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2021 NFL Draft Prospects: Pauline’s updated big board, player rankings

Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline has released his latest big board update, with several top 2021 NFL Draft prospects making their move up his player rankings.

NFL Draft Prospects 2021: Pauline's updated big board, player rankings
Credit: Javi Vega/PFN

We are now just over two and a half weeks out from the Jacksonville Jaguars officially being called to the clock to kick off the 2021 NFL Draft. Teams around the league are holding final draft meetings to finalize their player rankings and assemble their draft boards. Meanwhile, my draft board has 872 graded 2021 NFL Draft prospects. Now that may change by a handful, but for purposes of comparison, that’s almost 200 fewer players than the number graded a year ago (1,071).

The final number of individual scouting reports here at PFN will be right around 685, give or take a few. Last year, that number was 810 scouting reports.

Featured | Tony Pauline’s 2021 NFL Mock Draft

My top 10 NFL Draft prospects of 2021 consist of three quarterbacks and two wide receivers. It also includes one offensive tackle and one tight end. There are only three defensive players inside my top 10. In fact, only nine of my top 25 NFL Draft prospects of 2021 reside on the defensive side of the ball.

NFL Draft Prospects 2021 | How the board shakes out

My 2021 NFL Draft board presently breaks down as follows:

  • 25 players with solid first-round grades
  • 34 players with late first/early second-round grades
  • 108 players graded as day one or day two selections
  • 257 players with draftable grades

Two small-school offensive linemen making big moves up draft boards

I’ve been getting a ton of great feedback on Spencer Brown of Northern Iowa. Even though he did not play last fall, (Northern Iowa pushed back their season to the spring) and he showed a lot of inconsistency at the Senior Bowl, teams love his size, athleticism, and game film from 2019. There is a belief in some quarters Brown could be selected ahead of Dillon Radunz, from conference rival North Dakota State.

Brown looks as though he won’t go any later than the second round and teams also believe he can play left tackle on Sunday.

The other big mover is Quinn Meinerz of Wisconsin Whitewater, which should shock no one. As written about here on PFN since the Senior Bowl, Meinerz has been soaring up draft boards and continues to impress scouts at every turn. Some teams view Meinerz as a center while the small school blocker is still listed as a guard on my board. At this point in time, I’d be shocked if Meinerz gets out of the second round.

Which big-name NFL Draft prospects are sliding down draft boards?

Michigan tackle Jalen Mayfield is headed in the opposite direction. A poor pro day and unimpressive interviews have led to the drop. At one time universally considered a first-round prospect, it would be a surprise if Mayfield lands in the top 32 picks in two weeks.

As I mentioned during the April 7 edition of the NFL Draft Insiders podcast with PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo, Caleb Farley and Gregory Rousseau are now receiving second-round grades in some areas of the scouting community.

Farley’s back issues concern teams and they are not exactly sure when he’ll be ready to play football.

As for Rousseau, his decision to opt out last season coupled with a pro day workout that was not the stuff of a first-round prospect has hurt his chances of being a top-32 selection.

NFL Draft Prospects 2021 | Top Five Players

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Almost from the beginning, Trevor Lawrence was anointed as a franchise quarterback in the NFL and a player who would eventually be the first pick of the draft. And after breaking down the film, there’s no reason to doubt any of that.

Lawrence possesses all the skills to carry a team in the NFL — physical, mental, and intangible. He does an incredible job leading the offense, possesses the ability to make all the throws, and consistently makes proper choices. Lawrence is a big-bodied pocket passer, but he possesses the foot speed to pick up big yardage with his legs.

2. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Ja’Marr Chase is a dominant game-controlling receiver who projects well to the NFL. He’s smooth and fluid, quickly releases into pass routes, and immediately gets to top speed. Chase also possesses a burst of speed that helps him separate from opponents.

Chase is a gifted athlete and natural receiver who dominated at the college level and should easily adapt to the NFL. He projects as a number one wideout at the next level and is a terrific 2021 NFL Draft prospect with incredible upside.

3. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

From the onset of his career, Penei Sewell was projected as a potential early draft pick at the all-important left tackle position. Sewell possesses the footwork, agility, and movement skills to hold down the position at the next level. He also projects well in a zone-blocking scheme. He must improve his strength at the point and develop a nasty attitude, but Sewell comes with tons of upside.

4. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Kyle Pitts is an amazingly athletic pass catcher who’s a receiver in a tight end’s body. He’s agile, fluid, and a natural pass catcher. Pitts was a dominant tight end who took over games at the college level. And he usually did so against the opponent’s top cornerback. He has tremendous upside.

5. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

If there’s a faster-rising prospect in the nation than Zach Wilson, I’m not aware of him. Except for the fact he’s short, Wilson checks all the boxes you want in a quarterback at the next level. He is smart, tough, athletic, and has the arm strength necessary to make all the throws.

PFN’s NFL Mock Draft Simulator

Be sure to give PFN’s free 2021 NFL Mock Draft Simulator a spin, which now includes both sim-initiated trades and user-initiated trades. Take control of your team and build your perfect haul of 2021 NFL Draft prospects.

2021 NFL Draft Big Board

You can sort my 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings below by team or by position. You can also utilize the search function to quickly find whatever you may be looking for.

Mobile users: Please note that the rankings are best viewed in landscape mode.

Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline. Follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365

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