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. 

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

East-West Shrine Bowl Canceled – What that means for 2021 NFL Draft Prospects

Yesterday the East-West Shrine Bowl canceled their 2021 all-star game, because of Covid-19 concerns. 

The annual college football all-star game, the oldest event of its kind which goes back to 1925 was scheduled to be played on January 23 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  From last season’s game there is 98 players on NFL rosters who played on it. 

Because of this there will be one less post-season all-star game for prospects to go to and there is rumors that the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will not be played either.  The Senior Bowl has said they are still planning on going forward with their event, but it will be something to watch.

All-Star games are especially important for prospects in many ways – Here are some:

  1. Small School or Non-Power 5 prospects get to show NFL scouts that they can play against the best level of competition.
  2. NFL Scouts get to see the prospects go one-on-one and can use this as particularly good evaluation tool.  
  3. NFL Scouts get true measurements (Height/Weight) on a prospect if were allowed to get the spring before Senior season.
  4. NFL Scouts get more time to interview and interact with prospect to help with the overall evaluation.

Countless amount of prospect has raised their draft stock at all-star games or even got on NFL scouts’ radar at an All-Star event, so it is an especially important part of the process that this year could not be happing. 

This could be another factor why some prospects use the NCAA extra year of eligibility and plan to be in the 2022 NFL Draft not the 2021 NFL Draft cycle. 

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.  

NFL “Spring Grades” and the Impact on them due to COVID-19

S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir- Rhyne at the Senior Bowl

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off of summer, people normally will get together to BBQ and spend time with family and friends.  It is also normally the official kick-off to the next years NFL Draft scouting process where the two scouting services BLETSO and National Football Scouting (NFS) have their annual meetings in Florida to read their spring grades on the upcoming senior prospects and go over the information that was gathered in the late winter/early spring at “Junior Days” on college campuses.  Which this year due to COVID-19 those “Junior Days” did not happen.  You might ask why does this even matter – I give you S Kyle Dugger.  This time last year most of the football world did not even know who Kyle Dugger from Lenoir-Rhyne was.  In the 2020 NFL Draft he was the 37th player drafted, the second safety drafted, and the New England Patriots first pick in the draft. 

The last player drafted out of Lenoir-Rhyne was DL John Milem in the 5th round in 2000 by the San Fransico 49ers who played 20 games in the NFL in his career, and before Dugger was Lenoir-Rhyne highest player drafted ever.   So not a hot bed of NFL talent when it comes to Lenoir-Rhyne history, which if you are wondering the school is in Hickory, North Carolina. 

But that is why Junior Days are so import for small school prospects to be able to get on the radar for NFL teams, as well as the NFL Combine and All-Star games like the Senior Bowl in which Duger went to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.   Last spring when BLETSO and National scouts came to Lenoir-Rhyne and did what they normal do with all Senior prospects a school has, getting their height/weight/arm length/hand size as well as some schools allow guys to run the 40.  This past spring Duger was 6005/218 and ran a verified 4.45 in the 40-yard dash.  So with his Junior film and his verified measurements both scouting services gave him a high grade but not close to a grade where he got drafted, but it got him on the radar to get invited to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine both hugely important for a small school prospect like him.     At the NFL Combine he was 6007/217 and ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, not too much different from his spring numbers.

Without “Junior Days” this year because of COVID – 19 it will be harder for people to identify this year’s Kyle Duger.       

Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy Tweet trying to identify next Kyle Dugger

This Memorial Day weekend both BLETSO and National will still hold their “Spring Grade” meeting but after talking with scouts it will be over Zoom instead of in person like normal.  But without “Junior Days” small school prospects will have a harder time then in the past to be truly evaluated and get a legitimate opportunity.  

The grades are just a road map for scouts as we have seen in the past 3 seasons all three number one overall picks (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray & Joe Burrow) have come basically out of nowhere since all of them had less then a 4th round grade going into the season when their last season started.   But it is a road map that is need as their are thousands of college football seniors, and the “Spring grades” not only identify who to evaluate but also who the scouts doesn’t need to spend their time evaluating.

2020 NFL Draft: NFL Scouting Combine Results

In the football business one of the closely guarded secrets before the official list is released is who is getting invited to the NFL Combine.  The NFL Combine is run by National Scouting and has become a televised event by the NFL Network.  For more information about how the NFL Combine invites work you can check out my article from a year ago: NFL Draft: NFL Combine just part of the process.

Now that the 2020 NFL Draft is in the books we can look at the results.  This year there were 337 players invited to the NFL Combine and there were 23 players that were drafted that did NOT go to the NFL Combine.  Break down as far as rounds go:

1st round – 0
2nd round – 0
3rd round – 0
4th round – 1 player
5th round – 3 players
6th round – 6 players
7th round – 13 players

So 105 players that were invited to this year’s NFL Combine were not drafted.  So the percentage of players that were drafted that were invited to the NFL Combine was 68.8%, so it is far from a guarantee if you are invited that you will get selected in 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.