Of course, this year’s preseason has been particularly difficult, with multiple cancellations for the 2020 college football season and an uneven distribution of tape in the classroom. Things get more complicated without the traditional Scouting Combine, which was largely disbanded this spring. Instead, teams make sure they have the opportunity to interview players and participate in pre-recruitment interview days. But even without the upcoming merger, our ranking is far from over, and I expect the board to continue to change as we approach 29th. The month of April comes when the first name will be called.
That said, here’s my latest review of the 32 best players in the class, updated since my 30th birthday. December edition. We will keep you informed for each project week.
Message: Subcontractors are marked with an asterisk, and markers are indicated by scouts.
HT : 1,83 m | WT : 220deg : 97 Previous row : 1
Lawrence is the best quarterback I’ve seen come out of college since Andrew Luck was drafted by the Colts in 2012. Lawrence’s weak skills are first-rate, and I love his huge arm and the mobility it brings for his size. He needs some more work in his pockets, but this is a real find. He has 24 touchdowns, 3,153 yards in the air and a 69.2% success rate, while making just five interceptions in ten games this season. He had eight other items on the agenda. Lawrence is recovering from surgery on his undrafted shoulder, but should be ready for NFL training camp this summer.
NT : 6-0: WT: 208 degrees: 94 | Previous row : 5
The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner covered 1,780 yards this season and scored 20 points in the air before retiring in 2020. He’s explosive from the line, a runner on a flat, hard road in the middle of the field. His body control is distinctive and his speed is consistent.
NT : 6-6: WT: 330 degrees: 94 | Previous row : 2
Sewell gave up one sack combined in 2018 and 2019, starting in 20 games, but did not do so this season. Sewell defends his passes massively and plays a disciplined game. He has the legs to excel as a zone blocker and the strength to move defenders around in the run game. Sewell has rare potential and could be an NFL rookie from day one.
NT : 6-3: WT: 244 degrees: 93 | Previous row : 3
Parsons had 109 tackles in 2019, including 14 losses, and forced four fumbles. It is long and reasonably well lit, with a long range. He is an above average sniper and he shows the strength to break through and be devastating in the running defense. Parsons also has the instincts and speed to launch a blitz, he collected five sacks in 2019. He comes out in 2020, he will have to work to get out of the blocks at the top level, but consider him a rookie in the NFL.
NT : 6-3 | WT: 210
degrees : 93 | Previous row : 8
Wilson led the Cougars to an 11-1 record with 73.5 percent of his passes (second in the country) for 3,692 yards (third in the country), 33 touchdowns (third) and three interceptions. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Wilson also had 10 race DTs. In RoofClaim.com’s Boca Raton Bowl, he threw for 425 yards and three scores. I love Wilson’s competitiveness and durability in the pocket, and he has a high-end ability to extend matches. His accuracy on deep bales is also excellent.
NT : 6-6 | WT: 239
Rank : 93 | Previous row : 6
Pitts is poised for a versatile NFL game with its size, large tackling radius and productive shooters. In just eight games this season, he received 770 yards on 43 touches and found the end zone 12 times, ranking third on the FBS scorecards. The junior accounted for 170 yards and four trips to the end zone in the Gators’ first game in September and scored three touchdowns in the November game against Kentucky. And he scored over 120 yards on seven touches in each of his last two games.
Pitts is a road runner and has above average separation ability for a tight end. He has the speed to be a threat on the field, and he will become a real problem for defenses in the NFL.
NT : 6-0: WT: 170 degrees: 93 | Previous row : 4
He has been very effective and has 117 catches (most in the country) for 1,856 yards (also a first) and 23 touchdowns (also a first) in 13 games this season. The Heisman Trophy winner played nine games with at least 130 receiving yards and eight games with multiple scores. Smith explodes behind the line, following a precise course on his way and following the ball straight up.
NT : 6-4 | WT: 308
Rank : 93 | Previous row : 17
Before his 2020 season, Slater spent a lot of time playing both right and left tackles, but his frame and physical abilities could allow him to improve his trajectory on the inside. He pulls back too far, and the quick rushes allow him to address the issues. But I really like the way it fits into the corners, and it’s very smooth. The power is there in the run game, and his body control in protecting passes is strong.
NT : 6-2 | WT: 206
Rank : 92 Previous row: 7
Surtain, a true corner shutout, finished the season with a pick-six, 12 break passes (third in the country) and 38 tackles in 13 games. I love his instincts and the way he quickly diagnoses key paths and leads them where he wants them. He is also a natural playmaker, with good reaction to the ball and soft hands. His father, Patrick Stein Sr. was a Pro Bowl player in the NFL and a second-round draft pick in 1998.
NT : 6-2: WT: 207 degrees: 92 Previous row: 18
First Elite is not considering participating in the 2020 college season. In 2019, Farley stopped 12 passes and intercepted four. His combination of size, length and speed is rare, and he made his debut. A former great catcher, he has strong ball skills and the ability to recognize combinations of boxes. Farley is still in development, but the toolkit is there.
NT : 5-10 | WT: 177 Class: 92 Previous row: 11
Waddle returned from an ankle injury to participate in the national college football playoff championship and finished his junior campaign with 28 strikes for 591 yards and four TDs. His national average of 21.1 yards was eighth. Waddle’s game is focused on elusiveness, which is one of the reasons he appeared in the return match. Put the ball in his hands and let it happen. He tracks the deep ball well, explodes after a break and shows excellent lateral agility and field vision.
12. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota*
NT : 6-3 | WT: 224
Rank : 91 | Previous row : 22
Lance has size and toughness at the quarterback position. He played just one game in 2020, a win against Central Arkansas where he made half of his passes for 150 yards in the South. But he shined in 2019 by not throwing a single interception, amassing 1,100 yards of run time and scoring a total of 42 points. He has only played one game of over 300 passes in his career, and we have never seen him in action against an FBS opponent. But the third-year throws effectively under center and sells some play-action, and his frontcourt is strong despite inconsistent placement on shorter shots.
Trey Lance simulated a transfer and then challenged Hunter Luepka for a 23-yard field goal that gave North Dakota a 32-28 lead.
NT : 6-3 | WT: 228
Rank : 91 | Previous row : 9
Fields finished with 41 touchdown passes and just three interceptions in 2019 and has really developed under the guidance of Buckeyes coach Ryan Day. In 2020, he had 22 touchdowns, a 70.2% passing rate (seventh in FBS) and 2,100 yards in eight games.
He throws very cleanly in the field and throws efficiently out of the plane and off the board. His bullet also has a zipper, and it shows a quick release. Fields is mobile in the pocket and rushes for five points. There may be some doubts about consistency, but it’s dynamic and a good starting point for the NFL, as one would assume with its overall BQ of 91.7 (second highest in the country).
NT : 6-2: WT: 220deg: 91 | Previous row : 12
I love the Owusu Koramoa tape. It’s fast, instinctive and only gets stronger as it develops. His recognition ability is also very good, as he always seems to be close to the ball. Owusu-Koramoah is fluid in her coverage and even shows the ability to reach the quarterback with her suddenness. He does everything: In 2020, he had 62 tackles (11 for loss), 1.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, one TD return, 3 pass breakups and one interception.
NT : 6-2: WT: 208 degrees: 91 | Previous row : 14
Meurig is a playmaker. He’s quick on the ball, jumps and has interception skills – after intercepting four passes in 2019, he’s played two to 10 games this season and picked up another nine. Meurig is an above average tackler (47 in 2020) and even has some experience as a playmaker.
NT : 6-7: WT: 253 degrees: 90 | Previous row : 16
Russo is big, tall and fast. He has the power to beat blockers and works on the inside when paired with the quarterback. He’s been eliminated for the 2020 season, but had 15.5 sacks for the Hurricanes in 2019, placing second in the country behind Chase Young, and he totaled 19.5 tackles for loss (7th). As a defender, Russo can set boundaries and start games. He has a future Pro Bowl talent.
NT : 6-5 | WT: 266
Rank : 90 | Previous row : 31
Phillips, a transfer from UCLA, stopped playing football in 2018 for medical reasons after an injury-plagued season with the Bruins. But he was able to come back and chose to play for the Hurricanes. And wow, he’s back on the scene in 2020. In 10 games, Phillips had eight sacks (13th nationally), 15.5 tackles for defeat (6th), 45 tackles and one interception. I like the length and the suddenness.
NT : 6-3: WT: 270 degrees: 90 | Previous row : NR
Pay can dodge blocks and make plays in the backfield. He continues to develop as a setter – though he had 6.5 sacks in 2019 and 2.0 in four games this season – but his ceiling is high. I like his range and he has a professional approach to the game. Pay could be a 3-4 BOL candidate in the NFL.
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NT : 5-11 | WT: 199Class: 90 | Previous row : NR
Tony’s not the best catcher in the class, and he’s not the most refined, but he’s super versatile and very explosive. He will be very effective in the NFL with quick plays, screen shots and flips. He’s the kind of catcher who just wants the ball in his hands. He has 70 catches (7th in the country) for 984 yards (13th) and 10 touchdowns (7th) this season. He added 161 rushing yards, kicking and punting in double figures for the Gators.
NT : 6-2 | WT: 232
Rank : 90 | Previous row : 27
Harris has great size and speed, and he has shown excellent ball retention. He is strong in contact and slippery between the tackles. I was always a little worried that he danced too much and tried to hit a home run, but Harris was decisive in his final season at Alabama. This season, he ranked first in the country with his 26 rushing touchdowns and third with his 1,466 rushing yards. He also needs to improve pass protection and remains undervalued as a setter.
NT : 6-4: WT: 315deg: 90 | Previous row : NR
Vera-Tucker gets into a starting position and has the strength to keep the ball away from the defenders. He has a good feel for the angles in the blocking area, but he gets a little lethargic and puts blocks down late. In pass protection, he puts his hands inside and anchors well. Over the past two seasons, it has allowed just four snaps and two sacks while having 849 passing blocks.
NT : 5-10: WT: 212 degrees: 90 | Previous row : 19
In broad daylight Etienne has an above average speed with an explosive second speed. He has been a true home run hitter in space this season, with 19 plays of 20 yards or more. I also like the balance of his contacts. Etienne has scored 70 rushing touchdowns in his career, including 14 in 2020 (7 nationally). He has put up 1,600 yards for the second consecutive season in 2019 and is 914-12 for the year. Etienne also had 588 receiving yards this season, which is better than the totals of the other three seasons combined, indicating significant improvement on this front.
NT : 6-4 | WT: Class 260: 90 | Previous row : 15
What a season for Collins. As a 3-4 Outfield lineman, he is very versatile and can add a lot of value defensively. In eight games, Collins had 53 tackles, 11.5 tackles for defeat, four sacks, four interceptions – including two for touchdowns – and one forced fumble. His ending around the quarterback and ball carriers is brilliant.
NT : 6-5 | WT: 314
Rank : 90 | Previous row : 23
Darrisaw was the left tackle mainstay for the Hokies. He has allowed just three sacks off 643 passes in the last two years. Darrisaw is strong as a pass protector and goes to the second level as a run blocker with no problems. His technique is a little inconsistent, but he has what it takes to be a starting tackle on the left from day one.
NT : 6-4 | WT: 294
Rank : 90 | Previous row : NR
ONVUSURE is a fast, highly destructive 3-technique. He had a great week at the Senior Bowl in January and had six picks to lose to Washington in 2019.
NT : 6-5 | WT: 319
Rank : 90 | Previous row : NR
Mayfield is a solid drive blocker who resists defenders and has a good initial burst, but he can still improve when it comes to corners going to the second level. He adapts quickly and tends to get ahead once he gets involved in the passing game. But the placement of his hand is inconsistent. Mayfield played both left tackle and right tackle at Michigan.
27. Jaycee Horn, BC, South Carolina*
NT : 6-1: WT: 205 degrees: 90 | Previous row : NR
Jaycee is the son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn and is tall and instinctive. And he tends to play better than everyone else in the big games. Horn retired midway through the 2020 season, but not before throwing two interceptions in seven games and stopping six more.
Junior Jaycee Horn thanks his team of defensive coaches for executing the game plan that allowed the Gamecocks to win against Auburn.
NT : 6-3 | WT: 214
Rank : 89 | Previous row : 32
I really like his touch and placement of the ball, and he anticipates very well, directing receivers and throwing them out. Jones is also quick to treat and has very quick eyes to check progress. He has composure and tenacity in his pocket, and while he’s not a dangerous runner, Jones knows how to extend the game – while keeping an eye on the field. In 2020, he finished at the national level with a 77.4 percent passing average, covered 4,500 yards in the air (first) and made 41 touchdowns (second) with four interceptions. His cumulative CBO of 96.1 was the best in the FBS.
NT : 6-3 | WT: 240
degrees : 89 | Previous row : NR
Ojulari has good size, good speed and a good curve. I love his first step when he pushes himself, and his instincts are very well developed. He’s certainly better as a passer than a cover, but he has a pretty good range underneath if you ask him to step back. In 2020, Ojulari’s 8.5 sacks were the eighth-largest in the country, and its three forced fumbles were the fifth-largest.
NT : 6-5 | WT: 310
Quality : 89 | Previous row : 20
This season, Barmore has eight sacks (13th in the FBS) and three forced penalties from the Alabama defense. He’s still developing as a pastor, but he can go home soon. Against the run, Barmore found the ball quickly, showed a good ability to change direction and fared well against double plays. Plus, he’s versatile on the line. But remember, Barmore was in his second year in 2020 and made just one start in his career last season.
31. Joe Tryon, Washington State*
NT : 6-5: WT: 252 degrees: 89 | Previous row : 25
Tryon discharged him for the 2020 season, but he scored 12.5 points for the loss and 8 sacks for the 2019 loss at Washington. He has some flexibility in his game, as he lines up 4-3 on defense and 3-4 on the outside. Tryon demonstrates a quick first step as a passer, shows smooth movement and a quick turnaround against the blockers. And against the race he is strong and can fight his way through two teams, although he loses on the outside because he is stopped too often.
NT : 6-0 WT: 232
Rank : 89 | Previous row : NR
Bolton is a solid outside linebacker with good instincts and a good motor. He’s very good in coverage, hits the point of attack and makes plays faster than you’d expect in a straight line because he finds the ball quickly. Bolton is a little smaller, but he hasn’t stopped producing. In 10 games, he made 95 tackles (18th in the country), 8.0 loss tackles, 5 pass breaks, 2.0 sacks and one awkward recovery.
Check out McShay’s complete rankings for the 2021 NFL draft.
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