We are still a month away from the 2020 NFL Draft, which means we are still over a year away from the 2021 NFL Draft. I am slowly losing my mind locked in my house, and with the sports world being on hold until further notice, I have had plenty of time to look into next year’s draft class. The deeper and deeper I dug, the quicker I realized we are going to have another draft class abundant with talent. It’s never too early to start looking towards the future though, and that’s what we are here to do.
It is obviously impossible to tell exactly how anything will go next season, if there even is a 2021 NFL season, so please don’t take this to heart. So much is going to change from this point, to when the 2021 draft process even starts. This is just something for fun, and a rough estimate of who I think the top prospects of 2021 will be. If you have any questions about how I selected things, ranked prospects, or anything else, feel free to message me on Twitter @tdashwebb42.
1. Detroit Lions, Trevor Lawrence
It is finally time for the Matthew Stafford era to end in Detroit. His contract is ending, and with over a decades worth of talent wasted, it is time for Stafford to try and win. Teams like the Chargers, Colts, and Patriots are all just a talented quarterback away from competing for a championship, and will have more than enough cap space to sign Stafford away too.
With all that being said the Lions won’t be left in a pit of despair either. Trevor Lawrence is one of the most polished quarterback prospects since Andrew Luck, and I believe has more than enough talent to win even with the Lions. He has been able to show you everything you want in a franchise leading quarterback for multiple seasons now. Big frame (6’6), multiple years of high level success, professional/winning attitude, and shines bright on the big stages. As long as they can fully commit to building around Trevor Lawrence, and learn from their mistakes they made with Stafford.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars, Justin Fields
While Garnder Minshew might have the heart of Duval Nation currently, I suspect the honeymoon stage will wash away and this experiment will ultimately not work out. The Jaguars are a real threat at selecting a quarterback this year, but I think it would be smart and give Minshew every opportunity to win by building this roster with their 2020 draft assets. Adding play makers like Jerry Jeudy, or Isaiah Simmons will make whoever is under center’s life a lot easier.
Justin Fields not only can bring some hometown lure to Jacksonville (Grew up in Kennesaw, Georgia) but he could also be the best quarterback prospect Jacksonville has ever had. Fields is a prototypical quarterback for today NFL. He is 6’3, 230 Lbs, a very accurate arm, and is deadly with his feet. Personally, you can think of it as Jacksonville drafting their Deshaun Watson. Fields can ignite the franchise with a sense of hope that hasn’t been with the Jaguars before, and no team can ever undervalue that.
11. New York Giants, Jaylen Waddle
I believe Daniel Jones will take the next steps he is expected to make this season, and help push the Giants to a few more wins than last year. This puts them in prime position to finally address the wide receiver position, and try to replace what was lost in the Odell Beckham Jr trade. Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard simply won’t be the answer for New York’s passing attack.
Jaylen Waddle is the next Alabama receiver in line to the NFL. If you liked what Jerry Jeudy brought to the field, youll be a fan of Jaylen Waddle too. He is an explosive wide receiver, and his best example of that was this years Auburn game. Waddle had four catches for 98 yards and three touchdowns, and he also added another touchdown on a 98 yard kick return. That kind of twitchy player is exactly what the Giants could use to pair next to Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard.
13. New England Patriots, Jamie Newman
Newman is without a doubt one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2021 season. I saw a lot of flashes at Wake Forest that told me he could be an NFL level quarterback, especially when you factor in his ability to make things work with his feet. On the other hand I did see him make foolish mistakes, and he wasn’t ever really able to win with the Demon Deacons.
Tom Brady is now living it up in Tampa Bay, and the Patriots are still left trying to find their new quarterback of the future. Jamie Newman is very similar to Jordan Love in the sense they have all the physical tools you would want in a quarterback, it is just teaching him NFL concepts. There has been a few rumblings of the Patriots and Cam Newton, and Belichick liking the skill set that he possesses. Newman has a similiar though 100% Newton- There isn’t much better of an NFL learning center than the New England Patriots, and if anyone can get the full potential out of players it is them.
23. Indianapolis Colts, Kyle Pitts
With Eric Ebron heading to the Steelers, the Colts are now looking for a replacement athletic tight end. Kyle Pitts easily would be the first tight end off the board if he was available in this class and would honestly be an upgrade over Ebron pretty quickly. Last year he finished with 54 receptions, 649 receiving yards and five touchdowns for the Gators, which is the 2nd most catches by a Florida TE since 1996. As just a sophomore in college, he was one of the nation’s top tight ends last season, and finished 3rd in the NCAA in receptions for tight ends.
At 6’6, 246 pounds, Pitts is 11 pounds heavier than he was last year when he broke out for Florida. He wants to keep adding to that giant frame to become a more complete tight end, and at the end of the day just be a heck of a mismatch for defenses. Pitts is going to have a great opportunity to become a complete tight end with UF’s new tight ends coach Tim Brewster, who coached names like Antonio Gates and Nick O’Leary.
27. Buffalo Bills, Travis Etienne
For a good part of this draft process, Etienne was considered one of the top running backs in the 2020 class. He surprised many by returning to school in order to chase the Clemson history books, and possibly redeem their National Championship loss this year. Without a doubt one of the most explosive running backs in the nation last year, Etienne rushed for over 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns for Clemson.
After adding Stefon Diggs this off season, the Bills can now focus on getting their rushing attack up to par. Devin Singletary is solid, but in today’s NFL, you need more than just one solid running back. Etienne has the ability to be a three down back, and can be a legit asset to take pressure off Josh Allen. He is a home run hitter, and gives the Bills a good one-two punch at running back.