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Folks, it’s taken a lot of hard work but I’ve finally narrowed down my top 50 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s taken a lot of planning and a lot of film watching. I started this project in January and I wanted to be as thorough as I could be. I’m stoked to have this on the record though so I can see how right I am about this draft class or how wrong I am about this draft class. That’s the beauty of the internet, these takes will be written in stone forever for better or for worse and I couldn’t love it more.
So without further adieu, I present to you the top 50 players in the 2021 NFL Draft!
- Trevor Lawrence, QB1, Clemson
Don’t overthink it. He’s the best quarterback prospect to come out since Andrew Luck.
2. Zach Wilson, QB2, BYU
Wilson has an elite arm that you don’t see often. He goes through his progressions well. He has a lot of poise in the pocket. He’s incredibly accurate. He’s mobile. He doesn’t have elite size at 6’3″ and 209 lbs but that doesn’t matter. He’s got all of the traits to be an elite NFL quarterback.
3. Kyle Pitts, TE1, Florida
Pitts may be the best tight end prospect I’ve ever seen. He can line up literally everywhere and at 6’6″ he’s a true mismatch no matter where he is lined up. I’d easily put him as the best pass catcher in this class since he can play receiver and tight end.
4. Ja’Marr Chase, WR1, LSU
Chase has good size and is an absolute weapon as a receiver. He can use his body to box players out and get the ball. Does he have elite speed? No, but he can still beat you over the top. He’s got great hands, a good catch radius, and excellent route running ability as well. He should be a lock to be a top 10 pick.
5. Penei Sewell, OT1, Oregon
Sewell went from being a lock to be a top 3 pick to a guy who may now fall out of the top 10 due to some concerns about his floor as he sat out the 2020 season. Don’t overthink it: Sewell easily has the most upside of any tackle in this class.
6. Patrick Surtain III, CB1, Alabama
Teams simply don’t throw at this guy. He’s a complete lockdown corner and it’s hard to see how his skills won’t transfer to the next level.
7. Devonta Smith, WR2, Alabama
Smith is a much different player than Ja’Marr Chase but he is an absolute burner. All you’ve gotta do is get the ball into Smith’s hands and he will make the magic happen. The biggest knock against Smith will be his size but his size won’t matter when he’s such an elite route runner and he has the hands that he has.
8. Trey Lance, QB3, North Dakota State
It took me a long time but I’ve finally come around on Trey Lance. It’s really hard not to like him when he’s got the arm that he has and the mobility that he has. Are there some questions about his accuracy? Sure. But it’s not like that causes him to turn the ball over. He only had ONE career interception in college. He is an incredibly intelligent prospect and I am a huge fan of his game. I hope he goes to a team that can utilize the full package he will have to offer.
9. Rashawn Slater, OT2, Northwestern
Draft guru Daniel Jeremiah, who in my eyes is the best in the business, ranked Slater as the number 1 offensive tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft ahead of Penei Sewell. I wholeheartedly disagree with that assessment but I do believe that Slater has a high floor as a left tackle. Due to his tiny arms there will be teams who see him more as a guard but he should be able to play left tackle at a high level. He’s not a project by any means and his game is incredibly well rounded.
10. Justin Fields, QB4, Ohio State
Fields has all the tools to be a successful passer at the next level. He’s got an elite arm, good accuracy, mobility, and he shows up in the biggest moments. The biggest issue he has is that he processes the game slowly. He’s going to be a quarterback who needs to go somewhere where he can sit for a little while so that he can learn the mental side of the game better. But when it comes to the traits you want as a quarterback, he’s got all of them.
11. Micah Parsons, LB1, Penn State
The top ten of this draft class is so good that it almost feels dirty putting Parsons this low. Normally I’d never put an ILB this high but Parsons is different. He has the potential to be a guy who quarterbacks a defense for 10-12 seasons at an elite level.
12. Jaycee Horn, CB2, South Carolina
Horn is an interesting prospect because he’s got the ideal size for an outside corner. He definitely has the physical traits to be an outside corner but there are times where he looks a bit lost on the field and is a bit raw. In many ways he’s a physical corner when in press coverage but he also doesn’t like to tackle very much. For now he’s my CB2. He’d likely be my CB3 if Farley was guaranteed to be healthy. If he can pair the mental side of the game with his elite physical traits then he will be a menace for years to come in the NFL.
13. Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG1, USC
Vera-Tucker is a lock to be a quality NFL starter on the offensive line. The question is if he’s a tackle or not. Most teams are going to view him as a guard since he isn’t the greatest athlete in this class on the offensive line but that shouldn’t stop him from being a top 15 pick. On top of that, I think there’s a good chance that a team that views him as a tackle will fall in love with him. There’s an outside chance he’s taken before Sewell or Slater.
14. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB2, Notre Dame
The more I watch this kid play the more I love him. In some ways he’s a way less hyped version of Isaiah Simmons. He’s an off-ball linebacker who some teams may view as a safety. He’s super versatile and athletic. He moves incredibly well and attacks the ball with great instincts. He will make a team in the middle of the first round very happy.
15. Rashod Bateman, WR3, Minnesota
I fell in love with this guy watching his tape. He attacks the ball so aggressively as a receiver and at times it seems like he never loses 50/50 balls. He’s an incredible route runner. His ability to catch the ball in traffic is elite. The biggest knock on him was that he lacks elite speed but he ran a 4.40 at his pro day. Bateman is everything you want in an NFL receiver.
16. Caleb Farley, CB3,Virginia
Farley is a former wide receiver who has elite ball skills for a cornerback. He’s great in man coverage and is extremely physical. Teams who play a lot of press coverage will love this guy. He’d likely be in my top 10 if there weren’t some injury concerns with his back.
17. Jaylen Waddle, WR4, Alabama
Waddle is a tough prospect to evaluate because you see the potential when looking at him but I see more scenarios where he doesn’t hit that potential than scenarios where he does. He has to go to the perfect scheme to be successful. He’s a deep threat who will certainly have big plays in the NFL but can he be a feature receiver in an offense? I don’t think he can. If he can go somewhere where he’s the second fiddle to a great receiver then he will have more success.
18. Gregory Rousseau, Edge1, Miami
Rousseau is the most boom or bust prospect in this draft. He will grow into an elite pass rusher or he will be a colossal bust. He’s incredibly raw but if he is developed right then he will be a menace at the next level. I think a team will fall in love with him in the top 10 of the draft and take him but he’s not a sure thing by any means.
19. Kwity Paye, Edge2, Michigan
Kwity Paye is an interesting prospect because he wasn’t used as a traditional edge rusher at Michigan. He was moved around way too much and it killed his production at the collegiate level. That being said, he’s an incredibly explosive player who I can see being really successful at the next level if he goes to a team that can help him refine his craft and put him in situations where he can be successful.
20. Trevon Moehrig, S1, TCU
Moehrig is the type of prospect who is the prototypical safety prospect. He’s a great tackler and he’s great in coverage. He reminds me a lot of Xavier Mckinney from last year’s draft class in a lot of ways. He can play both safety positions and it wouldn’t shock me if he goes higher than 20.
21. Christian Darrisaw, OT3, Virginia
I absolutely love watching this guy run block. He runs people over. This guy moves incredibly well for being such a big human being and creates room on the field in the run game. He’s a good pass protector, too. I think he projects more as a right tackle but could probably be serviceable on the left side. It would not shock me if he’s a top 15 pick.
22. Najee Harris, RB1, Alabama
Running backs are always difficult to evaluate but I like Najee Harris. While I’ve openly been a critic of taking running backs too early in the first round, I think once you’re in the 20’s you can at least make an argument for it. Harris isn’t going to break off 75 yard runs consistently at the NFL level but he is great in the passing game both as a pass protector and a pass catcher. He also is the best pure runner in this class. There’s definitely a chance he sneaks into the late first round.
23. Jamin Davis, LB3, Kentucky
Davis is the kind of off ball linebacker that NFL teams LOVE in today’s pass heavy league. He has shown the ability to cover tight ends in college and intercept passes. He also ran a 4.37 40 yard dash in his pro day and he’s 6’3″, 234 lbs. That’s insane speed for someone that big. While his block shedding may not be the best in this class for the off-ball linebackers, he still is a strong defender against the run. He reminds me a lot of Zach Cunningham when he was coming out of college.
24. Terrace Marshall Jr., WR5, LSU
There’s something about those LSU Tiger receivers that are just a different breed in a lot of ways. Marshall is an incredibly unique prospect to scout because of his size, route running ability, and his run after the catch ability. He’s a big man (6’3″) who is a threat on the outside and in the slot. He has the potential to be a dominant number one receiver in this league if he goes to a scheme that features him and works to get the ball in his hands.
25. Greg Newsome II, CB4, Northwestern
Newsome is going to be a quality cornerback in the NFL. His floor is high as he has solid awareness and good ball skills. He doesn’t have elite athleticism so that could cause him to fall into the second round but he is a true football player that plays a strong mental game at cornerback. There are definitely teams who are going to have him as a top 3 cornerback in this draft.
26. Travis Etienne, RB2, Clemson
Etienne is my number two ranked running back in this year’s draft. He has the ability to run wild and has great speed, elusiveness, and patience. He is also a solid receiver out of the back field. The biggest knock on Etienne is his ability to pick up the blitz as a pass protector which is something that a lot of high end running backs struggle with. It’s absolutely crucial that he fixes this in the NFL because it’s one of the most important and underrated parts of being a running back. For this reason, Najee Harris ranks above him on my big board.
27. Jaelan Phillips, Edge3, Miami
While Phillips may not have as high of a ceiling as his Miami teammate Gregory Rousseau or Michigan’s Kwity Paye, he does have a higher floor. Fundamentally, he is very sound. He has a good first step and he is a good athlete. There are some durability concerns with him and he’s not as athletic as some of the other edge rushers in this class.
28. Liam Eichenberg, OT4, Notre Dame
Tell me if you’ve heard this before: A tackle from Notre Dame comes into the NFL and dominates for 10+ seasons. It seems like it happens all the time. Eichenberg has the tools to be really great in the NFL. He is a quality run blocker and I could see him being a fixture at right tackle for teams for the next decade if he goes to the right system. He does leave a bit to be desired in pass protection but with the right coaching he can clean up those issues.
29. Jayson Oweh, Edge4, Penn State
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your perennial “JUST LOOK AT THE TRAITS!” player in this draft. Oweh is an insane athlete who has shown the ability to get to the quarterback but not necessarily sack the quarterback. He is the king of invisible stats at the college level. He literally had zero sacks last year. I’m not sure how not being able to sack the quarterback at the college level will translate to the professional level unless you just look at the traits. He ran a 4.36 40 yard dash and he’s 6’5″, 257 pounds. He’s built like a tank. If he can learn how to turn those invisible stats into actual stats then he is going to be a force in the NFL. But that’s a BIG if.
30. Jaylen Mayfield, OT5, Michigan
Mayfield projects as a high floor, low-ceiling right tackle. He’s not an elite athlete but he’s consistent and he has a mean streak. He’s a strong run blocker and he processes the game well. It’s hard to see him being a bust.
31. Teven Jenkins, OT6, Oklahoma State
Another right tackle with a mean streak, Teven Jenkins is a quality run blocker. He has enormous size and he’s a true mauler. The biggest knock on him is that he struggles picking up the pass at times which can be a problem in today’s pass heavy league. That being said, he has the traits needed to play tackle in the NFL and if he can be coached on how to use his size better then he can be a quality starter for a long time. If he doesn’t then he will certainly be a bust.
32. Landon Dickerson, OG2/C1, Alabama
The NFL Combine medical check that’s set to take place in Indianapolis this week is going to make or break Landon Dickerson’s draft stock. If he didn’t tear his ACL in the SEC Championship game then he’d be a lock to be a first round pick. He’s a big, hulking people mover who seems to LOVE playing the game of football and his Alabama teammates certainly loved playing with him. He can pave the way as a run blocker and he has good feet in pass protection. He is going to make a team in the late first round or early second round incredibly happy.
33. Mac Jones, QB5, Alabama
I CAN NOT BELIEVE that there are rumblings that the San Francisco 49ers are going to take Mac Jones with the 3rd overall pick. I really can’t believe it. Jones has very good accuracy but he does not have more than average arm strength and he is the least athletic quarterback of the top 5 in this draft class by a long shot. His game would have translated much better ten years ago. If he goes to a team with offensive line issues then he’s going to be lost as he won’t be able to extend plays. I would not spend a first round pick on this quarterback but it seems inevitable that some team will.
34. Zaven Collins, LB4 Tulsa
Collins is an off ball linebacker who looks a lot faster in game action then he did when he ran is 4.67 40-yard dash time. I am not one to put a ton of stock into a 40 yard dash time as long as it’s not egregious but I feel like a 4.67 is a bit too slow for a player who is going to have to cover athletic tight ends at the next level. The traits are there for him to be an impact off-ball linebacker in terms of his football sense and awareness but he just may not be fast enough to be elite.
35. Joseph Ossai, Edge5/LB5, Texas
This guy is relentless. He pursues ball carriers and quarterbacks on every snap like his life depends on it. A team is going to fall in love with that. I see him as a 3-4 outside linebacker who can rush the passer in some situations and also play off the ball. He is a disruptive force and should be a high day two pick.
36. Kadarius Toney, WR8, Florida
Toney is an elusive receiver who will be best suited in an offense that allows him to play out of the slot. When facing man coverage he’s great at getting open. He runs good, clean routes and when he has the ball in his hands he makes defenders miss. I likely would have put a much higher grade on him if his hands were better. I don’t think he has good hands and I think that will cost a player like him some valuable draft spots.
37. Elijah Moore, WR7, Ole Miss
Moore, like Toney, is an elusive slot receiver that is shifty and dangerous with the ball in his hands. He’s a great route runner and he can be used as a gadget in an offense. He’s got the ability to stop on a dime. The biggest knock on him will be his height as he’s only 5’9″ but there’s a lot to like.
38. Samuel Cosmi, OT7, Texas
Cosmi is a tall left tackle who has played both left and right tackle for Texas during his college career. I personally see him as a right tackle in the NFL as he’s a much stronger run blocker than he is a pass blocker. He’s a bit raw which is always a red flag to me as a Giants fan who witnessed his team draft Ereck Flowers with a top ten pick. Still, I believe he could be a good tackle with the right coaching.
39. Nick Bolton, LB6, Missouri
Bolton is a relentless off-ball linebacker who empties the tank on every play. He is one of the best defenders in this class against the run and he has incredibly strong instincts. He leaves a lot to be desired as a pass defender. His lack of awareness in the passing game is going to cost him draft position. He is also a bit undersized for a linebacker at just 6’0″ tall and 231 lbs.
40. Asante Samuel Jr., CB5, Florida State
Feel old yet? Asante Samuel Jr., the son of former NFL cornerback Asante Samuel, is entering the 2021 NFL Draft. Samuel Jr. is a quality cornerback who plays the mental side of the game well. His biggest issue is that he lacks size. He could struggle on the outside against bigger receivers but he has all of the tools necessary to play in the slot.
41. Alex Leatherwood, OT8/OG3, Alabama
The worst thing that happens if you take Alex Leatherwood is that you get a solid guard. I see a high floor but a lower ceiling than a lot of the other offensive tackle prospects in this draft. The elite upside really just isn’t there, though.
42. Javonte Williams, RB3, North Carolina
I wasn’t sure how I was going to like Williams before I watched his tape but he has the ability to be a complete running back at the NFL level. He doesn’t have breakaway speed and his 4.57 40 yard dash time is evident of that but he is good at getting chunks of yardage and moving the chains. He’s a good pass catcher and he’s good in pass protection. He reminds me a bit of a poor man’s Maurice Jones-Drew.
43. Rondale Moore, WR8, Purdue
Rondale Moore is a really unique receiver. He’s small (listed as 5’9″ and 181 lbs) but he plays more like a running back than a small wide receiver. He has really good burst and is really crisp when running short routes. If you get the ball in his hands then he’s going to make you miss. He isn’t going to win a ton of 50-50 balls but the guy does know how to get open. If your team drafts Moore and expects him to be a true alpha X receiver then your team is going to be disappointed. He is better suited to be used in the slot or on the outside when a team wants to take a shot at a home run. He needs to go to a team that will have a plan to use him.
44. Levi Onwuzurike, DT1, Washington
Onwuzurike is a big, athletic defensive tackle that will thrive as a run stuffer in the NFL. Since he doesn’t have double digit sack potential, he shouldn’t be taken before the middle of the second round. He should draw plenty of double teams, though.
45. Wyatt Davis, OG4, Ohio State
Wyatt Davis would be higher up on my board if he didn’t have some major knee concerns. He had a nagging knee injury all last season at Ohio State that he has been rehabbing this offseason. With that being said, Davis is a great run blocker. He needs to improve his pass protection a bit to be a force at the next level but Davis is a high floor/low ceiling type pick. He’s not going to be a sexy pick but he will help a team win football games.
46. Christian Barmore, DT2, Alabama
I think my problem with defensive tackles is that I really don’t see the value in this position. Unless you have a guy who has double-digit sack potential at this position then the earliest it should be touched is the middle of the second round. Barmore is not a guy who has double digit sack potential but he is athletic and raw. He could develop into a quality starting defensive tackle or he could completely flame out.
47. Carlos Basham, Edge6, Wake Forest
Basham is a big, hulking edge rusher who plays the game with a lot of power. He is a bulldozer who will try and go through an offensive lineman and not around him. In some ways, he’s a bit of a one-trick pony who doesn’t really have any finesse moves. I see Basham as a 4-3 edge player who does have some upside if he can add to his repertoire.
48. Joe Tryon, Edge7, Washington
Like Basham, Tryon is a powerful edge rusher. He plays the game in 5th gear and rarely takes any plays off. I see him more as a 4-3 defensive end but with the right coaching he could potentially be a 3-4 edge rusher.
49. Aaron Robinson, CB6, UCF
Robinson is a slot cornerback who plays the game with a lot of physicality. He does not let wide receivers get into their routes and he is incredibly aggressive. There is going to be a team that is going to really like that about this prospect. He’s a fun player to watch but it wouldn’t shock me if he takes a lot of penalties as a rookie since he’s so physical and aggressive.
50. Kyle Trask, QB6, Florida
Trask throws a very pretty ball with a lot of great touch. He’s not the best athlete in the world but he is mobile enough to extend plays and he throws well on the run. The biggest issue that I have with him is that he has a noodle arm. His balls just flutter and I don’t think he has the arm strength to be anything more than a game manager at the next level. He needs to find a way to get more zip on his throws and I’m just not sure you can teach that.