We are 342 days away from the 2021 NFL Draft and the upcoming football season is in jeopardy, as we deal with these unprecedented times. But that won’t stop draftniks from evaluating 2021 Draft prospects. The 2020 class featured two remarkable quarterback prospects in Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, Chase Young, and a historic group of wide receivers, including the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and CeeDee Lamb. The 2021 NFL Draft class is a star-studded group as well.
The 2021 NFL Draft class is headlined by the phenomenal Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but he isn’t the only elite prospect from the class, as Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, and Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons are all blue-chip prospects in their own right. Without question, the 2020 and 2021 Draft classes have been among the best we’ve seen in recent years, and will likely feature some of the biggest stars in the NFL for the next decade-plus.
In the draft community, we like to evaluate prospects, then compare and contrast them against other draft classes. During this exercise, draft analysts like to make bold claims also known as “hot takes”. Here are five hot takes comparing the 2020 and 2021 NFL Draft classes.
2021 NFL Draft class hot takes
1. The 2020 quarterback group is better than the 2021 class overall
Off the heels of one of the best seasons in college football history, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was selected with the first overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Burrow was nothing short of remarkable in 2019, as his 60 touchdown passes led him to win the Heisman trophy, and his outstanding play helped the LSU Tigers win the 2019 National Championship.
Burrow wasn’t the only elite quarterback prospect in the 2020 class, as Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa has the tools to be as good or even better than Burrow. Tagovailoa, the fifth pick of the 2020 Draft by the Miami Dolphins, suffered a catastrophic injury in 2019, which certainly hurt his draft stock. If healthy, Tagovailoa would have likely battled Burrow to be the top quarterback selected.
In addition to Burrow and Tagovailoa, Oregon’s strong-armed quarterback Justin Herbert was the sixth selection in the draft by the Los Angeles Chargers. Herbert offers elite tools but needs to find that “killer mentality” to reach his full potential.
The final first-round quarterback prospect in 2020 was quite controversial. Despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers traded up to select the talented Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. Love is raw, but he has an outstanding arm and a bit of Patrick Mahomes to his game. Overall, the 2020 Draft delivered four bonafide franchise quarterbacks, including two (Burrow and Tagovailoa) that could be among the best in the entire NFL.
2021 quarterback class
The headliner of the 2021 NFL Draft class doesn’t need an introduction, as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is one of the most complete quarterback prospects we have ever seen.
Lawrence put himself on the map when he carried the Clemson Tigers to a championship in 2018 as a true freshman. Everything Lawrence does is elite, whether it’s his arm strength, his football intelligence, his size, his athleticism, or his accuracy. He does everything at an extremely high level. Many in the draft community would say that Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning entered the NFL in 1998.
When it comes to the 2021 quarterback class, Ohio State’s Justin Fields is another upper-echelon prospect. Fields is an extremely dangerous dual-threat quarterback, as he can hurt you with his arm and legs. He was sensational for the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2019, throwing 41 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. If Fields can reach his full potential, we could be looking at the next Randall Cunningham.
Another 2021 quarterback prospect that has been generating a great deal of buzz as of late is North Dakota State’s, Trey Lance. Lance is an explosive big-play machine who will likely find himself in the conversation of being a top-10 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Other 2021 quarterback prospects worth monitoring are Brock Purdy (Iowa State) and Jamie Newman (Georgia).
At the end of the day, it’s Burrow, Tagovailoa, Herbert, and Love against Lawrence, Fields, Lance, and Newman. While Lawrence might be the best quarterback prospect in either draft class, overall I give the nod to the 2020 group. The combination of Burrow and Tagovailoa is just too good to be outweighed by one player, despite how brilliant that player may be. With that said, between these two draft classes, the future of the quarterback position is in good hands.