Professor Moorhead’s 2021 NFL Draft Grades

The 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft has come to an end, and if there was one thing that I earned sitting in a suit for four hours it was that grading this class was very difficult. Certain guys had talent, but ended up in the wrong place. Then you had unexpected trades, and you also had big moves made by certain teams. Then you have me sleeping on these grades I made last night, and maybe realizing I need to change some things up too!

Overall, this was an excellent first round draft, and let us not waste anytime essentially. I am on the clock for my 2021 NFL Draft Grades!

1.) Jacksonville Jaguars Trevor Lawrence (QB/Clemson)

Grade: A+

Most people consider themselves to be fortune tellers based on the fact that almost everyone on the planet saw this coming. He doesn’t make Jacksonville a threat quite yet, but this was the correct pick. Bye Bye Minshew, Hello Sunshine!

2.) New York Jets – Zach Wilson (QB/BYU)

Grade: C+

Do I believe it was the right position? Absolutely, but I still don’t believe he is the right guy for the Jets. After watching his pro day, the Jets traded Darnold to the Panthers and focused on building the future. Again, in my opinion, it isn’t the right guy, but we will surely see how Zach Wilson does come week one.

3.) San Francisco 49ers – Trey Lance (QB/North Dakota State)

Grade: B+

I should have stuck to my gut and stuck with Lance, but I buckled under the pressure and took Mac Jones here instead. Big dumb dumb energy on my part. However, this was a risky yet confident pick for the 49ers to take a project in Trey Lance who can sit behind Jimmy G until he is ready. Honestly, the rumors of trading Aaron Rodgers to the 49ers probably helped this pick too.

4.) Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts (TE/Florida)

Grade: A-

The thought of a monster like Pitts catching balls from Matt Ryan is astonishing to say the least. The grade would be an A , but the threat of the amount of pass catchers in Atlanta scares me a bit for his production. However, if Julio is moved out to another team, then maybe this would make more sense to me. Still a great pick and a great player to say the least.

5.) Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase (WR/LSU)

Grade: A

The more I thought about this, the more this made sense to me with the amount of tackles that didn’t get taken in the first round. Having said that, Joe Burrow obviously played an important role in bringing his old LSU teammate to the Bengals. He immediately fills in as that number one receiver threat for Cincinnati. As long as they draft a good tackle in the second round, this will make this pick even better.

6.) Miami Dolphins – Jaylen Waddle (WR/Alabama)

Grade: B

There were a lot of rumors of Waddle going here, but honestly I thought with DeVonta Smith’s Heisman campaign would have helped him sneak into this pick. Waddle arguably would have been that guy though had he not gotten injured, but now it seems like he is ready to give his old teammate Tua some help alongside Will Fuller and DeVante Parker.

7.) Detroit Lions – Penei Sewell (OT/Oregon)

Grade: A

Everyone is probably butthurt that this isn’t DeVonta Smith, but I had this pick correct specifically to grab the best tackle in the draft, but to also have protection over need for a Lions team that is clearly not getting the message that the rebuilding process should stop at some point. Sewell makes this Lions team that much more safe down the road. Great pick here!

8.) Carolina Panthers – Jaycee Horn (CB/South Carolina)

Grade B-

The grade might seem a little harsh at first, but I want to start by saying that Horn is a great corner, and the Panthers did need one, but it could have come later to be honest. For that reason I would give the grade of a B-. I personally would have went tackle or guard here to protect Darnold, but the corner need was real and so is Horn.

9.) Denver Broncos – Patrick Surtain II (CB/Alabama)

Grade: B

Gotta give it to Denver man, they really threw everyone through a loop. Everyone thought it was going to be a quarterback, and instead they go corner to improve the secondary. It’s a decent move, but Fields, Jones and Micah Parsons are there man. Odd to say the least.

10.) Philadelphia Eagles – DeVonta Smith (WR/Alabama)

Grade: B+

The Eagles have their way and move up into the top ten after trading with the Dallas Cowboys. This was a necessary maneuver seeing as the Giants were next after Dallas, and they were looking at Smith as well. Seeing this now makes DeVonta Smith a the number one guy for Jalen Hurts to throw the ball too. His size is just what scares me a bit.

11.) Chicago Bears – Justin Fields (QB/Ohio State)

Grade: A

I knew Justin Fields was going to be the surprise pick, but we really didn’t know which team he’d go to. Enter the Chicago Bears who moved up nine spots to take their quarterback of the future in Ohio State’s Justin Fields. This was by far one of if not the best decision I’ve seen the Bears make. Hopefully he can surpass Andy Dalton and take his proper place as the starter.

12.) Dallas Cowboys – Micah Parsons (LB/Penn State)

Grade: B-

This was an interesting pick as well. True, their secondary is swiss cheese. That is where the B- comes into play. Parsons, however is still a beast and with Sean Lee retiring, this pick couldn’t have come at a great time for Dallas. They finally get a guy that can help out Leighton Vander Esch if need be.

13.) Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater (OT/Northwestern)

Grade: A-

The pick was either a tackle or a corner, so having it be a stud guard like Slater is great considering everyone thought he was gonna be gone by this point. You now have a guy who can plug in any offensive tackle position and protect Justin Herbert with ease.

14.) New York Jets – Alijah Vera Tucker (OT/USC)

Grade: B

The Jets traded up to acquire the one person who could help Zach Wilson out in the quarterback position; Alijah Vera Tucker. This pick I enjoy so much better than the Zach Wilson pick because of what he can do on the offensive line. It isn’t really a sexy top pick, but honestly this is the right pick.

15.) New England Patriots – Mac Jones (QB/Alabama)

Grade: A+

It sickens me how Mac Jones can just fall to the Patriots and they don’t even need to trade up and get him. This was the pick that everybody thought was gonna happen at the beginning, and yet with the whole 49ers news coming out, perhaps people forgot about it. Yet, here he stands as the first quarterback taken by the Patriots in the first round.

16.) Arizona Cardinals – Zaven Collins (LB/Tulsa)

Grade: B

I knew Collins would have went in the first round, but I didn’t think he would be the second linebacker off the board. So while it is a high pick, they can now put Isaiah Simmons in the safety where he belongs and move Zaven Collins to start at linebacker on a team seemingly bound to win now.

17.) Las Vegas Raiders – Alex Leatherwood (OT/Alabama)

Grade: C+

Leatherwood was a shock here, but who are we to doubt the Raiders success at drafting. Leatherwood is a big character guy, and character is something the Raiders pride themselves in having. Still, the earliest I had Leatherwood going was the Ravens’ second pick or even into the second round. So that is why the grade is what it is.

18.) Miami Dolphins – Jaelan Phillips (EDGE/Miami)

Grade: B

The first edge rusher off the board, Jaelan Phillips will stay in Miami and be with the Dolphins. They could have gone a lot of ways with this pick, but I am happy they went with this kid in his hometown. He should bring a big pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

19.) Washington Football Team – Jamin Davis (LB/Kentucky)

Grade: C

Maybe I was too harsh on this pick last night, but I am sticking with my grade for Jamin Davis to the Washington Football Team. They need linebacker help, but they also needed corner help as well. So the fact that they went with Davis here shocks me because he was projected at the end of the first round or maybe even the second round. Personally I would have went with Owusu-Koramoah here. Disappointed in you Ron Rivera.

20.) New York Giants – Kadarius Toney (WR/Florida)

Grade: F

What in the actual hell are the Giants doing?? You really didn’t have a back-up plan in case DeVonta Smith went that you had to trade back just to take Toney. Congrats, you just drafted your punt return guy. So stupid. Hope Gettleman gets fired after this year.

21.) Indianapolis Colts – Kwity Paye (EDGE/Michigan)

Grade: B

Another edge goes with Kwity Paye to the Indianapolis Colts. This was a good pick for the Colts as they will be replacing Justin Houston with virtually the best edge rusher in the class. Paye brings some upside, but there are some issues of technique that concern me here which is why he got a B.

22.) Tennessee Titans – Caleb Farley (CB/Virginia Tech)

Grade: B+

Farley before his injury was the best corner in this class, so naturally I am approaching this grade with some caution. Surgery is never a laughing matter especially to a corner’s back. However, I said if there was spot Farley would end up after the surgery it would be Tennessee after losing both Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler.

23.) Minnesota Vikings – Christian Darrisaw (OT/Virginia Tech)

Grade: B+

I was amazed how Darrisaw fell this far, but the Vikings who traded with the Jets land possibly one of the better offensive tackles in this draft class. The Virginia Tech product should do quite well in protecting Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook’s run lanes. Overall, a great pick so late rarely comes around anymore.

24.) Pittsburgh Steelers – Najee Harris (RB/Alabama)

Grade: A

Thank god! The Steelers have drafted a running back in the first round. Najee Harris was the best running back in this class, and while so many people think that lineman was the correct call here, they are sadly mistaken. Harris’s character, attitude and physical ability make him the perfect 1st round pick for the Steelers.

25.) Jacksonville Jaguars – Travis Etienne (RB/Clemson)

Grade: C-

Okay I thought about this one long and hard, but I originally had an A- for this and after Urban said Etienne would be a 3rd down back, I can’t give this a grade I would be proud of Etienne’s skill set. He deserves so much better, but it is what it is. Just wish he would have went somewhere else where he was needed more.

26.) Cleveland Browns – Greg Newsome II (CB/Northwestern)

Grade: C

Greg Newsome II is a good corner, but I worry about him in Cleveland’s system. The Browns aside from Denzel Ward aren’t great, and neither are their safeties. Their secondary bothers me, and Newsome was a guy that needed time to develop into something better. In Cleveland’s system, this worries me quite a bit.

27.) Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman (WR/Minnesota)

Grade: B

One of the two picks from Baltimore was going to be going towards a wide receiver. Bateman was the best wideout on the board so taking him here is not a bad idea especially since Lamar’s receivers are Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins. Good pick here.

28.) New Orleans Saints – Payton Turner (EDGE/Houston)

Grade: D

This is a weird one for me cause this was not a big need, and Turner isn’t the best player off the board. Maybe Tryon would have worked, but the Saints need more positions than an edge rusher. Owusu-Koramoah would have worked here as well as Eric Stokes or Asante Samuel Jr.

29.) Green Bay Packers – Eric Stokes (CB/Georgia)

Grade: B-

Stokes is a really good corner, and honestly could have seen him falling to the second round, but the Packers really stepped up and went after this guy to compliment the other side next to Jaire Alexander. I think with the Aaron Rodgers rumors forced this to happen, but man Green Bay is still a mess.

30.) Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau (EDGE/Miami)

Grade: B-

Rousseau slides into the first round and heads to a great system with the Buffalo Bills. The Bills actually relied on more offense than defense last year, so hopefully with the addition of Rousseau, the Bills can start getting back on track with that. A nice comparison is honestly Ed Oliver so good pick here Bills.

31.) Baltimore Ravens – Jayson Oweh (EDGE/Penn State)

Grade: B

Oweh also sneaks his way into the first round seemingly after his pro-day stats went through the roofs. Teams all around where going to be vibing with Oweh and trying to take him as quick as they possibly could. Unfortunately, for Steeler fans, he just had to go with the second Raven’s pick. Gross.

32.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joe Tryon (EDGE/Washington)

Grade: C

Joe Tryon actually made it into the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Ironically, he also went to the Buccaneers. The Bucs really could have went anywhere with this pick, but they went with an underrated edge rusher that had been shooting up draft boards. Good for this kid, but again I am not sure how much he will play or how we will do with the Bucs.

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