These Live 2021 NFL Draft Grades will be posted minutes after each pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Follow @walterfootball
2021 NFL Draft Grades - Round: Picks 1-16
| Picks 17-32
| NFL Draft Team Grades
2021 NFL Mock Draft
Las Vegas Raiders: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama - B+ Grade
This is such a perfect fit. Alex Leatherwood is the sort of tough offensive lineman Jon Gruden loves. The Raiders were desperate for an offensive lineman after losing not one, not two, but three blockers in free agency. It makes sense for Leatherwood to be the fourth offensive lineman off the board, so I like this pick for the Raiders.
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Miami Dolphins: Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami - B- Grade
This is such a difficult grade. Based on talent alone, Jaelan Phillips is worth an A+. He's a tremendous athlete and a devastating pass rusher. He could be a star for the Dolphins. Unfortunately, he has a long medical history, and one or two concussions could knock him out for a long time. This is such a risky choice. It could easily pan out, but it could also be a huge bust. Players with injury worries typically fall, so I'm surprised that Phillips went this high.
Washington Redskins: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky - B- Grade
I don't dislike this pick, but I think it's a bit early for Jamin Davis. I had Davis at No. 41 in my final mock draft, but he's been as high as the mid-20s in some updates. It makes sense for the Redskins to address their dreadful linebacking corps with the athletic Davis, but I would've liked to have seen them address the offensive line because the offense needs all the help it can get. Still, Davis is a good player, and he fills a huge need.
New York Giants: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida - B Grade
The Eagles broke the Giants' heart when they traded ahead of them for Devonta Smith. This prompted the Giants to trade down to No. 20, where they got the next-best receiver in the class. I had Toney going to the Titans at No. 22, so this range is right for him, and New York is getting good value when the trade is considered. Toney seems like a great complement for Kenny Golladay, so I like this pick, as the Giants needed to give Daniel Jones one more weapon.
Indianapolis Colts: Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan - B Grade
The Colts lost a couple of defensive linemen in free agency this offseason, so it makes sense that they would select Kwity Paye. They're really swinging for the fences with this selection. Paye has incredible talent and pass-rushing upside, but he's very raw and inexperienced. He has high bust potential, but there's also extreme upside with him.
Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech - B- Grade
This is another pick that is incredibly difficult to grade. Caleb Farley would have been in the same pantheon as Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain if he didn't have any medical concerns. Unfortunately, Farley was one of the riskiest players in this class in regard to health. If he can remain on the field, he'll be a shutdown cornerback for the Titans. However, there's a decent chance he won't be able to stay on the field at all. Again, players like Farley and Jaelan Phillips often fall, so I'm surprised that didn't happen.
Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech - B Grade
How can you not like this value for the Vikings? I thought Christian Darrisaw would be their pick at No. 14 if Rashawn Slater happened to be off the board. He's long and athletic, which is exactly what Minnesota looks for from its offensive linemen. However, several teams told us that there's "something missing with Darrisaw." Some teams think he lacks toughness, which would worry me. Still, this is a good value selection.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama - D- Grade
I hate this pick. I'm not going to flunk the Steelers because I think Najee Harris will be a good player in the NFL. This grade has almost nothing to do with the player, but rather the position. Running backs grow on trees, so there's no point in taking one in the first round. Seriously, when is the last time a team succeeded because they spent their first-round pick on a running back? I talked to one team ahead of this draft that needed a running back, and they said, "We can just get one in the fifth or sixth round." That is the correct mentality as far as running backs are concerned.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson - F Grade
Ugh. Apparently, the Jaguars didn't read my analysis of the D- grade I gave to the Steelers. There's no reason to select a running back in the first round. It just has an extensive losing track record. Travis Etienne projects to be a good player, but this pick simply wasn't necessary, especially when considering that running back was not a need at all. That's the difference between the Steeler and Jaguar grades.
Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern - B Grade
Anything in the back seven would've made sense for the Browns. They need linebacker help to deal with Lamar Jackson and cornerback upgrades to cover all of Pittsburgh's receivers. They opted for Greg Newsome over Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, which is fine. I had Newsome pegged in this area, and he figures to be a solid No. 2 cornerback across from Denzel Ward.
Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota - D Grade
I'd suggest asking for Ozzie Newsome to return, but he didn't have better luck drafting receivers in the first round. Regardless, this doesn't seem like a good pick. Rashod Bateman runs routes well and possesses great size, but he has poor hands and likely won't be able to separate from NFL defensive backs. This reminds me of the Patriots selecting N'Keal Harry. He belonged in the second round, just like Bateman.
New Orleans Saints: Payton Turner, DE, Houston - C- Grade
Charlie Campbell was on point with his report that Payton Turner was rising up draft boards, but I didn't think he'd go this early! I was thinking the middle of the second round, but the Saints pulled the trigger on Turner because Greg Newsome was snatched off the board. I'm all for teams upgrading their pass rush, and the Saints needed to do so in the wake of Trey Hendrickson's departure. However, the Saints probably could've moved down about a dozen spots and still gotten Turner or someone of his caliber.
Green Bay Packers: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia - C Grade
I don't think the Packers needed to force a receiver with this pick because there aren't any great options available. However, I think the Packers needed to do something to make Aaron Rodgers happy, and that would entail selecting a blocker to help an offensive line that lost three starters in the offseason. Furthermore, if Rodgers is traded to the Broncos, as rumored, Patrick Surtain could've been included in the deal. That's obviously speculative, but it's still something that should be considered.
Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami - B Grade
This pick makes so much sense. The Bills need to beat Patrick Mahomes, and they can do that by placing as much pressure on him as possible. Rousseau should be able to help the Bills do that. However, some teams were concern with Rousseau's lack of explosion, and they believed that he would go in the second round. That's where I had Rousseau, but I can understand why Buffalo would pick him here, as he projects to be a solid player for them.
Baltimore Ravens: Jayson Oweh, DE/OLB, Penn State - A Grade
This is the opposite of the Bills' pick of Gregory Rousseau. Jayson Oweh didn't have Gregory Rousseau's collegiate production, but he has way more upside and potential. While Rousseau could just be a solid player, Oweh has the ceiling to be a perennial Pro Bowler. He could have easily gone much earlier than this, and he'll fill a huge need for a Baltimore team that lost multiple edge rushers this offseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Tryon, DE, Washington - A Grade
2021 NFL Draft Grades - Round: Picks 1-16 | Picks 17-32 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | NFL Draft Team Grades
I'm loving these high-upside pass rushers at the end of the first round. Joe Tryon has immense upside, but he's raw and inexperienced. The good thing with this pick is that Tryon won't necessarily be needed right away because Tampa Bay has Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul ahead of him. However, Pierre-Paul is in the twilight of his career, and Tryon could be a dominant player in 2022 and beyond.
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