Way-Too-Early 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Texans, Lions, Giants and Washington go quarterback in Round 1

Already thinking about 2022? That’s the Jets fan in me. Always getting ready for the next draft. Gives me something to talk about every December and January when New York is out of playoff contention.

Anyway, I am just starting the process of watching film of the class of 2022. A few players I am familiar with after scouting them prior to them deciding to return to school. Then of course, names like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal and Derek Stingley Jr. are known around college football because of their five-star status coming out of high school. Mix in a few quarterbacks and a bunch of receivers and we have an intriguing class.

The 2022 draft will likely look nothing like this. This is mostly just an exercise to identify some of the top players for next year and potential team needs on the NFL side. It’s also a lot of fun if you ask me. It makes it really interesting to go back and compare to the real draft a year later. I’ve been doing that with my first 2021 mock the past few days.

I did not decide the draft order. It is based on Super Bowl odds provided by William Hill. If you don’t like where your team is picking, take it up with them.

Without further ado, let’s dive into my first mock for the 2022 NFL draft.

1. Houston Texans (200-1) – Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Apologies to Davis Mills, but if the Texans are picking first overall, I don’t see them passing on a quarterback. Spencer Rattler is the latest Oklahoma quarterback to draw national attention. He is a front-runner for the Heisman and should have the Sooners in position to challenge for the College Football Playoff. A quick glance at his 2020 tape will show some inconsistent performances early in the season, but his arm talent is impressive. It is very early in the scouting process for 2022, but Rattler has the early lead for QB1.

2. Detroit Lions (150-1) – Sam Howell, QB, UNC
Detroit opted not to take one of the quarterbacks in the 2021 draft, passing on Justin Fields and Mac Jones. If the Lions ended up with the second pick in the 2022 draft, you can bet that Jared Goff did not transition well to the Motor City. Sam Howell is a bit undersized, but has a live arm and is not afraid to air it out. It will be interesting to see how he fares with so much of his supporting cast now in the NFL. Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome all were drafted over the weekend.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (100-1) – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Possibly the best cornerback prospect to come out since Jalen Ramsey, Derek Stingley Jr. is a reliable, sticky cover corner. He locates the ball well in coverage and does an excellent job pressing off the line. There are a few instances in his play where he grabs receivers after getting beat off the line, but overall, he is a great player. For Cincinnati, who lost William Jackson III in free agency this year, he would fill a huge need.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (100-1) – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
When you have your franchise quarterback, it is best to invest in protecting him. Evan Neal is a mountain of a man who moves like someone 100 pounds lighter than him. He has yet to play left tackle at Alabama, but should take over the position this season with Alex Leatherwood heading to the NFL. Jacksonville can get by for a year with Cam Robinson playing on the franchise tag, but he will likely be gone next year, creating a huge opening on Trevor Lawrence’s blindside.

5. New York Jets (100-1) – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Independent of position, Kayvon Thibodeaux is the top player in this class. After dominating his freshman season, Thibodeaux had a much more modest 2020, posting three sacks in seven games. His size and speed make him one of the most coveted prospects in this class. New York has been in search of a dominant pass rusher for well over a decade. Thibodeaux has the potential to wreak havoc in Robert Saleh’s scheme.

6. New York Giants (75-1) – Kedon Slovis, QB, USC
If the Giants are picking this high, Daniel Jones’ days in New York are likely numbered. Dave Gettleman has surrounded him with a lot of offensive talent, signing Kenny Golladay and drafting Kadarius Toney. There are no more excuses. Assuming New York is searching for a new quarterback, Kedon Slovis could be a great fit. He wowed as a freshman before turning in a rockier sophomore campaign. If he can cut down on his turnovers and regain his 2019 form, he will be challenging for the top quarterback spot in this class.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (75-1) – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Philly missed out on the top corners in the 2021 draft. This team has a huge need across from Darius Slay. Kaiir Elam could be the perfect player to fill it. He is long at 6’2″ and has good speed in the open field. His eye discipline is impressive from the limited film I’ve watched so far. I’ve also appreciate his willingness to make contact as a tackler. He is not afraid to hit people.

8. Las Vegas Raiders (70-1) – DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
After cutting Maurice Hurst and ignoring the position in the draft, the Raiders have a massive need at defensive tackle. Enter DeMarvin Leal. He is built like a prototypical three-technique tackle. His first step is good and he has a nose for the football. Even if he doesn’t get home, his presence is felt as a pass rusher. Las Vegas would benefit big time from having him on the interior of its defensive line.

9. Carolina Panthers (60-1) – Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
I thought the Panthers might select an offensive tackle early in this past draft. They did grab Brady Christiansen in the third round, but that is not enough to make me think they couldn’t use more help. Zion Nelson worked his way into the starting left tackle role at Miami in 2020 and excelled. He brings all the size teams are looking for at the position and could be Carolina’s starting left tackle in 2022 in this scenario.

10. New York Giants via Chicago Bears (50-1) – Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
After selecting a quarterback, Dave Gettleman turns to the defense here. Christian Harris is a do-it-all playmaker. He can drop in coverage like a safety or make plays around the line of scrimmage like a linebacker. He already has two years of experience as a starter in Alabama’s defense under his belt. The Giants would benefit from his sideline-to-sideline range.

11. Atlanta Falcons (50-1) – Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State
I like what the Falcons did in the 2021 draft, but they still have yet to address their need on the edge. Zach Harrison has been used primarily as a situational rusher up to this point, but has the length to excel in a 4-3 defensive end role. He came on strong towards the end of the year for the Buckeyes and could be poised for a true breakout season in 2021.

12. Washington Football Team (50-1) – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Washington crushed the 2021 draft, at least on paper. They filled some needs and built quality depth across the roster. However, they still do not have a plan for the quarterback position. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke are currently the only two options on the roster. Desmond Ridder earned some late first-round love before opting to return to school. He is big and mobile. Without question, there are some mechanics you would like to see him improve, but he has enough tools to be in the first-round conversation.

13. Minnesota Vikings (40-1) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The last time Minnesota drafted a safety from Notre Dame in the first round worked out pretty well for them. Harrison Smith is now 32 though and Anthony Harris departed in free agency. Kyle Hamilton led the Irish in tackles this season. At 6’4″, 219 pounds, he could probably fit into a hybrid linebacker roll in today’s NFL. He started all year at safety for Notre Dame, but he can move around the formation and make plays. The Vikings will sign up for that.

14. Arizona Cardinals (40-1) – Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Arizona is relying on a number of veteran players to produce in pass rushing situations this year. J.J. Watt is 32 and Chandler Jones is 31. The team could use some youth on the outside. Drake Jackson had a quieter 2021 season after picking up 5.5 sacks as a freshman. He is a bit of a tweener, able to line up as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. His versatility could boost his draft stock as the year rolls on.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (35-1) – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Few teams need offensive line help like the Steelers. Charles Cross started all 10 games at left tackle for Mississippi State in 2020. He checks all the boxes from a physical perspective and should be set for another year of facing elite competition in the SEC.

16. Los Angeles Chargers (35-1) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Chris Olave was a borderline first-round player before returning to school. He was Justin Fields’ favorite target and will form one of the nation’s best receiver duos with Garrett Wilson in 2021. It will be interesting to see if Olave can gel as quickly with Ohio State’s new starting quarterback.

17. Tennessee Titans (30-1) – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Tennessee built some quality depth with Senior Bowl standouts Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath in the 2021 draft. Maybe one of them will develop into a quality starter, but outside of A.J. Brown, this team is lacking in proven options. George Pickens is a bit of a question mark at the moment. He had surgery on a torn ACL in April and will likely miss most, if not all of the 2021 season. His game tape from the previous two years is impressive though and at 6’5″, he will have plenty of suitors in the NFL.

18. New England Patriots (30-1) – Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama
Rumors continue to fly about the future of Stephon Gilmore. The team could be betting on the development of 2019 second-round pick Joejaun Williams, but I think corner will be one of the team’s top needs next year. Josh Jobe is a physical corner with good size. He will get a chance to be Alabama’s No. 1 option with Patrick Surtain II now in the NFL.

19. Philadelphia Eagles via Miami Dolphins (28-1) – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
At 6’6″, 330 pounds, Jordan Davis is a problem. Philly can continue to rebuild its defense with a high-upside space eater. Davis is quicker than most people his size should be. He is routinely double teamed and does well at not allowing offensive linemen into his body. He could be in for a monster season at Georgia.

20. Dallas Cowboys (28-1) – Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State
Dallas missed out on the top corners in this draft class, so I have to imagine they would target one next year if given the chance. Sevyn Banks is a long, fluid defensive back coming off a solid season at Ohio State. He needs to work on his open-field tackling. The effort and form is lacking right now. His coverage skills are well above average. I am looking forward to watching more of him.

21. New Orleans Saints (25-1) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Saints went heavy on defense in the draft, but they still need to find a receiver to complement Michael Thomas. Why not return to his alma mater? Garrett Wilson was arguably the better Ohio State receiver this past season. His production took a dive in the second half of the year though. If Wilson can replicate his hot start and this time maintain it, he will be in the conversation to be the first receiver selected.

22. Indianapolis Colts (25-1) – Thayer Munford, OT, Ohio State
Indy essentially passed on the offensive tackle class this year. I expect Chris Ballard will find a veteran stop-gap option, but a long-term solution is still needed. Thayer Munford enters his fifth season with the Buckeyes having already played in 46 collegiate games. He has been rock solid and should be among the top linemen selected next year.

23. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks (25-1) – Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
Building in the trenches is often a recipe for success. After grabbing the top edge rusher in the class, Joe Douglas grabs the top interior linemen. Kenyon Green has a mean streak and was an All-American in 2020. He certainly passes the eye test to be an NFL lineman and looks like a reliable pass blocker in the limited tape I’ve watched so far. He would continue to solidify the Jets offensive line in an effort to protect Zach Wilson.

24. Denver Broncos (20-1) – Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma
Anyone else surprised to see the Broncos picking this late? Who am I to doubt Vegas though. Denver’s biggest need is an edge rusher, but there aren’t any I think are worth going here that fits Vic Fangio’s scheme. Instead, they grab a versatile defensive lineman to prepare for the future. Perrion Winfrey picked up steam as the 2020 season rolled on. He finished the year with six tackles for loss and solidified himself in the starting lineup.

25. Cleveland Browns (18-1) – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
It is hard to find many clear needs for this Browns team on paper. Jadeveon Clowney is on a one-year deal though, so finding a replacement would make sense. Aidan Hutchinson is a prototypical 4-3 end. He had his season cut short in 2020 due to injury, but should be ready to bounce back.

26. Green Bay Packers (16-1) – John Metchie, WR, Alabama
Another Alabama wide receiver goes in the first round. John Metchie will get his chance to shine after sitting behind an all-star group of receivers over the past two years. That’s not to say Metchie hasn’t made plays either. He finished 2020 with close to 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. This year, he will be “the guy” though in this offense. For Green Bay, he would be a great No. 2 option across from Davante Adams with every single receiver, other than recently-drafted Amari Rodgers, set to be a free agent next offseason.

27. Baltimore Ravens (14-1) – Cade Mays, G, Tennessee
The Ravens took big Ben Cleveland to develop along the interior of the offensive line. Kevin Zeitler is 31 and Bradley Bozeman is a free agent after the season, so this is still a potential need. Plus, building in the trenches is always smart. Cade Mays is a former five-star recruit with great size and tons of experience. He would be up for the task of keeping Lamar Jackson healthy.

28. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams (14-1) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Detroit grabbed its quarterback of the future and now can find him a weapon to develop with. Treylon Burks was one of the top receivers in the SEC in 2020. He has a big frame with good run after the catch ability. He could be primed for a huge season and a rise up draft boards.

29. Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers (14-1) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
One of my favorite players in this draft class, I’ve been tracking Devin Lloyd since 2019. He is fast and diagnoses plays well. Utah moves him all over the formation to create confusion. He is best as an off-ball linebacker, but he has shown some ability to rush the passer as well. For Miami, I think Lloyd would challenge for a starting spot right away and that Brian Flores would get the most out of him.

30. Buffalo Bills (13-1) – Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M
Buffalo stacked up on defense in 2021, but still has a clear need at tight end. Jalen Wydermyer is the best one in the class and has the production to back it up. He would be another receiving option for Josh Allen and could cause headaches for opposing defenses with his size and speed.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-2) – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Even after drafting Joe Tryon, Tampa could go edge rusher again to help lessen the blow of impending free agents. George Karlaftis had a truncated 2020 season between injury and COVID-19. However, he absolutely dominated in 2019, posting 17 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks as a true freshman. If he can get back to that type of disruptor in 2021, he will not still be on the board by pick 31.

32. Kansas City Chiefs (21-4) – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Kansas City rebuilt its offensive line this offseason, which means it can turn its attention back to the defense. Charvarius Ward and Bashaud Breeland are both free agents after this season and the Chiefs do not have much proven depth. Andrew Booth Jr. could step in as a potential starter at one of those two corner spots. He is incredibly athletic and should have a chance to prove himself this year as Clemson’s top corner.

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Draft Season Never Ends – 2021 Predictive NFL Mock Draft

Second episode of the podcast is out now! Chris and James are back to make their final predictions ahead of the 2021 NFL draft. They break down what they expect to happen for all 32 picks in the first round. Make sure you check it out ahead of the start of the draft on Thursday night.

You can find every episode on AnchorSpotifyApple Podcasts or wherever you find your podcasts. As always, we appreciate reviews, feedback and when you hit that subscribe button. Hope you enjoy the first show. Plenty more to come!

Final Top 100 Big Board and positional rankings for the 2021 NFL draft

The countdown has reached one. On the final day before the NFL draft, I decided to have some fun with my player rankings. I am going to dive into my top 100, my positional rankings and even rank the position groups in this class.

This was easily the most difficult year I’ve ever had trying to nail down my final rankings. With no combine, incomplete medical information and the pandemic truly testing my mental fortitude, I certainly struggled. However, as I sit here in late April, I still feel pretty good about the list I have put together. I will dive into more of the specifics for some of these rankings when I get into the positional rankings. I also noted the cut off for where I have players graded by round. Without further ado, here are my top 100 players in this draft.

  1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
  2. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
  3. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
  4. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
  5. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
  6. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
  7. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
  8. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
  9. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
  10. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
  11. Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
  12. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
  13. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
  14. Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC
  15. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
  16. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB/S, Notre Dame
  17. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
  18. Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
  19. Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
  20. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
  21. Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
  22. Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
  23. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
  24. Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
  25. Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
  26. Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
  27. Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
  28. Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa (First-round cut off)
  29. Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
  30. Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
  31. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
  32. Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
  33. Liam Eichenburg, OT, Notre Dame
  34. Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
  35. Carlos Basham, DL, Wake Forest
  36. Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
  37. Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
  38. Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
  39. Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
  40. Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
  41. Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
  42. Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU
  43. Javonte Williams, RB, UNC
  44. Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
  45. Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa
  46. Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
  47. Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
  48. Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
  49. Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
  50. Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
  51. Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
  52. Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
  53. Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
  54. Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pittsburgh
  55. Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
  56. Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh
  57. Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
  58. Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
  59. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
  60. Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
  61. Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
  62. Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
  63. Jay Tufele, DL, USC
  64. Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
  65. Peter Werner, LB, Ohio State
  66. James Hudson III, OT, Cincinnati (Second-round cut off)
  67. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
  68. Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
  69. Chazz Surratt, LB, UNC
  70. Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
  71. Richie Grant, S, UCF
  72. Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
  73. Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma
  74. Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
  75. Levi Onwuzurike, DL, Washington
  76. Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
  77. Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
  78. Walker Little, OT, Stanford
  79. Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
  80. Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
  81. Michael Carter, RB, UNC
  82. Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF
  83. Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
  84. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
  85. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
  86. Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State
  87. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
  88. D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
  89. Dyami Brown, WR, UNC
  90. Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston
  91. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame (Third-round cut off)
  92. Tyler Shelvin, DL, LSU
  93. Nolan Laufenburg, G, Air Force
  94. Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
  95. Monty Rice, LB, Georgia
  96. Quinn Meinerz, C, Wisconsin-Whitewater
  97. Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
  98. Jackson Carmen, G, Clemson
  99. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
  100. Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss

Let’s get into the nitty gritty now and take a look at each of the position groups. I tried to get very granular with these. Too often we just use the terms “EDGE” or “Linebacker” for so many front seven players. I wanted to really dive into which players fit into which schemes in my eyes.

Quarterback

  1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
  2. Trey Lance, North Dakota State
  3. Zach Wilson, BYU
  4. Mac Jones, Alabama
  5. Justin Fields, Ohio State
  6. Davis Mills, Stanford
  7. Kyle Trask, Florida
  8. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
  9. Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest
  10. Shane Buechele, SMU

I don’t think there should be any surprise at No. 1. Trevor Lawrence checks all the physical boxes and enters the NFL with a wealth of high-level college experience. Meanwhile, my No. 2 quarterback lacks a lot of that polish that teams love about Lawrence. Trey Lance is incredibly physically gifted and has an incredibly high ceiling. I like his size a lot and think he is more likely to hold up at the next level than Zach Wilson. I do believe that Wilson has the best arm in this draft class, but I worry that he will not last long in the NFL. He runs with abandon and we saw that lead to a few injuries in college. Mac Jones is the most pro-ready passer in this class, but lacks the physical traits that wow fans and scouts alike. His ball placement is special though and I think he will be successful in the NFL, even if he is a bit unathletic by today’s standards for the position. Justin Fields is more of a project than I think most people realize. His speed is incredible, but his throwing motion and technique lack refining. I still believe in his potential, but I think his floor is lower than anyone else in the top five. Davis Mills is the biggest question mark in this class. Between injuries and a lack of experience, this is all about projection for him. I think he is a third-round prospect who will come off the board much sooner. Kellen Mond and Kyle Trask have some encouraging traits, but don’t bring enough to the table to make me believe either one of them will be high-end starters. I think both could be successful, but it will be more because of their surrounding talent than their raw skill. Jamie Newman is a wild card. He transferred from Wake Forest to Georgia only to opt out of the 2020 season after losing the starting job to Stetson Bennett. He is an intriguing project, but needs a ton of work. Shane Buchele is one of my favorite late-round quarterbacks. I think he could develop into a low-end starter or a reliable backup at the next level.

Running Back

  1. Najee Harris, Alabama
  2. Travis Etienne, Clemson
  3. Javonte Williams, UNC
  4. Michael Carter, UNC
  5. Rhammondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
  6. Trey Sermon, Ohio State
  7. Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech
  8. Kenny Gainwell, Memphis
  9. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
  10. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State

The top six running backs in this class feel like they could be regular starters in the NFL. Najee Harris is an exciting blend of size and skill. He is a big back with good vision and incredible hands. He will be an asset in the pass game, which is rare for a player his size. Travis Etienne is a home run hitter with reliable hands out of the backfield. He has impressive burst and balance with the ability to turn the corner on just about any play. Javonte Williams runs how you would expect a former linebacker to. He seeks out contact, pushes through arm tackles and keeps his legs churning through the hit. His backfield mate Michael Carter was the lightning to Williams’ thunder. He is elusive and agile with good hands as a receiver. He carries his weight well and seems sturdy enough to survive in the NFL despite being a bit undersized. Rhammondre Stevenson reminds me a lot of LeGarrette Blount. He will probably only be a two-down back in the NFL, but he is a slasher who can pick up good yardage whenever he touches the ball. I believe Trey Sermon’s draft stock would have been much higher if he did not miss the national championship game. He runs with purpose and showed flashes of being an elite back. Those flashes were just a bit too inconsistent to rank him higher. Khalil Herbert wraps up his college career with a fair amount of tread on his tires. He is far from Jonathan Taylor levels, but it is still a concern for me. He was an exciting player to watch in his one year at Virginia Tech and would be a solid addition to just about any backfield in the league. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we haven’t seen Kenny Gainwell take the field since his incredible 2019 season. He has low usage, but can he replicate his success, or will he be a one-season wonder? Chuba Hubbard is closer to the Hebert end of this spectrum. He had an outrageous 351 touches in 2019 before scaling things back in a shorter 2020 season. He definitely waited a year too long to leave school, but if he recreate his 2019 form, he will be a mid-round steal. Kylin Hill feels like a quality No. 2 back, ready to handle 8-to-12 touches per game right away.

Wide Receiver

  1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
  2. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
  3. DeVonta Smith, Alabama
  4. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
  5. Kadarius Toney, Florida
  6. Terrace Marshall, LSU
  7. Nico Collins, Michigan
  8. Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
  9. Rondale Moore, Purdue
  10. Amari Rodgers, Clemson
  11. Shi Smith, South Carolina
  12. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
  13. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
  14. D’Wyane Eskridge, Western Michigan
  15. Dyami Brown, UNC
  16. Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
  17. Anthony Schwartz, Auburn
  18. Demetric Felton, UCLA
  19. Tomorrion Terry, Florida State
  20. Josh Imatorbhebhe, Illinois

This is another loaded receiver class. The top three are about as good as they come. Ja’Marr Chase might just be the best receiver prospect since Julio Jones. Jaylen Waddle might have been on his way to the Heisman before breaking his ankle. The actual Heisman winner, DeVonta Smith, is a technician with great hands and an impressive catch radius. Rashod Bateman could be a really strong possession receiver in the NFL. Few players are as fun to watch as Kadarius Toney, but he needs a bit more consistency in his play. Terrace Marshall was the third option in LSU’s historic 2019 passing offense, but he still won his matchups and looked sharp as the top guy in 2020. Nico Collins is a big-body receiver with great ability to adjust to the ball in the air. He still has some refining to do, but Michigan receivers have excelled after getting out of Ann Arbor in recent years. If you are looking for a slot machine, Elijah Moore is your best bet in this year’s class. Rondale Moore has first-round level talent, but undrafted levels of experience and injury history. In a year where the medicals are tough to confirm, he could definitely slide. He was rarely the star of the show, but Amari Rodgers deserves a bit more credit for Clemson’s offensive success. Shi Smith is one of my favorite sleepers in this draft. Tylan Wallace seemed like he should not be able to get open as frequently as he did in college. His good technique helps him overcome his lack of elite athleticism. Amon-Ra St. Brown strikes me as a future No. 2 in the right offense with his strength and leaping ability. Small-school star D’Wayne Eskridge could be the latest MAC receiver to take the NFL by storm. Dyami Brown can win downfield, but struggled with drops in his career. His game feels like a great fit for the Chargers offense. I had high expectations for Sage Surratt heading into 2020. He definitely didn’t meet them, capped off by an injury-riddled Senior Bowl week. When healthy, he is a nightmare for undersized corners. Someone is going to take a chance on Anthony Schwartz and his 4.27 speed. Demetric Felton showed out at the Senior Bowl and could be a fun player for offensive coordinators to move around. Tommorrion Terry instant brings value as a vertical threat. Much like Donovan Peoples-Jones, I think Josh Imatorbhebhe’s athleticism is going to translate very well to the NFL.

Tight End

  1. Kyle Pitts, Florida
  2. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
  3. Brevin Jordan, Miami
  4. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame
  5. Kenny Yeboah, Ole Miss
  6. Hunter Long, Boston College
  7. Tre’ McKitty, Georgia
  8. Quinton Morris, Bowling Green
  9. Noah Gray, Duke
  10. Kylen Granson, SMU

This tight end class is better than last year’s, but that’s not saying much. Kyle Pitts is truly a generational talent at the position. Pat Freiermuth is a borderline first round talent with his physical skill set. I like how Brevin Jordan’s game should translate to the NFL. He fits the mold of these athletic tight ends allowed to operate in space. He is definitely a bit of a throwback, but Tommy Tremble provides immediate value as a blocker. Kenny Yeboah showed impressive ball skills and athleticism at the Senior Bowl. Hunter Long could be a solid second option at the position. Same goes for Quinton Morris and Tre’ McKitty. If you are looking for a late-round flier at the position, Noah Gray and Kylen Granson are my picks.

Offensive Tackle

  1. Penei Sewell, Oregon
  2. Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
  3. Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
  4. Samuel Cosmi, Texas
  5. Liam Eichenburg, Notre Dame
  6. Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
  7. Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
  8. Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
  9. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
  10. James Hudson III, Cincinnati
  11. Walker Little, Stanford
  12. Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
  13. Brady Christiansen, BYU
  14. Stone Forsyth, Florida
  15. D’Ante Smith, East Carolina

Unlike the tight end class, the offensive line group brings both sizzle and substance. Penei Sewell is an outstanding athlete with plenty more room for growth in his game. Rashawn Slater could be a rock-solid tackle or an All-Pro guard. That versatility is enticing. Good luck moving Christian Darrisaw once he has anchored down. Getting Samuel Cosmi to an NFL squat rack could see him realize his immense potential. Liam Eichenburg is definitely one of my draft crushes. He just screams unheralded Pro Bowl right tackle for the next eight years to me. He has not developed quite as quickly as many hoped, but Jalen Mayfield still brings plenty to the table and could be a Day 1 starter at right tackle. While Trey Lance deserves the buzz, Dillon Radunz has the makings of a quality starting tackle who can kick inside to guard if the transition from I-AA ball proves to be too difficult. Teven Jenkins has all the necessary athleticism to be a great tackle, but his measurables worry me a little bit. It is unclear if Alex Leatherwood’s future is at tackle, but he has the versatility and experience to be a fit somewhere along the offensive line. James Hudson is still new to the position and would be a great project to work with. When healthy, Walker Little has looked like a first-round talent, but after seeing him play just one game across 2019 and 2020, it is hard to buy into his intangibles. His injury history and lack of experience scare me a bit. Spencer Brown is raw, but few human beings can move the way he does at 6’8″ and 300-plus pounds. Without a doubt, Brady Christiansen is a bit more polished than some of the guys ahead of him, but at 25-years-old, he is one of the oldest prospects in this class. In the later rounds, you look for traits to build upon. Stone Forsyth and D’Ante Smith both bring great size and length to the position.

Interior Offensive Lineman

  1. Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
  2. Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
  3. Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
  4. Landon Dickerson, Alabama
  5. Trey Smith, Tennessee
  6. Nolan Laufenburg, Air Force
  7. Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater
  8. Jackson Carman, Clemson
  9. Drew Dalman, Stanford
  10. Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
  11. Ben Cleveland, Georgia
  12. Drake Jackson, Kentucky
  13. Jimmy Morrissey, Pittsburgh
  14. Deonte Brown, Alabama
  15. Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame

This is a deep group of starting caliber centers, but the best interior lineman in this draft is definitely Alijah Vera-Tucker. I love Creed Humphrey and the experience he brings after four seasons starting at Oklahoma. I think he is pro-ready with some more potential still to be unlocked. Wyatt Davis is a road grader who will improve any running game. Landon Dickerson’s injury history holds him back after yet another knee injury. He will be a solid starter if he can get back to his pre-injury form. Trey Smith tested very well at Tennessee’s pro day and should be a starter at either guard spot in the NFL. Nolan Laufenburg is not getting much press, but he is a beast as a run blocker and has solid lateral quickness for the position. His crop top drew a lot of attention at the Senior Bowl. Quinn Meinerz backed it up with some solid play and could be a starting center come 2022. Drew Dalman tested incredibly well and could be the latest Stanford lineman to find success at the next level. Similar to Stanford, Notre Dame has a good track record of sending offensive linemen to the pros and I think that trend will continue with Aaron Banks. Ben Cleveland might be a steal in the later rounds of the draft with his combination of size and agility. While a bit undersized, Drake Jackson played really well at the Senior Bowl. Jimmy Morrissey is one of my favorite late round interior linemen. Deonte Brown is massive, but his lack of athleticism showed up in Mobile. Robert Hainsey feels like he will last a long time in the NFL as a swing guard providing depth.

4-3 Defensive End

  1. Gregory Rousseau, Miami
  2. Kwity Paye, Michigan
  3. Jaelan Phillips, Miami
  4. Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
  5. Joe Tryon, Washington
  6. Jayson Oweh, Penn State
  7. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
  8. Joseph Ossai, Texas
  9. Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
  10. Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh
  11. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
  12. Payton Turner, Houston
  13. Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt
  14. Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State
  15. Shaka Toney, Penn State

Time to really break things down. Gregory Rousseau is definitely raw and unrefined, but his tape makes me believe he can find success as a down lineman. Kwity Paye’s athleticism will likely see him drafted in the first round, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Without the injury concerns, Jaelan Phillips would be the top edge rusher in this class, but they are too big to ignore. Carlos Basham is quietly one of the best defensive linemen in this draft class. He got double-teamed a lot at Wake Forest. With his size and length, Joe Tyron can add or drop from his frame to fit what scheme he is drafted to play in. Jayson Oweh raw athleticism definitely points to him being more successful in the pros than he was in college. Azeez Ojulari only does one thing as a speed rusher, but he does it really well. Joseph Ossai is still learning how to play on the edge after starting his career as an off-ball linebacker. After missing 2019 with a torn ACL, Rashad Weaver impressed me in 2020. I’m willing to bet he looks even better another year removed from his injury. His teammate, Patrick Jones II, fell a bit in the draft process, but was incredibly productive and consistent throughout his college career. He missed part of the season due to a suspension, but Ronnie Perkins was nearly unstoppable down the stretch for Oklahoma. Both Payton Turner and Dayo Odeyingbo bring elite length to the position. Even if they are not the most refined prospects, those intangibles are worth targeting in the middle rounds. Hamilcar Rashed Jr. took a major step back production wise in 2020, leaving scouts to wonder if his 2019 breakout was actually an anomaly. While not quite as athletic as his former Penn State teammate, Shaka Toney is still an intriguing project.

3-4 Defensive End

  1. Gregory Rousseau, Miami
  2. Christian Barmore, Alabama
  3. Kwity Paye, Michigan
  4. Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
  5. Joe Tryon, Washington
  6. Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
  7. Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
  8. Jay Tufele, USC
  9. Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
  10. Marvin Wilson, Florida State
  11. Payton Turner, Houston
  12. Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech
  13. Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt
  14. Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA
  15. Alim McNeil, NC State

I won’t belabor the point with players I already talked about. Christian Barmore has tons of exciting traits, but rumors that he is resistant to coaching could cause him to slide. Daviyon Nixon has some incredible moments on film at Iowa. If he can find some consistency, he will be a star in the NFL. Jay Tufele lost a lot of his traction after opting out, but he projects as a future starter in the league. As the league trends towards finding interior pass rushing, Levi Onwuzurike fits the profile of a disruptive interior player. No player likely hurt their draft stock worse than Marvin Wilson. Still, I’m willing to bet on him rediscovering his 2019 form with a change of scenery. Milton Williams turned some heads with the testing numbers he posted. His athleticism will be something teams covet. Osa Odighizuwa is longer than he is tall, which bodes well for him at the next level. It seems like every year NC State produces another NFL defensive lineman. I expect Alim McNeil to do his part as a rotational player.

4-3 Defensive Tackle

  1. Gregory Rousseau, Miami
  2. Christian Barmore, Alabama
  3. Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
  4. Joe Tryon, Washington
  5. Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
  6. Jay Tufele, USC
  7. Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
  8. Marvin Wilson, Florida State
  9. Payton Turner, Houston
  10. Tyler Shelvin, LSU
  11. Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech
  12. Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA
  13. Alim McNeil, NC State
  14. Darius Stills, West Virginia
  15. Marlon Tuipulotu, USC

Believe it or not, I think this is Gregory Rousseau’s best fit in the NFL. At 6’7″, he has room to add to his frame. He dominated interior linemen while at Miami. If he can bulk up a bit, I think he could be an elite 3-tech. Tyler Shelvin enters the conversation here. He is definitely best suited as a nose tackle, but I think he could survive as a run-stuffer paired with an interior pass rusher in a 4-3 scheme. Darius Stills and Marlon Tuipulotu both bring a lot of experience, which could serve them well as potential backups in the league.

3-4 Defensive Tackle

  1. Christian Barmore, Alabama
  2. Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
  3. Jay Tufele, USC
  4. Marvin Wilson, Florida State
  5. Tyler Shelvin, LSU
  6. Alim McNeil, NC State
  7. Marlon Tuipulotu, USC
  8. Tommy Togiai, Ohio State
  9. Tedarrel Slaton, Florida
  10. Bobby Brown, Texas A&M

This is not a good draft to need a nose tackle. Tommy Togiai plays bigger than he really is, which is good because he is a bit undersized in this spot. Tedarrel Slaton and Bobby Brown are space eaters who can contribute as two-down players and goal line defenders at the next level.

3-4 Outside Linebacker

  1. Zaven Collins, Tulsa
  2. Jaelan Phillips, Miami
  3. Joe Tyron, Washington
  4. Jayson Oweh, Penn State
  5. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
  6. Joseph Ossai, Texas
  7. Quincy Roche, Miami
  8. Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh
  9. Baron Browning, Ohio State
  10. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
  11. Payton Turner, Houston
  12. Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State
  13. Shaka Toney, Penn State
  14. Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo
  15. Chris Rumph II, Duke

While I believe he is best suited to play off the ball, Zaven Collins is a solid pass rusher with great size. For the record, this is where I think Ojulari, Ossai, Perkins and Rashed Jr. fit best. Quincy Roche had a great week in Mobile, but he lacks the size to play in a 4-3 scheme. He could be a great situational pass rusher right out of the gate. Much like Collins, I like Baron Browning as an off-ball linebacker, but he has the athleticism to play on the outside. Malcolm Koonce and Chris Rumph II are lean edge rushers who could contribute in a rotational role.

4-3 Outside Linebacker

  1. Micah Parsons, Penn State
  2. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
  3. Zaven Collins, Tulsa
  4. Jabril Cox, LSU
  5. Jamin Davis, Kentucky
  6. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
  7. Joseph Ossai, Texas
  8. Baron Browning, Ohio State
  9. Pete Werner, Ohio State
  10. Nick Bolton, Missouri
  11. Chazz Surratt, UNC
  12. Dylan Moses, Alabama
  13. Monty Rice, Georgia
  14. Cameron McGrone, Michigan
  15. K.J. Britt, Auburn

I considered putting Micah Parsons in the 3-4 group as well, but I think he does his best work when he is allowed to attack downhill and react without having players put their hands on him at the snap. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah won’t last long on draft night because of his ability to cover players in space. I also have him listed as my top strong safety. That’s the type of ability we are talking about here. Jabril Cox is not quite as fast as JOK, but he can still flex out and match up tight ends and slot receivers on occasion. Jamin Davis tested off the charts and his potential is as one of the best all-around linebackers in the game. Pete Werner seems like the next great undersized linebacker to start racking up 150-plus tackles at the next level. While he has great straight-line speed, I worry Nick Bolton is going to struggle given his lack of agility. Chazz Surratt is still learning the position, which points to untapped potential. However, he is also already 24 years old. A year ago, Dylan Moses seemed like a lock to go in the first round, even coming off a torn ACL. Now, he will be lucky to go in the first three rounds after a rocky season in his return from injury. Cameron McGrone is a bit undersized, but has a nose for the football. Monty Rice and K.J. Britt would be solid cover linebackers capable of coming in on third downs.

Inside Linebacker

  1. Micah Parsons, Penn State
  2. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
  3. Zaven Collins, Tulsa
  4. Jabril Cox, LSU
  5. Jamin Davis, Kentucky
  6. Baron Browning, Ohio State
  7. Pete Werner, Ohio State
  8. Nick Bolton, Missouri
  9. Chazz Surratt, UNC
  10. Dylan Moses, Alabama
  11. Monty Rice, Georgia
  12. Cameron McGrone, Michigan
  13. K.J. Britt, Auburn
  14. Riley Cole, South Alabama
  15. Charles Snowden, Virginia

Much of this list is the same, but we lose a few of the more natural pass rushers here. Riley Cole got his name on the radar at the Senior Bowl coming off a strong redshirt-senior season. Look for him in the later rounds. Same goes for Charles Snowden, whose size for the position will grab the attention of teams right away.

Cornerback

  1. Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
  2. Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
  3. Greg Newsome, Northwestern
  4. Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
  5. Eric Stokes, Georgia
  6. Tyson Campbell, Georgia
  7. Paulson Adebo, Stanford
  8. Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
  9. Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky
  10. Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
  11. Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota
  12. Aaron Robinson, UCF
  13. Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas
  14. Shaun Wade, Ohio State
  15. Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina
  16. Elijah Molden, Washington
  17. Marco Wilson, Florida
  18. Tay Gowan, UCF
  19. Keith Taylor Jr., Washington
  20. Shakur Brown, Michigan State

This is a solid corner class that starts to drop off around the 13 or 14 mark. Patrick Surtain II could fit into any defensive scheme. His size and top end speed make him my top corner. Jaycee Horn and Greg Newsome move ahead of Caleb Farley as reports of his back issues seem to keep getting worse. Eric Stokes ran a 4.31 40-yard at his pro day, which ranks in the 97th percentile. Finding that type of speed in a 6’0″ corner is rare. His former Georgia teammate, Tyson Campbell, also ran well and is a bit taller, but he lacks the same fluidity as Stokes. Paulson Adebo fell off the radar after missing the end of 2019 with an injury and opting out of 2020. He tested great and his film makes me believe he could be a starter early in his career. If you are looking for long, toolsy corners, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Kelvin Joseph and Benjamin St-Juste deserve your attention. Asante Samuel Jr.’s tape is better than being the 10th corner in this draft, but his lack of size and length caps his upside. He would be a great nickel corner though. Aaron Robinson showed he has the physicality to be a good press corner at the Senior Bowl. Robert Rochell is a bit untested coming out of Central Arkansas, but his length and speed make him an interesting project. Shaun Wade and Israel Mukuamu are both long and physical, but have struggled in man coverage in their career on the outside. Those traits could be very useful in the right scheme though or at safety, if teams want them to switch positions. Elijah Molden and Marco Wilson could both be solid nickel corners. Tay Gowan is a bit of an unknown with only 13 career appearances, but could be worthy of a late flier. I came away very impressed by Keith Taylor Jr. at the Senior Bowl. He did not win every rep, but he was not afraid to compete with the top receivers in attendance. Shakur Brown has a nose for the football and could carve out a role for himself in the slot.

Strong Safety

  1. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
  2. Trevon Moehrig, TCU
  3. Jevon Holland, Oregon
  4. Richie Grant, UCF
  5. Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech
  6. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State
  7. Talanoa Hufanga, USC
  8. Tyree Gillespie, Missouri
  9. Caden Sterns, Texas
  10. Shawn Davis, Florida

I already talked about it, but it’s worth repeating. Owusu-Koramoah is a true hybrid player. However, the best all-around safety in this draft is Trevon Moehrig. Jevon Holland brings tons of versatility. He can play in either safety spot and even line up in the slot. Richie Grant had an impressive career at UCF and backed that up with a strong week at the Senior Bowl. Don’t sleep on Divine Deablo. In addition to having a great name, he can be a heat-seeking missile. Hamsah Nasirildeen is a bit of a conundrum. I’m still not sure if he is a big safety or an undersized linebacker. While he lacks elite speed, Talanoa Hufanga is a playmaker and a leader. Tyree Gillespie has good long speed, but his lack of short-area quickness limits his upside. Shawn Davis and Caden Sterns are both long, hard-hitting safeties. Sterns has a bit more speed those, which gives him the edge.

Free Safety

  1. Trevon Moehrig, TCU
  2. Jevon Holland, Oregon
  3. Andre Cisco, Syracuse
  4. Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
  5. Richie Grant, UCF
  6. Jamar Johnson, Indiana
  7. Shaun Wade, Ohio State
  8. Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina
  9. Christian Uphoff, Illinois State
  10. Ar’Darius Washington, TCU

I’ve already praised Moehrig and Holland. I also love Andre Cisco. He was a ballhawk at Syracuse, but needs to improve as a tackler to really be a quality starter. Melifonwu has the size and range to be a potential centerfielder. Jamar Johnson sees the field well, but he does not bring any elite traits to the table. Christian Uphoff could be the latest D-III star to make the NFL jump. He lacks elite top speed, but his size and first step could see him hang around in the NFL. Ar’Darius Washington on the other hand is very undersized, but makes up for that with consistent effort and impressive initial quickness.

Ranking the position groups

  1. Wide Receiver – Top-end talent is among the best we’ve ever seen. There are plenty of good receivers that will slide into the later rounds.
  2. Offensive Tackle – With a few elite prospects and a good amount of depth, this offensive tackle class should produce a good number of starters.
  3. Quarterback – While extremely top heavy, this might be one of the best groups we’ve seen come out in a long time. All five quarterbacks could legitimately go in the top 10 picks. There just isn’t much depth in this year’s class.
  4. Cornerback – Without a standout prospect, this group is a bit more about volume. I have a ton of corners with second-round grades. I think we will see a decent group of starting corners come out of this class, even if they aren’t stars.
  5. Linebacker – There are a handful of really good players that could come off the board in the first three rounds. The quality of this group fades quickly after you make it through the first 11 or 12 players though.
  6. Running Back – There is no Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott in this class. Nor is there a ton of late-round backs that I feel confident in. I do have three running backs in my top 50, but only four in my top 100.
  7. Safety – Perhaps I am underrating this group a little. There are a number of fun and interesting safeties as you move down the board. There just aren’t many that you feel like are slam dunks.
  8. Interior Offensive Line – No Quenton Nelsons or Zach Martins to be found in this class. If you add Rashawn Slater to the mix, that does tip the scales a bit, but I think teams view him as a tackle.
  9. Edge Rushers – No elite prospects and not a ton of depth. This is a tough year to need a pass rusher. When only two players earn first-round grades, which is what I have, it’s an underwhelming class.
  10. Interior Defensive Line – Somehow, this group is even worse. It was difficult to come up with 10 potential nose tackles from this draft. Several of those players are better suited playing elsewhere. Overall, this interior line class stinks.

My favorite sleepers in the 2021 NFL draft

It is almost draft time! Without a doubt this is the best time of the year and I cannot wait for Roger Goodell to get booed at that podium in Cleveland.

I have been diving into film, pro day numbers and mock drafts in recent weeks to finish preparing for my favorite time of year. If you want to hear some of the stuff I’ve been working on, check out my brand new podcast Draft Season Never Ends!

By now, you are familiar with the big names in this draft class. The quarterback group has been picked over time and time again. There is only so much longer that we can debate who San Francisco will take with the third pick after all. For this post, I wanted to take a look at some of the players whom you might not be as familiar with. These are all players expected to go in the third round or later come draft weekend. Most will likely not hear their names called until Day 3 of the draft.

If you see me referencing players testing in certain percentiles, you can find all that information at Mockdraftable.com. Hat tip to my new podcast co-host James Schiano for the recommendation to check that site out. It provides a great reference point for how a players’ testing numbers rank in relation to other players at the position. Talk about an incredible tool! Definitely worth poking around if you are interested in statistics and quantifying players’ measurables in a more meaningful way.

Now, to the prospects!

Jacob Harris, WR, UCF
Let’s start with a deep sleeper. Jacob Harris is not a name that most fans outside of Orlando, Florida are familiar with. He hauled in eight touchdowns in 2020, his one season as a starter for UCF. He had an interesting path to college football, starting out as a soccer player at Florida Gulf Coast. He is very raw, but at 6’5″, he posted a sub 4.4 40 time and a 40.5-inch vertical. Pair that with an impressive 6.51 three-cone time, this kid has loads of untapped athletic potential. He will probably be an undrafted free agent, but there is enough there to make me think he is worth grabbing in the seventh round. In addition to the gobs of potential he has with his size and speed combo, he has a good deal of special teams experience. That should get him on the field early in his career while he is refining his craft as a receiver.

Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
This name you have probably heard by now. Likely, you heard it once, when Jaret Patterson rumbled for an NCAA D-I record-tying eight touchdowns and over 400 yards in one game this season. He had 55 career touchdowns at Buffalo over three seasons, dominating the best the MAC had to offer. He runs with a low center of gravity and fights for extra yardage. His lack of experience as a pass catcher limits his upside. He only had 20 career receptions, none of which came in 2020. However, he showed some softer hands at his pro day, which could lead teams to believe there is some untapped potential. He likely won’t be a feature back at any point in his career, but he could be a vital part of a team’s backfield. Expect him to go some time on Day 3.

K.J. Britt, LB, Auburn
Let’s get to a Senior Bowl standout for me. K.J. Britt impressed me all week with his coverage skills. He didn’t blow people away at his pro day, but he seems like a quality depth linebacker at the next level. Britt can play in some sub packages right away. The reason Britt has faded to the background is he missed much of 2020 with a thumb injury. He needs to become a bit more instinctive, especially without elite physical traits. However, he already shows a willingness to take on contact and attacking gaps in opposing offenses. I think he likely tops out as a low-end starter in a 3-4 defense as a middle linebacker. Finding that around the fourth or fifth round is pretty good value.

Monty Rice, LB, Georgia
Here’s another linebacker to keep an eye on. He might not get as much publicity as his other Bulldogs teammates, but Monty Rice’s game is built for the NFL. He is a bit undersized at 6’0″ and 233 pounds, but he moves incredibly well for someone that size. Rice can immediately bring his coverage ability to an NFL defense and get on the field on passing downs. His range is impressive and should not be overlooked. He ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, which is in the 92nd percentile for linebackers, and posted impressive splits at both the 10-yard and 20-yard mark. His speed makes him a candidate to match up with opposing tight ends and running backs. That has value, especially in the middle rounds of this draft.

Ade Ogundeji, EDGE, Notre Dame
After a solid career at Notre Dame, there is one thing that points to Ade Ogundeji succeeding in the NFL: he has elite length. He measured in with 35 and a quarter-inch arms at the Fighting Irish’s pro day, which is in the 93rd percentile for edge rushers. He lacks great burst off the line, but that length should allow him to keep opposing the offensive linemen off his body. There is a lot of room for improvement in his game, but I could see him carving out a role as a rotational 4-3 defensive end. Expect him to go in the later rounds of the draft.

Nolan Laufenberg, G, Air Force
If you are looking for a road grading interior offensive lineman, look no further. Air Force averaged 298 rushing yards per game in 2019 and 305 yards per game in 2020. Nolan Laufenberg played a big role in that success. He brings solid size for the position and above average play power. He is definitely inexperienced as a pass blocker because only threw the ball 61 times in six games this year. He likely needs a bit of refining in that area, but he is an easy fit in any run-first scheme. While he excels blocking straight ahead, he is certainly nimble enough to pull and reach the next level of the defense as well. I like this guy a lot and think he could be a solid starter in the NFL.

Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
After spending two years playing behind the likes of Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards, Shi Smith got his shot to be the go-to target in South Carolina’s offense. He stepped up with 633 yards and four touchdowns in a shortened season. Smith has the look and body type of a prototypical NFL slot receiver with the benefit of having big hands to snag passes out of the air (76th percentile among receivers). He showed at the Senior Bowl that he has no problem generating some separation. I could see him being a reliable route runner who can come up with crucial catches on third down. Don’t sleep on his potential as a solid NFL contributor.

Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville
There is a lot of Senior Bowl love on this list. Despite playing really well all week in Mobile, Dez Fitzpatrick is still not a household name or someone you are likely to see featured in the early rounds of many mock drafts. He might not seem too imposing at 6’1″, but he has a ridiculous wingspan that allows him to make catches away from his body and in traffic. He made some ridiculous grabs during Senior Bowl practice that have stuck with me. He has the potential to be a solid No. 2 receiver in a vertical offense. He did average 19.4 yards per reception in 2020, which was 25th nationally.

Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
Consider the top corners in the NFL. Stephon Gilmore, Jalen Ramsey, Marhson Lattimore, Tre’Davious White, Bryon Jones, Xavien Howard, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are probably in the conversation, in whatever order you prefer. Tre’Davious White is the only player in that group shorter than 6’0″, and he’s listed at 5’11”. You need some size to compete on the outside in the NFL. Benjamin St-Juste has size to spades as he measured in taller than 6’3″ at his pro day (98th percentile). He can move too at that size. His three-cone in the 94th percentile and his short shuttle was in the 87th percentile of all defensive backs. His length makes him a great fit for Cover 3 defense that can mask his lack of elite speed. I could see him developing into a top corner in the right system.

Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh
Interior linemen are often overlooked in the draft process. It’s just not a super sexy position, nor is it one that the NFL places a high value on. However, that usually allows for some starting-caliber players to slip into the later rounds. That is exactly what I believe is going to happen with Jimmy Morrissey. He won’t blow you away with his strength, but he is one of the most athletic interior linemen in this class. He put together a ridiculous pro day, testing in the 95th percentile for the 10-yard split in his 40-yard dash and the 91st percentile for both his three-cone and short shuttle times. Even his vertical jump impressed, falling in the 84th percentile among interior lineman. In an offense that prioritizes moving the pocket, zone blocking or pulling interior linemen, Morrissey would be a great fit with the potential to be a starter early in his career.

Draft Season Never Ends – 2021 Top 5s

Hey everyone. I am launching a new NFL draft podcast with the help of my friend James Schiano from RJ Drafts. We are going to aim to do a weekly show discussing all of the top players, prospect movement and NFL team draft needs all year long. While we might all love to dial into the draft from February to April, draft season never really ends. Teams are scouting, evaluating and gathering information on prospects all the time. Preparing for the next draft usually starts about one week after the last one ends. We will still do some fun stuff, like draft grades and favorite fantasy football fits following the draft, but come the fall, we will be diving into next year’s draft class.

You can check out our first episode now, where James and I debut our new show and discuss our top five prospects at each offensive position. Plus, I recap the time I met former Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and James breaks down his draft crush, Stanford quarterback Davis Mills.

You can find every episode on Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you find your podcasts. As always, we appreciate reviews, feedback and when you hit that subscribe button. Hope you enjoy the first show. Plenty more to come!