NFL Draft Prospects 2021: Updated big board, player rankings | PFN

With NFL Draft season fast approaching, it is time to unveil my first big board ranking of nearly 1,500 eligible NFL Draft prospects for 2021. My current player rankings have three quarterbacks and two each of wide receivers, offensive tackles, and linebackers inside my top 10. My top 25 NFL Draft prospects of 2021 consist of seven wide receivers, five offensive tackles, and four quarterbacks. Conversely, only seven defensive players find themselves inside my top 25.

Related | Updated 2021 NFL Draft Order and Tiebreaking Procedures

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NFL Draft Prospects 2021 | Top 10

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Almost from the beginning, Trevor Lawrence was anointed as a franchise quarterback in the NFL and a player who would eventually be the first pick of the draft. And after breaking down the film, there’s no reason to doubt any of that.

Lawrence possesses all the skills to carry a team in the NFL — physical, mental, and intangible. He does an incredible job leading the offense, possesses the ability to make all the throws, and consistently makes proper choices. Lawrence is a big-bodied pocket passer, but he possesses the foot speed to pick up big yardage with his legs.

2. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Joe Burrow was selected with the first pick of last April’s draft after his record-breaking campaign. Burrow’s job was made much easier in 2019 thanks to his top target, Ja’Marr Chase.

Chase is a complete receiver, and dare I say a better NFL prospect than Burrow — the only difference is Chase catches the ball rather than throws it. He is fast, tough, and instinctive. He makes the difficult catch in a crowd, displays next-level pass-catching skills, and shows a tremendous feel for the position.

3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Justin Fields is a quarterback I find very impressive. While he’s shorter and smaller than I usually like in a signal-caller, Fields has all the other skills to be a dominant starter in the NFL. He’s a talented passer with great patience and poise. He possesses a next-level arm, and while he needs to improve his pass placement, Fields has next-level accuracy. Fields is also a threat to run with the ball, but he does so only when completely necessary.

For comparative purposes, Fields is a much better passer than Kyler Murray and a much better physical package than Baker Mayfield.

4. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Penei Sewell is a fluid, strong left tackle who easily slides out in pass protections and shows a lot of ability blocking in motion. He’s fundamentally sound, strong, and has upside.

If there is one red flag in Sewell’s game, it’s that he doesn’t block with a nasty attitude. Unlike many other top-rated offensive linemen, I don’t see Sewell working to bury opponents into the ground. Otherwise, he’s a sensational left tackle prospect for the next level.

5. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

There is a lot to love about Micah Parsons, as he’s a tall, athletic linebacker who makes plays all over the field and impacts games. Parsons is fast in a straight line as well as laterally, makes plays both behind the line of scrimmage and in pursuit, and covers a great amount of area on the field in coverage.

While he has great upside, I am concerned about his instincts. Parsons is a bit slow to read and diagnose on occasion, but he makes up for it at the college level with superior athleticism. That won’t be as easy in the NFL.

6. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

Dylan Moses did not take a snap in 2019 after hurting his knee in camp. But had he played and played to the level he’s capable of, Moses would’ve been a top-12 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s a complete linebacker with a three-down game who is strong enough to stack against the run and athletic enough to drop into coverage and make plays against the pass. If he remains healthy in 2020, Moses will be a very early selection in 2021.

7. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

DeVonta Smith is a sturdier version of Jerry Jeudy and a better receiver than Henry Ruggs III. He’s a surehanded, consistent wideout with the ability to break plays wide open. In the end, I think Smith ends up going in the middle of the first round like Jeudy in 2019.

8. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

I am much higher on Alex Leatherwood than most others, including scouts. I love his footwork, blocking range, and ability in pass protection. He’s a natural left tackle with starting ability on Sundays.

9. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

If there’s a faster-rising prospect in the nation than Zach Wilson, I’m not aware of him. Except for the fact he’s short, Wilson checks all the boxes you want in a quarterback at the next level — smart, tough, athletic plus the arm strength necessary to make all the throws.

10. Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (FL)

Gregory Rousseau is poised to break UM’s dry spell and be the next first-round pick from the program. Rousseau is an explosive, agile athlete who plays with a great degree of suddenness. He’s a sensational pass rusher who can make plays in space and rush the passer standing over tackle or out of a three-point stance.

He needs to get bigger, but he has great upside and has already been stamped as a first-round prospect by scouts who grade underclassmen.

NFL Draft Prospects 2021 | Players 11-20

11. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Patrick Surtain II is a big, physical corner who has a great combination of athleticism and muscle. He physically beats down opponents to defend the pass, but I’m concerned with the way he constantly faceguards opponents and rarely gets his head back around to locate the ball.

12. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Rashod Bateman has all the necessary tools to develop into a number one receiver at the next level. He has nice size, excellent playing speed, and outstanding hands. He regularly makes both the routine catch and the highlight catch and has the ability to take over games.

13. Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

Rasheed Walker is a left tackle few are talking about, at least at the present time. Walker has excellent length, size, and footwork. He easily slides off the edge in pass protection and gets to the second level blocking in motion. Walker has first-round talent.

14.Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Don’t read too much into the disappointing performance by Trey Lance in North Dakota State’s lone game of the 2020 season. In that much-anticipated return to the field, Lance was just 15 of 30 passing for 149 yards with two TDs and one INT. He did not look sharp. However, scouts are not going to put much weight into this performance considering this was a one-off game for NDSU playing against a team that had already played 3 games in 2020.

Unlike others, I don’t grade Lance as a top ten prospect. But he is talented and he is a quarterback, which means he’ll likely be selected early next April.

15. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

Rondale Moore is an electrifying skill player who can score from any point on the field almost any time the ball is in his hands. He has legitimate deep speed and is a really good receiver, which complements his athleticism. What makes Moore so special in my eyes is his immediate burst — he turns on the jets within three yards and he is gone. Moore is tough and instinctive, and he’s a natural pass catcher.

Height could be an issue for teams. There is a chance Moore is under 5-foot-9 when officially measured, but no one can deny his ability to break games open at receiver, as a return specialist or running reverses.

16. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

Ohio State has put seven defensive backs into the first round in the last decade, and Shaun Wade will be the eighth. He’s the total package at the position and combines size, speed, and ball skills to make a terrific cover corner. Wade’s physical brand of football is also eye-popping.

17. Walker Little, OT, Stanford

Walker Little was universally graded as a first-round pick entering the 2019 season, but his year was cut short after he suffered a leg injury in the first game of the season. I do expect Little to end up in the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Little is a tall, fluid left tackle who blocks with solid fundamentals. He’s smart, displays solid footwork off the edge, and makes great uses of angles and positioning. Little also shows a lot of skill blocking in motion.

18. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Though not as polished as his senior teammate, Jaylen Waddle offers the home run hitting speed and big-play ability DeVonta Smith lacks. He needs to improve the details of the receiver position, something that will be put on hold until Waddle recovers from his devastating ankle injury.

19. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Kyle Pitts is a terrific athlete with the speed to beat defenders down the seam. He’s mobile and makes some tough receptions. Pitts lacks football consistency and I think he’s a better athlete than a football player at present time, but he has tremendous upside.

20. Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

Michigan has consistently put talented offensive linemen into the draft, and Jalen Mayfield will be their next big time prospect. The third-year sophomore is large, athletic, and versatile. He’s a terrific pass protector who is also effective as a run blocker and in motion. Mayfield also has the ability to play left or right tackle, in my opinion.

Prospects 21-25

21. Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson

Trevor Lawrence’s favorite target, Justyn Ross, looked like he had an exciting NFL future — but that has been put on hold after recent neck surgery. Ross is a big-bodied wideout with reliable hands who comes up with the big play. He’s not a speedster and now has a serious medical issue that must be thoroughly checked out leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft.

22. Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia

In my opinion, Azeez Ojulari is destined to be a star and an early draft pick. He’s an athletic linebacker who often comes out of a three-point stance for the UGA defense. Ojulari is quick and strong for his size, and he plays with great balance. He needs to develop his game, but I love his upside.

23. Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma

Ronnie Perkins looks like a monster pass rusher with incredible next-level potential. The junior is incredibly athletic and explosive, and he is a great edge rusher. He’s fast up the field, and at the same time, he competently makes plays in space or pursuit. Perkins must add bulk and improve his play strength, but his upside is awesome.

24. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Considering he has Justin Fields tossing him passes and a host of talented pass catchers ahead of him on draft boards, it’s unlikely Chris Olave will ever get the credit he deserves. The junior is a game-breaking threat and a reliable receiver. The only ill in his game is his slight size, which means he could struggle in press coverage at the next level.

25. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

As far as I’m concerned, running back Najee Harris is a first-round talent playing a Day 2 position. He’s a three-down back who can do it all — grind it out on the inside, get around the corner and catch the ball out of the backfield. His vision, short-area quickness, and instincts are incredible, making Harris my top running back prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.

2021 NFL Draft Big Board

You can sort my 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings below by team or by position. You can also utilize the search function to quickly find whatever you may be looking for. Mobile users: Please note that the rankings are best viewed in landscape mode.

Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline. Follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365

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