2021 NFL Draft grades: Biggest winners and losers

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. (Greenville)
Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. (Greenville) /
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Trevor Lawrence, NFL Draft
SENECA, SOUTH CAROLINA – APRIL 29: In this handout photo provided by the National Football League, quarterback Trevor Lawrence poses after being selected with the first overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 NFL Draft on April 29, 2021 in Seneca, South Carolina. (Photo by Logan Bowles/NFL via Getty Images) /

The 2021 NFL Draft is officially in the rearview mirror, as several teams bolstered their rosters, while others left scratching their heads. Here are grades for every team 

Now that the NFL Draft has concluded, and several teams at the top of the board landed quarterbacks they hope develop into elite passers, while other teams added dynamic playmakers hoping to close the gap on the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the work of finding fits these incoming rookies now begins for all 32 teams.

Despite the opt outs of several top prospects last fall, it seemed that many teams did an outstanding job of matching positional need to draft value.

However, the incoming classes of the Chicago Bears, headlined by Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, and the job the Los Angeles Chargers did building around reigning Rookie of The Year Justin Herbert stand out above the rest.

So, who won and who lost the 2021 NFL Draft?

Who won the 2021 NFL Draft, and who left scratching their heads? Here are grades for every team’s NFL Draft class:

Chicago Bears

The Bears did what successful organizations do, they acted boldly to address their glaring need at quarterback, trading up nine spots to select Justin Fields No. 11 overall out of Ohio State in the first round.

Fields is an ideal fit for Matt Nagy’s system, because of his elusiveness in the pocket, ability to make every throw on the route tree, even on the run, and plus arm strength that has the chance to maximize wide receiver Allen Robinson’s impact.

But, Chicago wasn’t done.

On Friday night, the Bears chose one of the premier offensive tackle’s in this class, Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins to protect Fields. Jenkins has the versatility to play guard or tackle in the NFL, and is as reliable as they come in pass protection after allowing just one sack and one pressure in seven games last season and blowing just three block assignments, according to Sports Info Solutions.

It’s win or go home time for Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, but the Bears set themselves up to level up the offense in 2021 with this NFL Draft haul.

Grade: A+

Los Angeles Chargers

One year after selecting the eventual NFL Offensive Rookie of The Year, Justin Herbert, the Chargers secured one of the highest-rated offensive tackle in this year’s class to protect him in Round 1.

Rashawn Slater arrives from Northwestern as a plug-and-play starter at left tackle, anchoring the line tasked with keeping Herbert upright in the pocket, as the No. 13 overall selection.

Slater allowed just one sack last season, and just one pressure while thriving in Northwestern’s run-based offense, which could make it an easy transition to the Chargers’ scheme.

Friday, Los Angeles rounded back and plucked Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., who might have the best ball-skills of the cornerbacks in this year’s class and has the potential to be a lockdown corner with versatility to play outside or in the slot.

Last season, Samuel Jr. allowed just 19 receptions on 32 targets, while producing a career-high 82.8 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus, perhaps a harbinger of what’s to come for the Chargers’ secondary.

Grade: A+