2021 NFL Draft: Best and Worst Pick for Every Team

Jacksonville is hoping to change its fortunes with a draft class highlighted by No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence

All 259 picks have been made and the 2021 NFL Draft is officially in the books for all 32 franchises. Ask any executive or coach around the league at this point, they'll be sure to tell you they found that missing piece and are thrilled with the group they got getting them over the hump to the Super Bowl.

 

While it's too soon to say exactly how every draft pick will pan out, we can look at the value teams got from certain picks and which ones caused a few head scratches around the league. With that in mind, here are the best picks from each team and, of course, their worst.

 

Arizona Cardinals

 

Best pick: Michael Menet, C, Penn State (7th round, 247th overall)

Worst pick: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (2nd round, 49th overall)

 

The Cardinals got a lot of value in the later rounds, highlighted by a potential starting corner in Marco Wilson (4th round), an athletic safety with upside in James Wiggins (7th round), and a steal in Menet who should have gone earlier on Day 3. He provides cover for the newly acquired Rodney Hudson and has a chance to perhaps crack the starting lineup at either guard spot. The issue for the front office might be the early picks, including a slight reach for top pick Zaven Collins when they could have moved back. Moore is fantastic and a dynamic playmaker but his injury history and size make him a huge risk in the second round. He's also the third wideout on the roster now 5-foot-9 or under. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray have a bit of a track team going on but they'll need the Boilermaker to stay on the field for this top-50 pick to pan out.

 

Atlanta Falcons

 

Best pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (1st round, 4th overall)

Worst pick: Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DL, Notre Dame (5th round, 182 overall)

 

It was easy to select Pitts as the best pick because nabbing the best overall positional player in the draft with the fourth pick is terrific value. But don't discount nabbing offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield in the third round either as his aggressiveness fits with what Arthur Smith wants to do and was a potential first-round talent taken just inside the top 70. If Frank Darby can make the team, that's a pretty nice deep threat added to the rotation. Both he and fifth-rounder Avery Williams should be dynamite additions on special teams. Atlanta overdrafted Ogundeji though as he's somebody that needs a lot more seasoning to crack the defense's current rotation.

 

Baltimore Ravens

 

Best pick: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State (4th round, 131st overall)

Worst pick: Ben Mason, FB, Michigan (5th round, 184th overall)

 

Lamar Jackson has to like the offseason additions, especially the rookie wideouts who have a tremendous catch radius and are capable of making some tough grabs along the sidelines or over the middle. Getting Shaun Wade in the fifth round could be the steal of the draft as he'll be able to play more slot early while learning the DB craft from vets like Marcus Peters. Fellow corner Brandon Stephens was a reach in the third round but at least guard Ben Cleveland is a very on-brand pick for what this offense wants to do. You wonder if the Mason selection was a nod between the Harbaugh brothers because there's no way in today's NFL that a fullback should be taken in the fifth round, much less with the team's final pick in the draft.

 

Buffalo Bills

 

Best pick: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (1st round, 30th overall)

Worst pick: Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin (6th round, 213th overall)

 

Strange to see the Bills picking so late in each round but they nailed their early draft picks, getting tremendous value in Rousseau (a top-10 talent) in the first and Carlos "Boogie" Basham Jr. at the end of the second. If Stefon Diggs can adopt Marquez Stevenson as his little brother and help him develop, that could be a Day 3 steal on top of his return value. The Wildgoose pick has a boom/bust factor to it as there are enough negatives to his game to the point where the sixth round is a bit rich for his talent.

 

Carolina Panthers

 

Best pick: Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa (5th round, 158th overall)

Worst pick: Thomas Fletcher, LS, Alabama (6th round, 222nd overall)

 

There's a ton to like about the Panthers' draft class, especially as they decided to actually select a few offensive players this time around. Terrace Marshall Jr. reunites with his old college OC in Joe Brady and can be a nice weapon both inside or out for new QB Sam Darnold. Don't be shocked if he has a more productive career as a second option in the pros than in college (along with TE Tommy Tremble). Deonte Brown and Brady Christensen bring a ton of size up front and could develop into nice starters. Nixon in the fifth round is a theft of the highest order as he was more in line with a Day 2 guy and the second-best interior lineman on some folks' boards. The lone negative is using a sixth-rounder on a long snapper because it's using a sixth-rounder on a bleeping long snapper.

 

Chicago Bears

 

Best pick: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (1st round, 11th overall)

Worst pick: Larry Borom, OL, Missouri (5th round, 151 overall)

 

The Bears' front office has not exactly endeared themselves to the fan base with the moves they've made but moving up to nab Fields will change that stance a bit. Not only are all the Big Ten fans in the city thrilled at this move, but he's legitimately the most exciting QB to head to the Windy City since… Jim McMahon? Teven Jenkins had a first-round grade by some and addresses a need along the offensive line too. It wouldn't be shocking if Dazz Newsome finds a home on the roster given his versatility but the team did reach quite a bit with Borom. Given the lack of picks in this draft, the Bears should have moved back if they wanted to take him since he's a bit of a project moving to guard and not much of a scheme fit for what Matt Nagy tries to do.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

 

Best pick: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas (Round 3, 69th overall)

Worst pick: Evan McPherson, K, Florida (Round 5, 149th overall)

 

There were more than a few confusing selections in this Bengals draft. Reuniting Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase was understandable but waiting until the fourth round to take a swing tackle was not. Trey Hill could be sneaky good at the interior spots but was still somewhat of a reach in the sixth round. Cincinnati's best value pick might have been their last in Wyatt Hubert, who has the motor and production of a guy who winds up playing for seven-plus years even if he's not a starter. McPherson may well have been the best kicker to enter the league from the college ranks but nobody at the position has proven to be worth a fifth-rounder for a team that still has to rebuild quite a bit.

 

Cleveland Browns

 

Best pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame (2nd round, 52nd overall)

Worst pick: Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia (5th round, 153rd overall)

 

Browns' GM Andrew Berry had a heck of a week, welcoming his third kid before the first round started and then landing value after value as the draft progressed. Newsome should contend right away to start and Owusu-Koramoah was a top-15 talent many had mocked to the team in the first round that they wound up with late in the second. Demetric Felton should allow Kevin Stefanski to find a number of fun roles for him all over the field and OL James Hudson has all the tools to provide backup value as a rookie before turning into a potential starter at two or three spots. If there is one thing to nitpick, it might be reaching for Fields in the fifth round given both his limitations and Owusu-Koramoah filling a similar role.

 

Dallas Cowboys

 

Best pick: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU (4th round, 115th overall)

Worst pick: Nashon Wright, CB, Oregon State (3rd round, 99th overall)

 

Wright was labeled by some as a seventh-round pick so to take him inside the top 100 is a massive reach. Yes, he fits the new scheme but Jerry Jones' focus on reforming the defense whiffed badly with this one no matter the need. On the flip side, Cox is one of the best cover backers in the draft and could by a theft in the fourth round. Between him and Micah Parsons, the linebacking corps has seen a significant upgrade in athleticism and probably won't miss Sean Lee on the field at all as a result. The character concerns alone allow one to question the Josh Ball selection in the fourth round. Don't sleep on sixth-round CB Israel Mukuamu helping at a position of need and it certainly feels like WR Semi Fehoko is going to have a way better career in that explosive Dallas offense than he did in college.

 

Denver Broncos

 

Best pick: Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana (5th round, 164th overall)

Worst pick: Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State (3rd round, 105th overall)

 

Everybody got distracted by the Aaron Rodgers rumors but new GM George Paton had himself an excellent first draft in Denver. Surtain is a drop-in corner who can make several Pro Bowls early in his career and Williams can star in that offense on all three downs. Quinn Meinerz is a fan favorite already even if he might need a year to crack the lineup and those late-round picks from Seth Williams to Kary Vincent have a chance to hit big time. Johnson was PFF's third-ranked safety in the draft yet the Broncos got him in the fifth round, which is sure to bring a smile to Vic Fangio's face. Browning has a chance to be a good player but feels like a really big reach for a likely backup in the third round.

 

Detroit Lions

 

Best pick: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (1st round, 7th overall)

Worst pick: Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue (4th round, 113th overall)

 

Lions fans might not be wrong in thinking this is one of Detroit's best draft classes overall in several years. Sewell is a potential All-Pro in short order and the additions of Levi Onwuzurike (a first-round talent) and Alim McNeill address a huge area of need from the get-go. Amon-Ra St. Brown is just the kind of tough slot receiver that Jared Goff thrives with and if Jermar Jefferson makes the team, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him form a nice tandem with D'Andre Swift for the next few years. The lone misstep might be overdrafting Barnes by a few rounds.

 

Green Bay Packers

 

Best pick: Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson (3rd round, 85th overall)

Worst pick: Eric Stokes, DB, Georgia (1st round, 29th overall)

 

We'll see what kind of message Aaron Rodgers takes away from this draft class but it probably didn't help the relationship between the front office and star quarterback to see a reach in the bottom of the first round on a cornerback. They did replace center Corey Linsley with another Ohio State kid in Josh Myers but the real star of the show is certainly going to be nabbing such a polished wideout from Clemson Amari Rodgers. The rest of the later-round selections were a few shots the team hopes to hit on but the Kylin Hill addition could be intriguing in Matt LaFleur's offense.

 

Houston Texans

 

Best pick: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (5th round, 147th overall)

Worst pick: Roy Lopez, DT, Arizona (6th round, 195th overall)

 

The Texans were already behind the eight-ball in terms of draft capital and did a few strange moves before ultimately winding up with just five picks. The Davis Mills selection was the most eye-opening given the uncertainty around Deshaun Watson but could turn out to be a savvy one down the road that gives the franchise more upside than Tyrod Taylor does in the short and long term. Jordan is a nice Day 2 value in the fifth round plus a potential starter right away as a rookie. They reached in getting Lopez though, to say nothing of the large number of better options at DT that they could have gone with instead.

 

Indianapolis Colts

 

Best pick: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan (1st round, 21st overall)

Worst pick: Dayo Odenyingbo, EDGE, Vanderbilt (2nd round, 54th overall)

 

Indianapolis didn't have a ton of holes to fill nor a ton of picks to move around with but hit a home run with Paye in the middle of the first round. The follow-up selection was more puzzling though as Odeyingbo is a long-term play for a team whose window to win is right now. The Vanderbilt product tore his Achilles in January, so he likely won't play much, if at all, in 2021. That's not exactly great value for one of just two selections in the top 100.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Best pick: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (1st round, 1st overall)

Worst pick: Luke Farrell, TE, Ohio State (5th round, 145th overall)

 

Anytime you land a generational prospect at quarterback, you have a good draft. It was cool to see Travis Etienne reunited with Lawrence despite the overall questionable value of a running back in the first round and Urban Meyer bizarrely explaining how he fit in with James Robinson and Carlos Hyde. Maybe it's not such a surprise to see Meyer reach so badly for Farrell, who certainly would have been there two rounds later and could struggle to find a consistent spot in the offense or on the roster.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

 

Best pick: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri (2nd round, 58th overall)

Worst pick: Joshua Kaindoh, DE, Florida State (4th round, 144th overall)

 

It's important to add context to the Chiefs' draft haul considering they holistically addressed their one massive flaw by trading for Orlando Brown and signing Joe Thuney and Kyle Long (plus returning Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang). Creed Humphrey is a steal at the end of the second and has 10-year starter written all over him and taking shots on Day 3 guys like Cornell Powell and Trey Smith is exactly what KC should be doing. Still, the Chiefs assuredly would have found Kaindoh much later than they did and should have traded back if they were really sold on him.

 

Las Vegas Raiders

 

Best pick: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU (2nd round, 43rd overall)

Worst pick: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama (1st round, 17th overall)

 

How much better would the Raiders' draft grades be if they took Leatherwood in the second round and Moehrig in the first? Probably... a lot better. Such is the value of those players and the selections where they were taken. GM Mike Mayock won't bat an eyelash at it though, even if the rest of the team's draft class was kind of meh.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

 

Best pick: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern (1st round, 13th overall)

Worst pick: Tre' McKitty, TE, Georgia (3rd round, 97th overall)

 

Justin Herbert is a happy man after seeing Slater fall into the Chargers' hands when he did. Brenden Jaimes also is solid value on Day 3 and Josh Palmer can turn into Keenan Allen Jr. with the way he plays. Asante Samuel Jr. is a nice value in the second given the division foes they face but the team's next selection in McKitty was a big stretch. Sure a TE was needed but that's not a prospect worthy of a top-100 pick with numerous better options available then or later.

 

Los Angeles Rams

 

Best pick: Bobby Brown III, DL, Texas A&M (4th round, 117th overall)

Worst pick: Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville (2nd round, 57th overall)

 

The Rams have hit on their mid-round picks to great effect in the recent past but might have taken a few too many shots with this class. As much fun as Atwell can be, especially in this offense, it's beyond questionable using your lone top-100 pick on such a diminutive receiver who is at best the fifth option on the depth chart. Ernest Jones was also a reach given he's suited to a backup role and who knows what the point was in spending one of those late-rounders on a RB (Jake Funk) with a big injury history and only a path to sticking on the roster through special teams. Brown could turn out to be the headliner of this class though and will benefit immensely from learning under Aaron Donald the next few years.

 

Miami Dolphins

 

Best pick: Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon (2nd round, 36th overall)

Worst pick: Gerrid Doaks, RB, Cincinnati (7th round, 244th overall)

 

Another strong draft for the ‘Fins as they continued to help out their young quarterback. Waddle can be a true No. 1 in South Florida while Liam Eichenberg can turn into a reliable starter at either tackle spot. Holland is just the kind of ball hawk that will fit in well with that secondary and Jaelan Phillips' upside and potential has already been well publicized. If there's anything to quibble with, it might be the last pick on a position that's not a need and will need Doaks to find a completely different use of his skills on special teams to even make the team.

 

Minnesota Vikings

 

Best pick: Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State (3rd round, 86th overall)

Worst pick: Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri (5th round, 168th overall)

 

Sneaky-great class of gems for the Vikings this year, led by Davis. That's not only a potential early starter but a real value late on Day 2 with the talent of a first-rounder if the league valued interior guys as they should. Chazz Surratt is such a perfect Mike Zimmer selection and the Christian Darrisaw addition is much needed on the other side of the ball. Fifth-rounder Ihmir Smith-Marsette is going to be the third option quicker than most expect and add to his status on special teams. The Davidson pick was a huge overreach though. It's one thing to take a flier on a developmental small-school TE in the seventh round, it's another with your second-to-last pick in the fifth.

 

New England Patriots

 

Best pick: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama (2nd round, 38th overall)

Worst pick: Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan (5th round, 177th overall)

 

Is Bill Belichick okay? First the Pats splash cash in free agency and now they go after big-school, productive players in the draft to fill needs? Setting that change of strategy aside, Barmore seems like the big catch and it wasn't a shock to see the team move up to get him. They didn't have to do any such thing in getting Mac Jones, which is somebody who fits the system well but won't be pressured to start right away. The top-three talk with the title-winning QB was a bit much but 15th overall seems about right. Both Oklahoma guys (Ronnie Perkins and Rhamondre Stevenson) were good values from where they were selected but it feels like a reach to nab McGrone in the fifth round given he'll have an uphill climb to turn into a full-fledged starter.

 

New Orleans Saints

 

Best pick: Landon Young, OT, Kentucky (6th round, 206th overall)

Worst pick: Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston (1st round, 28th overall)

 

A little bit of everything in this draft for the Saints, from selecting a Drew Brees-like clone with more athleticism in Ian Book to potentially unearthing a star if they can get cornerback Paulson Adebo back into form. The Turner selection was a surprise either way you cut it and makes even less sense after the team picked up Marcus Davenport's option. Pete Werner at No. 60 overall was solid but grabbing Young in the sixth might turn out to be their best move long term as he's a swing tackle right away with a chance to become a multi-season starter down the road.

 

New York Giants

 

Best pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia (2nd round, 50th overall)

Worst pick: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida (1st round, 20th overall)

 

GM Dave Gettleman was almost trolling the entire NFL apparatus with his moves down but the additional draft picks he stockpiled for next year could come in handy if they decide to find a new QB in 2022. Ojulari was a first-round guy they nabbed in the second and it would surprise nobody if Gary Brightwell is Saquon Barkley's backup after the preseason is finished. If you have to quibble though, it might be using their first-rounder on Toney. He undeniably brings some juice and playmaking ability but the team already spent on the position this offseason and does anybody really trust offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to get the most out of him? The wideout isn't going to make or break Daniel Jones' season either way.

 

New York Jets

 

Best pick: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss (2nd round, 34th overall)

Worst pick: Jamien Sherwood, DB, Auburn (5th round, 146th overall)

 

The back pages were awash in Zach Wilson coverage but the Jets followed up the selection of their QB with some home runs in Moore and Alijah Vera-Tucker. Both should be instant starters and the speedy wideout might wind up being a better version of Deebo Samuel within his first two years. On the other hand, it's hard to make complete sense of the picture at safety. Getting Michael Carter II from Duke in the fifth is great value but Marcus Maye and Ashtyn Davis are still on the team so unless the plan is to move Sherwood to linebacker, his pick was a reach (especially combined with Hamsah Nasirildeen in the sixth round).

 

Philadelphia Eagles

 

Best pick: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis (Round 5, 150th overall)

Worst pick: Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech (Round 4, 123rd overall)

 

Despite some less than enthusiastic responses inside the Eagles' war room, this is an excellent class full of potential starters. DeVonta Smith is a stud and can make his old pal Jalen Hurts that much better just by being on the field. One can certainly question using a second-round pick on Landon Dickerson given his injury history but at worst they have a Jason Kelce successor to groom and a good replacement in the locker room too. It's not fair Gainwell was still there in the fifth and he should spend plenty of time on the field alongside, and in place, of Miles Sanders. Both of the big defensive tackles are good fits and the team's final three of Tarron Jackson, JaCoby Stevens and Patrick Johnson are all incredibly productive college players who can contribute right away to this group. They may have reached for McPhearson but that's one of the minor quibbles.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Best pick: Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami (6th round, 216th overall)

Worst pick: Isaiahh Loudermilk, DL, Wisconsin (5th round, 156 overall)

 

The first-round running back debate will rage on but it's hard to find anybody who's not in the Najee Harris fan club. It was puzzling the team didn't address the offensive line more aside from just two middle-round picks and then reached quite a bit to get Loudermilk in the fifth. The team got way better value with Roche in the sixth and he very well could help ease the loss of Bud Dupree. Still don't get drafting a punter but at least the Steelers waited to the seventh to get a beefy one who seems right at home in the AFC North.

 

San Francisco 49ers

 

Best pick: Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC (5th round, 180th overall)

Worst pick: Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan (3rd round, 102nd overall)

 

So much of the narrative surrounding this class will come down to Trey Lance panning out or not. There are few head coach/play-callers one would trust more in the league with a QB's development than Kyle Shanahan and Lance at least has the highest ceiling of any of the guys taken after him. The rest of the draft was full of scheme fits that have a chance to hit in a big way, from a mauler like Aaron Banks to the hard-hitting Hufanga. The latter seems well suited to this division the way he plays and could be invaluable in various packages all over the field. Both Trey Sermon and Eli Mitchell could put up some numbers in this offense but it feels like the team reached for Thomas in the third round. Deommodore Lenoir might be a much better value in the fifth and wind up the better player long-term too.

 

Seattle Seahawks

 

Best pick: Stone Forsythe, OL, Florida (6th round, 208th overall)

Worst pick: D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan (2nd round, 56th overall)

 

The Seahawks had just three selections so… yeah. Eskridge is a burner who could find a pretty fun role in this offense but second round is extremely rich for what he is as a prospect so it would have been wiser to move down and take him later. Outrageously good value for Forsythe though, a Day 2 type of player who can help out Russell Wilson in 2021.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Best pick: Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas (4th round, 129th overall)

Worst pick: Kyle Trask, QB, Florida (2nd round, 64th overall)

 

No team operated from a greater position of strength than the reigning champions and that was evident with some of their draft selections. Joe Tryon can be a nice rotational player as a rookie, learning from all those vets on the roster before eventually taking one of their jobs long term. Darden is a pass-catching machine who should endear himself to Tom Brady right away and provide plenty of cover for whatever reasons keep Antonio Brown out of the lineup. The Trask selection does provide the team with a young immovable object in the pocket but was draft capital better spent elsewhere given the aging starter keeps pushing his timetable backward.

 

Tennessee Titans

 

Best pick: Elijah Molden, CB, Washington (3rd round, 100th overall)

Worst pick: Racey McMath, WR, LSU (6th round, 205th overall)

 

While we didn't get any strange sights from Mike Vrabel's house this draft, the Titans put a strong foot forward with this class. Caleb Farley is obviously a high-risk, high-reward type of pick not unlike Jeffery Simmons was for the franchise and could turn into a high-end No. 1 corner. Molden might be an even better value though in the third round and should be a starter in nickel almost right away. Love the Rashad Weaver selection in the fourth as a high-floor type of guy but sixth-rounder McMath seems a bit too far outside the box. He's such a project as a wideout it might not have been worth it given the needs at the position and the team has to hope he'll star on special teams from the moment he arrives in Nashville.

 

Washington Football Team

 

Best pick: Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina (3rd round, 82nd overall)

Worst pick: Camaron Cheeseman, LS, Michigan (6th round, 225th overall)

 

The WFT couldn't get their young quarterback in this draft but they nevertheless kept building out a pretty strong roster over the weekend. Linebacker Jamin Davis gets to learn from some really good coaches who know the position and has the chance to become a star on that front seven with athleticism for miles upon miles. Brown could wind up being the headliner though and adds to what is already becoming a track team in D.C. with Curtis Samuel and Terry McLaurin. Third-rounder Benjamin St-Juste will have plenty of time to develop and has the traits to be a top option but it's tough to also look at this group and see the team spent a sixth-rounder on a long snapper too.

 

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

 

(Top photo courtesy of @Jaguars)

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