McShay’s NFL draft rankings: A new No. 2 QB in the class, and some big risers
- ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
- Joined ESPN in 2006
- Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.
As college football’s bowl season gets rolling, I’m taking another look at the best prospects in the 2021 NFL draft class. And that includes a new No. 2 quarterback in the class and some big risers.
With shortened seasons and multiple player opt-outs, it hasn’t been the easiest year to evaluate prospects. But we’ve started to get a clearer picture of the 2021 class. Of course, plenty still lies ahead, including the Senior Bowl and NFL combine, meaning this list is far from finished.
Here is my most recent evaluation of the top 32 players in the class, updated from my Dec. 15 edition. Rankings will continue to be updated right through draft time.
Note: Underclassmen are marked with an asterisk, and grades are from Scouts Inc.
1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson*
HT: 6-foot-6 | WT: 220
Grade: 97 | Previous rank: 1
Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect I’ve seen come out of college since Andrew Luck was drafted by the Colts in 2012. Lawrence’s intangibles are high-end, and I love his huge arm and the mobility he brings at his size. He’ll need a little refining with his pocket presence, and his footwork is still progressing, but this kid is the real deal. The junior has already amassed 22 passing touchdowns, 2,753 yards through the air and a 69.2% completion percentage while throwing only four interceptions in nine games this season, all wins. He also has another seven scores on the ground.
2. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon*
HT: 6-6 | WT: 330
Grade: 92 | Previous rank: 3
Sewell gave up only one sack combined during 2018 and 2019, starting 20 games along the way, but he opted out of this season. The only sophomore offensive lineman to win the Outland Trophy, Sewell is massive in pass protection and plays a disciplined game. He has the feet to excel as a zone blocker and the power to move defenders in the run game. Sewell has rare upside and can be a starter from day one in the NFL.
3. Micah Parsons, ILB, Penn State*
HT: 6-3 | WT: 244
Grade: 92 | Previous rank: 6
Parsons had 109 tackles in 2019, including 14 for loss, and forced four fumbles. He’s long and is pretty good in coverage, with plenty of range. He is an above-average tackler and shows the burst to shoot gaps and be disruptive in run defense. Parsons also has the instincts and speed to blitz, tallying five sacks last season. Another 2020 opt-out, he will need work in getting off blocks at the next level, but consider him a day one starter in the NFL.
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