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Zach Hicks’ Final 2021 NFL Draft Top 200 Big Board

Final Rankings on the 2021 NFL Draft Class

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 05 Oklahoma State at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 2021 NFL Draft being this week, it is time for me to release my final Big Board of the draft season. It has been a long process this year but I have watched around 300 players in this draft class and feel confident enough to put final rankings on these players. With Pro Days finished, I was finally able to accumulate my grades with athletic testing to come to a final ranking.

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.

On my last Big Board update, I provided analysis for the top 30 players ranked in the class. For this final installment, I will be providing quick blurb analysis on the top 50 players in the class along with extra analysis for any players that drastically moved up or down since the last update. I will also have a list at the bottom of the article for small school sleepers to keep an eye on in the late day three to undrafted free agent range of this class.

Here is my final rankings on this draft class. 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.

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

Play-making safeties are hard to come across in this league. There are some inconsistencies in his game but Moehrig has the ability to be a top flight safety in this league with his range and willingness to come up and hit.

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.) 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.

16.) 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, his injury history, and his struggles against good defenses but with a good offensive coordinator, he could be special.

17.) 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.

18.) 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.

19.) 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.

20.) 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.

21.) 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.

22.) Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State

I have always been a huge fan of Browning and his potential. 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.

23.) 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.

24.) Jabril Cox, LB, LSU

Great athlete with incredible length and the best cover linebacker in the class. Needs to improve as a run defender but this is a passing league and he fits what is needed out of today’s linebackers.

25.) Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern (Up 19 Spots)

I felt like the last holdout on Greg Newsome’s game over the past month. I always liked his film but I didn’t see a potentially dominant player in my first few viewings. After re-watching and focusing on his movement skills (combined with his athletic testing) I came away a huge fan of his game.

26.) 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.

27.) 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.

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

28.) Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State

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.

29.) Joe Tryon, DE, Washington

Powerful pass rusher who is explosive off the edge. Wreaked havoc in the PAC-12 in his last collegiate season. Great base a run defender and already has the nuance to be a good pass rusher from day one.

30.) 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.

31.) Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky

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.

32.) 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.

33.) Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Really fun running back prospect who should have an instant impact on day one. Powerful rusher who also has the ability to flex out wide and catch some passes. Not overly explosive but he does so many of the little things right.

34.) Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

Big cornerback who tested as an elite athlete and loves to hit. He may not be a typical lock down man corner but he should be a dominant zone corner for whichever team drafts him.

35.) Payton Turner, DE, Houston (Up 14 Spots)

Turner is a player that I have been high on throughout the whole process. Elite athlete for his size and has the ability to play inside or out on a defensive line.

36.) Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

Slept on tackle prospect in this deep class. Outland Trophy winner in 2020 and a starter of 41 games at Alabama. He is an outstanding run blocker with great athleticism and length to grow as a pass blocker.

37.) Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

While I am a bit lower on Bateman, I do think he is going to be a really solid NFL player. Elite release game and excels on in-breaking routes. He will be a quarterback’s best friend at the next level.

38.) Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

A beacon of light in this “historically awful” defensive tackle class. Barmore went on a tear to end his final season and but together some dominant games on film.

39.) Wyatt Davis, IOL, Ohio State

Multi-year starter at Ohio State who is an excellent athlete and excels in the run game. Needs some work in pass protection but he has the upside you look for.

40.) Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma

His athletic profile is uninspiring but I am going to trust the tape on his game. Powerful player who made some of the best tackles in this class struggle. He looks a lot like a great consolation prize to teams that miss out on Azeez Ojulari.

41.) Brady Christensen, OT, BYU

Older offensive tackle prospect with short arms but the film is so so good. Elite athlete who excels in the run game. Technically nuanced pass blocker who had a great year despite playing with a quarterback who held onto the ball forever.

42.) Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

Another athletically gifted linebacker in this loaded class. Davis is a bit raw in terms of seeing the field but he is an explosive run defender who makes plays in the pass game.

43.) Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas

High energy, lengthy player who has a lot of room to grow. There are some issues as a pass rusher but his run defense is very good at the moment and it is easy to bet on his athletic profile.

44.) Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Home run hitting running back with excellent vision. Etienne may not be a complete back (there are struggles in pass pro and as a pass catcher) but his easy speed and explosion are dynamics that any team wants in their offense.

45.) Elerson Smith, DE, Northern Iowa (Up 28 Spots)

Smith is a player that I recently dove deeper on this past week. He needs to add some strength to his game but he is the most explosive pass rusher in this draft class and has the ability to be a great NFL player. I’ll bet on his traits every day of the week.

46.) Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

Smaller receiver but he is one of the best receivers after the catch and a devastating route runner. In a league that wants separators who can create with the ball in their hands, Elijah Moore is going to be very good.

47.) Rondale Moore, WR/RB, Purdue

Rondale Moore is a bit of a projection to the league and a lot of his success will come to landing spot. Only 5’7” but elite with the ball in his hands. If he lands in a good situations, he will be a productive Pro.

48.) Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

Traditional big bodied tight end that can move a bit. Too big for safeties to cover while also being too fast for linebackers. True mismatch tight end who should be productive in the pass game.

49.) Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Smaller receiver who is great after the catch. Has a lot of Deebo Samuel in his game. Needs to become a more precise route runner but his suddenness and quickness will be big assets in the pros.

50.) Creed Humphrey, IOL, Oklahoma

One of the best athletes in this draft class. Humphrey needs to add some strength and consistency to his game but he should be a long time starter in the league.

51.) Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami

52.) Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

53.) Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia (Up 27 Spots)

Excellent athlete who showed top cornerback traits in college. I focused too much on his struggles in the past and overlooked what he can do in coverage, which is the rare ability to be a number one corner.

54.) Levi Onwuzirike, DT, Washington

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

55.) Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

56.) Quinn Meinerz, IOL, Wisconsin-Whitewater

57.) Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami

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

59.) Javonte Williams, RB, UNC

60.) Dyami Brown, WR, UNC

61.) Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State

62.) Tyree Gillespie, SAF, Missouri

63.) Nico Collins, WR, Michigan (Up 20 Spots)

Another player where I didn’t bet enough on the traits in my first watch. Definitely not a complete receiver at this moment but could be an outstanding vertical threat in the league.

64.) David Moore, IOL, Grambling

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

66.) Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

67.) Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State

68.) Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame

69.) Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa

70.) Josh Myers, IOL, Ohio State

71.) Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson

72.) Jevon Holland, SAF, Oregon

73.) Ar’Darius Washington, SAF, TCU (Down 12 Spots)

Really fun player on film but it is hard to bet on his athletic profile combined with his size.

74.) Hunter Long, TE, Boston College (Up 69 Spots)

A player who I just needed to watch more film on. Not overly explosive but he is an outstanding route runner who leverages himself well as a receiver.

75.) D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina

76.) Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

77.) Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

78.) Janarius Robinson, DE, Florida State

79.) Carlos “Boogie” Basham, DE, Wake Forest (Up 38 Spots)

A player I struggled with throughout the process. Good athletic profile, great hustle and run defense, and rushes well from the interior. He just struggles too much off the edge for my liking. Traits and energy are worth taking earlier though.

80.) Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

81.) Quincy Roche, DE, Miami

82.) Patrick Jones, DE, Pittsburgh

83.) Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

84.) Walker Little, OT, Standford (Up 22 Spots)

Tough evaluation considering he hasn’t played in nearly two years. Athletic profile and some things I have heard about his training have me a bit more positive about his game.

85.) Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa

86.) James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati

87.) Davis Mills, QB, Stanford

88.) Alim McNeil, DT, North Carolina State

89.) Cam McGrone, LB, Michigan

90.) Jacob Harris, TE, UCF (Previously Unranked)

Harris was a late watch for me but I am so intrigued by his transition to tight end in the NFL. Elite athletic profile and he runs away from players on film.

91.) Monty Rice, LB, Georgia

92.) Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

93.) Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC

94.) Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State

95.) Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

96.) Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue

97.) Asante Samuel Jr, CB, Florida State

98.) Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida (Up 48 Spots)

Big offensive tackle who stonewalls pass rushers. Hadn’t watched enough of his game on my last update.

99.) Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech

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

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

101.) Chris Rumph, DE, Duke (Previously Unranked)

Another player who I just hadn’t watched enough of. He’s a project but he has nice bend and explosion for an edge rusher.

102.) Shaka Toney, DE, Penn State

103.) Aaron Banks, IOL, Notre Dame

104.) James Wiggins, SAF, Cincinnati

105.) Trill Williams, CB, Syracuse

106.) Kendrick Green, IOL, Illinois

107.) Hamsah Nasirildeen, SAF, Florida State

108.) Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss

109.) Michael Carter, RB, UNC

110.) Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF

111.) Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina

112.) Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech

113.) Jonathan Cooper, DE, Ohio State

114.) Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee

115.) Jordan Smith, DE, UAB (Down 69 Spots)

This one was painful. I still like Smith and his film was really good but his athletic profile makes him way too much of an outlier to draft on day two.

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

117.) Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston

118.) Keith Taylor, CB, Washington

119.) Jay Tufele, DT, USC

120.) Kylen Granson, TE, SMU (Previously Unranked)

I wish I had watched his game earlier. Smaller tight end but he is a great route runner who seperates with ease on film.

121.) Deonte Brown, IOL, Alabama

122.) Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU

123.) Jamar Johnson, SAF, Indiana

124.) Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State

125.) Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State

126.) Darrick Forrest, SAF, Cinncinati

127.) Thomas Graham, CB, Oregon

128.) Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas (Previously Unranked)

Insanely athletic defensive tackle who projects well as a three tech in the NFL. His absurd Pro Day turned me to his film.

129.) Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina

130.) Divine Deablo, SAF, Virginia Tech

131.) Reshad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh

132.) Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa

133.) Robert Hainsey, IOL, Notre Dame

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

134.) Richie Grant, SAF, UCF

135.) Talanoa Hufanga, SAF, USC

136.) Robert Jones, IOL, Middle Tennessee State

137.) Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke

138.) Elijah Molden, CB, Washington

139.) Bryan Mills, CB, North Carolina A&T

140.) Jackson Carmen, OT, Clemson

141.) Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis

142.) Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska

143.) Ben Cleveland, IOL, Georgia

144.) Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU

145.) Andre Cisco, SAF, Syracuse

146.) Cam Bynum, CB, Cal

147.) Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State

148.) Tay Gowan, CB, UCF

149.) Nick Niemann, LB, Iowa

150.) Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA

151.) Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami (Ohio)

152.) Caden Sterns, SAF, Texas

153.) Cam Sample, DE, Tulane

154.) Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State

155.) Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson

156.) Chandon Herring, IOL, BYU

157.) Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State

158.) Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State

159.) Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh

160.) Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State

161.) Tre McKitty, TE, Georgia

162.) Will Fries, OT, Penn State

163.) Darius Stills, DT, West Virginia

164.) Seth Williams, WR, Auburn

165.) Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR, Illinois

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

167.) Tedarrel Slaton, DT, Florida

168.) Drake Jackson, IOL, Kentucky

169.) Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

170.) Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford

171.) John Bates, TE, Boise State

172.) Damar Hamlin, SAF, Pittsburgh

173.) Tristen Hoge, IOL, BYU

174.) Shaun Beyer, TE, Iowa

175.) Dylan Soehner, TE, Iowa State

Late Day 3- Priority Free Agents (Players that I would take a shot on late with their upside/athletic traits)

176.) Chris Evans, RB, Michigan

177.) Jamien Sherwood, SAF, Auburn

178.) Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia

179.) Trevon Grimes, WR, Florida

180.) Sadarius Hutcherson, IOL, South Carolina

181.) Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State

182.) Charles Snowden, DE, Virginia

183.) Michael Carter II, CB, Duke

184.) Hamilcar Rashed Jr, DE, Oregon State

185.) Jack Anderson, IOL, Texas Tech

186.) Austin Watkins, WR, UAB

187.) Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

188.) Ryan Neuzil, IOL, Appalachian State

189.) DJ Daniel, CB, Georgia

190.) Troy Lopez, IDL, Arizona

191.) Ade Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame

192.) Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame

193.) Joshuah Bledsoe, SAF, Missouri

194.) Mark Gilbert, CB, Duke

195.) Larnel Coleman, OT, UMASS

196.) Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota

197.) Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois

198.) Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri

199.) Landon Young, OT, Kentucky

200.) Drew Wiley, DT, Kansas State

Small School Sleepers to Watch late in the draft/in UDFA territory

  • Sam Kamara, DT, Stony Brook
  • Drew Himmelman, OT, Illinois State
  • T.J Morrison, DB, Stony Brook
  • Jimmie Robinson, WR, Bethune-Cookman
  • Qwynnterrio Cole, SAF, Alcorn State
  • Romeo McKnight, DE Charlotte (Illinois State Transfer)
  • Christian Uphoff, SAF, Illinois State
  • Brady Davis, QB, Illinois State