Updated: Apr 16, 2021
The NFL Draft is just over two weeks away, many teams will be looking to add that one piece to continue to fill out their roster(s), while these college superstars will be looking for a new team to call home. I present to you: the top 25 prospects in this year's NFL Draft.
1. Trevor Lawrence QB, Clemson
Did you expect to see anyone else at number one? The six foot six Quarterback from Cartersville, Georgia has been the unanimous number one overall draft prospect for over a year now and for good reason. Lawrence has led Clemson to a 34-2 record when he’s the starting QB, three straight ACC championships, and a National Championship in which he shredded Alabama’s defense. Lawrence finished his career at Clemson with over 10,000 total passing yards and 108 total touchdowns while only throwing 17 interceptions. Lawrence has the strongest arm and the best accuracy in this draft class, as he can make every throw necessary to be a future All-Pro.
2. Penei Sewell OT, Oregon
In my opinion, Penei Sewell is the safest pick in this year's class and would be the number one overall prospect if it wasn’t for the amount of explosive offensive playmakers in this class. Sewell opted out of this previous college season, but that clearly has not affected his draft stock. Sewell allowed a meager one sack during the 2018 and 2019 seasons combined and was awarded the Outland trophy for the nation’s best lineman in 2019. Whoever ends up getting Sewell on draft night will be securing an All-Pro tackle for years to come.
3. Ja’Marr Chase WR, LSU
Although Chase is another 2020 opt-out, it is nearly impossible to forget the dominant season the former Biletnikoff winner had two seasons ago. Leading the country in receiving yards at 1,780, and recording 20 touchdowns, Chase was Joe Burrow’s go-to-guy during their prolific national championship run. Even though DeVonta Smith dominated all headlines in college football last year, Ja’Marr Chase should be the number one receiver to have his name called on draft night
4. Kyle Pitts TE, Florida
Another generational talent, a strong case can be made for Kyle Pitts being the number one pass catcher in this class. Pitts is more than just a tight end, as he lined up out-wide and in the slot last year for Florida. Pitts was practically unstoppable and finished the season with 12 touchdowns in only 8 games, and an astounding 17.9 yards per catch. He’ll be a game wrecker for NFL defenses for a long, long time.
5. Justin Fields QB, Ohio State
The majority of those covering the draft have ranked BYU’s Zach Wilson above Justin Fields, and I just don't understand it. Fields did have a rocky 2020 campaign where he struggled against Indiana and Northwestern in the Big Ten title game, but he also put on one of the best performances of any player this season vs. Clemson in the CFB Playoff. Fields has all the arm talent in the world and is arguably the best dual-threat QB in the class, but many have questioned his ability to go through his progressions. However, as he gains more and more experience this will become no concern for Fields.
6. Zach Wilson QB, BYU
Wilson exploded onto the CFB scene this year with 43 total touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Wilson ended this past season top 5 in the country in completion percentage, yards, and passing touchdowns while guiding BYU to an 11-1 record overall. But one knock for me against Wilson, is his inconsistency against teams of equal, or superior competition in his career. Against ranked opponents in his career, Wilson has a record of 2-4 while accounting for 10 total touchdowns and 5 interceptions, which is not horrible, but is not great also. Thus said, many QBs have faced inferior competition in college and still excelled in the NFL.
7. Micah Parsons LB, Penn State
In a draft class with less defensive talent than usual, Micah Parsons is the consensus number one defensive prospect in this year's draft. Parsons opted out of the 2020-2021 season, but was a force in the 2019 season. Parsons totaled 109 tackles and forced four fumbles in 2019 and showed he has the IQ as well as the speed to be a sideline-to-sideline Linebacker at the next level. If you for some reason need any further convincing of how good Parsons is go back and watch his tape from 2019 against Memphis and Ohio State.
8. DeVonta Smith WR, Alabama
Smith became the first Wide Receiver to win the Heisman trophy since Desmond Howard in 1991, as the two time National Champion was uncoverable in the 2020-2021 season. Smith led the country in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns this season as part of the three-headed monster Alabama had on offense. Smith makes up for his smaller frame with his tremendous route running and after the catch ability which were the X-factor to his Heisman winning season. Multiple analysts have questioned his potential to produce in the NFL because of his lack of size, but they’re just underestimating his talent along with the NFL’s ability to help players add size and strength.
9. Jaylen Waddle WR, Alabama
Debatably the fastest and best deep threat pass catcher in the draft, Jaylen Waddle comes in as my number three Wide Receiver. If it weren’t for a gruesome ankle injury vs. Tennessee early in the season, Waddle could have challenged some of the numbers his teammate DeVonta Smith put up. Nonetheless, Waddle has game-breaking speed and open field ability, which he put on display as a return man for Alabama during his career, not just at Wideout. Waddle’s 21 yard per reception average is a testament to his ability to get behind a defense and wreak havoc.
10. Rashawn Slater OT, Northwestern
Slater is an intriguing prospect because of his versatility. During his time at Northwestern he played both right and left tackle, but he has the size and quickness to play the guard position at the next level. Slater opted out of the 2020-2021 season, but has plenty of tape to review considering he started 37 games in his college career. Many analysts have given him credit for his ability to use angles and get to the second level.
11. Trey Lance QB, North Dakota State
Coming in as the number four overall QB for most analysts, and myself, is Trey Lance. Lance only got to show his abilities in one game this season, but was dominant in 2019 tallying 42 total touchdowns, and over 3,880 total yards of offense while throwing ZERO interceptions- yes you read that right. The only true knock on Lance is the level of competition he faced while at North Dakota State. Lance and the Bison’s faced zero FBS opponents during his 17 games as the starter, which leaves some slight concern regarding his abilities, but not too much. Lance’s draft stock is riding heavily on his performance at his Pro Day, which could potentially catapult him into the top 5 if he shines.
12. Patrick Surtain II CB, Alabama
Son of former NFL corner Patrick Surtain Sr, Surtain II comes in just ahead of Caleb Farely here. The unanimous All-American and 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the year finished last season with 38 total tackles and 12 passes defended. While looking at the numbers many people might look at the 4 total career interceptions in disgust. Yet, when you’re as good of a defensive player as Surtain has been, offensive coordinators usually plan to avoid you at all costs. This is proven in the lack of targets towards Surtain last season, with that toal being only 48 (si.com)
13. Caleb Farley CB, Virginia Tech
The debate for who the number one corner spot in the draft belongs to is neck and neck between Farley and Surtain. So much so, that I would even consider them as 1A and 1B. Farley’s ball skills jump out at you on tape, which makes sense considering he was primarily a Wide Receiver in high school. Farley was another 2020 opt-out, but like many others, had an incredible 2019 showing. In just his second season playing defensive back, Farley accumulated 12 pass defenses and 4 interceptions. The only thing that will be held against Farley come draft night, is the fact that he is coming off of back surgery and was unable to perform at Virginia Tech’s Pro day. Regardless, Farley will be one of the first defensive players to have his name called come draft night.
14. Alijah Vera-Tucker OL, USC
The second most versatile prospect in the class behind Kyle Pitts, Vera-Tucker played guard in 2019 but made the switch to Left Tackle in 2020. He has the ability to play either in the NFL as he has only allowed two sacks over the last two seasons for USC. Look for Vera-Tucker to be a mid-round pick come the night of the draft.
15. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB, Notre Dame
The best outside-linebacker in the class, Owusu-Koramoah has blazing speed and would be a perfect outside linebacker for any team in the league. Last season's Butkus award winner, ACC Defensive Player of the year, and unanimous All-American finished the year with 61 total tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 passes defended which shows the versatility he has. Owusu-Koramoah’s best game on tape so far came against ACC Champion Clemson in the regular season.
16. Mac Jones QB, Alabama
The fifth and final Quarterback expected to be selected on day one of the NFL draft, Mac Jones is another player who had an incredible showing in 2020. Leading the nation in total Quarterback rating (QBR) last year, Mac Jones is not what most would consider the modern NFL QB. Jones is very efficient sitting back in the pocket, going through progressions, and delivering accurate throws; unlike the other Quarterbacks ahead of him. However, Jones may have the upper hand when it comes to deep ball accuracy on every other QB in this draft other than Trevor Lawrence. Jones is a name to watch come draft night, as many insiders have reported that the 49ers are very interested in taking Jones with the number three pick.
17. Gregory Rousseau DE, Miami
Although nobody was able to see Rousseau on the field in 2020, he had an outstanding 2019 season. In 2019 Rousseau tallied 15.5 sacks, second in the nation behind last year's number two overall pick, Chase Young. Rousseau is a raw talent, and could have really boosted his draft stock if he had chosen to play in 2020 and excelled. Thus said, whoever drafts Rousseau will be selecting him largely based on his potential, rather than production. In a draft with less talent at the defensive end position than usual, Rousseau has the most potential out of the group.
18. Kwity Paye DE, Michigan
Paye is another defensive end that will be selected mostly due to his potential upside, but the lack of production in college is what has prevented him from being a higher projected pick. Only totaling 11.5 sacks in four seasons at Michigan, Paye is a raw talent just like Rousseau. However, Paye had an impressive Pro Day, which could cause his draft stock to rise.
19. Jaycee Horn CB, South Carolina
Son of former NFL Wideout Joe Horn, Jaycee has great ball skills at the corner position, which is proven by his 23 total passes defended in his career at South Carolina. Horn opted out during the middle of the 2020 season, but he was still able to show off the talent he possesses. Horn is a level below the top corners in this class in Patrick Surtain II and Caleb Farley, although the gap is much smaller than most think.
20. Trevon Moehrig S, TCU
The consensus number one safety in the draft, Moehrig is always around the ball. Moehrig had a breakout year in 2019 finishing the season with 4 interceptions, 11 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles. Moehrig just has a knack for getting to the ball and making big plays. What stands out about Moehrig, other than his big play ability, is his tackling ability. Moehrig finishes his TCU career with 124 total tackles, and is arguably the best tackling defensive back in this class.
21. Travis Etienne RB, Clemson
The debate of which Running Back should be number one between Etienne and Harris is another tough one, however I’m giving Etienne the slight edge because of his ability as a receiving back. Etienne has game changing speed and ability in the open field that makes everyone hold their breath. Finishing his collegiate career with just over 4,950 rushing yards and 1,155 yards receiving, Etienne is a versatile back who has excelled in the rushing and receiving game in his four years at Clemson. One last thing to note about Etienne is that he had 0 total fumbles in college.
22. Najee Harris RB, Alabama
Harris had a tremendous 2020 season finishing first in the FBS in rushing touchdowns with 26 and third in yards with 1,466. Harris was easily the best running back in college football last year, which was solidified by winning the Doak Walker Award. Harris shows a great mix of power and elusiveness with the ball in his hands, and is extremely hard to bring down. Harris has improved largely as a presence in the receiving game over the last two seasons and has hauled in 11 receiving touchdowns over that time frame. Even though Running Backs don’t typically hear their name called on the first night of the draft, many have Najee Harris set as a late first round pick.
23. Kadarius Toney WR, Florida
Toney is another do-it-all Wide Receiver in this year’s draft class. Toney did basically everything for the Gators this year: receiving, rushing, and returning punts. Finishing with 100 total touches combined across those three categories, Toney will bring versatility to any NFL team that will keep defensive coordinators up all night trying to plan for him. Toney is the best Wideout in the quick passing game in this draft and is dangerous whenever he has the ball in his hands. Toney shows flashes of current Washington Football Team receiver, Curtis Samuel with his blend of quickness, speed, and explosiveness.
24. Christian Barmore DT, Alabama
The best overall Defensive Tackle and run stopping lineman in this draft, Barmore stands out among a class with not a lot of talent in the interior of the defensive line. Barmore is a game wrecker who can take on double teams and still shut down the run or get to the QB. Barmore finished last season with 8 total sacks which would make any NFL head coach or GM more than pleased. Barmore has been slotted to go anywhere from the middle or later picks of the first round.
25. Christian Darrisaw OT, Virginia Tech
Darrisaw has been a reliable Left Tackle for Virginia Tech since arriving in Blacksburg as a freshman. He has allowed only 3 sacks over the past two seasons and excelled in the run game as well. Darrisaw will be a day one starter in the NFL and is projected to be taken in the middle of the first round come draft night. With multiple teams in need of help on the offensive line, Darrisaw has NFL franchises keeping their fingers crossed that he slides down the board.
*All Stats recorded that were not cited were found on ESPN.com