National Football League

Final Big Board for 2021 NFL Draft: Joel Klatt's Top 50

April 28

By Joel Klatt
FOX Sports College Football Analyst

The 2021 NFL Draft is here.

When the first picks are made Thursday night (join the FOX Sports Draft Watch Party at 8 p.m. ET), expect to see a flurry of quarterbacks come off the board, but this class is deep at several other positions.

Here are the final rankings of the top 50 players on my Big Board, regardless of team needs.

THE TOP 10

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson, 6-6, 213 

FOX Sports analyst Joel Klatt ranks his top 10 quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As is the case with most big boards in 2021, Lawrence ranks as my No. 1 player in this draft. This guy is phenomenal, folks, and we've been seeing that since he burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2018. Lawrence possesses the experience and leadership traits that NFL teams are seeking. He can make every single throw. The only knock on Lawrence is that he threw a lot of screen passes. Well, that's because the Tigers had Travis Etienne in the backfield. Lawrence is a for-sure bet, and I think he will be a top-five quarterback in the NFL in his first three to four seasons.

2. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida, 6-6, 245 

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts might be the one sure thing in the 2021 draft, FOX NFL Draft analyst Paige Dimakos says.

Pitts' best trait is that he consistently beats man coverage regardless of the defender. Corners, safeties, linebackers ... nobody can cover him. He has great hands, keeps his feet on the ground and is an absolute nightmare matchup for defenses.

3. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU, 6-0, 201 

Chase opted out of the 2020 season, but trust me, folks, this guy is an absolute monster. I love his physicality at the line of scrimmage. He's big enough to body up defensive backs, but he also has that suddenness of movement that allows him to create space, and then he catches the ball well. Chase is outstanding after the catch, and he's also a clean route runner. He's the whole package at wide receiver.

4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State, 6-3, 227 

RJ Young passionately explains why Justin Fields, not Trevor Lawrence, is the cream of the quarterback crop in 2021.

It has become en vogue to knock Fields during the draft process. Everyone's saying, "Oh, he's not Zach Wilson. He's not this or that." The fact remains that Fields was the best player on the field virtually every time he stepped out there. He is a phenomenal talent. He developed well under Ryan Day. This guy has a great arm and attacks the field with accuracy in all areas. He didn't turn the football over, and he displays tremendous athleticism. He's a great leader, and I think the critics are being far too hard on Fields.

5. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU, 6-2, 214 

Wilson is an incredible talent, and I love his game. He reminds me a little bit of a poor man's Patrick Mahomes, with a little Baker Mayfield in there. What I love about him is he can throw the football off any platform. If his feet aren't with him, he can still drive the football. He's very accurate. He's like a shortstop playing the position. He's athletic, and he has strong leadership skills.

6. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama, 6-0, 170 

Nick Wright and Brandon Marshall discuss DeVonta Smith's NFL prospects.

Smith is unbelievable. I was one of those championing his cause for the Heisman Trophy early last season. He's silky smooth through the field, whether he's running from the slot or outside. He understands spacing and defensive structure. He can manipulate the defense by forcing pressure on certain zones or a man defender. He really opens up the picture for a quarterback, and that speed is something you just can't teach. And he has great hands to boot. I love his ability. I think he's going to succeed. I know there are some questions about his size and his skinny frame. But if you can succeed at Alabama, and if you can succeed in the SEC with that frame, you will be able to succeed at the next level. No questions for me about DeVonta Smith. I think he's a fabulous player.

7. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon, 6-6, 325 

Penei Sewell's improbable journey to the NFL began on the floor of a one-room shack in American Samoa. The Oregon offensive lineman tells Geoff Schwartz what will make him great at the next level.

The tackle from Oregon is an absolute athletic freak. When you talk about a prospect with a really high floor, Sewell is one of the safest picks in this class. But Sewell's ceiling is also incredibly high, and there's a chance he could become one of the top tackles in all of football. He already has the strength and athleticism, but the 20-year-old is also still young and developing. He will get more reps under his belt and develop further. He jumps off the tape, and I love his game. Sewell is a plug-and-play tackle, and he can be your franchise cornerstone for the next 10 or 15 years.

8. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama, 5-10, 180 

Even though he's coming off that ankle injury, Waddle can affect the game in such dynamic ways as a special-teams player. He's one of the best returners we've seen in a long time. The fact that he's such a fearless returner and has the speed to take it the distance at any moment makes him a really dynamic player on a 53-man roster. That speed is incredible. Waddle possesses a lot of the same traits that Smith has. He has an understanding of how to attack defenses. When those two were on the field together, defenses didn't stand a chance.

9. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State, 6-3, 246 

Parsons has skills that you just can't coach. He is physically so talented – his burst, his speed, his instincts on the field. He’s not even really a natural linebacker. He moved back to linebacker at Penn State after playing more defensive end in high school. I think he is going to have a fabulous career. He was a game-wrecker and the best defensive player in the Big Ten in 2019. Penn State surely missed him last year when he opted out. He’s going to have an excellent NFL career. He can do everything the modern game requires.

10. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State, 6-4, 224 

Lance has a great skill set. When you watch him play, he's strong, he's physical, and he has a great arm. All these traits will translate to the next level. Now, it's a bit of a concern that we haven't seen him play that much. In fact, he threw a little more than 300 passes at North Dakota State. In his one season as the starter, Lance averaged about 18 pass attempts per game. That isn't enough to fully vet a quarterback. So his lack of experience and the lack of competition are my only concerns.

Colin Cowherd explains why Trey Lance or Justin Fields would fit well on Bill Belichick's roster in New England.

THE REST OF THE BIG BOARD

11. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama, 6-2, 208

12. Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern, 6-4, 304

13. Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, OLB, Notre Dame, 6-1, 215 

14. Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan, 6-3, 261 

15. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina, 6-1, 205 

16. Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, Southern California, 6-5, 308 

17. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech, 6-4, 314 

18. Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech, 6-1, 207

19. Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami, 6-6, 260 

20. Zaven Collins, OLB, Tulsa, 6-5, 259 

21. Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU, 6-1, 202 

22. Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia, 6-2, 249

23. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson, 5-10, 215 

24. Mac Jones, QB, Alabama, 6-3, 217 

25. Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida, 5-11, 189 

26. Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State, 6-6, 313 

27. Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi, 5-10, 178 

28. Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State, 6-5, 257 

29. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama, 6-1, 232 

30. Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama, 6-4, 310

31. Joe Tryon, Edge, Washington, 6-5, 262 

32. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota, 6-0, 190 

33. Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern, 6-0, 192 

34. Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington, 6-3, 290 

35. Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami (Fla.), 6-7, 266 

36. Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan, 6-5, 326

37. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama, 6-5, 312 

38. Carlos Basham, DE, Wake Forest, 6-3, 281 

39. Landon Dickerson, OG, Alabama, 6-6, 333

40. Ronnie Perkins, Edge, Oklahoma, 6-3, 253

41. Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina, 5-10, 220

42. Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State, 6-4, 315

43. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State, 6-5, 251 

44. Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky, 6-4, 234 

45. Asante Samuel, Jr., CB, Florida State, 5-10, 180 

46. Joseph Ossai, Edge, Texas, 6-4, 256 

47. Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia, 6-1, 193  

48. Jevon Holland, S, Oregon, 6-1, 196

49. Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M, 6-3, 211 

50. Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame, 6-5, 302 

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