2021 NFL Draft: 20 to watch in Class of ’21

Quarterbacks are always top of mind when it comes to the NFL draft, and the Class of 2021 is no exception.

Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will be No. 1 on many draft boards but the class is also loaded at left tackle and stronger than the 2020 group at the pass-rushing positions.

And there will be plenty more of a continued theme — Southeastern Conference dominance.

Entering the 2020 college football season, this group looks to be the cream of the crop in next year’s draft:


Travis Etienne
Clemson Tigers RB Travis Etienne. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

1. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson: Perhaps the biggest surprise among underclassmen who returned to school, Etienne boasts incredible athleticism. Can he refine his vision and receiving skills?

2. Walker Little, OT, Stanford: A possible top-10 pick in 2020, Little sustained a season-ending knee injury in the 2019 opener. He has the frame (6-7, 307) and polish to regain that status.

3. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama: The only one of the Crimson Tide’s big three wideouts to return, Smith could have a monster season with more targets headed his way.

4. Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State: A likely first- or second-round pick had he come out in 2020, Wilson’s season ended early (hand), but he’s a complete defensive tackle.

5. Liam Eichenberg, LT, Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have been an O-lineman factory of late, and Eichenberg looks to be next. He’ll enter his second season starting at left tackle in 2020.

6. Alex Leatherwood, LT, Alabama: Once pegged as a potential top-10 pick in 2020, Leatherwood had a few disappointing tapes in 2019. After returning, he could solidify himself as a top-20 selection.

7. Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford: Long, physical and athletic, Adebo fits the mold of what NFL teams are looking for at the position.

8. Quincy Roche, DE, Miami (Fla.): A graduate transfer from Temple, Roche is a bit undersized, but he racked up 13 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and five batted passes as a redshirt junior with the Owls.

9. Richard LeCounte, Jr., S, Georgia: LeCounte is a ball hunter, totaling four picks, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and three recoveries in 2019. He must improve his instincts and tackling, but the skills are there.

10. Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee: Most expected Smith to enter the 2020 draft. He now has a shot to be the top interior lineman in 2021.

Draft-eligible underclassmen

Justin Fields
Ohio State Buckeyes QB Justin Fields. (Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports)

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: Lawrence finally lost his first game as a collegian in the CFP title game, but he remains one of the best prospects we’ve seen in years. A clear-cut favorite to go No. 1 in 2020.

2. Penei Sewell, LT, Oregon: The best player on one of the nation’s best offensive lines, Sewell brings a rare combination of elite physical traits and reliable technique. He even drew a few Heisman Trophy votes in 2019.

3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: A top recruit who dazzled after transferring from Georgia, Fields is an outstanding thrower who can also create with his legs. His ceiling is very high.

4. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: Chase isn’t quite an elite athlete, but he has great all-around traits and a tremendous feel for the position. His production (1,780 yards, 20 TDs) was off the charts in 2019.

5. Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson: Ross didn’t make as many big plays in 2019, but he’s huge, athletic and productive. There’s a lot to like.

6. Samuel Cosmi, LT, Texas: Already with a full season of starting experience on the left and right sides, Cosmi could have entered the 2020 draft as a redshirt sophomore. His trajectory is pointed upward.

7. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama: Moses seemed likely to enter the 2020 draft as a redshirt sophomore after missing all of 2019 with a torn ACL. If healthy, he should regain his status as a top prospect.

8. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama: Son of the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Surtain has long been on track to be a first-round pick, and he’s excelled under Nick Saban’s tutelage.

9. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State: A redshirt sophomore, Wade could have declared for the 2020 draft. Already with extensive nickel experience, he should add value by playing on the outside in 2020.

10. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State: Three-down linebackers with great athleticism and instincts are hard to find, but Parsons looks the part thus far.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)