The NFL draft concluded around three weeks ago. Meaning that players that many franchises are betting their futures upon have began rookie minicamp as well as OTA's. With the draft complete, let's take a look back at the draft classes for all thirty-two teams.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A
Overall the Jaguars had a bit of a shaky draft, but selecting Trevor Lawrence first overall saves them from receiving a lower grade for this class. The Jaguars reached on taking running back Travis Etienne at the twenty-fifth pick. However, this also showed that they’re going all-in on Trevor Lawrence by selecting his college teammate. The pick is still questionable considering the stellar season that James Robinson had a year ago. I was not too fascinated with the second and third-round selections by the Jaguars with Tyson Campbell and Walker Little being their selections. There were corners on the board that are better than Campbell and were far more consistent in their college tenure than the former Georgia Bulldog but the Jaguars filled a need with that pick. Walker Little is one of the offensive tackles that was ranked in the middle of the pack at his position, largely due to the injuries and his decision to opt-out of the 2020 season. Although, Little has an extremely high ceiling and could be a consistent starter in the league if he’s able to stay healthy. The Jaguars then chose Syracuse corner Andre Cisco in the third round, who was one of the best ball hawk safeties in the class. Cisco can be very effective in the secondary for the Jaguars if he can remain healthy, as he’s coming off a torn ACL last season. The Jaguars were more focused on just filling their needs on day three as they chose to strengthen the defensive line with two picks in the fourth round and go tight end in round five. The Jags still have ways to go on their rebuild and didn’t necessarily crush it with this draft but the future is bright in Jacksonville with Trevor Lawrence under center.
New York Jets: A-
Like the Jaguars, the Jets had an excellent draft. It was clear that Zach Wilson would be their pick once they traded Sam Darnold to Carolina and they did a great job of surrounding Wilson with talent with how they used the rest of their picks. The Jets traded up from pick twenty-three to get Alijah Vera-Tucker, one of my favorite prospects and one of the most versatile prospects in the class. Vera-Tucker can step in and start from day one at either guard or tackle. The Jets only had one pick on day two and they chose to add another weapon for Zach Wilson. Elijah Moore is arguably the best slot receiver in this class and adds another elusive wideout to the Jets receiver room that still needed improvement, despite their free agency acquisitions. The Jets continued to crush the draft with their day three picks, starting with running back Michael Carter who can step in and be one of the several running backs in the Jets rotation. The Jets then decided to strengthen the secondary by selecting five defensive backs on day three. Although the Jets added some strength in the secondary in free agency with Lamarcus Joyner, they needed more depth at safety and a lot of help at the corner position, they were able to do both with their day three picks. This draft class and the future of the franchise depend on the success of Zach Wilson, but even if Wilson doesn’t turn out to be the franchise QB, the Jets added a plethora of talent at several positions.
San Francisco 49ers: B-
After months of rumors around the 49ers and QB Mac Jones, the 49ers decided to go with Trey Lance rather than Jones. I like Lance more than Jones so I liked the pick for the 49ers, although I would’ve gone with Justin Fields. It’s clear that the 49ers don’t believe that Jimmy Garoppolo is the guy to lead them to a Super Bowl, so they selected the QB that they believe will. The 49ers day two picks were not the most impressive, to say the least. They reached on guard Aaron Banks but were still able to improve the offensive line which was much needed. However, the third-round selection of running back Trey Sermon is one that I’m still questioning. The 49ers used multiple different running backs last year, due to injuries of their backs and because that’s their offensive scheme. But this move makes no sense, especially considering the recent signing of Wayne Gallman. The 49ers then chose multiple players in the secondary which were needed when looking at the injuries that the secondary suffered last year. With their final pick on day three, the 49ers chose yet another running back, which once again makes zero sense. The 49ers are a Super Bowl contender if healthy, so it makes sense that they chose to add more depth to specific positions in this draft.
Atlanta Falcons: A-
The Falcons chose to add some offensive help for Matt Ryan rather than drafting his successor at number four overall by going with Kyle Pitts. Pitts will make an already explosive offense even more lethal by adding the talent that Pitts has to go along with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. However, most of the Falcons issues are on the defensive end and no defensive prospect was worthy of the number four overall pick. The Falcons had a great day two as they were able to trade back and get the number one safety on their board in Richie Grant which was a dire need since the Falcons lost every safety on their roster in free agency. The Falcons decided to strengthen the offensive line in round three with Jaylen Mayfield, who had been a first-round pick in many mock drafts. Mayfield can slide in and play guard if needed and be effective right away, if the Falcons are going to go all-in on Matt Ryan for the near future, they have to keep him upright. The Falcons continued to strengthen the offensive line on day three to start, then loaded up on defensive players with their three fifth-round picks. The Falcons really could use some more edge rushers and should’ve chosen more in this class. The Falcons also really need help at running back, a position that they didn't use a pick on in this class. Overall the Falcons had a great draft but it could've been even better.
Cincinnati Bengals: B+
The Bengals decided to go with Joe Burrow’s former teammate Ja’Marr Chase instead of taking Penei Sewell at number five. I would’ve gone with Sewell, but reuniting Burrow and Chase makes this offense even more exciting. However, the Bengals chose to trade down and select an offensive lineman in round two which filled the biggest need for this team. Clemson’s Jackson Carman can come in from the start of his career and help protect Joe Burrow which the Bengals must do. Cincinnati then decided to boost their pass rush by taking Joseph Ossai in round three, who can line up opposite of free-agent acquisition Trey Hendrickson. The Bengals also took an edge rusher in round four, making it even more clear that they need help getting to the Quarterback. The Bengals had a great day three overall by adding some help on the interior of the defensive line along with the edge rushers they selected. The Bengals also loaded up on the offensive line on day three by taking two offensive linemen in an attempt to protect Joe Burrow. The Bengals had a solid draft overall and loaded up on pass rushers and protection for their young QB. The Bengals still have a long way to go in strengthening the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, but consider this a step in the right direction.
Detroit Lions: B
The best offensive lineman in the draft, Penei Sewell, fell into the lap of the Detroit Lions at pick number seven. Sewell will most likely slide into the right tackle position opposite of Taylor Decker. However, with the addition of Sewell, the Lions now have two solid young tackles and center Frank Ragnow to protect Jared Goff. The Lions did not have an impressive day two to say the least. Using two of their three picks on defensive tackles, which isn’t a position in need of an upgrade for Detroit, was not the best move. However, they bounced back slightly by taking cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu with their second selection of the third round. The Lions possibly struck gold on day three by selecting USC wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round, a few spots later than most expected him to go. The Lions could’ve used some more picks on receivers considering they have one of the weaker receiving rooms in the league, but overall it was a solid draft for Detroit and a good start to their rebuild.
Carolina Panthers: A
The Panthers first selection in Jaycee Horn at number eight overall was one that I didn't see coming but makes sense. The Panthers need some more help in the secondary and Horn is one of the best corners in the draft. There’s also no guarantee he would’ve been available if Carolina traded back as Denver went corner with their pick and Dallas most likely would have as well if Horn or Surtain was available. The Panthers had an impressive day two, as they were able to trade back and still get one of the best receivers available for Sam Darnold, in Terrace Marshall Jr. The Panthers improved their offensive line with their remaining day two picks by taking a tackle and a solid blocking tight end in the third round. The Panthers had an even better day three as they held seven total picks going into the fourth through seventh rounds. The Panthers touched on multiple needs for their roster, including a backup running back for Christian McCaffery. Chubba Howard from Oklahoma state is a back that had an outstanding 2019 season, but an underwhelming 2020 campaign. Thus said, he should still be able to come in and win the backup running back spot. Carolina chose to focus on their defense with three of their picks on day three of the draft, specifically the defensive interior as they went with two defensive tackles. Carolina also added one final weapon for Sam Darnold, Shi Smith, who could be a steal in the sixth round for the Panthers.
Denver Broncos: C+
Denver’s first-round selection shows that they’ll be giving Drew Lock, or Teddy Bridgewater, one last chance. We’ll have to wait and see if it was the right move, or if they get burned for not taking Justin Fields at nine. I was surprised by their pick because of their free agency acquisitions of Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, I thought for sure they would take Micah Parsons to fill out their issues in the linebacker unit. Regardless, Patrick Surtain II is still a good decision for the Broncos as they were able to secure the best corner in the class. However, I was very confused by Denver’s choice in the second round, Javonte Williams. Williams was the best running back on the board and third-best overall in the class in my eyes, but the Broncos already have Melvin Gordon. Potentially this pick was to secure another back due to the departure of Philip Lindsay this offseason? I still don’t know, but once again, only time will tell. Much like their first two selections, the rest of Denver’s draft was a bit up-and-down. I like their two third-round selections in Quinn Meinerz and Baron Browning, but I was again shaking my head at some of their day three picks. The Broncos didn’t have another pick until their two fifth-round selections, but in the fifth round, they loaded up on… safeties?? I have mixed feelings about their decision here. One on hand it makes sense; starting Strong Safety, Kareem Jackson is thirty-three and is entering the final year of his contract. So I understand the selection of safety on day three, but I don’t understand the selection of two of them. Although the Broncos selections in round five were not the best, I like what they did in round seven by adding two pass rushers. It’s no secret that former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller isn’t getting any younger and he’s now coming back from a major injury. Even with Miller on the field, the Broncos need more threats off the edge which is why I liked what they did in the seventh round. Overall Denver didn’t have as good of a draft as most would expect, some questionable decisions in the early rounds, then again in the fifth round is why they received a C+.
Dallas Cowboys: B+
Unfortunately for Dallas, the only two corners worth using their first-round pick on were both gone by the time they were on the clock. The Cowboys and Jerry Jones made a great decision by trading back and acquiring a third-round pick while still being able to get arguably the best defensive player in the class. It’ll be interesting to see where Micah Parsons will fit with both Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch on the roster, but I’m sure the Cowboys will find somewhere to put Parsons to enable him to have an impact. The Cowboys overhauled the defense on day two by using all five of their picks on that side of the ball. Thankfully so for the Cowboys, because their defense was abysmal last year. The Cowboys did a great job improving the secondary in their draft by taking corners Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright on day three. Both of those players will have an opportunity for meaningful reps from day one and could be impact players for the Cowboys. I also think the Cowboys could’ve gotten the steal of the draft in LSU Linebacker Jabril Cox. Although Cox will have to find a place to make an impact in the loaded Cowboys linebacker unit, he has real potential to be a great second unit linebacker and provide depth that the Cowboys can be confident in.
New York Giants: A
For possibly the first time in his career, General Manager Dave Gettleman had an incredible draft. Although the Giants missed out on DeVonta Smith, whom they liked, they were able to acquire multiple future picks, including Chicago’s first-rounder next year, while still selecting an explosive offensive playmaker later in the draft. Their first-round choice, Kadarius Toney, could play a big role for the Giants in the slot and could be a threat as a return man as well. The Giants got Toney at just the right time, as Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said after the draft that the Jaguars intended to take Toney at pick twenty-five. Gettleman continued his day one momentum by having a solid day two of the draft. The Giants traded back once again and secured more picks while still getting the guy they wanted and the best pass rusher on the board at the time, Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari had some slotting him as a late first-rounder, so once again, the Giants got the guy they wanted at a great value. Gettleman then chose to improve what was one of the best secondaries in the league a season ago by taking a corner, Aaron Robinson. Robinson is another very talented defensive player, who most expected to go earlier than he did. New York only had three picks on day three and did what they could with them. Elerson Smith, their fourth-round selection, could add a real boost to a pass rush that needs it. Overall, the Giants could’ve used more offensive linemen in their class, but they added multiple future picks while still getting the players they desired. This is why Dave Gettleman and the Giants get an A from me.
Philadelphia Eagles: B
The Eagles have been depleted at receiver for years now, so thankfully for their fans and Jalen Hurts, they drafted a real difference-maker at receiver this time around. The Eagles sensed that the Giants would select DeVonta Smith if the opportunity came for New York, so Philadelphia made the move and jumped the Giants to get Smith. Considering they only gave up a third-round pick to move ahead of the Giants, which for now, is worth it. The Eagles continued to have great selections on day two as they improved their offensive line and potentially found their future Center for life after Jason Kelce by taking Landon Dickerson. The Eagles improved the trenches again by going defensive tackle in round three which should hopefully improve a run defense that allowed the 22nd most rush yards per game a season ago. Moving on to day three, Philadelphia made more strides to improve a subpar defense by using five of their six total picks on the defensive side of the ball. Most notably Defensive Tackle Marlon Tuipulotu and Safety Jacoby Stevens. If the Jalen Hurts experiment fails this season, not all hope will be lost in Philadelphia, as the Eagles have two guaranteed first-round picks next year and could end up with a third. Of course, this depends upon how much former Eagle Carson Wentz can play for the Colts and how successful they are as a whole.
Los Angeles Chargers: A+
The Chargers had one of the best drafts in the league as they were able to draft their biggest two positional needs in the first two rounds. Offensive Tackle Rashawn Slater fell in their laps at pick thirteen and gives them a new starting Left Tackle to protect Justin Herbert. In the second round, the Charges scooped up corner Asante Samuel Jr. whom many had as a first-round player. Samuel went a little bit later than expected, so this is an absolute steal for the Chargers. The Chargers ended day two of the draft by grabbing two more weapons for Justin Herbert and the offense. Picking up Tennessee wideout Josh Palmer, the Chargers picked up another deep threat as Palmer averaged over twenty yards per catch during his 2018 campaign with the Volunteers and secured a solid backup tight end who can also block in Georgia’s Tre’ McKitty. The Chargers lost standout Tight End Hunter Henry in free agency but were able to somewhat rebound by acquiring Jared Cook. However, Cook isn’t quite the talent that Henry is, so McKitty could have a larger role in this offense than most expect. The Chargers had a solid day three of the draft as well. Although they didn’t necessarily get any steals late in the draft, I like the picks they made in rounds four through seven. They added depth to multiple positions that they’ve seen struggle with injuries over the past few seasons, including running back and safety.
Minnesota Vikings: B+
The Vikings made one of the more underrated moves of round one by trading back nine spots and still being able to secure one of the best tackles in the class, Christian Darrisaw. The Vikings had no second-round selections due to the trade for Yannick Ngakoue during the regular season, but they made some interesting choices in round three, starting with Quarterback Kellen Mond. It was revealed after the draft that if Justin Fields had fallen to pick fourteen, the Vikings would have selected him. Unfortunately for them, that didn’t happen and they went with Mond in round three. There should be no immediate worries for Kirk Cousins, but you have to believe that the Vikings chose Mond to apply some pressure on Cousins. The Vikings did a great job with their next three picks that they held in the third round. Selecting players based on their needs, Minnesota was able to add guard Wyatt Davis and edge rusher Patrick Jones II, the team's two biggest positional needs. The Vikings had six total picks on day three of the draft, meaning that they have the best chance to find a diamond in the rough. With these six picks, they chose to continue to address their defense and add some more weapons to their passing game.
New England Patriots: A
Bill Belichick took no time reinforcing his New England team with good young talent after their worst-performing season in recent memory. The 2021 draft all started with a bang as they sat still at the 15th pick and snagged their QB of the future in Mac Jones. If Jones proves that he can be a championship-caliber quarterback, I believe this pick could go down as one of the biggest steals in draft history. In the later rounds, the Patriots aimed to reinforce the defensive side of the ball with players like Christian Baremore and Ronnie Perkins. Barmore flashed potential as a quality starter, but time will tell as to whether giving up two fourth-round picks to move up eight spots to get him was the right choice. They found a top-50 talent in Perkins late in Round 3. They also brought in guys like Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson and Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone. Stevenson’s power running complements Michel, Harris, and White. McGrone is a typical Patriots linebacker prospect who could thrive under Belichick.
Arizona Cardinals: B+
The Cardinals found a playmaking linebacker at No. 16. Zaven Collins’ career track could be similar to that of Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Anthony Barr. The team could have selected a cornerback in the first round because of its need there but found that the linebacker with an elite skill set was more important. The dynamic Rondale Moore was picked in the second round despite his small stature and injury history. They traded their third-round pick for former Raiders center Rodney Hudson earlier this offseason, which was a smart move seeing as the centers were hard to come by later in the draft. The Cards also drafted University of Florida's Marco Wilson. Wilson’s athleticism and NFL genes (his brother, Quincy, was a second-round pick of the Colts in 2017) helped make him an early Day 3 pick despite his uneven play and mental mistakes at Florida. Giving up a 2022 fourth-rounder to move up for Wilson hurt Arizona’s grade, but with all the talent that they brought in from the weekend, I do not think the Cardinals organization will lose any sleep over it.
Las Vegas Raiders: C
It almost feels inappropriate to critique the Las Vegas Raiders draft picks because it is so blatantly obvious that the Raiders' process for evaluating prospects is very different from everyone else's. A lot of fans were left scratching their heads and double-checking their big boards as Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood was taken off the board at 17 overall. While he does have the size and the potential to be the guy, I am not sure if he was the “best available” for the Raiders at that pick. However, the decision to trade up for TCU safety Trevor Moehrig was a steal. That pick allows fans to nullify the reach for Leatherwood. But in traditional Raiders fashion, Moehrig was one of three safeties selected by the Raiders this past weekend; another head-scratching decision.
Miami Dolphins: A-
If nothing else, the Dolphins have given Tua Tagovailoa as much support as they can heading into his sophomore season. Taking Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was one of four draft reunions between former college offensive teammates; Waddle has incredible upside and thrived alongside Tagovailoa at Alabama. There is a consensus amongst evaluators that selections such as Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips and Oregon safety Jevon Holland are going to be instant impact players. A lot of analysts believe that the Dolphins may have walked away from this weekend with four or five starting-caliber players. The Dolphins overall has one of the best draft grades this year at an A-. The only thing preventing them from being higher stems from injury concerns for Waddle and Phillips.
Washington Football Team: B
There is no narrative strong enough to explain the Washington Football Team's draft class. The selection of Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis is a slight reach for a non-need position to some, and savvy addition to an already stalwart defense to others. Texas tackle Sam Cosmi is virtually loved by all. For the upside he presents at the position he was drafted, Cosmi could prove all the teams that passed on him wrong by becoming one of the best pass protectors in this league. Penn State edge rusher Shaka Toney was universally praised as a steal in the seventh round. He has size, speed, and the ability to get to the quarterback. It is just a question of if those traits will transfer over to pro ball. Lastly, North Carolina wide receiver Dyami Brown represents another point of contention amongst graders. While some argue his deep-threat ability is a perfect complement to Terry McLaurin's skill set and Ryan Fitzpatrick's "YOLO" style of play, others view Brown as a one-dimensional receiver who can only win deep.
Chicago Bears: A-
Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace are under immense pressure as this is probably a “make it or break it” year for them as far as their careers in Chicago. It seems as if they know this as well based on how they drafted this year. The Bears traded up not once, but twice in the first two rounds to get instant impact players. In the first round, the Bears sacrificed four total picks to get QB Justin Fields, while they gave up more picks in the second round to get offensive tackle Teven Jenkins. After a complete disaster of an experiment with former Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky, Nagy and Pace are putting the future of their careers in the hands of Justin Fields. However, according to newly signed free agent QB Andy Dalton, he will be the team’s day one starter, not Justin Fields. No matter what Dalton was paid, or told, I completely disagree. After all, no team gives up four total draft picks to trade up nine spots for a Quarterback that they don’t plan on playing for their entire rookie year. The Bears followed up the most exciting day one move, by making another big move on day two by trading up for Teven Jenkins. Easily the best tackle on the board at the time, many had Jenkins as a first-round pick. Jenkins will step in right away at the Right Tackle position for the Bears, and hopefully, for Nagy and Pace, he’ll make his presence known right away. The Bears didn’t pick again until the fifth round, but they held four total picks on day three. In round five Chicago cashed in on another solid offensive line prospect in Larry Borom. Boron will provide great depth at the Left Tackle position for Chicago. Overall, the Bears made the most exciting move of the draft in trading up for Justin Fields. Hopefully, for Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace, their desperation moves pay off.
Indianapolis Colts: B
Going into the draft, the Colts had two outstanding positional needs: edge rusher and Left Tackle. They didn’t select a single offensive tackle until round seven, but General Manager Chris Ballard knew what he was doing, as the Colts signed former Chiefs Left Tackle shortly after the NFL Draft. The Colts decided to go edge rusher in both rounds one and two, which makes sense considering they lost two starting defensive ends this past offseason and have not added anyone at that position. In round one, the Colts went with Kwity Paye, whom many had as their number one edge rusher in this class. Paye is a raw prospect much like the other edge rushers in this class but has tremendous potential. Paye didn’t have the best sack number in his time at Michigan, but he still pressured the QB often. The defensive end they selected in round two, Dayo Odeyingbo, is a slight reach in my opinion just because he suffered an Achilles injury in January. Thus said, there’s a possibility that we don’t see Odeyingbo on the field in his rookie year. The Colts added two young pass rushers, and I think re-signing veteran Justin Houston could go a long way for the development of both by having Houston as a mentor. The Colts didn’t have great day three picks, and some were even questionable. To be specific, the choice of Texas QB Sam Ehlinger in round six. The decision of the Colts to get Carson Wentz this offseason is going to be more of an experiment than a guaranteed success story, but the Colts went QB on day three in last year's draft with Jacob Eason. Making this selection slightly confusing. However, overall I felt the Colts did a solid job selecting their biggest needs and didn’t necessarily reach on many of their picks. The fact that they also were able to get a solid Left Tackle after the draft rather than using a pick on an unproven tackle also boosts their draft grade.
Tennessee Titans: B
I see Tennessee's draft as the definition of average improvement. In the first round, the Titans got lucky with the selection of Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley. Farley’s injury history is troubling and will bear watching, but he can become a real playmaker on the outside if he can stay on the field. In the second round, they selected Dillion Radunz from North Dakota State. Radunz is a work in progress but was picked at the right point of the draft and fills a large need at right tackle, given the departure of 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Wilson. In the later rounds, they continued to beef up both sides of the ball. Monty Rice fits the Titans’ system well, and Molden was one of the steals of Day 2; they both have a chance to be playmakers. At his best, Fitzpatrick is worthy of an early fourth-round pick. Other available receivers may have provided better value, but addressing the position was essential for them, and there’s certainly a chance Fitzpatrick maximizes his potential. Depth on the edge was a crucial need for Tennessee, and Weaver looked like a likely mid-round pick throughout the 2020 season. McMath’s also an inconsistent receiver, but his special teams acumen (like sixth-rounder Breeze) will allow him to stick around for years. The Titans could have used help at tight end in this draft, though it looks like they've already secured some undrafted rookies post-draft.
Seattle Seahawks: C-
Most people can agree: this was never going to be a revolutionary draft for the Seattle Seahawks. Entering the draft with just three picks, there was never much opportunity for the Seahawks to achieve much higher than middling grades. I give Seattle the benefit of the doubt, including the acquisitions of safety Jamal Adams (2021 and 2022 first-round picks) and guard Gabe Jackson (2021 fifth-round pick) as parts of this year's draft "haul," boosting their grade because of it. In terms of the players, Seattle drafted, 24-year-old Western Michigan receiver D'Wayne Eskridge, was kind of a reach seeing as he has never had more than 38 catches in a season. Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown, measuring in at 5-foot-10, is atypical for the corners we so often associate with Pete Carroll and Seattle. The brightest spot of this draft class comes from the sixth round, where Florida tackle Stone Forsythe finally came off the board. Forsythe can be seen as a high-upside tackle who particularly excels in pass protection which is perfect for the oft-battered Russell Wilson.
Pittsburgh Steelers: C-
The Steelers had one of the most confusing drafts of the entire league. However, I liked the route they went in round one with running back Najee Harris. Pittsburgh averaged a dreadful 3.6 yards per carry a season ago and lost starting running back James Conner in free agency. Therefore, Harris was an obvious choice for Pittsburgh. Thus said though, I was not in support of their choice in round two of Penn State Tight End, Pat Freiermuth. Yes, Eric Ebron didn’t have the most consistent season a year ago and was tied for most drops among all tight ends, but the Steelers have bigger needs. Ebron will still be a solid target for Big Ben this season, so this decision was a head-scratching one for me. Thankfully for Big Ben and the offense, Pittsburgh finally drafted an offensive lineman in round three. Former All-Pro Center Maurkice Pouncey retired last year after an eleven-year run with the Steelers, leaving a big gap in the middle of the offensive line. The Steelers are hopeful that third-round choice Kendrick Green can step in and have even half the impact that Pouncey did. The Steelers continued their draft by choosing some positions that became needed after some cap space issues caused some key defensive players to walk in free agency, or be released this off-season. One thing that is concerning though, is that the Steelers have no plan as of right now for life after Ben Roethlisberger, whom many expect, will retire after this upcoming season. The Steelers did not use any draft picks this year on a young QB, which further proves that they’re going all-in for one more Super Bowl run with Big Ben. However, some of their draft choices didn’t fill the roster out in certain places to prepare them best for one more run. Add that in with the fact that they have no clue what they’re going to do once Roethlisberger isn’t in Pittsburgh anymore and this earns a C-.
Los Angeles Rams: B-
Even though they did not pick until the second round, the Los Angeles Rams had a pretty solid draft. It is widely accepted that the NFL is slowly adopting the small, speedy receiver as a way to stretch the field and take the top off good defenses. After the Rams took 5-foot-7, 155-pound receiver, Tutu Atwell, with their first pick, it may be safe to say they have taken this too literally. The upside of Atwell's blazing speed and elite acceleration is offset by the fact that a stiff breeze could tackle him for a loss. The selection of South Carolina linebacker Ernest Jones has been met with a lot of mixed feelings. A lot of people call the pick a steal while others call him "one-dimensional" and stiff. Beyond these two picks, there is a clear lack of surefire upside players. Considering that the Rams carry a lot of big-name star power on their roster, it may not come as a surprise that their draft selection is full of role guys with developmental upside.
Houston Texans: D
Since 2018, the Houston Texans' drafts have been horrible. This year is no different as they take home the crown for consensus worst draft. The Texans are still reaping what former head coach/GM Bill O'Brien had sown before his exit. This is evident in where the Texans draft officially began: the 96th overall pick. Now, starting your draft this late is already a problem, but that only gets exemplified when the only players you select with those late picks are developmental guys with developmental traits. Stanford quarterback Davis Mills should be in a situation where he can sit behind a veteran, learning and developing for several years. With Deshaun Watson's future in limbo, Mills does not have that luxury. Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins and Miami tight end Brevin Jordan are both prospects who scream "potential" while the Texans roster is begging for competent starters.
Cleveland Browns: A+
It's always nice to see the draft host team do well at their draft. The draft board fell in Cleveland's favor during the first round, allowing the Browns to address one of their biggest needs and select Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome III. Those high on the Cleveland Browns draft class often note Auburn wide receiver Anthony Schwartz as a particular high point. Schwarts and his ability to stretch the field and to operate as a gadget player are perfect complementary qualities for Kevin Stefanski's offense. But the main sticking point in the Browns' grades comes from their second-round steal in Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. There are a lot of opinions on this guy due to his last-second heart issue. Either Cleveland risked a second-round pick on a player with no real position, or the Browns just added the perfect do-it-all guy to an already formidable defense.
Baltimore Ravens: A-
Lamar Jackson must be one happy camper after this past draft weekend. The Baltimore Ravens kicked off the draft by nailing both of their first-round picks (the second of which was acquired after trading tackle Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs). Their first addition was Minnesota wide receiver, Rashod Bateman. Bateman was described by some as the perfect fit for a pass-catcher in the Baltimore offense. He has size and the skill to play wherever the Ravens see fit. Their second first-round pick was Penn State edge rusher Odafe (Jayson) Oweh. Oweh has the physical tools to dominate if schemed into the right spot. They also added Georgia guard Ben Cleveland was seen as someone who excels blocking downhill in the run game, perfect for the Baltimore offense. Oklahoma State's Tylan Wallace was also added to this explosive offense. Wallace, a second quality receiver taken in the fourth round, can be a great balance to Bateman and Hollywood Brown.
New Orleans Saints: C
The New Orleans Saints are officially in the post-Drew Brees era, but I am not quite sure if they are drafting like it. There was certainly a clear theme to the Saints draft this year and that was athletic upside. Outside of Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book, every prospect the Saints drafted had at least a 90th-percentile size-adjusted athletic composite. New Orleans is known for often passing up on talent to take a developmental player with a high ceiling. Houston edge rusher Payton Turner is a prime example of this. This is the type of player who feels like perfect candidates for a team in Super Bowl contention looking to add depth. Considering the departure of Brees and improvements made by division rivals, can one even be confident in playoff contention? I'd like to take a moment to address Ian Book. Book is not a bad player by any means, but the selection with a 4th round pick is puzzling. I feel like Book almost certainly would have been available on the third day as a late-round selection. With so many needs for the New Orleans Saints, there is no real explanation as to why Book was the selection then.
Green Bay Packers: C+
Just hours before the Jacksonville Jaguars were officially on the clock, the Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers let his voice be heard. Rodgers announced that the relationship between himself and the Packers organization has been severed, resulting in Rodgers allegedly refusing to ever take another snap in a green and gold uniform. All Aaron Rodgers wanted was commitment from the team longterm and team help on the offensive side of the ball to push the Packers to the promised land. And what did the Packers do… nothing. With a long-termirst pick, Green Bay selected Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes. The team settled by addressing a major need for the team. Drafting Ohio State center Josh Myers to replace Corey Linsley is a near-universally praised move. From there, things get messy. Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers can provide to all aspects of the Green Bay offense. Rodgers, however, saw the most success when running screens in college. That does not exactly compliment Aaron Rodgers' deep-ball accuracy and power. Amari Rodgers, along with Mississippi tackle Royce Newman, were both considered players that address positions of need. When considering the support that Rodgers wants, however, addressing wide receiver in the third and tackle in the fourth have been seen by some as too little, too late.
Buffalo Bills: A-
After the AFC Championship loss to Kansas City, Buffalo’s front office knew they had to make some improvements to return to the promised land. Bills’ GM Brandon Beane stood back in the first round and found a promising edge rusher available in Gregory Rousseau to add to the team’s depth upfront. Rousseau was looking to be the best edge rusher in this class, but due to his opt-out, his stock allowed him to fall to #30. With that being said, Rousseau’s speed and size leave all the possibilities to become a dominant edge rusher in this league. The Bills proceeded to double up on the line with Carlos Basham in the second round. He was the best player on the board, though other areas of the roster might have benefitted from an investment at that defensive end spot. The selection of Spencer Brown -- a swing tackle who could become a starter -- hit one of those areas of need. I think this is a perfect fit. I mean the guy got drafted and proceeded to jump through a folding table; he oozes Buffalo Bills energy. The trench-based draft did not stop there either. The Bills went tackle again in the fifth round, picking a solid value in Doyle. He has the chance to be a great rotational depth piece for the future. Stevenson’s ability as a returner and versatile receiver will be utilized by the Bills if he can stay healthy. Hamlin is a Jordan Fuller-type bargain in the sixth round. With his talent, I could see him becoming an option for the Bills later in the season. Anderson is a very good pick late in the draft because he’s strong and versatile enough to play guard or center. It won’t surprise me if he’s the team’s starting pivot in 2022.
Kansas City Chiefs: A-
The Chiefs started their weekend out with a band as they moved down from 31 to 58 as part of the trade for left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., in addition to sending third- and fourth-round picks to the Ravens (and swapping late-round picks). Given the results of Super Bowl LV, when Patrick Mahomes was running for his life, it is an understandable deal. Orlando Brown has already established himself as one of the league’s top tackles, so I see it as a small price to pay for salvation. With the 58th pick, the Chiefs selected Missouri linebacker, Nick Bolton. Bolton's the kind of attacking defender the Chiefs needed at the second level. Creed Humphrey was a steal at 63 to tighten up the middle of the line. He started three years at the University of Oklahoma and, get this, never allowed a sack during his tenure. They also found talent in the later rounds. Defensive end Josh Kaindoh is a great fit for Kansas City in the fourth round, a long defender with plenty of upsides. It was thought the Chiefs wanted to improve their talent behind Travis Kelce so they brought in Noah Gray, tight end from Duke. Gray’s smooth movement and reliable hands caused the team to go up for his services, although the swap of picks didn't cost much. Cornell Powell bided his time behind very talented receivers at Clemson but proved he can play as a No. 3 wideout at the next level. Lastly, they took versatile offensive lineman Trey Smith out of the University of Tennessee. Smith's unfortunate history of blood clots seemingly cost him four rounds in the draft, but the Chiefs took an easy chance on his talent in the sixth and will receive big benefits sooner rather than later.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B+
The Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an offseason to remember. Aside from celebrating, they managed to retain not one, but all twenty-two starters from last season. How is that even possible? So now the question is, what do you need to do for the team that already has everything? Rebuild and load up depth for future use. Tampa started the draft with the #32 pick where they took defensive end, Joe Tryon, from the University of Washington. Tryon’s versatility fits quite well in the Buccaneers’ scheme, as he can play the five-technique or stand up as a powerful rush linebacker. The team needed to get younger there, with Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston, and Jason Piere-Paul all potentially free agents after the season. They also went with Florida quarterback Kyle Trask in the second round. Trask could be a Nick Foles-type starter down the line but was probably picked one round earlier than his skill set called for. Offensive tackle Robert Hainsey brings versatility and toughness to a Tampa line in need of depth. Late-round wide receiver Jaelon Darden comes as a surprise to me. Darden is a smaller pass-catcher coming in at 5’8’’, 174 pounds, but he was a draft crush for me because of his juice and toughness after the catch. They ended the draft by picking players like K.J. Britt and Chris Wilcox. Britt is a leader with a great football IQ, and he will serve as a nice backup to the Bucs’ veterans. Wilcox is a versatile defensive back with a high-motor that can fly and make plays.