2021 NFL Draft order: Cowboys in top 10; Patriots No. 11

This is a look at the first-round order for the 2021 NFL Draft heading into Week 8 of the NFL season, along with the top three needs for each team. The order is determined by record, using strength of schedule as the first tiebreaker (click here to see a full list of the draft-order tiebreakers). Keep in mind -- teams 19-32 would make the playoffs if the season ended today and are marked as PL (short for playoffs) in the order below. The draft order for playoff teams is determined by the results of postseason play.

Pick
1
New York Jets
New York Jets
0-7 · .609 strength of schedule

Biggest needs: QB, WR, edge rusher

This week's game: at Chiefs


The Jets' failures certainly can’t be pinned to Sam Darnold alone and the team doesn't intend to move him before the trade deadline, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. However, after a missed opportunity to catch a napping Bills team on Sunday, it's probably best we stop denying where this marriage appears to be headed and move QB to the front of the needs line.

Pick
2
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
1-6 · .485

Biggest needs: QB, CB, OT

This week's game: On bye


Yes, there are a lot of needs here. Remember, though: The Jaguars hold the Rams' first-rounder (Jalen Ramsey trade) and the Vikings' second-rounder (Yannick Ngakoue trade) next year. Jacksonville could end up with four of the draft's first 40 picks.

Pick
3
2
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
1-6 · .533

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, S, CB

This week's game: at Panthers


Matthew Stafford had his best game of 2020 against a Falcons secondary in need of repair. He completed 80-plus percent of his passes that were thrown 15 or more yards down the field, per PFF, and became the second QB in as many weeks to set a season-high in passing yards against Atlanta.

Pick
4
New York Giants
New York Giants
1-6 · .552

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, CB, OT

This week's game: vs. Buccaneers


We held out on replacing WR with OT on the needs list, but no longer. First-round pick Andrew Thomas just isn't showing the signs of improvement in pass protection that we were expecting by midseason. The Giants could get Nate Solder (opt out) back next season, but counting on him is a gamble given the decline he showed last year.

Pick
5
2
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE HOUSTON TEXANS


Texans' record: 1-6 (.659)

This week's Texans game: On bye


See Pick No. 14 for analysis of the Dolphins' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Texans' needs.

Pick
6
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
1-5 · .553

Biggest needs: OL, DT, QB

This week's game: at Packers


The Vikings figure to be back in the market for edge-rushing help now that the Yannick Ngakoue Experiment has come to an end after two months, but the bigger need is on the interior, where Minnesota has only one player ranked in PFF's top 90 at the position.

Pick
7
2
Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
1-5-1 · .533

Biggest needs: OT, WR, CB

This week's game: vs. Titans


Sure, it would have been nice to upset the rival Browns, but a narrow loss was the best outcome for the Bengals. Why? Well, because this team isn't going to contend for a playoff spot this year and needs offensive line help in the worst way. The more it loses the better its chances of landing an instant difference maker in the draft.

Pick
8
11
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
2-5 · .500

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, CB, S

This week's game: at Eagles


Injuries have decimated the Cowboys on the offensive line and now at quarterback, but the bigger long-term concern (these are draft needs, after all) remains the defense, which has allowed 25 or more points in six straight games (tied with the Jaguars for the longest active streak). 

Pick
9
6
Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team
2-5 · .531

Biggest needs: QB, WR, interior OL

This week's game: On bye


Even in a lopsided win against a historically awful Dallas defense, there was a reminder of what ails the WFT at the wide receiver position. Terry McLaurin had a team-high 11 targets on Sunday. All other Washington WRs combined for one target total.

Pick
10
2
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers
2-4 · .500

Biggest needs: Interior OL, TE, WR

This week's game: at Broncos


The Chargers have spent a first-round pick on an offensive lineman only once in the past 26 drafts (D.J. Fluker, 2013). That's not a rate they can sustain if they're going to do right by their red-hot young QB.

Pick
11
2
New England Patriots
New England Patriots
2-4 · .605

Biggest needs: Interior OL, DL, WR

This week's game: at Bills


The Patriots haven't drafted inside the top 10 since 2008, when they selected Jerod Mayo 10th overall. Bill Belichick will be holding a higher pick than that next year if he doesn’t find a way to jumpstart a putrid offense.

Pick
12
1
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
2-4 · .615

Biggest needs: OT, CB, S

This week's game: vs. Chargers


There are a grand total of zero offensive tackles with a higher grade from PFF than free-agent-to-be Garett Bolles. There's a lot of season left, but it looks like the man is going to get paid, whether it's by the Broncos or someone else.

Pick
13
3
Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
3-4 · .543

Biggest needs: OL, CB, WR

This week's game: vs. Falcons


Wide receiver deserves to be a priority until the Panthers re-sign pending free agent Curtis Samuel, but ILB is a close fourth on the needs list. Everyone knew replacing Luke Kuechly would be a tough task, but Carolina should be able to find an upgrade over Tahir Whitehead this offseason.

Pick
14
1
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
3-3 · .425

Biggest needs: WR, ILB, interior OL

This week's game: vs. Rams


Miami entered its Week 7 bye with the league's worst run defense, per Football Outsiders. A playmaking inside linebacker (or two) could go a long way toward shoring up that weakness.

Pick
15
3
Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
3-3 · .525

Biggest needs: WR, DL, LB

This week's game: vs. Colts


Knocking on the door of the top 10 in the draft order just a few weeks ago, Detroit has won two in a row and after the Colts, its next four opponents have a sub-.500 record. The dormant pass rush showed signs of life against the Falcons!

Pick
16
2
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders
3-3 · .625

Biggest needs: DT, OL, S

This week's game: at Browns


Jon Gruden is coming off an encounter with that nightmarish scenario when your team isn't pressuring the opposing QB and can't keep the opposition's pressure off your own signal-caller. Will he have to relive it in Cleveland next week? 

Pick
17
3
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
4-3 · .394

Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: at Seahawks


Edge rusher replaces safety on the list this week since depth might be a bigger concern at the former. Kerry Hyder, Dion Jordan, Solomon Thomas, Ezekiel Ansah and Ronald Blair are ticketed for free agency while Dee Ford can't stay healthy and Nick Bosa will be coming off an ACL tear.

Pick
18
1
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
4-2 · .553

Biggest needs: QB, S, DL

This week's game: at Bears


New Orleans has only one of PFF's top 70 safeties this season and that player (Marcus Williams) is due to become a free agent this offseason.

Pick
PL
9
Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
2-4-1 · .521

Biggest needs: OG, LB, CB

This week's game: vs. Cowboys


CB replaces WR on the needs list this week due to Travis Fulgham's continued breakout. Philly has one of the league's lowest-rated coverage units. Plus, CBs Nickell Robey-Coleman and Cre'von LeBlanc are both due to reach free agency this offseason.

Pick
PL
Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
4-2 · .329

Biggest needs: CB, edge rusher, OT

This week's game: at Lions


Indy should be on the lookout for a blindside protector of the future. Le'Raven Clark struggled filling in at left tackle for starter Anthony Castonzo a couple weeks ago, and Castonzo himself is only signed through 2021. 

Pick
PL
Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
5-2 · .404

Biggest needs: CB, edge rusher, interior OL

This week's game: On bye


Are the Cardinals going to regret declining Haason Reddick's fifth-year option? He's the team’s best pass rusher with Chandler Jones sidelined and already has a career-high five sacks.

Pick
PL
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE LOS ANGELES RAMS


Rams' record: 5-2 (.439)

This week's Rams game: at Dolphins


See Pick No. 2 for analysis of the Jaguars' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Rams' needs.

Pick
PL
Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
5-2 · .468

Biggest needs: QB, OG, S

This week's game: vs. Saints


Nick Foles, who has more interceptions than TD passes in his four starts this season, offered yet another reminder on Monday night that he's best in backup duty. The Bears must find someone who can succeed in the QB1 role to avoid wasting their window to win with a stout defense.

Pick
PL
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
5-2 · .478

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, CB, OT

This week's game: vs. Patriots


Buffalo's offensive line struggles are a concern. Josh Allen was pressured a season-high 14 times by a middling pass rush on Sunday and had his second-shortest average time to throw of the season (2.78 seconds), per Next Gen Stats.

Pick
PL
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
5-2 · .478

Biggest needs: LB, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Raiders


After allowing 468 yards and 34 points to the Bengals, it seems fair to point out this defense has plenty of room to improve. That’s certainly the case at edge rusher opposite Myles Garrett. The DPOY candidate leads the league with nine sacks, but no other Cleveland edge rusher has registered more than two QB hits (and no, that's not a different way of saying sacks) this season.

Pick
PL
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5-2 · .545

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, DT, WR

This week's game: at Giants


Keeping pending free agent Chris Godwin in the fold seems like a no-brainer, but the Bucs could have more than one franchise-tag candidate to choose from this offseason and now we're waiting to see how Antonio Brown is worked into the offense.

Pick
PL
New York Jets
New York Jets

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS


Seahawks' record: 5-1 (.359)

This week's Seahawks game: vs. 49ers


See Pick No. 1 for analysis of the Jets' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Seahawks' needs.

Pick
PL
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
5-1 · .385

Biggest needs: WR, interior OL, CB

This week's game: vs. Vikings


Green Bay's offensive line bounced back in a big away against Houston, but Corey Linsley, one of the league's top centers, is due to hit the market this offseason and the same goes for All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. Can the Packers keep both of them?

Pick
PL
Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans
5-1 · .410

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, TE, WR

This week's game: at Bengals


This is somewhat mind-blowing so late in the season, but the Titans' edge rushers have posted just 1.5 sacks this season (all by Harold Landry). Tennessee became the first Steelers opponent to fail to sack Ben Roethlisberger this season, pressuring him on just seven of his 49 dropbacks, per Next Gen Stats.

Pick
PL
Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
5-1 · .429

Biggest needs: Interior DL, interior OL, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Steelers


We're shuffling the needs a bit for Baltimore after the trade to acquire Yannick Ngakoue. He's not signed beyond 2020, but it would be a surprise if the Ravens gave up a third-round pick and a conditional fifth-rounder for a short-term rental. So, edge rusher moves down the list a couple spots for now.

Pick
PL
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
6-1 · .455

Biggest needs: Interior OL, WR, S

This week's game: vs. Jets


The Chiefs have won comfortably in the last two weeks without the injured Sammy Watkins, which can't be a welcome narrative in a contract year. 



Pick
PL
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
6-0 · .413

Biggest needs: OT, edge rusher, CB

This week's game: at Ravens


Cameron Sutton did a fine job filling in for injured nickelback Mike Hilton on Sunday. Both players are due to reach free agency this offseason, though. Starters Joe Haden and Steven Nelson are just a year away from being in the same situation.

TEAMS WITHOUT A FIRST-ROUND PICK

Houston Texans
Houston Texans
1-6

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS


Biggest needs: WR, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: On bye


A Texans defense searching for answers couldn’t find any on Sunday. It left Davante Adams open and pressured Aaron Rodgers just four times on 34 dropbacks, recording zero sacks. 

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams
5-2

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS


Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, LB

This week's game: at Dolphins


The Rams' pass rush was ferocious in the Leonard Floyd revenge game, but a tight cap situation means they might be shopping for cheap help off the edge in 2021.

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks
5-1

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE NEW YORK JETS


Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, CB

This week's game: vs. 49ers


The Seahawks failed to record so much as a QB hit on a night when Kyler Murray dropped back to pass a season-high 52 times. It was the first time all season that he went a full game without being sacked. More pass rush, please.

Follow Dan Parr on Twitter @TheDan_Parr.

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