2021 NFL Draft Grades: NFC Edition


The draft is over and the NFL’s schedule is set to release on May 11th. The offseason will be a long wait this summer, but it will be all worth the wait to see players like Trevor Lawrence, JaMarr Chase, and more.

Let’s check in with all 16 members of the AFC and their selections, and slab on a grade on if they hit, miss, reached, etc.

AFC North


Cleveland Browns

Round 1, Pick 26: CB Greg Newsome

Greg Newsome began to climb into first-round mocks late into the draft process, but the talent is undeniable. Newsome was a great “need” pick for Cleveland and fills a void in a stacked receiver-dominant division.

Draft Grade: A-

Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 1, Pick 24: RB Najee Harris

Running backs in the first-round have mostly been nonnegotiable in a war-room, but it’s happening more than regularly in today’s league. Najee Harris was a high priority for Pittsburgh and they will rely on him to carry the load after the James Connor departure.

Draft Grade: B-

Baltimore Ravens

Round 1, Pick 27: WR Rashod Bateman ; Round 1, Pick 31: EDGE Odafe Oweh

Baltimore needed another weapon for Lamar Jackson, and they got that in Bateman. The Ravens also added in an interview they will begin to open up the playbook more for Jackson and his new offensive players. Oweh has value, but you would’ve liked to see Tevin Jenkins or another lineman come off the board at 31.

Draft Grade: B-

Cincinnati Bengals

Round 1, Pick 5: WR JaMarr Chase

The Bengals wanted to please QB Joe Burrow and link him up with LSU Tiger teammate JaMarr Chase. Penei Sewell was right there, and so was Rashawn Slater. As good as a player Chase is and will be, lineman was the obvious pick at 5.

Draft Grade: C

AFC West

Los Angeles Chargers

Round 1, Pick 13: OT Rashawn Slater

The Chargers had to be laughing their tails off at the fact one of the top players in the draft fell in their lap, and happens to be their biggest need, tackle. Rashawn Slater will protect Justin Herberts blindside and LA couldn’t have done better in round-one.

Draft Grade: A+

Las Vegas Raiders

Round 1, Pick 17: OT Alex Leatherwood

Las Vegas does it again! Another reach in a draft where there was much better talent on the board. After blowing up the offensive line this offseason, the Raiders were at least smart enough to add depth to their biggest need. This could backfire quickly.

Draft Grade: D

Kansas City Chiefs

No first-round selections.

Denver Broncos

Round 1, Pick 9: CB Patrick Surtain

Surtain is a great corner, arguably the best in the class, but QB was a big need even with a Teddy Bridgewater trade. Justin Fields and Mac Jones were available, but Denver deferred to defense.

Draft Grade: C+

AFC South

Tennessee Titans

Round 1, Pick 22: CB Caleb Farley

Farley is an iffy pick, but it could pay off if the injuries don’t become an issue. Farley went through two back surgeries this offseason and had other injuries during his time at Virginia Tech. Potential and talent is there, but health remains questionable. Could be a real steal in this draft.

Draft Grade: B-

Indianapolis Colts

Round 1, Pick 21: EDGE Kwity Paye

The Colts defense is already solid and adding an athletic player like Kwity Paye will help in a rotation. Paye can play all around the defensive line and could give a strong run at DROTY.

Draft Grade: B+

Houston Texans

No first-round selections.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Round 1, Pick 1: QB Trevor Lawrence ; Round 1, Pick 25: RB Travis Etienne

Trevor Lawrence is the best player in the draft and they pair him up with Clemson teammate Travis Etienne. James Robinson played great last season, so that’s the only reason the grade has to drop from an A, to a B.

Draft Grade: B

AFC East

New England Patriots

Round 1, Pick 15: QB Mac Jones

Jones fell right into New England’s lap at 15, and most believe they would target Jones if they were to trade up. This pick was gold and will pay off in Bellichick’s system.

Draft Grade: A-

Miami Dolphins

Round 1, Pick 6: WR Jaylen Waddle ; Round 1 Pick 18: EDGE Jaelan Phillips.

Miami had a great draft starting with the selection of Waddle at 6. His explosiveness and dynamic ability will help Tua Tagovailoa and his development. Phillips was a good value-pick at 18, and will add do an already good defense in Miami.

Draft Grade: B+

Buffalo Bills

Round 1, Pick 30: EDGE Greg Rousseau

Buffalo addressed a need on the defensive line in drafting Rousseau from Miami. Buffalo has a real shot at a Super Bowl type year in 2021 if the pass rush picks up.

Draft Grade: B-

New York Jets

Round 1, Pick 2: QB Zach Wilson ; Round 1, Pick 14: OL Alijah Vera-Tucker

The Jets did an amazing job by trading up from 23 for Alijah Vera-Tucker to protect new franchise QB Zach Wilson. Definitely one of the top-tier first-round performances around the NFL. The Jets might be back!

Draft Grade: A

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