Most NFL Draft seasons I’ll have at least a top 200 big board for you by draft day, but I’ve got a little perfectionist in me, and it didn’t feel right to rank players out to 200 without having properly studied all the prospects that would have been included. The Bucs Super Bowl run and a truncated college football season meant a little bit of a late start for me on studying this class, but next year you can expect all of Pewter Report’s draft content to be ramped up to another level.
A couple things that areimportant to note about my grading process and my Top 150 Big Board so you don’t start your weekend overly triggered(maybe you still will):
• I model my grading scale after the approach of NFL teams, which means it is stingy. Most NFL teams have less first-round grades and smaller overall boards than those you see in the media. I’m not one of those analysts who will have 25 first-round grades and 40 second-round grades. The reality is that most players who attempt to make it in the NFL will not, and many that we project to be among the best at their position never get there. We all wish it wasn’t so, but that doesn’t stop it from being a reality.
As a result, my grading scale is pretty strict. Here’s the breakdown and color coded key:
Can’t Miss Grades – BLUE – Prospects that I believe will be among the very best at their position group by their third year in the NFL.
First-Round Grades–GREEN – Prospects that I believe will be excellent starters in the NFL.
Second-Round Grades– PURPLE – Prospects that I believe will range from very good-to-good starters in the NFL.
Third-Round Grades– GOLD – Solid starters, sometimes with significant upside that has yet to manifest itself consistently on the field, who will at their floor be important role players in the NFL.
Fourth-Fifth-Round Grades – RED – Grades range from Spot starters/solid role players at their ceiling (4th) to backups/special teams value (5th) in the NFL.
• My board does NOT account for positional value at all, other than obviously excluding kickers, punters and long snappers because I don’t know how to scout them. For example, I have five running backs with a second-round grade in this class, but I probably wouldn’t ever take a running back until later in the draft unless he was a Round 1-caliber, dynamic space player and receiver.
Alabama QB Mac Jones – Photo by: USA Today
So although a quarterback like Alabama’s Mac Jones may be further down this board than most, it just means I think he’ll be a good starter in the NFL (second round grade definition), not that I wouldn’t take him until Round 2 if I were an NFL team in need of a quarterback. A good starter at quarterback is obviously worth way more than a great starting running back. My Big Board just doesn’t account for positional value because I’m not an NFL team and I don’t need to stack my board like one. So read between the lines there.
Also, every year the majority of my grades fall in the third-fourth round range. It’s important to understand realities with these prospects, and that is that many of them range from “solid starters to backup/special teams” caliber players during the course of their careers. Very few venture into the “good-to-very good starter” territory, and even fewer into the “elite” territory, so it’s important to me to make sure my grades reflect that. I’m not into spraying and praying and giving half the class a first or second round grade.
Now you are free to hate on me from a place of understanding – rather than ignorance. Enjoy!
2021 NFL Draft First Round Grades
Table of Contents
QB Trevor Lawrence
QB Justin Fields
TE Kyle Pitts
WR Ja’Marr Chase
WR Jaylen Waddle
OG Alijah Vera-Tucker
CB Jaycee Horn
EDGE Jaelan Phillips
WR Devonta Smith
OL Rashawn Slater
OL Teven Jenkins
CB Patrick Surtain
OT Penei Sewell
LB Micah Parsons
WR Elijah Moore
QB Zach Wilson
S Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Remember, BLUE is for special prospects that I believe can consistently be among the top few players at their position in the NFL by year three. GREEN is for players I believe will be excellent, high-end starters. BLUE and GREEN combined represent the number of Round 1 grades on my board.
This year I ended up with 17 first round grades, four more than the year before. Many of those were late first round grades this year, but overall I like the top tier of this class more than I like the depth of it. Three great quarterback prospects certainly help, as do five premier offensive weapons and a couple of stud cornerbacks.
Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins – Photo by: USA Today
A couple notes on the offensive linemen: some will be surprised to see Penei Sewell as the fourth offensive lineman on my board, but he’s my top offensive tackle in this class. Rashawn Slater and Teven Jenkins graded out a little bit higher as guards than Sewell did at tackle, so I have them higher on my board.
I still think both Slater and Jenkins can be stud tackles in the NFL, and I would definitely play them there as an NFL team given how much more valuable tackle is than guard, but their ceiling at tackle isn’t on Sewell’s level. Sewell has all the tools to be an excellent starting tackle so I’m betting on his upside, even if year 1 could be a little rough. I feel similarly about Zach Wilson, and Micah Parsons to a degree as well.
Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore with a first round grade? Yes. Moore is dynamic and wins in every way I want a wide receiver to win, regardless of his size.
Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah as a safety? While at Notre Dame, JOK played in the slot and as an overhang defender at 215 pounds, making it difficult to evaluate him as an off-ball linebacker. I would play him at strong safety, but he may be able to put on weight (he was 221 at his pro day) and learn stack linebacker, where I could also see him excelling. He’s a great football player, it’s just important to know what he can learn if you select him in the NFL Draft.
2021 NFL Draft Second Round Grades
18. C Landon Dickerson 19. CB Greg Newsome 20. QB Trey Lance 21. RB Travis Etienne 22. RB Najee Harris 23. CB Caleb Farley 24. WR Rashod Bateman 25. RB Javonte Williams 26. CB Tyson Campbell 27. LB Jamin Davis 28. EDGE Azeez Ojulari 29. WR Rondale Moore 30. LB Zaven Collins 31. C Creed Humphrey 32. OT Liam Eichenberg 33. OT Christian Darrisaw 34. EDGE Payton Turner 35. WR Terrace Marshall 36. DT Christian Barmore 37. EDGE Kwity Paye 38. LB Derrick Barnes 39. CB Eric Stokes 40. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu 41. C Quinn Meinerz
42. QB Mac Jones 43. EDGE Jayson Oweh 44. S Richie Grant
27 second round grades, with Landon Dickerson, Trey Lance and Greg Newman just missing out on Round 1 grades. Remember, that means I think Lance will be a very good starter in the NFL. At quarterback, if you’re an NFL team, you take a very good starter in the top 10 of the NFL Draft every single time. Accuracy issues pushed him down a little bit for me, but he has basically everything else I want in a franchise quarterback, and there’s ample reason to expect further growth.
A couple surprises in my second round grades: EDGE Payton Turner at No. 34, LB Derrick Barnes at No. 38 and C Quinn Meinerz at No. 41. Those are guys I’ll stand on the table for, among others.
2021 NFL Draft Third Round Grades
45. S Trevon Moehrig 46. CB Asante Samuel Jr. 47. WR Kadarius Toney 48. CB Kelvin Joseph 49. C Josh Myers 50. LB Jabril Cox 51. LB Pete Werner 52. OT Sam Cosmi 53. OT Brady Christensen 54. RB Kenneth Gainwell 55. EDGE Joseph Ossai 56. DT Levi Onwuzurike 57. RB Michael Carter 58. WR Dyami Brown 59. EDGE Joe Tryon 60. DT Daviyon Nixon 61. CB Jevon Holland 62. CB Paulson Adebo 63. LB Baron Browning 64. LB Nick Bolton 65. EDGE Cam Sample 66. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown 67. WR Amari Rodgers 68. S Hamsah Nasirildeen 69. OT Dillon Radunz 70. OT Spencer Brown 71. TE Tommy Tremble 72. OT Alex Leatherwood 73. OG Wyatt Davis 74. CB Elijah Molden 75. CB Aaron Robinson 76. OG Trey Smith 77. DT Marlon Tuipulotu 78. DT Osa Odighizuwa 79. EDGE Rashad Weaver 80. DT Milton Williams
Fourth-Fifth Round Grades
81. EDGE Carlos Basham 82. WR D’Wayne Eskridge 83. TE Pat Freiermuth 84. CB Zech McPhearson 85. CB Ambry Thomas 86. S James Wiggins 87. CB Robert Rochell 88. RB Trey Sermon 89. OG Jalen Mayfield 90. EDGE Quincy Roche 91. DT Tommy Togiai 92. EDGE Gregory Rousseau 93. CB Thomas Graham 94. TE Brevin Jordan 95. WR Cornell Powell 96. WR Josh Palmer 97. QB Davis Mills 98. CB Benjamin St. Juste 99. QB Kyle Trask 100. DT Alim McNeill 101. C Robert Hainsey 102. EDGE Ronnie Perkins 103. WR Nico Collins 104. OG Aaron Banks 105. LB Chazz Surratt 106. OG Ben Cleveland 107. C Kendrick Green 108. C Drew Dalman 109. CB Tre Brown 110. DT Jay Tufele 111. S Divine Deablo 112. OT Stone Forsythe 113. OG Jackson Carman 114. EDGE Elerson Smith 115. S Andre Cisco 116. WR Tylan Wallace 117. S Jamar Johnson
118. DT Tyler Shelvin 119. EDGE Dayo Odeyingbo 120. EDGE Chauncey Golston 121. LB Monty Rice 122. QB Kellen Mond 123. S Tyree Gillespie 124. OT Walker Little 125. OG David Moore 126. TE Hunter Long 127. TE Simi Fehoko 128. DT Bobby Brown 129. OG Deonte Brown 130. TE Kenny Yeboah 131. EDGE Jonathan Cooper 132. EDGE Daelin Hayes 133. EDGE Chris Rumph 134. OT Brenden Jaimes 135. EDGE Patrick Jones 136. WR Cade Johnson 137. DT Jalen Twyman 138. S Talanoa Hufanga 139. TE Tre’ McKitty 140. S Ar’Darius Washington 141. WR Jaelon Darden 142. WR Seth Williams 143. CB/PR/KR Avery Williams 144. DT Marvin Wilson 145. WR Shi Smith 146. RB Kylin Hill 147. WR/TE Jacob Harris 148. EDGE Janarius Robinson 149. CB DJ Daniel 150. LB Tony Fields
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft