Analysis

Gil Brandt's Hot 100, 1.0: Top prospects in 2021 NFL Draft class

It's that time of year again -- time for me to present an overview of the best prospects in the upcoming NFL draft class. Below, you'll see the 100 best prospects for 2021 as I see them. Before we dig into the names, a couple of notes:

1) As usual, I've provided bite-sized nuggets of information about the top 50 players.

2) I'll be revisiting this list as we get closer to the 2021 NFL Draft, after we've gotten a better look at some of these prospects at their respective pro days.

3) I tended to not consider players for this list if injury concerns make it difficult to form a fair or complete assessment of them at the moment, as was the case with Andre Cisco, for example.

Rank
1
Trevor Lawrence
Clemson · QB

Height: 6-foot-5 1/2. Weight: 213 pounds.


Lawrence was a winner in high school, capturing two state championships in Georgia. He was a winner in college, securing a title in his freshman season at Clemson. And I think he'll be a good NFL quarterback.

Rank
2
Penei Sewell
Oregon · OT

Height: 6-5 1/2. Weight: 320.


Sewell is the closest thing to Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden I've seen in some time. More so than anything, he can play left tackle, and that means so much in today's NFL.

Rank
3
Kyle Pitts
Florida · TE

Height: 6-6. Weight: 240.


Pitts will be a mismatch problem for anybody who plays against him. He's got great speed, and he can play inside or outside. Don't just think of him as a tight end -- he can also effectively function as a wide receiver.

Rank
4
Ja'Marr Chase
LSU · WR

Height: 6-1. Weight: 200.


Chase is a better prospect than his former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson was heading into the 2020 NFL Draft -- and Jefferson made a run at Offensive Rookie of the Year, with 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven TDs, after being picked 22nd overall by the Vikings.

Rank
5
Zach Wilson
BYU · QB

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 200.


Wilson had a great year. He's very athletic, he's an excellent long-ball thrower and he's smart. I think he'll be the kind of quarterback who can take you to the playoffs. 

Rank
6
Alijah Vera-Tucker

Height: 6-4. Weight: 320.


Vera-Tucker can start at guard or left tackle and has lots of upside for the future.

Rank
7
Justin Fields
Ohio State · QB

Height: 6-2 1/4. Weight: 225.


Fields, who transferred from Georgia and played two years at Ohio State, can move up on this list if he has a great workout at Ohio State's pro day on March 30.

Rank
8
Rashawn Slater
Northwestern · OT

Height: 6-4 1/8. Weight: 305.


Slater had a great workout at Northwestern's pro day, recording a 33-inch vertical and throwing the bar up 33 times. His arms, which people were worried about the length of, measured 33 inches. Ultimately, I think he's more of a guard than a tackle. 


Rank
9
DeVonta Smith
Alabama · WR

Height: 6-1/4. Weight: 170.


The Heisman Trophy-winning Smith has excellent hands and is very quick. He reminds you a lot of Hall of Famer Lance Alworth.

Rank
10
Jaylen Waddle
Alabama · WR

Height: 5-9 1/2. Weight: 180.

 

Waddle had a midseason injury (broken ankle) that forced him to miss six games. That said, he has speed and quickness and is a very good return specialist.

Rank
11
Jaelan Phillips
Miami · EDGE

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 265.


The UCLA transfer boasts good pass-rush ability. He just needs to stay healthy.

Rank
12
Micah Parsons
Penn State · LB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 240.


Currently in line to be the first linebacker drafted, Parsons should play many years at a high level.

Rank
13
Trey Lance
North Dakota State · QB

Height: 6-3. Weight: 225.


Lance is a strong thrower but not a particularly good scrambler, given his average speed. That said, he's been very successful -- he just has "it." He's something special.

Rank
14
Patrick Surtain II
Alabama · CB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 203.


Surtain, whose father, Patrick, enjoyed a long NFL career, has very good coverage skills and is a smart player.

Rank
15
Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech · CB

Height: 6-1 1/2. Weight: 210.


Farley overcame early injuries in his career to become a top cornerback, recording six picks and 19 passes defensed in 2018-19.

Rank
16
Jayson Oweh
Penn State · EDGE

Height: 6-5. Weight: 250.


Oweh should have the best 40 time among available edge players, and I think he'll be the biggest surprise of the 2021 regular season. He didn't have any sacks in 2020, but he did post seven in 2018-19, and he finished 2020 with 38 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. I think we'll see his pass-rush ability translate into plenty of sacks in his rookie campaign.

Rank
17
Christian Darrisaw
Virginia Tech · OT

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 315.


Darrisaw, who started as a true freshman, is a very, very good run-blocker.

Rank
18
Trevon Moehrig
TCU · SAF

Height: 6-1 1/2. Weight: 210.


Moehrig has the ability to play both coverage and against the run. He should start for a long time and help whomever he ends up with.

Rank
19
Jaycee Horn
South Carolina · CB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 205.


The son of NFL great Joe Horn, Jaycee Horn has outstanding quickness. Though he only logged two interceptions in 2020, he does leave South Carolina with 23 career pass breakups.

Rank
20
Zaven Collins
Tulsa · LB

Height: 6-3. Weight: 260.


Collins makes a lot of plays. His best position is middle linebacker, but he might be able to play elsewhere on the defense because of his speed and size.

Rank
21
Teven Jenkins
Oklahoma State · OT

Height: 6-6 1/2. Weight: 320.


A three-year starter who split his time over the past three seasons between left tackle and right tackle, Jenkins has long arms and is a good athlete -- and he's a better football player than Russell Okung was when he played at Oklahoma State.

Rank
22
Gregory Rousseau
Miami · EDGE

Height: 6-7. Weight: 260.


Rousseau has the potential and traits to be quite good, but he's been inconsistent in his play. He posted 15.5 sacks in 2019, which ended up being his only season of significant college production, because of an injury in 2018 and his decision to opt out in 2020.

Rank
23
Kelvin Joseph
Kentucky · CB

Height: 6-2 1/8. Weight: 200.


The transfer from LSU has great skills as a player. That said, his suspension from the Tigers' bowl game at the end of his freshman season for violating team rules does raise concerns.

Rank
24
Mac Jones
Alabama · QB

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 217.


Jones is one of the biggest question marks in the draft to me. He played well in 2020 for Alabama. An average athlete, Jones boasts great intangibles.

Rank
25
Christian Barmore
Alabama · DT

Height: 6-5. Weight: 315.


Barmore is going to be a dangerous threat as a defensive tackle.


Rank
26
Najee Harris
Alabama · RB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 235.


Harris -- who stayed at Alabama for a fourth year -- is a great pass-catcher (70 receptions for 729 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns over the past two seasons) with above-average running skills.

Rank
27
Tyson Campbell
Georgia · CB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 193. 


Campbell has the speed to play the position -- after all, in high school, he was a state champion in Georgia in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. He possesses good size and length.

Rank
28
Travis Etienne
Clemson · RB

Height: 5-10 1/8. Weight: 212.


The three-year starter has excellent hands catching the ball coming out of the backfield (85 catches for 1,020 receiving yards and six TDs over the past two seasons) and good vision as a runner.

Rank
29
Pete Werner
Ohio State · LB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 235.


Werner can play against the run or in space -- and there's a possibility he could be fast enough to serve as a safety.

Rank
30
Levi Onwuzurike
Washington · DT

Height: 6-3. Weight: 290. 


The Dallas product is very strong and athletic -- an exceptional run-stuffer.

Rank
31
Javonte Williams
North Carolina · RB

Height: 5-11 1/2. Weight: 220.


Williams is an excellent runner with great balance and explosion -- and he can also catch the ball (50 receptions in his college career).

Rank
32
Azeez Ojulari
Georgia · EDGE

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 250.


Ojulari can be a very good pass rusher despite the lack of size for his position.

Rank
33
Carlos Basham Jr.
Wake Forest · DE

Height: 6-3 3/8. Weight: 281.


Basham has pass-rush ability and is a good, steady player.

Rank
34
Kwity Paye
Michigan · EDGE

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 275.


Though Paye played defensive end, his best position might be defensive tackle. He's a good athlete.

Rank
35
Samuel Cosmi
Texas · OT

Height: 6-5 7/8. Weight: 308.


Cosmi is a size and speed guy whose best is ahead of him.

Rank
36
Kadarius Toney
Florida · WR

Height: 5-11. Weight: 195.


Toney has big-play ability as a receiver -- and he can also return kicks. The fact he was suspended for one game in 2018 is something to be aware of.

Rank
37
Landon Dickerson
Alabama · C

Height: 6-6. Weight: 326.


The transfer from Florida State started three years (one at Florida State and two at Alabama). He's an overachiever who will play for a long time.

Rank
38
Pat Freiermuth
Penn State · TE

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 255.


Freiermuth's size enables him to be a good blocker -- and he also has catching skills.

Rank
39
Joe Tryon
Washington · EDGE

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 255.


Tryon is a very skilled pass rusher from the edge. He registered eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2019 before opting out in 2020.

Rank
40
Richie Grant
UCF · SAF

Height: 5-11 5/8. Weight: 200.


Grant has the great ball skills needed to play the position. In his four seasons of action, he logged 10 picks, 17 passes defensed and five forced fumbles.

Rank
41
Eric Stokes
Georgia · CB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 190.


Stokes, who ran his 40-yard dash in less than 4.4 seconds at Georgia's pro day, has the length to thrive.

Rank
42
Josh Myers
Ohio State · C

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 310.


Myers is a two-position player who I think can start for the next eight or nine years.

Rank
43
Dillon Radunz
North Dakota State · OT

Height: 6-5 5/8. Weight: 305.


A three-year starter at left tackle, Radunz's long arms help him in pass protection.

Rank
44
Alex Leatherwood
Alabama · OT

Height: 6-5 1/8. Weight: 312.


Leatherwood, who started for three years on the offensive line, can play two different positions, having spent time at both right guard and left tackle.

Rank
45
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame · LB

Height: 6-0. Weight: 215. 


Owusu-Koramoah is a good player, but he'll have to move to another position if he can't gain some weight -- a linebacker at his size is too small for today's game.

Rank
46
Elijah Molden
Washington · CB

Height: 5-10. Weight: 190.


He's a good corner who plays well and boasts an appealing set of skills, though I would like for him to be a little taller.

Rank
47
Joseph Ossai
Texas · EDGE

Height: 6-3 5/8. Weight: 255.


Ossai will surprise you with his speed and quickness, which are needed for succeeding as an edge rusher.

Rank
48
Jalen Mayfield
Michigan · OT

Height: 6-5. Weight: 320.


Mayfield's pedigree as a strong contributor in a good program is encouraging.

Rank
49
Nick Bolton
Missouri · LB

Height: 6-0. Weight: 215.


Bolton is a good player vs. the run, though he's limited against the passing game.

Rank
50
Jamin Davis
Kentucky · LB

Height: 6-3 1/2. Weight: 230.


2020 was Davis' first year as a starter -- and he had an excellent campaign, posting 102 tackles, 4.5 for loss, with 1.5 sacks and three picks.

Rank
51
Ifeatu Melifonwu
Syracuse · CB

Height: 6-2 5/8. Weight: 212.

Rank
52
Greg Newsome II
Northwestern · CB

Height: 6-0. Weight: 188.

Rank
53
Daviyon Nixon
Iowa · DT

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 305.

Rank
54
Terrace Marshall Jr.

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 205.

Rank
55
Aaron Robinson
UCF · CB

Height: 5-11 1/2. Weight: 190.

Rank
56
Elijah Moore
Mississippi · WR

Height: 5-9. Weight: 185.

Rank
57
Chazz Surratt
North Carolina · LB

Height: 6-1 1/2. Weight: 227.

Rank
58
Creed Humphrey
Oklahoma · C

Height: 6-5. Weight: 330.

Rak
59
Liam Eichenberg
Notre Dame · OT

Height: 6-5 1/2. Weight: 305.

Rank
60
Ben Cleveland
Georgia · G

Height: 6-6 3/4. Weight: 354.

Rank
61
Trey Smith
Tennessee · G

Height: 6-5 1/2. Weight: 331.

Rank
62
Brady Christensen
BYU · OT

Height: 6-6. Weight: 300.

Rank
63
Rondale Moore
Purdue · WR

Height: 5-7. Weight: 180.

Rank
64
Amari Rodgers
Clemson · WR

Height: 5-9. Weight: 202.

Rank
65
Rashod Bateman
Minnesota · WR

Height: 6-2. Weight: 210.

Rank
66
Tutu Atwell
Louisville · WR

Height: 5-8 1/4. Weight: 160.

Rank
67
Paulson Adebo
Stanford · CB

Height: 6-0 1/2. Weight: 190.

Rank
68
Tre' McKitty
Georgia · TE

Height: 6-4 1/8. Weight: 247.

Rank
69
Deonte Brown
Alabama · G

Height: 6-3. Weight: 360.

Rank
70
Ronnie Perkins
Oklahoma · EDGE

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 253.

Rank
71
Robert Rochell
Central Arkansas · CB

Height: 5-11. Weight: 195.

Rank
72
Jordan Smith
UAB · EDGE

Height: 6-6. Weight: 256.

Rank
73
Walker Little
Stanford · OT

Height: 6-7. Weight: 320.

Rank
74
Tony Fields II
West Virginia · LB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 222.

Rank
75
Hunter Long
Boston College · TE

Height: 6-5 1/8. Weight: 254.

Rank
76
James Hudson
Cincinnati · OT

Height: 6-5. Weight: 308.

Rank
77
Tommy Tremble
Notre Dame · TE

Height: 6-3 1/2. Weight: 245.

Rank
78
Baron Browning
Ohio State · LB

Height: 6-3. Weight: 241.

Rank
79
Quinn Meinerz
Wisconsin-Whitewater · C

Height: 6-3. Weight: 320.

Rank
80
Shaun Wade
Ohio State · CB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 193.

Rank
81
Chuba Hubbard
Oklahoma State · RB

Height: 6-0 1/2. Weight: 205.

Rank
82
Jackson Carman
Clemson · G

Height: 6-5. Weight: 336.

Rank
83
Dyami Brown
North Carolina · WR

Height: 6-1. Weight: 193.

Rank
84
Tylan Wallace
Oklahoma State · WR

Height: 5-11. Weight: 187.

Rank
85
Jabril Cox
LSU · LB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 228.

Rank
86
Tommy Togiai
Ohio State · DT

Height: 6-2. Weight: 300.

Rank
87
Marlon Tuipulotu
USC · DT

Height: 6-2. Weight: 304.

Rank
88
Spencer Brown
Northern Iowa · OT

Height: 6-6. Weight: 310.

Rank
89
Jay Tufele
USC · DT

Height: 6-3. Weight: 315.

Rank
90
Payton Turner
Houston · DE

Height: 6-5. Weight: 282.

Rank
91
Jevon Holland
Oregon · SAF

Height: 6-1. Weight: 200.

Rank
92
Kyle Trask
Florida · QB

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 240.

Rank
93
Milton Williams
Louisiana Tech · DE

Height: 6-3. Weight: 284.

Rank
94
Patrick Jones II
Pittsburgh · EDGE

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 264.

Rank
95
Seth Williams
Auburn · WR

Height: 6-3. Weight: 228

Rank
96
Aaron Banks
Notre Dame · G

Height: 6-5 3/8. Weight: 339.

Rank
97
Garret Wallow
TCU · LB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 230.

Rank
98
Rashad Weaver
Pittsburgh · DE

Height: 6-4. Weight: 265.

Rank
99
Tyler Shelvin
LSU · DT

Height: 6-3. Weight: 345.

Rank
100
Mike Strachan
Charleston · WR

Height: 6-3. Weight: 225.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter.

Related Content

Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.