Todd McShay, ESPN draft analyst, has announced his Way Too Early Top 32 NFL Draft Prospects for 2021. Some Clemson fans will probably agree with him on these, but there will be at least a few that will not be happy with where he has one of the Tigers on his list.
He starts out making it clear that the 2021 NFL Draft is still 11 months away and the 2020 draftees haven’t played a pro down yet. He then states that it’s never too early to start looking ahead and that he was getting a head start on film for next year’s class. He also couldn’t rave enough about what a class it has the potential to be.
This year’s draft saw three quarterbacks chosen in the first six picks and he has three ranked in his top five already for next season. Six wide receivers were taken in the first round last month and he has eight more in his preliminary top 32 rankings for 2021. A handful of massive offensive tackles have shown a lot of promise and teams seeking defense will have plenty of options to chose from next spring.
He also cautions that you have to keep in mind that there is still a ton of work to do on this class. He then admitted that he doesn’t normally even put out a ranking this early and that his annual way too early mock is coming soon. He pointed out that they’re not sure what the future holds amid the Coved-19 pandemic, and the college season, or a lack thereof, could change a lot for all of these prospects. As could the rest of the pre-draft process.
McShay has two Tigers listed in his Top 12. Those two players are quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Justyn Ross with Lawrence as the top overall pick.
“We just watched two very special quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa go in the top five picks of the 2020 draft and Lawrence might be a better pro prospect than both of them. His 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 but this kid is the real deal. Over two seasons, Lawrence has 58 touchdown passes and just 12 interceptions while leading the Tigers to back to back national title game appearances and one championship.”Todd McShay on Lawrence
McShay has Ross ranked as the #12 overall selection and the third best receiver in the draft.
“Though he was outproduced in 2019 by Tee Higgins and didn’t tack on as many yards as he did in 2018 (13.1 yards per catch, down from 21.7) Ross was Lawrence’s #1 target with 66 catches. He has great hands and makes some terrific catches when given a chance on the ball. He is set to have surgery in June relating to stinger issues but there are no longer term concerns expected.”McShay on Ross
Here’s where some of the Tiger faithful will likely disagree with McShay. He doesn’t have Clemson’s record breaking running back Travis Etienne on his list of first round selections. McShay only has one running back going in the first round and that is Alabama’s Najee Harris at number 27.
Some fans may not agree that Travis Etienne, who was the ACC’s best back in 2019 and has already broken many records, and will break even more, would not be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.