Re-Drafting the 2021 NFL Draft: 49ers Get Ja’Marr Chase, Dolphins Land Amon-Ra St. Brown

Now that three years have passed since the 2021 NFL Draft, it's time to reassess. Let's redraft 2021 and find new teams for Micah Parsons, Ja'Marr Chase, and others.

Three years have passed since the 2021 NFL Draft, giving us time to reassess how teams deployed their draft choices that year. The 2021 draft class has produced plenty of stars who will have their contracts extended — via a long-term extension or a fifth-year option — this offseason.

Five players from the 2021 crop have earned first-team All-Pro nods, while 14 have made at least one Pro Bowl. Plenty of talent exists, beginning with elite producers near the top of the draft and continuing with depth throughout the first round.

Let’s dive into our 2021 redraft and see which players rose, which fell, and how the first round would be altered with the benefit of hindsight.

Redrafting the 2021 NFL Draft

As we redraft 2021, trades that were agreed to before the start of the draft will stay in place. However, deals that took place during the draft itself will not be included.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Original selection: QB Trevor Lawrence

While Trevor Lawrence hasn’t necessarily turned into the generational quarterback he was billed as in 2021, he ranks 12th in adjusted net yards per attempt and 14th in EPA + CPOE composite over the past two seasons after being released from Urban Meyer’s vice grip.

KEEP READING: NFL QB Rankings 2024

Quarterbacks mean so much — and Lawrence has enough upside remaining — that the Jaguars can justify taking him No. 1 again instead of choosing from the deep pool of players selected after the ex-Clemson signal-caller.

2) New York Jets: Micah Parsons, EDGE, Penn State

Original selection: QB Zach Wilson

Micah Parsons led the NFL in pass-rush win rate (35%) while being double-teamed at the league’s highest clip (also 35%). That’s an inherent contradiction that shouldn’t be possible. Parsons is on a Hall of Fame track, and the Jets have an easy selection here.

3) San Francisco 49ers (From HOU via MIA): Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Original selection: QB Trey Lance

While the 49ers traded up to select Trey Lance in 2021, they’ll use their newfound No. 3 pick on a different prospect in our redraft. The 2021 draft featured a talented crop of wideouts, but Ja’Marr Chase is the best of the bunch. Can you imagine a San Francisco offense that essentially replaces fullback Kyle Juszczyk with Chase?

4) Atlanta Falcons: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Original selection: TE Kyle Pitts

Kyle Pitts has had his moments (and will show up later in our redraft), but the Falcons can’t pass up on Patrick Surtain II, who figures to battle the Jets’ Sauce Gardner for the NFL’s cornerback championship belt over the next several years. He’s a genuine shutdown No. 1 CB who would team with A.J. Terrell to give Atlanta the league’s top cornerback tandem.

5) Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Original selection: WR Ja’Marr Chase

The Bengals are the first team to have their original 2021 choice (Chase) stolen from them. Instead, Cincinnati will end up on the other end of that year’s Chase/Penei Sewell wars. While losing a playmaker like Chase hurts, Sewell will become the Bengals’ franchise left tackle, eliminating the club’s future need to sign Orlando Brown Jr.

6) Miami Dolphins (From PHI): Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC

Original selection: WR Jaylen Waddle

After moving down and then back up in 2021, the Dolphins walked away with WR Jaylen Waddle. While Miami can’t be disappointed with that pick, GM Chris Grier will instead choose fellow wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown, who ranks fifth in receptions, sixth in targets, and eighth in receiving yards among WRs since entering the league.

ASRB might not be the typical speed threat that the Dolphins covet, but Mike McDaniel will figure out the best way to deploy St. Brown from the slot in South Beach.

7) Detroit Lions: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Original selection: OT Penei Sewell

Detroit grabbed Sewell to supplement their offensive line and will stick with another OL reinforcement in our redraft. Rashawn Slater lost most of the 2022 campaign to injury but has been one of the NFL’s best pass protectors when healthy. He’s not the physical presence that Sewell is, but the Lions will be pleased to have landed Slater.

8) Carolina Panthers: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Original selection: CB Jaycee Horn

The Panthers lost WR Curtis Samuel to free agency in 2021, leaving them with DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and a host of pass-catching question marks. DeVonta Smith would be considered a WR1 if he weren’t planted behind A.J. Brown with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s posted 1,000+ yards and seven TDs in each of the last two seasons and should be a weapon for eventual Carolina QB Bryce Young.

9) Denver Broncos: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Original selection: CB Patrick Surtain II

Christian Darrisaw would’ve immediately ended the Broncos’ ongoing right tackle problem and might’ve been the club’s starting left tackle by now. Denver might’ve felt more comfortable releasing Garett Bolles if it had Darrisaw — in line for an extension with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason — in reserve.

10) Dallas Cowboys: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Original selection: WR DeVonta Smith (by Eagles)

Dallas traded down in 2021, acquiring an extra third-round pick by moving from No. 10 to No. 12 before drafting Micah Parsons. De facto Cowboys GM Will McClay is pretty good at this.

KEEP READING: NFL Offense Rankings

Parsons isn’t on the board in our redraft, so Dallas will add to an already-loaded offense by selecting Jaylen Waddle, who’s posted at least 2.4 yards per route run in each of the last two seasons. Waddle becomes a long-term tag-team partner for CeeDee Lamb and helps the Cowboys replace Amari Cooper, who was eventually traded in 2022.

11) New York Giants: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma

Original selection: QB Justin Fields (by Bears)

The Giants moved back on draft day, allowing the Bears to come up and draft Justin Fields. Here, New York grabs Creed Humphrey, who might be the NFL’s best center now that Jason Kelce has retired. The leagues somehow let Humphrey slip to the 63rd pick in 2021; he’s responded with two Pro Bowl campaigns and a second-team All-Pro performance.

12) Philadelphia Eagles (From SF via MIA): Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

Original selection: EDGE Micah Parsons (by Cowboys)

While Howie Roseman could consider a WR here after originally drafting DeVonta Smtih in 2021, the Eagles’ GM will return to his bread and butter — the trenches.

Christian Barmore broke out for 8.5 sacks and posted a 13.3% pass-rush win rate in 2023, per PFF. That ranked 19th among DTs and aligned with Javon Hargrave, who landed $20 million annually from the 49ers last offseason.

13) Los Angeles Chargers: Landon Dickerson, G, Alabama

Original selection: OT Rashawn Slater

The Bolts desperately needed a left tackle and got lucky that Rashawn Slater fell to them in 2021. With no such option available here, Los Angeles will instead grab Landon Dickerson, who recently became the NFL’s highest-paid guard. He’ll give the Chargers a steady option on the interior while they continue their LT search.

14) Minnesota Vikings: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Original selection: G Alijah Vera-Tucker (by Jets)

The Vikings traded down to No. 23 in the 2021 draft but will stick here and select Kyle Pitts. While Pitts hasn’t been fully healthy over the past two seasons, the upside he demonstrated in his 1,026-yard rookie campaign is more than enough to convince Minnesota to grab him with the 14th selection. With Pitts on board, T.J. Hockenson never becomes a Viking.

15) New England Patriots: Nico Collins, WR, Michigan

Original selection: QB Mac Jones

Although we can’t go back in time to tell the Patriots to abandon their pursuit of free agent pass catchers like WR Nelson Agholor and TE Jonnu Smith, we can belatedly send Nico Collins to New England.

Collins finished second to only Tyreek Hill with 3.11 yards per route run in 2023, dominating as the Texans’ WR1 while catching passes from Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud. Collins didn’t produce with Houston’s woeful QB situation from 2021 to 2022; otherwise, he probably would have come off the board earlier in our redraft.

16) Arizona Cardinals: Greg Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

Original selection: LB Zaven Collins

The Cardinals’ 2021 roster could have used help at nearly every position, so we’ll give them the best player available at a premium position. Gregory Rousseau remains an underrated presence on the edge. He finished with 18 QB hits last season, tied with more heralded pass rushers like Brian Burns and Alex Highsmith.

17) Las Vegas Raiders: Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC

Original selection: OT Alex Leatherwood

A fifth-round selection in 2021, Talanoa Hufanga emerged as a starter in 2022 and immediately earned first-team All-Pro honors. A torn ACL prematurely ended his 2023 campaign, but Hufanga is a versatile defensive back who can play deep, in the box, or the slot. The Raiders need a playmaker in the secondary, and Hobbs becomes the club’s second-best defender after Maxx Crosby.

18) Miami Dolphins: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern

Original selection: EDGE Jaelan Phillips

While Jaelan Phillips would have been a suitable re-selection for the Dolphins, we’re instead sending Greg Newsome to the AFC East.

KEEP READING: NFL Defense Rankings

Newsome can start from Day 1, playing his customary slot role between Miami perimeter CBs Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Neither Howard nor Jones is still on the Dolphins’ roster, so Newsome would’ve likely shifted to the outside by now.

19) Washington Commanders: Trey Smith, G, Tennessee

Original selection: LB Jamin Davis

Trey Smith was the 226th pick in the 2021 draft, making the sixth-round choice the lowest-drafted player in our redraft — feels like that deserves some sort of award. Smith has played nearly every snap for the Kansas City Chiefs over the past three seasons, forming one of the NFL’s best interiors alongside LG Joe Thuney and C Creed Humphrey.

20) Chicago Bears: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon

Original selection: WR Kadarius Toney (by Giants)

The Bears traded up to No. 11 to draft Justin Fields in 2021, but they won’t be trying that again after exchanging Fields for just a conditional sixth-round pick in real life. Instead, Chicago will grab Jevon Holland, who made his bones as a deep free safety for the Dolphins. A knee injury cost him five entire games and parts of others in 2023, but he’s a weapon when healthy.

21) Indianapolis Colts: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami

Original selection: EDGE Kwity Paye

Jaelan Phillips is recovering from a Week 12 Achilles injury, but he’s shown too much upside through three pro campaigns for the Colts to ignore. The former Hurricane put up 15.5 sacks in 2021-22 and posted 6.5 in eight games last season before going down. He’s a more dynamic EDGE producer than Kwity Paye, whom Indianapolis originally selected in 2021.

22) Tennessee Titans: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

Original selection: CB Caleb Farley

Hampered by quad and hamstring injuries in 2023, Tyson Campbell missed six games and saw his passer rating allowed jump by 50+ points to 128.5. But the former second-rounder looked like a lockdown CB1 in his breakout 2022 campaign and has enough upside to intrigue the Titans, who whiffed on fellow CB Caleb Farley in 2021.

23) Seattle Seahawks: Alim McNeill, DT, N.C. State

Original selection: OT Christian Darrisaw (by Vikings)

Alim McNeill is our fourth straight redraft selection who dealt with injury concerns last season. But he also broke out for a career-high five sacks in 13 games, ranked 27th among defensive tackles in pass-rush win rate, and consistently made splash plays against the run. McNeill is still ascending and might eliminate Seattle’s future need to trade for DT Leonard Williams.

24) Pittsburgh Steelers: Quinn Meinerz, G, Wisconsin-Whitewater

Original selection: RB Najee Harris

The Steelers already had David DeCastro and Kevin Dotson at guard in 2021, but Pittsburgh likely knew it was only months away from releasing DeCastro (who ultimately retired after recurring ankle problems). Quinn Meinerz may never make an All-Pro team, but he’s a dependable guard who raises the floor of his team’s front five.

25) Jacksonville Jaguars (From LAR): Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

Original selection: RB Travis Etienne Jr.

This is the second of two first-round picks the Jags received in exchange for CB Jalen Ramsey. They’ll use this selection to grab another cornerback in Asante Samuel Jr., an instant upgrade over 2021 Jacksonville CBs C.J. Henderson, Shaquill Griffin, and Tre Herndon. Samuel’s coverage metrics stayed relatively stable in 2023 despite the Chargers’ defense crumbling around him.

26) Cleveland Browns: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

Original selection: CB Greg Newsome 

Kwity Paye outperformed his underlying metrics in 2023, managing 8.5 sacks while posting only nine QB hits. But he’s a starting-caliber edge defender who’s been consistently available and reliable. The Browns will take that performance from a complementary pass rusher projected to play opposite Myles Garrett.

27) Baltimore Ravens: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

Original selection: WR Rashod Bateman

Alijah Vera-Tucker suffered significant injuries — a torn triceps and a ruptured Achilles — in each of the last two seasons. Still, he’s versatile enough to play any OL position and has shown high-end ability when healthy.

KEEP READING: NFL Post-Free Agency Power Rankings

The Ravens traded right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in the days leading up to the 2021 draft. Vera-Tucker could play either right tackle or left guard for Baltimore alongside LT Ronnie Stanley, C Bradley Bozeman, and RG Kevin Zeitler.

28) New Orleans Saints: Odafe Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

Original selection: EDGE Payton Turner

Although Odafe Oweh has been banged up throughout his career and played just 437 snaps a year ago, underlying metrics suggest he’s on the verge of a dominant performance. Five sacks might not look all that impressive, but Oweh finished 10th among EDGEs with an 18.2% pass-rush win rate. The Saints — who missed on fellow pass rusher Payton Turner in 2021 — take the plunge.

29) Green Bay Packers: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Original selection: CB Eric Stokes

The Packers didn’t know they would land a June 2021 free agent steal in LB De’Vondre Campbell. Even if they did, Green Bay still needed another ‘backer — so let’s give them Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. JOK is outstanding as a blitzer and in coverage, but his small stature can make him a liability against the run.

30) Buffalo Bills: Sam Cosmi, OL, Texas

Original selection: EDGE Greg Rousseau

Sam Cosmi was productive as right tackle from 2021 to 2022 but thrived once shifting to right guard in 2022. He’s a stealthy candidate to get paid on next year’s free agent market. Cosmi could take over for Cody Ford on the 2021 Bills but could become Buffalo’s long-term right tackle.

31) Baltimore Ravens: Tre’von Moehrig, S, TCU

Original selection: EDGE Odafe Oweh

The Ravens, who acquired this pick from the Chiefs in the Orlando Brown Jr. trade, would go on to sign free safety Marcus Williams to a five-year, $70 million deal during the 2022 offseason. Let’s get ahead of that signing by giving Baltimore Tre’von Moehrig, who’s been underrated while playing for the relatively anonymous Raiders defense.

32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Original selection: EDGE Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

While injuries have limited Jaycee Horn to just 22 of a possible 51 games, he’s looked like an above-average cornerback when healthy. Fresh off a Super Bowl and set to run it back with Tom Brady, the Buccaneers can take a risk on Horn (even if they know his injuries are coming).

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With Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean installed as perimeter CBs, Horn will begin his Tampa Bay career in the slot. Depending on how he progresses, the Buccaneers could get rid of Davis (traded this offseason) earlier than they did in actuality.

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