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An early look at the analytical darlings of the 2021 NFL Draft class

Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) rushes in the first half against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Some 255 players were picked in the 2020 NFL Draft, and many more signed as undrafted free agents. Many teams did really well from an analytical perspective, finding players at a relatively low price that our projection system liked.

As we move ahead further into an offseason of uncertainty, it’s time to look ahead to 2021. After collecting a group of about 100 players who have been common among too-early 2021 mock drafts, the following players stood out in our initial projections. Enjoy!

Note: the omission of a player doesn’t imply projections don’t like that player, but rather the projections don’t elevate the player above current (noisy) consensus (e.g. Trevor Lawrence):

[Editor’s Note: PFF's instant analysis on EVERY pick of the 2020 NFL Draft can be found here. You can also find all of our pre-draft and up-to-the-minute analysis categorized and readily available here. Get your copy of the PFF 2020 NFL Draft Guide today by clicking here.] 

QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Fields is actually currently projected to have a better pro career than Trevor Lawrence, the current favorite to be the first overall pick next year. As we talked about when musing about the Patriots’ quarterback situation a month ago, Fields would have been the second-highest-rated quarterback in this past draft. The Fields/Lawrence comparison will be an interesting one to monitor come fall.

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