NFL Draft News & Analysis

2021 NFL Draft: Ranking the 5 best available prospects at each position ahead of Round 2

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Christian Barmore (58) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The first day of the 2021 NFL Draft came and went, with things mostly proceeding as expected. The Jacksonville Jaguars picked quarterback Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall, and four more quarterbacks found new homes shortly after. Zach Wilson went to the New York Jets at No. 2, Trey Lance was picked by the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3, Justin Fields landed in Chicago at No. 11 and Mac Jones almost predictably fell into New England‘s lap at No. 15.

But there are still some quality players to be taken on Day 2. Below are PFF's five highest-ranked players at each position as we get ready to head into Day 2 of the draft.

More of PFF's 2021 NFL Draft tools here: 
2021 NFL Draft Big Board | 2021 NFL Draft Guide | 2021 NFL Draft Stats Export | NFL Mock Drafts | NFL Mock Draft Simulator

QUARTERBACK

  1. KYLE TRASK, FLORIDA

    Trask balled out in the loaded Florida offense this past season. He led the country with 41 big-time throws. He’s not particularly toolsy, but he is exceptional at working from the pocket and making big plays.

  2. DAVIS MILLS, STANFORD

    A former five-star recruit, Mills has had an injury-plagued time at Stanford and has fewer than a dozen career starts. We saw a distinct improvement in his five games this past season, though, as he earned an 82.9 overall grade on the year.

  3. KELLEN MOND, TEXAS A&M

    Mond has the tools to hack it as a starter in the league, but we’ve rarely seen the high end on his tape over three seasons as a starter. His 81.3 passing grade with Texas A&M this past season was the highest of his career.

  4. Jamie Newman, Georgia

    Newman has a lot riding on the Senior Bowl after opting out in 2020. He's as talented as any QB who won't go in Round 1.

  5. Shane Buechele, SMU

    While Buechele was a fun college player, he'll have an uphill climb to make an NFL roster.

RUNNING BACK

  1. JAVONTE WILLIAMS, NORTH CAROLINA

    Williams has rare contact balance. His 76 broken tackles on 157 carries this past season produced easily the highest broken tackle rate we’ve recorded for a single season. Not even 21 years old, Williams is still an ascending player.

  2. MICHAEL CARTER, NORTH CAROLINA

    Carter ran for 7.9 yards per carry and earned a 91.1 rushing grade with UNC in 2020. He’s also a weapon in the passing game and caught 25 balls for 267 yards this past season.

  3. KHALIL HERBERT, VIRGINIA TECH

    After transferring from Kansas, Herbert broke out in a big way this past fall. He earned a 91.3 rushing grade with 42 broken tackles on 155 attempts and averaged 7.6 yards per carry.

  4. TREY SERMON, OHIO STATE

    Sermon is a solid, if unspectacular, back who can start in the league. He's not transforming any running games, though.

  5. CHRIS EVANS, MICHIGAN

    Evans has three-down ability, but he'll have to answer why he fell out of favor in the Michigan backfield.

WIDE RECEIVER

  1. ELIJAH MOORE, OLE MISS

    You won’t find a slot receiver with more tough catches on tape than Moore. He hauled in 73% of his contested catch opportunities this past season during his 1,193-yard campaign. That physicality makes me think he can hack it on the outside in the NFL.

  2. TERRACE MARSHALL, LSU

    Marshall took over the Justin Jefferson role in the slot this year, and his production exploded as “the guy” for LSU. He’s racked up 23 touchdowns on 94 catches over the past two seasons. He’s not even 21 years old, but very few receivers in this class can match him in terms of catch radius.

  3. RONDALE MOORE, PURDUE

    Moore is a different breed of athlete for the position. He led all of college football in broken tackles (33) as a true freshman in 2018. Injuries have since hampered him, but he’ll be a weapon with the ball in his hands in the NFL. The issue is what exactly his role will be, as he measured in at only 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds on his pro day.

  4. DYAMI BROWN, NORTH CAROLINA

    Brown just wins downfield. He’s not particularly physically imposing, but he knows how to get open. He’s averaged over 20.0 yards per catch in each of the past two seasons. His ability to play physically despite being only 189 pounds is a plus at the next level.

  5. JOSH PALMER, TENNESSEE

    Palmer ran mostly the vertical tree in Tennessee’s offense and rarely got targeted because of it. That’s why his 475 yards this past season really don’t do him justice. His 81% win rate was the highest of any outside receiver at the 2021 Reese's Senior Bowl one-on-ones.

TIGHT END

  1. PAT FREIERMUTH, PENN STATE

    Freiermuth was the focal point of the Nittany Lions offense this past season before going down with a shoulder injury. He racked up 310 yards in four games with 23 catches on 37 targets. At nearly 260 pounds, he is a jumbo-sized target at the position.

  2. TOMMY TREMBLE, NOTRE DAME

    Tremble earned the highest run-blocking grade of any tight end in the country last season. He’s at his best blocking on the move and could even be seen as a fullback in the NFL.

  3. HUNTER LONG, BOSTON COLLEGE

    Long has very few holes in his game, but no one is going to be comparing him to Kittle or Kelce anytime soon.

  4. Brevin Jordan, Miami (FL)

    His speed will play in the right schemes, but the ultimate question is: Will defenses even treat him as tight end?

  5. Briley Moore Jr., Kansas State

    Moore at least offers some athletic promise, which is more than
    most can say in this class. He's a solid TE2 at worst.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

  1. WALKER LITTLE, STANFORD

    We haven’t seen Little play since Week 1 of 2019. While some may look at that as a negative, that’s an incredible amount of development we have yet to see. We already saw considerable development from him as a sophomore in 2018, as he only allowed one pressure over his final seven games.

  2. TEVEN JENKINS, OKLAHOMA STATE

    Jenkins is an absolute mauler in the run game, and he earned a 93.6 run-blocking grade at right tackle last season. While relatively untested in the Big 12, Jenkins only allowed 11 pressures on 623 pass-blocking snaps over the past two seasons.

  3. DILLON RADUNZ, NDSU

    Radunz earned his spot here with a lights-out performance at the Senior Bowl, where he was the highest-graded tackle in the one-on-ones, throughout the week of practice and in the game itself. He’s a bit slim at just over 300 pounds, but he is an explosive athlete who gets by with a strong anchor.

  4. SAMUEL COSMI, TEXAS

    Cosmi is one of the most battle-tested tackles in this class when it comes to pass protection. He has played over 1,500 pass-blocking snaps between right and left tackle in his career and handled himself well this past season, earning a 90.7 pass-blocking grade.

  5. JACKSON CARMAN, CLEMSON

    Carman has legit movement skills for a 320-pound tackle. He’s still a bit of a work in progress in pass protection — he only earned a 77.1 pass-block grade last year — but he’s only a true junior with two years of starting experience.

INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE

  1. LANDON DICKERSON, ALABAMA

    Dickerson was hands down the best center in the country this past season and earned a 91.3 overall grade to lead the position. He’s played every offensive line position at one point or another in his college career. If it weren’t for the torn ACL he suffered in the SEC title game — the second ACL tear of his career — Dickerson would be a top-25 player in the class.

  2. QUINN MEINERZ, WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER

    Meinerz earned his spot with a dominant Senior Bowl week. He won 58% of his reps in the one-on-ones throughout the week of practices, which is all the more impressive considering the level-of-competition leap and the fact that he didn’t have a season this past fall.

  3. WYATT DAVIS, OHIO STATE

    Davis has some of the best pass-blocking tape of any interior lineman in the class. Unfortunately, he also dealt with a recurring knee injury in 2020 that cost him multiple parts of games.

  4. CREED HUMPHREY, OKLAHOMA

    Humphrey has been starting at center for three seasons for the Sooners and didn’t allow a single sack in his career. He has the size and athleticism to play any position on the interior.

  5. KENDRICK GREEN, ILLINOIS

    Green is one of the most explosive offensive linemen in the draft. After switching from defensive line early in his career, Green tied for the FBS lead for big-time blocks among interior linemen this past season.

INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE

  1. CHRISTIAN BARMORE, ALABAMA

    Barmore may have been inconsistent, but his dominant moments were as special as any defensive tackle prospect we’ve seen outside of Quinnen Williams. While he put up zero pressures against the likes of Tennessee and Florida this past season, he also logged 12 pressures in the College Football Playoff against two quality interior offensive lines.

  2. ALIM MCNEILL, N.C. STATE

    McNeil earned the highest run-defense grade among the country's defensive tackles this past season. He’s an immovable force on the nose at 320 pounds and has enough burst off the line to develop as a pass-rusher.

  3. MILTON WILLIAMS, LOUISIANA TECH

    Williams put together an all-time pro day with a 4.67-second 40-yard dash and 38.5-inch vertical at 284 pounds. He’s a pure three-technique who came on strong down the stretch this past season with a 90.8 overall grade.

  4. LEVI ONWUZURIKE, WASHINGTON

    We never got to see what the next step could be from Onwuzurike after earning an impressive 82.5 overall grade in his lone year as a starter in 2019. A 2020 opt-out, Onwuzurike still looked inconsistent in the week of practices at the Senior Bowl. He’s a three-technique at the next level with one of the best first steps in the class.

  5. TOMMY TOGIAI, OHIO STATE

    Togiai is a super disruptive three-technique, but we just simply haven’t seen a ton of him. He earned an 87.5 overall grade this past season in his first year as a starter, but he still only played 291 total defensive snaps.

EDGE DEFENDER

  1. AZEEZ OJULARI, GEORGIA

    Ojulari is a sub-250-pound rusher but has the length and explosiveness to get by on the edge. He uses his hands about as well as any edge defender in the class, with his patented cross-chop getting him to a 91.7 pass-rushing grade this past season. Even at his size, Ojulari can still play a three-down role.

  2. CARLOS BASHAM JR., WAKE FOREST

    Basham has elite explosiveness for a 285-pounder. His get-off will challenge every tackle he faces. That being said, he’s far less physical than his size would suggest. His 77.2 pass-rushing grade this past season was lackluster compared to what he’s capable of physically.

  3. RONNIE PERKINS, OKLAHOMA

    Perkins is the only edge defender in this class who earned run-defense and pass-rushing grades over 90.0 in 2020. He’s been starting ever since his true freshman year in 2018 and took a massive step forward this past season. The problem is that we only saw him do it for 262 snaps.

  4. JOSEPH OSSAI, TEXAS

    Ossai only started playing on the line of scrimmage full-time this past season. He’s a bursty, undersized edge who’s still only scratching the surface after earning an 81.1 run-defense grade and 80.5 pass-rushing grade last season.

  5. RASHAD WEAVER, PITTSBURGH

    Weaver came back from a torn ACL in 2019 to be one of the most productive edge defenders in the country this past season. He’s a long-limbed edge who wins with his hands and play strength. He racked up 48 pressures and a 90.0 pass-rushing grade this past season.

LINEBACKER

  1. JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH, NOTRE DAME

    Versatile, instinctive and explosive, JOK ticks the boxes you want to see from a modern linebacker. He generated the second-highest slot coverage grade of any player in the country last season. Oh, and did I mention that he’s a 221-pound linebacker? That type of coverage prowess is rare for the position.

  2. NICK BOLTON, MISSOURI

    Bolton is arguably the most instinctive linebacker in the class. He’s racked up stops in both the run and pass game over the past two seasons. He’s also gotten his hands on the ball despite being small for the position, tallying 11 pass breakups and two picks over that span

  3. JABRIL COX, LSU

    Cox has one of the best coverage pedigrees in the entire draft class. He’s earned coverage grades of 87.4, 85.2 and 83.5 over the past three seasons between North Dakota State and LSU.

  4. PETE WERNER, OHIO STATE

    Werner has an ideal blend of size and athleticism at the position. There aren’t a ton of “wow” plays on his tape, but he’s not going to be limited at the NFL level, either.

  5. CHAZZ SURRATT, NORTH CAROLINA

    Surratt is a developmental project, but he has a legitimate reason for being behind the curve.

CORNERBACK 

  1. ASANTE SAMUEL JR., FLORIDA ST.

    He’s undersized for the position, but there’s not much else in Samuel’s game you can poke holes in. He’s started for three years and has seen his coverage grade improve every year. He allowed only 179 yards into his coverage last season.

  2. AARON ROBINSON, UCF

    Robinson manned the slot for UCF over the past couple of seasons, but he’s not your typical slot. This past season, 187 of his 339 coverage snaps still came in press coverage — a rarity for a slot corner. That makes you think that his skills can translate on the outside.

  3. KELVIN JOSEPH, KENTUCKY

    Joseph is a bit of a roller coaster on tape, as evidenced by his 70.7 coverage grade this past season. It’s the games like Tennessee (92.3 coverage grade) and Alabama (85.9) that get you excited about what he’s physically capable of doing at the next level.

  4. TAY GOWAN, UCF

    Gowan only has one season of major college football under his belt back in 2019 before opting out this past season. That year he earned an 80.1 coverage grade and only allowed 20 receptions for 274 yards from 50 targets.

  5. IFEATU MELIFONWU, SYRACUSE

    Melifonwu has rare physical tools for the position at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, with a 41.5-inch vertical and 11-foot-2 broad jump. In two years as a starter, however, Melifonwu has earned coverage grades of just 79.3 and 74.1, as he’s not quite as physical as his athletic testing might suggest.

SAFETY

  1. TREVON MOEHRIG, TCU

    Moehrig has some of the best ball production you’ll see from a safety prospect, as he led all FBS safeties in pass breakups in each of the past two seasons. At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, Moehrig has ideal size and physicality for the position, as well.

  2. ELIJAH MOLDEN, WASHINGTON

    Molden is the gold standard in the slot for this class. He earned a 90.9 coverage grade in that role in 2019 and backed it up with a mark of 86.2 this past season. While he's a little undersized to stay outside, he’s a physical tackler who has the skills to move to safety seamlessly.

  3. JAMAR JOHNSON, INDIANA

    Johnson’s high-end coverage plays are special. You won’t find a safety with better ball production per snap in the class. On 406 career coverage snaps, Johnson’s picked off seven passes and broken up six others. Just don’t ask him to play in the box — he’s a liability as a tackler and missed 13 of his 49 attempts last year.

  4. RICHIE GRANT, UCF

    Grant is one of the most experienced safeties in the draft class. He’s played 2,658 career snaps for the Knights in a versatile safety role. He’s quite easily one of the best safeties in run support, too, so it's easy to see why he came away with a 90.0 grade in that regard this past season.

  5. JEVON HOLLAND, OREGON

    Holland started at safety as a true freshman in 2018 before switching to the slot in 2019 and opting out this past season. He excelled in coverage in both roles, recording an 89.6 coverage grade as a freshman and an 85.3 grade as a sophomore, with 20 combined picks and pass breakups over that span.

 


More of PFF's 2021 NFL Draft tools here: 
2021 NFL Draft Big Board | 2021 NFL Draft Guide | 2021 NFL Draft Stats Export | NFL Mock Drafts | NFL Mock Draft Simulator

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