4. While Shaun Wade and Patrick Surtain Jr. are extraordinary cornerback prospects, Jeff Okudah is better than both
Earlier this week, I wrote an article that sought to determine the best cornerback prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Both Wade and Surtain Jr. are blue-chip prospects in their own right. Wade is a versatile enforcer in the secondary, and he thrives while lined up in the slot, utilizing his ability to read and recognize, as well as use his quickness. Surtain Jr., meanwhile, has great size, outstanding length, and elite ball skills. His ability to match up with the big, physical receivers in the NFL such as Michael Thomas (Saints), Julio Jones (Falcons), and DeAndre Hopkins (Cardinals) is very appealing.
With that said, neither prospect is of the caliber of 2020 third overall pick Jeff Okudah. Okudah’s fluidity and movement skills are just on a different level. Like Wade, Okudah comes from Ohio State, which should be dubbed as “DBU” after having 14 cornerbacks selected in the first round since 1991.
In a pass-heavy modern NFL, cornerback has become one of the premier positions in the league. Simply put, the value of the cornerback position is at an all-time high, and Okudah is the best prospect we have seen enter the NFL ranks since Patrick Peterson. He is polished and has the ability to neutralize the opposition’s best-receiving weapon. One knock on Okudah was his lack of interception production, but the reality is that teams decided to not throw the ball his way, which makes it tough to produces picks.
If I were tasked with ranking the cornerback prospects in the 2020 and 2021 NFL Draft classes, it would look like this:
- Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
- Patrick Surtain Jr., Alabama
- Shaun Wade, Ohio State
- C.J. Henderson, Florida
- Israel Mukuamu, South Carolina
- Kristian Fulton, LSU
- Trevon Diggs, Alabama
- Tyson Campbell, Georgia
- Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
- Trey Dean III, Florida
5. The 2020 wide receiver group was historic, but the 2021 class is even better
The wide receiver class of 2020 was historically good. The group ended up having six players selected in the first round of the 2020 draft, including Henry Ruggs III (Raiders), Jerry Jeudy (Broncos), CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys), Jalen Reagor (Eagles), Justin Jefferson (Vikings) and Brandon Aiyuk (49ers). In Round 2, we saw another seven wide receivers selected. Here are my final power rankings for the 2020 group of wide receivers.
|1||Jerry Jeudy||WR||Alabama||JR||6″1||193 lbs.|
|2||Henry Ruggs III||WR||Alabama||JR||6″0||193 lbs.|
|3||CeeDee Lamb||WR||Oklahoma||JR||6″2||190 lbs.|
|4||Laviska Shenault||WR||Colorado||JR||6″2||220 lbs.|
|5||Tee Higgins||WR||Clemson||JR||6″4||200 lbs.|
|6||K.J. Hamler||WR||Penn State||rSO||5″9||165 lbs.|
|7||Justin Jefferson||WR||LSU||JR||6″3||192 lbs.|
|8||Brandon Aiyuk||WR||Arizona State||SR||6″1||195 lbs.|
|9||Jalen Reagor||WR||TCU||JR||5″11||195 lbs.|
|10||Donovan Peoples-Jones||WR||Michigan||JR||6″3||206 lbs|
|11||Gabriel Davis||WR||UCF||JR||6″3||219 lbs.|
|12||Denzel Mims||WR||Baylor||SR||6″3||210 lbs.|
|13||Michael Pittman||WR||USC||SR||6″4||215 lbs.|
|14||K.J. Hill||WR||Ohio State||SR||6″0||195 lbs.|
|15||Tyler Johnson||WR||Minnesota||SR||6″2||200 lbs.|
|16||Bryan Edwards||WR||South Carolina||SR||6″3||220 lbs.|
|17||Collin Johnson||WR||Texas||SR||6″6||221 lbs.|
|18||Isaiah Hodgins||WR||Oregon State||JR||6″4||209 lbs.|
|19||Quartney Davis||WR||Texas A&M||JR||6″2||200 lbs.|
|20||Lynn Bowden||WR||Kentucky||JR||6″0||204 lbs.|
|21||Devin Duvernay||WR||Texas||SR||5″11||210 lbs.|
|22||Van Jefferson||WR||Florida||SR||6″2||193 lbs.|
|23||Kendrick Rogers||WR||Texas A&M||JR||6″4||205 lbs.|
|24||Antonio Gandy-Golden||WR||Liberty||SR||6″4||220 lbs.|
|25||Isaiah Coulter||WR||Rhode Island||JR||6″3||190 lbs.|
It may come as a surprise, but the 2021 NFL Draft class features an even better group of wide receivers. LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase was the best wide receiver in college football in 2019, as he caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns while averaging 21.2 yards per reception. He is the total package in terms of traits and seems to play his best ball on the biggest stage.
Once again, Alabama is loaded at the wide receiver position, boasting two of the most electrifying players in the NCAA in Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. And do not sleep on Purdue’s Rondale Moore. His 2019 was something to forget, as he only played in four games and battled a leg injury that cost him the final eight games of the season. But in 2018, Moore was brilliant, posting 114 receptions for 1,258 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. His play in 2018 led Moore to become the first true freshman named a consensus All-American in Big Ten history.
Below, you will see my initial rankings for the 2021 wide receiver group. At first glance, it is likely that the 2021 NFL Draft will eclipse the number of wide receivers selected in the first two rounds of the 2020 draft. It’s a close call, but as it stands today, for my money, I would take the 2021 group over the 2020 group.
|8||Amon-Ra St. Brown||USC||JR|
|9||Chris Olave||Ohio State||JR|
|10||Tylan Wallace||Oklahoma State||SR|
|11||Tamorrion Terry||Florida State||JR|
|13||Sage Surratt||Wake Forest||JR|
|16||Emeka Emezie||NC State||SR|
|20||Warren Jackson||Colorado State||SR|
|22||TJ Vasher||Texas Tech||SR|