NFL Draft Grades 2021: Rounding Up Top Experts' Scores for Each Team

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2021

NFL Draft Grades 2021: Rounding Up Top Experts' Scores for Each Team

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The top three rounds of the 2021 NFL draft are over. While one day and four rounds remain, it's not too early to begin gauging how teams are doing near the draft's mid-point.

    Players taken in Rounds 1-3 are the ones largely expected to make the most impact. There were obvious picks, surprises and potential steals in the first three rounds, but how many great picks were there? Which teams have done the best thus far? Let's take a look at some of the experts' early grades.

    It's important to remember that selections cannot be fairly judged for two to three seasons—the Buffalo Bills' pick of Josh Allen looked underwhelming before he exploded last year. It can be a lot of fun to see what the experts have to say, though, so let's dig in.

Draft Recap

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Pete Prisco of CBS Sports on Round 1

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Most experts have separated their grades between Days 1 and 2. The first analyst we'll review here is Pete Prisco of CBS Sports and his view on Round 1.


    1. JAGUARS: Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson - A+

    2. JETS: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU - B

    3. 49ERS: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State - C-

    4. FALCONS: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida - A

    5. BENGALS: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU - B+

    6. DOLPHINS: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama - B+

    7. LIONS: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon - B+

    8. PANTHERS: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina - B

    9. BRONCOS: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama - A

    10. EAGLES: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama - B+

    11. BEARS: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State - A

    12. COWBOYS: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State - B

    13. CHARGERS: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern - B

    14. JETS: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC - B+

    15. PATRIOTS: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama - B

    16. CARDINALS: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa - B+

    17. RAIDERS: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama - B

    18. DOLPHINS: Jaelen Phillips, Edge, Miami - B

    19. WASHINGTON: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky - A

    20. GIANTS: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida - B

    21. COLTS: Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan - B-

    22. TITANS: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech - B-

    23. VIKINGS: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech - A

    24. STEELERS: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama - C

    25. JAGUARS: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson - C-

    26. BROWNS: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern - B

    27. RAVENS: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota - C

    28. SAINTS: Payton Turner, Edge, Houston - C

    29. PACKERS: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia - B+

    30. BILLS: Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami - B

    31. RAVENS: Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State - B-

    32. BUCCANEERS: Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington - B


    On Trey Lance

    Prisco wasn't a fan of Round 1's most pivotal selection, the San Francisco 49ers' pick of Trey Lance.

    "I just don't see trading up with two first-round picks as the price to get a guy who is raw and needs time. Lance has skills, but he will need time," he wrote.

    While it was indeed a bit head-scratching to see San Francisco trade up early without a specific quarterback target in mind, the 49ers believe they have their quarterback of the future. They have Jimmy Garoppolo for at least another season, so we'll have to wait and see how the North Dakota State product develops under him.

Chad Reuter of on Round 1

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press draft analyst Chad Reuter graded Round 1 on a team-by-team basis rather than by individual selections.


    Arizona Cardinals: A-

    Atlanta Falcons: A+

    Baltimore Ravens: A

    Buffalo Bills: A

    Carolina Panthers: A-

    Chicago Bears: A+

    Cincinnati Bengals: B+

    Cleveland Browns: A

    Dallas Cowboys: A+

    Denver Broncos: B

    Detroit Lions: A+

    Green Bay Packers: A

    Houston Texans: D (no pick)

    Indianapolis Colts: A

    Jacksonville Jaguars: A

    Kansas City Chiefs: A-

    Las Vegas Raiders: B+

    Los Angeles Chargers: A

    Los Angeles Rams: A (no pick)

    Miami Dolphins: A-

    Minnesota Vikings: A+

    New England Patriots: A

    New Orleans Saints: C

    New York Giants: A+

    New York Jets: B+

    Philadelphia Eagles: A

    Pittsburgh Steelers: A

    San Francisco 49ers: A

    Seattle Seahawks: B (no pick)

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A

    Tennessee Titans: B+

    Washington Football Team: B+


    On Rams Receiving an A Grade With No Pick

    The Los Angeles Rams didn't make a selection in Round 1, but Reuter was still a fan of their net return.

    "Jalen Ramsey is one of the top defenders in the NFL, and one of the few players for whom trading two first-round selections is appropriate," Reuter wrote. "Now that the Rams have a quarterback they like, that superb defense could help them get back to the Super Bowl in the next year or two."

    As Reuter pointed out, the Rams landed a superb player in Ramsey. They didn't get a chance to roll the dice on Thursday night, but they have a proven defender on their roster instead.

Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski on Day 2

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski took an in-depth look at every pick from Day 2. We'll only examine some of the highlights, but the full breakdown can be viewed here.

    38. New England Patriots (from Cincinnati): Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama - A

    Sobleski lauded the New England Patriots' decision to trade up and nab Alabama defensive lineman Christian Barmore—a player many viewed as a first-round pick:

    "When the first day of the NFL draft ended, one name topped nearly every best available list. Barmore projected as a first-round pick for basically the entire year. His potential, particularly as an interior pass-rusher, had him as the top defensive tackle prospect before he ever became a full-time starter for the Crimson Tide."

    The Patriots haven't had the best recent track record in the draft, but they may have landed a steal here. New England loves to build in the trenches, and Barmore could be a difference-maker for the next decade.


    52. Cleveland Browns (from Chicago via Houston) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - A+

    Like the Patriots, the Cleveland Browns moved up in the second round to secure a player with first-round potential.

    Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah likely slid because he's an undersized hybrid player, similar to Arizona Cardinals 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Simmons. Still, the grab is a good one for Cleveland.

    "Owusu-Koramoah fits Joe Woods' defensive scheme like peanut butter fits jelly," Sobleski wrote.

    This pick was less about the position and more about the player's potential. For a multi-look defense like Woods' that's the right draft approach.


    55. Pittsburgh Steelers: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State - D

    Sobleski was not a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers' decision to take Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth at the bottom of Round 2.

    For Sobleski, the low grade has more to do with what the Steelers didn't do here.

    "Freiermuth joins a group that already featured Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eric Ebron and this year's first-round pick, running back Najee Harris," he wrote. "What could stop all of that skill talent? Simple: The Steelers offensive line."

    It's worth noting that Pittsburgh did address its line in Round 3, taking Illinois interior lineman Kendrick Green. That selection earned a "B+" grade from Sobleski.