Redrafting the 2021 NFL Rookie Class

We’re almost through the 2021 NFL season, and while it’s too early to make any definitive claims about this rookie class, we certainly know more about these players than we did in April. Would the Jaguars still take Trevor Lawrence #1 overall? How does Mac Jones’s incredible rookie season shake up the quarterback class? Those are the questions I looked to answer with this redraft, and I’m excited to break down the picks. Let’s dive in.

Jacksonville Jaguars

#1: Jacksonville Jaguars

QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

It’s hard to know what we have in Trevor Lawrence after his rookie season has mostly been derailed by awful coaching by Urban Meyer, injuries to key offensive pieces, and a lack of consistent offensive line blocking, all in an environment mired by dysfunction. However, we haven’t seen enough to suggest the pre-draft evaluation on Lawrence was incorrect, and the Jaguars likely make the same decision if presented with the choice to redo the first overall pick.

New York Jets

#2: New York Jets

QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Before the draft, I had Fields and Lawrence alone in the top tier of quarterback prospects, and I was surprised to see him fall as far as he did. Pre-draft concerns over a lack of pocket presence and accuracy inconsistency were overblown. I’m not suggesting Zach Wilson can’t become a quality starter in the NFL, but I love the upside of Fields as a mobile, big-play quarterback who has the obvious arm talent and is starting to get more comfortable with the pace of the NFL week by week.

San Francisco 49ers

#3: San Francisco 49ers

QB Mac Jones, Alabama

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Mac Jones before the draft, and I have to admit I was wrong. His poise, pocket presence, field vision, and decision-making have stood out so far, and the 49ers would be a Super Bowl contender with Jones as their starting quarterback for years to come with the excellent level of talent they possess on both sides of the ball. It’s too early to give up on Trey Lance, but Jones will be a quality starter for a long time.

Atlanta Falcons

#4: Atlanta Falcons

LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Not only is Parsons a lock for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, but he’s also a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate and looks like he will be for the next decade. The Falcons desperately need some identity on defense, and Parsons would immediately become their best player on that end of the field. Kyle Pitts will be an offensive star for Atlanta, but Parsons would have made more of an impact.

Cincinnati Bengals

#5: Cincinnati Bengals

WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU

The Bengals faced a ton of criticism for not using this selection on an offensive tackle, namely Penei Sewell, the first time around, but in hindsight, they made the right pick. Ja’Marr Chase’s college chemistry with Joe Burrow has translated to the pro game right away, and he’s in the midst of a historically productive rookie season. He will be a perennial Pro Bowler at wide receiver for a long time.

Miami Dolphins

#6: Miami Dolphins

TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

While the Dolphins certainly don’t regret selecting Jaylen Waddle, who is set to break the record for most catches in a rookie season, with this pick, but given the opportunity to choose Pitts, they would run to the draft podium to redo this selection. Pitts hasn’t been consistently productive in his rookie season, but teams have been double-teaming him every week, and he would be a fantastic fit with Tua Tagovailoa.

Detroit Lions

#7: Detroit Lions

OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

Looking back, I don’t hate Detroit’s decision to build through the trenches with an offensive tackle rather than selecting a quarterback with this pick. Still, it’s possible they chose the wrong offensive tackle. Rashawn Slater is a year and a half older than Penei Sewell, so it’s not shocking that he has been more polished right away, but he’s been one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL over the past month, and it’s up for debate whether or not Sewell ever gets to that point.

Carolina Panthers

#8: Carolina Panthers

QB Zach Wilson, BYU

With Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and P.J. Walker derailing the Panthers’ playoff hops, Carolina would surely love the opportunity to add young talent at the position in Zach Wilson. I have concerns about Wilson’s inability to make the easy play and take what the defense is giving him, but the big-play arm talent is there, and he has incredible upside moving forward.

Denver Broncos

#9 Denver Broncos

OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

The Broncos have certainly been thrilled with their investment in Patrick Surtain with this pick. Still, it’s difficult to see them passing up the opportunity to add a dynamic rookie tackle to form an elite book-end pairing with Garret Bolles. Denver still needs a quarterback, but there aren’t any on the board worth taking with this pick.

Philadelphia Eagles

#10: Philadelphia Eagles

WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

Is it possible to have too many Jalens on one roster? That’s the biggest question the Eagles would have to answer with this pick, as there’s no question that Waddle is already an incredible talent at wide receiver. Jalen Hurts still has the college connection with Waddle that he does with DeVonta Smith, and I’d give Waddle the slight edge now based on what we’ve seen so far this season.

Chicago Bears

#11: Chicago Bears

C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma

The Chiefs landing Humphrey in the second round is ludicrous in hindsight as he’s already one of the best centers in the NFL – PFF rates him first at the position by a sizable margin. Chicago doesn’t have the opportunity to land Justin Fields in this re-draft. Still, they can shore up the interior of their offensive line to continue to build a better situation for their franchise quarterback when they do find that player.

Dallas Cowboys

#12: Dallas Cowboys

CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

Micah Parsons doesn’t fall nearly this far in the re-draft, but Patrick Surtain would be an excellent value in his own right at this position. Surtain has looked fantastic in his rookie season with Denver and has acclimated to the NFL much faster than most rookies we’ve seen. It will be tough for Jaycee Horn to return from his injury and prove Carolina right for not making Surtain the first cornerback off the board.

Los Angeles Chargers

#13: Los Angeles Chargers

OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

The Chargers don’t get the luxury of selecting Rashawn Slater here, but Alijah Vera-Tucker has quietly looked fantastic for the Jets this season, and he would get to stay in Los Angeles in this scenario. It was brilliant for this team to invest in its offensive line this offseason, and Vera-Tucker has the flexibility to play across the line at several positions.

New York Jets

#14: New York Jets

CB Jayce Horn, South Carolina

While the Jets have many weaknesses, perhaps the most glaring has been in the pass defense. Jaycee Horn suffered a broken foot in the Panthers’ third game of the season, so he gets an incomplete grade for his work so far, but teams fell in love with him before the draft as a lanky, athletic press corner, and he would help the Jets immensely long-term.

New England Patriots

#15: New England Patriots

QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

There may not be two more different quarterback prospects than Mac Jones and Trey Lance, but the Patriots have proven they have the coaching know-how and confidence to build a system for a variety of different talents. Lance would have the opportunity to progress quickly in his career, learning from Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels the way Mac Jones has.

Arizona Cardinals

#16: Arizona Cardinals

LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

Zaven Collins has looked decent in his rookie season. Still, I was pounding the table for Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in this spot during the draft, and I’ll get him to Arizona in this scenario. Owusu-Koramoah has already been a tremendous run defender this year despite his more diminutive stature that teams thought would hold him back, and he’s going to be one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL.

Oakland Raiders

#17: Las Vegas Raiders

WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

I’ll end the slide for the 2020 Heisman winner here, and don’t get it twisted – the top of this draft is immensely talented, and Smith falling to this spot says more about the quality in this class than his lack of production. The Raiders need another pass-catcher with Henry Ruggs off the team and Darren Waller struggling to stay healthy, and it’s easy to see how Smith would be a perfect fit with Derek Carr.

Miami Dolphins

#18: Miami Dolphins

DL Jaelan Phillips, Miami

Most Dolphins’ fans weren’t thrilled with the team’s selection of Jaelan Phillips, but fast-forward a few months, and the former #1 recruit in the 2017 class has transformed into an excellent professional pass-rusher. Phillips started the year slow, but he has seven sacks during the Dolphins’ five-game win streak and consistently caused opposing quarterbacks problems.

washington football team 1

#19: Washington Football Team

S Jevon Holland, Oregon

The Dolphins also landed Holland, a standout safety who would be a definitive first-round pick in a potential redraft. Holland has used his sturdy frame, ball-tracking capability, and tenacious tendencies to become a heavy-hitting pass breakup specialist. He looks like a long-term starter for Miami at a critical safety position. Washington could use a player like Holland in its struggling pass defense.

New York Giants

#20: New York Giants

EDGE Kwity Paye, Michigan

The selection of Kadarius Toney in this position has worked out better for the Giants than most would have expected. Still, given the opportunity to reconsider, Kwity Paye would have been an excellent addition to the team’s defensive front. Paye hasn’t been ultra-consistent in his rookie season, but his quick-twitch athleticism and relentless motor have shined in Indianapolis, and he has excellent long-term potential.

Indianpolis Colts

#21: Indianapolis Colts

EDGE Odafe Oweh, Penn State

The Colts miss out on Kwity Paye by just one pick in this scenario, but they take the next-best thing in Odafe Oweh, who has made some massive game-winning plays for Baltimore this year. Oweh has tons of untapped potential with his mind-blowing speed, and he’s already proving to be a consistent pass-rushing presence despite not having a fully developed tool kit.

Tennessee Titans

#22: Tennessee Titans

CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State

Initially, the Titans used this pick on Caleb Farley, but he’s dealt with a knee injury this year, and his spotty injury history likely should have pushed him out of the first round the first time around. However, the Titans still go with a cornerback in this scenario. Asante Samuel Jr. has arguably become the Chargers’ top cornerback and would help Tennessee’s struggling pass defense immensely.

Minnesota Vikings

#23: Minnesota Vikings

OG Trey Smith, Tennessee

The Chiefs had a slam-dunk draft pick when they scooped up Trey Smith in the sixth round, and former concerns over blood clots have not prevented him from making a massive impact in his rookie season. Of course, it’s hard to know the real medical risk for Smith moving forward, but if that’s out of the picture, he’s an easy first-round selection for a Vikings team in need of offensive line help.

Pittsburgh Steelers

#24: Pittsburgh Steelers

RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina

The Steelers used this selection on a running back the first time around to take some pressure off the aging Ben Roethlisberger, but I believe Javonte Williams is the more talented prospect than Najee Harris. Williams is incredibly elusive and has a ridiculous broken tackles rate, both of which would help him a ton as a rookie behind a poor Pittsburgh offensive line.

Jacksonville Jaguars

#25: Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss

Jacksonville needs a #1 wide receiver to support its franchise investment in Trevor Lawrence, and nabbing Elijah Moore here should be a no-brainer. Before a quadriceps injury potentially ending his season, Moore was on a torrid stretch of five touchdowns in five games and 78.4 receiving yards per game over that span.

Cleveland Browns

#26: Cleveland Browns

CB Greg Newsome II, Northwester

At a certain point, I need to learn to stop doubting Cleveland in draft evaluation, and they pulled a rabbit out of a hat again with this pick. Newsome has formed an excellent cornerback duo with Denzel Ward right away in his rookie season, and the rookie out of Northwestern should stick around as a vital part of the Browns’ defense for years to come.

Baltimore Ravens

#27: Baltimore Ravens

WR Kadarius Toney, Florida

Draft pundits disparaged the Giants for drafting Toney in the first round, but he flashed elite ability in a 10-catch, 189-yard performance against a tough Dallas defense with Mike Glennon at quarterback. Rashod Bateman has had some great moments in his rookie season, but judging based on what I’ve seen from both players so far in the NFL, I’d rather have Toney moving forward.

New Orleans Saints

#28: New Orleans Saints

DT Christian Barmore, Alabama

After going ten spots lower than this in the original draft, you can easily argue Barmore deserves to be going even ten spots higher than at #28. Barmore has been electric as a rookie for the Patriots, and while this isn’t necessarily a need-based pick for the Saints with elite run defense, Barmore fits into their 4-3 scheme quite nicely.

Green Bay Packers

#29: Green Bay Packers

TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State

It’s rare for rookie tight ends to be productive, and it’s rarer still for them to be as good as Freiermuth has been as a second-round pick – he has outproduced Pitts so far this season. Pitts is the more athletic, higher-upside prospect, but Freiermuth looks like a top-end starter for years to come, and he would give Aaron Rodgers another dynamic pass-catcher.

Buffalo Bills

#30: Buffalo Bills

RB Najee Harris, Alabama

Harris doesn’t fall far in this redraft, and the Bills would love the opportunity to add a true workhorse back to take some of the pressure off Josh Allen. Harris would make Buffalo’s already elite offense that much more challenging to slow down with an excellent catch radius, veteran mentality, and violent running style.

Baltimore Ravens

#31: Baltimore Ravens

CB Nate Hobbs, Illinois

The Raiders are typically not great at drafting, but Hobbs is already looking like one of the steals of the draft. Hobbs has been excellent in coverage all season despite a struggling Vegas pass defense and impressively ranks 10th among cornerbacks on PFF. The Ravens have suffered a slew of injuries in their secondary and would surely love to have Hobbs to help mitigate those losses.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

#32: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

LB Pete Werner, Ohio State

Tampa’s typically elite run defense hasn’t quite been the same this season, and it may have been wise for them to draft another run-stopping linebacker to help fill the gaps. Werner has been very impressive in his rookie season, especially in run defense, and he looks like he will be a starting linebacker for the next decade.

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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