bills, A- — The Bills’ defense has been a strong suit, and they got a defensive end in Gregory Rousseau that is going to haunt opposing quarterbacks for a while. Overall, a solid showing from a team that was picking near the bottom of every round.

Carolina Panthers, B- — You could argue what the biggest need was for the Panthers going into the draft, but getting Jaycee Horn by no means was a bad move. However, there were a lot of holes on the roster, and they plugged them as best they could.

Chicago Bears, A — Despite all the “Andy Dalton is our QB1” smokescreens, they got perhaps the highest ceiling quarterback in the draft. We love that for them, but are also looking forward to seeing how they blow up all their good favor by playing Dalton 16 games next season.

Cincinnati Bengals, C — Overall, their selections weren’t bad, but we disagree with the placement in a lot of cases. Ja’Marr Chase is fun, but they probably would’ve been better off trading back and taking a tackle. At least they took two offensive linemen between rounds 2-4.

Cleveland Browns, A- — It was an efficient draft for the Browns. They took the fastest wideout in Anthony Shwartz. Greg Newsome could be a top-two corner right away, but will be a nice depth option if both Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are healthy. They traded up at the right time to get Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, perhaps the best inside linebacker in the draft. Decent work.

Dallas Cowboys, B — Similar to the Browns, the first-round addition of Micah Parsons gives them someone who makes their linebacking group elite when everyone is healthy, but more than adaquate when other holdovers, like Leighton Vander Esch, are hurt. The emphasis on drafting defense across all rounds was self-aware.

Denver Broncos, C+ — Patrick Surtain was probably the right move given they elected not to take a quarterback, but that might not’ve been the position group they should’ve addressed first. Regardless, their work in the mid-rounds is what ultimately will make this a successful draft.

Detroit Lions, C- — Looks like Dan Campbell is all about going big. Great, but they did nothing to really address a largely depleted skill group that just got a new quarterback. Detroit should be harder to play against from a pure size perspective, but it was just a meh draft for them.

Green Bay Packers, C- — At least they didn’t take a quarterback in the first round this time. More seriously, though, they didn’t really upgrade their front seven, which could’ve used some bolstering. Amari Rodgers is fascinating, but he seems like a bust candidate at the NFL level, and if they really wanted to improve at wideout, they should’ve addressed it earlier.

Houston Texans, D — Only so much they can do because they didn’t pick until the third round. It made sense that they drafted Davis Mills, but if they somehow get Deshaun Watson to stay, they at least invested in a wideout and tight end with their next two picks. Again, not much they could do, but a largely underwhelming draft from a team that had a lot of holes to fill.

Indianapolis Colts, A- — We gave the Colts an A- last year, and we’re doing the same thing this year. Maybe they’re just good at drafting. But they went with defensive ends with their first two picks, which was shrewd given how dominant teams with premier edge rushers seem to have become. The addressed pretty much all their needs, and we respect the flier on Sam Ehlinger in the sixth-round.

Jacksonville Jaguars, A — They didn’t overthink things, just going with Trevor Lawrence with the first pick. They had a ton of draft picks to work with, and they quickly went nuts filling all sorts of roster needs. Drafting is a crapshoot, but they did all the right things.

Kansas City Chiefs, C — They had a lot of needs on defense, and for some reason they kept leaning in on offensive line. We did like the Noah Gray pick in the fifth round though, especially since he’ll be teaming up with Travis Kelce.

Las Vegas Raiders, C- — Picking four defensive backs was a pretty obvious tell that they detested their secondary from last season. It felt like they were all over the map though: Tremendous deals on Trevon Moehrig and Divine Deablo, but then went way off course with the Malcolm Koonce pick.

Los Angeles Chargers, B+ — Asante Samuel Jr. in the second round was good value for the draft slot, and otherwise they made clear their goal in the draft this year was to help Justin Herbert. They took offensive linemen in the first and fifth rounds, then pass-catchers in the third round. Not bad.

Los Angeles Rams, C+ — Three wideouts and a running back, sounds like they’re trying to load up for Matt Stafford. Their emphasis on skill players resulted in them ignoring the offensive line more than they should have, so that could be an adventure.

Miami Dolphins, B+ — So, the Dolphins are really well run now. Good for them. They had a top-heavy draft with five picks in the first three rounds, and they plugged one roster hole after another. Hunter Long in the third round could end up being an under-the-radar steal.

Minnesota Vikings, B- — The Vikings had a nice blend of preparing for the future while still helping themselves now. Getting an offensive lineman in the first round was wise, then Kellen Mond in the second round gives them someone to develop under Kirk Cousins. With little to upgrade at the skill positions after hitting on Justin Jefferson, they went all in on defense, with the Patrick Jones pick standing out.

New England Patriots, B+ — Well, they got a quarterback, and not one that they took in a later round. Bill Belichick historically has been an underwhelming drafter, and he made some decisions that go against his usual thought process (like the addition of Rhamondre Stephenson). It also is fascinating that they didn’t take a cornerback given the perceived uncertainty with Stephon Gilmore.

New Orleans Saints, C+ — They must be comfortable with their quarterback situation post-Drew Brees, as they only took a lottery ticket at the signal-caller position with Ian Book. Defense has failed them in the past though, and ultimately sank them in the postseason, so going defensive end-inside linebacker-cornerback in the first three rounds was understandable.

New York Giants, C- — We really have no clue what the Giants were doing. Azeez Ojulari was a great pick in the second round, and we can see why they went wideout in the first round. But they didn’t draft a single offensive lineman, so…

New York Jets, B- — We’re not huge on Zach Wilson, but we’ll let it slide because the consensus across college football folks is that Wilson was deserving of the second pick. Their offense has stunk for a while now, and drafting a bunch of offensive players in the early rounds was a sign that they’re really turning the page from the Sam Darnold era. Will it work? Who knows. But they’re not going to keep trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

Philadelphia Eagles, C- — Our biggest issue with the Eagles is that they had some glaring needs in the secondary, but decided to go with an injury-prone center in the second round with the Landon Dickerson pick. They addressed their porous secondary eventually, but not with sure-things.

Pittsburgh Steelers, B- — We kind of love that the Steelers went all-in on offense. Their winning streak, and 2020 season, stagnated once their offense sputtered, and they responded by going running back-tight end-center-tackle in the first four rounds. Not bad.

San Francisco 49ers, B+ — Not that there was any doubt, but this draft was John Lynch obviously showing he envisions Kyle Shanahan being around for the long haul. Trey Lance is a perfect fit for their run-heavy system, then they go with a guard in the second round and running back in Round 3. The 49ers think they’re better than their record represented last year, and they made some exciting picks.

Seattle Seahawks, C+ — They only had three picks, so there only was so much they could do. D’Wayne Eskridge gives Russell Wilson a needed third receiver, then Tre Brown was a nice add at corner, especially since he has the size to play on the outside or as a slot corner. Fine effort for not having a lot to work with.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, B- — When all 22 starters return from your Super Bowl-winning team, you’re just drafting for depth. Kyle Trask getting a year under Tom Brady could be just what he needs, otherwise the Bucs mostly went sometimes a ways off the board to make their picks. For what they need now, it’s fine. It might kill them later, but they obviously are not thinking about the future.

Tennessee Titans, B+ — Hats off to the Titans for not being afraid to draft Caleb Farley, despite his fall down the board. Too often, their secondary got picked apart last season and they went with value guys at their varying draft slots.

Washington Football Team, B — Minus a quarterback, WFT addressed a bunch of needs. Their offense was awful last season, and they responded in the draft by surrounding Ryan Fitzpatrick with a second-round offensive tackle and third-round wideout.

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