The NFL Draft is almost here and teams are finalizing their boards. Players are being ranked and strategies are being formed. The classic option is always debated, of whether it is better to draft the best player available or to fill the biggest need. No matter what each team decides to do, it’s always important to reference their own rankings.
There is not just one universally accepted ranking system when it comes to prospects in the NFL Draft. In fact, each team may perceive players differently based on a long list of things that they look for. It’s sometimes a matter of preference of what to weigh more heavily when comparing these prospects. For example, one NFL team may value potential while the other may lean more towards proven production.
Focusing on proven production while still accounting for potential is the formula used for the following rankings. This looks only at who is the top prospect available and ignores the concept of drafting to fill needs. All that being said, these are the five best players in the NFL Draft:
1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Not only is Trevor Lawrence the best player in this Draft, but he is one of the highest-rated prospects of all time. Many scouts put him in the same class as legends like Andrew Luck and John Elway. One scout even referred to Lawrence as “a mobile version of Peyton Manning” while he was still in high school. He has been a projected first overall pick long before he was eligible to enter the draft, and even before he began his college career. Amazingly, considering the astronomical expectations, he has yet to fail to meet any of them to this point.
In his three years at Clemson, he threw for over ten thousand yards and 90 touchdowns while keeping his completion percentage above 65 percent in each season. Also, he is a great athlete with size and speed who made many plays with his legs. Most importantly, he is a true competitor who finds ways to win games. This is verified by his outstanding 34 wins, including a National Championship, against just two losses as a starter at Clemson.
The sky is the limit for Lawrence as a pro quarterback. There is every reason to take him first overall, and that is exactly what will happen on NFL Draft Day. He is a generational talent and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a franchise. There are no guarantees, but he is the closest thing to it. Even if he is only half as good as he is projected to be, he will still be a solid player.
2. TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
An extremely unique athlete, Kyle Pitts has sparked the imagination of many around the NFL. He measures in at 6’6 tall and weighs 245 pounds, but still has the speed and agility of a shifty receiver. He has excellent ball skills, hands, and route running. His wide wingspan and impressive leaping ability make any ball catchable for him. Also, to complete his game even further, he is a solid blocker as well.
Pitts is a very exciting prospect who can do it all. He is going to be an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses to deal with. When trying to match up with him in coverage, he is too big for a cornerback, too fast for a linebacker, and too athletic for a safety. His game profiles as an elite weapon in the NFL, with the closest comparison being a more dominant version of Darren Waller. That’s intriguing to any team, and why Pitts will be selected very early in the NFL Draft.
3. OL Penei Sewell, Oregon
The best projected offensive lineman in this NFL Draft is Penei Sewell. He has good size for a tackle at 6’5 tall and 330 pounds, but his elite quickness for the position is what puts him above the rest. He’s very fast off the snap and more than capable of success in even the most difficult of blocking schemes. The bonus is that he’s still only 20 years old so it’s likely that he still has room to grow physically, as well as continue to improve his skill set.
The only minor concern with Sewell is that he has not played in a year, after opting out of the 2020 season. It was his impressive 2019 season that has him so highly rated. That year he was a unanimous All-American and also won the Outland Trophy. The first team in the NFL Draft that decides they want to improve their offensive line should look no further than Sewell when they are on the clock.
4. WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Like Sewell, Ja’Marr Chase also opted out of the 2020 season. Also like Sewell, it was the impressive 2019 season that provides Chase with his high rating. He put up absolutely insane numbers that season catching passes from Joe Burrow in the dynamic Joe Brady offensive scheme. He had 84 receptions for 1780 yards and 20 touchdowns. There were plenty of big plays downfield, as demonstrated by his 21.2 yards per reception.
The NFL Draft this year is loaded with wide receivers, but Chase is the best prospect of the bunch. He could go as high as the number five overall pick to the Bengals. There he would team back up with Joe Burrow, the quarterback he had so much success with. Even if he is not picked fifth, it’s almost a guarantee that he is going to be a top ten pick. He is way too good to drop much further than that.
5. QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Several different prospects have a case to be ranked fifth, but none of them were as good as Justin Fields in his college career. In two years with the Buckeyes, he had an outstanding record of 27 wins and just two losses, including being undefeated in the regular season. He threw for 5373 yards and 67 touchdowns with only nine interceptions. Additionally, he also rushed for another 867 yards and 15 more touchdowns.
The dual-threat quarterback is an ideal fit for the style of play in the NFL today. Fields is exactly that and has the natural playmaking ability to make something out of nothing. He has great size and athleticism for the pro game and his overall skill set and fierce competitiveness project very strongly at the next level. Many around the NFL believe that his stock is falling as the Draft approaches, but teams in need of a quarterback should seriously consider picking Fields. Passing on him could be a huge mistake.