Grading Every NFL Team's 2021 Draft Haul

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2022

Grading Every NFL Team's 2021 Draft Haul

0 of 32

    Jeff Dean/Associated Press

    Anyone who has followed the NFL knows that judging a player based on a single season is a fool's errand.

    Take Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, for example. The Wyoming product had 10 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a lowly 67.9 passer rating as a rookie in 2018. On Saturday, he had arguably the best playoff performance from a quarterback in recent memory.

    According to Pro Football Reference, Allen became the first quarterback in the modern era to have 300-plus passing yards, five-plus passing touchdowns and at least 60 rushing yards in a playoff game.

    We can judge, however, how draft classes are shaping up after the first year. Are they providing a positive long-term outlook? Have they adequately addressed needs? Did teams avoid what appear to be obvious mistakes?

    Here, we'll look past the stat lines—though 2021 performances will certainly be part of the equation—and grade all 32 draft hauls on the aforementioned factors. Injuries, supporting talent and coaching will also be considered where applicable because, well, some situations simply aren't conducive to early success.

    Teams are listed in alphabetical order.

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 32

    Zaven Collins
    Zaven CollinsLachlan Cunningham/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 16 - Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
    • Round 2, pick No. 49 - Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
    • Round 4, pick No. 136 (from KC through BAL) – Marco Wilson, CB, Florida 
    • Round 6: pick No. 210 (from BAL) – Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke
    • Round 6, pick No. 223 – Tay Gowan, CB, UCF
    • Round 7, pick No. 243 – James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati
    • Round 7, pick No. 247 – Michal Menet, C, Penn State

    The Arizona Cardinals didn't get a massive early return on their draft investment. First-round pick Zaven Collins was decent in a support role, appearing in all 17 regular-season games. However, Collins wasn't a superstar by any means.

    The Tulsa product finished with 25 tackles, three passes defended and one tackle for loss. He allowed an opposing passer rating of 94.0 in coverage.

    Receiver Rondale Moore played a more prominent role, finishing with 54 receptions, 435 yards and a touchdown. However, he was never an overwhelming piece of the passing attack.

    Cornerback Marco Wilson started 13 games and appeared in 14 but allowed an opposing passer rating of 120.8 in coverage.

    That's about it for Arizona's draft contributions in 2021. The rest of the class played sparingly, if at all. Collins and Moore will have bright futures if their roles evolve, but this is currently a class long on potential and short on results.

    Grade: C-

Atlanta Falcons

2 of 32

    Kyle Pitts
    Kyle PittsJoshua Bessex/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 4 – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
    • Round 2, pick No. 40 (from DEN) – Richie Grant, S, UCF
    • Round 3, pick No. 68 – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
    • Round 4, pick No. 108 – Darren Hall, CB, San Diego State
    • Round 4, pick No. 114 (from DEN) - Drew Dalman, C, Stanford
    • Round 5, pick No. 148 – Ta'Quon Graham, DT, Texas 
    • Round 5, pick No. 182 – Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame 
    • Round 5, pick No. 183 – Avery Williams, CB, Boise State
    • Round 6, pick No. 187 – Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State

    First-round pick Kyle Pitts was as advertised for the Atlanta Falcons this season. The former Florida tight end only had a single touchdown reception, but he finished with 68 receptions and 1,026 yards—just shy of Mike Ditka's rookie tight-end record (1,076 yards).

    Pitts wasn't the only rookie contributor for Atlanta either. Second-round safety Richie Grant appeared in 16 games and compiled 35 tackles. Jalen Mayfield started 16 games, though he was as much a disaster as Pitts was a success.

    Mayfield was responsible for nine penalties and 11 sacks allowed, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Avery Williams stepped in as a return specialist, averaging a solid 7.7 yards per punt return and 21.3 yards per kickoff return. Derren Hall and Ta'Quon Graham were mostly bit players on defense, while receiver Frank Darby had just a single reception and Drew Dalman saw just 68 offensive snaps. 

    In all, Atlanta's class is shaping up to be good but not great. Pitts looks like a home run selection, while Mayfield looks like a potential bust. Grant and Williams could be solid long-term contributors.

    Grade: C+

Baltimore Ravens

3 of 32

    Odafe Oweh
    Odafe OwehWinslow Townson/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 27 – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
    • Round 1, pick No. 31 (via KC) – Odafe Oweh, LB, Penn State
    • Round 3, pick No. 94 – Ben Cleveland, G, Georgia
    • Round 3, pick No. 104 – Brandon Stephens, CB, SMU
    • Round 4, pick No. 131 – Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State 
    • Round 5, pick No. 160 (from ARI) – Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State 
    • Round 5, pick No. 171 – Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame
    • Round 5, pick No. 184 – Ben Mason, FB, Michigan

    Like Atlanta's rookie class, the Baltimore Ravens' group was good but not overwhelmingly so in 2021.

    Odafe Oweh looks like a future superstar. The rookie pass-rusher finished with five sacks and an impressive 27 quarterback pressures as a rotational player. However, top pick Rashod Bateman was just sort of OK—though, it's worth noting that he opened the season on injured reserve with a groin injury.

    Bateman finished with 515 receiving yards and one touchdown, far from on par with the top wideouts in this rookie class. Fellow receiver Tylan Wallace only had a pair of receptions in his first season.

    Brandon Stephens was pressed into service due to injuries at cornerback, and he underwhelmed. He started 11 games but allowed an opposing passer rating of 128.8. Fellow corner Shaun Wade appeared in only three games, while defensive end Daelin Hayes appeared in one.

    Former Georgia guard Ben Cleveland made four starts and didn't allow a sack. Fullback Ben Mason was waived at the end of the preseason.

    Oweh figures to be an impact defender for years to come, and Cleveland may develop into a reliable starter. Bateman will have to show more in his second year, however, for this draft haul to be considered great.

    Grade: C+

Buffalo Bills

4 of 32

    Gregory Rousseau
    Gregory RousseauBryan Bennett/Getty Images
    • Round 1, pick No. 30 – Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
    • Round 2, pick No. 61 – Carlos Basham, DE, Wake Forest
    • Round 3, pick No. 93 – Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
    • Round 5, pick No. 161 (from LV) – Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami (OH)
    • Round 6, pick No. 203 (from WAS through LV, MIA and HOU) – Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston
    • Round 6, pick No. 212 (from NO through HOU) – Damar Hamlin, S, Pittsburgh
    • Round 6, pick No. 213 – Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin
    • Round 7, pick No. 236 (from CAR) – Jack Anderson, OG, Texas Tech

    The Buffalo Bills came into the draft looking to improve their pass rush. They did that by nabbing Gregory Rousseau and Carlos "Boogie" Basham with their first two picks.

    While Rousseau only had four sacks in the regular season, he provided an impressive 24 quarterback pressures and 10 quarterback hits. Basham wasn't as impactful, but he did chip in with 2.5 sacks in a limited role.

    Spencer Brown stepped in at right tackle in Week 4 and ended up making 10 starts in 2021. He was responsible for eight penalties but only one sack allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. He should become a permanent fixture along the offensive line.

    However, the rest of Buffalo's rookies played only minor support roles in 2021 and may have to fight to earn roster spots moving forward. The Bills got a pair of starters in Rousseau and Brown and a nice developmental player in Basham. This was not one of the deeper classes in the 2021 draft, though.

    Grade: B-

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    Jaycee Horn
    Jaycee HornJacob Kupferman/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 8 – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
    • Round 2, pick No. 59 (from CLE) – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
    • Round 3, pick No. 70 (from PHI) – Brady Christensen, OT, BYU
    • Round 3, pick No. 83 (from CHI) - Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame
    • Round 4, pick No. 126 (from TEN) – Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State 
    • Round 5, pick No. 158 (from NE through HOU) – Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
    • Round 5, pick No. 166 (from TEN) – Keith Taylor, CB, Washington
    • Round 6, pick No. 193 – Deonte Brown, OG, Alabama
    • Round 6, pick No. 204 (from CHI) – Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
    • Round 6, pick No. 222 – Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama
    • Round 7, pick No. 232 – Phil Hoskins, DT, Kentucky

    We saw only a glimpse of Carolina Panthers first-round pick Jaycee Horn this season, but he flashed promise. Horn suffered a season-ending foot injury three games in, but he logged an interception and allowed an opposing passer rating of just 39.6 before exiting.

    Second-round receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. saw far more action but was arguably less impressive. Though he was hampered by inconsistent quarterback play, Marshall's 17 receptions and 138 receiving yards left a lot to be desired. Tight end Tommy Tremble was surprisingly more productive with 20 catches, 180 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown and one rushing score.  

    Tackle Brady Christensen made six starts but allowed four sacks in his limited action, according to Pro Football Focus. Running back Chuba Hubbard, who finished with 612 rushing yards, 174 receiving yards and six touchdowns, was the gem of this class in 2021.

    Daviyon Nixon, Keith Taylor, Deonte Brown, Phil Hoskins, and Shi Smith all saw playing time, but none of them truly stood out.

    If Horn can get healthy and return to form, it could salvage this draft class. We saw very little from the Panthers' group in its first year, though.

    Grade: C-

Chicago Bears

6 of 32

    Justin Fields
    Justin FieldsIcon Sportswire/Getty Images
    • Round 1, pick No. 11 (from NYG) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
    • Round 2, pick No. 39 (from CAR) – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
    • Round 5, pick No. 151 (from CAR) – Larry Borom, OT, Missouri 
    • Round 6, pick No. 217 (from TB through SEA) – Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech  
    • Round 6, pick No. 221 – Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
    • Round 6, pick No. 228 – Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon
    • Round 7, pick No. 250 (from SEA) – Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU

    We'll give the Chicago Bears a little extra credit for taking a flier on potential franchise quarterback Justin Fields. While the Ohio State product didn't play particularly well as a rookie (passer rating of 73.2), he was also hampered by Matt Nagy's disastrous play-calling and poor game-planning.

    Fields did show promise as a dual-threat, passing for 1,870 yards and rushing for 420. Running back Khalil Herbert also showed promise, rushing for 433 yards and 4.2 yards per carry. Khyiris Tonga had 24 tackles in 15 appearances.

    Those are pretty much the highlights of Chicago's rookie class. Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. only appeared in four games, while Teven Jenkins was limited to two starts following back surgery. Larry Borom made eight starts but was responsible for four penalties and five sacks allowed, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Dazz Newsome appeared in only three games and had two catches.

    Overall, this was a disappointing class, though we'll grade on a curve because of the Fields pick. If he can develop into the elite quarterback Chicago has long sought, the rest of the class could flop and the Bears would still be winners.

    Grade: C+

Cincinnati Bengals

7 of 32

    Ja'Marr Chase
    Ja'Marr ChaseAaron Doster/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 5 – Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
    • Round 2, pick No. 46 (from NE) – Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
    • Round 3, pick No. 69 – Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas 
    • Round 4, pick No. 111 – Cameron Sample, DE, Tulane
    • Round 4, pick No. 122 (from ARI through HOU and NE) – Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU
    • Round 4, pick No. 139 (from NE) – D'Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina
    • Round 5, pick No. 149 – Evan McPherson, K, Florida
    • Round 6, pick No. 190 – Trey Hill, C, Georgia
    • Round 6, pick No. 202 – Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
    • Round 7, pick No. 235 - Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas St. 

    The Cincinnati Bengals passed on drafting a franchise left tackle to take LSU receiver Ja'Marr Chase. While Joe Burrow was sacked an NFL-high 51 times, going with Chase was the right call. He and Burrow have a magical connection that resulted in the rookie racking up 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns.

    "I have that dog mentality. It's either be stopped or not be stopped. I don't think I can be stopped," Chase told reporters following Saturday's playoff win.

    The Bengals definitely deserve bonus points for pulling the trigger on Chase. However, we can't judge Cincinnati on that pick alone. The other big get in this group was kicker Evan McPherson, who figures to fill Cincinnati's special teams need for the foreseeable future.

    The rest of Cincinnati's draft class saw only sporadic action. Trey Hill started three games at center, while second-round pick Jackson Carman started six at guard. They should be fine rotational linemen, but neither looks like a surefire long-term starter.

    Joseph Ossai landed on injured reserve before the season started, while Cameron Sample chipped in 1.5 sacks. Chris Evans returned kicks but saw only 17 regular-season carries.

    Chase and McPherson were home run selections, but the Bengals are banking heavily on future production with the rest of this class. It's shaping up to be a great group, but not the best class of 2021.

    Grade: A

Cleveland Browns

8 of 32

    Greg Newsome II
    Greg Newsome IIAssociated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 26 – Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
    • Round 2, pick No. 52 (from CHI through CAR) – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
    • Round 3, pick No. 91 – Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
    • Round 4, pick No. 110 (from PHI) – James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati
    • Round 4, pick No. 132 – Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State 
    • Round 5, pick No. 153 (from DET) – Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia
    • Round 5, pick No. 169 – Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia
    • Round 6, pick No. 211 – Demetric Felton, WR, UCLA

    The Cleveland Browns significantly underachieved in 2021. Their first two draft selections, however, did not.

    Cornerback Greg Newsome II was as advertised, showing the potential to be a future Pro Bowl cover corner. He was limited to 12 games by a calf injury and a concussion, but Newsome started 11 of those games and allowed an opposing passer rating of just 85.6.

    Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah missed time with a high ankle sprain but proved to be one of the quickest and most versatile young defenders in the NFL. He appeared in 14 games and finished with 76 tackles, 49 solo stops, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an opposing passer rating of 70.2.

    Rookie tackle James Hudson made four starts, while Anthony Schwartz caught 10 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. However, Cleveland's rookie class largely underwhelmed aside from Newsome, Owusu-Koramoah and Demetric Felton—who produced 205 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns while returning kickoffs and punts.

    Cleveland deserves credit for landing studs in Newsome and Owusu-Koramoah while finding a gem in Felton. However, this class didn't provide the depth the Browns needed to navigate a mountain-sized rash of injuries and absences.

    Grade: B

Dallas Cowboys

9 of 32

    Micah Parsons
    Micah ParsonsRon Jenkins/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 12 (from PHI) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
    • Round 2, pick No. 44 – Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
    • Round 3, pick No. 75 – Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA
    • Round 3, pick No. 84 – Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa
    • Round 3, pick No. 99 – Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State 
    • Round 4, pick No. 115 – Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
    • Round 4, pick No. 138 – Josh Ball, OT, Marshall
    • Round 5, pick No. 179 – Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
    • Round 6, pick No. 192 – Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
    • Round 6, pick No. 227 – Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
    • Round 7, pick No. 238 – Matt Farniok, G, Nebraska  

    It's hard to find a better selection in the 2021 draft than the Dallas Cowboys' pick of linebacker Micah Parsons. The former Penn State star did a little bit of everything as a rookie and did it all extremely well.

    "Micah Parsons wears 10 hats on this defense and is a top-tier wearer of each one," Dalton Miller of Pro Football Network tweeted. "Usually versatility means a lack of refinement in a few spots. He could legitimately be a first-team All-Pro EDGE and LB beginning next year if they keep using him as a hybrid."

    Parsons finished with 84 tackles, 13 sacks, three forced fumbles, 30 quarterback hits and 47 quarterback pressures.

    Dallas got more from its draft class than just Parsons, though. Cornerback Kelvin Joseph appeared in 10 games and allowed an opposing passer rating of only 82.7 in coverage. Defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa started 12 games and finished with 36 tackles and two sacks. Chauncey Golston added 32 tackles and a sack while appearing in 15 games.

    Nahshon Wright, Jabril Cox and Israel Mukuamu all saw the field as well.

    This was largely a defensive draft for Dallas, and the Cowboys may have helped set their defensive foundation for the foreseeable future.

    Grade: A+

Denver Broncos

10 of 32

    Patrick Surtain II
    Patrick Surtain IIAl Pereira/Getty Images
    • Round 1, pick No. 9 – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
    • Round 2, pick No. 35 (from ATL) – Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
    • Round 3, pick No. 98 (from NO) – Quinn Meinerz, G, Wisconsin-Whitewater
    • Round 3, pick No. 105 (from NO) – Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State 
    • Round 5, pick No. 152 – Caden Sterns, S, Texas
    • Round 5, pick No. 164 (from CHI via NYG) – Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana
    • Round 6, pick No. 219 (from ATL) – Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
    • Round 7, pick No. 237 – Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU
    • Round 7, pick No. 239 (from NYG) – Jonathon Cooper, OLB, Ohio State
    • Round 7, pick No. 253 (from CLE) – Marquiss Spencer, DE, Mississippi State

    The Denver Broncos deserve some criticism for passing on a quarterback at No. 9. However, they did land  stud in cornerback Patrick Surtain II. The Alabama product flashed the potential of a perennial Pro Bowler as a rookie, finishing with an opposing passer rating of only 61.3.

    On the offensive side of the ball, running back Javonte Williams was nearly as impressive. He finished with 903 rushing yards, 316 receiving yards, seven combined touchdowns and should be a long-term fixture in the Broncos backfield.

    Quinn Meinerz played 623 offensive snaps as a rookie, allowing three sacks and being flagged twice, according to Pro Football Focus. While he wasn't overly impressive, he should be a solid depth piece moving forward.

    Linebacker Baron Browning appeared in 14 games with nine starts, while safety Caden Sterns appeared in 15. Jonathon Cooper appeared in 16 games and finished with a solid 38 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 15 quarterback pressures. He could be a future starter at linebacker.

    In all, Denver got a couple of instant-impact players and a lot of solid depth for the future. The Broncos didn't get their quarterback of the future, but this is a wonderful group nonetheless.

    Grade: B+

Detroit Lions

11 of 32

    Penei Sewell
    Penei SewellPaul Sancya/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 7 – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
    • Round 2, pick No. 41 – Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
    • Round 3, pick No. 72 – Alim McNeill, DT, NC State
    • Round 3, pick No. 101 (from LAR) – Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
    • Round 4, pick No. 112 – Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
    • Round 4, pick No. 113 (from CAR through CLE) – Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue
    • Round 7, pick No. 257 (from BUF through CLE) – Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State

    The Detroit Lions didn't draft a quarterback at No. 7 overall. However, they helped set the stage for their next signal-caller instead. Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker have the potential to be one of the league's top tackle tandems for many years.

    Sewell struggled early in his transition to right tackle, but he settled in and allowed only five sacks all season, according to Pro Football Focus.

    On the defensive side of the ball, Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill were great, finishing with 35 and 39 tackles, respectively. Derrick Barnes was also great, finishing with 67 tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss.

    Jermar Jefferson and Ifeatu Melifonwu saw occasional playing time as well.

    The steal of this draft class, though—and not just Detroit's class—was wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown. The USC product morphed into a No. 1 receiver down the stretch, finishing with six consecutive games of at least eight receptions.

    St. Brown caught 90 passes for 912 yards and five touchdowns in 2021 while providing a passer rating of 104.0 when targeted.

    The Lions didn't win a lot of games in 2021, but they helped lay the foundation for a turnaround 2022 campaign through the draft.

    Grade: A

Green Bay Packers

12 of 32

    Eric Stokes
    Eric StokesMorry Gash/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 29 – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
    • Round 2, pick No. 62 – Josh Myers, C, Ohio State
    • Round 3, pick No. 85 – Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
    • Round 4, pick No. 142 – Royce Newman, OG, Ole Miss 
    • Round 5, pick No. 173 – Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
    • Round 5, pick No. 178 – Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State
    • Round 6, pick No. 214 – Cole Van Lanen, OT, Wisconsin
    • Round 6, pick No. 220 – Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College
    • Round 7, pick No. 256 – Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State

    The Green Bay Packers had some big hits and a couple of misses in their draft class. First-round cornerback Eric Stokes has been spectacular since taking over as a starter in Week 3. He's logged 14 passes defended and allowed an opposing passer rating of just 71.3.

    The Packers also appear to have hit on center Josh Myers. The Ohio State product started five games before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury. When he returned in late December, he went right back into the starting lineup.

    Myers didn't allow a sack or get penalized, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Guard Royce Newman appeared in all 17 games and made 16 starts. He hasn't been as dependable as Myers (when healthy), though, and has been responsible for five penalties and six sacks, according to PFF.

    Defensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton appeared in all 17 games and finished with 23 tackles and a sack, while Shemar Jean-Charles and Isaiah McDuffie both saw the field in 2021. Kylin Hill has seen some work returning kicks, while Cole Van Lanen only saw a single offensive snap.

    Green Bay may have whiffed on receiver Amari Rodgers, though. Despite a lack of receiver depth, Rodgers rarely saw the field and finished the regular season with a mere four receptions.

    Grade: B

Houston Texans

13 of 32

    Davis Mills
    Davis MillsEric Christian Smith/Associated Press
    • Round 3, pick No. 67 – Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
    • Round 3, pick No. 89 (from CLE through CAR) – Nico Collins, WR, Michigan 
    • Round 5, pick No. 147 – Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
    • Round 5, pick No. 170 (from CLE through JAX and LAR) – Garret Wallow, LB, TCU
    • Round 6, pick No. 195 – Roy Lopez, DT, Arizona

    For only having five draft picks and none before Round 3, the Houston Texans did a solid job of navigating the 2021 draft. Davis Mills performed well for a rookie, especially given the lack of a strong supporting cast. He finished with a passer rating of 88.8 and may well be Houston's quarterback of the future.

    Nico Collins also impressed, catching 33 passes for for 446 yards and a touchdown. While those aren't jaw-dropping numbers, Collins out-performed receivers taken ahead of him, like Tutu Atwell and Terrace Marshall Jr.

    Tight end Brevin Jordan showed some glimpses of playmaking ability, catching 20 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Garret Wallow appeared in all 17 games and finished with 23 tackles and a sack. Roy Lopez made 15 starts and tallied 31 tackles and a sack.

    The Texans draft class isn't likely to wow anyone statistically, but Houston did well with the capital it had available.

    Grade: B-

Indianapolis Colts

14 of 32

    Kwity Paye
    Kwity PayeGary McCullough/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 21 – Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
    • Round 2, pick  No. 54 – Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt
    • Round 4, pick No. 127 – Kylen Granson, TE, SMU
    • Round 5, pick No. 165 – Shawn Davis, S, Florida
    • Round 6, pick No. 218 (from NO) – Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas 
    • Round 7, pick No. 229 (from JAX through NO) – Mike Strachan, WR, Charleston (WV)
    • Round 7, pick No. 248 – Will Fries, OT, Penn State

    Though they didn't ultimately make the postseason, the Indianapolis Colts came into 2021 with a playoff-caliber roster. Perhaps this is why we didn't see much from Indianapolis' rookie class this season. Perhaps.

    First-round pick Kwity Paye was the only Colts rookie to see meaningful snaps in 2021, and his impact was limited. The Michigan product finished with four sacks, 10 quarterback hits and 16 quarterback pressures. That's decent production, but clearly not what a team should hope to see from a first-round selection.

    Dayo Odeyingbo finished with only a half-sack and six tackles, while safety Shawn Davis wound up with the Packers. Tight end Kylen Granson and wideout Mike Strachan combined for 12 receptions. Will Fries appeared in three games, while Sam Ehlinger finished without a single pass attempt.

    The problem here is that, with the exception of Paye, the Colts rookies didn't show enough promise to even see significant time as rotational pieces. Indy has a deep enough roster, but not a great one. The Colts finished ranked 16th in both total offense and total defense—and, of course, they missed the postseason.

    With Paye largely disappointing as a pass-rusher, this is shaping up to be a bust of a class.

    Grade: F 

Jacksonville Jaguars

15 of 32

    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 1 – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
    • Round 1, pick No. 25 (from LAR) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
    • Round 2, pick No. 33 – Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
    • Round 2, pick No. 45 (from MIN) – Walker Little, OT, Stanford
    • Round 3, pick No. 65 – Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse 
    • Round 4, pick No. 106 – Jay Tufele, DT, USC
    • Round 4, pick No. 121 (from LV) – Jordan Smith, DE, UAB
    • Round 5, pick No. 145 – Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State
    • Round 6, pick No. 209 (from LAR) – Jalen Camp, WR, Georgia Tech

    We're not going to give the Jacksonville Jaguars too much credit for making the common-sense selection of Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall. We're also not going to fault Lawrence for playing with a talent-starved roster and an all-time terrible coaching situation.

    Lawrence (passer rating of 71.9) was not good as a rookie, but he still has the upside of a perennial All-Pro.

    Travis Etienne missed his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury, but the Jags got a good one in Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell. He started 14 games and allowed an opposing passer rating of 94.0 in coverage.

    Walker Little and Andre Cisco each made three starts in 2021, but Jay Tufele and Jalen Camp appeared in only seven combined games. Jordan Smith never saw the field, while Luke Farrell finished with a mere seven receptions.

    The problem here is that with a league-worst roster, the Jags should have found opportunities for their rookies. They largely did not. Campbell and Lawrence may be future stars, and Etienne is a total unknown, but this class will have to bank on its development to be an acceptable one.

    Grade: C

Kansas City Chiefs

16 of 32

    Creed Humphrey
    Creed HumphreyDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press
    • Round 2, pick No. 58 – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
    • Round 2, pick No. 63 – Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
    • Round 4, pick No. 144 – Joshua Kaindoh, DE, Florida State 
    • Round 5, pick No. 162 (from MIA through LV and NYJ) – Noah Gray, TE, Duke
    • Round 5, pick No. 181  – Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
    • Round 6, pick No. 226 (from CAR through NYJ) – Trey Smith, G, Tennessee

    The Kansas City Chiefs didn't have a first-round selection due to the Orlando Brown Jr. trade. However, they still landed a star in second-round center Creed Humphrey.

    "Humphrey was the highest-graded center in the entire league in 2021 and broke the record for the highest single-season PFF grade by a rookie at the position," Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus wrote.

    Guard Trey Smith was similarly impactful, starting all 17 games and allowing only four sacks, according to PFF.

    Linebacker Nick Bolton had a strong rookie campaign, amassing 112 tackles, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown. He should quickly become a familiar name to the rest of the AFC West.

    The rest of Kansas City's rookie class saw only limited action in 2021, if any. However, the Chiefs landed three impact rookies in Bolton, Humphrey and Smith. For a team that already had a playoff-caliber roster, it's hard to ask for more than that.

    Grade: A

Las Vegas Raiders

17 of 32

    Alex Leatherwood
    Alex LeatherwoodZach Bolinger/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 17 – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
    • Round 2, pick No. 43 – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
    • Round 3, pick No. 79 (from AZ) – Malcolm Koonce, LB, Buffalo
    • Round 3, pick No. 80 – Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech
    • Round 4, pick No. 143 (from MIN through NYJ) – Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri
    • Round 5, pick No. 167 (from SEA) – Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois
    • Round 7, pick No. 230 (from NYJ through SF) – Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh

    There's a lot to like about the Las Vegas Raiders' draft class. Trevon Moehrig started all 17 games at safety and finished with 55 tackles, an interception and an opposing passer rating of 92.5. Cornerback Nate Hobbs was equally impressive, appearing in 16 games and allowing an opposing passer rating of 92.1.

    Linebacker/safety Divine Deablo was also a strong defensive contributor, tallying 45 tackles and a fumble recovery in 17 appearances. Malcolm Koonce only played 48 defensive snaps, but he flashed his potential, notching two sacks in limited action.

    Tyree Gillespie appeared in 11 games, while Jimmy Morrissey appeared in five with four starts.

    This group might approach an "A" grade if not for the presence of first-round pick Alex Leatherwood. The former Alabama tackle slotted in at guard and disappointed as much as any first-round pick in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, Leatherwood was responsible for 14 penalties and eight sacks—a horrendous number for an interior lineman.

    Leatherwood has time to rebound, of course, but he makes an otherwise strong Raiders rookie group merely above average.

    Grade: B-

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Rashawn Slater
    Rashawn SlaterKyusung Gong/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick  No. 13 – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
    • Round 2, pick  No. 47 – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
    • Round 3, pick No. 77 – Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
    • Round 3, pick No. 97 – Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
    • Round 4, pick No. 118 – Chris Rumph II, LB, Duke 
    • Round 5, pick No. 159 – Brendan Jaimes, OT, Nebraska
    • Round 6, pick No. 185 (from JAX through TEN) – Nick Niemann, LB, Iowa
    • Round 6, pick No. 198 – Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri
    • Round 7, pick No. 241 – Mark Webb, S, Georgia

    The Los Angeles Chargers got themselves a pair of stars in offensive tackle Rashawn Slater and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.

    Slater played every single snap at left tackle and allowed a mere four sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. He was named to the Pro Bowl for his efforts. Samuel wasn't quite as impactful, but he started all 12 games in which he appeared—he missed four games with a concussion.

    Samuel allowed an opposing passer rating of 96.8 in coverage.

    Wideout Josh Palmer made an impact in the passing game, finishing with 33 receptions, 353 yards and four touchdowns. Linebacker Nick Niemann contributed 22 tackles and an interception to the defense.

    Every rookie that Los Angeles drafted saw the field in 2021. That's the mark of a good class, potentially a great one if Slater, Samuel and Palmer continue on their current paths.

    Slater figures to become a perennial All-Pro, and the Chargers have to be happy with the rest of their draft haul too.

    Grade: A

Los Angeles Rams

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    Tutu Atwell
    Tutu AtwellIcon Sportswire/Getty Images
    • Round 2, pick No. 57 – Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville
    • Round 3, pick No. 103 – Ernest Jones, LB, South Carolina
    • Round 4, pick No. 117 – Bobby Brown III, DT, Texas A&M
    • Round 4, pick No. 130 (from LAR through JAX) – Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
    • Round 4, pick No. 141 – Jacob Harris, WR, UCF 
    • Round 5, pick No. 174 (from BUF through HOU) – Earnest Brown IV, DE, Northwestern
    • Round 7, pick No. 233 – Jake Funk, RB, Maryland
    • Round 7, pick No. 249 (from TEN through JAX) – Ben Skowronek, WR, Notre Dame
    • Round 7, pick No. 252 – Chris Garrett, LB, Concordia University St. Paul

    Third-round pick Ernest Jones is shaping up to be the highlight of the Los Angeles Rams' draft class, which is not great. Jones was solid in the regular season, finishing with 61 tackles and a sack, but he's about the only significant contributor we've seen from this group.

    Second-round pick Tutu Atwell has played almost exclusively as a return specialist, while fellow wideout Jacob Harris has played almost exclusively on special teams. Defensive tackle Bobby Brown III played just 22 defensive snaps in the regular season, while cornerback Robert Rochell appeared in only five games.

    Jake Funk logged just two carries in the regular season, while Earnest Brown IV landed on the practice squad. Ben Skowronek caught 11 passes, but he hasn't been a big part of the offense. Chris Garrett made just a single appearance in 2021.

    The Rams are a talented team and didn't come into the draft with many starting opportunities open. However, they did a poor job of addressing depth or maximizing draft capital—which is why players like Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. were acquired in-season.

    Perhaps it's a good thing for L.A. that it traded away all but three (non-compensatory) selections in the 2022 draft.

    Grade: F

Miami Dolphins

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    Jaylen Waddle
    Jaylen WaddleMichael Reaves/Getty Images
    • Round 1, pick No. 6 (from PHI) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
    • Round 1, pick No. 18 – Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
    • Round 2, pick No. 36 (from HOU) – Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
    • Round 2, pick No. 42 (from NYG) – Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame 
    • Round 3, pick No. 81 – Hunter Long, TE, Boston College 
    • Round 7, pick No. 231 – Larnel Coleman, OT, UMass
    • Round 7, pick No. 244 (from WFT through LV) – Gerrid Doaks, RB, Cincinnati

    The Miami Dolphins nailed their early picks, which is what franchises hope to do.

    First-round receiver Jaylen Waddle was tremendous, finishing with 104 receptions, 1,015 yards and six touchdowns. Fellow first-rounder Jaelan Phillips was similarly great, pushing past a slow start to finish with 8.5 sacks and 26 quarterback pressures.

    Second-round safety Jevon Holland allowed an opposing passer rating of 109.7 for the season but was fantastic down the stretch.

    "Holland is the highest-graded safety since Week 9 by over four grading points," Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus wrote. "Not only is he doing this after not playing a down in [2020] due to the pandemic, but he is also doing this almost exclusively at free safety despite playing a more versatile role in college."

    Rookie tackle Liam Eichenberg was responsible for 10 penalties and nine sacks allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. However, he did start 16 games. The rest of this group barely contributed if at all, but if Eichenberg can progress in his second year, this will be one of the home run classes of 2021.

    Grade: A

Minnesota Vikings

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    Christian Darrisaw
    Christian DarrisawIcon Sportswire/Getty Images
    • Round 1, pick No. 23 (from Seattle through Jets) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
    • Round 3, pick No. 66 (from Jets) – Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
    • Round 3, pick No. 78 – Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
    • Round 3, pick No. 86 (from Seattle through Jets) – Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State 
    • Round 3, pick No. 90 (from Ravens) – Patrick Jones II, DE, Pittsburgh 
    • Round 4, pick No. 119 – Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State 
    • Round 4, pick No. 125 (from Bears) – Camryn Bynum, CB, California
    • Round 4, pick No. 134 (from Bills) – Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida State
    • Round 5, pick No. 157 – Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa
    • Round 5, pick No. 168 (from Steelers) – Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri St.
    • Round 6, pick No. 199 – Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh

    The Minnesota Vikings didn't get a ton of bang for the proverbial buck with their early selections, which hurts their grade considerably. Christian Darrisaw was eased into the lineup due to a preseason groin injury, and while he wound up starting 10 games, he allowed five sacks in 652 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Quarterback Kellen Mond couldn't even get on the field after the Vikings were eliminated from playoff contention. He played three snaps in Week 17 mop-up duty, and that was it.

    "I see him every day," former coach Mike Zimmer told reporters when asked if he'd like to get a look at Mond in the season finale.

    Third-round pick Chazz Surratt wasn't much more relevant, appearing exclusively on special teams. Wyatt Davis failed to crack the starting lineup, as did defensive end Patrick Jones II.

    While Minnesota got some complementary contributions from later picks like Kene Nwangwu and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, it's hard to swallow getting so little out of four third-round selections.

    Darrisaw's upside prevents Minnesota from getting a failing grade, but this is shaping up to be a disappointing class for the Vikings.

    Grade: D-

New England Patriots

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    Mac Jones
    Mac JonesAdrian Kraus/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 15 – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
    • Round 2, pick No. 38 (from CIN) – Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
    • Round 3, pick No. 96 – Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma
    • Round 4, pick No. 120 – Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma
    • Round 5, pick No. 177 – Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
    • Round 6, pick No. 188 – Joshuah Bledsoe, S, Missouri
    • Round 6, pick No. 197 – William Sherman, OT, Colorado
    • Round 7, pick No. 242 – Tre Nixon, WR, UCF

    Quarterback Mac Jones finally played like a rookie late in the regular season and on Super Wild Card Weekend—he had eight turnovers in his final five games. However, the New England Patriots can't be too disappointed with their first-round selection.

    The fifth quarterback taken in the draft, Jones was arguably the best. More often than not, he read defenses well, operated the offense smoothly and threw the ball with tremendous accuracy. He finished with 3,801 passing yards, a 67.6 percent completion rate and a passer rating of 92.5.

    Defensive tackle Christian Barmore was equally impressive, finishing with 46 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two passes defended and 18 quarterback pressures. Barmore has legitimate All-Pro potential.

    Running back Rhamondre Stevenson, meanwhile, made his mark down the stretch as a tough, physical runner. Though part of a heavy backfield rotation, Stevenson finished with 606 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns, a 4.6 yards-per-carry average and 123 receiving yards.

    It wasn't all hits for New England, though, as Ronnie Perkins, Cameron McGrone, Tre Nixon and Joshuah Bledsoe didn't see the field. William Sherman only appeared in one game.

    New England likely got three long-term mainstays out of this class, and if the rest of the group can contribute in the future, this will be a great one.

    Grade: B+

New Orleans Saints

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    Pete Werner
    Pete WernerMitchell Leff/Getty Images
    • Round 1, pick No. 28 – Payton Turner, DE, Houston
    • Round 2, pick No. 60 – Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State
    • Round 3, pick No. 76 – Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
    • Round 4, pick No. 133 – Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
    • Round 6, pick No. 206 – Landon Young, OT, Kentucky
    • Round 7, pick No. 255 – Kawaan Baker, WR, South Alabama

    New Orleans Saints first-round pick Payton Turner appeared in only five games before landing on injured reserve with a shoulder issue. He showed some glimpses, with 12 tackles and a sack, but Turner largely brings an incomplete grade to the proceedings.

    Linebacker Pete Werner, on the other hand, saw extensive playing time and performed well. He appeared in 15 games with eight starts and compiled 62 tackles and an opposing passer rating of 84.5 in coverage. Paulson Adebo was even more impactful, starting all 17 games and allowing an opposing passer rating of 91.7.

    Werner and Adebo look to be future mainstays of the New Orleans defense.

    Landon Young made a single start in 2021, while Kawaan Baker appeared in two games. Ian Book was miserable in his lone start of the season, finishing with a passer rating of 40.6.

    Book deserves time to develop, though, and Turner needs an opportunity to get healthy. There's promise in this class, and the Saints may have already uncovered stars in Werner and Adebo.

    Grade: B-

New York Giants

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    Azeez Ojulari
    Azeez OjulariIcon Sportswire/Getty Images
    • Round 1, pick No. 20 (from CHI) – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
    • Round 2, pick No. 50 (from MIA) – Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia
    • Round 3, pick No. 71 (from DEN) – Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF
    • Round 4, pick No. 116 – Elerson Smith, LB, Northern Iowa
    • Round 6, pick No. 196 – Gary Brightwell, RB, Arizona
    • Round 6, pick No. 201 – Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State

    Second-round pick Azeez Ojulari is the gem of the New York Giants' draft class. The former Georgia standout was excellent in his first season, finishing with eight sacks and 27 quarterback pressures. New York got a good one in Ojulari, but that's pretty much the highlight of this group.

    Cornerback Aaron Robinson saw only limited action, as did Elerson Smith and Rodarius Williams. Gary Brightwell got only 12 offensive snaps, despite starting running back Saquon Barkley being injured and ineffective for most of the season.

    Then, there's first-round pick Kadarius Toney, on whom the jury is very much out. Toney had multiple stints on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and he was ejected in Week 5 for throwing a punch at Cowboys defensive back Damontae Kazee.

    Toney had one great game (10 catches, 189 yards), but failed to have much of an overall impact. He finished the year with 39 catches 420 yards and no touchdowns. He provided a passer rating of just 82.5 when targeted.

    While Toney could be a star if he can stay on the field, he could also be a bust with only occasional highlights. That's pretty much true for New York's class, aside from Ojulari.

    Grade: C-

New York Jets

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    Zach Wilson
    Zach WilsonJeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 2 – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
    • Round 1, pick No. 13 (from MIN) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
    • Round 2, pick No. 34 – Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
    • Round 4, pick No. 107 – Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina 
    • Round 5, pick No. 146 – Jamien Sherwood, S, Auburn
    • Round 5, pick No. 154 – Michael Carter, DB, Duke
    • Round 5, pick No. 175 (from KC) – Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh 
    • Round 6, pick No. 186 – Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
    • Round 6, pick No. 200 – Brandin Echols, CB, Kentucky
    • Round 6, pick No. 207 (from PIT through MIA and KC) – Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas

    It's too early to call Zach Wilson a bust, but the New York Jets quarterback was not good in his first season. He finished with nine touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and a paltry passer rating of 69.7. Looking past Wilson, though, the Jets hit on several top selections.

    Alijah Vera-Tucker was tremendous at guard, starting 16 games and allowing just two sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Elijah Moore could develop into New York's new No. 1 receiver, and he finished with 538 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 11 games.

    Michael Carter was solid at running back, rushing for 639 yards and 4.3 yards per carry. The other Michael Carter appeared in 15 games with seven starts at cornerback. Brandin Echols was a pleasant sixth-round surprise. He started 14 games at corner and allowed an opposing passer rating of only 79.8.

    Jamien Sherwood, Jason Pinnock, Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jonathan Marshall all saw playing time for the Jets this season.

    This is an extremely promising group for the Jets, but it won't be a great one until/unless Wilson develops into a reliable signal-caller.

    Grade: B

Philadelphia Eagles

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    DeVonta Smith
    DeVonta SmithJason Behnken/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 10 (from DAL) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
    • Round 2, pick No. 37 – Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
    • Round 3, pick No. 73 (from CAR) – Milton Williams, DT, Lousiana Tech 
    • Round 4, pick No. 123 – Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech
    • Round 5, pick No. 150 – Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
    • Round 6, pick No. 189 – Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC
    • Round 6, pick No. 191 – Tarron Jackson, DE, Coastal Carolina
    • Round 6, pick No. 224 – JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU
    • Round 7, pick No. 234 – Patrick Johnson, OLB, Tulane

    DeVonta Smith is a star in the making. Though undersized at 6'0" and 170 pounds, the Philadelphia Eagles pass-catcher quickly proved that he can play up to the level of NFL competition. The former Alabama star finished his first season with 64 catches, 916 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

    Smith provided a passer rating of 102.1 when targeted and looks to be a lethal downfield threat for a long time.

    Landon Dickerson also stepped in to contribute immediately. He started 13 games at guard and was responsible for only five penalties and two sacks allowed, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Defensive tackle Milton Williams appeared in all 17 games, finishing with 30 tackles and two sacks. Cornerback Zech McPhearson played sparingly but allowed an opposing passer rating of only 69.7 in coverage.

    Kenneth Gainwell, Marlon Tuipulotu, Tarron Jackson, JaCoby Stevens and Patrick Johnson all saw the field as rookies. Johnson and Jackson appeared in all 17 games.

    From top to bottom, this was a strong rookie class, and it should carry an impact well into the future.

    Grade: A

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Najee Harris
    Najee HarrisNick Wass/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 24 – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
    • Round 2, pick No. 55 – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
    • Round 3, pick No. 87 – Kendrick Green, G, Illinois
    • Round 4, pick No. 128 – Dan Moore Jr., OT, Texas A&M
    • Round 4, pick No. 140 – Buddy Johnson, ILB, Texas A&M
    • Round 5, pick No. 156 (From DAL through PHI and MIA) – Isaiahh Loudermilk, DT, Wisconsin
    • Round 6, pick No. 216 – Quincy Roche, LB, Miami
    • Round 7, pick No. 245 – Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma
    • Round 7, pick No. 254 – Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech

    For a team that usually retools instead of rebuilding, the Pittsburgh Steelers relied heavily on rookies in 2021.

    First-round pick Najee Harris might not be the dynamic runner that teams covet (just 3.9 yards per carry), but he's solid as a pass-catching back and proved that he can handle a large workload. Tight end Pat Freiermuth didn't see the massive role that Harris did, but he was impressive.

    Freiermuth finished with 60 catches, 497 yards and seven touchdowns while providing a passer rating of 121.1. He should be a future star.

    Rookie linemen Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. were less impressive. Green was responsible for nine penalties and three sacks allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Moore was responsible for five penalties and seven sacks allowed, per PFF.

    While Buddy Johnson appeared in only four games, Isaiahh Loudermilk appeared in 15 and looks to be a solid rotational piece along the defensive front. Quincy Roche and Tre Norwood also saw playing time as rookies, while Pressley Harvin III could be Pittsburgh's long-term answer at punter.

    The Steelers will need to see improvements from their young linemen for this to be a jewel of a rookie class, but it's a solid group with which Pittsburgh should not be disappointed.

    Grade: B

San Francisco 49ers

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    Trey Lance
    Trey LanceKyusung Gong/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 3 (from HOU through MIA) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
    • Round 2, pick No. 48 (from LV) – Aaron Banks, G, Notre Dame 
    • Round 3, pick No. 88 (from LAR) – Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
    • Round 3, pick No. 102 – Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
    • Round 5, pick No. 155 – Jaylon Moore, OG, Western Michigan
    • Round 5, pick No. 172 (from NO) – Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon
    • Round 5, pick No. 180 – Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC
    • Round 6, pick No. 194 – Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana  

    The San Francisco 49ers traded two future first-round picks and a third-round pick to the Miami Dolphins to move up from No. 12 to No. 3. With that selection, they tapped North Dakota State's Trey Lance to be their quarterback of the future.

    It's unclear exactly what the 49ers have in Lance, as the rookie made only two starts in the regular season. However, he flashed promise in that limited action, going 1-1 as a starter and posting a passer rating of 97.3.

    If Lance fills San Francisco's long-term quarterback needs, this class will be great. Elijah Mitchell is playing like a franchise running back and broke Vic Washington's team rookie rushing record with 963 rushing yards, 137 receiving yards and six combined touchdowns.

    Former Western Michigan guard Jaylon Moore made three starts during the regular season, while safety Talanoa Hufanga appeared in 15 games with three starts. Cornerback Ambry Thomas appeared in 12 games with five starts and sealed the 49ers' Week 18 win with an interception in overtime, and fellow CB Deommodore Lenoir made two starts and played 13 games. 

    On the negative side, San Francisco got virtually nothing out of guard Aaron Banks (five offensive snaps) and running back Trey Sermon (41 carries). Though Sermon dealt with a concussion and an ankle injury this season, it's disappointing to not get more from second- and third-round picks.

    A lot will hinge on Lance's future, but this is a good group that could become franchise-changing if Lance succeeds.

    Grade: B

Seattle Seahawks

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    D’Wayne Eskridge
    D’Wayne EskridgeJustin Casterline/Getty Images
    • Round 2, pick No. 56 – D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
    • Round 4, pick No. 137 (from TB) – Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma
    • Round 6, pick No. 208 (From SEA through MIA and CHI) – Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida  

    No team had a smaller rookie class than the Seattle Seahawks. As one might expect, Seattle's class had a minimal impact this season.

    Second-round receiver D'Wayne Eskridge missed a chunk of the season with a concussion, ultimately appearing in only 10 games. He caught 10 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown while rushing four times for 59 yards.

    Cornerback Tre Brown was solid in limited action. He appeared in only five games because of knee injuries, but he allowed an opposing passer rating of just 63.3.

    Former Florida offensive tackle Stone Forsythe barely saw the field, playing a mere 14 offensive snaps.

    Perhaps Eskridge and Forsythe will carve out more notable roles in the future. Brown almost certainly will based on his limited resume. The Oklahoma product could become an impact defender if he can stay healthy, and he keeps Seattle from earning a failing grade here.

    Grade: D-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
    Joe Tryon-ShoyinkaDanny Karnik/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 32 – Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, LB, Washington
    • Round 2, pick No. 64 – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
    • Round 3, pick No. 95 – Robert Hainsey, G, Notre Dame 
    • Round 4, pick No. 129 (from SEA) – Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas 
    • Round 5, pick No. 176 – K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn
    • Round 7, pick No. 251 (from PIT) – Chris Wilcox, CB, BYU
    • Round 7, pick No. 259 – Grant Stuard, LB, Houston

    Armed with a championship-caliber roster, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't go all-in on finding immediate contributors in the draft.

    Second-round pick Kyle Trask may be the Bucs' quarterback of the future, but he's currently sitting behind Tom Brady. They also selected guard Robert Hainsey in the third round largely for depth purposes.

    However, the Bucs still got some contributions from rookies in 2021.

    First-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka was fantastic as a situational edge-rusher. He finished with 21 solo stops, four sacks and 27 quarterback pressures. Receiver Jaelon Darden caught six passes for 43 yards while returning both punts and kickoffs. Linebackers Grant Stuard and K.J. Britt both saw playing time on defense.

    We'll have to see how the long-term picture unfolds with Trask and Hainsey to truly judge Tampa's draft class, but this could be a tremendous mix of early contributors and future mainstays. For now, Tryon-Shoyinka and Darden are making enough of an impact to earn this class a solid grade.

    Grade: B

Tennessee Titans

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    Caleb Farley
    Caleb FarleyMark LoMoglio/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 22 – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
    • Round 2, pick No. 53 – Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
    • Round 3, pick No. 92 (from GB) – Monty Rice, LB, Georgia
    • Round 3, pick No. 100 – Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
    • Round 4, pick No. 109 (from HOU via CAR) – Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville
    • Round 4, pick No. 135 (from GB) – Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh
    • Round 6, pick No. 205 – Racey McMath, WR, LSU
    • Round 6, pick No. 215 (from KC) – Brady Breeze, S, Oregon  

    Unfortunately for the Tennessee Titans, first-round cornerback Caleb Farley suffered a torn ACL only three games into his rookie season. That took some shine out of a class that didn't contribute heavily in 2021.

    Second-round pick Dillon Radunz started only one game while playing just 15 percent of the offensive snaps. Linebacker Monty Rice finished with 36 tackles but only played 27 percent of the defensive snaps. Dez Fitzpatrick caught just five passes for 49 yards in his four games. Rashad Weaver appeared in only two games, while Racey McMath had a mere two receptions.

    Meanwhile, Brady Breeze landed with the Lions after the Titans waived him in December.

    Elijah Molden was the lone Titans draft pick to see significant playing time in 2021, and he was mostly solid. Molden started seven games and appeared in 16 but allowed an opposing passer rating of 101.1.

    We can't ding Tennessee too much for Farley's injury, though it's worth noting that he came into the draft with injury concerns. Farley suffered a torn ACL in 2017 and underwent back surgery before the draft.

    The Titans will need Farley to come back in a big way for this class to be a successful one.

    Grade: C

Washington Football Team

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    Jamin Davis
    Jamin DavisFrank Franklin II/Associated Press
    • Round 1, pick No. 19 – Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
    • Round 2, pick No. 51 – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas 
    • Round 3, pick No. 74 (from SF) – Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
    • Round 3, pick No. 82 – Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina 
    • Round 4, pick No. 124 – John Bates, TE, Boise State
    • Round 5, pick No. 163 – Darrick Forrest, S, Cincinnati
    • Round 6, pick No. 225 (from PHI) – Camaron Cheeseman, LS, Michigan
    • Round 7, pick No. 240 (from SF through PHI) – William Bradley-King, DE, Baylor 
    • Round 7, pick No. 246 – Shaka Toney, DE, Penn State
    • Round 7, pick No. 258 (from KC through MIA) – Dax Milne, WR, BYU  

    The Washington Football Team got themselves a stout run-stopping linebacker in first-round pick Jamin Davis. The Kentucky product finished his inaugural season with 76 tackles, 48 solo stops and a sack. He wasn't particularly impressive in coverage, though, allowing an opposing passer rating of 107.1.

    Offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi missed time with ankle and hip injuries and wound up playing in only nine games. He was serviceable, but he was called for two penalties and allowed four sacks in only 474 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Receivers Dyami Brown and Dax Milne and tight end John Bates combined for 41 receptions and will likely be bigger pieces of the passing attack moving forward. Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste made nine appearances with three starts.

    Seventh-round defensive end Shaka Toney had 1.5 sacks and eight quarterback pressures in limited action. He could have a bright future as a rotational piece along the defensive front. Long snapper Camaron Cheeseman appeared in every game while playing 29 percent of the special teams snaps.

    This wasn't an overwhelming group, but Washington got contributions from several selections, which is always a plus.

    Grade: C+


    Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.