2021 NFL Draft: Grading Round One of The NFL Draft

The first round provided us with a few surprises, as always. The first seven picks were from the offensive side of the football (NFL Draft record). The draft order changed a few times as teams were moving back after their potential primary targets were off the board, and one team of note moved up, the Chicago Bears, who got a steal at pick #11 with Ohio State QB Justin Fields.


Full NFL Draft grades will be released early next week.


(1) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: QB TREVOR LAWRENCE, CLEMSON

Football Scout 365 Rank: 1

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: A+

The chalk of the draft for months, Urban Meyer has his guy. Meyer made it clear he would go best available, and he didn’t disappoint with two round one picks; he goes with two dynamic Clemson players.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Trevor Lawrence has been the projected consensus number one pick in the 2021 NFL draft since the 2019 season. Lawrence is as close to a sure thing we have seen since Andrew Luck at the QB position. Lawrence possesses the physical gifts and leadership ability needed to excel at a high level in the NFL.

(2) NEW YORK JETS: QB ZACH WILSON, BYU

Football Scout 365 Rank: 5

Pos Rk: 3

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: A

Zack Wilson has the arm talent and the skills to be a very exciting player. The Jets should do their best to build around Zack Wilson. They need defenders, but they also should focus on identifying a high upside WR in later rounds.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Wilson has been stellar in 2020 following an injury-riddled 2019 season. He is catching a lot of buzz in 2020 due to his high level of play. But the competition he has faced is not on the level of Lawrence or Justin Fields, which is why I was not as high on him. Times have changed, and after further review of his player skillset and watching his tape, I have warmed up to Wilson's upside and potential.

(3) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: QB TREY LANCE, NORTH DAKOTA STATE

Football Scout 365 Rank: 20

Pos Rk: 5

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: A-

According to sources, it came down to Trey Lance or Mac Jones, and they chose the QB with arguably the highest upside at a position of need.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Trey lance is an exceptional athlete who possesses excellent deep-ball accuracy. What Lance doesn't show a lot of on film is his short to intermediate accuracy, and that's an area that he might need time to develop. Lance is not a scheme-dependent player; he can fit in any system and excel more in a play-action-based offense. When compared to other prospects, Lance lacks reps. He played one game in 2020, with 2019 being his only full season as a starter. More repetition in camps and practice at the NFL level might help develop Lance's high ceiling.


(4) ATLANTA FALCONS: TE KYLE PITTS, FLORIDA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 8

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: B+

The Falcons need a lot, and they chose a TE at 4th overall. They had a shot at getting Penei Sewell or even Justin Fields. Pitts is arguably the surest thing in the draft, so the pick should pay off. The Falcons will need to lean on their scouting department to get the rest of the draft right. OL should be a priority with their next pick.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Pitts is a special player who fits the mold of what NFL GM's and coaches are looking for in today's football. He can move around the formation, play inline, and split out wide. He is very athletic, with great hands. Pitts, a former QB, is an elite athlete with an elite skill set. Whoever drafts him will be getting an elite talent.


(5) CINCINNATI BENGALS: WR JA’MARR CHASE, LSU

Football Scout 365 Rank: 6

Pos Rk: 2

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: B+

With Penei Sewell available, the Bengals chose WR. The goal should be to protect your greatest asset, but the Chase pick has high end potential in the long run.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Chase broke the SEC single-season receiving record in 2019 and was one of Joe Burrows's go-to WR's. Chase has great hands, is a good route runner, and is good running after the catch. He is also a willing blocker in the run game. The big question is how well he will play outside of the structure he had at LSU under OC Joe Brady and catching passes from Joe Burrow, who had a historic season. Chase is an outstanding player who will undoubtedly find his way at the next level regardless of the system.


(6) MIAMI DOLPHINS: WR JAYLEN WADDLE, ALABAMA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 7

Pos Rk: 3

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: B+

Waddle is a special player with a dynamic skillset. He could arguably be the top WR in this class. The Dolphins filled a need at WR; now get some protection for Tua.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Waddle is a versatile athlete; he can line up anywhere on the field. He is by far the most difficult player to defend in the 2021 NFL Draft. DB's struggle to get their hands on him at the line of scrimmage, and while in coverage, they often are left behind in his wake. His route running ability and precise cuts allow him to get separation from DB's. Unlike Ruggs (many compare to Ruggs), Waddle is not just a straight-line speed player who relies on downfield throws; he is effective at all levels displaying great hands, and can high point the football with ease. He might be the next Tyreek Hill in the NFL (not a comp, or even a guarantee); Waddle is an undersized player yet possesses top-level NFL WR traits. It would be best if you always had an extra set of eyes on him (help defender). Waddle wins one on one with ease. Waddle could quickly become the top WR in this draft once we look back in hindsight.

(7) DETROIT LIONS: OT PENEI SEWELL, OREGON

Football Scout 365 Rank: 2

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: A+

The Lions hit a home run with Sewell. He provides 10-12 years of all-pro potential at one of the most critical positions. His versatility will help the Lions right away. He can play guard if needed early. The Lions have a lot of needs, but they started the draft off perfect.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Sewell received better grades in 2019 than other highly rated tackle prospects entering the 2020 NFL Draft. The talent is unquestioned, and if it were not for the strong QB class, Sewell would be the top player drafted in 2021. He is versatile, can play IOL if needed. Sewell is a mauler in the run game who can move his defender with ease. He can get to the second level and attach to defenders in space. In pass pro, He plays with a solid base and is fundamentally sound using good hand placement. What concerns me is that he didn't face many versatile edge players in college in the Pac 12. But he is also only 20 years old, meaning that he holds great value in terms of potential years he can play.


(8) CAROLINA PANTHERS: CB JAYCEE HORN, SOUTH CAROLINA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 21

Pos Rk: 3

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: B-

Two months ago, this pick made sense, but with Justin Fields and Mac Jones available, the Panthers passed. They could have traded back but chose to fill a need at CB. It’s a good pick, and they grade well for it but might have been better off taking a shot at QB.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

The son of former NFL WR Joe Horn, Jacee has the pedigree and is a late riser on our board. He is a solid cover corner, can play zone and press. He needs to improve his tackling.


(9) DENVER BRONCOS: CB PATRICK SURTAIN II, ALABAMA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 9

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: B+

Denver didn’t completely fall flat, they made a good choice, but they need a QB. They had the opportunity to go with Fields or Jones, and they passed. John Elway's future continues to be cloudy unless they are working on packaging a deal for Aaron Rodgers.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

The son of a former NFL player, Surtain has the pedigree. He is a long-player who plays with discipline. Surtain excels in man to man but can play zone when needed. He is not a speedy player, but he masks his lack of long speed by playing with great technique. He does an excellent job at challenging receivers at the line of scrimmage—Surtain projects as the top CB prospect in the 2021 NFL draft.

(10) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: WR DEVONTA SMITH, ALABAMA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 1

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: A

A home runto fill a need, especially if you think that Hurts is the answer at QB. The Eagles could have picked Mac Jones or Justin Fields, but they must believe in Hurts enough to pass on a QB. Now the Eagles must work to solidify their defense.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Smith is an absolute gamer who rises to the occasion in the big moments. His combination of quick, efficient footwork, great hands, and fluid route running are tailor-made for the NFL. Smith was second fiddle to Waddle before the Waddle injury. Smith proved before the Waddle injury that he could handle the number one role in the Alabama offense.


(11) CHICAGO BEARS: QB JUSTIN FIELDS, OHIO STATE

Football Scout 365 Rank: 3

Pos Rk: 2

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: A+

The Bears traded up for the potential steal of the draft. Justin Fields fell out of the top ten, but it was inevitable that someone would trade up, or he would not make it past the Pats.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Fields displayed some inconsistent play in 2020, but we have to consider that Ohio State had several games canceled, and the Big Ten's stringent Covid-19 protocols being a factor in how a team can practice and how that might play a role. Fields put on a show against Clemson in the CFP Semifinal, showing the elite level accuracy that was consistent in 2019. He is a near-lock for the number two overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

(12) DALLAS COWBOYS: LB MICAH PARSONS, PENN STATE

Football Scout 365 Rank: 13

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: A+

Micah Parsons is an excellent LB who can be a chess piece on defense. He can man the middle and lead the defense and line up on the edge providing versatility.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

LB's ranked this high need to be unique, and Parsons is a real difference-maker. He possesses modern speed and old-school size that NFL coaches and GM's covet. Parsons's ability to sniff out the run game is tremendous. But his speed is undeniable; he possesses 4.3 or low 4.4 speed at a position that needs to cover the NFL's new age TE's. He needs to improve his pass coverage ability at the next level.


(13) LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: T RASHAWN SLATER, NORTHWESTERN

Football Scout 365 Rank: 12

Pos Rk: 3

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: A

This pick gets an A+; first, off you fill a need; second, you are working to protect your greatest asset (Justin Herbert). Slater is a versatile player, which is the theme of this draft at the tackle position. He can play guard if needed and should provide an early impact as a rookie.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Slater can play tackle or guard. He is a powerful athlete who wins with fundamentals and good power. He plays with good bend and is consistent with his pad level. He plays with good footwork; his first step allows him to position and leveraging his frame to wall off defenders. His hand placement is consistent and adequate to win at the NFL level. He needs to work on his ability to drive defenders off the football in the run game more consistently, using his power and an excellent base to fire into the defender.

(14) NEW YORK JETS: IOL ALIJAH VERA-TUCKER, USC

Football Scout 365 Rank: 18

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: A

The Jet's second pick shows that the front office knows what they are doing on paper. Tucker is a versatile player who played tackle and guard in college. He is once again among players who provide great versatility.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Tucker is our top interior offensive lineman due to his versatility. He played tackle and guard while at USC; he excelled at both. He plays with good athleticism and shows good bend. He has the power to punch defenders back in the passing game, reset and punch again. He knows how to handle a bull-rushing defender and handles space well. As a run blocker, he gets good push and uses his lower body in combination with his punch to strike defenders and move them. He fits any scheme at the NFL level.


(15) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: QB MAC JONES, ALABAMA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 15

Pos Rk: 4

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: A

The Pats got their guy or at least one of their favorites. Jones provides instant upside. He might already be at his ceiling, but his game is predicated on being a distributor, which fits well as we already know in New England.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Mac Jones had the highest QBR vs. top 25 opponents among all QB’s with at least 100 pass attempts since 2014. (To qualify, the player must start 75% of his team's games). Mac Jones had a fantastic season in 2020. Jones ascension up NFL draft boards, earning a potential first-round projection from a lot of scouts. Jones is a pure pocket passer with good mobility. He is an anticipatory thrower who identifies the opening in coverage and leads his receivers to that spot. Jones doesn't wow you with his physique, and he won't wow anyone with arm strength, but it is his ability to go through his progressions and find the open man while navigating the pocket that sets him apart. Jones will not wow anyone with off-platform throws or wild adlibbing, but in a prostyle system that involves timing and rhythm passing, he can excel.


(16) ARIZONA CARDINALS: LB ZAVEN COLLINS, TULSA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 26

Pos Rk: 3

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: B-

A need has been filled. Collins is another positionless LB. They already have Simmons. The Cardinals need to figure out the best way to use these versatile LB's. Collins is a very good player who was opportunistic in college. He created turnovers and was good in coverage.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Arguably the most dynamic defender in CFB, Collins played several high school positions, including QB and safety. Collins is an intelligent player who uses his size, quickness, and power to make splash plays. He won the Nagurski award in 2020 as the nation's top LB, and he did so by posting big play after big play compiling 4 sacks, forcing two fumbles while picking off 4 passes, and scoring two times on defense. He is what NFL defenses are looking for in a LB. A guy who can rush the passer and pass cover when needed.


(17) LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: T ALEX LEATHERWOOD, ALABAMA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 17

Pos Rk: 4

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: B+

The Raiders get an A, but their need is more self-inflicted. They are rebuilding an OL that was already pretty good. Regardless, they get a guy with a high upside at a position of need. Leatherwood has the versatility to play both guard or tackle.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Leatherwood is another tackle who can move to guard, he is versatile, and that is important in the NFL, where a guy who possesses the ability to play inside and out is a valuable trait. He plays with power and aggression; he can operate as a road grader in the run game. As a pass blocker, he needs work; he is adequate and might be a liability early in his career if playing tackle. He possesses the ability to handle quick edge rushers, but he doesn't play well against those possessing a litany of combo moves. Leatherwood might benefit from a year at guard where he doesn't have to cover as wide an area, but there is no doubt he has the size and enough tools already to become an NFL starter with a season of development?

(18) MIAMI DOLPHINS: EDGE JAELEN PHILLIPS, MIAMI (FL.)

Football Scout 365 Rank: 24

Pos Rk: 2

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: B+

The Dolphin's second pick fills another need. Phillips provides a high end upside.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Phillips is an exciting prospect. He was a five-star recruit who had a lot of ability when he arrived at UCLA; he had a few injuries that sidelined him and forced him to retire from football. Phillips questioned his passion for the game at one point. Phillips un-retired and transferred to Miami to get a fresh start; he had an excellent 2020. Phillips is a physical player at 6-6 260 lbs. He shines when pass rushing and against the run. He is a versatile defender who has that rare blend of speed to power off the edge that is eye-opening. He can play with his hand in the dirt or a two-point. He can rush from the interior when needed, which adds to his versatility. The big questions are, does he love the game? Can he remain healthy, and his experience. He has the tools to be a high-impact NFL starter.

(19) WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM: LB JAMIN DAVIS, KENTUCKY

Football Scout 365 Rank: 140

Pos Rk: 13

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Developmental


Pick Grade: C-

We are not as high on Davis as others, but he does check a lot of boxes. He is an inside off the ball defender who has good sideline to sideline instincts and will add yet another dimension to the defense.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

None Available


(20) NEW YORK GIANTS: WR KADARIUS TONEY, FLORIDA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 28

Pos Rk: 5

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: C+

The Giants were candidates to go after WR, but with Slayton, Golladay, and Engram in the fold, the Giants could have filled a more glaring need.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Fast, with track speed, a versatile player who played QB in HS. Toney projects as a slot WR with a limited route tree that needs to be diversified. He can break a game wide open in the blink of an eye and line up all over the formation and in the backfield when needed.

(21) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: EDGE KWITY PAYE, MICHIGAN

Football Scout 365 Rank: 16

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: B+

The Colts snagged best available at one of the most valued positions in football, so it's hard to argue. But they need to solidify their LT spot.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Paye is an explosive athlete who has yet to reach his full potential. He uses a blend of speed, power, and hand usage to defeat blockers. His game is not perfect, but his ceiling is very high. Paye was not a full-time starter at Michigan until 2020. He is a player with a lot of drive and motivation that we believe can fuel him at the next level.


(22) TENNESSEE TITANS: CB CALEB FARLEY, VIRGINIA TECH

Football Scout 365 Rank: 10

Pos Rk: 2

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: A

Need filled by a high-level player. Our second-rated CB prospect in 2021, but he does have some injury concerns. Regardless, when healthy, he provides high upside at a key position.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Farley played QB in HS and started his VT career at WR. He is now the 2nd rated CB on our board. At 6-2, 197, he has good physical traits. Farley excels in man coverage, mirrors routes at a high level, and is physical. He needs to improve his zone coverage skills at the next level.


(23) MINNESOTA VIKINGS: T CHRISTIAN DARRISAW, VIRGINIA TECH

Football Scout 365 Rank: 11

Pos Rk: 2

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: A

Need filled at a critical position. Darrisaw is a very good player who will fit into the Viking's offensive scheme right away.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Darrisaw consistently improved while at Va Tech. He is known more as an excellent pass blocker who wins with his feet in pass protection. Speed rushers beware; Darrisaw understands how to defend against versatile rushers who like to throw changeups in the middle of pass rush. He improved in this area over the years, proving he can win one on one in space vs. athletic defenders. As a run blocker, he is agile; he can locate a defender and latch on in space. The knock-on Darrisaw can have moments of inconsistency or a half-hearted effort that happens far less in 2020 than previous years, proving his consistent upward arch of improvement.


(24) PITTSBURGH STEELERS: RB NAJEE HARRIS, ALABAMA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 19

Pos Rk: 1

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: A

Steelers fans wanted Najee, but the Steelers need blockers upfront. The pick grades well, but they need to lean on their scouting department to identify who to go after in later rounds to solidify their OL.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Hard to tackle, shifty, yet not a burner. At times, Harris has shown a lack of discipline as a runner, but in the 2020 SEC title game, and CFP, Harris has come on strong displaying a high level of athleticism as both a runner and a pass-catcher. He can run high at times at 6-2, but that's not a major factor. He is a more dynamic receiver than he gets credit for, and that's the differentiating factor in our rankings; he displayed high-level receiver skills in 2020, at times reminding me of a young Lev Bell.


(25) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: RB TRAVIS ETIENNE, CLEMSON

Football Scout 365 Rank: 22

Pos Rk: 2

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Instant Impact Potential


Pick Grade: B+

Urban said best available throughout, and he did not disappoint.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

The ACC's all-time rusher, he could have left Clemson a season ago but decided to return. Etienne plays with great burst and contact balance and is an excellent pass catcher. His skill set is that of the new age NFL RB's (Kamara, CMC, Barkley). Where he needs improvement is as a pass blocker and with fumbles. The positives for Etienne outweigh the negatives.


(26) CLEVELAND BROWNS: CB GREG NEWSOME II, NORTHWESTERN

Football Scout 365 Rank: 32

Pos Rk: 4

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: B-

The Browns are in a spot where they don’t have a massive need. We projected LB throughout the last few months but they chose one of the top CB's instead. They will have options at LB in later rounds.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

A versatile defender who can excel in a cover three or press-man defense. He plays with a long frame at 6-1 and has the speed to stay in the receivers' hip pocket. He uses his body well to defend, not allowing receivers to box him out, and shows a knack for tracking the football down the field. He is an NFL-style outside corner. His primary issue is that he gets grabby at times in man to man. He won't be able to get away with that at the NFL level.


(27) BALTIMORE RAVENS: WR RASHOD BATEMAN, MINNESOTA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 48

Pos Rk: 7

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: A-

Home run pick for a team a year late in grabbing a guy already. Bateman provides instant value.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

Bateman is a versatile player; he is a good route runner, has excellent ball skills, and has good size. He is not a player who takes the top off of a defense, but he does have the frame to box out a defender in a tight area, displaying an ability to attack the football at its highest point. His precision as a route runner is where he finds separation.


(28) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: EDGE PAYTON TURNER, HOUSTON

Football Scout 365 Rank: 116

Pos Rk: 16

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Developmental


Pick Grade: C-

Not a highly scouted player on our end. According to other scouts, he shined at the Senior Bowl off the radar, and that’s where the people began to fall in love.

Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

None Available


(29) GREEN BAY PACKERS: CB ERIC STOKES, GEORGIA

Football Scout 365 Rank: 59

Pos Rk: 6

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Developmental


Pick Grade: C-

The Packers are in a precarious position because of the Aaron Rodgers situation. So instead of going after another offensive piece to help their hall of fame QB, they go with a corner. Stokes has the ability, he showed off his wheels during his pro day, but the Packers missed an opportunity. They will have a shot in later rounds as this is a very deep WR class.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

None Available

(30) BUFFALO BILLS: EDGE GREGORY ROUSSEAU, MIAMI (FL.)

Football Scout 365 Rank: 36

Pos Rk: 5

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Potential Upside


Pick Grade: B+

The Bills needed a versatile DL, and they grabbed one who possesses high upside.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

A long player who can slide inside when needed. He is not yet fully developed, but his upside is what scouts might be eyeing. He uses quick hands to disengage with blockers and can set the edge and force runs back inside. He does need to work on his strength at the next level. He was a high school WR, which explains his hand usage and his raw ability as an edge defender. His pass-rush ability might be more suited on the inside rather than trying to win the edge. He is an outstanding prospect who has the NFL size and ability to develop into an impactful starter. Another item to keep in mind, he only has one year as a starter, injured in 2018, and sat out 2020.

(31) BALTIMORE RAVENS: EDGE JAYSON OWEH, PENN STATE

Football Scout 365 Rank: 44

Pos Rk: 8

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Developmental


Pick Grade: B

Oweh is a late bloomer in the process. He grabbed attention when he ran a 4.36 on his pro day. He is 6-5 250 lbs.


Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

None Available

(32) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: EDGE JOE TRYON, WASHINGTON

Football Scout 365 Rank: 41

Pos Rk: 6

Football Scout 365 Player Grade: Developmental


Pick Grade: B

Tryon grabbed the attention of scouts when he ran a 4.5 40 at his pro day. He has the size and the upside to be an outstanding NFL player.

Football Scout 365 Scouting Report

None Available