NFL Power Rankings: Our favourite draft pick for every team

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance holds a San Francisco 49ers jersey after being chosen by the team with the third pick in the NFL football draft. (Tony Dejak/AP)

No North American sports draft has the potential to shake up the power balance of its league like the NFL’s. That’s because none is as large and none has the ability to yield multiple immediate, cost-effective starters.

And while we can’t know how each of the picks from last week’s draft will work out on their new teams, we can absolutely pick favourites in the moment. So for this special post-draft edition of our power rankings, our expert NFL panel is looking at their favourite selection for each team.

This week, the panel includes editors Geoff Lowe and Craig Battle, and staff writers Mike Johnston and Emily Sadler.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pre-draft ranking: 1
Favourite draft pick: Joe Tryon, OLB, 32nd overall

Most mock drafts had Joe Tryon out of Washington going in the second round, but the defending champs took him with the final pick in the first. He’s known for his physical gifts and explosiveness off the edge, but opted out in 2020 and is considered a work in progress, which makes going to a top-tier defence a great fit. He won’t be asked to do too much too early and that should assist in his development. (MJ)

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Pre-draft ranking: 2
Favourite draft pick: Cornell Powell, WR, 181st overall

What do you get the team that has (pretty much) everything? Well, you start by looking at contributors lost in free agency, and notice Sammy Watkins at the top of the list. The Chiefs think Powell, drafted in the fifth round, could help fill Watkins’s shoes sooner than later. (CB)

3. Buffalo Bills

Pre-draft ranking: 4
Favourite draft pick: Spencer Brown, OT, 93rd overall

The Bills were one of the few teams that didn’t necessarily need to draft for need last week and instead set out to bolster one of the league’s best rosters. We’re going with Brown, however, not because of what he may bring to Buffalo’s offensive line but simply because he already gets it…. (GL)

4. Baltimore Ravens

Pre-draft ranking: 5
Favourite draft pick: WRs Rashod Bateman, 27th overall, and Tylan Wallace, 131st overall

Baltimore has more work to do when it comes to protecting their star quarterback, but they did have Lamar Jackson’s best interests at heart when they drafted a pair of dynamic weapons to help him thrive. The Ravens’ lack of offensive weapons was a big weakness last season, and while Jackson bailed them out time and time again with his dynamic run game, bringing in two wide receivers adds another much-needed dimension to this offence. (ES)

5. Cleveland Browns

Pre-draft ranking: 6
Favourite draft pick: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, 52nd overall

Patience paid off for the Browns in Round 1, with the run on quarterbacks and wide receivers allowing Cleveland to sit back and wait and let cornerback Greg Newsome II come to them at No. 26, adding another dynamic athlete to their transformed secondary.

Taking versatile linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at that spot would’ve been a smart pick, too, considering the Browns’ need for help at linebacker. Getting him in Round 2 is even better – another strong acquisition for a defence that could be dangerous in 2021. (ES)

6. Los Angeles Chargers

Pre-draft ranking: 13
Favourite draft pick: Rashawn Slater, OT, 13th overall

The Chargers didn’t overthink this one, so we won’t either. They desperately needed a top-tier lineman to help protect Justin Herbert, and they got one in Slater at No. 13. (CB)

7. Green Bay Packers

Pre-draft ranking: 3
Favourite draft pick: WR Amari Rodgers, 85th overall

It was quite a day for the Packers, making their draft picks far from the biggest story this spring. Criticism was swift when the Packers still didn’t draft an offensive weapon in a first round riddled with wide receivers (instead, they filled their need for a cornerback with Eric Stokes). Day 2 saw them finally land a wide receiver in Amari Rodgers, but time will tell if we’ll be seeing any Rodgers-to-Rodgers connections in Green Bay. (ES)

8. Miami Dolphins

Pre-draft ranking: 15
Favourite draft pick: Jevon Holland, S, 36th overall

Dolphins GM Chris Grier and his front office had a really nice draft, selecting two top talents in the first round in Jaylen Waddle and Jaelan Phillips, but it’s Canadian safety Holland who gets the nod here. Holland’s a versatile, ball-hawking defensive back who could fit really well into Brian Flores’s defence. (GL)

9. San Francisco 49ers

Pre-draft ranking: 9
Favourite draft pick: Trey Lance, QB, 3rd overall

This was one of the draft’s biggest surprises, and you can question whether the 49ers gave up too much draft capital to make it happen. But I like the pick all the same. No disrespect to Mac Jones, but Lance makes more sense here because of the higher upside and the situation in San Fran. Jimmy Garoppolo is still in town, so Lance — still just 20 years old — can develop behind him and prepare to hit the ground running when he does get under centre. (CB)

10. Indianapolis Colts

Pre-draft ranking: 7
Favourite draft pick: Kwity Paye, DE, 21st overall

The Colts needed help along the defensive line, and they were fortunate to have the Michigan defensive end fall to them in the first round. Indy has struggled getting to opposing quarterbacks, and Paye will play a major role in that going forward. (MJ)

11. Los Angeles Rams

Pre-draft ranking: 8
Favourite draft pick: Ernest Jones, LB, 103rd overall

This was just a really weird draft in which the Rams seemed to go time and again with their own definition of “best available” without any thought to team need. But Jones has a role to play in L.A., and was good value in the third round. (CB)

12. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pre-draft ranking: 10
Favourite draft pick: RB Najee Harris, 24th overall

No surprises here.

The team with the worst run game landed a dynamic RB1 whose skillset and style is reminiscent of Le’Veon Bell on the field. Off the field, the Steelers got themselves a good one. (ES)

13. Seattle Seahawks

Pre-draft ranking: 11
Favourite draft pick: Stone Forsythe, OT, 208th overall

It’s just nice when the Seahawks take offensive linemen, really, after a span of several years when they ignored the position. It’s doubly good when they can get a player some graded as a third- or fourth-rounder in the sixth. The six-foot-nine Forsythe will learn behind Duane Brown to start, but could help protect (hopefully) Russell Wilson’s blind side before too long. (CB)

14. Tennessee Titans

Pre-draft ranking: 14
Favourite draft pick: Caleb Farley, CB, 22nd overall

Had the Virginia Tech corner not undergone back surgery in March, he would’ve gone higher than he did. Tennessee needed to fill holes in the secondary and Farley could end up a great long-term get. (MJ)

15. Chicago Bears

Pre-draft ranking: 20
Favourite draft pick: QB Justin Fields, 11th overall

In a particularly crucial draft for this middling franchise, the Bears got a great haul. Trading up to land their actual QB1 (sorry to Andy Dalton) in Justin Fields came at a cost, but the reviews of Fields suggest he’s the real deal. Is it possible the Bears finally have the dynamic QB they’ve long needed?

Honourable mention: Landing a pair of offensive tackles in Teven Jenkins (39th overall) and Larry Borom (151st) will go a long way in helping set up Fields for success. (ES)

16. New England Patriots

Pre-draft ranking: 17
Favourite draft pick: Christian Barmore, DT, 38th overall

Mac Jones landing in Bill Belichick’s lap at No. 15 was just meant to be and it will likely end up working out well for both sides, but Barmore could be the biggest steal for New England. The best defensive tackle in the draft – and the defensive MVP of the national championship – fell to New England in the second round and could become a wrecking ball on Belichick’s defensive line. (GL)

17. New Orleans Saints

Pre-draft ranking: 12
Favourite draft pick: Paulson Adebo, CB, 76th overall

There was some first-round buzz around Adebo back in 2019 prior to the ball hawk opting out in 2020. The Saints needed to bolster the secondary, and they got an upside prospect in the third round. The Stanford product will likely have the chance to compete for a starting spot opposite Marshon Lattimore next season. (MJ)

18. Washington Football Team

Pre-draft ranking: 16
Favourite draft pick: Benjamin St-Juste, DB, 74th overall

In a great draft for Canadian defensive backs, Montreal native St-Juste went in the third round to the Football Team and will look to make the most of his shot on one of last season’s best defences. Not only does St-Juste have freaky athletic traits that could be devastating for opposing receivers if harnessed correctly, but his journey from Quebec to the pros is one that makes him a Canuck you’ll want to root for. (GL)

19. Atlanta Falcons

Pre-draft ranking: 23
Favourite draft pick: Kyle Pitts, TE, 4th overall

Of course it’s the dynamic tight end out of Florida. The consensus best non-quarterback prospect in the draft class, Pitts adds an entirely new dimension to an already-potent Atlanta aerial attack and should produce right from the get-go under new Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, whose scheme as Titans offensive coordinator utilized big-body pass-catchers quite effectively. (MJ)

20. Arizona Cardinals

Pre-draft ranking: 18
Favourite draft pick: Tay Gowan, CB, 223rd overall

This is how you address a need, Rams. The Cardinals needed a lot of help in the secondary heading into the draft, and got Florida cornerback Marco Wilson in the third round. Then they added another corner in the sixth in Gowan, who opted out of the 2020 season after a bout with COVID, and who could end up being a steal. (CB)

21. Dallas Cowboys

Pre-draft ranking: 19
Favourite draft pick: Micah Parsons, LB, 12th overall

The Cowboys had to pivot strategically after the top two corners went before their turn to pick at No. 10, so instead Dallas traded back and got the player many experts thought was the best defensive player in the draft. Linebacker may not have been a need for the Cowboys, but that won’t be a concern when Parsons immediately becomes one of the defence’s best players. (GL)

22. Minnesota Vikings

Pre-draft ranking: 21
Favourite draft pick: OT Christian Darrisaw, 23rd overall

The Vikings needed a tackle in a big way, and drafted accordingly, landing themselves someone that can not only bring big pass protection for quarterback Kirk Cousins, but clear the way for running back Dalvin Cook. (ES)

23. Carolina Panthers

Pre-draft ranking: 22
Favourite draft pick: Tommy Tremble, TE, 83rd overall

The Panthers had a solid draft with notable picks such as Jaycee Horn, Terrace Marshall Jr. and Canadian Chuba Hubbard. They also made good use of an additional third-round pick when they selected Tommy Tremble. Not only does the Notre Dame tight end have a terrific name, he has highly touted blocking skills that will be music to the ears of both Christian McCaffrey and Sam Darnold. (MJ)

24. Las Vegas Raiders

Pre-draft ranking: 24
Favourite draft pick: Trevon Moehrig, S, 43rd overall

You could almost cut-and-paste the Chargers’ write-up here in that the Raiders needed a lineman and drafted one, but the difference is Vegas’s pick, Alex Leatherwood, was a bit of a reach at No. 17. That said, Moehrig was perhaps the best safety in the draft, could be a Day 1 starter, and they got him in the second round. (CB)

25. New York Giants

Pre-draft ranking: 25
Favourite draft pick: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, 50th overall

A lot of mock drafts had the Giants taking Ojulari with the No. 11 pick. Instead, GM Dave Gettleman traded back in the first round, got an extra first-round pick, drafted a first-round receiver and still got arguably the top edge rusher in the draft in the second round. Ojulari fell due to injury concerns, but will be a big boost for Big Blue if he stays healthy. (GL)

26. Denver Broncos

Pre-draft ranking: 26
Favourite draft pick: Baron Browning, LB, 105th overall

I’d really like to be talking about a big swing for a potential franchise QB here (like Kellen Mond, say), but the Broncos punted on that front. So I’m going with Browning, a versatile linebacker Denver picked up in the third round and the type of talent other teams are openly kicking themselves they didn’t draft. (CB)

27. Cincinnati Bengals

Pre-draft ranking: 27
Favourite draft pick: OT Jackson Carman, 46th overall

There’s no doubting the Bengals’ need for offensive weapons, and that’s exactly the route they took at fifth overall when they reunited quarterback Joe Burrow with his top LSU target in Ja’Marr Chase. But, what about protecting Burrow? After ending his season on IR, a stronger offensive line remains Cincinnati’s biggest need. Passing on Penei Sewell at No. 5 was surprising, but picking up Jackson Carman in Round 2 should be a good start to build up a better o-line for the future. (ES)

28. Philadelphia Eagles

Pre-draft ranking: 28
Favourite draft pick: Landon Dickerson, OL, 37th overall

After passing on Justin Jefferson in last year’s draft, Eagles fans should be thrilled about landing Heisman winner Devonta Smith 10th overall last week. But Dickerson could turn out to be a steal as many deemed the Alabama product a top-three offensive lineman in the draft. Why did he fall so far? Dickerson has suffered multiple season-ending injuries, including a left ACL tear this past season. It’s high risk, but it could be high reward for Philadelphia. (GL)

29. New York Jets

Pre-draft ranking: 29
Favourite draft pick: Elijah Moore, WR, 34th overall

Only time will tell if Jets GM Joe Douglas made the right decisions by selecting Zach Wilson over Trey Lance or Justin Fields and then trading up to No. 14 to take interior lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, but we’re convinced he hit a home run with Moore. A first-round talent according to many experts, Moore could be a star in the Jets’ overhauled offence. (GL)

30. Detroit Lions

Pre-draft ranking: 30
Favourite draft pick: OT Penei Sewell, 7th overall

Leading up to the draft, what the Lions would do at No. 7 was anyone’s guess. But when offensive tackle Penei Sewell – the consensus best o-lineman, dubbed by experts to be a future Hall of Famer – fell into their laps following a run on offensive position players, the Lions’ decision was a no-brainer, slam-dunk winner. Sustainable success is built on the shoulders of the big men on the line, and the rebuilding Lions landed a key part of their foundation in Sewell. (ES)

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

Pre-draft ranking: 31
Favourite draft pick: Trevor Lawrence, QB, 1st overall

It pretty tough not to be jazzed about the highest-graded QB prospect to come out of college since Andrew Luck. (MJ)

32. Houston Texans

Pre-draft ranking: 32
Favourite draft pick: Brevin Jordan, TE, 147th overall

There wasn’t much to choose from after Houston had just five picks this year, none of which were in the first two rounds. Jordan could have some upside as a pass-catching tight end out of Miami. (MJ)

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