Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer
The NFL Draft, which will take place April 29 to May 1 in Cleveland, has a lot of intriguing prospects this year. This is one of the deepest quarterback and wide receiver classes in years. Here are the top prospects:
Trevor Lawerence, QB, Clemson University
Lawrence is a generational talent with a strong, accurate arm and respectable speed. According to USA Today, Lawrence won 34 games as the starting quarterback for Clemson, a school record. The Knoxville, Tennessee native threw for 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his career, according to Sports Reference. Lawrence is projected as the top pick in this year’s draft by ESPN and is expected to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Wilson has been one of the most talked about quarterbacks in the draft. According to WalterFootball.com, he can extend plays, can make NFL throws on a consistent basis, is very accurate and has extreme competitive drive. Wilson threw for 33 touchdowns during his final season at BYU, per Sports Reference.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Could Fields be a great quarterback or a bust? Fields has shown glimpses of being a franchise quarterback, but his inconsistency reportedly has many teams around the NFL worried. Fields had an exceptional performance against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in January, throwing for 385 yards and six touchdowns, according to SportsReference. According to WalterFootball.com, he can be rattled by the blitz and occasionally struggles going through his progressions.
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Lance is the biggest question mark in this draft. He only played one game in 2020 compared to other quarterback prospects who played at least eight. During his only full season at North Dakota State, he threw zero interceptions and led his team to the conference championship.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Jones has the biggest upside in this draft. Throwing to receivers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, Jones had a stellar pro day performance which moved him higher on ESPN’s draft board. WalterFootball.com says that he may be a game manager at the next level and does not have the biggest arm strength, yet his strong play in the SEC — the NCAA’s strongest football conference — indicates that Jones may transition to the NFL well.
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Chase is considered the best receiver this draft, but he did not play last year. Chase’s decisions to sit out may hurt him, but he still is considered a game changer at the receiver position. In 2019, he had 1,780 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns, per WalterFootball.com. He is a matchup nightmare due to his game-breaking speed, per WalterFootball.com. He is a generational type receiver, with great upside.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Smith burst onto the scene in 2020, winning the Heisman Trophy. Smith was the first player who was not a QB or a running back to win the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997. Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns, per WalterFootball.com. He is a terrific route runner, and when he touches the ball, it could go for six. The only weakness for Smith is his size. At only 175 pounds, some are concerned about how he will adjust to the physicality of the NFL, per WalterFootball.com.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Pitts is the best tight end in the draft. He is a matchup nightmare with receiver skills and a terrific route runner with elite after-the-catch skills, per WalterFootball.com. Pitts had 54 catches, 649 yards and five TDs, despite not playing a lot late in the season, so there is still upside. He can be a spectacular receiving tight end, but he is not the best blocker.