10 Teams That Have to ACE the 2021 NFL Draft: A Review

10 Teams That Have to ACE the 2021 NFL Draft: A Review

NFL

10 Teams That Have to ACE the 2021 NFL Draft: A Review

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The NFL Draft is over, as all 259 picks have been made, and some teams surprised us with their picks and some disappointed us. Other teams had homerun drafts while there were the few that completely failed and put the team in a horrible spot to compete in the future.

A little over a month ago I wrote an article titled “10 teams that have to ACE the 2021 NFL Draft”, and today I will look back at what I previously stated and review if each team did in fact ace the draft with my own draft grades. 

Philadelphia Eagles: C+, Flopped

Needs: WR, CB, LB

1.10: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama: A

2.37: IOL Landon Dickerson, Alabama: A-

3.73: DT Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech: B-

4.123: CB Zech McPhearson, Texas Tech: D+

5.150: HB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: A+

6.189: DT Marlon Tuipulotu, USC: B

6.191: DE Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina: B+

6.224: S/LB Jacoby Stevens, LSU: B

7.234: DE Patrick Johnson, Tulane: B+

A solid draft for the Eagles would have been talent on both sides and some quality upside depth later. I think the Eagles did exactly that, as they added talent to the offense and the defense; however, the issue comes to the overall level of that talent.

Starting on offense they added some plug and play guys with DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson early and an absolute steal with HB Kenneth Gainwell late. Looking at the defense the talent was basically avoided, as Milton Williams was a reach along with McPhearson. Later on the team added more talent to the DL but failed to address glaring holes at CB, S, and LB later on when better talent was available.

I liked the draft early for the Eagles but as time went on, I wasn’t ecstatic with the class Howie Roseman selected. They needed a solid core for a short rebuild and I personally don’t believe they established that.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B, Aced(Barely)

Needs: QB, T, DL

1.1: QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson: A+

1.25: HB Travis Etienne, Clemson: D

2.33: CB Tyson Campbell, Georgia: C-

2.45: T Walker Little, Stanford: B+

3.65: S Andre Cisco, Syracuse: B

4.106: DT Jay Tufele, USC: B-

4.121: DE Jordan Smith, UAB: B

5.145: TE Luke Farrell, Ohio State: D

6.209: WR Jalen Camp, Georgia Tech: A+

The first overall pick was easy to figure out in Trevor Lawrence and I thought the Jags couldn’t mess the draft up but then the next 2 picks came and I started getting worried for Jaguars fans. I don’t like the Etienne pick at all; to begin with he wasn’t a first round talent and when you have James Robinson there is no need to spend your first on a HB.

Next up was the 33rd overall pick in Tyson Campbell, and the value isn’t there along with the need. The Jags could’ve easily filled their FS need with Trevon Moehrig, Richie Grant, or Jevon Holland but went CB instead and then waited again after taking Little and settled for Cisco.

The Jaguars class wasn’t awful but the original goal stated was to have a class of impact guys with upcoming depth picks. I think the Jags accomplished that goal but to what extent is hard to decide. They added the impact players and depth upside guys but the issue is, were they the best picks possible for the Jags to make?

San Francisco 49ers: A-, Aced

Needs: QB, CB, G

1.3: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State: A-

2.48: G Aaron Banks, Notre Dame: B+

3.88: HB Trey Sermon, Ohio State: B-

3.102: CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan: B

5.155: T Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan: B+

5.172: CB Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon: B+

5.180: S Talanoa Hufanga, USC: A

6.194: HB ELijah Mitchell, Louisiana: D+

I really liked what the 49ers did this year outside of two picks. Trey Lance at 3rd overall to sit under Shannahan and Jimmy G for a year is an excellent pick, as he will become the face of the franchise and likely lead them to at least two Super Bowls. Aaron Banks was fantastic given his run blocking ability to block for Sermon and Lance. After this the 49ers added depth pieces in Thomas, Moore, and Lenoir.

The team has a glaring hole at CB for the future so with some time Thomas or Lenoir should develop into a starter for them and it will turn into a great pick. Hufanga was great value and they rounded it off with a bad pick in Michell. Mitchell was great value but the need for another HB when the 49ers already have 6 backs on their roster is confusing.

Overall the original goal was to provide the team with a future starting QB and CB with depth at DB and OL. The team hit that to a T and the draft was a huge success for San Francisco, as they followed their plans and set a good future for the team. 

New England Patriots: A-, Aced

Needs: LB, QB, WR

1.15: QB Mac Jones, Alabama: B

2.38: DT Christian Barmore, Alabama: A+

3.96: DE Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma: A+

4.120: HB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma: B

5.177: LB Cameron McGrone, Michigan: A+

6.188: S Joshuah Bledsoe, Missouri: B

6.197: T Will Sherman, Colorado: C+

7.242: WR Tre Nixon, UCF: B+

Where in the world did this Bill Belichick come from when it relates to drafting? The Patriots’ first five picks were absolute home runs. Jones is the New England’s future QB and while there were better options mainly at WR available, Bill got his guy and the Pats have a legit QB prospect. Barmore and Perkins add great depth and upside to the DL and both will have great careers in New England given the coaching and talent surrounding them, A+ picks.

Stevenson is a nice bruiser and a good steal, similar to the future starter at MIKE for them in Cameron McGrone. After that the Pats rounded it out with good depth pieces. They failed to address a glaring hole at WR opposite Nelson Agholor but added depth and quality impact players which was the original goal. They found the starters at LB and QB which they needed to and took Best Player Available every other time. The Patriots flipped ship this year and are back to being the AFC juggernaut they once were assuming Mac Jones or Cam Newton can lead the team.

Miami Dolphins: A, Aced 

Needs: WR, EDGE, HB

1.6: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama: A

1.18: EDGE Jaelen Phillips, Miami: A

2.36: S Jevon Holland, Oregon: B+

2.42: T Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame: B+

3.81: TE Hunter Long, Boston College: B-

7.231: T Larnel Coleman, Massachusetts: B

7.244: HB Gerrid Doaks, Cincinnati: A+

This Dolphins draft class may be the best in the NFL; the first two picks gave Tua a legit WR1 option to pair with DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and Will Fuller. After that the Dolphins replaced Kyle Van Noy with a high upside and insanely talented local kid in Jaelen Phillips; the next two picks give the Dolphins versatility in the DB room with Holland and on the OL in Eichenberg. Both will be instant impact players and have room to grow and mold into a good player.

Hunter Long and Larnel Coleman provide more depth and upside to the Dolphins on offense and should contribute in their first two years. The last pick was an absolute homerun, as somehow the Dolphins found a gem in Gerrid Doaks at the 244th overall pick; he is likely their future starting HB and complements the rest of the offense well.

The Dolphins needed to add starters at EDGE, WR, and HB along with depth across the board and that’s exactly what they did. Brian Flores and the rest of the Dolphins front office absolutely nailed the draft and put the Dolphins in a great spot to compete should Tua progress. 

New York Jets: A+, Aced

Needs: QB, CB, EDGE

1.2: QB Zach Wilson, BYU: A

1.14: IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC: A+

2.34: WR ELijah Moore, Ole Miss: A+

4.107: HB Michael Carter, UNC: A

5.146: S Jamin Sherwood, Auburn: B+

5.154: CB Michael Carter, Duke: B

5.175: CB Jason Pinnock, Pitt: A+

6.186: S Hamsah Nasirildeen, A+

6.200: CB Brandin Echols, Kentucky: B

7.207: DT Jonathn Marshall, Arkansas: B-

I don’t understand how Joe Douglas does it; every single year he’s been the GM of the Jets they haven’t missed on a pick (outside of James Morgan). The Jets started off great with 4 picks in a row being out of the park by giving 2nd overall pick and starting QB Zach Wilson protection with Alijah Vera-Tucker but also weapons in WR Elijah Moore and HB Michael Carter. The fact that Carter fell to them in the 4th round is magical and was a great pick.

After that the Jets turned their focus to the defense and found gem after gem, as Sherwood and Nasirildeen are solid adds to the S room and provide flexibility at LB as well. Nasirildeen at 186 was a no brainer pick. As for Carter and Pinnock, both are good upside CB with low floors and will be the eventual starting CBs for them.

They rounded the draft out with two quality depth pieces and also snagged some great UDFA in Hamilcar Rashed and Kenny Yeboah. The Jets original goal was adding three instant starters and the rest of the class being high upside depth/developmental guys. They did that in fact adding at least five starters and plenty of upside guys. The Jets are turning the corner into being one of the better AFC teams in a very competitive conference and division. 

Houston Texans: D+, Flopped

Needs: Pretty much everything

3.67: QB Davis Mills, Stanford: C+

3.89: WR Nico Collins, Michigan: A-

5.147: TE Brevin Jordan: A

5.170: LB Garrett Wallow, TCU: D

6.195: DT Roy Lopez, Arizona: F

I really want to like this Texans class but I can’t. They started the draft with eight picks but ended up only selecting five players which affects their grade poorly. As for their first pick of Davis Mills there is potential there for him to be future starting QB given Watson’s future is in jeopardy. They added Nico Collins to a dismal WR core and that will give Mills someone to grow with and refine his very pro ready traits.

Brevin Jordan at 147 is a steal given he was a top five TE in the class and the Texans really needed a playmaker on offense. The two defensive picks the Texans took were awful, as Wallow and Lopez were both late 7th rounders at best and the Texans reached on both, which is horrible when your defense is in such a horrible state.

A solid draft for the Texans was simply taking best player available and adding instant starters, and it seems like they did and didn’t do that. Mills can be a starter but if Watson decides to come back then this pick is an automatic F, given the C+ grade right now. The rest of the class up till their last two picks were BPA and instant starter but after that it flopped. The Texans needed everything so it’s hard to say they didn’t ace the class but given the circumstances and reaches they made it has to be said. 

Las Vegas Raiders: B-, Aced

Needs: T, S, LB

1.17: T Alex Leatherwood, Alabama: C-

2.43: S Trevon Moehrig, TCU: A+

3.79: EDGE Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo: B-

3.80: LB Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech: B

4.143: S Tyree Gillespie, Missouri: A

5.167: CB Nate Hobbs, Indiana: B+

7.230: C Jimmy Morrissey, Pitt: B

It feels like the Raiders reached hard on Alex Leatherwood but the post draft talk is other teams had him as a first round pick. On day two the Raiders found great value in Trevon Moehrig, who was the likely S1 in the class at 43 so it’s an even wash between the first two Raiders picks.

After that they added talent and depth with upside elsewhere. Koonce is talented and could be a slight reach but has potential to grow into a good pass rusher (the last Buffalo LB they took wasn’t so bad). Deablo provides them great flexibility at LB and S and fits perfectly. Gillespie and Hobbs provide them with versatility and upside in the DB room along with a potential few starters, and they ended the class with a depth OL and a pure Raider fit.

A good draft for the Raiders was adding in a starter at RT and FS and contributors on all three levels. The Raiders certainly did just that in their own way. They added the starters they needed and the depth/upside guys as well. The AFC West is tough but the Raiders are smartly building the defense they need. 

Chicago Bears: A-, Aced

Needs: QB, T, G

1.11: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State: A+

2.39: T Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State: A

5.151: T Larry Borom, Missouri: B-

6.217: HB Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech: B+

6.221: WR Dazz Newsome, UNC: C+

6.228: CB Thomas Graham, Oregon: A+

7.250: DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU: B+

The Bears absolutely crushed this draft but it better succeed as they mortgaged the future for it. Trading up for Fields was an amazing move by Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy and the pressure of knowing their future as a GM/HC duo was at stake pushed them to do it. In the 2nd round, moving up for T Teven Jenkins who somehow fell to 39 was a great move as well. The Bears provided Fields, their future QB, with good weapons in Herbert and Newsome in the 6th and OL protection in Jenkins/Borom with both players having great upside.

My concern with Jenkins is the team plans to slide him to LT which could be a challenge for a full time NCAA RT. Thomas Graham in the 6th was great value and he could turn into being their CB2 opposite Jaylon Johnson in the future, and the Bears ended a good class with a nice depth pickup in Tonga.

Overall the Bears needed to make the right choices and be aggressive which is exactly what they did. The future is good for Chicago and they will make a run soon if the development of Fields goes well, but if it doesn’t this class is a flop.

Detroit Lions: A+, Aced

Needs: WR, CB, T

1.7: T Penei Sewell, Oregon: A+

2.41: DT Levi Onwuzurike, Washington: B+

3.72: DT Alim McNeil, NC State: A-

3.101: CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse: A-

4.112: WR Amon-Ra St.Brown, USC: A+

4.113: LB Derrick Barnes, Purdue: B+

7.257: HB Jamar Jefferson, Oregon State: A

I don’t know what the Lions did but they have gone from years of mediocre or poor draft classes to one of if not the best class in the NFL. Penei Sewell falling to them at seven alone makes this class a win; paired with Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow they form one of the best OL in the NFL and it’s young as well.

Two DT may be a bad move by some but personally it adds depth and rotation to a DL that needed an infusion of youth; given the 3-4 front it provides the ability to play both at the same time at either 3-4 end or NT which is a smart move by Matt Campbell. Melifonwu to round out day three provides a great depth CB with insane physical attributes and upside for them.

St. Brown and Barnes were steals in the 4th and provide for the future at WR and LB and both will make their impacts early and will be household names. Jamar Jefferson in the 7th was great value, while the HB need wasn’t great it was a good value pick and provides more depth to the offense and another type of weapon behind Swift and Williams.

The Lions simply needed a draft that came away with future starters at CB, WR, and T along with depth on the DL and that’s exactly what they did. The team added their future All Pro T and two solid contributors at WR and CB with great depth and upside on the DL.

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