Anything NBA or NFL? Sam is your man!
Anything NBA or NFL? Sam is your man!
With the 2021 NFL Combine canceled, we won’t have a chance to toss around speculation after the spectacle in Indianapolis. That won’t stop the hype from building around the draft. The incoming class features the best collection of offensive linemen and quarterbacks from the past ten years. Both positions dominate The Grueling Truth’s top 60 prospects, which is based solely on talent and doesn’t factor in positional value.
1. Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson
Lawrence is far from perfect and comes in a cut below the generational prospects from previous drafts. The former National Champion has the best ball placement in his class, fantastic arm strength, and sneaky mobility. Lawrence doesn’t break the pocket too soon, and he can complete off-balance throws under pressure. His biggest flaw is believing he can accomplish too much, which leads to him trying some ill-advised throws and exotic launch angles.
The 21-year-old faced criticism for launching 50-50 balls during his first two seasons at Clemson. Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross outclassed defensive backs, making highlight catches in big-game situations. However, neither Higgins nor Ross played a snap for the Tigers this past year. Lawrence still set career-highs in completion percentage, yards per game, yards per attempt, and passer efficiency rating.
Before DeVonta Smith set a wave of receiving records this past year, Chase smashed SEC standards in 2019. Playing alongside Joe Burrow and a host of future NFL stars, Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was the Fred Biletnikoff Award winner but didn’t place in the top-ten in the Heisman voting. Smith won the award this year with slightly better numbers.
Chase doesn’t have elite speed, which led to some lost foot races and trouble creating separation at LSU. However, the 6-1 receiver creates plenty of room with fluid releases, perfect routes, and eye-popping contested catches. He also averaged 21.2 yards per reception in 2019 and 24.6 yards per catch in the National Championship against Clemson, suggesting that creating downfield isn’t an issue.
Chase was better than Justin Jefferson in college, and the Viking just set the record for receiving yards by a rookie.
Pitts dominated during his final season at Florida, recording 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games. The 6-6 star weighs 246 lbs., and he’s a good enough athlete to create matchup problems with 99% of his opponents. Pitts is also a better run-blocker than most people realize. It’s hard to imagine a better security blanket for a developing quarterback.
Pitts is a borderline generational talent. He’s already a far better receiving threat than T.J. Hockenson, who went eighth overall two years ago. Eric Ebron (tenth in 2014) is the only other tight end to go in the first ten selections in the past decade. With the prototypical build desired by modern offenses and elite college production, Pitts is nearly the perfect tight end prospect.
The 2021 offensive tackle class is the deepest in recent memory, but Sewell isn’t the unanimous top pick from that group. The Oregon product packs incredible power and can maul defenders in the running game, but he’s far from flawless. Speed rushers and edge rushers with diverse moves tend to give Sewell problems. However, he’s already shown reliable footwork and promising hand usage.
Sewell hunts defensive linemen, which sometimes causes him to over-extend. Minor issues like that shouldn’t hurt his stock in the long run. If anything, they show he’s actively seeking to pound the opposition. Expect Sewell to do his best work in the running game initially. Even if things go dramatically wrong, Sewell can play guard.
Parsons opted out of the 2020 season after posting 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and five sacks in 2019. He’s a sideline-to-sideline linebacker with excellent closing speed and explosiveness. Climbing linemen won’t be able to block him cleanly. Parsons is also a threat as a blitzer thanks to his background as a defensive end. He never gives up on a play and wills himself to make stops. We need to see more of him in coverage.
While the 2021 draft has several first-round linebacker prospects, Parsons is in his own class. He can take over games, which is something that no other defender in this draft can claim. However, character concerns could push Parsons out of the top-ten selections.
Harris glides around the field with surgical precision that freezes defenders. He isn’t going to win footraces against low 4.3 40-time defensive backs, but Harris possesses the power and will to drag defenders for extra yards. While Travis Etienne posted better receiving totals, Harris is the more natural receiver and could see snaps in the slot at the next level.
While Harris played behind a dominant offensive line, he showed terrific vision in 2020. Combined with the strength to stiff arm defenders and maintain balance after contact, Harris’ developing vision makes him an immediate Pro Bowl prospect.
Smith rewrote the record books during his final season at Alabama. The star receiver caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns en route to winning the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship. Smith isn’t a one-year wonder either. He has two seasons of elite production. The 22-year-old generated 68 receptions for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019.
Smith’s route running almost as crisp as Jerry Jeudy’s was last year. He creates separation through terrific footwork and dominant route running. Smith also contorts his body for all kinds of complex and contested catches. He doesn’t possess the same speed or athleticism as other top prospects, but he makes up for it with extreme refinement.
This past season was Etienne’s least productive year since his Freshman campaign. Between Lawrence missing time and the offensive line not holding up, Etienne averaged the fewest yards per carry (5.4) of his career. However, the ACC’s all-time leading rusher still averaged 7.2 yards per carry during his collegiate career and displayed exceptional growth over his four years with the Tigers.
Etienne combines a unique blend of power and explosiveness. He hits the hole better than any other back in this class, accelerating to peak velocity in a few strides. While Etienne rarely caught passes in 2017 and 2018, he transformed into one of the nation’s best receiving backs in recent years. Clemson even lined him up in the slot occasionally. Etienne’s biggest flaw remains his inconsistency in pass protection.
People often forget that Waddle was Alabama’s big-ticket wide receiver entering the season, not Smith. He has the speed and athleticism of a Henry Ruggs with a greater route tree and more versatile package. Waddle is a playmaker with home run speed. He’s a walking highlight in space and should have no problem making plays as a rookie.
Waddle creates after the catch, but quarterbacks don’t have to force him the ball either. The 22-year-old naturally creates separation at the top of routes and often blows by corners at the line of scrimmage. Unlike Ruggs, Waddle is capable of dynamic moves in the open field and small spaces, which explains why Alabama used him as a punt returner.
Wilson only has one standout season, which included a loss to the only highly ranked program he faced (Coastal Carolina). However, he has the best pocket control out of the 2021 quarterbacks. Wilson extends plays excellently and made great decisions this past season. He’s excellent at fitting passes into small windows and has enough arm strength to generate big plays.
The 21-year-old has a lot of pop in his throws, but that doesn’t always translate on deep passes. Wilson’s increased accuracy and ball security from 2019 to 2020 supports his ability to continue developing. The biggest concerns for NFL teams might be his lack of experience against elite competition and diverse defensive sets and injury history.
Slater is challenging to evaluate because a large part of his value is his versatility. He can play anywhere along the offensive line, but does that inherently make him better than a pure tackle prospect like Christian Darrisaw? Some teams view Slater as a guard, but he held his own on the edge for Northwestern.
Edge rushers can’t move Slater, and he’s one of the most intelligent linemen in this class. In 2019, Slater put the clamps on Chase Young, who recorded seven sacks in his next two games. As long as Slater has the technique and mobility to handle a lengthy and quick rusher like Young, there’s no reason to believe he can’t stick outside in the NFL.
12. Caleb Farley, CB Virginia Tech
Farley opted out of the 2020 season, leaving scouts with two years of tape. The 22-year-old is an athletic freak. At 6-2, 207 lbs., Farley possesses a rare combination of size, speed, and fluidity. He’s excellent in man coverage but thrives when he can press opposing wide receivers out of existence. Farley’s zone coverage is acceptable, and if we project some growth in that area, he could become this draft’s most well-rounded corner.
Unlike Sewell or Slater, there’s no chance of Darrisaw moving inside. The sturdy left tackle generally flashes impressive footwork and hand usage, but he has lapses. It’s nothing to scare teams away from viewing him as a top-15 pick. With one of the best combinations of balance, mobility, and technique in the draft, Darrisaw is a plug-and-play left tackle.
There’s a chance that Collins finishes his career as the best linebacker from the 2021 NFL Draft. He possesses the ideal combination of athleticism, physical traits, and college production. In eight games this past season, Collins recorded 54 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, four interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns. He can rush the passer, drop into zone coverage, or clamp down on running backs. Collins’ limited snaps in man coverage are my only concern.
Vera-Tucker played left tackle at USC, but many analysts view him as a guard. There’s a slim possibility that AVT could slide into a starting tackle role this coming season. Vera-Tucker’s athleticism, bend, footwork, and general mobility make him one of the most promising offensive line prospects in this class.
While I’m far from sold on Surtain as a top-five defender in the 2021 NFL draft, he’s the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. The 20-year-old corner is 6-2, 202 lbs., and his length shows on tape. Surtain is excellent at the point of the catch, and he’s good at sticking to wide receivers in man coverage. His zone coverage needs a little work. Surtain’s willingness as a tackler sets him apart from some of the other top corners in this class.
At 6-1, 215 lbs., Owusu-Koramoah is smaller and lighter than Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, who entered last year’s draft as a linebacker-safety hybrid. That small stature might scare away some teams. However, Owusu-Koramoah didn’t struggle making tackles in college, and his range is phenomenal. His agility and burst make him lethal when coming downhill unabated.
While Owusu-Koramoah will struggle with climbing linemen or blocking tight ends, he makes up for those shortcomings by providing excellent coverage on running backs and solid reps covering slot weapons.
Phillips has at least one red flag that isn’t his fault. He suffered numerous concussions while with UCLA, which could lead to him falling out of the first-round. Phillips retired after the 2018 season because of issues with concussions. He returned in 2020 with the Miami Hurricanes to amass 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and eight sacks in ten games.
Phillips has the explosiveness and pass rush arsenal to rip through linemen. His hand placement and timing still need some work, but the basic pass rush moves are all there with the potential for more advanced sets in the future. It’s a bonus that Phillips is a highly productive run defender.
Running backs don’t have high-end value in the NFL anymore, making it unlikely Williams goes in the first-round. That doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the draft’s best prospects. At 220 lbs., Williams is a tough assignment for defensive backs and even linebackers to bring down. He might have the best vision of the top runners in this class and is reliable in pass protection.
Paye is still developing as a defensive end. Despite his 28 appearances in college, there’s plenty of room for improvement, which should excite more than a few teams. With a 6-4, 272 lb. frame, Paye possesses surprising explosiveness and agility. He’s best suited for a role as a team’s second-best pass rusher to start his career, but No. 1 potential is there. Paye battles every snap and showed plenty of self-improvement over the years. He’s also an impactful run defender.
Defenses shook Fields several times this past season. He dropped his eyes too soon when the pocket began collapsing, and his progressions didn’t go quick enough. However, Fields possesses enough athleticism and power to get out of sticky situations. His arm strength also opens plenty of big plays. Fields just needs to focus on maintaining his poise in the pocket. By the way, he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash.
Standing at 6-7, 265 lbs. with long arms, Rousseau looks like he came out of a comic book. The 20-year-old still needs to add some extra muscle and is too new to playing defensive end to play at a high level in the NFL immediately. Opting out of the 2020 season didn’t help his development either. However, Rousseau has all of the physical tools to dominate in the NFL once he learns the position’s nuisances.
Bateman has enough talent to go in the middle of the first-round. It comes down to how teams feel about him compared to Kadarius Toney. The Minnesota product is a fantastic route runner and creates plenty of space for catches. He can play outside or inside and rarely drops passes. While Bateman isn’t as athletically dominant as other wide receiver prospects in this class, he’s a well-rounded immediate-impact player.
Barmore has NFL-level strength already. He amassed eight sacks and three forced fumbles this past season, but the star defensive lineman faces some criticism. At times, Barmore fails to pursue plays when his athleticism could still make a difference. With elite agility and enough power to hold his ground against college football’s top linemen, Barmore has the raw gifts to become an impact interior rusher in the NFL.
By far the best safety in the 2021 class, Moehrig frequently communicated with and repositioned his fellow TCU defensive backs last season. The 21-year-old has a Ph. D. in zone coverage and has excellent ball skills. The biggest knock against Moehrig is his tendency to over pursue in the running game, resulting in missed tackles and inconsistent run support.
Lance has ideal arm strength and mobility, but he has more obvious misses on tape than the top three quarterbacks in this class. Lance’s tight-window accuracy isn’t always there, but that didn’t hurt during his one season as a full-time starter at NDSU. In 2019, he threw 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions while only taking 12 sacks.
In man coverage, Horn does his best work when he can press receivers, but the 21-year-old shines in zone coverage. He isn’t going to come down in run support and make game-changing plays. Horn has excellent ball skills and can play in the slot or outside. He’ll have to make strides in man coverage to become an elite corner.
Toney isn’t a finished product, and he only became a college star this past season. While his route running and wide receiver mechanics need more fine-tuning, Toney has the fluidity, speed, and twitch to make an immediate impact in the NFL. He saw snaps as a return man, wide receiver, and running back at Florida, meaning he’s a creative offensive coordinator’s dream. Toney played quarterback in high school, which could open the door to some trick plays.
Cosmi played more games at left tackle in college than right tackle, but many analysts view him as a right tackle in the NFL. Cosmi needs to build more functional strength, improve his hand placement, and develop a better kick step. However, he has more than ideal length and flashed tremendous mobility with the Longhorns.
The biggest concern with Bolton is his lack of experience with man coverage. He’s more comfortable in zone defenses but thrives as a downhill linebacker. With a head of steam, Bolton can flatten ball carriers. Despite his power, Bolton doesn’t always succeed at breaking away from blocks or climbing offensive linemen.
At 6-3, 200 lbs., Marshall has ideal NFL size, and the junior’s stock rose significantly after he produced 731 yards and ten touchdowns in seven games this past season. Marshall has the agility and twitch to run routes underneath along with the speed to get vertical quickly. He played outside in 2019 and in the slot this past season, providing good examples of his inside-out versatility.
32. Pat Freiermuth, TE Penn St.
Freiermuth underwent season-ending surgery mid-way through the 2020 season, which could raise red flags for some teams. Outside of the injury and limited reps as a blocker, Freiermuth is an excellent prospect. He tracks the ball well and makes plenty of highlight catches. At 258 lbs., Freiermuth creates a surprising amount of separation in his routes and has enough speed and power to rumble for extra yardage.
Mayfield is one of the best moving offensive tackles in the draft. His mobility is through the roof, but he had fewer than 20 starts at Michigan. That means Mayfield is still learning the advanced aspects of his position. However, his hands, length, mobility, and strength make him a high-upside prospect. We haven’t discovered Mayfield’s ceiling yet, which is either a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.
34. Teven Jenkins, OT Oklahoma St.
Jenkins played both tackle positions and right guard in college. While the 22-year-old still needs to work on his patience and not over-extending on blocks, he has a fierce mentality and great upper body strength. Jenkins’ athleticism and mobility are capped, but he’s good enough to go in the first-round.
Davis lined up at right guard for the Buckeyes. He brings plenty of power at the point of attack and mauls defenders in the running game, but there are limitations to his play. Unlike some of the linemen later in the draft, Davis can’t play all three spots along the interior. He’s locked in as an interior bruiser, which makes him unworthy of a top-20 selection.
As a freshman in 2018, Moore caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns. However, he’s only played seven games over the past two years. At 5-9, Moore doesn’t have a great catch radius, but the Purdue product has unteachable speed and twitch that make him a demon in the open field. He’s also surprisingly difficult to tackle because of his compact build.
With experience as a kick and punt returner, Moore is a big play waiting to happen. Moore’s injury history and unconventional build make him a risky prospect. In a league where every team is looking for the next Tyreek Hill, Moore should receive a lot of interest in the pre-draft process.
Eichenberg was a Consensus All-American this past season. Standing at 6-6, 305 lbs., he has the length and strength to hold his own in the NFL. Eichenberg is destructive as a run-blocker at the point of attack and improved in pass protection last season. He doesn’t possess the same speed or athleticism as other tackles in this class.
The left tackle for the Bison, Radunz dominated at the FCS level. At the point of attack and as a run-blocker, Radunz flashed a nasty temperament with the ability to finish defenders. His reps in pass protection show some sloppy footwork but nothing that can’t be corrected. The greatest concern with Radunz is his ability to add more functional strength and make the jump to playing against better competition.
Oweh is a project player. He didn’t have great production at Penn St., but the build and drive are there. Oweh’s flexibility and movement outclass the athleticism of offensive linemen he faces, but at 252 lbs. there’s only so much he’s capable of in certain defenses. Oweh’s physical abilities alone could raise him into the first-round.
Cox was the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year at North Dakota State in 2018. He transferred to LSU and recently had some great reps during Senior Bowl week. At 231 lbs., Cox has sideline-to-sideline range and mobility that makes him an ace in zone coverage. He’s also a plus man defender in the slot. His frame becomes a weakness when jammed on blocks or trying to get downhill against the run.
Ojulari had two productive seasons at Georgia, recording 64 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and five fumbles during that time. At 240 lbs. with inconsistent production as an edge rusher, Ojulari finds himself stuck in a weak edge rushing class’ no man’s land. He’ll have to add weight to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Carter’s field vision and footwork as he goes in and out of cuts separate him from other running backs in the 2021 draft class. His 5-8, 199 lb. frame isn’t suited for facing heavy boxes, but Carter possesses an elusive quality that makes him a linebacker’s nightmare in space. Carter retains some of his three-down value by performing well out of the backfield as a pass-catcher.
While elite quarterback prospects create offense, Jones simply took advantage of the opportunities he had on Alabama’s stacked 2020 roster. He completed 77.4% of his throws for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and four interceptions this past season. That production is eye-popping, but Jones had plenty of advantages at Alabama.
While Jones possesses good short-to-mid-level accuracy, he struggled with deep throws. He’s also by far the least mobile of the top five quarterback prospects but makes up for it with an excellent feel for the pocket. Jones’ release and footwork need some work, but his most significant issues stem from limitations that could prove costly against NFL competition.
Ossai has the first step and flexibility to get around slower tackles, but he struggled against tackles that received higher draft grades over the past two years. Ossai is average in the running game and offers almost nothing in coverage. He needs to be more aggressive at asserting himself before contact with a lineman and getting into his moves. Ossai has all of the physical tools, but the refinement isn’t there yet.
In 2020, Leatherwood became the third Alabama offensive lineman to win the John Outland trophy in the past ten years. Leatherwood played both guard and tackle at Alabama, which gives him a versatile edge over some other second-round prospects. He might go back to playing guard in the NFL because he displayed too many instances of leaning, lunging, and losing his balance at tackle. Leatherwood is powerful in the running game and has the upper body strength to punish defenders.
At 6-5, 285 lbs., Basham was a monster at Wake Forest. In his final three seasons, the 23-year-old amassed 149 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks, and seven forced fumbles. Basham has the size and power to play defensive end in the NFL, but he lacks explosiveness and isn’t overly athletic. He can win with power for now, but that’s about it.
A Consensus All-American and the reigning Dave Rimington Trophy winner, Dickerson possesses a 6-6, 325 lb. frame and the chance to start immediately in the NFL. Injuries are a lingering concern for Dickerson, but he’s explosive at the snap and has enough power to mangle defenders. While he’s excellent at using his hands to move defenders, Dickerson’s size gives away the leverage advantage in most situations.
Listed at 5-10, 184 lbs. in college, Samuel immediately faces a physical uphill battle in the NFL. However, his proficiency in man coverage creates real first-round interest. Some teams might view Samuel as a bona fide slot corner, but he flashed on an island in college. While he still has a long way to go in zone coverage, Samuel is already a top-five man coverage corner in this class.
Samuel’s father was an All-Pro corner for New England and Philadelphia despite only standing at 5-10 and weighing 185 lbs.
While Holland played safety for Oregon, he was also a standout performer in the slot and might move to that role in the NFL. In Holland’s two seasons of play with the Ducks, he amassed 108 tackles, nine interceptions, and ten passes defensed. An excellent athlete with passable tackling skills, Holland is a desirable chess piece that defensive coordinators can align in multiple positions.
Molden played inside at Washington and projects as an NFL slot corner, but his instincts could lead to an outside transition or a move to safety after a few seasons. Molden makes up for his 5-10 stature with an incredible understanding of the game and his assignments. In his final 17 games with the Huskies, Molden recorded five interceptions and 13 passes defensed.
Grant saw significant action in his final three years at UCF, amassing 258 tackles, ten interceptions, 16 passes defensed, and five forced fumbles. Grant has the athleticism and radar to hone in on plays as a deep safety and the speed to capitalize on those reads. UCF lined him up in many formations, allowing Grant to showcase his proficiency as a tackler and in the slot. He sometimes gets over-excited about making plays, leading to poor angles.
A 335 lb. left tackle, Carman was a monster in the running game for Clemson. He possesses incredible power at the point of attack, lethal hands, and the desire to pummel defenders. Carman doesn’t give an inch to power rushers in pass protection. His biggest issues come with speed rushers that can sometimes beat him around the outside. Carman’s foot speed isn’t the best either.
Newsome possesses NFL starting potential but has significant durability concerns. He only played in 17 games during his three years at Northwestern. Newsome has better than ideal length for a corner and the fluidity to mirror top route runners. With experience in man and zone coverage, Newsome’s laundry list of injuries is his greatest flaw.
Gainwell only spent a season at Memphis as the feature running back. In his standout 2019 campaign, the high school quarterback ran for 1,459 yards and caught 51 passes for 610 yards. Gainwell can line up in the slot and is a game wrecker coming out of the backfield as a receiver. However, he’s only 191 lbs. and didn’t face many heavy defensive fronts at Memphis. The agility and one-year production are there, but Gainwell has a massive transition to make.
While Robinson has the potential to play outside corner in the NFL, his best immediate fit is in the slot. The Alabama transfer is a willing run defender, but his short arms could cause some problems in pass coverage. Robinson played enough man and zone concepts at UCF to gain experience in both, but he hasn’t mastered either.
Nixon won a lot of reps in 2020 with his explosive first step, but the 22-year-old also possesses plenty of power and pop in his hands. He can stun offensive linemen and experienced an eye-catching surge in production at the start of last season. However, Nixon’s play-to-play and week-to-week production hasn’t evened out yet.
A powerful nose tackle with ten sacks in his 36 appearances with the Wolfpack, McNeil could turn into one of this class’ second-round gems. McNeil rarely gave ground against lone blockers during his three collegiate seasons, and the 6-2 lineman even posted wins against double teams. While McNeil already possesses ideal power, he needs to develop a better feel for what gaps to target and when to get there.
Little opted out of the 2020 season, and a knee injury limited his playing time in 2019. That injury might raise some red flags, but Little had excellent tape in 2018. He displayed a smooth kick step, ideal balance and later mobility, and exceptional length. Little controlled speed rushers with his length and movement while stopping power rushers with his size. There’s a chance he sees starting time immediately as a right tackle.
At 5-9, it’s hard to see Moore as anything more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He generates plenty of separation on routes, has a quick release, and is a big play waiting to happen with the ball in his hands. In his final season at Ole Miss, Moore caught 86 passes for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games.
Surratt arrived at UNC as a quarterback and only began playing linebacker in 2019. Over the past two seasons, he amassed 206 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks. Surratt still has a lot of room for improvement, particularly when it comes to taking better angles. However, he’s a terrific athlete and already showed massive improvement from 2019 to 2020. If he continues improving, Surratt projects out as a starting NFL linebacker.
Creed Humphrey, IOL Oklahoma
James Hudson, OT Cincinnati
Levi Onwuzurike, IDL Washington
Marvin Wilson, IDL Florida St.
Ronnie Perkins, EDGE Oklahoma
Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB Syracuse
Eric Stokes, CB Georgia
Talanoa Hufanga, S USC
Ar’Darius Washington, S TCU