Class of 2021
Every year college football provides the next wave of NFL talent which manifests at the league’s annual draft. It is a meat market of physically gifted collegians, many of whom will never graduate, preferring to leave school early and grab the cash while they can.
Some of those choices work out while others prove to be premature. Every NFL team prefers a rookie who is ready to go from jump-street rather than a project they will have to nurture and who may never pan out in the long run. However, some players are worth the effort and most of them are quarterbacks who need time on the sidelines watching and learning how much quicker the game is at the next level than it is in college.
And while we can find elite college football prospects in every conference, there is no ground more fertile than the SEC. Speaking of the Southeastern Conference, you can tune in this weekend because Alabama vs. Arkansas is a must watch!
So, let’s peruse the college football landscape and determine which players in the NFL Draft class of 2021 are likely to be part of the next generation of superstars.
Trevor Lawrence (Quarterback, Clemson) – It is not unusual to see a quarterback at the top of the draft but Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is being touted as a generational talent, much like Andrew Luck was back in 2012. Luck was very good at the next level but injuries prevented him from fulfilling his vast potential. And the high IQ kid from Stanford did something that smart people would do who had been injury-plagued, he eschewed the money and retired shortly before he turned 30-years-old.
Unless Lawrence completely collapses down the home stretch of the season or falls victim to a brutal injury, he is a mortal lock to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft come April. This year he has passed for over 2400 yards with 20 touchdowns to only three interceptions on a completion rate of over 69 percent. His likely destination next year will be wearing the green and white of the New York Jets.
— Matt Savage-The MING Podcast (@MINGPodcast) December 9, 2020
Justin Fields (Quarterback, Ohio State) – If your dismal franchise can’t get their paws on Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields is the best consolation prize a team could want. The 6’3” junior has led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season thus far and has a preternatural completion rate of 78.1 percent this year. Fields is a dual-threat who can hit the home run with his long ball or scoot to the edge to pick up first downs. The Jacksonville Jaguars are likely to own the second overall pick in the draft and it would be stunning if they didn’t select Fields at that spot.
Penei Sewell (Offensive Tackle, Oregon) – At 6’6” and 340 pounds, Penei Sewell is an avalanche of a man who would be a welcome blindside protector for any quarterback. As a sophomore, he won the Outland and Morris Trophy and was a unanimous All-American. There isn’t an NFL team that wouldn’t love to plug Sewell into their offensive line but the Cincinnati Bengals are likely to be in the No. 3 spot to do just that. This would be the best gift that last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and first overall pick in the draft, quarterback Joe Burrow, could hope to receive from Bengals’ management.
Carlos Basham Jr. (Defensive Lineman, Wake Forest) – There is plenty of talent on the defensive line in this class but Carlos Basham could very well be the best of them all. After redshirting in his first year at Wake Forest Basham Jr. played in all 13 games and had 24 tackles in 2017 before he dominated in his junior year with 64 tackles and 4 ½ sacks. Basham Jr. returned to Wake Forest in his senior season which gives him an edge over some of his peers as he has a full four years of experience under his belt heading into the NFL. As it stands now, the Cowboys would be picking fourth and he would be a fine addition to their defensive front.
Rashawn Slater (Offensive Tackle, Northwestern) – If the Chargers are in in this fifth spot, they would likely look for protection for their young quarterback. And if you can’t get Penei Sewell then Rashawn Slater would fit the bill. The only knock on Slater is his size which means he would likely be shifted to guard at the next level but he would still be a major force for a team like the Bolts to keep in front of their franchise player, Justin Herbert.