With the 2020 NFL season officially in the books, the order for the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is set. Now the work of figuring out who will fill those slots takes center stage in an unusual offseason that includes a different format for the NFL Scouting Combine. Trades will alter the board, but in the immediate aftermath of Super Bowl LV, here’s the current order for Round 1 of the 2021 draft, which kicks off on April 29 in Cleveland.
The order for picks 1-18 is determined by record, using strength of schedule as a tiebreaker. The order for playoff teams (19-32) is determined by https://operations.nfl.com/the-players/the-nfl-draft/the-rules-of-the-draft/” target=”_blank” >the results of postseason play, with SOS as the tiebreaker.
.549 strength of schedule
Biggest needs: QB, OT, CB
There’s no real suspense about what the Jaguars will do at No. 1, but Urban Meyer does have three other picks in the top 45, including No. 25 (via the Rams). He might be in the market for a new left tackle (Cam Robinson is a pending free agent).
Biggest needs: QB, edge rusher, CB
Will the Jets spend a top-five pick on a quarterback for the third time in 13 years? There are areas of need at almost every spot on Gang Green’s roster.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE HOUSTON TEXANS
Texans’ record: 4-12 (.541)
See Pick No. 18 for analysis of the Dolphins’ needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Texans’ needs.
Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, CB
Protect Joe Burrow and make opposing quarterbacks a lot more uncomfortable. That’s the mission for 2021 in Cincinnati.
Biggest needs: WR, CB, LB
It’s rare to see a team draft a wide receiver in the first round in consecutive years, but such a move could be pretty tempting for Howie Roseman no matter who’s under center for Philly.
Biggest needs: QB, CB, OL
The Broncos were in on the Matthew Stafford trade talks, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. So, it appears Denver is open to replacing Drew Lock as the QB1 if the right opportunity comes along. New GM George Paton could be shopping for a new right tackle and help in the secondary, too.
Biggest needs: CB, S, OL
Dallas has to plug holes in a defense that was the franchise’s worst since 1960 in points allowed per game and shore up the injury-plagued offensive line.
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, WR, OL
Big Blue still has a gaping void off the edge, and Daniel Jones deserves a shot to play with a true WR1.
Biggest needs: CB, OL, QB
It seems like a near lock that the 49ers will be eyeing cornerbacks early in the draft, with the vast majority of the team’s CBs scheduled to become free agents next month.
Biggest needs: OL, TE, CB
It will likely be worth investing at least one or two early picks in the offensive line, and tight end could end up as a priority if Hunter Henry isn’t re-signed.
Biggest needs: OL, DT, edge rusher
GM Rick Spielman’s mission should be pretty clear this offseason: Fix the O- and D-lines. The Vikings ranked third to last in pressure rate allowed (34.4%) and second to last in defensive pressure rate (19.9%), per Next Gen Stats.
Biggest needs: QB, WR, DL
Bill Belichick is charged with breathing life into the passing game, and he might also have to fill voids in the trenches. Four of the Patriots’ top five defensive linemen are due to hit the market.
Biggest needs: DT, edge rusher, S
Vegas’ defensive woes predate GM Mike Mayock’s arrival — the Raiders have ranked in the top half of the league in yards allowed only once in the past decade — but those problems aren’t going away without upgrades at all three levels.
Biggest needs: WR, OL, LB
Adding more talent around Tua Tagovailoa has to be the top priority, especially at the receiver position. The Dolphins ranked near the bottom of the league in explosive plays in 2020.
Biggest needs: QB, OL, WR
If the Bears do end up acquiring Carson Wentz (or even if they ultimately turn to a different veteran QB), the question then becomes how do they improve the offensive line — after giving up some valuable draft capital to get that QB, presumably — and are they able to re-sign Allen Robinson?
Biggest needs: QB, OT, WR
There are some significant voids to fill for a team that was built to win now. The Colts lost their quarterback and left tackle to retirement, with free agency set to potentially poke holes at edge rusher, wide receiver and cornerback.
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, WR, interior DL
GM Jon Robinson is faced with fixing one of the league’s worst pass rushes and might have to replace WR Corey Davis, who’s headed for free agency after a career year.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Seahawks’ record: 12-4 (.447)
See Pick No. 2 for analysis of the Jets’ needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Seahawks’ needs.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE LOS ANGELES RAMS
Rams’ record: 10-6 (.494)
See Pick No. 1 for analysis of the Jaguars’ needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Rams’ needs.
Biggest needs: LB, edge rusher, CB
There are needs at every level of a defense that allowed 30 points or more in nearly half of its games last season (including playoffs).
Biggest needs: DL, DB, QB
Sean Payton sounds like he’s very interested in moving forward with Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston — assuming Winston does decide to re-up with the Saints — at quarterback in 2021. So, the position moves down (but not off) the list of offseason priorities for a team that appears set for a new era under center.
Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, CB
The Bills have four offensive linemen ticketed for unrestricted free agency, and “blockbusters” aren’t on the way to address needs. The draft takes on even more importance in Buffalo this offseason.
TEAMS WITHOUT A FIRST-ROUND PICK
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
Biggest needs: WR, CB, edge rusher
As you can see, QB remains off the needs for now because the Texans say they have no interest in trading Deshaun Watson. One of his favorite targets, however, is due to reach the market (Will Fuller) and Houston does not have a pick in the first two rounds.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, LB, OL
With no first-round pick and limited salary cap flexibility, the Rams will be turning to Day 2 and 3 picks to help replace starters who could depart in free agency, including Leonard Floyd.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE NEW YORK JETS
Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher
The Seahawks have only one pick in the first three rounds, but they have to figure out a way to give Russell Wilson better protection, especially against the division-rival Rams. He was sacked 16 times in his three games against L.A. (including the playoffs).