clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Zach Hicks’ Updated 2021 NFL Draft Top 150 Big Board

Updated ranking on the 2021 Draft Class

NCAA Football: Michigan at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It is time for me to, yet again, throw my Big Board rankings out into the public to get torn apart. I have watched around 200 players for the draft class and, while these aren’t my final rankings yet, here is how I would stack up this class at the moment. With Pro Days rolling out every day, I have been able to go back to some film and verify some numbers that these players are putting up in work-outs.

A disclaimer, again, for how I grade players; I am a strict grader who grades differently than most people. When I put “first round grade” on a player, that means I think the player can be a high level contributor immediately and has high level potential. So, when you see my grades by round in this piece, be sure to look at the parenthesis after to get the explanation for it. I usually have very few first round grades compared to most evaluators, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take some of my fringe players in the first. Big Boards, for me, are all about stacking production and immediate impact so it will look weird to see only 11-12 first round grades.

Given that this is my second Big Board of the offseason, you can cross check my rankings here, I will be adding a bit more to this one. In my first Big Board, I wrote up blurbs on the top 20 players I had ranked. For this one, I will have blurbs for the top 30 players. Also, for any player that significantly moved up or down the board since last time will have a mini section written on why the sudden change, in order to remain transparent.

Below is my Top 150 Big Board as it stands today. My goal is to have a Top 200 a couple days prior to draft day so this one isn’t completely final yet. Any comments or concerns, please leave a comment below and I would love to discuss it with you.

First Round Grades (Tier 1: High potential and immediate impact):

1.) Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Duh. We knew this ranking for the past three years. High-level quarterback with great mobility, velocity, and everything else you want in a QB prospect.

2.) Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

There are some concerns with his processing (partly due to his offense at Ohio State) however, he does so many things right as a QB. Great velocity, anticipation, eye manipulation, mobility... he’s going to be really good with the right team.

3.) Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

Maybe higher on him than most but Waddle has easy speed and acceleration that can beat almost any defensive back in the country. If he recovers fully from his ankle injury, he is a superstar in the making.

4.) Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Elite offensive tackle prospect who dominated the Pac-12 at just 18 years old. Has some minor things to improve on but looks to be a longtime OT starter in this league.

5.) Rashawn Slater, OG/OT, Northwestern

Freak athlete who is probably the best in the class at getting to the second level. His short arms may have some teams list him as a guard, where I think he could be an All-Pro player, but he will succeed at either spot in my opinion.

6.) Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Special tight end prospect who excels in space. Great route runner with the ability to climb the ladder and make highlight-reel plays. He’s like Jordan Reed but healthy.

7.) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, SAF, Notre Dame

Elite athlete with positional versatility to play in the box or out at nickel corner... or even deep at safety. I think his best fit in the league is more as a slot/safety type but a defensive coordinator is going to have fun with this freaky athlete.

8.) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

A physical receiver who dominated college football in 2019. He allows contact a bit too easily into his chest but he is dominant at the catch point and will climb the ladder to make big plays. Should be a productive player from day one.

9.) Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG/OT, USC

Similar to Slater, AVT will likely get moved inside due to his shorter arms. However, I think he has the traits to succeed at either spot. Smart player with great strength and a really good athlete. Easy Top 10 player in my book.

10.) Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

Big-bodied defensive end who has all the traits you want on the edge.. even bend! He does allow tackles inside his chest plate a bit too easy and needs to develop more of a plan of attack but his potential is among the highest in the class.

11.) DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Heisman Trophy winner in 2020, Smith is a pure technician with great burst and goes up and attacks the ball in the air. His frame is a bit concerning but I’m very confident in him being a legit producer in the NFL.

12.) Trevon Moehrig, SAF, TCU(Up 19 Spots)

First major change from last time, as Moehrig jumps up from 31 (and a second-round grade) to my 12th overall player. I went back and studied Moehrig a bit after last time and tried to be as critical as possible with his game. I actually came away more impressed than before. Athletic, physical safety that can be an all-around star in the back-end of a defense.

Fringe First-Early Second (Tier 2: High potential players with some current question marks):

13.) Trey Lance, QB, NDSU

The traits are off the chart with Lance. Huge arm, great mobility, and apparently a genius on the whiteboard. The only issue is that he needs more development in terms of mechanics (especially in his lower half) and could use some work in a pro-style offense. Arguably the most high-end potential in the class.

14.) Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

My CB1 in this class is a blast to watch on film. Physical corner with that dog mentality that everybody wants. He also tracks the ball very well and could excel in zone coverage at the next level. He won’t be for everybody and does grab a bit, but I’m a huge fan.

15.) Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

A high-level player who flies downhill and can dominate against both the pass and run game. There are some off-field concerns (allegedly involved in a hazing incident in 2019) but he is still the top linebacker in the class for me.

16.) Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami

Phillips likely has the best film in the class at defensive end. Nuanced pass rusher who understands how to attack and breakdown offensive tackles. He has an extensive injury history (that caused him to retire temporarily in 2018) but the talent is there.

17.) Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Another quarterback with high-level traits who could be a star in this league. I have legit concerns with his size/frame (no way he is that 6’3” on BYU’s website), his injury history, and his struggles against good defenses but with a good offensive coordinator, he could be special.

18.) Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

A superb athlete that practically runs routes for receivers in coverage. He has great length, ball skills, and athleticism to be a top-tier corner in the league. He needs to refine his technique a bit and become more physical but another player with just sky-high potential.

19.) Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas

One of my favorite players in the draft class, Cosmi tested like the freak he is at his Pro Day. He needs to work on his footwork a bit but he is an elite athlete with great grip strength in pass protection. If he puts it all together, I could see him being like David Bakhitiari in the NFL.

20.) Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Physical, long corner who attacks receivers on every snap. Excellent in press man coverage and zone where his technique and instincts can take over. He won’t fit every team, especially one that expects him to be a lock-down number one guy, but he is my type of corner with how he plays.

22.) Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama

The injury history is pretty scary but past that, Dickerson is an absolute stud. Elite athlete with incredible play strength and a bulldozer in the run game. Reminds me so much of my all-time favorite draft crush in Frank Ragnow.

23.) Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State (Up 21 spots)

I have always been a huge fan of Browning and his potential. In my last big board, I was a bit scared of his inconsistencies on film. However, I come back with this one with more conviction as I know he is a boom or bust player, but his skills are just too great to ignore. Elite athlete, big hitter, and can cover in space. Huge fan of his game.

24.) Azeez Ojulari, DE, Geogia

A technically savvy player who stood out on the biggest stage. A nuanced player who brings a good variety of moves and is only scratching the surface of what he can become. I do think he is a bit stiff but he should be a good day one starter for a team.

25.) Jabril Cox, LB, LSU (Up 14 spots)

I clearly talked myself into this linebacker class. I was a bit more worried with Cox last time I ranked the class, given that he has only one year of experience at the FBS level. However, he is a great athlete with incredible length and the best cover linebacker in the class.

Second Round Grades (Tier 3: Good floor mixed with the potential to be really good):

26.) Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky (Down 10 spots)

A special athlete who was left on an island at Kentucky and performed at a high level (and was productive with four interceptions). The off-field history is a complete mess though as he reportedly butts heads with coaches, wanted to sit out games late in the season, and was arrested in December. I dropped him a bit after a re-watch because I was clearly a bit too fascinated with his athleticism and ability to play on an island the first time watching. He is a bit rawer than I thought but still a great talent.

27.) Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Excellent size and strength at the point of attack. The game comes easy to him as he simply dominates opponents. I think he is a bit stiff and had some inconsistent stretches last year but he has the potential to be a top-tier tackle in the NFL.

28.) Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

Probably the most enjoyable film in the entire class to watch. Jenkins is a physical player who is one of the more developed and nuanced pass protectors in the class. He is an average athlete with short arms but I’m going to trust the film on this one.

29.) Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State

Obviously, this is an elite tackle class. Radunz is a forgotten man in a deep class but he is an incredible athlete that fits a scheme that likes zone/outside runs. He needs to add some strength to his frame but he’s the type of player to take a shot on.

30.) Terrace Marshall Jr, WR, LSU

Marshall is a fun evaluation. Stuck behind two superstars in 2019, he finally got his chance to be the number one receiver in 2020. He proved that he could be a legit downfield threat and dynamic after the catch as well. Great size and athleticism and has the ability to win at all levels of the defense.

31.) Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

32.) Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State (Up 20 spots)

I focused too much on the lack of production during my first watch. He is raw and far away as a pass rusher but high energy and run defense gives him a good base.

33.) Joe Tryon, DE, Washington (Up 60 spots)

Admittedly an oversight on my part the first time. I had only watched two games prior to the last big board. After a deeper dive.... he’s very good.

34.) Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

35.) Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

36.) Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

37.) Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State

38.) Rondale Moore, WR/RB, Purdue

39.) Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

40.) Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma (Down 17 spots)

Still a big fan of his game. Got pushed down a bit by other defensive ends being absolute freaks. I’d just rather take a great athlete in this class than an average one.

41.) Brady Christensen, OT, BYU (Previously unranked)

This was admittedly an oversight last time. I hadn’t heard much hype on Christensen when I made my last board so I didn’t watch any of his film. I was blown away after viewing it though.

42.) Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas

43.) Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

44.) Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

45.) Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami

46.) Jordan Smith, DE, UAB

47.) Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

48.) Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

49.) Payton Turner, DE, Houston

50.) Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

51.) Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

52.) Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma

53.) Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

Third Round Grades (Tier 4: Great potential but they need development):

54.) Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

55.) Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (Down 25 spots)

I overrated his athleticism the first time watching. After a re-watch (due to his poor Pro Day), I can see the athletic concerns.

56.) JaCoby Stevens, LB/SAF/ATH, LSU

57.) Javonte Williams, RB, UNC

58.) Levi Onwuzirike, DT, Washington

59.) Dyami Brown, WR, UNC

60.) Quinn Meinerz, IOL, Wisconsin-Whitewater (Previously unranked)

Finally got some tape on this small school stud... He’s going to be a long time starter

61.) Ar’Darius Washington, SAF, TCU

62.) Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC

63.) Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State

64.) Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State

65.) Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

66.) Tyree Gillespie, SAF, Missouri

67.) Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa

68.) David Moore, IOL, Grambling (Up 15 spots)

Somehow kept falling more in love with his game the more I watched. Mauler who can move a bit. Huge fan.

69.) Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame

70.) Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State

71.) Josh Myers, IOL, Ohio State

72.) Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson

73.) Elerson Smith, DE, Northern Iowa

74.) D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina

75.) Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan (Down 38 spots)

I am all over the place with Mayfield. His 2019 tape was horrendous. His 2020 tape (in just 1.5 games) looked elite. With so little good tape on him and his below-average athleticism, I’m out on him again.

76.) Jevon Holland, SAF, Oregon

77.) Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

78.) Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida State (Previously Unranked)

Another player I just overlooked and didn’t watch last time. Elite traits to develop though. I’d certainly take a shot on day two.

79.) Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

80.) Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia

81.) Quincy Roche, DE, Miami

82.) Patrick Jones, DE, Pittsburgh

83.) Nico Collins, WR, Michigan

84.) Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

85.) James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati

86.) Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa

87.) Trill Williams, CB, Syracuse

88.) Davis Mills, QB, Stanford (Previously unranked)

Another player I didn’t get to last time. A lot of work is needed but he has elite arm talent and plenty of skills to refine.

89.) Alim McNeil, DT, North Carolina State

90.) Dazz Newsome, WR, UNC

91.) Cam McGrone, LB, Michigan

92.) Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech

93.) Monty Rice, LB, Georgia

94.) Michael Carter, RB, UNC

95.) Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss

96.) Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

Early-Mid Day 3 (Tier 5: I’m intrigued but they need some work)

97.) Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC

98.) Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State

99.) Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina

100.) Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue

101.) Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

102.) Hamsah Nasirildeen, SAF, Florida State

103.) Demetric Felton, RB/WR, UCLA

104.) James Wiggins, SAF, Cincinnati

105.) Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech

106.) Walker Little, OT, Stanford

107.) Asante Samuel Jr, CB, Florida State

108.) Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke

109.) Shake Toney, DE, Penn State

110.) Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF

111.) D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan

112.) Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State

113.) Buddy Johnson, LB, Texas A&M

114.) Keith Taylor, CB, Washington

115.) Jonathan Cooper, DE, Ohio State

116.) Aaron Banks, IOL, Notre Dame

117.) Carlos “Boogie” Basham, DE, Wake Forest

118.) Kendrick Green, IOL, Illinois

119.) Deonte Brown, IOL, Alabama

120.) Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU

121.) Robert Hainsey, IOL, Notre Dame

122.) Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee

123.) Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State

124.) Jay Tufele, DT, USC

125.) Talanoa Hufanga, SAF, USC

126.) Jamar Johnson, SAF, Indiana

127.) Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston

128.) Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State

129.) Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson

130.) Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU

131.) Darrick Forrest Jr, SAF, Cincinnati

Mid-Late Day 3 (Players who are intriguing yet are very inconsistent/not as athletically gifted)

132.) Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa

133.) Robert Jones, IOL, MTSU

134.) Chazz Surratt, LB, UNC

135.) Reshad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh

136.) Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson

137.) Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

138.) Richie Grant, SAF, UCF

139.) Thomas Graham, CB, Oregon

140.) Divine Deablo, SAF/LB, Virginia Tech

141.) Cameron Sample, DE, Tulane

142.) Elijah Molden, CB, Washington

143.) Hunter Long, TE, Boston College

144.) Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis

145.) Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville

146.) Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida

147.) Kylin Hill, RB, Texas A&M

148.) Ben Cleveland, IOL, Georgia

149.) Andre Cisco, SAF, Syracuse

150.) Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt

Final Thoughts

These grades aren’t finalized yet, but they are pretty close. After all the Pro Days trickle in and I get testing numbers to go with film, then I will be able to finalize some grades. As for now, this is where I stand. I am lower on some guys that the National Media is quite high on so if any of these players caught your eye, please comment below and we can talk about it.