Brady’s 2021 NFL Draft Big Board 1.0

Brady’s 2021 NFL Draft Big Board 1.0

by November 5, 2020 0 comments

Draft season is only a few months away, where some teams will have the ability to change their franchise’s destiny or be in perpetual despair for years to come. In the upcoming draft, there is a heavy dose of offensive weapons which will change the dynamics and explosiveness for some offenses. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker and cornerback are looking like a strong group on the top end. Overall, this draft class is shaping up to become a very good class, where multiple teams may get impact starters right away. With that said, here are my top 25 draft-eligible players on the Big Board for November. 

Just outside the top 25 ( in no particular order):

Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

Josh Myers, IOL. Ohio State

Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma

Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

Jay Tufele, DT, USC

25. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

The largest riser on the board with an impressive season so far. With a 74.6 percent completion rate, 19 touchdowns, and only two interceptions, Wilson has set the NCAA on fire so far. He’s elusive in the pocket, creating plays which shouldn’t be there. Wilson has improved each game and shown improvements in his processing speed. Interestingly, Wilson has been hurt in past years, but he also didn’t look as comfortable last year as he does this year. It may be because he’s fully healthy, or he has adapted to the BYU system, but regardless he has excelled in the offense thus far. Wilson, if he has the right offense and weapons, could be very effective in the NFL. 

24. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

Horn has entrenched himself firmly as a first round talent. The question is if someone will take a shot at the limited production. In 2020, Horn has been nothing short of dominant, showing improvements to his zone coverage (reading of the quarterback) and physicality in man coverage. The biggest difference from last year to this year is his processing speed, which makes him look like a good starter in the NFL. 

23. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson 

Etienne is a special running back who can score any play and brings a homerun threat each time he touches the ball. He has speed and agility which allow him to get to the second level before linebackers and cornerbacks are prepared – allowing him the odd open crease to score a 70 yard touchdown. However, his speed isn’t his best quality, it is actually his contact balance. In essence contact balance is two things, the ability to stay on your feet and the ability to create something from nothing. Whenever Etienne touches the ball, two to three yard gains end up being four to five yard gains. Additionally, he has excellent pass catching skills, with the ability to adjust to the catch point and keep his speed while catching the ball (allowing him better opportunities to run after the catch). One pro comparison for Etienne is Aaron Jones

22. Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State 

Toney has flashed incredible bend around the corner all season, making him another big riser on the board. Bend, with the ability to flatten out towards the quarterback, makes Toney a significant boom-bust player. Alongside this bend, is a downright disrespectful (and effective) rip move when going on the inside. Toney has yet to develop a full repertoire of pass rushing moves, but he has the speed, agility, and hand usage to be a dominant player in the NFL. 

21. Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami 

Jordan is a unique tight end, as his athleticism and run after the catch could make him a valuable part of any offense. Offenses will have to generate touches for him though, as he doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional tight end mold. He brings similar traits and game changing ability as Jonnu Smith, who like Jordan can score anytime he gets the ball.

In essence, Jordan is a super sized wide receiver who can play inline and outside. He’s not a blocker, but his 6’3, 250 lb frame, elite body control, and run after the catch makes him a unique case which some offenses will crave and others will not. There are still lots of elements to Jordan’s game that need refining, but he brings something different then many other players. 

20. Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

Paye’s game against Minnesota was a spectacular performance and showed his upside. The stat line shows two sacks and four tackles, but it doesn’t show how he was consistently generating pressure and was always in the opposition’s back field. Some things need said for Paye though, specifically he isn’t a polish product, but has significant upside and tools to be great. He’s the classic project who will not make an instant impact, but will develop over his first year. He has the frame at 6’5”, 270lbs to be a dominant edge rusher in the league, but needs to refine his pass rushing moves. Once he gets experience and coaching in the NFL, he could be an eight more sack a year player.

19. Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Smith isn’t going to wow in the combine, but like Davante Adams, he finds a way to separate and catch the ball. Additionally, Smith does everything well, but his best skills are nuanced route running techniques, downfield catching (and catching in general), and body control movement when the ball is in the air. Smith has the potential to be a great wide receiver in the league, and would be a significant asset as a second wide receiver on a team to start his career, and then develop into the first receiver in some time. 

18. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

Leatherwood has been a somewhat dominant player for Alabama for the past couple of years. He’s the classic build for a tackle at 6’6”, 310lbs with long arms, but there are some significant concerns with his core strength and his balance. If Leatherwood were to face a good pass rusher in the NFL right now, there are significant concerns about his ability to pass block. If he were to face a mediocre edge rushers, draft analysis would be confidence that he could hold up. 

The biggest transition for Leatherwood, will be getting experience and adapting to the strength of the NFL. Hopefully, once he gets NFL coaching and goes to the weight room, he could be an absurdly dominant tackle. With all that said, the tools he currently has – feet ‘quickness, pass blocking (hand placement and hand strength), and consistency – are first round caliber, but until the balance improves, he should only be considered a high upside project pick.  

17. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota 

Bateman is an Allen Robinson clone in almost every aspect of his game. The most significant elements of his game are his ball skills, catching ability, and general reliability on the offense. Specifically, he has the ability to highpoint the ball, while ensuring his body is in the proper position to shield from defenders. He’s a possession receiver only though, lacking elite speed and run after catch ability. Yet, he may end up being a 90 catch receiver and the go to guy in third rounds. In essence, Bateman has the potential to be a dynamic receiver capable of improving an offense. 

16. Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

Tools, size, and raw ability are currently the only way to describe Rousseau. His upside is largely a result of his size (6’7”) and freakishly long arms, allowing him more ways to win. Once he learns to refine his technique, the sky’s the limit. He has the mold and build of a potential a 12 plus sack per game edge rusher in the NFL. Interestingly, he had 15 sacks from multiple positions on the defensive line in the 2019 season and he has the power to take on guards and tackles, and the quickness to counter their power. His closest comparison is Marcus Davenport, who like Rousseau had freakish athleticism and tools, but wasn’t polished. 

15. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue 

Moore is a polarizing prospect, as he’s had his fair share of injuries, but in 2018 as a 18 year old he put up 114 receptions, 1,258 yards, and 12 touchdowns while dominating teams. He was the Purdue offense, and teams just could not stop him. Moore is only 5’9”, 180 pounds, but there are times where he is impossible to bring down with his run after catch ability and short area quickness. Moreover, he’s got excellent speed, a instincts for breaking off his routes, and a general feel for creating separation. He’s not going to make the contested catches and be a possession receiver, but he can transform a receiving core to make it more explosive. 

14. Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State

A plug and play guard, whose run blocking power can make the difference on several pulls/trap plays a game. He’s somewhat reliable in one on ones during the pass and should be an impact player for years to come. Davis plays the guard position so well, he has drawn a comparison or two to Quenton Nelson in regards to his intelligence and strength. The movement skills have yet to improve to Nelson’s level though. Moreover, he’s not a sure thing like Nelson as there are concerns with balance. Still, he’s a top 15 prospect and someone who could be good in the NFL for a very long time. 

13. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota 

This is the biggest stretch on the top 25 big board, however, Faalele has similarities to Jets’ Tackle Mekhi Becton. Faalele is 400 lbs and 6’8”, with movement skills of a tight end. Faalele isn’t polished and may experience a big learning curve with the speed of the NFL. However, the physical tools of Faalele are too much to ignore and arguably give him one of the highest ceilings in this draft.

12. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Surtian has been regarded as the best cornerback in this draft, however, there are concerns about his speed. His ball skills, physicality, and nuanced details for his coverage skills. Specifically, at the catch point, he excels at swatting the ball away and boxing out receivers. There may be an adjustment form NCAA to NFL in terms of physicality and how much corners can hold and hand fight with receivers. Yet, one thing is for certain, Surtain will be an excellent cornerback to take on larger and more physical receivers. 

11. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

Many compare Freiermuth to Rob Gronkowski largely because the effort in blocking, body control while catching the ball, run after catch ability, and general mismatch for defenses. The comparison is warranted, as Freiermuth has the size, tools, and ability to transform an offense. He’s also extremely reliable in clutch situations and has reliable hands with only one drop in 2019. Additionally, his size (6’5”, 259 lbs) and movement skills are what make him a mismatch for defenders. 

10. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama 

Waddle suffered a season ending injury in late October when he was returning a kickoff. His run after the catch skills, speed, and ball skills are special. He has this special short area quickness, allowing him to finesse his way past defenders. As a pass catcher, Waddle is impressive as he’s able to maintain his speed while catching the ball and also has great control of his body allowing him to make spectacular sideline catches. If he’s fully healthy, he would arguably be one of the fastest players in the draft.

9. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida 

Pitts took the NCAA by storm so far bolstering 17 catches, 274 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns in three games. Pitts has the movement skills of a small wide receiver, except he’s 6’6”, 240 lbs. His ability to highpoint the ball along with reliable hands makes him a go-to target on important downs. Additionally, his athletic ability will make him a significant mismatch for linebackers. But, safeties and cornerbacks will also have difficulty covering him due to his arm length/catching radius and size. Funny enough he even generates separation from his route running, which is rare for a tight end. With that said, Pitts will draw double teams and has the potential to be the top target and chain mover on the team, making his impact significant for every team. Really his only knock is his blocking ability. 

8. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

Moses is everything fans want in a linebacker, a hard hitting and sure tackling player. What separates him from other linebackers is his instincts and play processing, which are unlike anyone else’s skills in college. His ability to diagnose plays as they happen is special and gives him a floor of being a good player. While he isn’t as athletic as Micah Parsons, he’s going to be a great player for a long time. Moses has top 10 potential, but a devastating injury (torn ACL) last year put his stock in question. This year he looks like the Moses of old and reinforced his spot as a top 10 player. 

7. Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Farley is arguably the best cornerback in the draft. He is one of the players who chose to opt out, and for good reason. His film is that of a quality first round pick. It is his traits which make him a top 10 player. Farley is 6’2″ and 207 lbs which allow him to stay with larger wide receivers. His change of pace and speed are unnatural for his size. His size and speed allow him to recover when he makes a mistake, and make plays on the ball in which other corners would not. The traits also allow him to make risky plays, where other cornerbacks wouldn’t have the same opportunity.  

6.  Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

There are two concerns with Lance right now. One, the level of competition he played at was very poor compared to the other top quarterbacks. Two, Lance is 100 percent tools/project and has lots of room to improve. If he were to play right now, it may not be a great performance, but there would be some spectacular plays. He has yet to put it all together, and should develop behind another quarterback for some time. In typical draft lingo, he’s a boom or bust player, with great arm talent. He’s at his best when he is able to scramble to extend the play, throw outside of structure, and most interesting of all, go through his progressions. The question that needs to be asked is if his processing speed will be quick enough for the NFL. To end off on a positive note, last year he threw 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions.  

5. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Parsons is a once in a generation field general linebacker with the ability to have a defense created around him. His instincts mixed with his freakish athleticism make him have the look of a young Bobby Wagner. While it’s unheard of to see a linebacker in the top five players, there are no better defensive prospects. 

4. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Chase opted out, but make no mistake he’s the best wide receiver and weapon in this draft. His ability to manipulate cornerbacks is special, but he also has the best ball skills in the draft. Specifically, his separation ability, hand usage in the air, physicality, anticipation, and high levels of body control make him the best wide receiver in this class. Moreover, Chase is special, and corrects errant and inaccurate throws, while being a dominant contested catch player. In essence, Chase has the ability to transform an offense, and make his quarterback better. He will not only be a chain mover, but will be able to make special catches. 

3.  Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Sewell has the movement skills of a 250 lb tight end, except he’s 330 lbs. Very rarely do you see the movement skills of a tight end, body control, hand usage, and leverage in a prospect that is roughly 330 lbs. Simply put, Sewell is pro ready, and will excel in pass protection and run blocking and has all-pro potential. There isn’t much Sewell doesn’t do well, and he may be the safest pick in the draft.

2. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Fields is above Sewell for one significant reason, he has the potential to change a franchise for the next 10 to 15 years. Fields has the athleticism and running ability to have a Cam Newton/Lamar Jackson run style of offense designed around him. He would also excel in a zone read system where he isn’t the primary runner. Yet, while Fields has athleticism, he doesn’t get enough recognition for his throwing ability. He’s ultra-accurate and makes good decisions with the football, throwing for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns last year, and he’s on pace to exceed that this year. Fields’ best trait is that he doesn’t make mistakes, demonstrated in his low interceptions rate with only three in 2019. He’s also got a cannon for an arm and can place the ball anywhere on the field. 

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Lawrence is beyond the talent that has come out in the past decades. He’s a better prospect than Andrew Luck, and the scary thing is he’s still getting better. For reference, I personally would select Lawrence over Kyler Murray, Jackson, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert – that is how good he is. He’s a once in a generational prospect for a number of reasons. Currently, Lawrence is consistently making NFL caliber throws, some throws that current NFL starting quarterbacks cannot make. Additionally, he creates plays outside of structure, throws well on the move, has a cannon for an arm, and can scramble for extra yardage. The main traits are his accuracy, intelligence, quick decision-making, and leadership. Some people will say “he’s a one read quarterback”; FALSE, his progression speed is quick and is something that will be NFL caliber. He’ll be the number one player taken barring anything crazy happening or an injury. 

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Contributor for Prime Time Sports Talk for the NFL. Covering the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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