We’ve yet to reach the truly crazy stage of draft season where guys like Damon Arnette or Isaiah Wilson start flying out of left field as potential first-rounders, but we are at a point where mock drafts have reached somewhat of a consensus on talent.
Thanks to Benjamin Robinson of GrindingTheMocks.com, we can see the average mock draft position (ADP) for each of the top prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. So, we took a look at the top 50 players in ADP to identify and explain the biggest differences between average mock draft position and position on the PFF 2021 NFL Draft Big Board.
Players who are higher on PFF’s Big Board
PFF Board: 22
Mock ADP: 41
The two factors at play here are positional value and Bolton’s physical traits, or lack thereof. The Linebacker is just not a coveted position league-wide; there are certain general managers that flat-out refuse to invest high draft capital in the position. That immediately pushes it down draft boards.
Then there’s the whole “tools” conversation. Of the six linebackers drafted in the first round over the past two seasons, none ran slower than a 4.54-second 40-yard dash. Bolton isn’t a poor athlete for the position by any means, but he’s more than likely going to be somewhere in the 4.6 range. Still, Bolton is the second-highest-graded linebacker behind Micah Parsons over the past two years.
The best defensive player in college football. pic.twitter.com/PKvWcbFKIL
— Kris (@mizkris18) October 11, 2020
PFF Board: 21
Mock ADP: 39
Between injuries and his role in the Purdue offense, Moore’s draft stock has stagnated after an all-time true freshman campaign in 2018 that saw him lead the FBS in broken tackles after the catch. His size, at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, coupled with those concerns, makes it very difficult to see someone taking a chance on him in the first round.
But they should. He’s a true freak not only from an explosiveness perspective but from a strength one, too. While he only appeared in four games in 2019, Moore proved he’s no gadget-only player. He can get open down the field and play strong at the catch point, as well.
Rondale Moore loves being the underdog ???? pic.twitter.com/iNjQWb2JIf
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 23, 2021
PFF Board: 26
Mock ADP: 44
Jenkins may not have the high-level feet you want from a tackle, but he’s incredibly powerful and well-refined — he allowed only 11 pressures on 623 pass-blocking snaps over the past two seasons.
Truthfully, of all the discrepancies, this one was the most difficult to explain. He’s a seasoned vet who rarely looked overmatched outside of one-rep against Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins this past fall.
I've been enjoying studying Teven Jenkins' tape.
Backside cut-off to the 2nd level
Torque & finish pic.twitter.com/aqMKHPvz0C
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) January 22, 2021
PFF Board: 20
Mock ADP: 36
On draft night, the first thing you’ll hear out of the announcer's mouth after Oweh is selected is “he didn’t record a single sack in the 2020 season.” As you know, sacks have never been PFF's thing. In fact, PFF pass-rushing grade even predicts future sacks better than past sacks do. And that’s why we have the sack-less Oweh ranked as EDGE2 on the draft board. He was still a massive impact player in 2020, earning an 89.7 run-defense grade and an 80.3 pass-rushing grade.
Flashes like this are why teams will covet #PennState EDGE Jayson Oweh in the early rounds come the 2021 NFL Draft. Quick off the line, swipes the hands down, bends the corner and forces an interception.
Has some real raw talent. pic.twitter.com/DhRNAcDhFv
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) January 22, 2021
It was the former that really won us over. His inability to play with leverage is why he was a part-time player who earned a 59.5 run-defense grade in 2019, but he obviously looked completely different in that regard in 2020. For a player who only started playing football in 2016, that improvement is massive.
PFF Board: 18
Mock ADP: 30
The main knock on Bateman is his speed, even though he reportedly ran a laser-timed 4.39-second 40 at the Exos combine. The tape doesn’t quite back that up, but at the same time, I never saw his speed to be a massive issue — it certainly didn’t stop him from hauling in 14 deep balls when he played primarily outside as a sophomore back in 2019. Among players in the draft class, Ja’Marr Chase was the only Power 5 receiver who had more that season. Bateman is closer to a Tier 1 receiver than he’s given credit for.
Last draft, there was a clear top 3 of WRs (Lamb/Jeudy/Ruggs) but Justin Jefferson was the best rookie, due to a mix of talent and situation.
This year, there’s again a top 3 (Chase/Smith/Waddle)…I think Rashod Bateman could be the Jefferson of 2021.pic.twitter.com/2NB0x67Pev
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) February 23, 2021
Players who are higher in ADP
PFF Board: 86
Mock ADP: 48
Tryon has that ideal, long-limbed edge build combined with first-step explosiveness that gets NFL evaluators going. He also has very little production to speak of, given his one lone year as a full-time starter. Before opting out ahead of 2020, Tryon earned a 62.0 run-defense grade and a 71.9 pass-rushing grade in 2019.
Our worries with Tryon aren’t simply that he’s unrefined, though, as he also lacks flexibility and is a bit out of control. He struggles to bend the edge without getting washed past the top of the pocket. That’s only going to get exacerbated once he gets to the league.
PFF Board: 70
Mock ADP: 31
Mayfield simply hasn’t been great in pass protection over his career. He would even qualify as a liability at times. He allowed seven pressures against Ohio State and five against Penn State in 2019, and while he only allowed two pressures on 76 pass-blocking snaps this past season, Mayfield also didn’t face any significant edge talent in games against Michigan State and Minnesota. It’s hard to go to bat for a guy too highly when that is what happens against NFL-caliber rushers.
PFF Board: 67
Mock ADP: 23
Chalk this one up to positional value, as pretty much every top running back is lower on the PFF draft board than they are in mock draft ADP. That being said, Harris is also RB3 on PFF’s draft board when it’s rare to see him below RB1 elsewhere.
The lack of big-play explosiveness and his high-cut running back build are two big reasons for that. It’s also easy to look like a man among boys when one literally is. He turns 23 next week, and that in-built physical advantage won’t be there nearly as much in the NFL. While Derrick Henry’s name will be thrown around, Henry had about 20 pounds on Harris to go along with better top-end speed.
PFF Board: 66
Mock ADP: 33
Guys like Tryon and Mayfield are special athletes for their respective positions, so it’s easy to see why the NFL is high on them, but I don’t think that really applies to Nixon. His Northwestern tape from early in 2020, where he had three sacks and seven run stops might justify that positioning, but then again, it was Northwestern’s offensive line. He didn’t show near the same dominance against the better lines on Iowa’s schedule this past season, finishing with a 66.7 pass-rushing grade and 63.1 run-defense grade on the season. At a position with middling value like defensive tackle, that’s a tough sell.
EDGE Joseph Ossai, Texas
PFF Board: 65
Mock ADP: 32
There are legitimate concerns as to how Ossai will handle NFL-caliber power. He played off-ball early in his Texas career before taking on a full-time edge role this past season, and while he was a playmaker against the run with 28 run stops to lead the country in 2020, he cedes ground routinely when locked up and was little threat to bull-rush. On the smaller end for the position, that’s concerning. You can get away with that if you’re a Brian Burns caliber of freak athlete, but Ossai doesn’t appear to be that.