2021 NFL Draft order: Cowboys No. 5; Broncos inch closer to top 10

This is a look at the first-round order for the 2021 NFL Draft heading into Week 11 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
0-9 · .607 strength of schedule

Biggest needs: QB, WR, edge rusher

This week's game: at Chargers


Is Joe Douglas setting the stage for one of the boldest moves ever by a GM? He says Sam Darnold is the Jets' "quarterback for the future," but to make that a reality beyond this season, he'll likely have to pass on the most hyped QB prospect in nearly a decade.

Pick
2
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars
1-8 · .463

Biggest needs: QB, CB, OT

This week's game: vs. Steelers


When the Jaguars needed him most on Sunday (Jacksonville's final drive of the game), Cam Robinson was no match for the Packers' pressure off the edge, which isn't going to help the pending free agent's case at the negotiating table.

Pick
3
2
Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team
2-7 · .476

Biggest needs: QB, WR, OL

This week's game: vs. Bengals


Washington passed on Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa in this year's draft, only to bench Dwayne Haskins a month into the season. Would Ron Rivera really say no thanks to some of the top QB prospects available again if his team ends up drafting this high, even with Alex Smith's heroic comeback?

Pick
4
2
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers
2-7 · .524

Biggest needs: Interior OL, TE, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Jets


We're giving edge rusher a spin on the needs list this week after the Chargers recorded only one sack (by defensive lineman Jerry Tillery) in the last two games with Joey Bosa sidelined. Melvin Ingram, in the final year of his deal, has yet to record a sack this season, and Uchenna Nwosu isn't playing much. The Bolts pressured Tua Tagovailoa on just 12 percent of his dropbacks in Week 10.

Pick
5
1
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
2-7 · .543

Biggest needs: CB, DT, OL

This week's game: at Vikings


Potential silver lining to what's looking like a lost year in Dallas: The last time the Cowboys started a season 2-7, they ended up landing Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall five months later. It's not hard to envision them bouncing back in a weak division with a healthy Dak Prescott and a highly touted rookie defender or offensive lineman added to the mix.

Pick
6
1
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE HOUSTON TEXANS


Texans' record: 2-7 (.593)

This week's Texans game: vs. Patriots


See the playoff teams section for analysis of the Dolphins' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Texans' needs.

Pick
7
1
Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
2-6-1 · .562

Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: at Washington Football Team


Sunday's rout by the Steelers marked the fourth game in which Joe Burrow has been sacked four or more times, tied for most in the league, and three of the four games were against division opponents. This team isn't going to be competitive in the AFC North until it can keep its quarterback from being bludgeoned by rivals.

Pick
8
5
New York Giants
New York Giants
3-7 · .473

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, CB, OT

This week's game: On bye


James Bradberry continues to play at a Pro Bowl level, but the Giants should be looking to upgrade opposite him at corner.

Pick
9
1
Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
3-7 · .581

Biggest needs: OL, CB, WR

This week's game: vs. Lions


There could be more big changes coming in Matt Rhule's second offseason on the job. Four of the five starters on the offensive line and the team's top three cornerbacks are due to hit the market.

Pick
10
1
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
3-6 · .440

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, S, CB

This week's game: at Saints


Can the Falcons, with a defense that's been stingier in the past month despite lacking a consistent edge-rush presence, beat a winning team? They haven't done it yet this season, and six of their final seven games are against squads that are currently at least three games above .500.

Pick
11
1
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
3-6 · .549

Biggest needs: OT, CB, QB

This week's game: vs. Dolphins


Is it too soon to give up on Drew Lock? Yes. But that's life in the NFL in 2020. He's played in one fewer game than the benched Dwayne Haskins and has a lower completion percentage and QB rating despite being surrounded with a better supporting cast. Based on the way things are trending for Lock and the Broncos, we can't leave QB off the needs list any longer.

Pick
12
3
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
4-6 · .533

Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: On bye


The 49ers are already pursuing edge-rush help. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported they were among the teams to put in a claim on recently waived DE Takkarist McKinley, who was assigned to the Bengals. San Francisco's search will continue into 2021.

Pick
13
2
Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
4-5 · .500

Biggest needs: WR, DL, LB

This week's game: at Panthers


The two players to record sacks for the Lions in their Week 10 victory -- DEs Everson Griffen and Romeo Okwara -- could be playing elsewhere in 2021, as both are due to become free agents. Okwara is on pace to post a career-high in sacks. He already has six, while no one else on the team has more than two.

Pick
14
1
New England Patriots
New England Patriots
4-5 · .554

Biggest needs: Interior OL, DL, WR

This week's game: at Texans


Forty percent of the New England offensive line that played so well on Sunday night could walk in the offseason. Guard Joe Thuney and center David Andrews, both among the top 10 players at their respective positions, are pending free agents.

Pick
15
1
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
4-5 · .561

Biggest needs: OL, DT, QB

This week's game: vs. Cowboys


With a strong running game leading the way, Kirk Cousins has turned it on again, posting a passer rating of 100-plus in each of the past three games. We're not backing off the need to develop a young quarterback behind him, though.

Pick
16
Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
5-5 · .527

Biggest needs: QB, OG, S

This week's game: On bye


The Bears could barely muster 100 passing yards against a Vikings pass defense that has had its share of issues this year, offering the most stark signal yet that Chicago, losers of four straight, has to start over at quarterback.  

Pick
17
Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
6-3 · .421

Biggest needs: QB, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Packers


Philip Rivers had a good night against the Titans, but we're not moving QB on the needs list at this point. Remember, 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason is the only quarterback the Colts have under contract beyond this season.

Pick
18
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
6-3 · .469

Biggest needs: LB, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Eagles


Cleveland is set at one corner sport with Denzel Ward, but Cleveland's top two players at the position this season outside of Ward have expiring deals. Plus, Greedy Williams, who has yet to play in 2020, is still somewhat of an unknown with less than a full season's worth of starts under his belt. 

Pick
PL
Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
3-5-1 · .446

Biggest needs: OG, LB, CB

This week's game: at Browns


These are not wonderful times for the Eagles, and things might soon get even uglier. A vulnerable back seven on defense will face two of the league's top six pass offenses in the next three weeks.

Pick
PL
Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
6-3 · .405

Biggest needs: CB, edge rusher, interior OL

This week's game: at Seahawks


Lost somewhat in the hoopla around Kyler Murray's miraculous throw was the fact that the Cardinals failed to sack Josh Allen, who matched a season-high with 49 dropbacks.

Pick
PL
Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins
6-3 · .434

Biggest needs: WR, ILB, interior OL

This week's game: at Broncos


This offseason should be all about adding explosiveness, starting at the receiver position. The Jets are the only team with fewer pass plays of 20-plus yards than the Dolphins (20).

Pick
PL
Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE LOS ANGELES RAMS


Rams' record: 6-3 (.453)

This week's Rams game: at Buccaneers


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

Pick
PL
Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans
6-3 · .476

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, TE, WR

This week's game: at Ravens


Tennessee has a grand total of zero sacks to show for the $20 million it invested in Jadeveon Clowney and now former Titan Vic Beasley for 2020. After that experience, perhaps investing in the position early in the draft will be a more appealing option for GM Jon Robinson in 2021.

Pick
PL
New York Jets
New York Jets

PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS


Seahawks' record: 6-3 (.506)

This week's Seahawks game: vs. Cardinals


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

Pick
PL
Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
6-3 · .530

Biggest needs: WR, OL, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Titans


Bill Belichick, long the master of identifying and exploiting the opponent's weakness, located it Sunday night on the interior of the Ravens' offensive line.

Pick
PL
Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders
6-3 · .560

Biggest needs: DT, OL, S

This week's game: vs. Chiefs


The Vegas offensive line has held up well despite disruptions due to COVID-19 protocols and injuries, a credit to O-line coach Tom Cable. That said, young reinforcements will likely be needed up front given the potential for free-agent losses/cap casualties.

Pick
PL
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7-3 · .489

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, DT, WR

This week's game: vs. Rams


Whom do you keep when you probably can't lock up all your key pending free agents: Chris Godwin entering his prime or stud defenders like Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett?

Pick
PL
Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
7-3 · .533

Biggest needs: Edge rusher, CB, DT

This week's game: On bye


We wrote about the need for O-line help just last week, but DT deserves a week in the spotlight. It's been a problem area for a while, including on Sunday, when the Cardinals gashed the Bills for 217 yards rushing.

Pick
PL
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
7-2 · .434

Biggest needs: WR, interior OL, CB

This week's game: at Colts


The Packers were wise to fork over big money to extend left tackle David Bakhtiari this weekend. What does that mean for the future of free-agent-to-be Corey Linsley, though? He's PFF's top center (by far) this season.

Pick
PL
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
7-2 · .523

Biggest needs: QB, S, DL

This week's game: vs. Falcons


There's uncertainty at quarterback for the Saints in the short- and long-term, but no matter what the future holds for Drew Brees and Jameis Winston, this seems like a fine time for Sean Payton to draft and develop a passer.

Pick
PL
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
8-1 · .398

Biggest needs: Interior OL, WR, S

This week's game: at Raiders


In addition to guard/tackle Mike Remmers, three interior O-linemen (Austin Reiter, Kelechi Osemele, Daniel Kilgore) are due to reach unrestricted free agency in 2021. All four players have started at least three games for the Chiefs this season, so adding depth up front figures to be on the to-do list.

Pick
PL
Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
9-0 · .415

Biggest needs: OT, edge rusher, CB

This week's game: at Jaguars


Pittsburgh could be in the market for interior D-line depth with Tyson Alualu in a walk year, but corner is the bigger priority from our perspective with Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton due to reach free agency in 2021, one year before Joe Haden and Steven Nelson do the same.

TEAMS WITHOUT A FIRST-ROUND PICK

Houston Texans
Houston Texans
2-7

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS


Biggest needs: WR, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Patriots


In addition to bolstering his weaponry on offense, the Texans can help Deshaun Watson by giving him a defense that can get off the field. Houston ranks second to last in average time of possession because, in part, it has allowed 167.4 rushing yards per game this season (most in the NFL).

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams
6-3

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS


Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, LB

This week's game: at Buccaneers


Joe Noteboom's performance filling in for the injured Andrew Whitworth could tell the Rams a lot about how high a priority the O-line should be this offseason. 

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks
6-3

TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE NEW YORK JETS


Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher

This week's game: vs. Cardinals


The cracks in the Seahawks' offensive line seem to be showing, as Seattle set a new season-high in sacks allowed in each of the past two games. Russell Wilson has been hit a combined 23 times and sacked 11 times in that span.

Follow Dan Parr on Twitter @TheDan_Parr.

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