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Mel Kiper 2021 NFL Draft Grades: Chargers, Dolphins Top ESPN Guru's Rankings

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMay 2, 2021

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, right, holds a team jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the Miami Dolphins with the sixth pick in the NFL football draft Thursday April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins have plenty to feel good about after this year's NFL draft, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper.

The two clubs both received an "A" grade from the famed draft analyst Saturday as they both prepare to enter year two of their respective rebuilds after drafting quarterbacks last year. The Dolphins took Tua Tagovailoa No. 5 overall in 2020 with the Chargers grabbing Justin Herbert one pick later. While the latter would go onto win Offensive Rookie of the Year, both received some major upgrades this weekend, earning praise from Kiper in the process. 

Three of the first four picks for L.A. were aimed at boosting the offense as the Chargers grabbed offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, wideout Josh Palmer and tight end Tre' McKitty before the end of the third round—the one defensive pick in that bunch was cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. 

The Dolphins went a similar route, grabbing Tagovailoa's former wideout at Alabama, Jaylen Waddle, at No. 6 overall before grabbing OT Liam Eichenberg and tight end Hunter Long in the second and third rounds. 

Per Kiper: 

"Tagovailoa struggled as a rookie last season, but there should be no way he averages 6.3 yards per attempt again in 2021. The addition of No. 5 overall pick Jaylen Waddle (and free-agent signing Will Fuller V) means he now has multiple playmakers to run after the catch and to target on deep balls. Waddle was the fifth-ranked player on my board. Jaelan Phillips (18) is a silky-smooth edge rusher with the physical traits to average 10 sacks per season."

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After earning an "A" from Kiper in 2020, the Baltimore Ravens were a little less successful in this draft according to the analyst. 

Despite adding a dynamic wideout in Rashod Bateman to pair with quarterback Lamar Jackson, Kiper believes the team didn't do enough to address the loss of Orlando Brown on the offensive line after the Ravens traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Baltimore added just one guard this weekend, grabbing Ben Cleveland out of Georgia at No. 94 overall. 

The Chicago Bears were another winner in Kiper's eyes after trading up to pick Ohio State QB Justin Fields at No. 11, then going back-to-back with offensive tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom before adding tailback Khalil Herbert and wideout Dazz Newsome. 

Three teams tied for the lowest grade with Kiper handing out a "C-" to the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. 

As much a Kiper believes the Steelers made the right call in taking running back Najee Harris No. 24 overall, he felt the team didn't do enough to address both its offensive and defensive lines. 

Fortunately for all teams involved in the draft, the event rarely finds an immediate and consensus winner. Sleepers and breakout stars emerge in later rounds each year. For the teams on the lower end of Kiper's grades, the hope is that they were able to grab a few of them.