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
|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
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
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.