Analysis

Gil Brandt's Hot 100, 2.0: Top prospects in 2021 NFL Draft class

Nearly one month ago, I provided the first version of my Hot 100 list of the top prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. With Day 1 now just around the corner, and with several prospects working out at their pro days in the interim, I've updated my ranking below.

Before we dig into the names, a couple of notes:

1) As I did in version 1.0, I've provided bite-sized nuggets of information about the top 50 players, including new blurbs for the biggest movers -- anyone who jumped 10-plus spots, up or down -- and new entrants to the upper half of the list. To keep things neat, players who fell out of the top 50 did not keep their blurbs.

2) The unorthodox nature of this draft-prep season, with prospects working out only at their pro days and not testing at the NFL Scouting Combine, made for a complex evaluation process. Thus, you will see some swings below that might seem wilder than they really are.

3) I tended to not consider players for this list if injury concerns make it difficult to form a fair or complete assessment of them at the moment.

Rank
1
Trevor Lawrence
Clemson · QB

Height: 6-foot-5 1/2. Weight: 213 pounds.


Lawrence was a winner in high school, capturing two state championships in Georgia. He was a winner in college, securing a title in his freshman season at Clemson. And I think he'll be a good NFL quarterback.

Rank
2
1
Kyle Pitts
Florida · TE

Height: 6-6. Weight: 240.


Pitts will be a mismatch problem for anybody who plays against him. He's got great speed, and he can play inside or outside. Don't just think of him as a tight end -- he can also effectively function as a wide receiver.

Rank
3
1
Ja'Marr Chase
LSU · WR

Height: 6-1. Weight: 200.


Chase is a better prospect than his former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson was heading into the 2020 NFL Draft -- and Jefferson made a run at Offensive Rookie of the Year, with 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven TDs, after being picked 22nd overall by the Vikings.

Rank
4
1
Zach Wilson
BYU · QB

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 200.


Wilson had a great year. He's very athletic, he's an excellent long-ball thrower and he's smart. I think he'll be the kind of quarterback who can take you to the playoffs. 

Rank
5
3
Penei Sewell
Oregon · OT

Height: 6-5 1/2. Weight: 320.


Sewell is the closest thing to Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden I've seen in some time. More so than anything, he can play left tackle, and that means so much in today's NFL.

Rank
6
4
Jaylen Waddle
Alabama · WR

Height: 5-9 1/2. Weight: 180.

 

Waddle had a midseason injury (broken ankle) that forced him to miss six games. That said, he has speed and quickness and is a very good return specialist.

Rank
7
2
DeVonta Smith
Alabama · WR

Height: 6-1/4. Weight: 170.


The Heisman Trophy-winning Smith has excellent hands and is very quick. He reminds you a lot of Hall of Famer Lance Alworth.

Rank
8
1
Justin Fields
Ohio State · QB

Height: 6-2 1/4. Weight: 225.


Fields has impressed with his pre-draft performances, and I think he's a lot better than we think he is. His move down here was precipitated by Waddle and Smith leapfrogging him and does not necessarily reflect my thoughts on him as a prospect.

Rank
9
3
Alijah Vera-Tucker

Height: 6-4. Weight: 320.


Vera-Tucker can start at guard or left tackle and has lots of upside for the future.

Rank
10
2
Rashawn Slater
Northwestern · OT

Height: 6-4 1/8. Weight: 305.


Slater had a great workout at Northwestern's pro day, recording a 33-inch vertical and throwing the bar up 33 times. His arms, which people were worried about the length of, measured 33 inches. Ultimately, I think he's more of a guard than a tackle. 


Rank
11
3
Patrick Surtain II
Alabama · CB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 203.


Surtain, whose father, Patrick, enjoyed a long NFL career, has very good coverage skills and is a smart player.

Rank
12
1
Jaelan Phillips
Miami · EDGE

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 265.


The UCLA transfer boasts good pass-rush ability. He just needs to stay healthy.

Rank
13
Trey Lance
North Dakota State · QB

Height: 6-3. Weight: 225.


Lance is a strong thrower but not a particularly good scrambler, given his average speed. That said, he's been very successful -- he just has "it." He's something special.

Rank
14
2
Micah Parsons
Penn State · LB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 240.


Currently in line to be the first linebacker drafted, Parsons should play many years at a high level.

Rank
15
4
Jaycee Horn
South Carolina · CB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 205.


The son of NFL great Joe Horn, Jaycee Horn has outstanding quickness. Though he only logged two interceptions in 2020, he does leave South Carolina with 23 career pass breakups.

Rank
16
1
Caleb Farley
Virginia Tech · CB

Height: 6-1 1/2. Weight: 210.


Farley overcame early injuries in his career to become a top cornerback, recording six picks and 19 passes defensed in 2018-19. I'm not moving Farley much despite his recent back procedure. There are different opinions about him from a medical standpoint, but if he can stay healthy, he's a really good player. 

Rank
17
Christian Darrisaw
Virginia Tech · OT

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 315.


Darrisaw, who started as a true freshman, is a very, very good run-blocker.

Rank
18
16
Kwity Paye
Michigan · EDGE

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 275.


I graded Paye as an inside player rather than an edge player, and he had a great workout -- 4.52-second 40-yard dash, 35.5-inch vertical jump, 9-foot-10 broad jump -- for an inside player at Michigan's pro day.

Rank
19
3
Jayson Oweh
Penn State · EDGE

Height: 6-5. Weight: 250.


Oweh dazzled with an unofficial 4.36 40 at Penn State's pro day, and I think he'll be the biggest surprise of the 2021 regular season. He didn't have any sacks in 2020, but he did post seven in 2018-19, and he finished 2020 with 38 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. I think we'll see his pass-rush ability translate into plenty of sacks in his rookie campaign.

Rank
20
2
Gregory Rousseau
Miami · EDGE

Height: 6-7. Weight: 260.


Rousseau has the potential and traits to be quite good, but he's been inconsistent in his play. He posted 15.5 sacks in 2019, which ended up being his only season of significant college production, because of an injury in 2018 and his decision to opt out in 2020.

Rank
21
Teven Jenkins
Oklahoma State · OT

Height: 6-6 1/2. Weight: 320.


A three-year starter who split his time over the past three seasons between left tackle and right tackle, Jenkins has long arms and is a good athlete -- and he's a better football player than Russell Okung was when he played at Oklahoma State.

Rank
22
2
Mac Jones
Alabama · QB

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 217.


Jones is one of the biggest question marks in the draft to me. He played well in 2020 for Alabama. An average athlete, Jones boasts great intangibles.

Rank
23
14
Landon Dickerson
Alabama · C

Height: 6-6. Weight: 326.


Some people don't value centers as highly as others, but anytime a guy can start multiple years at a high level in college, I think he's pretty good -- for me, that overpowers concerns about Dickerson's health as he recovers from a knee injury suffered late in the 2020 season.

Rank
24
8
Azeez Ojulari
Georgia · EDGE

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 250.


Ojulari can be a very good pass rusher despite the lack of size for his position.


Rank
25
11
Kadarius Toney
Florida · WR

Height: 5-11. Weight: 195.


Toney's one-game suspension in 2018 is outweighed by his talent. He's a special player with the ability to make big plays.

Rank
26
30
Elijah Moore
Mississippi · WR

Height: 5-9. Weight: 185.


Moore ran a lot better than I expected him to, reportedly clocking a 4.32 40 at Mississippi's pro day, and is a much better player than I thought he was at first.

Rank
27
25
Greg Newsome II
Northwestern · CB

Height: 6-0. Weight: 188.


After thinking more about Newsome's 4.38 40, which was faster than anybody expected, I decided to move him up.

Rank
28
35
Rondale Moore
Purdue · WR

Height: 5-7. Weight: 180.


Moore is a great athlete, as evidenced by his pro-day performance (4.31 40, 42.5-inch vertical jump, 10-6 broad jump, 4.1 short shuttle and 6.68 three-cone). Though he didn't do much in 2020, Moore has the speed and skills to break out in the NFL -- and I'm counting on him breaking out.

Rank
29
10
Joe Tryon
Washington · EDGE

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 255.


Tryon didn't play in 2020, but he had a great pro day, running really well in the 40 (4.64), and I think he could be a good pass rusher.

Rank
30
10
Zaven Collins
Tulsa · LB

Height: 6-3. Weight: 260.


Collins is a good player; my concern is that I just don't know where on the field he'll play in the NFL. The level of competition he faced at Tulsa, compared to what he would have gone up against in a conference like the Big 12 or Big Ten, also complicates the evaluation here. 

Rank
31
1
Levi Onwuzurike
Washington · DT

Height: 6-3. Weight: 290. 


The Dallas product is very strong and athletic -- an exceptional run-stuffer.

Rank
32
6
Najee Harris
Alabama · RB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 235.


Harris -- who stayed at Alabama for a fourth year -- is a great pass-catcher (70 receptions for 729 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns over the past two seasons) with above-average running skills.

Rank
33
10
Kelvin Joseph
Kentucky · CB

Height: 6-2 1/8. Weight: 200.


My concern regarding Joseph, who transferred to Kentucky in 2019, stems from the way he exited LSU, after being suspended for a bowl game at the end of his freshman season. Setting that aside, he's a pretty good player.

Rank
34
16
Trevon Moehrig
TCU · SAF

Height: 6-1 1/2. Weight: 210.


Moehrig is a solid player, but after further consideration, to my eye, he doesn't quite pop the way you'd want someone in the top 20 to pop.

Rank
35
10
Christian Barmore
Alabama · DT

Height: 6-5. Weight: 315.


Barmore is going to be a dangerous threat as a defensive tackle. His drop here has more to do with player movement around him than anything.


Rank
36
8
Travis Etienne
Clemson · RB

Height: 5-10 1/8. Weight: 212.


The three-year starter has excellent hands catching the ball coming out of the backfield (85 catches for 1,020 receiving yards and six TDs over the past two seasons) and good vision as a runner.

Rank
37
13
Jamin Davis
Kentucky · LB

Height: 6-3 1/2. Weight: 230.


Davis is an amazing player -- why he didn't start until his senior year, I don't know. At Kentucky's pro day, he logged a 4.49 40, a 42-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump.

Rank
38
5
Carlos Basham Jr.
Wake Forest · DE

Height: 6-3 3/8. Weight: 281.


Basham has pass-rush ability and is a good, steady player.

Rank
39
12
Tyson Campbell
Georgia · CB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 193. 


I dropped Campbell because his ball skills are lacking -- he has a hard time finding the ball. He's got everything but that.

Rank
40
9
Javonte Williams
North Carolina · RB

Height: 5-11 1/2. Weight: 220.


Williams is an excellent runner with great balance and explosion -- and he can also catch the ball (50 receptions in his college career).

Rank
41
12
Pete Werner
Ohio State · LB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 235.


I might have had Werner a bit too high. Still, as I wrote last time, he can play against the run or in space -- and there's a possibility he could be fast enough to serve as a safety.

Rank
42
23
Rashod Bateman
Minnesota · WR

Height: 6-2. Weight: 210.


My previous ranking of Bateman was based on an assumption that he'd run a relatively slow 40. Instead, he ran much faster -- a 4.39 40 -- than anybody expected, and thus soars upward here.

Rank
43
8
Samuel Cosmi
Texas · OT

Height: 6-5 7/8. Weight: 308.

Rank
44
2
Josh Myers
Ohio State · C

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 310.


Myers is a two-position player who I think can start for the next eight or nine years.

Rank
45
1
Alex Leatherwood
Alabama · OT

Height: 6-5 1/8. Weight: 312.


Leatherwood, who started for three years on the offensive line, can play two different positions, having spent time at both right guard and left tackle.

Rank
46
6
Richie Grant
UCF · SAF

Height: 5-11 5/8. Weight: 200.


Grant has the great ball skills needed to play the position. In his four seasons of action, he logged 10 picks, 17 passes defensed and five forced fumbles.

Rank
47
4
Dillon Radunz
North Dakota State · OT

Height: 6-5 5/8. Weight: 305.


A three-year starter at left tackle, Radunz's long arms help him in pass protection.

Rank
48
6
Terrace Marshall Jr.

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 205.


Marshall (10-plus TDs in each of the past two seasons, 4.38 40 at LSU's pro day) is just a better player than I thought he was and deserves to be in this spot. 

Rank
49
9
Creed Humphrey
Oklahoma · C

Height: 6-5. Weight: 330.


As a three-year starter on a very good football team, Humphrey will start and play for a long time in the NFL.

Rank
50
2
Jalen Mayfield
Michigan · OT

Height: 6-5. Weight: 320.


Mayfield's pedigree as a strong contributor in a good program is encouraging.

Rank
51
2
Nick Bolton
Missouri · LB

Height: 6-0. Weight: 215.


Bolton is a good player vs. the run, though he's limited against the passing game.

Rank
52
7
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Notre Dame · LB

Height: 6-0. Weight: 215. 


Rank
53
2
Ifeatu Melifonwu
Syracuse · CB

Height: 6-2 5/8. Weight: 212.

Rank
54
1
Aaron Robinson
UCF · CB

Height: 5-11 1/2. Weight: 190.

Rank
55
17
Pat Freiermuth
Penn State · TE

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 255.

Rank
56
9
Joseph Ossai
Texas · EDGE

Height: 6-3 5/8. Weight: 255.

Rank
57
13
Ronnie Perkins
Oklahoma · EDGE

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 253.

Rank
58
17
Eric Stokes
Georgia · CB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 190.

Rank
59
14
Walker Little
Stanford · OT

Height: 6-7. Weight: 320.

Rank
60
2
Brady Christensen
BYU · OT

Height: 6-6. Weight: 300.

Rank
61
15
James Hudson
Cincinnati · OT

Height: 6-5. Weight: 308.

Rank
62
7
Deonte Brown
Alabama · G

Height: 6-3. Weight: 360.

Rank
63
NR
Dan Moore Jr.
Texas A&M · OT

Height: 6-5 1/2. Weight: 311.

Rank
64
Amari Rodgers
Clemson · WR

Height: 5-9. Weight: 202.

Rank
65
19
Elijah Molden
Washington · CB

Height: 5-10. Weight: 190.

Rank
66
25
Jevon Holland
Oregon · SAF

Height: 6-1. Weight: 200.

Rank
67
NR
Asante Samuel Jr.
Florida State · CB

Height: 5-10. Weight: 180.

Rank
68
22
Payton Turner
Houston · DE

Height: 6-5. Weight: 282.

Rank
69
14
Dyami Brown
North Carolina · WR

Height: 6-1. Weight: 193.

Rank
70
12
Jackson Carman
Clemson · G

Height: 6-5. Weight: 336.

Rak
71
12
Liam Eichenberg
Notre Dame · OT

Height: 6-5 1/2. Weight: 305.

Rank
72
15
Chazz Surratt
North Carolina · LB

Height: 6-1 1/2. Weight: 227.

Rank
73
6
Quinn Meinerz
Wisconsin-Whitewater · C

Height: 6-3. Weight: 320.

Rank
74
13
Trey Smith
Tennessee · G

Height: 6-5 1/2. Weight: 331.

Rank
75
22
Daviyon Nixon
Iowa · DT

Height: 6-2 1/2. Weight: 305.

Rank
76
10
Tutu Atwell
Louisville · WR

Height: 5-8 1/4. Weight: 160.

Rank
77
8
Jabril Cox
LSU · LB

Height: 6-2. Weight: 228.

Rank
78
11
Paulson Adebo
Stanford · CB

Height: 6-0 1/2. Weight: 190.

Rank
79
9
Spencer Brown
Northern Iowa · OT

Height: 6-6. Weight: 310.

Rank
80
Shaun Wade
Ohio State · CB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 193.

Rank
81
NR
Marvin Wilson
Florida State · DT

Height: 6-4. Weight: 303.

Rank
82
11
Milton Williams
Louisiana Tech · DE

Height: 6-3. Weight: 284.

Rank
83
6
Jay Tufele
USC · DT

Height: 6-3. Weight: 315.

Rank
84
Tylan Wallace
Oklahoma State · WR

Height: 5-11. Weight: 187.

Rank
85
NR
Amon-Ra St. Brown
USC · WR

Height: 5-11 1/2. Weight: 197.

Rank
86
Tommy Togiai
Ohio State · DT

Height: 6-2. Weight: 300.

Rank
87
NR
Wyatt Davis
Ohio State · G

Height: 6-4. Weight: 315.

Rank
88
NR
Brevin Jordan
Miami · TE

Height: 6-3. Weight: 247.

Rank
89
12
Tommy Tremble
Notre Dame · TE

Height: 6-3 1/2. Weight: 245.

Rank
90
NR
D'Wayne Eskridge
Western Michigan · WR

Height: 5-9. Weight: 190.

Rank
91
31
Ben Cleveland
Georgia · G

Height: 6-6 3/4. Weight: 354.

Rank
92
14
Baron Browning
Ohio State · LB

Height: 6-3. Weight: 241.

Rank
93
NR
Stone Forsythe
Florida · OT

Height: 6-8. Weight: 307.

Rank
94
2
Aaron Banks
Notre Dame · G

Height: 6-5 3/8. Weight: 339.

Rank
95
1
Patrick Jones II
Pittsburgh · EDGE

Height: 6-4 1/2. Weight: 264.

Rank
96
25
Robert Rochell
Central Arkansas · CB

Height: 5-11. Weight: 195.

Rank
97
Garret Wallow
TCU · LB

Height: 6-1. Weight: 230.

Rank
98
Rashad Weaver
Pittsburgh · DE

Height: 6-4. Weight: 265.

Rank
99
Tyler Shelvin
LSU · DT

Height: 6-3. Weight: 345.

Rank
100
NR
Divine Deablo
Virginia Tech · SAF

Height: 6-3. Weight: 226.

DROPPED OUT: Tre' McKitty, TE, Georgia (was at No. 68); Jordan Smith, EDGE, UAB (72); Hunter Long, TE, Boston College (75); Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State (81); Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC (87); Kyle Trask, QB, Florida (92); Seth Williams, WR, Auburn (95); Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia (99); Mike Strachan, WR, Charleston (100).

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter.

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