The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books. Many of the top devy prospects from the past year got the high draft capital devy managers expected. Players such as Trevor Lawrence, Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylan Waddle, Justin Fields, Devonta Smith, Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, and Rashod Bateman were all highly ranked devy players and selected in the first round. Who are the top prospects for the following two draft classes? Here are the players with the talent to be a first-round draft pick in the next two years.
Spencer Rattler, Quarterback, Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners have a history of developing good quarterbacks and Rattler could wind up being the best. The five-star prospect had a breakout sophomore season in 2020, finishing with 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 11 games. He has a quick release and is accurate at all levels. Rattler is not a threat with his legs like Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray but he is mobile enough to escape pressure and also ran for six touchdowns.
The trait that distinguishes the super Sooner is his ability to throw off-platform and make plays out of nothing. Rattler is a leader who plays with confidence. His ability to extend plays can lead to interceptions but he improved as the season progressed. If Rattler continues to develop in 2021, he could be the first quarterback chosen in 2022.
Bijan Robinson, Running Back, Texas Longhorns
When it comes to stud running backs, Bijan Robinson is the next man up. The five-star prospect was the highest-rated running back in the 2020 recruiting class. At 6-foot, 220-pounds, he already has the ideal size to be a three-down back in the NFL. He finished his true freshman season with 86 carries, 703 yards and four scores. Robinson was also effective as a pass-catcher with 15 receptions for 196 yards and two more touchdowns.
The Arizona native possesses all the traits NFL teams covet. He has the patience to let his holes develop and the vision to find open space quickly. Robinson features an explosive burst to get to the second level and break-away speed to make big plays. He consistently demonstrates excellent cutting ability and changes speed before defenders can adjust. There are only two reasons to rank Robinson below number one; he is not draft-eligible until 2023 and quarterbacks are king in Superflex leagues.
NFL Depth Charts
D.J. Uiagalelei, Quarterback, Clemson Tigers
A lot of programs would take a significant step back after losing the top quarterback to the NFL. Clemson is not one of those programs. Insert the number one pro-style prospect in the 2020 high school class. Uiagalelei is an intimidating presence in the pocket, measuring at 6-foot-4, 245-pounds and a cannon for an arm. He can throw the ball 70 yards and consistently zips passes to mid-range targets. Uiagalelei is an accurate passer, as he completed 66.7 percent of his passes in 2020.
In addition to his vast arm talent, the freshman phenom can also move surprisingly well for a man of his size. He is adept at buying time in the pocket and will pick up yards with his legs. The combination of size and mobility allowed him to rush for four touchdowns in limited action this past season. Uiagalelei started two games while Lawrence was out with COVID-19 and the results were tantalizing for devy managers. He tallied 781 yards, six touchdowns (two rushing) and 69% completion percentage, while throwing zero interceptions. Uiagalelei showed enough in his freshman season to make him an early favorite to be the first quarterback selected, if he declares for the 2023 draft.
Breece Hall, Running Back, Iowa State Cyclones
Rated as a four-star prospect (seventh-highest running back) in the 2019 recruiting class, Breece Hall has elevated himself to the top running back eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft. He has done everything asked of him at Iowa State, amassing 2,901 yards from scrimmage and 33 combined touchdowns in his first two seasons. Hall followed a promising freshman season with a dominating sophomore campaign. In 12 games, he rushed for 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns, along with 23 receptions for 180 yards and two scores.
The Cyclones rusher owns all the traits to be successful in the NFL. Hall has enough speed and burst to get through holes quickly and break away from defenders. His contact balance allows him to break tackles and he has enough wiggle to make guys miss. Hall is also a capable pass-catcher, finishing with 23 catches in each of his two seasons. Devy managers should grab Hall if they want one of the top rushers in the 2022 draft.
2021 NFL Draft Picks per Conference
Sam Howell, Quarterback, North Carolina Tar Heels
Another product of the 2019 recruiting class that has dominated during his first two years is North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell. He has started all 25 games for the Tar Heels since arriving on campus and has put himself in elite company. His 38 passing touchdowns as a freshman are third all-time in the ACC. The other names in the top four include Deshaun Watson, Jameis Winston and Trevor Lawrence. Howell has 7,227 yards, 68 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 64.4% completion percentage for his career.
The four-star prospect is one year away from being draft-eligible and should be one of the first quarterbacks selected. He throws an accurate deep ball and has a nice touch on corner routes. He is not afraid to throw into tight spaces and progresses through reads well. Howell is a pocket-passer who will not get a ton of rushing yards but is mobile enough to buy time when pressured. If devy managers want a top-tier quarterback in the 2022 draft, Rattler and Howell are the only options heading into the 2021 college season.
Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver, Arkansas Razorbacks
The battle for the top receiver in the draft will be one of the more intriguing stories this fall. Nobody has vaulted up devy rankings more than Arkansas wideout Treylon Burks. After a solid freshman season in 2019, the four-star prospect broke out in 2020 with 51 receptions, 820 yards and seven touchdowns. His 820 yards accounted for 34% of the Razorbacks’ passing attack. He could account for an even greater share in 2021 now that fellow receivers Mike Woods and Trey Knox have entered the transfer portal.
At 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, Burks is an imposing player to defend. He uses his big frame to win contested catches and break tackles for extra yards. In addition to his size and athleticism, Burks possesses excellent hands. He made several difficult catches and has the potential to be dominant in the red zone. Burks is also a threat to make big plays, having a career average of 16 yards per catch. Arkansas’ number one wideout has all the traits to make him a likely first-round pick should he declare in 2022.
Jahmyr Gibbs, Running Back, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The 2020 recruiting class could end up being one of the best running back classes in a long time. In addition to Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs showed why this class is deep at running back during his freshman season. He rushed for a modest 460 yards, four touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards per attempt. However, Gibbs also caught 24 passes for 303 yards and three scores. His pass-catching ability separates him from other backs, often running deeper routes than the typical runner out of the backfield.
When Gibbs has the ball in his hands, he is a threat to make a big play from anywhere on the field. He has quick lateral movement and loses very little speed when making cuts. The four-star recruit will frequently make defenders miss and he has explosive burst and acceleration. Gibbs’ dynamic, big-play ability also makes him dangerous on kick returns. He is on pace to develop into a high draft pick and is a must-have in devy leagues.
Tank Bigsby, Running Back, Auburn Tigers
There is not a more fitting name in college football than Tank Bigsby. Another product of the 2020 recruiting class, Bigsby is a punishing runner who would rather run through the opponent instead of around him. At 6-foot, 210-pounds, the four-star prospect has an ideal frame to be a three-down back in the NFL.
The Georgia native took over the Tigers backfield in week three against Arkansas. He finished the season with 834 rushing yards and five touchdowns, to go with 11 receptions and another 84 yards. He was limited by a slight injury for a couple of games but finished strong and will be ready to plow through defenders again this fall.
Isaiah Spiller, Running Back, Texas A&M Aggies
The top tier running backs of the 2019 recruiting class is Breece Hall and the Aggies’ Isaiah Spiller. Like Hall, Spiller has been productive since he first stepped on campus. The four-star prospect has rushed for 1,982 yards and 19 touchdowns while adding 49 receptions for 396 receiving yards. He has proved he can be effective as both a runner and pass-catcher and has ideal size (6-foot-1, 225-pounds) for the NFL.
A native of Texas, Spiller has the speed to break big plays. He utilizes quick cuts to burst through holes and avoid defenders. He does not always make defenders miss but keeps them off-balance, allowing him to run through arm tackles with ease. Spiller has excellent vision and burst, a combination that enables him to exploit holes quickly for significant gains. The 2022 draft is shaping up to be similar to 2021 with regards to running backs. It will be top-heavy and fall off quickly; devy managers looking for a top running back need to invest in Hall or Spiller.
George Pickens, Wide Receiver, Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are known for producing top prospects at running back but George Pickens is changing how devy managers look at the Georgia offense. The four-star recruit from the 2019 class is a big target, measuring 6-foot-3, 200-pounds. His frame and body control make him an ideal target in the red zone, where he has scored 14 touchdowns in two seasons. In 20 games, Pickens has 85 career receptions for 1,240 yards and all signs pointed towards a big season in 2021. However, a torn ACL in spring has likely ended his season before it began and potentially his college career if he declares for the 2022 draft.
It is essential to look past the stats with a player like Pickens. Not only does he have the size NFL teams love but his athleticism increases his chances of being a top fantasy producer. He uses his size to win contested catches, has reliable hands and frequently makes difficult catches on the sidelines. Pickens has the upside of an alpha receiver in the NFL and should be a top target in drafts. His value has likely dropped due to the injury, making him an attractive trade candidate for managers looking to add a top receiver to their roster.