Over the past month and a half, I have been watching the top prospects at every offensive and defensive position and ranking them into the top 10 players accordingly. If you’ve haven’t seen those top 10 offensive/defensive player lists, I implore you to check them out. After watching over 150 players, I’ve come up with my summer’s top 50 list for the 2021 NFL Draft heading into the season.
Note: For my full list of the top 50 prospects, you can view the searchable and sortable table at the end of the article.
2021 NFL Draft: Ranking the summer’s top 50 prospects
50) Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
My current pick to end up as QB4 in this class, Brock Purdy is a polarizing prospect. He lacks elite size, but Purdy has a live arm and more than enough athletic ability. He’s a gunslinger at heart and can push the ball down the field with the best of them.
He must improve his consistency and accuracy at all levels of the field, but he possesses the mindset and arm talent required to play quarterback in the NFL. Due to the positional value, Purdy beats out a few other equally deserving candidates.
49) Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
The Miami Hurricanes boast the top edge rush duo in the nation, thanks to the transfer of Quincy Roche from Temple to The U. Roche is a bendy and explosive edge rush prospect who best profiles as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme.
At Temple, he was one of the nation’s most productive pass rushers, with an elite pressure rate. He has some work to do in his down to down consistency and run defense, but his upside is obvious. He has legitimate double-digit sack potential.
48) Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
A favorite of many draft Twitter analysts, Tylan Wallace was on pace to be the nation’s leading receiver before his season ended early due to an ACL tear. Wallace is one of the most dominant deep threats in the country, despite not being a dominant 4.3 type of athlete (though I’d still expect him to test somewhere in the 4.4s).
He blends a combination of elite releases and impressive explosion to create separation. This season, Wallace must prove he stills has that explosion after the knee surgery.
47) JaCoby Stevens, Safety, LSU
A safety in a linebacker’s body, JaCoby Stevens will be the leader of the LSU defense this year. One of college football’s most devastating hitters, Stevens lines up wherever the Tigers need him most.
He has the size to mix it up in the trenches, and the athletic ability to run with running backs and tight ends. Stevens has the versatility to play multiple spots in the NFL, something defensive coordinators will covet.
46) Jay Tufele, IDL, USC
A true dancing bear, Jay Tufele is the most agile of the three interior defenders you’ll find on this list. Tufele possesses quick hands and impressive flexibility for a 315 pounder, and he has the tools to be a disruptive 3-tech in the NFL.
However, he must adjust his pad level before he can become a consistent pass rusher from the defensive interior. His athletic ability also make him a quality run defender, particularly against zone concepts.
45) Chazz Surratt, LB, UNC
A former top quarterback prospect, Chazz Surratt made the switch to linebacker in spring of last season. As it was a new position, he obviously had his hiccups throughout the year. Despite that, he still showed the ability to be a tackling machine registering 115 total tackles and 6.5 sacks.
Surratt is an elite athlete for the position with excellent size and impressive instincts from his years as a quarterback. His upside is tremendous, he just needs to clean up the rough patches that come with learning a new position.
44) Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
With a quality blend of size (6’1″, 205 pounds) and athletic ability, Jaycee Horn makes up half of college football’s top cornerback duo. He’s explosive enough to play aggressively, registering 17 pass deflections in two seasons, and possesses fluid hips that allow him stick in man coverage.
Horn is scheme versatile, but a lack of interception production and some consistency issues will affect his draft stock. He’s also a quality blitzer from his cornerback position.
43) Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
A silky-smooth pass set at 6’5″ and nearly 320 pounds, Jalen Mayfield has all the tools to be an elite NFL tackle. He plays through the whistle and shows flashes of dominance at the line of scrimmage, but I would like to see him provide more movement off the ball.
His feet are agile and quick, but his hand placement can be detrimental at times. If he can improve these things he’s likely a first-round selection in April.
42) Tamorrion Terry, WR, FSU
One of the classes’ most polarizing prospects, Tamorrion Terry was dominant for Florida State last year and likely could have been a day two selection had he decided to declare for the draft.
He instead chose to return to school and will look to build on his 1,188 yards and 9 touchdown season. Terry stands at 6’4″, and has arguably the best burst in the class. His athletic ability is not what you’d expect of a player of his size.
41) Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
One of the best pure athletes in the class, Clemson’s Travis Etienne seems to be the favorite for RB1 among draft analysts. Difficult to tackle and nearly impossible to catch, Etienne has the ability to go from 0-100 in an instant, and his long speed is elite.
Unfortunately, I also think that his athletic ability tends to bail him out in college, as he doesn’t have to rely on vision nearly as much as he will in the NFL. In the right system, Etienne will be a threat to lead the NFL in rushing yards. I would like to see an improvement in his route running and ability to catch the football though.
40) Carlos Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest
A prototypical 4-3 defensive end, Carlos Basham has the size and strength to be a difference-making edge setter in the NFL. He’s not an elite athlete, but his active hands and non-stop motor make him a productive pass rusher. While he may never be the guy who registers 15 sacks in a season, he has the ability to average 8-10 a season, while being a dominant run defender.
39) Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
As the second half of SC’s elite cornerback duo, Israel Mukuamu doesn’t possess the same scheme versatility as Horn, but I believe his ceiling his higher if utilized correctly. He profiles as a prototypical Cover-3 cornerback with elite length and ball skills, with requisite straight-line speed.
He lacks hip and ankle flexibility and can’t stop on a dime like other top tier corners, which prevents him from being in certain schemes. However, if he ends up somewhere like Seattle or Atlanta, he could become an elite NFL cornerback.
38) Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Someone recently entered my twitter mentions dubbing Najee Harris as a “slow power back” which meant he wasn’t valuable. Yes, Harris would be classified as a “power back” in broad terms, and he isn’t the fastest running back in the nation. However, this doesn’t mean he’s not athletic, at 6’2″ 230 pounds, Harris is as likely to run a defender over as he is to juke one out of their shoes.
His tape is littered with him making defenders look silly in open field. Whether it’s with a nasty head fake, running them over, or jumping over them, it’s incredibly difficult to tackle him in the open field. Harris also has arguably the best hands of any running back in the class.
37) Ar’Darius Washington, Saf, TCU
Fun fact, the phrase good things come in small packages was actually made to explain TCU safety Ar’Darius Washington. Washington was some of the most fun I had watching a prospect this summer. He’s a ball hawk who’s more than willing to come up and make a hit.
His size will likely lower his draft stock, but his play last year was undeniable. I would like to see him improve his man coverage skills this year, as he has the ability to play a Tyrann Mathieu or Budda Baker role.
36) DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
DeVonta Smith would be the best wide receiver on 99% of college football teams over the past two seasons. There’s a thought process that he’s the worst on his team at Alabama and that is absolutely stunning.
As a solid athlete who runs crisp routes and has elite hands, Smith is a high floor receiver who should make an immediate impact in the NFL. In my eyes, he projects best as an elite WR2.
Continue for Matthew Valdovinos’ top 35-20 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.