20) Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Many believe that Justin Fields is the obvious QB2 and a top-10 player in the 2021 NFL Draft class. I’m not quite as enamored with Fields, as I believe improvement to his mechanics and decisiveness are needed before he can be a successful NFL quarterback.
He does a great job keeping his eyes downfield and his physical abilities are elite, however, he’s not on the same level as Trevor Lawrence in my eyes.
19) Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
Similar to Fields, there are some that consider Trey Lance a top-five to 10 prospect and a close QB2 to Lawrence. Lance was almost indisputably the best player in the FCS last season, having a season that rivaled Joe Burrow’s dominance at LSU.
However, it is incredibly difficult to project Lance into the NFL when 99% of his opponents won’t be playing football after college. Lance was a dominant rusher last season, and anytime he felt the slightest pressure he could tuck it and run for an easy 15+ yards.
It’s not so simple in the NFL, and I think Lance will need to work on his ability to stay composed in the pocket and make plays with his arm.
18) Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
My personal favorite of the elite 2021 tight end trio, Pat “Baby Gronk” Freiermuth reminds me a lot of TJ Hockenson coming out of Iowa in the 2019 Draft. Hockenson was selected top 10, and a big reason being he was so gifted as both a receiver and a blocker.
He functioned as both a weapon in the pass game as well as acting as a sixth lineman in the run game. This provides exceptional scheme versatility, and it’s what separates Freiermuth from the rest in my eyes.
17) Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
Jackson Carman has recently gotten more love from the draft community as people are getting around to his tape. He doesn’t carry the same name recognition as Liam Eichenberg or Samuel Cosmi, but I think he’s a much better prospect.
He has elite play strength and a nasty streak in him. His pass sets are smooth but inconsistent, but he uses his hands extremely well. If Carman can clean up some of the inconsistencies on tape he should be a no brainer first-round pick.
16) Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The son of an All-Pro, it’s obvious Patrick Surtain was well-coached growing up. He plays disciplined, consistent, and intelligently from his cornerback spot. He profiles as an outside cornerback due to his great size and length, but I have some concerns with his ability to stick in man coverage, particularly against faster receivers.
This limits his ceiling and could potentially limit his scheme versatility as well. However, his ball skills and down to down consistency make him a very good cornerback prospect.
15) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Some people have been very upset with my ranking of Ja’Marr Chase, as some view him as the best WR prospect in quite some time. Unfortunately, I have a preference at receiver, and it’s built on the premise that speed and separation are far more important than size.
Chase dominates the 50/50 ball and contested-catch situations, and I don’t believe that’s an easily translatable skill in the NFL. However, his production is undeniable and despite not being a great athlete he shows impressive vertical separation.
14) Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Shaun Wade is a tricky evaluation for me. I think he’s dominant at what he does, and he does make plays from the nickel cornerback role. There he’s strong in coverage, can rush the passer, and play the run.
However, I’m not convinced his game translates to the outside, where he’ll be playing this year at Ohio State. Personally, I think Wade’s skill-set is best suited for the slot and that’s where he should play in the NFL. He has the ability to be the league’s top nickel cornerback.
13) Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
One of the most electrifying players in all of college football, Jaylen Waddle has had to wait patiently for his turn in the spotlight. After playing behind two first-round picks in his first two seasons at Alabama, Waddle will now be front and center in the offense.
An elite athlete, who’s a threat to score whenever he touches the ball, Waddle brings value as both a play-making receiver and one of the best return men in NCAA history.
12) Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Dylan Moses and Micah Parsons get all the attention, but there’s another excellent linebacker prospect in the class. Nick Bolton is a smaller linebacker prospect at 6’0″ 232 pounds, but he’s an elite athlete with impressive tackling abilities.
He’s very good in coverage and can operate as a quality blitzer on occasion. The lack of size likely relegates Bolton to the WILL backer position, but linebackers who can cover like he does are a rare breed.
11) Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Similar to every other Washington State tackle in the past 10 years, Abraham Lucas is a premier pass protector. Elite length and athletic ability combines with smooth feet and quality hand usage. Lucas rivals Penei Sewell as a pass protector.
Unfortunately, also like every other Washington State tackle, he lacks experience and development as a run blocker. Hopefully, with a coaching change, Lucas will become more proficient in the run game because his physical tools are easy to project in the NFL.
10) Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
One of “my guys” for the 2021 class, I have been on the Rashod Bateman hype train since week one of last season where I thought he was obviously the best player on the field. Bateman has good size at 6’2″ 209 pounds, but he utilizes that size by combining it with impressive explosiveness and route running. He also has some of the best hands in the class and is quietly an impressive YAC threat.
9) Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
A very fun evaluation, Caleb Farley is an elite cornerback prospect thanks to dominant physical abilities and impressive ball skills. A kleptomaniac when the balls in the air, Farley has produced 6 interceptions and 19 pass deflections in two seasons at VT.
He’s a blend of excellent size and elite athletic ability, and he possesses the instincts and flexibility to play both zone and man coverage. A true CB1.
8) Creed Humphrey, iOL, Oklahoma
There was a point in time where I started to overthink Creed Humphrey. Until I watched his tape again. A rock-solid prospect with a high ceiling but a tremendous floor. Humphrey is one of the best-developed offensive linemen I’ve ever evaluated.
From his hand usage to his pass set, blitz recognition and motor, and even his ability to get in space and locate blockers. I think Creed can enter the NFL as one of the 10-15 best centers in the league.
7) Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Lightning in a bottle and the definition of a playmaker, Rondale Moore might be small in stature but he’s big in impact. The best athlete in the class, Moore rivals the athletic ability of Henry Ruggs, but he’s a more refined receiver.
A strong route runner who’s elite with the ball in his hands, Moore fits in any scheme and can take the ball to the end zone on any occasion. His upside will be decided by the creativity of his offensive coordinator, but I have no doubt Moore could be the top offensive weapon in the NFL.
6) Jevon Holland, Safety, Oregon
Oregon has, in my opinion, the best secondary in the NFL. The best player on that secondary happens to be safety Jevon Holland. Holland is an instinctual, aggressive, safety who does his best work around the line of scrimmage.
He’s an elite run defender, despite not being huge. He’s a true match-up piece that can stick to tight ends and produce impact plays registering nine interceptions in two seasons. He lacks elite athletic ability, and that prevents him from projecting as a true single-high safety, but he has the instincts to do it on occasion.
5) Marvin Wilson, IDL, Florida State
Compared to last year’s class, I actually prefer Marvin Wilson to Derrick Brown. Wilson is a more explosive athlete and lives in the backfield. He’s best suited for a one-gap scheme that lets him utilize his burst off the line of scrimmage to wreak havoc. He uses his hands very well and has excellent size listed at 6’5″ 310 pounds.
Despite being so tall, Wilson doesn’t have many problems with leverage, which separates him from the rest of the 2021 class. In my eyes, Wilson has the ability to register double-digit sacks multiple times in his career, that’s not something I could say for Brown.
4) Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Dylan Moses would have been a top-15 selection last year had he not lost his season to injury, I’m sure of this. An elite athlete, expect Moses to test as one of the most explosive linebackers in combine history. He’s polished, playing with elite instincts and making plays sideline to sideline. He’s also an elite coverage linebacker, which as I stated earlier, is a rare commodity.
3) Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
My highest-rated defensive player in the class, Micah Parsons is a game wrecking force. He’s not as polished as Moses, nor is he quite as athletic. However, he’s bigger, stronger, and nastier.
Parsons is the best blitzing linebacker I’ve ever evaluated, if he wanted to Parsons could probably be a first-round selection as an edge rusher. Parsons and Moses really come down to the preference of the team and what they feel they need more.
2) Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Many people are coming up with more and more reasons why Lawrence isn’t as good as everyone initially thought. I can agree to a point, many claimed Lawrence is the best QB prospect maybe ever, and I think that’s a bit extreme.
However, I feel comfortable saying that I believe he’s the best since at least Andrew Luck in 2012. Lawrence has truly elite physical tools, great size, athletic ability, freakish arm talent, and hair to die for. I expect him to be the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and could very well be the best quarterback in the NFL at some point in his career.
1) Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
A true generational prospect, Penei Sewell will likely be the best player I have ever evaluated. An elite pass protector and an elite run blocker, Sewell has the chance to become in and be one of the league’s elite as a rookie.
He’s not an elite athlete and occasionally plays over his toes, but otherwise, I struggle to identify any “flaws.” Sewell is my highest-rated prospect in 2021, and I wouldn’t blame a team for taking him over Lawrence if they have a quarterback they feel good about.
Matt Valdvinos’ Top 50 2021 NFL Draft Prospects
You can sort my prospect rankings below by team and position. You can also utilize the search function to quickly find whatever you may be looking for. Mobile users: Please note that the database is best viewed in landscape mode.
|3||Micah Parsons||LB||Penn State|
|5||Marvin Wilson||IDL||Florida State|
|9||Caleb Farley||CB||Virginia Tech|
|11||Abraham Lucas||OT||Washington State|
|14||Shaun Wade||CB||Ohio State|
|16||Patrick Surtain Jr.||CB||Alabama|
|18||Pat Freiermuth||TE||Penn State|
|20||Justin Fields||QB||Ohio State|
|24||Darius Stills||IDL||West Virginia|
|27||Rasheed Walker||OT||Penn State|
|28||Hamsah Nasirildeen||SAF||Florida State|
|31||Chris Olave||WR||Ohio State|
|39||Isreal Mukuamu||CB||South Carolina|
|40||Carlos Basham||EDGE||Wake Forest|
|42||Tammarion Terry||WR||Florida State|
|44||Jaycee Horn||CB||South Carolina|
|48||Tylan Wallace||WR||Oklahoma State|
|50||Brock Purdy||QB||Iowa State|