Big Board Showdown Round 1 Draft Grades

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Pick: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Nothing to see. Urban Meyer and the Jaguars got the QB of their dreams. 

Grade: A

2. New York Jets

The Pick: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

The Jets also got their guy. It’s a matter of personal preference when it comes to Wilson. Does he have the size and ability to be a top flight NFL QB? Time will tell.

Grade: B+

3. San Francisco 49ers

The Pick: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Ultimately the 49ers chose the upside of Lance over the stability of Mac Jones. Lance is a special prospect, but he’s incredibly raw. If there’s anyone that can turn him into a star, it’s Kyle Shanahan. This is an elite situation for Lance.

Grade: A-

4. Atlanta Falcons

The Pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Sure, the Falcons could have tried to do more to get out of this pick, but based on the way the draft went its hard to see who was coming up to No. 4. The Falcons did the sensible thing and took the best player on the board. Pitts should be elite from the get go in Atlanta.

Grade: A

5. Cincinnati Bengals

The Pick: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

“Run It Back!” Pairing Chase with QB Joe Burrow is special. The two had an elite connection at LSU and it should continue in the NFL. The Bengals could have gone with Penei Sewell, but it looks like there will be some elite tackle available on Friday.

Grade: A

6. Miami Dolphins

The Pick: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

The Dolphins would have probably enjoyed trading down here, but instead they take the speedy WR from Alabama. We will see if Waddle or Devonta Smith is more productive in the NFL. Meanwhile, Tua Tagovailoa gets one of his Bama receivers in Miami.

Grade: B+

7. Detroit Lions

The Pick: Penei Sewell, OL, Oregon

The Lions could have grabbed a QB or receiver here, but nothing says Dan Campbell more than a punishing blocker with All-Pro upside. Sewell is an elite talent who should thrive in Detroit.

Grade: A+

8. Carolina Panthers

The Pick: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
A bit of surprise here. The Panthers desperately need a left tackle and Justin Fields was still on the board. Instead the go with Horn, who was rated as the second-best corner in the draft. They are all in on Sam Darnold, for now. Horn could be a legitimate star, but perhaps a trade down would have been wiser?

Grade: C+

9. Denver Broncos

The Pick: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The pick of Surtain is fine, he’s an elite talent. But the Broncos are going to go into this season with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock at QB? They have elite playmakers yet decided to pass on Justin Fields (and Mac Jones). That doesn’t make much sense.

Grade: C

10. Philadelphia Eagles

The Pick: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Eagles traded up two spots to get their wide receiver. Smith may end up being the best receiver in this class. He’s tiny, yes. But he’s also proven himself to be elite against top notch competition. Whether or not he succeeds with Jalen Hurts remains to be seen, but Smith is a great prospect. It’s worth mentioning that they gave up assets to the Cowboys in order to get Smith. That hurts their grade just a bit.

Grade: A-

11. Chicago Bears

The Pick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Yes, it was costly to come up from 20 to get Fields. But the Bears are desperate for a difference maker at QB and because Fields slipped a bit it wasn’t that ridiculous of a cost. If Fields is good, no one will remember that they gave up a 2022 1st rounder. The Bears NEEDED this pick.

Grade: A

12. Dallas Cowboys

The Pick: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

It’s hard to knock the Cowboys for taking potentially the best defensive player in the draft. They picked up additional assets along the way, as well. If a cornerback was available at 10 I’m sure they would have stayed put and picked one there. With Rashawn Slater on the board, there is a case to be made that they should have gone that direction.

Grade: A-

13. Los Angeles Chargers

The Pick: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

Spectacular job by the Chargers understanding the board and waiting out Slater. They didn’t have to trade up and they still got one of the two top left tackles in the draft. Outstanding work and great pick.

Grade: A+

14. New York Jets

The Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

The Jets invested in Mekhi Becton last season and double down on the offensive line with Vera-Tucker. They had to trade up from 23 to 14 to get him and paid a decent chunk to do so. Was it worth it? Well, on the one hand you have Zach Wilson and you need to protect that asset at all costs. Perhaps it’s smart. But the Vikings also took a tackle at 23, where the Jets traded from. Did they read the board correctly?

Grade: B+

15. New England Patriots

The Pick: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Does anyone read the big board better than Bill Belichick? He knew once Jones got past the 49ers that he would be in his lap at 15. No need to trade up. Sit back and wait for your guy. This is a great situation for Jones and the Patriots.

Grade: A

16. Arizona Cardinals

The Pick: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

The Cardinals add a big linebacker to their defense. Collins is ridiculously smart could be a stalwart on the Arizona defense for years to come.

Grade: B+

17. Las Vegas Raiders

The Pick: Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama

Classic Raiders. Under Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden they do not play the board at all. They’re biggest need isn’t even on the offensive line and yet the stretched for a player that they may have been able to get in Round 2.

Grade: D+

18. Miami Dolphins

The Pick: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami

Phillips could end up being the best defensive player in the draft. He’s an elite pass rusher, but he comes with off the field concerns and medical concerns. Brian Flores should be able to get the best out of him. 

Grade: B+

19. Washington Football Team

The Pick: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

The Washington defense gets even better. Davis is a dynamic linebacker who should be able to control the field for the NFC East Champions.

Grade: A-

20. New York Giants

The Pick: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

The Giants and Dave Gettleman finally traded down! They took Toney, a speedy gadget wide receiver who a lot of scouts love. However, he only had one season and broke out late in his career. This is a gamble. They could have had the best EDGE rusher or higher ranked wide receivers. Plus they just signed Kenny Golladay.

Grade: C

21. Indianapolis Colts

The Pick: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

The Colts got great value with Paye still being here. They needed an EDGE rushed and nabbed a fantastic one.

Grade: A-

22. Tennessee Titans

The Pick: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

If Farley is healthy, this could be a steal. He was likely the top cornerback on the board before his most recent surgery. If he’s unable to come back as the same caliber of player, the Titans overpaid.

Grade: B+

23. Minnesota Vikings

The Pick: Christian Darrisaw, OL, Virginia Tech

Minnesota traded down with the Jets, got a couple of great picks back, and still ended up with he player they would have taken at 14. That’s drafting! Darrisaw is an excellent tackle.

Grade: A

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pick: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

If you’re going to invest in a running back, you could do worse than grabbing Harris. I’m not a huge fan of drafting running backs in Round 1, but the ones that do go are usually elite. Can the Steelers fix their offensive line issues in order to let Harris be Harris?

Grade: B+

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Pick: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Did Urban Meyer want to coach at Clemson? Sure seems like it after his first two picks in the NFL. Etienne will be used as a third-down back to start his career in Jacksonville. That’s not usually what you do with a first-round RB. However, he’s a dynamic playmaker and should take some pressure off of Trevor Lawrence.

Grade: B

26. Cleveland Browns

The Pick: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

A great value pick for the Browns. Newsome could be a pro bowl cornerback. However, they just signed John Johnson to play across from Denzel Ward. Is this defensive backfield a little crowded?

Grade: A-

27. Baltimore Ravens

The Pick: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

The Ravens desperately needed a wide receiver and got one in Bateman. He’s a big target for Lamar Jackson, something he also needed. Will Bateman come to camp weighing more than 190 pounds? We’ll see. 

Grade: B+

28. New Orleans Saints

The Pick: Payton Tuner, EDGE, Houston

Turner’s stock went through the roof in the weeks leading up to the draft. EDGE wasn’t the biggest need for the Saints, but they have a good track record of drafting on the defensive side of the ball recently.

Grade: B

29. Green Bay Packers

The Pick: Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

With all of the rumors swirling about Aaron Rodgers’ future in Green Bay, you would think maybe they would extend an olive branch by drafting someone like Elijah Moore? Nope. The Packers took what they thought was the best value on the board. Stokes is freaky fast and could be an elite corner.

Grade: B-

30. Buffalo Bills

The Pick: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

Rousseau sat out the 2020 season and didn’t have a great Pro Day; however, he was dominant in 2019 and the Bills know how to turn defensive players into stars. One would think Sean McDermott will figure out how to turn the former Miami star into a quality pass rusher in the NFL.

Grade: B+

31. Baltimore Ravens

The Pick: Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

The Ravens addressed another need at 31 with a pass rusher who tested off the charts and is an absolute freak. Oweh is pretty raw as a prospect, but you can’t teach his size and speed on the defensive side of the ball.

Grade: A-

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Pick: Joe Tryon, LB, Washington

Another quality pick for the Buccaneers, who add to a loaded roster. Tyron can play defensive line or linebacker for Tampa Bay and should slide in seamless into their defense.

Grade: B+