It’s never too last to start thinking about the NFL Draft with it only being 249 days away. College football has big questions on how much of a season they will have and who will get to play however the evaluation of prospects doesn’t stop. I will go position by position in the upcoming weeks and give you a breakdown of the top draft eligible prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft.
The transfer portal, since its infancy, has always been a fancy word for college quarterback free agency. Being a high profile position, the quarterbacks have been the primary benefactors of this new system that allows players to switch schools without having to sit out a year. This year’s crop has a couple of players that have taken advantage of this rule and found themselves with the opportunity to move up teams draft boards. This group of 5 players (#6 Sleeper) fit the modern game to a tee. These are mobile athletes who are accurate outside and inside the pocket. Players such as Pat Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson have paved the way for the zone read, RPO quarterback in the NFL and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.
Trevor Lawrence – 6’6” 220 – Clemson – Junior – Rating (3.92)
2019 Stats: 66% completion / 3,665 passing yards / 36 Td passes – 8 interceptions
563 Rushing yards – 9 touchdowns
Strengths: Excellent pocket presence and mobility. Throws the ball on time and with accuracy on the run. He can make every throw with accuracy and zip on the football.
Weakness: He has a windup delivery that can be problematic in the pros.
Player Comparison: Randall Cunningham
Overall: Lawrence has been the projected #1 pick since he put on pads at Clemson. He has all the tools to be the top pick taken in 2021 draft. His long frame worries me in the NFL with a looping delivery. It will be interesting to see what he does for a final season in college football (if there is one). Can he get even better or will another season expose some other weaknesses we haven’t seen?
Justin Fields – 6’3” 223 – Ohio State – Junior – Rating (3.92)
2019 Stats: 67.2% completion /3273 passing yards / 41 Td Passes – 3 interceptions
484 Rushing yards – 10 touchdowns
Strengths: Extremely accurate, great touch on all of his throws. He knows when to throw the fastball and when to throw the change up. Mobile in the pocket and a good cutback runner on designed quarterback runs.
Weakness: Trusts his arm strength too much at times which can turn into some sloppy throws.
Player Comparison: Pat Mahomes
Overall: Fields skill set is built for today’s game. Fields was a Georgia transfer last season, threw himself into a pressure cooker at Ohio State and answered the bell for the Buckeyes every week. A second season of success facing defenses at Penn State, Michigan, and Iowa could have really launched him into top pick conversation in the ’21 draft. The pandemic has forced the BIG 10 to move their season to the spring. What spring football will look like and if Fields will even participate in it is a different story. He has already closed the gap on Lawrence last season. Unless Lawrence struggles Fields spot as a top 5 pick is a lock.
Jaime Newman – 6’4” 230 – Georgia – Senior – Rating (3.78)
2019 Stats: 61% completion /2868 passing yards / 26 Td passes – 11 interceptions
574 rushing yards – 6 rushing touchdowns
Strengths: Strong lower body, tough competitor, and a patient runner in designed run plays. He knows how to utilize his weapons in the pass game.
Weakness: Tends to hold the ball too long and force the throws in tight windows. He doesn’t protect himself in the run game which can be dangerous at the pro level.
Player Comparison: Carson Wentz
Overall: Newman is a big, strong, athletic quarterback. He is a transfer from Wake Forest who will find himself with a lot more weapons at the University of Georgia. He has Le’Veon Bell type patients running the football. The SEC is still playing fall football which gives Newman the opportunity to raise his stock significantly. Finding more accuracy with his passes and cutting down on his turnovers will be imperative if he wants to make the jump.
Trey Lance – 6’3” 224 – North Dakota State – Junior – Rating (3.71)
2019 Stats: 67% completion /2786 passing yards / 28 Td passes – 0 interceptions
1100 rushing yards – 14 rushing touchdowns
Strengths: Strong arm and a powerful runner. He throws an accurate deep ball.
Weakness: His sample size will be small because his conference canceled the season.
Player Comparison: Taller Russell Wilson
Overall: Any quarterback at any level who throws 0 interceptions for an entire season is going to open eyes. Lance’s ability to run with power and get the ball down field is impressive. If utilized correctly in the league he could be a Cam Newton type player in the run game. Josh Allen and Carson Wentz have proven that guys at smaller schools can cut it in the NFL. It’s a shame we won’t see more of him unless North Dakota decides to play in the spring.
5. Sam Ehlinger – 6’3” 230 – Texas – Senior – Rating (3.50)
2019 Stats: 65.2% completion / 3663 passing yards / 32 Td passes – 10 interceptions
663 rushing yards – 7 rushing touchdowns
Strengths: Good pocket awareness and makes plays better when the play breaks down.
Weakness: Inaccurate with his deep ball downfield.
Player Comparison: Andy Dalton
Overall: Ehlinger has been the starter for Texas since he was a freshman. His numbers have jumped every year and this year should be no different. Sam is great verses the blitz with his ability to escape trouble and deliver the football. He is a fiery vocal leader and a focused competitor. Ehlinger biggest question mark this year is will he be able to take that next step to get him into the 1st round draft conversation.
Skylar Thompson – 6’2” 223 – Kansas State – Senior – Rating (3.50)
2019 Stats: 59.6% completion / 2315 passing yards / 12 Td passes – 5 interceptions
405 rushing yards – 11 rushing touchdowns
Strengths: Has heavy velocity on his throws. With scrambles or designed runs he can make defenders miss in the open field.
Weakness: Does not have a ton of pass attempts in his career. Example (Ehlinger -1154 to Thompsons-588)
Player Comparison: Baker Mayfield
Overall: Skylar Thompson has a chance to climb the ladder in the fall with some conferences moving their season to the spring. His 4 rushing touchdown performance in an upset victory over Oklahoma put him on the map. I could see him starting off in a Taysom Hill like role for an NFL team early in his career. Thompson has to improve his accuracy and get more experience throwing the ball but being a mature 5th year senior with excellent athletic ability could put him in the mix as a second round pick.
Next up Running Backs!!!