Yes, it’s early in the NFL 202 proposal. The focus has been elsewhere when sports begin to return to play in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and the college football scene for 2020 is still cloudy at best. And while I’d spent a lot of summer watching movies and preparing for this class, there’s still a lot of work to be done. So the following is a very premature projection of the first 32 elections for the draft next April.
This 2021 group is gifted with great impact. I have three highly ranked quarterbacks coming off the board, and the best guy is probably the best QB prospect I’ve seen in a while. And if you’re still not tired of skilled wide receivers after the 2020 draft, you̵
The day 1 names will of course change over the next eight plus months, but this exercise is usually a good starting point for the class. My far too early mockery of the 2020 class contained ten future prospects that ended up in the first round. There are many unknowns at this time. But even as we wait for more news about the college football season (Big Ten and Pac-12 have already suspended their fall seasons and plan to look at spring options), let’s anticipate the opening 32 picks of the 2021 NFL draft. We start with the Football Power Index’s lowest ranked team for the coming season.
Note: Draft order projections are made via ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). Underclass is noted with an asterisk.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson *
OK, let’s start with a no-brainer. Lawrence is a type of quarterback prospect who once in a decade currently has our highest Scouts Inc. class on a QB since Andrew Luck 2012 (99). Jacksonville treated Nick Foles in the off-season, leaving it with just Gardner Minshew II and Mike Glennon, and Lawrence would step in for the Jaguars as an immediate game-breaking starter. With a big arm, great mobility for his 6-foot-6 frame, excellent position under pressure and intangible intangible maps, it would not be long before he was among the game’s best.
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama *
Washington went out and got Kendall Fuller in free agency, but with Fabian Moreau and Ronald Darby who would be free agents next spring, this CB group needs a punch. And Surtain – son of former Pro Bowl corner Patrick Surtain – is a real shutdown corner. I love his instincts, ball skills and ability to collect and tackle, but what stands out is how well he diagnoses routes and funnel receivers where he wants them to go. He may just end up on the best defensive player in the entire 2021 class, and together with 2020 no. 2 total Chase Young picks, he would help rebuild a Washington defense that was No. 27 on allowed yards per game in 2019 (although it would be difficult for Washington to leave a guy as LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase on the board with their problems at the recipient).