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Recap the 2021 NFL Draft with PFF

Cleveland, Ohio, USA; North Dakota State Bisons quarterback Trey Lance is displayed on the video board after being selected as the third pick by the San Francisco 49ers during the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL Draft is officially in the books. After a flurry of both history-making and eye-raising selections from Thursday, April 29 to Saturday, May 1, 259 players were selected to join the NFL’s 32 franchises. With that, we give you our full draft recap, courtesy of the PFF analysis team.


More of PFF's 2021 NFL Draft tools here: 
2021 NFL Draft Big Board | 2021 NFL Draft Guide | 2021 NFL Draft Stats Export | NFL Mock Drafts | NFL Mock Draft Simulator


2021 NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams

PFF hands out draft grades for all 32 teams after the 2021 NFL Draft. The Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots lead the way with A+ grades, while the Green Bay Packers end a forgettable weekend with a C- grade. Read more…


Biggest 2021 NFL Draft Steals: All Seven Rounds

Here, we use the information available in PFF’s advanced databasebig board and 1,283-page 2021 NFL Draft Guide to identify the NFL teams that got the best bang for their buck in all seven rounds of the 2021 draft. Read more…


Biggest 2021 NFL Draft Reaches: All Seven Rounds

No one knows exactly how football players are going to develop. That’s the beauty of it. There’s hope to go around for every NFL fan base. The people still want to know which players were “steals” and which were “reaches,” though. Here is one player from each round of the 2021 NFL Draft who qualified in the latter category based on where they stacked up as prospects, both on PFF’s Big Board and The Athletic's Consensus Big Board, and the other players who were still available at those draft slots. Read more…


2021 NFL Draft: Most and least improved team position units

The 2021 NFL Draft came and went, as have the major waves of free agency. We have a pretty good idea of what each team's roster is going to look like now, allowing us to analyze which teams' positional units improved the most and which teams failed to address serious needs in the draft. The Vikings looked to help their big-money quarterback, while the Titans replaced a ton of lost snaps in their secondary. The Broncos and Panthers, however, will be linked at the hip because neither selected quarterback Justin Fields despite both teams having a clear need at the position. Read more…


Most improved offensive lines following free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft

An offensive line that offers little to no resistance against opposing pass rushes and creates no push in the run game is one of the quickest ways to derail an otherwise competent offense. A number of NFL teams have already made a concerted effort this offseason to avoid putting themselves in such a situation in 2021. Read more…


Most improved teams following free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft

The dust has finally settled on the two most important events of the 2021 NFL offseason: Free agency and the draft. Some rosters went relatively unscathed, some underwent an overhaul and some welcomed a few boosts at valuable positions on the field. Today, we're focusing on the teams that improved the most in the 2021 offseason to set themselves up for long-term success based on smart decisions in free agency and the draft. Read more…


Ranking the 10 best UDFA signings of the 2021 NFL Draft

Undrafted free agents have had a long history of making a lasting impact on the NFL, with notable undrafted rookies from the past including Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner and five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Wes Welker. This year’s class is shaping up to be no exception, and with the variance in the scouting process due to COVID-19, it is almost certain that a gem has fallen through the cracks and landed in a lucky franchise's lap. Read more…


UDFA Tracker 2021: Undrafted free agent signings from all 32 NFL teams

Here's a look at the undrafted rookies who signed with teams shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft. Read more…


Trey Lance was the right decision for the 49ers at No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft

The San Francisco 49ers made arguably the biggest decision of the 2021 NFL Draft at No. 3 overall. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and the team's front office had agreed to a blockbuster trade several weeks earlier to jump from outside the top 10 to the third overall pick to grab Trey Lance, their quarterback of the future, and they kept the decision under the tightest of wraps. Read more…


The Chargers' offensive line is the most improved positional group in the NFL this offseason

No team endured worse play up front in 2020 than the Los Angeles Chargers. Not only did they finish dead last in PFF’s end-of-year offensive line rankings, but they also earned the second-lowest overall grade as a unit of any offensive line in the past five years. Read more…


The Chicago Bears pulled off one of the biggest steals in the modern draft era by trading up for QB Justin Fields

Chicago, this is not a dream. The Chicago Bears, who have been forced to suffer through arguably the worst quarterback play of any franchise in NFL history, have finally found their franchise signal-caller. Early in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, Bears general manager Ryan Pace pulled off a trade that moved Chicago up from Pick 20 to Pick 11. It cost them the 164th overall pick, a 2022 first-rounder and a 2022 fourth-rounder, but they ultimately secured Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, the third-ranked prospect on the PFF big board and the fifth-best prospect PFF has ever evaluated. Read more…


Ranking the 10 best draft classes: Browns, Bears and Patriots find gems in the 2021 NFL Draft

We here at PFF will always approach certain aspects of the team-building process far differently than most NFL front offices, and the draft is obviously one of those processes. However, four NFL teams used their first two picks of the 2021 NFL Draft in exactly the same way we would have done, given the teams' rosters and the draft prospects available at the time. Those teams, unsurprisingly, are No. 1 to No. 4 on this list. Read more…


Renner: Ranking top Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates for the 2021 NFL season

While it’s fun to rank NFL players in a vacuum, there are often more important variables to a player's success than pure talent — such as landing spot, supporting cast and situation. That’s why when ranking the favorites for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, it’s not simply going to look like the PFF Big Board. Here’s how I’d rank the Rookie of the Year candidates. Read more…


Most improved defensive lines following free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft

We’ve already looked at the most improved offensive lines to this point in the offseason. It’s now time to turn to their defensive counterparts in the trenches. Some teams focused on free agency to add more talent up front, while several others hit the position heavily in the 2021 NFL Draft. Regardless of how they improved, every team on this list got better in a noticeable way along the defensive line. Read more…


Monson: The Washington Football Team is building a contender despite no elite QB

Typical team-building begins with the quarterback position, but Washington’s 2020 season closed the book on the last first-round quarterback the team selected as well as took them out of contention for most of the potential first-round rookies in this draft. Washington picked No. 19 in the first round, with many analysts predicting that the five top passers could all be gone well inside the first 10 selections. As it turns out, Mac Jones slipped all the way to No. 15, but we have no idea if Washington thought he was capable of being a major upgrade and the future of the team. Read more…


Investigating the steals and reaches in the 2021 NFL Draft

In any given NFL draft, it's never too long before analysts and experts swoop in with terms such as “steal” and “reach,” two of the most liberally used words of draft season. Whenever a player is selected earlier than his big board ranking would imply, he is labeled a reach. Whenever a player stays on the board for longer than expected, he is crowned as a steal when he finally hears his name called. These so-called steals and reaches often dominate the conversation about the draft, and they often heavily influence draft grades. The question, of course, is how much stock should we put into these two words? Read more…


Monson: The Pittsburgh Steelers poor draft signals they are headed toward a rebuild

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a good 2021 NFL Draft to put themselves back in contention, particularly in an ascending AFC North division, but they instead whiffed on a draft class that is unlikely to fix the root cause behind a late-season collapse in 2020. Obviously, drafting a running back in the first round is never going to get a PFF seal of approval, but it’s worth remembering why. Read more…


The 10 best player fits of the 2021 NFL Draft: Ja'Marr Chase to the Bengals, Alijah Vera-Tucker to the Jets and more

While everyone thinks the player their team just drafted is a good “fit” for the franchise, not all player fits are created equal. Some fits make too much sense, either schematically or from a personnel perspective. These are the 10 players who found perfect homes after the 2021 NFL Draft. Read more…


Galina: Ranking the top landing spots for rookie first-round quarterbacks based on scheme fits

The first-round quarterbacks entering the NFL in 2021 will be joining vastly different situations and systems. Kyle Shanahan has proven he can make any quarterback work and now has perhaps his toolsiest player ever in Trey Lance. With Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville, the battle of football philosophies between Urban Meyer, Darrell Bevell and Brian Schottenheimer can commence. Mac Jones joins a situation where the current offense probably won’t look like the one he will end up running when he becomes the starter. Zach Wilson will need all the schematic help he can get in New York; same with Justin Fields in Chicago. Read more…


Most improved receiving corps following free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft

Tom Brady’s last two seasons prove just how crucial a dynamic receiving corps can be to a team's Super Bowl hopes. Brady put up pedestrian numbers with arguably the worst receiving corps in the league in 2019, but he flipped that on its head with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, leading Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl title and earning the second-highest grade among quarterbacks in the process. Having a talented and deep group of wide receivers, tight ends and pass-catching running backs matters. Read more…


Spielberger: Have NFL teams changed the way they value draft picks in trades?

Despite the abundance of information that highlights the Jimmy Johnson Chart's flaws, it is still the most commonly used chart for evaluating draft trades. However, some smart NFL teams are starting to catch on. Read more…


Most improved secondaries following free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft

After making a splash in free agency, the Cleveland Browns further bolstered their secondary in the 2021 NFL Draft, landing them on this list of most improved secondaries. Read more…


NFL draft 2021 steals: 10 undervalued Day 3 picks who will make an impact, including two Bears

All 32 NFL teams have new players to add to their rosters after three days of the 2021 NFL draft. And while a team's draft is often defined by what it did on Days 1 and 2, finding diamonds in the rough on Day 3 can make all the difference for a championship team. Steals in Rounds 4-7 are key to having an excellent draft class. Read more…


Riske: How to identify future success via a good NFL draft

A total of 259 players were selected to join the NFL as a part of the 2021 NFL Draft, from Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall to Houston LB Grant Stuard at No. 259. And as experts analyzed the picks and the draft grades hit the presses, a commonly conveyed postscript was that each team got a little bit better. Relatively speaking, that’s not entirely true, because in a league with 32 teams, we expect 16 teams to get better and 16 teams to get worse. So, fans of those allegedly improved teams might be questioning whether these reports are accurate and what it means for their team going forward if these reports do hold true. Read more…


10 offensive rookies in position to make an immediate impact in 2021

There is no more optimistic time for an NFL fan base than right now. Every rookie is a slam-dunk pick or the “steal” of the draft until proven otherwise. But of course, only a few 2021 rookies will truly make a positive impact right away. Take the 2020 class, for example. A record 13 wide receivers were selected in the first two rounds, but only two earned an 80.0-plus PFF grade. Read more…

 

Fantasy Fallout: Veterans impacted by 2021 rookie landing spots

The 2021 NFL Draft has introduced an infusion of talent for NFL rosters and fantasy squads alike. Quarterbacks like Matt RyanTua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts saw their teams draft top-tier pass-catchers to bolster their 2021 outlooks. But for every rookie added to the NFL player pool, one less job remains available for veterans and young players who have yet to earn long-term security in the league. No matter how long an established player has fought off the next generation at their position, many will have to do it again this year. Read more…


Fantasy Football: Quantifying the biggest winners and losers of the 2021 NFL Draft

Now that the 2021 NFL Draft is finally over, we’ve had the chance to assess the landing spots for rookies and gauge their levels of potential success for fantasy football. Everyone has their opinion on how the draft affects the value of the rookies chosen and the veterans currently on those teams, but the ultimate signal is that of the market. Luckily, we have thousands of best-ball draft selections to dig through from the offseason, and we can specifically compare players’ average draft position (ADP) before and after the NFL draft.  Read more…


Fantasy Football: Which veterans won the 2021 NFL Draft?

The NFL draft has come and passed; now it’s time to adjust, people. Identifying the top-five rookies at every position is great and all, but determining which veterans are now set up better than ever is equally important in fantasy land. What follows is a breakdown on the biggest winners by position based on their team’s decision to not add any sort of meaningful competition throughout the draft and/or free agency. Read more…


Fantasy Football: Top-5 rookie QB, RB, WR and TE for 2021

What follows is a breakdown on every rookie QB, RB, WR and TE drafted last weekend. I’ll heavily weigh players picked within the top three rounds; historically at least 80% of high-performing rookies at every position in fantasy football were selected on Day 1 or Day 2. Of course, some later round prospects will emerge as viable fantasy options thanks to landing in an offense with an existing hole; just realize the general rule of thumb is “earlier the better” when it comes to evaluating how we feel about a rookie’s draft capital. Read more…


Fantasy Football: Winners and losers from the 2021 NFL Draft

The 2021 NFL Draft had a major impact on the fantasy football landscape. The biggest winners of draft weekend have already seen major spikes in their fantasy football value. Several other players now have their fantasy stock on life support. Read more…


Fantasy Football: 12 rookies primed for fantasy breakouts with their new NFL teams in 2021

The 2021 NFL Draft has finally wrapped up. Now that all of the rookies have NFL homes, we can begin to identify which ones are primed for fantasy breakouts.  Last season we saw five rookie wide receivers — Justin JeffersonChase ClaypoolBrandon AiyukCeeDee Lamb and Tee Higgins — provide fantasy juice and finish inside the top 40. More than a handful of rookie RBs — Jonathan TaylorD’Andre SwiftJ.K. DobbinsJames RobinsonClyde Edwards-HelaireCam Akers — operated as fantasy RB1s at some point during the season. Read more…


Fantasy Football: Post-draft 2021 rookie wide receiver fantasy model

Last week I published my pre-draft quantitative models predicting fantasy success for running backs and wide receivers. A key variable in that analysis was draft position, for which I used expected draft position based on recent mock drafts in lieu of actual draft positions. We have the actual draft positions now that the draft is complete, and with those I can update the model results for the 2021 class with more accurate results.  Read more…


Fantasy Football: Which rookies are primed for fantasy letdowns with their new NFL teams

The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and we've rightly hyped plenty of rookies heading into 2021 fantasy football. But not all rookies find immediate fantasy success, and it's important to avoid players heading into rough situations. Read more…


2021 NFL Draft: Biggest risers and fallers in fantasy football after the 2021 NFL Draft

The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone with plenty of crazy twists and turns. Like with every NFL draft, the fantasy football landscape looks a little bit different with high-end talent added to rosters across the league. Certain rookies have landed in favorable spots, while others might not see much playing time right away.  Read more…


Erickson: Biggest risers & fallers in rookie drafts and best ball drafts following the 2021 NFL Draft

The 2021 NFL Draft has done a number on my 2021 fantasy football rankings. New faces in new places have forced me to shake things up quite a bit in response to the new surroundings and outlooks, both for first-year players and veterans alike. Read more…


Fantasy Football: 2021 rookie running back rankings

Rookie running backs make an immediate impact in fantasy football every season. Jonathan Taylor (sixth) and James Robinson (seventh) each ranked in the PPR top 12 at the position last year. Antonio Gibson (13th), D’Andre Swift (18th), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22nd) and J.K. Dobbins (24th) each qualified as an RB2 that flashed RB1 production when given opportunity. Read more…


Fantasy Football: IDP winners and losers following the 2021 NFL Draft

With the dust now settled after the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s time to start sorting through landing spots as we look at which IDPs have the best opportunity to be fantasy football contributors in 2021. While there are reasons to be more bullish on certain IDPs in dynasty leagues, we’re going to focus strictly on what makes these players the biggest winners and losers in Year 1 of their NFL and IDP careers. Read more…


Fantasy Football: 2021 rookie wide receiver rankings

Rookie wide receivers can make an immediate impact in fantasy football. Justin Jefferson (sixth), Chase Claypool (22nd) and CeeDee Lamb (24th) each ranked in the PPR top-24 at the position last year. Tee Higgins (28th) and Brandon Aiyuk (35th) both qualified as WR3s that flashed WR2 production after emerging midway through the season. The 2021 rookie wide receiver class is extremely top-heavy, with five elite prospects capable of being instant fantasy studs. Additionally, there are several sleepers from the middle rounds who could emerge as key contributors this season. Read more…


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