Mello’s 2021 NFL Draft Big board

Look, this thing changes daily, but this is how I’m currently feeling.

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (Junior)

I have been waiting two years to talk about Trevor Lawrence; and it honestly felt a lot longer. Lawrence is the clearcut number one prospect in this class and edges out Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell because of positional importance. Lawrence has all the tools to be a franchise QB in the NFL and succeed almost immediately. 

2. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (Junior)

If not for Trevor Lawrence we would all be talking about Sewell. Make note that I said Lawrence is the number one prospect, not the number one pick. That title is up for grabs and a lot of teams will have their eye on Sewell; especially teams with good, young QB’s. 

3. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (Junior)

Like most of his LSU teammates, Chase had a breakout year in 2019 and made a name for himself. The surprise to many was that Chase was not draft eligible for 2020, but that puts him at the top of the WR group for 2021.

4. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State (Junior)

Micah Parsons has lived up to all the hype coming out of high school and checks every box for the linebacker position. The last few drafts have featured very talented LB’s, but Parsons could top all of them. There were a lot of questions with other top linebacker prospects—Isaiah Simmons’ position, Devin White’s weight, Devin Bush’s size and Patrick Queens’ play against the run—but Micah Parsons doesn’t have those questions and is instead full of answers. 

5. Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson (Junior)

Before Ja’Marr Chase came along, Justyn Ross was WR1 For 2021. The 6’4” junior will be the true number one receiver in the Clemson offense this year with the departure of Tee Higgins. Combine that with Trevor Lawrence for another year and Ross should see huge production numbers to go along with his traits. 

6. Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (Junior)

Rousseau is a little of an unknown but he definitely deserves his spot at the top. The 6’7” edge rusher has more than enough size and his sack production, 15.5 sacks in 2019, is up there with guys like Chase Young. Offenses will be looking to double or triple team Rousseau, but it honestly might not matter. 

7. Trey Lance, QB, NDSU (Redshirt Sophomore)

GET FAMILIAR WITH THIS NAME! Lance might have only one season of work on tape but that one season was amazing. I pulled up the Butler game cut up on YouTube and had to stop it because I thought it was a highlight package. It was not. His game cut up literally looks like a highlight package. It’s unreal. Obviously, the questions will be “can he do it against tougher opponents?” We’ll find out September 12th against Oregon. 

8. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (Junior)

You cannot deny the production, hype and play. Fields had an amazing 2019 season and will be a Heisman favorite going into the season. But there are questions surrounding his game after a sub-par performance in the College Football Playoff. 

9. Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas (Senior)

Maybe not the Texas prospect you expected to see but Cosmi is the top Longhorn prospect. The athletic left tackle is responsible for protecting Sam Ehlinger and much of the success at Texas rides on Cosmi. I don’t think Cosmi is in the same tier as Sewell but he can be the franchise tackle your team needs. 

10. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama (Senior)

If it feels like you have heard the name Dylan Moses for the last 10 years, you’re not alone. And you’re not that wrong. Moses graced the cover of ESPN the magazine as an eighth grader and has been living up to the hype ever since. 

11. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama (Senior)

Najee Harris decided to return to Alabama for his senior season despite the fact he could have been the number one running back in the 2020 draft class. Returning the Tide to national championships and winning a Heisman trophy are surely some goals for Harris next season, and I think we might see a Derrick Henry type year from the Bama back. 

12. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (Junior)

Travis Etienne made the same decision as Najee Harris and for similar reasons—trophy hunting. After his 2,046 yards from scrimmage in 2019, Etienne is a trophy favorite. Like, for all of them. Doak Walker, Heisman and National Champion.

13. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama (Junior)

The number four receiver on the 2019 Crimson Tide team has been waiting to breakout and I think he wins a lot of games of Rock, Paper, Scissor in 2020. If you’re not familiar with Waddle, just think “What would happen if Jerry Jeudy and Hendry Ruggs had a baby?” Answer, it would be Jaylen Waddle. Waddle is going to be another 4.2 candidate at the combine but is also a polished route runner with soft hands. His only problem is that he has had to share the field with guys like Jeudy, Ruggs and DeVonta Smith. 

14. Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama (Junior)

Surtain is a big physical corner that might project more as a safety in the NFL. Which is one of the reasons why it’s hard for me to watch Surtain and not see Minkah Fitzpatrick. The physicality at the line of scrimmage is difficult for any WR and Surtain is also not afraid to make tackles. 

15. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (Junior)

An injury cut Moore’s sophomore season short but he wowed everyone as a freshman in 2018. His 114 catches, 1258 yards and 12 touchdowns dominated the B1G Conference. A healthy Rondale Moore is a top Heisman contender and Purdue will look to get creative with the playmaker. Using him as a return, running back and wildcat QB. 

16. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State (Junior)

Yes, another running back. I’m a sucker for good running backs and the positional class is loaded again. Chuba rushed for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in Mike Gundy’s offense and even though the Cowboys don’t often throw to the backfield, Chuba can get involved in the passing game too. 

17. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State (Senior)

Columbus, Ohio can make a strong case for DBU with yet again another first round corner. I believe Wade would have gone round one in 2020 but he decided to return to tOSU and will be CB1 for the Buckeyes this fall. 

18. Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse (Junior)

If you like stats and production, this is your guy. After bringing in seven interceptions as a true freshman, Cisco pulled in another five as a sophomore in an injury shortened season. Cisco is much more than just a stat guy though. His hard hits over the middle of the field remind me of Earl Thomas.

19. Wyatt Davis, iOL, Ohio State (Junior)

Yes, Wyatt Davis is a guard. Yes, Wyatt Davis is a badass. For a guard to get drafted in the first round or be in the top 25 of a big board they have to be a stellar prospect because the position value just isn’t there. I think Wyatt Davis can check the boxes needed to stay in the top 25 and be a first round talent. 

20. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama (Senior)

Najee, DeVonta, Moses and Leatherwood all decided to return for their senior seasons. I don’t know what Nick Saban $aid to these guys but they all could have been round one picks. Leatherwood is the true left tackle for Alabama and will be protecting a right handed QB in the fall. His ability to move his feet and extend his arms immediately jump off the tape. 

21. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama  (Senior)

The most productive WR in the Alabama offense returns for his senior year in T-Town. Smith is a little slender at 6’1” 175 lbs, but the senior WR had no problem getting off the line of scrimmage and working DB’s downfield. Whomever the Alabama QB is, they are going to have amazing targets. 

22. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota (Junior)

Oh, buddy. You know how strongly people feel about Minnesota receivers and this year we get another one. Bateman followed up an exciting freshman campaign with a steller sophomore year. Pulling in 60 catches for 1,219 and 11 touchdowns. That’s good for a 20.3 yards per catch average! This season Bateman will be the number one target with Tyler Johnson off to the NFL and the Gophers return 10 starters on offense, including QB Tanner Morgan. Expect another big year, boat rowers.  

23. Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford (Junior)

After an injury shortened season in 2019, Abedo decided to return to Stanford and Cardinal fans should be very excited. Not many corners can eliminate a receiver at the college level, but they have one in Palo Alto. 

24. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State (Junior)

The 2021 draft class brings some excitement at a position of passion for me and Freiermuth is at the top of the class. His 15 touchdowns in two seasons are impressive but maybe not as impressive as the “Baby Gronk” nickname. For what it’s worth, I think he will live up to the name. 

25. Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson

Think of Jackson Carman as the Clemson football secret service. His job is to protect Trevor Lawrence and he has done a damn good job. The big tackle has had to deal with some impressive edge rushers in the ACC and Playoff and Lawrence has been upright for most of those games. 

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