2021 NFL Draft big board: Ranking top 100 prospects

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The NFL Draft big board is an evolving organism that changes drastically throughout the college football season and even after that leading up to the draft. Look back on any preseason big board from prior years, and you’ll find radical adjustments from where things started.

For instance, Joe Burrow went from probable Day 3 obscurity to the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft. BYU quarterback Zach Wilson experienced a similar meteoric rise this time around.

One constant has remained on just about everyone’s big board, though: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is the best prospect, and will be taken first by the Jacksonville Jaguars unless something truly unbelievable happens.

Without any further ado, check out Sportsnaut’s rankings of the top 100 prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Related: NFL mock draft 2022 – Quarterbacks make NFL history.

Sportsnaut’s 2021 NFL Draft big board

Ranking Player Ranking Player
1 Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson 51 Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
2 Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida 52 Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana
3 Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon 53 Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma
4 Zach Wilson, QB, BYU 54 Milton Williams, iDL, Louisiana Tech
5 Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU 55 Creed Humphrey, iOL, Oklahoma
6 Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State 56 Alim McNeill, iDL, NC State
7 Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama 57 Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
8 Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern 58 Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
9 DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama 59 Levi Onwuzurike, iDL, Washington
10 Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama 60 Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
11 Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State 61 Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF
12 Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota 62 Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
13 Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State 63 Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
14 Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC 64 Tommy Togiai, iDL, Ohio State
15 Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech 65 Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
16 Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia 66 Ar’Darius Washington, S, TCU
17 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame 67 Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
18 Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan 68 Wyatt Davis, iOL, Ohio State
19 Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina 69 Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
20 Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (Florida) 70 Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
21 Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa 71 Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
22 Christian Barmore, iDL, Alabama 72 Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
23 Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State 73 Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston
24 Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech 74 Quinn Meinerz, iOL, Wisconsin-Whitewater
25 Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU 75 Brevin Jordan TE Miami
26 Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue 76 Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
27 Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU 77 Ben Cleveland, iOL, Georgia
28 Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss 78 Dayo Odeyingbo, EDGE, Vanderbilt
29 Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern 79 Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
30 Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State 80 D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
31 Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia 81 Shakur Brown, CB, Michigan State
32 Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest 82 Daviyon Nixon, iDL, Iowa
33 Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon 83 Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
34 Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State 84 Tyler Shelvin, iDL, LSU
35 Mac Jones, QB, Alabama 85 Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech
36 Najee Harris, RB, Alabama 86 Brady Christensen, OT, BYU
37 Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (Florida) 87 Jordan Smith, EDGE, UAB
38 Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame 88 Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
39 Richie Grant, S, UCF 89 Aaron Banks, iOL, Notre Dame
40 Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama 90 Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami (Florida)
41 Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson 91 Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
42 Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina 92 Cameron Sample, DL, Tulane
43 Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina 93 Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State
44 Landon Dickerson, iOL, Alabama 94 Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame
45 Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M 95 Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
46 Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas 96 Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
47 Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia 97 Elerson Smith, EDGE, Northern Iowa
48 Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky 98 Jay Tufele, iDL, USC
49 Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida 99 Deonte Brown, iOL, Alabama
50 Elijah Molden, DB, Washington 100 Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

2021 NFL Draft big board key takeaways

Four worthy first-round QBs, Mac Jones grades as Round 2 prospect

Jan 27, 2021; American quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama (10) throws during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones benefited so much from his loaded supporting cast at Alabama that he’s hard to evaluate. His NCAA-record completion percentage from 2020 is hard to ignore, yet so is his lack of athleticism and arm talent when compared to the other top QBs coming out of college.

It’s looking like the San Francisco 49ers will take Jones third overall. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is an offensive mastermind who should be able to get the most out of Jones, yet with the intention to bring Jimmy Garoppolo back for another year, it’s baffling that the 49ers wouldn’t take someone with more room to grow.

Jones has clear limits as a passer and can’t make plays off schedule very well at all. That’s why he earns a second-round grade despite his fine, pure throwing ability and obvious leadership that helped the Crimson Tide to another national championship.

Kyle Pitts is likely the next legend at tight end

Much of this NFL Draft big board is based on positional value and how it translates to the modern game. For instance, if it’s a close call between two players, the man who plays a more important position likely gets the nod.

Tight end isn’t traditionally considered a high-value position, but the best ones like George Kittle, Travis Kelce and Darren Waller can create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.

Kyle Pitts has a chance to be better than all of them, as Pro Football Focus’ Ian Hartitz recently alluded to:

The Florida star’s size, crazy speed and insane catch radius give him all the means to be an absolute superstar. He’s quick enough and has the route-running capability to line up out wide, so imagine undersized slot corners or linebackers trying to cover him.

For a tight end to be ranked ahead of potential franchise quarterbacks seems ridiculous. That’s how special Pitts is, and how little of a chance he has to bust, compared to the wildly hit-or-miss nature of drafting QBs high.

Ja’Marr Chase headlines special wide receiver class

The Alabama duo of speedster Jaylen Waddle and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, but they aren’t the only playmaking wideouts who’ll be finding the end zone on a regular basis in the NFL soon enough.

Ja’Marr Chase may be the best, most complete receiver prospect in the past five years or more. There’s a good chance the Cincinnati Bengals will reunite him with Burrow with the fifth overall pick, but Chase definitely won’t drop outside the top 10.

Chase’s former teammate, Terrace Marshall Jr., also earns a first-round grade. The latter is ranked higher here than you’ll see at most places, and the same goes for our 12th overall prospect, Rashod Bateman.

It really is a deep group at the position. When Florida’s Kadarius Toney is pushed all the way to the fringe of the top 50, you know it’s a strong crop of players. Take note of Rondale and Elijah Moore, too, who also earn first-round grades.

High-risk, high-reward pass-rushers galore

Jan 1, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia coach Kirby Smart, defensive player of the game Azeez Ojulari (13) and offensive player of the game place kicker Jack Podlesny (96) celebrate after winning the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game between Georgia and Cincinnati at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta., on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Mandatory Credit: Joshua L. Jones-USA TODAY NETWORK

You can easily poke holes in most of this class’ premier edge defender prospects. Whether it’s Azeez Ojulari’s slighter, wiry build, Jaelan Phillips’ extensive injury history, Gregory Rousseau’s one-year wonder status or Jayson Oweh’s lackluster sack production, critics have plenty of ammunition to use against the top players. Kwity Paye is even a question mark due to his potential ‘tweener position status.

One thing all these men have in common, though, is absolutely freakish athleticism. Rousseau won’t wow you with testing numbers like the others, yet his background as a wide receiver — yes, you read that right — and monster 2019 of 19.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks despite barely knowing how to play in the trenches hints at the crazy upside he has.

Oweh, Phillips and Paye are such explosive, twitchy players, especially for their size. Ojulari’s bend as a pass-rusher is physics-defying. Despite the wide perception that 2021 doesn’t feature a great class of edge players, don’t be surprised to see a lot of stars emerge from this group.

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