2021 NFL Draft: Looking back at where the 1st round was projected in the spring of 2020

1 Jacksonville Jaguars:  QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson – Everyone had him as a # 1 pick in the spring of 2020 and even before that. Most people thought he was going to be the #1 pick when they saw him as a true freshman at Clemson spring game before his freshman year even started.

2 New York Jets:  QB Zach Wilson, BYU – No one had Wilson as a 1st round pick in the spring of 2020 and even BYU did not know if he was even going to start.

3 San Francisco 49ers: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State – Lance was a hot QB coming off his 2019 season, and many thought he was a 1st round QB but not a Top 5 player.

4 Atlanta Falcons: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida – In the spring of 2020 many had Pitts as a 1st round pick, just not a top 5 player.

5 Cincinnati Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU – Because of Chase great 2019 season many had him as a Top 5 player in the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020 and end up going there.

6 Miami Dolphins: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama – Waddle was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020. 

7 Detroit Lions: OT Penei Sewell, Oregon – Sewell was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020. 

8 Carolina Panthers: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina – In the spring of 2020 no one was talking about Horn as a 1st round pick, he was coming off a decent season in 2019, but no one thought he was a 1st rounder, let alone a top 10 pick.

9 Denver Broncos: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama – Surtain was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020. 

10 Philadelphia Eagles:  WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama – Smith was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020. 

11 Chicago Bears: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State – Fields was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020, and some even had him as high as projected as the #2 overall player and 2nd QB drafted. 

12 Dallas Cowboys: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State – Parson was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020. 

13 Los Angeles Chargers:  OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern – Slater had one of the higher grades in the spring by the NFL scouting services and was projected as a 1st round grade and end up opting out of the 2020 season.

14 New York Jets: OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC – In the spring of 2020 Vera-Tucker was coming off a particularly good sophomore season in 2019 playing at left guard, but was not projected as a 1st round pick, but showed versatility playing left tackle in 2020 and that help him move up team boards.

15 New England Patriots: QB Mac Jones, Alabama – Jones started at the end the 2019 season but there was no guarantee he would be the starter in 2020 and no one had him as a 1st round graded player.  His outstanding 2020 season but him in places to be in the 1st round.  

16 Arizona Cardinals: LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa – In the spring of 2020 no one had Collins as 1st round grade, he was coming off a nice 2019 season but blew up in 2020 winning the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik award, and was the Lombardi Award winner.  

17 Las Vegas Raiders:  OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama – No one projected Leatherwood to be a 1st round pick in the spring of 2020 or even in the spring of 2020, in fact many teams had him as a 3rd round prospect in the spring of 2020.

18 Miami Dolphins: DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami (FL) – In the spring of 2020 many people did not think Phillips would be even playing college football, yet alone be a 1st round draft pick.

19 Washington Football Team: LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky – In the spring of 2020 no one thought Davis would be a 1st round, even after declaring after the 2020 season many people had him projected as a 3rd round pick.

20 New York Giants: WR Kadarius Toney, Florida – Many scouts in the spring of 2020 had Toney with a 5th round grade but had an outstanding 2020 season pushing him up teams’ boards. 

21 Indianapolis Colts: DE Kwity Paye, Michigan – Paye in the spring of 2020 was thought of as a high 2nd round prospect.

22 Tennessee Titans:  CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech – Farley was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020. 

23 Minnesota Vikings: OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech – In the spring of 2020 Darrisaw was not projected as a 1st round pick but was coming off an exceptionally good sophomore season and many had him projected as most likely a top 100 prospect. 

24 Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Najee Harris, Alabama – Harris in the the spring of 2020 was thought of as a high 2nd round prospect.

25 Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Travis Etienne, Clemson – Etienne was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020. 

26 Cleveland Browns: CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern – In the spring of 2020 Newsome was not projected as a 1st round pick.  His sophomore season was good where he ranked 2nd in the Big 10 in pass break-ups but had an outstanding 2020 season to help make him a 1st round pick.

27 Baltimore Ravens:  WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota – Bateman was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020, and some had him as high as a top 10 pick. 

28 New Orleans Saints: DE Payton Turner, Houston – Turner in the spring of 2020 was graded by many scouts as an undrafted free-agent. His outstanding 2020 season along with him play at the Senior Bowl helped him be a 1st round pick.

29 Green Bay Packers: CB Eric Stokes, Georgia – In the spring of 2020 was not projected as a 1st round pick and even many mock drafts right before the 2021 NFL Draft no one had him projected to get drafted in the 1st round.  He did a have an exceptionally good 2020 season and during the pre-draft process tested very well.

30 Buffalo Bills: DE Gregory Rousseau, Miami (FL) – Rousseau was projected as a 1st round pick for the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring of 2020, and many had him as a top 10 pick. 

31 Baltimore Ravens: DE Odafe Oweh, Penn State – In the spring of 2020 Oweh was not projected as a 1st round pick, and even had more production on the field in 2019 vs 2020 but him Pro Day he tested very well and showed he had elite traits and that help make him a 1st round pick.

32Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Joe Tryon, Washington – In the spring of 2020 Tryon was not projected a 1st round pick. He showed enough in 2019 season that was on the radar and many people had him projected as being a Top 100 prospect and was able to move in the first round as scouts went and review the 2019 season and his pre-draft process. 

NFL Document for Senior’s Using Extra Year of Eligibility

Because of Covid-19 the NCAA gave each college football player an extra year of eligibility if they wanted to use it.  So if they where scheduled to be in their senior year and if they played or didn’t play they still got an extra year of eligibility.  But like NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the NFL wanted the prospects to fill out a document if they where going to use that extra year so they didn’t have them in the 2021 NFL Draft classes. 

Here is his tweet.

Below is the document prospects need to fill out so they can let the NFL know that they will not be in the 2021 NFL Draft but will be in the 2022 NFL Draft. The NFL office said that this was sent out to college’s as well.    

1st Round Picks and NFL Pro Bowl last 10 years (2011-2020)

Here is a look at how the 319 1st round draft picks have done in being selected to at least one Pro Bowl in their career. 34% of 1st round picks over the last 10 years have been selected to at least 1 Pro Bowl.

For a Position Breakdown (2011-2020):


32 Drafted in 1st Round – 14 Pro Bowl – 45.75%


15 Drafted in 1st Round – 9 Pro Bowl – 60%


37 Drafted in 1st Round – 7 Pro Bowl – 18.9%


8 Drafted in 1st Round – 4 Pro Bowl – 50%


42 Drafted in 1st Round – 10 Pro Bowl – 23.8%


11 Drafted in 1st Round – 3 Pro Bowl – 27.27%


8 Drafted in 1st Round – 4 Pro Bowl – 50%


42 Drafted in 1st Round – 17 Pro Bowl – 40.4%


29 Drafted in 1st Round – 6 Pro Bowl – 20.6%


36 Drafted in 1st Round – 14 Pro Bowl – 38.8%


39 Drafted in 1st Round – 14 Pro Bowl – 35.8%


20 Drafted in 1st Round – 7 Pro Bowl – 35%

2021 NFL Pro Bowl Roster Breakdown

Here is the breakdown of the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl Roster by players draft position and if they went to a Power 5 college.

NFC Breakdown
1st Round 22
2nd Round 7
3rd Round 4
4th Round 3
5th Round 2
6th Round 2
7th Round 0

AFC Breakdown
1st Round 22
2nd Round 7
3rd Round 6
4th Round 0
5th Round 5
6th Round 1
7th Round 0

Pro Bowl Breakdown
1st Round 44
2nd Round 14
3rd Round 10
4th Round 3
5th Round 7
6th Round 3
7th Round 0

When you are thinking about declaring early – Remember Joe Burrow!

Because of Covid-19 the NCAA is giving all college football players an extra year of eligibility.  All circumstances are different but if you are not a Top 150 graded guy by the NFL you really need to think about going back and taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility.  If you haven’t played this season like D2 and FCS you need to even think extra hard about going back.  We have seen the East-West Shrine Game canceled the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl canceled.  There is no guarantee that the NFL Combine or Pro Day’s will happen this year or if they do take place, how they will be run.   Last year we saw in the middle of the Pro Day schedule all Pro Day’s were canceled.    

Think about Joe Burrow, after the 2018 season he could have declared for the 2019 NFL Draft and came out early.  He was the full-time starter at LSU, played a full season did not have to worry about Covid-19 and any issues dealing with that.     

Joe Burrow had a 6th round grade at that time and let’s say he would have been drafted in the 6th round.  He would have been guaranteed around $130,000, but he went back to school raised his draft stock and was the 1st pick in the drafted and was guaranteed $36,190,136.  So, going back to school he made $36 Million dollars, because of his play on the field. 

If you are a player and not a Top 150 pick you have to think long and hard about going back to school to improve your stock and give you self the best possible chance to make it in the NFL.  The expectation is that next year things should be back to normal, we will for sure have the full schedule of all-star games, as well as going back to the normal pre-draft schedule.   So when you are looking to make a decision look at the long term play not just the short term when it comes to your future as a football player!

With Fall Football Canceled many 2021 NFL Draft Prospect – Should Look to the 2022 NFL Draft

With the majority of college football being canceled for the 2020 fall season due to COVID-19 concerns many players with the hope to play in the NFL should be looking to the 2022 NFL Draft not the 2021 NFL Draft, here is why.

  1. NCAA Council recommends eligibility relief for athletes who opt out and that would allow football players to retain their eligibility.  So a prospect could opt out of the spring football schedule if school goes ahead with it and then have their eligibility for fall of 2021.
  2. With the SEC, Big 12, ACC, AAC, C-USA & Sun Belt all moving forward with a fall season the NFL will not move the NFL Draft and keep it in April 2021. Also with that being said if the NFL Draft keeps it schedule then most likely the NFL Combine keeps it schedule in late February.
  3. 80% of NFL Grade is based on film and if a prospect 2019 film had him a high draftable prospect the player most likely would have declared if he could have.  Now the top graded players who where sophomore last year and not eligible will declare for the 2020 NFL Draft and should. The two scouting services the NFL uses (BLETSO & National) still did give out spring grades this spring.
  4.  No benefit of playing in the Spring if prospect would burn eligible and the NFL keeps it draft in April of 2021. Also prospects shouldn’t want to play in the spring risk injury or just beating up body and then turn around and play in the fall of 2021.
  5. Prospect can use this full year to get bigger, stronger, faster and better at his skill set.  Prospect can also lock in on school finish up and then have nothing to worry about but football in fall of 2021. 

Yes each prospects situation is different but the prospect should want to do whatever gives him the best chance to be successful and get the best opportunity for the NFL Draft.  

How COVID-19 is affecting the 2021 NFL Draft

One thing that goes on in the spring that NFL fans don’t pay to much attention to is NFL scouts from the two NFL scouting services, BLETSO and National Football Scouting go on college campuses and doing what is called “junior days”.   “Junior Days” are where scouts will get the players height, weight, some schools will allow guys to run 40s and the scouts will grade the film of the players that will be Seniors in the fall and give them what is called a “Spring Grade”.   

Then around Memorial Day the two Scouting Services and all the NFL scouts that subscribed to either of those services will get together for a long weekend normally in Florida and read the spring reports and go over the “Spring Grades”.  These grades become the road map of the scouts in the summer and fall to evaluate the next class of NFL prospects for the following spring draft. 

Because of what is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, many “juniors days” won’t happen so scouts won’t have information on those prospects leaving information need to make up “spring grades” unavailable. 

Talking with multiple scouts the “Spring Grades” for the 2021 NFL Draft will either just not happen or be delayed and it will affect how the NFL teams do their business this upcoming fall and leading into next years NFL Draft.  The reason why “Spring Grades” play such a big role is because of the two scouting services that the NFL uses, National Football Scouting (NFS) is the company that actually runs the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.  They take their “spring grades” as the starting point for the invites to the NFL Combine that following January. 

Even though “spring grades” are not made public and are suppose to remain proprietary the grades get out and agents, trainers, financial advisors, all-star games all try to get their hands on them to be able to make best decision on who to go after. 

Yes the COVID-19 pandemic is going to effect the 2020 NFL Draft with Pro Days, Top-30 Visits and work-outs canceled but is already effecting the 2021 Draft as well.

True, there is much bigger problems with the COVID-19 pandemic but just something else that it is impacting. 

Why NFL “Spring Grades” are Important to NFL Prospects

When NFL scouts from the two scouting services BLETSO and National Football Scouting (NFS) go into a school to do their junior evaluation in February/March they are looking to grade the NFL draft prospects for the next year’s draft but also to eliminate players as guys who can’t play in the NFL.  Scouts give draftable grades, undrafted free-agent grades and “reject” grades (Not a prospect at this time). The scouts give those players “reject” grades so scout in the fall don’t have to spend time on players who are deemed not NFL players.

The scouting services grade over 13,000 senior college football players each year at all levels of football and normally there are around 600 with draft able or free-agent grades.  True do players with “reject” grades get draft? Yes but it is few and far between.

BLETSO and National have their spring meeting to go over grades around Labor Day time in May to be able to help set the scouts schedule for training camps visits in the summer.  Prospects are not told what their spring grade is by the two scouting services, but normally in the summer the grades get out and agents, financial advisors, media members and all-star games get their hands on them.

What goes into a spring grade:

  1. Junior Film
  2. Height/Weight/Speed – The scouts either get that information when on campus when the measure and weigh the prospect as well as get hand size and arm length. Some school will allow the prospects to run the 40 for the scouts but that is very few and mainly smaller schools. Some schools don’t allow scouts to do height/weight so the scout will just have to estimate the prospect height/weight/40 time.
  3. Background – Scouts will try to get information on prospect past both off the field and medical.

Spring grades are important for a number of reasons:

1. It is a road map for NFL scouts in the fall to where they should spend their most time.

2. National Football Scouting (NFS) runs the NFL Combine so if a player has a good spring grade he is more likely to get invited then if he doesn’t.

3. All-Star games try to get their hands on these grades and use them when they start to invite players to their games.

True as a Senior what you do on the field is most import to your final NFL draft grade, but it doesn’t hurt to start with a good spring grade going into your Senior season.

Task of an NFL Agent pre-Draft

All-Games: Even before an agent signing a prospect he/she is most likely contacting the director of the all-star games but especially after a client has signed with an agent are they contacting the directors to see if they can get their client in a game. With the All-Star games being the last time football is practice or played it is the last time the NFL scouts will have a chance to evaluate the prospect in person, and as we always see players rise and sliding because of all-star game practice and game performances.

Film: Agents should be contacting scouts and coaches to sell and promote their clients best game film against their best level of competition that they played. With the game films agents can sell to scouts and coaches how their prospect fits into the team’s schemes and how they would be an upgrade to their roster. Agents know that NFL Scouts have access to all the film via the NFL Distribution Center so a scout can pull up any game wherever he is at. Agents need to be selling the film to the NFL scouts and then coaches when they get involved in the process.

NFL Scouts:  Scouts make their own judgement and are paid to give their opinion on a prospects ability to play in the NFL.  Agents are contacting scouts to give them information about their prospect and sell their prospects ability to play football.

Promotion of Prospect: An agent is looking to use the media as a form of getting their prospects story out there also to make sure other teams know that there is more than just one team interested in the prospect. Also an agent is looking to see what deals that they can make in with different companies to make their prospect additional money off the field.  Some agent or agency might outsource these two jobs.  Two of the first things off the field in terms of marketing is a trading card deal and a shoe deal, but these deals will be different based on how high the player is projected to be drafted as well as what position that he plays.

Knowledge of the NFL Landscape:  Each prospect is in competition with every player in their position as well as the current players at their position in the NFL, so an agent needs to have a working knowledge base to properly advise their client. They need to know what they of offense and defense scheme a team runs.  It would be embarrassing if an agent was promoting a 3-4 defense end (5 tech) to a team that runs a 4-3 defense. Also if a prospect is not drafted where he is advising his client to sign is a big deal as if this prospect is just a “camp body” or has an actually shot at making the 53-man roster. What is the agent using to make a determination, what they are offer as a signing bonus or what the team currently has on their roster at their client position and the scheme the team runs? So knowledge of the NFL is an important thing.

These are just some of the tasks that an agent performs per draft there are many additional ones after the draft is over.