2021 NFL Draft

Latest On 2021 NFL Combine

We had heard a little over a week ago that the NFL’s annual scouting combine was in doubt, and now we’ve got confirmation of major changes. 

The league sent a memo to teams, which you can read in full via this tweet from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, essentially killing the combine as we know it. There will be no mass gathering in Indianapolis, with no on-field in-person workouts happening. Any on-field workouts will happen at individual pro days on college campuses. There are always on-campus pro days, but the league says it will “work with schools to encourage consistency in testing and drills” across campuses.

It will also ensure that all teams have access to video from said pro days even if they don’t attend them live. “For a certain number of prospects,” there will also be an in-person medical examination at a designated location “likely in early April.” Each team can send one doctor and one athletic trainer.

There’s always a lot teams want to unearth medically at the combine each year, so those changes might be even more significant than the lack of on-field workouts. The club interviews with prospects will all be done virtually.

Another usual highlight from Indy is the prospect press conferences, which will apparently still happen in some form. Colleges will be asked to set up virtual media availabilities with combine prospects. The league is also asking NFL teams to still have their head coaches and executives hold media availabilities like always.

Those coach and GM press conferences at the combine always generate a ton of headlines, and hopefully this year isn’t any different. The combine is also usually where a lot of free agency and trade talk goes down, with agents and executives all mingling, and it’ll be interesting to see how this new format impacts that.

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Updated 2021 NFL Draft Order

With the Divisional Round in the books, the 2021 NFL Draft order is mostly complete. The Rams, Browns, Ravens, and Saints now have their draft spots locked in, though the Rams’ first-round pick belongs to Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. The Rams traded those rights to Jacksonville as a part of the Jalen Ramsey blockbuster.

Here’s the updated draft order, through the top 28:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints

Ohio State’s Justin Fields Declares For NFL Draft

No surprise here. On Monday morning, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.

[RELATED: Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Jaylen Waddle, Mac Jones To Enter Draft]

Growing up, my dream was to one day play the game that I love at the highest level,” Fields said. “Now thanks to God’s grace and mercy, along with the help of you all, I am in a position to turn that dream into reality.”

Fields began his college career at Georgia before transferring to Ohio State in 2019. In just two short years, he cemented himself as one of the most accomplished Buckeyes inn program history. The dual-threat QB threw for 5,373 yards, 63 touchdowns, and nine interceptions across 22 starts. Now, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is on track to be an early pick in the spring.

The Jaguars are expected to select Clemson star Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall, though Urban Meyer has indicated that Fields will also be considered. Most analysts have Fields as one of this year’s top three QBs — at minimum — along with BYU’s Zack Wilson.

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Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Jaylen Waddle, Mac Jones To Enter Draft

Days after a lopsided national championship victory, Alabama will see several of its starters make the expected jump to the NFL. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, quarterback Mac Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore announced Thursday they will enter the 2021 draft.

All four are projected first-round picks, according to ESPN.com’s Todd McShay. Surtain, Jones and Waddle will respectively forgo their senior seasons, while Barmore will leave two Crimson Tide years on the table. Surtain and Waddle have appeared in first-round mocks for a while now; it is not out of the question both join Heisman winner DeVonta Smith as top-10 picks.

Waddle will land alongside Smith and LSU opt-out Ja’Marr Chase atop the receiver prospects in what is expected to be another deep wideout class. While Waddle saw an ankle fracture interrupt his final Alabama season, he suited up against Ohio State — albeit at far less than 100% — and should be expected to go off the board fairly early in the draft. Smith and Waddle, who averaged 21.1 yards per catch this season, will follow ex-Crimson Tide teammates Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy as first-round prospects. Waddle is not certain to be ready for the Combine or pre-draft workouts, however.

An All-American as a junior, Surtain finished with a career-high nine passes defensed this season. He will follow his father, Patrick Surtain, into the pros. The elder Surtain was a longtime NFL corner who became a Dolphins second-round pick in 1998. McShay has the younger Surtain and Barmore going off the board at 10th and 27th overall, respectively. The latter recorded eight sacks this season.

At Alabama during Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa‘s starting tenures, Jones took over late last season after Tagovailoa’s hip injury. Despite the COVID-19-altered season limiting Alabama to 13 games total, Jones set a program record with 4,500 passing yards and finished with a 77% completion rate and a 41-4 TD-INT ratio. He will join Trevor Lawrence, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, BYU’s Zach Wilson and (likely) Ohio State’s Justin Fields as surefire Round 1 prospects.

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2021 NFL Draft Order

Wild Card weekend is in the books and 75% of the NFL’s 2021 Draft order has been set. Here’s the rundown, thus far:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers

2021 Scouting Combine Uncertain To Happen

The big business machine that is the NFL has managed to make a television event out of the annual scouting combine. But regardless of how one feels about watching a series of college players running 40-yard dashes and three-cone drills in shorts, the combine is doubtlessly an important part in draft preparations for NFL teams.

However, as a result of COVID-19, the status of this year’s combine is in doubt. Within the next week or so, the league will decide whether there will be a combine and, if so, what form it will take, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes.

The combine has been held in Indianapolis every year since 1987, and the league could hold it in a “reduced form” on its regularly scheduled date and location in February (presumably, that simply means fewer players would be invited). The league could also push it back to April or simply hold a series of regional combines.

Since the combine is typically the first major event of the offseason calendar, any delay could impact the start of free agency, the draft, etc. And as Matt Miller of Bleacher Report observes (via Twitter), any change to the combine will increase the importance of the Senior Bowl and collegiate pro days (assuming they’re allowed).

Most importantly, as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert notes, this means that COVID-19 protocols are not going away and will be a factor for most of the offseason, if not all of it (Twitter link).

Jaguars’ Shad Khan To Control Roster, No. 1 Pick

The Jaguars’ next GM will have a tremendous opportunity to help rebuild the franchise. However, owner Shad Khan says that he will continue to have final say over the roster, draft, and all personnel matters.

I kept the roster control and…the general manager candidates, I’ve been talking to them, that for the immediate future I’m going to keep the roster control,” Khan said (via Michael Lombardi of The Athletic). “And I want the coach to know that also. What’s evaded the history of the Jags, really, has been a franchise quarterback. We have the ability now to make a choice, and it’s going to define the franchise moving forward.”

Of course, Khan probably won’t have to think too hard about the No. 1 overall pick. The Jaguars are almost certain to select Clemson superstar Trevor Lawrence, who may be the best draft-eligible quarterback since Andrew Luck. Lawrence, to the surprise of no one, officially declared earlier this week.

Khan may keep control, but he’s not expected to be an all-out babysitter of his next GM. So far, their candidate pool includes former Browns general manager Ray Farmer, Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot, former Giants GM Jerry Reese, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, and former Texans general manager Rick Smith. For the latest on the Jags and other GM-less teams, check out our 2021 NFL GM Search Tracker.

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Trevor Lawrence Declares For 2021 NFL Draft

No surprise here. On Wednesday, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence formally declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. 

I’ll look back at these three years and have the best memories,” Lawrence said (Twitter link). “I really feel like I’m a man now and I’m ready to take on those challenges. Just super excited for life ahead. The best is always yet to come, but I’m grateful for Clemson and I’m going to miss it.

As the projected No. 1 overall pick, Lawrence long seemed ticketed for the Jets. But, with some late-season signs of life, the Jets ceded the league’s cellar to the Jaguars. There are other noteworthy passers in this class — including Ohio State’s Justin Fields — but none compare to Lawrence, who is viewed as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck.

“Looking back on it, I hope my legacy is that I was a great teammate and a great person overall, more than how I played,” Lawrence said. “It’s how I treated people. I want that to be the main thing I’m known for.”

Lawrence threw for 3,153 yards with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions in his final season. And, with 69.2% of his passes completed, he finished as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, despite losing time to injury. The Jaguars will explore other prospects for the No. 1 overall pick, but it would be a stunner to see them take anyone other than Lawrence.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 NFL Draft Order

The 2020 regular season is in the books. For more than half of the NFL, that means the offseason is officially underway.

The league’s 18 non-playoff teams now know where they stand in the 2021 NFL Draft order. For the remaining clubs, the playoffs will help determine their position. Here’s the rundown of the 2021 NFL Draft order, thus far:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinatti Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins

Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, TCU’s Tre’von Moehrig Declare For Draft

Several high-profile collegiate prospects declared for the 2021 NFL draft yesterday. Per Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com, Georgia edge defender Azeez Ojulari is foregoing his final two years of college eligibility and will enter the draft, and TCU safety Tre’von Moehrig announced on Twitter that he is also turning pro.

Ojulari is arguably the best pass rusher in the draft, and most mocks have him going off the board in the first round. He has led the Bulldogs in sacks in each of the past two seasons, and he ended the 2020 season with 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and 12.5 tackles for loss. He ended his college career on a high note, having piled up three sacks and two forced fumbles in Georgia’s Peach Bowl victory over Cincinnati. He took home defensive MVP honors for the game and was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation’s top defensive player.

Ojulari is lauded for the series of pass rush moves that he has already developed, which will serve as a strong foundation for his future in the pros. His technique, along with his size and explosiveness, make him an especially intriguing prospect, and the Broncos, Browns, and Vikings profile as possible landing spots.

Moehrig, meanwhile, is a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection, and many pundits — like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. — consider him to be the best safety in the 2021 class. He is a definite playmaker, having recorded nine takeaways over the past two seasons, and is a finalist for the Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation’s top defensive back. He is at his best when asked to play a single-high, “centerfielder” role.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.