2021 NFL Draft: a deep look at skill positions

2021 NFL Draft: a deep look at skill positions

Jaden Scamehorn, Memorial Staff Writer

     The 2021 NFL Draft begins April 29, with several star college athletes currently training in hopes to be selected. In a normal year, the NFL combine is held in the Indianapolis Colts stadium, where several NFL coaches and scouts gather to watch college football athletes workout and partake in drills in order to help determine their draft value. 

     The NFL combine and draft, however, will look very different with the Draft being held in the Cleveland Browns stadium in Ohio. The “combine” will not be an actual event, rather centered around colleges and their NFL pro days. These coaches and scouts travel to different colleges to watch players partake in their “NFL pro days.” All of these pro days are being held from March 5 to April 9.

     The 2021 NFL draft will showcase some of the best college football players around the world. With tons of talent in the Draft, which players will find their new home?

     Quarterback are in very big demand for many NFL teams, including the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars searching for a franchise quarterback. The Jaguars currently have the first overall pick in the Draft and are undeniably eyeing former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

     Lawrence is a 6’6 dual threat quarterback who can beat corners easily in the air and when defenses least expect it, with his legs. Lawrence is a phenomenal pocket passer, completing 758 passes for 10,098 yards and 90 touchdowns throughout his college career. Lawrence is by far regarded as the most talented quarterbacks in the Draft, and with a very good build Lawrence has tons of potential to thrive in the NFL. The chance to see Lawrence and recently hired former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, team up in Jacksonville could be a great start to a rebuild for the Jaguars.

     The 2021 NFL draft class has plenty of talented quarterbacks, with another big name being former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

     Fields had another phenomenal year throwing for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns. He didn’t have quite the stellar year he did in 2019, but still created a better draft profile overall after defeating Clemson 49-28. He threw five touchdowns with an injured rib. Fields is a good prospect and an exceptional passer with phenomenal leadership skills. He is an expected first round pick, with his current projected landing spot being the San Francisco 49ers, as Mel Kiper, an ESPN Draft analyst, predicts they will try to trade up for the young versatile QB.

     Wide receiver is another position loaded with talent this year. Star wide receivers like Heisman Award winner Devonta Smith from The University of Alabama, are being evaluated. 

     His value as an NFL wide receiver has been called into question, as he has a skinny build, with fears that his college success will not translate to the NFL. Smith had a monster season racking up 1,856 yards along with 23 touchdowns. The debate whether he or Louisiana State University’s Ja’Mar Chase is the better wide receiver in the draft has been a recent one. Chase opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns and to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. Chase won the Biletnikoff Award during his 2019 season after going for 1,780 yard and 20 touchdowns. It’s important to understand that Chase recorded these stats when sharing targets with current NFL rookie studs, such as current Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and star Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Chase has a larger frame than Smith and is stronger overall, but Chase lacks the sheer explosiveness Smith has to offer.

     This year’s NFL draft is packed with running backs from top to bottom, with big names like Najee Harris from the University of Alabama and Travis Etienne from Clemson University. Harris balled out his 2020 season, rushing for 1,466 yards and racking up 26 touchdowns. Harris is a very powerful runner, and will do what he has to in order to score in the endzone. Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins would fit Harris’s play style perfectly. On the contrary, Etienne is more of a speedrunner and will gain tons of yards at one time. Etienne had a quieter season rushing for 914 yards and 14 touchdowns his 2020 season, while he exploded in his 2019 season with 1,614 yards and 19 touchdowns. The question on which running back will be selected first has been an ongoing debate for quite some time now. Both display traits that set them apart from others. 

     Players like Oklahoma’s own Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace from Oklahoma State University also beg the question as to where these Oklahoma stars will land. Hubbard had an outstanding 2019 season where he rushed for the most yards out of all NCAA college football players. Hubbard rushed for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2019, while he regressed in 2020 rushing for 625 yards and five touchdowns. Hubbard is considered a mid third rounder to an early fourth rounder. 

     Wallace, however, has been a consistent star wide receiver ever since he stepped on the field for the pokes. Wallace made a name for himself his sophomore year as he went for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wallace was racking up numbers his junior year going for a total of 903 yards and eight touchdowns midway through the 2019 season. Halfway through, however, Wallace tore his ACL at practice but wasn’t satisfied with his time at Oklahoma State. 

     After Wallace’s junior year, he was considered an early to mid third or fourth round pick. Wallace decided to return to Oklahoma State his senior year in order to help improve his draft stock, and give the Pokes a fair goodbye. In his senior year he went for 922 yards and six touchdowns, Wallace is considered one of the best wide receivers to wear an Oklahoma State jersey and was deemed “the king of contested catches” by college football fans throughout the country.

     The 2021 NFL draft is jam packed with talent from skill positions. Players from all over the country will wait to see if their name is selected, until then one can only guess where these stars will land.

Contact Jaden Scamehorn @ruffdraft.net