First Take - Top quarterback prospects for the 2021 NFL draft

Dec 28, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) drops back to pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first quarter in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Rang

With the report cards for the 2020 NFL draft completed, NFLDraftScout is turning its attention to the class of 2021, offering a quick “First Take” with rankings and perspective of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each position group.

The first quarterback selected in the 2020 NFL draft, Joe Burrow, joined Kyler Murray (2019), Baker Mayfield (2018) and Mitch Trubisky (2017) as the fourth consecutive “surprise” lottery pick after each entered his final season of college football barely a blip on the radar of scouts. That will almost surely not be the case in 2021 with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence the heavy favorite to land the No. 1 overall selection with Ohio State’s Justin Fields, also an underclassman potentially eligible, a possible blue chip prospect, as well.

Fellow youngsters Mac Jones (Alabama) and Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA) have already captured the attention of scouts and could make significant jumps up the board, as could North Dakota State’s toolsy Trey Lance.

While Lawrence and Fields duke it out for top honors, the battle among seniors bears watching. Sam Ehlinger has emerged as a sheriff of sorts for the Longhorns, impressing with his grit, but he must show improved accuracy as a senior after losing two of his favorite receivers to the NFL. Wisconsin’s Jack Coan is facing a similar transition, while scouts are hoping that Northwestern’s Hunter Johnson and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond develop a little more consistency to pair with their raw talent.

If you are looking for a breakout candidate, keep an eye on Stanford-transfer K.J. Costello who is teaming with Mike Leach at Mississippi State and, therefore, is likely to produce the kind of eye-popping production in his final year which could lead to yet another draft-day surprise next spring.

The Georgia Bulldogs went shopping for transfers, as well, with Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman and former Southern California standout JT Daniels both future NFL draft picks, who could explode given all of the talent in Athens.

Underclassmen are denoted with an asterisk. All players listed are potentially eligible for the 2021 NFL draft.

The Top 5

1. *Trevor Lawrence 6-6, 220 Clemson

2. *Justin Fields 6-2, 223 Ohio State

3. *Trey Lance 6-3, 224 North Dakota State

4. Sam Ehlinger 6-2, 235 Texas

5. K.J. Costello 6-4, 215 Mississippi State

Best of the Rest:

6. Hunter Johnson 6-2, 216 Northwestern

7. *Mac Jones 6-2, 205 Alabama

8. Jamie Newman 6-3, 220 Georgia

9. *Tanner Morgan 6-2, 215 Minnesota

10. Kellen Mond 6-2, 217 Texas A&M

11. Kyle Trask 6-4, 239 Florida

12. Jack Coan 6-2, 221 Wisconsin

13. Ian Book 6-0, 212 Notre Dame

14. *Brock Purdy 6-0, 202 Iowa State

15. Feleipe Franks 6-5, 235 Arkansas

16. *Dorian Thompson-Robinson 6-1, 197 UCLA

17. *Davis Mills 6-3, 220 Stanford

18. *JT Daniels 6-3, 210 Georgia

19. Brady White 6-2, 215 Memphis

20. *Adrian Martinez 6-1, 220 Nebraska

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