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 are important 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 mock draft

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.

Here’s my 2020 NFL Draft Big Board if you’re interested.

Now you are free to hate on me from a place of understanding – rather than ignorance. Enjoy!

2021 NFL Draft First Round Grades

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence
  2. QB Justin Fields
  3. TE Kyle Pitts
  4. WR Ja’Marr Chase
  5. WR Jaylen Waddle
  6. OG Alijah Vera-Tucker
  7. CB Jaycee Horn
  8. EDGE Jaelan Phillips
  9. WR Devonta Smith
  10. OL Rashawn Slater
  11. OL Teven Jenkins
  12. CB Patrick Surtain
  13. OT Penei Sewell
  14. LB Micah Parsons
  15. WR Elijah Moore
  16. QB Zach Wilson
  17. 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 OL Teven Jenkins

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

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is'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
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1 year ago

Thanks for sharing Jon, very insightful! I am very excited for the draft.
In case anyone cares, I prepared my own top70 big board. I most likely did not spend as much time on mine as Jon did, but still looked at All-22 tape from the vast majority on my board, thus am not only influenced by YouTube highlights ;)

Reply to  BucLife
1 year ago

Good for you! I’ve never done a big board, always just positional rankings with an internal knowledge of how I’d rank most players relative to others.

Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

A big board with all position groups is a bit inaccurate because I didn’t nearly spend an equal amount of time scouting all positions. My film study on LBs WRs, QBs and Safteys was limited to be honest, but I watched quite a lot of OL, DL, Edge and Corner. But I do always like to do the Big Board as a visual reference.
What are your positional rankings? Maybe you can put some of these guys on the draftnetwork bigboard creater too, I would be curious to see your take on guys.

1 year ago

So Tryon is No.59 on the board and you guys have him going at 32? I think Jason Licht is a better GM than that lol

Reply to  Charlie
1 year ago

That’s the first thing that caught my eye. I saw Toney with a third round grade too, yet every mock I see has him in the top 20. This is suspect at best….

Reply to  Gatorbait36
1 year ago

It’s suspect because it varies from the draft media consensus? That’s an interesting conclusion, lol. What value would an overarching opinion on the draft be if it just conformed to every cookie cutter opinion you’ve already seen? Anyone whoa actually does an honest, informed dive on prospects is going to come away liking some players more than most do and disliking others more than most do.

Reply to  Charlie
1 year ago

It’s like real estate…..they are worth what somebody is willing to pay regardless of value to others.

Reply to  Theydidwhat
1 year ago

ESPN has Tryon at # 37 overall

Reply to  Theydidwhat
1 year ago

I think that’s too high myself. I’m more in-line with Ledyard’s ranking than with that one. I’d be happy with Tryon at 64, but even there, I wouldn’t be crazy excited about him. Him at 32 has started to become my worst case likely scenario for this draft. I REALLY hope we don’t take him. Which isn’t to say that I’m right. The last first rounder I really wanted us to avoid to this extent was Vita. I actually posted on social media hours before that draft that above all else, I just didn’t want to take him. Then again,… Read more »

1 year ago

Thanks John for the analysis. I have no clue who Bucs will pick. I am having enough issue with the concept of “need” versus “want”. If I am the Bucs, I wouldn’t trade up; maybe down, but I doubt there would be takers. If it’s not a QB want/need, then it’s BPA; as to who that would be, good luck. Go Bucs! Keep the dream alive.