Regrading the 2021 First Round Draft Class

Regrading the 2021 First Round Draft Class

by October 14, 2021 0 comments

There have been five weeks gone by, in what is easily the most consuming sport in the world. The main reason it is so consuming is that it is also one of the shortest professional seasons, where fans get large amounts of data and narratives and have to draw conclusions from them. With that said, three notable lessons stick out from the first five weeks, which have guided these grades. (1) Rookie head coaches and rookie first-round picks have significant learning curves which influence their performances (with the exception of Brandon Staley). (2) First-year cornerbacks and offensive linemen are difficult to play at a high level, with the exception of a few who are aided by the scheme. (3) This edge-rusher class has the potential to be an all-time class, as many rookies are already playing really well. 

You can find the next part of this series here.

Moreover, since 2020, this scale has been the guideline for the Author’s analysis on grading each draft class. When assigning each grade, readers should understand that each grade is based on three factors: (1) the play of the individual, (2) the usage by the coach, and (3) the respected value of each player for where they were drafted. There have been some updates on the grading scale, including where the player projects – are they an all-pro player, do they belong in the average tier, or are they bad.  As for the Grading Scale, I’ve illustrated what each grade means:

Grading Scale for NFL 2021 Rookies

A+

Looks like a franchise player, high end contributor and All-pro player

C+

Could be a good contributor , remains to be seen. Somewhat promising. Troubling that there has been no success on the field, with limited flashes. Significant problems with coaching or limited opportunities may factor into this grade.

A

High expectation for next year, borderline franchise player, and should be pro bowler as a rookie.

C

Worrying pick, kind of like the 70-74 grade on Madden when they have reached year three. 

A-

Great pick, extremely promising player with franchise or pro bowl upside. 

C-

Borderline bad pick, unjustifiable process.

B+

Good pick, promising player who is making a difference for the team. Upside ranges from all-pro to above average traits. 

D+

Baaaddddd pick.

B

A fine contributor, who has shown inconsistent flashes, but a promising pick. Shows upside on the team. Player has been put into a place to succeed 

D

“this is fine meme”

B-

Good value of pick with promise, however has been inconsistent on the field.  Problems with coaching or limited opportunities may factor into this grade

F

Bad as in light the draft card used on the player on fire. Ah…

Click here if you want to see the rationale and analysis on the first draft grades of the 2021 season.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

One of the categories of analysis is coaching usage and it is evident that Urban Meyer is a distraction. Aside from Meyer, Lawrence has been excellent three out of five weeks, where his mobility and ability to throw on the run have stood out. Lawrence looks to be everything and more in the past two games and is basically the lone bright spot on this football team. The first two games were characterized by late throws and bad reads. Whereas the last three games were littered with special plays which showed the potential Lawrence has. 

Don’t be fooled by big-name media pundits who don’t watch Jacksonville games, he has been one of the best players on this offense and is getting better every week. His accuracy, diagnosing/reading of the plays, and mobility have all translated. The major aspect that needs to translate is that the speed of the game needs to slow down, then we will see a generational quarterback make a full transition. Lawrence has been fun to watch and will only get better, he may have a chance to lead a poor franchise into some relevancy. He gets the B+ grade as fans have seen two poor games where he had to throw deep to comeback and three games of high-end consistency. 

Grade After the Draft: A+

Grade After Week 5: B+

2. New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Like Meyer, Robert Saleh being a first-time head coach is having a few bumps (without the controversy of course). In five weeks there has been lots of promise with Wilson’s play. Similar to Lawrence there have been ups and downs, but to a higher degree. The low end has not been great, throwing five interceptions his second start. The Author’s analysis for Wilson was he needed a year to sit behind a veteran and adapt to the speed and get better at progressing through reads.

While he did not sit, the problems have shown up. Footwork and some rushed mechanics have had a cascading effect. These issues influence ball placement and in-structure plays, both of which are highly problematic. It has hindered the offense, prevented scoring plays, and also caused turnovers. However, it is possible to work and fix some of these problems with experience and development. 

It is clear the play-making ability is there. In Week Four, Wilson’s flashy high-upside play was on display, leading clutch drives where he needed to make throws and extend plays. He was part of the reason the Jets won in overtime. Overall, the potential is significant and the out-of-structure plays and off-platform throws give Wilson the chance to make any play a scoring play. The B+ grade is a mix of the first two games along with the last three, which have been up and down but have had some significant flashes. 

Grade After the Draft: A-

Grade After Week 5: B+

3. San Francisco 49ers (via Miami Dolphins from Houston Texans) – Trey Lance, QB, South Dakota

Lance’s evaluation is extremely complex for various reasons, but the first is the limited number of snaps. With one full game start, there is still a lot to see from Lance who had most of the questions of the first three quarterbacks drafted. However, of the limited snaps played, the traits that made analysts excited are showing. His pocket mobility and presence, while keeping his eye down the field is illustrated game in, and game out. 

In his first full start, he took unnecessary hits. Moreover, some poor ball placement and missed reads prevented big plays. Yet the Author is somewhat optimistic with this performance largely due to the command of the offense, special rushing ability, and expanded offense. So while things might not look pretty, there will be growing pains. The B grade is largely due to seeing flashes in limited snaps. 

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: B

4. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida 

This grade is an indictment on Arthur Smith and the lack of opportunity Pitts is getting. There was clear mismanagement by Smith surrounding how to utilize his top tight end more effectively. Pitts needs more plays where he is the first read or where there is a clear mismatch. However, his game against the Jets was a coming-out party, the talent was always there.

The talent is evident for Pitts, as any time he makes a catch the announcers discuss how much he looks like a wide receiver because of his movement skills. The speed, burst, and quickness have all translated to his route running and are absolutely special. The contested catch ability needs some improvement but has flashed. There are some growing pains including the adjustment of catching through contact, but overall the talent continues to be there in spurts. Pitts just needs more opportunities to showcase his talent. 

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: B

5. Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU  

(Note from the Author: One analysis of mine was that Chase was a generational prospect and will break Justin Jefferson‘s rookie yardage record. So I’ll admit there is *some* bias here.)

With my note in place, a purely objective analysis is simple – Chase has been the best offensive player from this draft this year. He has been a game-changer for the Bengals offense and is one of the reasons they have won three games. Despite a conservative offense that has limited Joe Burrow in depth of target and downfield throws, Chase has capitalized on a limited number of targets. 

When push comes to shove, Burrow trusts Chase the most. The physicality along with speed makes him a threat for short plays. In addition, the chemistry shows game to game, especially when Burrow scrambles for more time, and then finds Chase downfield. Overall, the top receiver taken in the draft is the early lead for offensive rookie of the year and looks to be an elite receiver already. He is currently one of two players with an A grade, and deservingly so. 

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: A

6. Miami Dolphins (via Philadelphia Eagles) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama 

The process of this pick remains questionable, giving up a 2022 first-round pick which is currently a high top-ten pick. Waddle also will be compared with his Alabama counterpart DeVonta Smith who was the 12th pick, where Miami was. Therefore, more analysis will be comparing the two side by side. Year to year, one may be better than the other statistically. 

However, Waddle looks like a high-end wide receiver who may not be a target hog, but someone who gets chunks of yardage. It’s evident that Waddle is a game-changing type player, yet the Dolphins offense isn’t affording him the best opportunities. He needs to factor in more and have more manufactured touches. The speed and run after catch is there, and is extremely special and isn’t being fully utilized. In time (and with a healthy quarterback), he will be able to illustrate his highlight reel ability. If the development of his route tree goes as planned, Waddle could be special for Miami for a long time. A B grade is fitting, as he’s shown flashes and could very well be a special player. 

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: B

7. Detroit Lions – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Sewell has given up 21 pressures in his first five games, which is not good. The expectation versus reality of Sewell is important to address for this analysis. The expectation was he was a generational prospect and would hit the ground running (which the Author echoed as well). However, the reality is Sewell played really well at 19, but still had things he needed to improve with his pass blocking technique. The overall refinement is not there, but Sewell just turned 21 on October 9th and still has significant potential. 

Moreover, the natural athleticism has been on display in the run game, and in some pass sets. While the nuance of left tackle isn’t there in his game yet, these are things that will improve. Year one likely wouldn’t be pretty, but we should see gradual improvement throughout the year. The B- grade is given as Sewell hasn’t been good, but gradual development could see him improve significantly to reach his franchise tackle upside.

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: B-

8. Carolina Panthers – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Horn was on his way to being the Defensive Rookie of the Year, but a broken foot will prevent experience against top-end receivers. The B+ grade isn’t an indictment of talent, but just a lack of reps. He needed to play more to get that A- grade, which is what he was at before the injury. That said, the play before the injury was borderline – leave him on an island and let him blanket a receiver the whole game – which is extremely promising. Horn could very easily be the best player on this team in a year or two, even better than their best defender, Brian Burns

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade After Week 5: B+

9. Denver Broncos – Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama

The Broncos may have found a top ten cornerback in Surtain. His match and mirror ability in man coverage and quickness is much better than expected and has allowed him to be effective with one on ones. He could very well be on an island consistently at the end of the year, as the long-speed concerns have been better than expected. In zone coverage, Surtain has been exactly as advertised, strong, good closing quickness, and nice ball skills to pressure receivers into catching it with contact. 

Surtain should be the front runner for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. The A- grade is high praise, and while Bronco fans may wonder why an A isn’t given. As per the grading chart, he has to be playing at the top of his position to be given an A. While he may not be a pro bowler/all-pro player this year, it could be in the cards next year at the pace of his development. 

Grade After the Draft: B+

Grade After Week 5: A-

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via Dallas Cowboys) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The question all offseason was, can Smith hold up against NFL caliber defenders? To elaborate, the strength element is complex for receivers, so in short, can the player catch through contact (not the same as contested catches), and can they maintain their speed through contact. For Smith, he has proven both are a part of his arsenal of tools. His ability to modulate his speed assists him when playing through contact. Catching through contact and hand-eye coordination along with hand strength (ability to pluck the ball out of the air) have made a difference when securing the ball. 

The route running has translated which isn’t surprising considering how effective he was at generating separation through nuance and body control. His catching ability has been stellar all the way through and has made him a reliable chain mover on third down and a big-play threat. Overall, Smith has illustrated the strength needed to succeed, thus the B+ grade is warranted. The grade will increase if the production goes up, as the targets have been there. 

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade After Week 5: B+

11. Chicago Bears (via New York Giants) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The fact that Fields has assisted this team in winning is a good sign of things to come. Fields’ baseline rushing and mobility gives the offense a higher floor. By extending the play, he is able to have a few more mistakes, as he is able to pick up easy yardage scrambling when things go wrong. Moreover, the arm talent is notable with his deep passing and overall accuracy/ball placement. 

Fields has been great despite perhaps the worst offensive line in all of football. Thus this grade takes into account him overcoming the terrible play calling of Matt Nagy, horrendous offensive line, and lack of support in separation from his weapons (which is partly Nagy’s fault). At first, this grade was a C+ as the time it took Fields to diagnose and read the play along with the offensive line was a recipe for disaster. However, his ability to improve and elevate a bad offense is deserving of a B+ grade. With all that said, the Author is extremely nervous about the development of Fields for the future, as his pocket presence may become disjointed, where (similar to Baker Mayfield his second year) he may feel phantom pressure. 

Grade After the Draft: A+

Grade After Week 5: B+

12. Dallas Cowboys – Micah Parsons, LB(/EDGE), Penn State

(Note: The Author criticized this pick heavily as it didn’t look like there was a way onto the field. Obviously, with the release of Jaylon Smith, Parsons will only be on the field more.)

Parsons’ analysis is interesting, as he had a position change which shows his versatility. He is not great in coverage which was on display from Week 1 to Week 3. He doesn’t have the natural coverage ability and tends to be put in a bad position – as all rookie linebackers are. But, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has adapted and allowed Parsons to do what he’s good at – run and chase and rush the passer. 

Parsons’ natural athleticism is on display week after week in the run game. His speed and power make him difficult to block on outside runs and in the box. Moreover, he’s been extremely effective as an edge rusher. The grade gets a B+, as the coaching staff has adapted and put Parsons into a position to succeed with what he’s good at. On the inverse, Parsons himself has been much better than anticipated and is consistently making plays. 

Grade After the Draft: B-

Grade After Week 5: B+

13. Los Angeles Chargers –  Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern 

In Week 1, Slater managed Chase Young and was all the rage. Along with Ja’Marr Chase, he’s been the second-best player from the first round. His pass protection is extremely fluid where he’s able to control edge rushers better than expected. He gave up his most pressures (four) against Myles Garrett and the rest of the Cleveland Browns but did not look out of place as a left tackle. His play has been consistent snap to snap in the run and pass game, even against good pass rushers like Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Washington’s Young, among others.

The crazy thing is that Slater continues to improve game to game with an awareness of his position. If awards could be given to offensive tackles for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Slater would be in competition with Cincinnati’s Chase. 

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: A

14. New York Jets (via Minnesota Vikings) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC 

To be frank, Vera-Tucker has been under fire for his games as a starting guard in Weeks 1 to Week 3. Some analysis suggests Vera-Tucker has been really bad. While trading up for a guard was not a great process, Vera-tucker since Week 3 has significantly improved his play and made strides. His run blocking has always been a translatable trait with the power to drive defensive tackles back along with nice balance and hand power. 

The pass blocking was a concern, but that could improve with the strength to anchor and hand usage/placement. Overall, to be decent like Vera-Tucker for two out of five games is impressive and is an indicator that he should be a great player for years to come. He gets a B as the process of trading two picks for a guard is a bad process, but the player himself has been good. 

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade After Week 5: B

15. New England Patriots – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

The question of Jones is if he can elevate his receivers and offensive line. This idea of elevating the players around Jones is a common question for most quarterbacks and has some questions for the offensive line and receivers. For the offensive line – can he extend plays, navigate the pocket effectively, and get the ball out quickly? For receivers, can he place the ball in a spot that gives them a run-after-catch opportunity or get a first down or touchdown? Jones has been hit-and-miss delivering the ball consistently in a place that affords his receivers the opportunities to make plays. That aside, he doesn’t have the legs to extend plays, but he’s been effectively helping his offensive line with his maneuverability and pocket mobility. 

The stats are somewhat flashy, but the reality is Jones has one of the lowest depths of target and has been a game manager thus far. There have been downfield throws, but Jones really operates in the short-to-intermediate area. Overall, Jones has the potential to lead this offense and be an effective pocket passer. He’s able to diagnose defensive schemes effectively as a rookie and progress through his reads. While the accuracy hasn’t quite been there, his play has been somewhat encouraging, and relative to expectations so he earns a B grade. 

Grade After the Draft: B+

Grade After Week 5: B

16. Arizona Cardinals – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa 

To be blunt, this was initially given a poor grade from the Author, largely due to coaching staff and a lack of creative use of Collins from Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph. The Isaiah Simmons project was a scary one, in which the Author thought Collins would get the same treatment. However, the coaching staff is actually giving him snaps where Collins is able to explode off the ball and make plays run and chasing. His ability to sift through the traffic and play strong through contact is evident as he is in on many tackles. 

He has not been involved in blitzing much with only seven pass-rushing snaps, but the run defense and zone coverage have been encouraging. Collins gets a B grade as he’s been good, but he is still scratching the surface of his potential. 

Grade After the Draft: C+

Grade After Week 5: B

17. Las Vegas Raiders – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

Analysts called this pick a reach, where Leatherwood needed to see some development time before being a full-time starter. The Author had Leatherwood ranked in the top 20 as there was a belief he could start at guard then make the transition to tackle his second or third year. The Raiders elected to have him start at right tackle and it hasn’t worked out. The traits that need to be developed are his balance in pass sets and hand placement/power. Both should improve more as the year goes on.

Leatherwood has had a number of rough match-ups and hasn’t played all that well. In the run game, he’s solid and has the power to be a difference-maker. In the pass game, there have been limited flashes on what he can do, as his balance and hand power have not been great. And when he does have a good rep, he’s penalized. He leads the league in penalties with eight and has allowed five sacks through five weeks. The pick gets a C+ grade as Leatherwood has been really bad, and the good flashes have come with penalizes. 

Grade After the Draft: C+

Grade After Week 5: C+

18. Miami Dolphins – Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami

Many analysts considered Phillips to be the top edge rusher in this draft, however, injuries – major concussions where he medically retired – were a concern. Five weeks into the season, Phillips looks to have regained his smooth form. His pass-rushing moves were unrefined, where the body control, fluidity of his movements, and power made him a high upside player. The sky was always the limit for Phillips, and the development and refinement of pass-rushing moves could make him a superstar.

Crazy enough, with the unpolished moves he already has two sacks in a total of 11 pressures in 121 pass-rushing snaps. While these aren’t dominant stats, they show Phillips has potential. Philips has been a fine player for the Dolphins, however, the Author believes Phillips is just scratching the surface of his potential. There haven’t been any flashy moves, but consistent high motor play justifies a B grade.

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade After Week 5: B

19. Washington Football Team – Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

It has been a typical rookie linebacker year for Davis. He’s been up and down with his play, getting beat in man coverage but is gradually improving his zone awareness. Davis has nice instincts and recognition in zone coverage, but the speed of the game is taking some time to get used to. In the run defense, there have been high-end flashes with his athleticism.

Overall, Davis is being put into a position to make some plays and needs to improve and adapt to the speed of the game. The grade gets a B-, as Davis has some development to go to be impactful to this defense. Linebacker is quickly becoming a difficult position as offenses are putting them in hard positions, so with some experience, Davis should get better. 

Grade After the Draft: A-

Grade After Week 5: B-

20. New York Giants (via CHI) – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Why did the coaching staff not give the first-round rookie more games? In two games, fans have seen what could be. He’s a jitterbug and lightning on the field. The quickness and short-area burst allow Toney to turn defensive backs around, while also being able to break routes off. Toney has significant upside and it is evident by the best stats in all of Week 5: 13 targets for ten receptions, 189 yards AND one punch, one ejection. This is part of the overall concern with Toney, he has some off-field issues which may show themselves on the field. 

Overall, the Author teetered between a C+ and B-, and settled at B- largely because he’s started two-game and was ejected from that same game. He has the talent to be the best receiver on this team by the end of the year and should end up with a higher grade if he continues to play well. 

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade After Week 5: B-

21. Indianapolis Colts – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

After the first two weeks, Paye was ruled out and in essence received an injury grade. There weren’t enough snaps to really say what Paye will be. He is an extremely great athlete who had some nice pass rushing moves and was getting better every week. On field play could vault him high on the grading scale but as for now, a C+ is awarded. 

Grade After the Draft: A+

Grade After Week 5: C+

22. Tennessee Titans – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

The injuries were worrying for Farley who had issues that made him miss some offseason work that may have limited his development. This was the type of risk the Titans took when they selected him. To an extent, it has not worked out, but it is early.

Moreover, the problem right now is Farley could have rested one more game instead of playing full time against the Jaguars. With one game played, the Titans seemed to rush him back from injury to cover… Tavon Austin…? The pick is a C+ grade so far and should improve if he gets healthy. 

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade After Week 5: C+

23. Minnesota Vikings (via New York Jets from Seattle Seahawks) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Darrisaw was expected to be out a majority of the year, but ended up being healthy enough last week for a few snaps. Darrisaw played one game and rotated snaps with Rashod Hill. He wasn’t bad, which is high praise for a rookie offensive tackle. Yet the limited number of snaps make this hard to give above a C+ grade. However, Darrisaw could easily have a much higher grade if his play continues. 

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: C+

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

This is a perplexing pick, as drafting a running back in the first round is a bad process. But, it’s clear Harris is an extremely talented back, capable of putting up elite stats. On the other hand, the offense is so ineffective due to a poor offensive tackle duo and a young interior group which could have been a pick here. 

The majority of readers already know that running back in the first is bad as it’s a highly replaceable position. However, the receiving skill set of Harris is not replaceable and brings value. Harris has legitimate ball skills and can split out wide as a receiver. He brings a nice element which puts defenses on edge. The receiving skills set makes this a B grade. 

Grade After the Draft: B-

Grade After Week 5: B

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson / (Analyzing pick #33, Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia)

Nothing but brutal honesty, Travis Etienne may have been one of the worst picks in the draft, largely due to the value and replaceability of running backs. In addition, the position also has among the highest injury rates for active starters, as they touch the ball and take hits almost every play. The pick deserves an F due to process and needs alone, not the talent of Etienne. Moreover, a lisfranc injury will be extremely difficult for Etienne to come back from.

That aside, Campbell was drafted at 33, and is close to a first-round pick, so he gets an analysis. Simply put, Campbell’s concerns are the exact same as in college, he struggles at the catch point, yet maintains tight coverage. He’s always in the position to make a play, yet just doesn’t have the instincts to make it happen. 

So far he’s being roasted week to week, but at least the ball skills and catch point can be developed. If he does develop, this could be a significant hit. As it stands, being a starting rookie cornerback is trial by fire, there has been some flashes, but very inconsistent. C+ is justified as Campbell needs to find the ball in the air before he gets a higher grade. 

Grade After Week 5: C+

26. Cleveland Browns – Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

It’s too bad Newsome has had some injuries that have taken him off the field, as he’s been really good as a rookie. In three games he’s only been targeted seven times, which highlights how outstanding he’s been as a rookie. The man and zone instincts and reaction has been really great and has helped Newsome translate to the NFL. With all that said, a B is the highest grade as he’s only played three games. With more play, Newsome should see a higher grade. 

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: B

27. Baltimore Ravens – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Bateman has yet to play a snap in the NFL. A groin injury has kept him out for five weeks now and he is expected to return by Week 6 or Week 7. Bateman was a really great player in college who had the traits to make a transition to the NFL, his return should help the Ravens’ passing offense. The C+ is assigned to players who have sustained injuries who will return. 

Grade After the Draft: A

Grade After Week 5: C+

28. New Orleans Saints – Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston

The process of this pick is really intelligent by Mickie Loomis, largely because edge rushers are commanding insane amounts of money. Drafting an edge rusher late in the first round allows you to have a cheap pass rusher for four years, and a 5th year if they are good. Each week Turner has been effective at rushing the passer on a limited basis. This does two things, allows him to be fresh so he can give 100%, but also gives other defensive linemen rest. Ultimately, giving Turner more and more reps will allow him to make improvements on hand usage. 

With all that said, Turner was widely considered a reach, and comparing him to the next three edge rushers, he has been good but not as impactful as they have. I’ve given him a B- as the limited snaps have been up and down – which is okay as he’s nice flashes. 

Grade After the Draft: C+

Grade After Week 5: B-

29. Green Bay Packers – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

Trial by fire is a term often used for cornerbacks in their first year. Stokes has experienced a difficult slate which will likely get hard due to Jaire Alexander injury. He has shown improvement game to game, and advances in his understanding of the Packers scheme. Stokes’ speed and instincts that were prevalent in college are showing up, and was apparent during the first five games.

It is somewhat encouraging to see performances like in the Steelers game where he had 15 targets against and only gave up ten catches for 82 yards while having an interception. He still got beat on a number of routes – some not thrown his way – but he is still adapting to the speed of the NFL. Overall, Stokes has been inconsistent most weeks and is given a B- as fans have seen high end flashes, and some poor reps. His play should improve and become more consistent as the season progresses. 

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade After Week 5: B- 

30. Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

Rousseau was successful using the long arm and leverage moves in college just as they’ve been successful in the NFL. What’s underrated is the body control of Rousseau which helped him learn the edge position. He was an opt-out last year, and it is clear he was able to refine his ability to play with length. In college, he was a bully who could just get around linemen with effort and a little technique. Now in his first year, fans are seeing the same motor which helped him get 15.5 sacks in 2019, mixed with speed to power, long arm moves, and a bull rush, all of which are being refined week to week. 

The arrow is pointed up for Rousseau and the analysis with Rousseau compared to the next two edge rushers will be interesting. Rousseau gets a B+, as the potential is significant and he has had an impact on each game.

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade after Week 5: B+

31. Baltimore Ravens (via Kansas City Chiefs) – Odafe Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

There are two aspects to this trade that show how brilliant the Ravens’ front office is. The first is trading an offensive tackle for which you can replace (albeit injuries have stifled some plays but Lamar Jackson is still making it work). The second is Oweh has the highest potential out of any of the edge rushers this year. He had zero sacks, but a few quarterback hits and pressures last year in college and many analysts felt he needed to finish in order to be a good pick. Perhaps one of the biggest differences is the Ravens are allowing him to go after the quarterback, and not top the run first or contain quarterbacks instead of going after them. 

The Author had Oweh extremely high on the big board, due to Oweh’s tools and world-class athleticism. In the first five games, the traits, tools, and athleticism have translated, and the Ravens are giving him every chance to use them. He’s still polishing up his pass-rushing tools and hand usage and could stand to improve his run defending. Yet he can still out ‘athlete’ other NFL players and beat them with speed, burst, power, etc. If Oweh’s development occurs right, he could very well be the steal of the draft. 

Grade After the Draft: B

Grade After Week 5: B+

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joe Tryon, EDGE/OLB, Washington

Tyron had very little consensus about him in the pre-draft process as he sat out the 2020 season and was mildly impactful at Washington. However, reports suggest he completely transformed his body during his time off, and it is translating on the field. His quickness and power are like a level-up in a video game. His pass-rushing moves are also better than expected, as his use of hands, quickness, and speed to power all give him a choice on how he wants to beat offensive tackles.

The only thing holding him back is the limited number of pass-rushing snaps and some run defending block shedding. On 98 pass-rushing snaps, he has 11 pressures, which is insane. The B+ grade is somewhat justified as the high-end flashes are there and started to occur more and more. 

Grade After the Draft: C+

Grade After Week 5: B+


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Contributor for Prime Time Sports Talk for the NFL. Covering the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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