The 2021 NFL draft order is officially set. Well, for the teams that didn’t make the playoffs, at least. The Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets successfully tanked their way to the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks, while the Philadelphia Eagles made sure they locked up the No. 6 spot by blowing their season finale against the Washington Football Team. So, where did your favorite team end up in the 2021 NFL draft order?
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)
Congratulations to the Jaguars on winning the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes! Your alarming lack of talent and general incompetence has gifted you one of the greatest quarterback prospects of this century. Don’t screw it up.
2. New York Jets (2-14)
The Jets were in the driver’s seat to land Trevor Lawrence after going winless through the first 13 games of the season. But two meaningless wins in their last three games knocked them down to the No. 2 spot. Justin Fields or Zach Wilson could be the target here, but the Jets could also try to build around Sam Darnold by taking offensive tackle Penei Sewell out of Oregon or a top wide receiver.
3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans, 4-12)
Bill O’Brien has been gone from the Texans for months, but the ghosts of his incompetence are still haunting the franchise today. Remember that lucrative trade just to land offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil? Yeah, the 2021 pick included in that deal turned into the No. 3 overall pick. Meanwhile, the Texans don’t own a single first-round pick this year. Yikes.
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
The Falcons continue to reel after reaching the Super Bowl and blowing a 28-3 lead in 2017. Dan Quinn is now gone, Matt Ryan is nearing retirement, and there are more holes in this roster than in a block of Swiss cheese. Atlanta could go a number of ways with this selection, including quarterback.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
Joe Burrow showed some real promise in year one with the Bengals, but this team had no hope after he went down with a season-ending injury. The focus now needs to be to find Burrow some sturdy protection along the offensive line. Penei Sewell should be the No. 1 target here for Cincy.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1)
Well, the Eagles got exactly what they wanted. Head coach Doug Pederson had no intention of winning the season finale against Washington on Sunday night, which earned Philadelphia the opportunity to pick sixth in the 2021 draft. Regardless of how they got here, the Eagles could have their pick of their favorite wide receiver or linebacker Micah Parsons out of Penn State.
7. Detroit Lions (5-11)
The question marks are endless for the Lions moving forward. Who will be the head coach in 2021? Will Matthew Stafford return to play another season with a failing franchise? Detroit seems to have no plan to get back to prominence in the NFC North. Maybe that changes with this pick.
8. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
The 2020-21 season wasn’t too fruitful if you’re a Panthers fan. Teddy Bridgewater had his ups and downs, Christian McCaffrey couldn’t stay on the field, and the defense was brutal to watch all season. But Matt Rhule is the real deal as a head coach, and he can get this thing turned around in one offseason. Adding young talent to the defense with the No. 8 pick will help that cause.
9. Denver Broncos (5-11)
The Broncos just can’t seem to find a trustworthy quarterback ever since Peyton Manning retired in 2016. Drew Lock doesn’t look like the answer for Denver, so it’ll be interesting to see if John Elway uses another top draft pick on a quarterback. Trey Lance out of North Dakota State could be the Broncos’ target at No. 9.
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
The Cowboys had a nightmare of a 2020-21 season, which was highlighted by Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury early in the year. Dallas still has loads of talent spread across the roster, though, so they should bounce back next season and compete for the NFC East title. The No. 10 overall pick is just a bonus. Use it on some defensive help, please.
11. New York Giants (6-10)
The Giants were an Eagles’ tank away from sneaking into the playoffs at 6-10, but in the end, they didn’t really deserve to be there anyway. The 2021 draft class is loaded at wide receiver, which is exactly what the Giants should target at No. 11 to give Daniel Jones a true weapon on the outside. Alabama wideouts Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle could both be available here.
12. San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
Talk about a Super Bowl hangover. After reaching the title game last season, the 49ers suffered some of the worst injury luck in the NFL and finished the year at 6-10. A healthy San Fran squad is still a contender in the NFC, and the No. 12 overall pick will only help matters.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9)
The good news for Chargers fans? Justin Herbert is the real deal. The bad news? The rest of the team is not. Herbert has plenty of talented weapons on offense, but the defense needs some serious help, and head coach Anthony Lynn has held this team back all season. LA needs to replace Lynn before they get serious about challenging for a playoff spot.
14. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
The Vikings knocked it out of the park last spring by snagging Justin Jefferson late in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. Now, they need to shift their focus to the defensive side of the ball, especially the secondary. Expect Minnesota to go safety or cornerback with this pick.
15. New England Patriots (7-9)
The Patriots don’t find themselves in this position very often. It’s the first time New England has missed the playoffs since 2008. Bill Belichick has whiffed on his first-round selections in recent years, but maybe a higher draft slot will lead to a real difference-maker for the Pats. Quarterback incoming?
16. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
The Cardinals just needed to beat the Rams on Sunday to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card team, but Kyler Murray left the game early with an injury and the team never recovered. Instead, they get the No. 16 pick in the 2021 draft, and they could use it to sure up their offensive line.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8)
The Raiders had a promising start to the 2020-21 season, but they fell apart down the stretch and finished with a mediocre 8-8 record. Las Vegas needs to target a defensive playmaker here, as they allowed the third-most points in the NFL this year.
18. Miami Dolphins
What a year for the Dolphins. A 10-6 record, some valuable playing time for Tua Tagovailoa, and two top-18 draft picks in 2021. Miami might’ve narrowly missed the playoffs this season, but the Dolphins will be a force in the AFC for years to come under head coach Brian Flores.