NFL Draft grades 2021: Complete results & analysis for every pick in Rounds 1-3
How well did your team fare in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft? Sporting News has you covered in tracking all the picks and issuing grades beginning in real time Thursday night.
Going on the clock in Cleveland, the spotlight again is on the quarterbacks, starting with the first three picks. But there’s plenty of franchise-changing talent at other positions both in terms of immediate impact and long-term shine.
MORE 2021 NFL DRAFT:
Full results | Winners & losers | Team-by-team grades
The key questions to ask right away: Did the team get the right player at a position of need? Did it pass on someone else who could have been a better fit? Was the player it took worthy of that high of selection vs. the promise of similar prospects? Based on our evaluations, we’re providing answers for what the picks mean now and later.
From No. 1 through No. 32, this is your hub for in-depth live reaction in Round 1, grading every team and player fit.
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Jacksonville couldn’t do better than this after earning the first overall pick and a generational talent at the position who stands out even in a top-heavy draft class. Urban Meyer begins his pro career with a strong-armed passer, great athlete and exceptional leader with plenty of winning pedigree. Lawrence, with the right support soon, can be an ace starter for several seasons.
The Jets surprised some by locking into Wilson so soon over Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones as their replacement for Sam Darnold. But they liked Wilson’s combination of arm and athleticism with a dash of dazzle. Wilson is confident after an accurate breakout season and is a great cerebral fit for the new offense of Mike LaFleur.
The 49ers pulled off a mild shocker by going with the high-ceiling prospect vs. the high floor of Mac Jones. Lance is also a highly intelligent passer capable of making all the throws and offers a special brand of athleticism Jones can’t. Lance needs some development to hone his skills, but he gets into a great passer-friendly system and inherits a loaded supporting cast to boost him under Kyle Shanahan. Look for Lance to start sooner rather than later and take a top offense to an unprecedented level.
The Falcons stuck with their guns to help Matt Ryan and landed a unique dynamic pass-catcher to complement Julio Jones (assuming he’s not traded) and Calvin Ridley. New offensive-minded coach Arthur Smith featured athletic tight ends well with the Titans and will turn Pitts into an immediate-impact intermediate target all the way through the red zone, where he dominated for the Gators. Pitts makes it difficult to handle Atlanta’s passing game in every situation.
Joe Burrow got the help he needs, just a little different from what many expected. Chase is an excellent all-around receiver who can line up everywhere and make big plays like a true No. 1. He has great established chemistry with Burrow from their explosive production together at LSU. Chase will make big Tee Higgins and slot ace Tyler Boyd even more dangerous against lesser coverage. The minus is simply for making the tough decision to go weapon over protection for Burrow in the form of an offensive tackle.
The Dolphins reunited Waddle with former Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, taking a cue from the Bengals with Burrow and Chase the pick before. He was preferred in the end over DeVonta Smith because of ability to add a necessary big-play element, both using his speed to get downfield and using his quickness in the open field as a Tyreek Hill-style receiver. He is the ideal complement to top wideout DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki.
The Lions came through on a good bet to take the best player available for their total rebuild under GM Brad Holmes. Taylor Decker is still at left tackle, but he’s getting older and Sewell can start and immediately upgrade right tackle with Halapoulivaati Vaitai moving to guard. He’s smooth in pass protection and also a long-term rock for the running game.
The Panthers, with Sewell off the board, were pushed into their glaring defensive need for a cornerback to help shore up the pass defense behind Brian Burns and next to Jeremy Chinn. But with safe, “sure thing” Patrick Surtain II on the board, they opted to look elsewhere in the SEC, down the road to Columbia for a different son of a former NFL player, in this case Joe Horn. Jaycee is a natural big playmaker who rose up boards late because of his comparable size, but Surtain had the ultimate pedigree and better shutdown potential.
There’s nothing wrong with the selection of Surtain, the strong defender in the top 10. But for a team that needed an upgrade at QB and several other positions, Denver went for corner despite adding Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby for Vic Fangio in free agency. Surtain should be a special player with shutdown skills to open up the blitz packages, but the Broncos get knocked a little by going for a future-minded quasi luxury pick.
The Eagles couldn’t ignore the potential of reuniting Smith with former Alabama QB Jalen Hurts, so much so they traded with a division rival to get in front of another division rival. They did use a first-rounder on Jalen Reagor last year and have Greg Ward back for the slot, but they needed a reliable route-running No. 1 with some big-play flair for new offensive-minded head coach Nick Sirianni. Hurts, like Burrow and Tagovailoa, gets to throw to a familiar dynamic target from college.
The Bears had to give up a first-rounder next year and two additional picks to move up nine spots from No. 20, but it was well worth it to change their QB fortunes with Andy Dalton serving as the veteran bridge. Fields didn’t really “fall,” as simply Lawrence, Wilson and Lance had natural team fits early. He’s a tough, experienced winner with the necessary arm and athleticism to be a viable dual threat in the NFL. He just needs work on handling pressure better and getting the ball out more quickly, but Fields has all the physical tools to solve Chicago’s long-standing QB problem with the right coaching support.
Dallas made a curious superfluous pick to add to its linebacker strength with Jaylen Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, going back to the program that produced venerable retiree Sean Lee. Parsons is a rangy playmaker who excels at covering and blitzing. He can line up everywhere to help their defense in another way, but cornerback and true edge rusher were much bigger needs for Dallas and there also were strong options for the offensive line still on the board.
Los Angeles had to be thrilled Slater remained on the board to complete its offensive line overhaul to better protect Justin Herbert in Year 2. Slater, who opted out of the 2020 season, stood on excellent athletic tape that included him holding Chase Young in check on the edge. He will start opposite Bryan Bulaga right away, with Oday Aboushi, Matt Feiler and elite center Corey Linsley rounding out the new-look line. Slater looks like a sturdy 10-year rock like Sewell will be.
New York was in the market for an offensive line upgrade at some point and jumped up for an immediate starting left guard to put next to 2020 first-round tackle Mekhi Becton. Vera-Tucker gives the Jets a strong run blocking and pass protecting blind side for Mike LaFleur’s rushing attack and Zach Wilson. They’re on track to be a much better offense in a hurry post Sam Darnold and Adam Gase.
Jones compares to Tom Brady in some ways with his size, decision-making skills, accuracy, smarts and mental toughness. He gives the Patriots a high floor to replace bridge QB Cam Newton and restore their style of offense that isn’t built around a runner at the position. Jones just doesn’t have the same dual threat or arm upside as Lance or Fields. Still, Bill Belichick got his much-needed potential franchise QB without a trade up. Jones, like when Jimmy Garoppolo was groomed behind Brady, is a natural fit for the Josh McDaniels offense with just enough mobility.
The Cardinals went with a versatile linebacker in back-to-back first rounds after taking Isaiah Simmons in 2020. Collins has nice size and offers additional pass-rush and coverage ability, but he’s not the traditional edge producer or cornerback for which Arizona had bigger defensive needs. Collins is a bit of a reach, between a late first-rounder and early second-rounder on most boards.
Leatherwood had settled as a second-rounder on most boards as a right tackle/guard tweener. He’s a big, powerful blocker, but the Raiders passed up some massive defensive needs with great talent there in the front seven and a couple of higher-quality offensive linemen (Christian Darrisaw, Teven Jenkins) who were still available. He was easily the biggest reach of the first round so far with some concern about consistency in the NFL.
The Dolphins jumped on the best pass rusher available to help defensive-minded Brian Flores. They could have considered tackle/end hybrid Kwity Paye for freakish ability, but they ultimately went for another smooth athlete who proved himself worthy of delivering greater production in the NFL. Flores and his staff will mold Phillips into a star getting to QBs from different angles. He can be his version of Chandler Jones.
Washington got some range and coverage ability at linebacker for Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio. It also needed a second safety to support the run and make plays on the ball. Davis, a hybrid chess piece, is a great fit to support Chase Young and the rest of the front seven. Davis gained late steam as a second-rounder and it was a little surprising he went ahead of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Washington will need to look for QB later and also passed up some strong offensive tackle options as the opportunity cost.
The Giants could have still landed an offensive tackle here with either Darrisaw or Jenkins, but they stuck with taking a wide receiver after the Eagles grabbed Smith ahead of them before the big trade back with the Bears. New York added Kenny Golladay as a defined outside No. 1 for Daniel Jones. Toney, a big-play slot with some nice field-stretching skills, can complement Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton well with his versatility. There are no more excuses for Jones to break out with all his weapons, including a healthy Saquon Barkley.
The Colts were tied to offensive tackles in the wake of Anthony Castonzo’s retirement for a long time but filled another key need early. Paye, an ideal outside-inside pass rusher who’s a great fit for their 4-3, combines freakish size and athleticism with high effort. Matt Eberflus will love his disruptive ability from different spots.
The Titans stopped Farley’s fall because of injury concerns, knowing he has the size and smooth coverage skills to develop into a shutdown player who can also make big plays when needed. The Titans could have also considered offensive tackle or edge rusher, but this was a good choice to bring into their defense along with Janoris Jenkins and Kristian Fulton. The value boosts the decision to address this position first.
The Vikings pulled off another draft coup with Rick Spielman, managing to still land the rock of a left tackle they needed for their style of offensive line after trading back nine spots. They got a big upgrade from Rashod Hill to make both Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook happy. This pick is a home run, much like Justin Jefferson around the same spot in 2020.
The Steelers could have thought about Teven Jenkins to boost their run blocking but getting the elite, powerful, durable workhorse back also worked to revamp their running game as a massive upgrade from James Conner. Harris can pound between the tackles well with his size and strength but also has some burst into the secondary. He also is adept in the passing game as a protector and receiver to stay on the field for three-down impact.
Lawrence and Etienne led the Tigers’ offense to a lot of big plays and wins in college together, but Urban Meyer made a head-scratching luxury pick here for a team that got a terrific workhorse season from undrafted James Robinson in 2020. The Jaguars ignored plenty of available defensive help for their rebuild there, across the board. Etienne is a home-run back with great receiving skills, but he doesn’t make Jacksonville that much better with Robinson already there. This was a good range for him; it’s just a completely wrong team.
The Browns not drafting for immediate need is a testament to them having a loaded roster with an upgraded defense coming off their triumphant playoff return. They didn’t need to force linebacker or defensive tackle when Newsome, with his size, smarts, instincts and nose for the ball, was the clear best player available who also fills a need for an extra big cover man to complement Denzel Ward.
Baltimore needed to continue to upgrade its wide receiver corps to support Lamar Jackson, and signing Sammy Watkins to put opposite Marquise Brown wasn’t enough. With some burners to stretch the field, a sturdy, steady route-runner with strong hands to be a reliable possession man was the missing ingredient. Bateman is also a strong red zone option to support tight end Mark Andrews.
The good part of this pick is that Turner, with his strong and tall frame, is the ideal style of pass-rusher to fit in Dennis Allen’s 4-3 defense, also filling a major need to get after the quarterback opposite Cameron Jordan in the wake of losing Trey Hendrickson in free agency. The less desirable part is that New Orleans passed on several more productive, consistent edge players for a late riser who finished as a second-rounder on most boards.
The Packers had to address cornerback at some point to try to get the ideal complementary playmaker for Jaire Alexander. This just seems early as they again eschew direct offensive help for Aaron Rodgers, either an offensive tackle or wide receiver. Stokes keeps up the theme of nice-sized corners going early and often and he has some special on-ball attributes. It’s just Green Bay could have found some good values at the position later vs. what it passed up.
Rousseau was the last of the notable top-flight opt-outs to go in the first round. He’s an exceptional athlete with a short but impressive history of big-time production. Buffalo filled a big need to boost its 4-3 attack for Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier with an unexpected high value pick. It was a no-brainer once the temptation of a top-two running back or cornerback was gone.
Oweh is a freakish athlete. He might be better suited to operate in a base 4-3, but with some developmental work, he can be effective in Baltimore’s 3-4 helping to revamp a depleted pass rush that lost Matthew Judon in free agency. The Ravens went 2-for-2 in addressing key needs and should find a decent answer to help replace Orlando Brown Jr. at right tackle on Day 2,
The Bucs get a slight knock for passing on defensive tackle depth behind Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea, but one cannot argue with them further boosting an impressive pass rush with Tryon starting out as an effective situational player behind Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. Tampa Bay got a borderline first-round talent with the last pick and it was hard to mess the pick up after an amazing offseason of keeping the Super Bowl 55 starting lineup intact.
The Jaguars made a much-needed first defensive pick with the intent of rediscovering what they once had with Jalen Ramsey. Campbell has the size to develop into a shutdown cover man in time but for now he’s best known for being an active, aggressive on-ball playmaker.
Moore had risen to first-round status on many boards despite his small stature because of exceptional speed and explosiveness for the slot. The Jets grabbed another player with Zach Wilson in mind. Moore will likely make the possession-like Jamison Crowder expendable between Corey Davis and Denzel Mims.
Denver traded up to get Williams, an impressive compact power back. He can pound it between the tackles well but he also has the elusiveness and passing game skills to stay on the field for three downs. The issue is the fact the Broncos already have Melvin Gordon in the lead role and went backfield this early with other key needs to address on both sides of the ball. Oddly, the Falcons, who made the deal, could have used Williams a lot more.
Miami got a needed cleanup man for the secondary, although it’s surprising it wasn’t TCU’s Trevon Moehrig instead from the position. Holland can do a little of everything well vs. run and pass to support Brian Flores’ front seven, which now includes first-round edge rusher Jaelan Phillips.
Philadelphia made a needed pick for their offensive line future with varying concerns over guards Isaac Seumalo and Brandon Brooks. Dickson is a powerful presence on the inside who will start at first flanking center Jason Kelce.
New England went back-to-back ‘Bama after taking QB Mac Jones in Round 1 with a mid first-round disruptor well worth a trade-up. Barmore showed how dominant his quick upfield production could be during the College Football Playoff. The Patriots will like him beefing up their interior vs. run and pass.
The Bears got a player to whom they were attached in the first round with another aggressive trade up the board. Jenkins is the prototypical right tackle, a rock for the running game with a smooth-enough frame for top pass protection. He fills a key void in front of Justin Fields and David Montgomery.
The Falcons got the versatile, high-effort, active tackling safety they needed, going for Grant instead of his highly skilled more pass-oriented Moehrig. They nicely fill the massive void left behind by Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal.
The Lions needed to beef up their defensive front with more quickness and strength for new coordinator Aaron Glenn. Onwuzurike is a great value here at a position that suddenly got scarce in impact players in this class with Barmore off the board a few picks earlier.
Eichenberg played the left side well for the Fighting Irish but he projects as a strong, sturdy right tackle for the Dolphins. Miami got its big upgrade from Jesse Davis to complement 2020 draft pick Austin Jackson. Eichenberg will give equal help to Tua Tagovailoa and Myles Gaskin.
The Raiders made up for their offensive head-scratcher on Alex Leatherwood in Round 1 with a true first-rounder in Round 2. Moehrig is the most complete playmaker in a deep class for the position. They needed him to take pressure off Johnathan Abram supporting the second level.
The Cowboys addressed their greatest need with a big corner with natural coverage ability built to handle all types of receivers on the outside. He has good ball skills and can be physical, which also makes him an asset against the run. Joseph enjoyed a late rise into Round 2 consideration.
Little, despite his name, has a massive frame along fluid athleticism to develop into a starting left tackle by 2022. The Jaguars were right to think about a near-future protection upgrade after getting Lawrence as their long-haul franchise QB.
Speaking of protecting Lawrence or a No. 1 overall QB, the Bengals landed his former left tackle to give Joe Burrow much-needed extra blocking support. He can play on the right side well right away to complement Jonah Williams as an upgrade over stopgap Riley Reiff.
The Chargers’ once reliable corner coverage needed to be reconstructed for Brandon Staley with Casey Hayward and Desmond King gone. Samuel is a nice-pedigreed prospect with the speed and quickness in man coverage to play inside or outside and also is a plus against the run.
San Francisco made a pick tailored to its style of interior line play: extremely powerful with the capacity to get downhill in the running game with enough athleticism for the zone-blocking scheme. Banks can start right away at right guard in front of Trey Lance.
Moore is an undersized weapon, but he’s a versatile big play waiting to happen as an inside receiver and sometimes runner. But he’s also had some durability issues and is more of a luxury pick as a true position-less cog for a team that has plenty of options at wideout in DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and now A.J. Green.
Dave Gettleman nailed this one, getting an edge rusher with also dynamic coverage ability needed for the second level. Ojulari offers the Giants the ideal combination of speed, strength and instincts.
Cosmi’s size, strength and high effort can make him effective and efficient working at either tackle. Washington will consider this borderline first-round talent as a much-needed rock for the left side
Cleveland landed a first-round talent perfect for the second level of their defense for Joe Woods, perhaps his version of Fred Warner. Owusu-Koramoah is a natural run stopper with coverage instincts that can also make him a big impact playmaker vs. the passing game.
The Titans had to upgrade right tackle opposite Taylor Lewan and did it with a sturdy presence built to power their run-heavy attack with Derrick Henry. Radunz, early with some first-round consideration, had a late resurgence up some boards with his ideal frame.
Indianapolis didn’t have luck with the right offensive tackles falling so it went for pass-rush help again despite getting freakish defensive lineman Kwity Paye in Round 1. Odyeingbo seems better built for the 3-4 when he can get on the field based on his size and speed. He also is set to provide limited situational help for a returning playoff team. The Colts will hope he pays off long-term.
The Steelers don’t take back-to-back offensive skill players often, but they did so in this draft, with Freiermuth following up first-round running back Najee Harris. They needed more reliable blocking at the position and someone who could also complement Eric Ebron well as a tough receiver through the red zone. Freiermuth can also be a huge extra asset blocking for Harris while giving Ben Roethlisberger another key intermediate target.
Seattle made a curious first pick by reaching a bit for Esrkidge, a speedy slot type very much in the Tyler Lockett mold. Sure, he will help Lockett and DK Metcalf make more big plays, but the Seahawks needed to think offensive line first with limited capital to help and appease Russell Wilson. It’s a mild luxury pick, and even a receiver built more of the outside would have made more sense.
The Rams jumped on the speed, quickness and pure big-play ability of the diminutive-dashing Atwell to better support Matthew Stafford’s big arm. He’s the ideal complement for Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Van Jeferson. Sean McVay will have fun designing plays for him all over the field as a receiver and runner.
The Chiefs stayed in state for a first-round caliber player they have liked for a while because of his ability to get all around the field, handling coverage well with some pass-rush juice, too. Kansas City should be more active making plays on the second level with Bolton and Willie Gay Jr.
The Panthers, after taking cornerback Jaycee Horn in Round 1, traded down all the way here and missed out on several helpful offensive tackles for Sam Darnold. Instead, despite having two big-play outside receivers in Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore went for a size/speed prospect with some developing durability concerns. Thinking about quickness in the slot more to replace Curtis Samuel also would have been preferred.
The Saints continued to add to Dennis Allen’s defense after landing ideal-framed defensive end Payton Turner in the first round. Werner has a nose to make plenty of big plays as a top-notch cover man for the second level. He was a needed asset to better support Demario Davis.
Buffalo landed a second pass-rush option to pile on first-rounder Gregory Rousseau. Doubling up on the position was a good idea as the Bills went for a total revamp to better disrupt the strong passing fellow AFC title contenders, led by Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs.
Green Bay made a critical second pick with Aaron Rodgers in mind, replacing free-agent departure Corey Linsley (Chargers) with another Ohio State product with similar snapping, line-leading and blocking attributes.
Kansas City made it back-to-back rookie starting centers with this powerful blocker known for his mean streak. Humphrey will play between newcomer Joe Thuney and returning Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, adding to big line changes that also include former Raven Orlando Brown Jr. for left tackle in front of Mahomes.
Tampa Bay, expected to target a successor to develop behind Tom Brady, took care of business to finish Round 2 with the worthiest prospect after the five first-rounders. Trask’s arm and accurate pocket passing is a good starting point for Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich as he works on his game all-around. He also will learn plenty from the best to ever do it.
Jacksonville made another necessary defensive move to upgrade some of the league’s worst safety play in 2020. Cisco has natural ballhawk instincts that will fit well with their rookie second-round cornerback of choice, Tyson Campbell.
The Vikings were a good bet to stash a cerebral dual-threat passer behind Kirk Cousins at some point and came through with Mond, an experienced college starter who can be special if he can develop his mechanics and arm strength to go with his short accuracy and athleticism. Minnesota can reasonably get out of Cousins’ contract in 2022.
The Texans may have tipped their hand on the future of Deshaun Watson by reaching for a developmental passer short on playing experience behind veteran contingency option Tyrod Taylor. Mills has the live arm with which he can make all the throws and the prototypical physical stature for a strong pocket passer, but he needs plenty of work to get to NFL starter-level. With its first pick of this draft, Houston forced itself into a panic pick vs. addressing one of its many other positional needs on a talent-poor roster.
The Falcons stopped the fall of this borderline first-round pick with great value in Round 3. Mayfield has the strong, compact frame to boost their run blocking for offensive-minded Arthur Smith. He’s bound to start at left guard next to Jake Matthews.
The Bengals did sign Trey Hendrickson to replace Carl Lawson but it didn’t hurt to further boost their pass-rush effectiveness for Lou Anarumo. Ossai is made to get to the passer from a 4-3 front, capable of lining up at all four positions.
Carolina settled for Christensen as its left tackle situation, but the problem is, he projects as a swing backup for the outside at best as the strength and power he possesses is better built for guard vs. athletically handling the NFL’s top edge rushers.
The Giants made another solid defensive pick as Robinson’s size and coverage versatility is a great fit for the secondary scheming of Patrick Graham.
The Lions went for another defensive tackle to support second-rounder Levi Onwuzurike. McNeil is a good complaint to Onwuzurike’s quicker, more explosive frame with his stouter nose-like presence against the run.
Philadelphia got some needed rotational support for its strong front four. Williams has a nice blend of power and quickness to be an extra inside asset rushing the passer.
Washington added some cornerback help opposite newcomer William Jackson III which could allow it to put Kendall Fuller into the slot. St-Juste has a promising blend of toughness and smarts to go with his big lean coverage frame.
The Cowboys stayed on track with another solid player for their defensive rebuild, a strong 4-3 rotational tackle who supports his quickness in getting into the backfield with consistent high effort.
The Saints followed up their edge rusher and linebacker picks by shoring up their most glaring defensive need in the wake of losing Janoris Jenkins opposite Marshon Lattimore. Adebo was a great value here because of his size, strength and productive ballhawking.
The Chargers were in the market for a dynamic complement to be more reliable than Mike Williams in making big plays opposite Keenan Allen. Palmer is a OK pick because he addresses a need, but he’s more of a big, solid route-running possession type who needs time to develop vs. providing immediate target impact for Justin Herbert.
The Vikings needed to think about the future at linebacker beyond Anthony Barr and Surratt is a solid fit for Mike Zimmer’s system in every which way. He’s an active playmaker who can do a little of everything well like Barr.
The Raiders went for another reach here hoping that Koonce, better off playing in a 3-4, can develop into a productive situational pass rusher. He was a mid-Day 3 prospect at best on most boards.
Deablo is a well-built linebacker hybrid in the Jeremy Chinn mold, but despite his high floor as a run stopper, he needs a lot of work as a pass defender It’s a bit of weird superfluous pick after the Raiders hit a home run with a true all-around safety in Trevon Moehrig in Round 2.
Miami went for another option who can help both Tua Tagovailoa and the running game in different ways. Long, a natural receiver and sound blocker, is a good complement to slot receiver-like Mike Gesicki.
Washington developed a real need for speed at wideout to help burner Terry McLaurin. The team signed former Panther Curtis Samuel for quickness and big-play ability in the slot and now adds a blazing fast deep threat for when it spreads the field outside. Scott Turner now has enough home-run hitters to play well off the power running game. The team just has to hope Brown can develop some substance with his flash over time.
The Panthers doubled down on their commitment to make tight end a big part of their passing game after also adding Dan Arnold for Sam Darnold. Tremble can contribute as an athletic receiver right away while he rounds out into a strong blocker. This stood out as Carolina’s most logical pick over the first two nights.
Dallas wasted a pick here for its defensive rebuild on a prospect who was a consensus deep Day 3 pick. Golston does a lot of little things well as a more well-rounded 4-3 end, but he has some lacking power to slide inside and some lacking athleticism to be trusted in the pass rush outside. He’s a limited backup at best.
The Packers made a second strong pick with Aaron Rodgers in mind, giving themselves a needed complementary diminutive dasher to play off big No.1 Davante Adams. This Rodgers is a quick slot option who has big-play potential every time he touches the ball in the open field.
The Vikings upgraded left tackle with Christian Darrisaw in the first round. They took care of a need at left guard well here with Davis, a powerful, reliable run blocker for Dalvin Cook who should have been an early second-round pick.
The Steelers took care of a big hole at left guard to upgrade their run blocking. Green is an experienced starter with natural power but also good agility to get downfield to support David DeCastro for new feature back Najee Harris.
The 49ers needed a big back to support Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. in their superior zone-blocking rushing attack and made a great call in adding more speed, quickness and fundamentals for their scheme. Sermon can be a very effective, unique change of pace.
The Texans needed a bigger, strong possession type receiver to help speedy and quick No. 1 Brandin Cooks, with slot types Randall Cobb and Keke Coutee as their next best options for whoever their starting QB will be. Collins has a massive frame to provide a better asset on third downs and in the red zone.
The Vikings needed to pad their pass-rush depth with another starting option opposite (and contingency for) Danielle Hunter. Jones is the prototypical 4-3 end with a variety of moves to get to the quarterback.
The Browns got a field-stretcher they loved during the pre-draft process as a complementary speed demon to Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Rashard HIggins and Donovan Peoples-Jones. They will find ways to set up Schwartz for big plays off play-action in subpackages.
The Titans got a heady defender built for former linebacker Mike Vrabel. Rice might be limited to being a run-stopper in the NFL, but he has the smarts and instincts to develop from a situational, physical thumper into more of an asset vs. the passing game.
The Bills went for a developmental tackle with a massive frame. Brown can turn into a force on either the left or right side, because he also packs a good blend of athleticism and power. At first, he can be a valuable backup for Buffalo.
Here’s another big and powerful offensive lineman off the board, but Cleveland’s athletic limitations mean he will be an interior option for the Ravens. He’s also a good backup with starting potential in a few years.
Tampa Bay got its developmental tackle, too, and Hainsey might be more a candidate to play guard like the pick right before him. He needs to develop more agility to handle tackle in the NFL, but he has a good foundation of toughness, smarts and effort.
The Patriots got a pass rusher built to play in a Bill Belichick defense with his size, versatility, smarts and toughness. Perkins doesn’t always look the part athletically, but his effort and technique add up to production.
The Chargers lost Hunter Henry in free agency and the type of tight end they needed was a strong intermediate receiver. Instead they took someone whose frame and skill set is that of a traditional in-line blocker. McKitty was a reach as a developmental option here.
The Broncos got a mighty backup with the potential to start for them at right guard soon. Meinerz was a rapid riser up boards, going from late-round flier to sneaky third-round value once the secret was out that he had big game for a small-school name. He showed off his immense strength and power, using good technique to win a lot of battles in Senior Bowl practices.
The Cowboys went for another cornerback but this one is an absolute late-round style reach. Wright has a big frame which padded his production resume, but he has a long way to go before he can be trusted in key coverage against NFL wide receivers.
The Titans took a sliding Caleb Farley for a potential big shutdown corner outside and followed up with a slot solution after only renting Desmond King last season. Molden has the athleticism, quickness and toughness needed to consistently win in inside coverage.
The Lions took the ideal complementary corner for 2020 first-rounder Jeffery Okudah. Melifonwu was a second-round pick and most boards because of his size and how he uses his body well in tight coverage.
The 49ers got their versatile contingency plan for aging Jimmie Ward. Thomas is a physical cover man built to work the inside. But with more short-area quickness and good run-stopping traits, he might be primed to play more safety than nickel.
The Rams needed a strong coverage linebacker to better handle the void left by Cory Littleton in free agency last offseason. Unfortunately, although Jones is a pretty solid run stopper with ideal physical upfield traits, he’s more of what they already have on the second level of their 3-4.
Baltmore got some needed depth outside with Stephens, who has an intriguing blend of size, strength and athleticism. But he’s more of a big developmental type at first than reliable young backup.
The Broncos made a good final Day 2 pick to please Vic Fangio in many ways on the second level. Browning is already an impactful all-around playmaker. He just needs to learn to become more consistent in the NFL.
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