Robert Garcia’s Top 40 NFL Draft Prospects For 2021
This time of year, anyone who has ever listened to 600 ESPN El Paso and SportsTalk for the last 20-plus years is familiar with the name Robert Garcia. Years ago, he was nicknamed the "football guru" because of his passion for the sport. He also published his own NFL Draft Guide in 1994 and 1995, which have become highly sought after collectibles. I searched eBay and did not find any copies available for sale.
One of the things I look forward to most is Robert's Top NFL Draft Prospects and Mock Draft. Like he does each year, Garcia begins the week with his top overall prospects and then drops his mock draft for all of you to enjoy. Here is the Guru's Top Prospect list, with analysis and position commentary in his own words like only Robert Garcia can deliver.
It is DRAFT WEEK! The 2021 NFL Draft is once again loaded at the wide receiver position, with as many as eight carrying a first-round grade. LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase leads the way with elite skills and a game that will remind some of Steve Smith but with an Anquan Bolden build. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith is a Marvin Harrison clone while his teammate at Alabama, Jaylen Waddle, is a poor-man’s Tyreek Hill. What I am in love with, though, are the sheer number of options at the slot position. Florida’s Kadarius Toney, Ole Miss’s Elijah Moore and Purdue’s Rondale Moore will create matchup nightmares in the NFL.
On to the most important position in sports—the quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence has been the number-one pick in the draft for three years running. Unquestionably, he has the best physical and mental skills at the position since Andrew Luck. (I still have to say that I am a bigger fan of last year’s top pick, Joe Burrow, though.) Zach Wilson has the kind of arm talent that makes offensive coordinators drool. The big question with Wilson will be how he adjusts to a tighter pocket and the speed at the next level. I really like Trey Lance too. While there is work to be done in his defensive diagnosing, this kid’s makeup is fantastic, and the physical talent is simply elite.
Speaking of elite talents, no one has better physical tools than Justin Fields. He has a strong arm, can run all day and can also take a hit. What he will need to do is learn how to trust and throw his wideouts open. He will also have to develop a quicker clock in his head. His antithesis is Alabama’s Mac Jones who may not be the most physically gifted quarterback but is quick to diagnose and understand where the ball needs to go. He was also given the best set of wideouts to work with in college football.
Some of that talent came at running back as Jones’s teammate Najee Harris has a great combination of make-you-miss skills and the ability to be a receiving threat out of the backfield. Clemson’s Travis Etienne and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams are possible late first round selections.
There are three instant starters along the offensive line with Oregon’s Penei Sewell leading the way. The kid (yes, I said kid as he’s only 20 years old!) has Hall of Fame level traits. Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater is this year’s top pass-blocker (ask Chase Young if you need proof). USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker is versatile enough to play four positions along the offensive line but has pro bowl potential at guard.
Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the best receiving threat I’ve ever seen at the tight end. While his blocking skills will need work, his physical skills are just flat out filthy! Good luck trying to find someone to match up with him on defense.
Speaking of defense, there is a lot to like in the defensive back field. Alabama’s Patrick Surtain and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn are day-one starters and if Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley is healthy (back issues) count on him as an immediate starter as well.
Penn State’s Micah Parsons is the next great linebacker from Linebacker U. He is also the best defensive prospect in this year’s draft. There is nothing he can’t do, tackle, pursue, blitz and cover. Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is another player who has elite pursuit skills and should be selected in the top 20 picks. Add in Kentucky’s Jamin Davis and Missouri’s Nick Bolton as possible day one picks.
The weakest position of this year’s draft is along the defensive line. Miami’s Jaelen Phillip’s, Michigan’s Kwity Payne and Alabama’s Christian Barmore all have great physical ability but have yet to show they can be truly dominant.
I have highlighted my favorite players at each position, so without further ado, here is a look at my top 40 draft prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft…
All Pro/Pro Bowl caliber players in the NFL.
1a. Trevor Lawrence, QB - Clemson
1b. Kyle Pitts, TE – Florida
3. Ja’Marr Chase, WR – LSU
4. Penei Sewell, OT – Oregon
5. Micah Parsons, LB – Penn State
6. DeVonta Smith, WR – Alabama
7. Jaylen Waddle, WR – Alabama
8. Patrick Surtain II, CB – Alabama
9. Zack Wilson, QB – BYU
10. Rashawn Slater, OL – Northwestern
11. Trey Lance, QB – North Dakota State
12. Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/OG – USC
13. Justin Fields, QB – Ohio State
14. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB – Notre Dame
15. Jaycee Horn, CB – South Carolina
16. Caleb Farley, CB – Virginia Tech
17. Jaelan Phillips, DE – Miami
18. Trevon Moehrig, S – TCU
19. Kwity Payne, DE – Michigan
20. Najee Harris, RB – Alabama
21. Kadarius Toney, WR – Florida
22. Christian Darrisaw, OT – Virginia Tech
23. Gregory Rousseau, DE – Miami
24. Zaven Collins, OLB/Edge – Tulsa
25. Mac Jones, QB – Alabama
26. Travis Etienne, RB – Clemson
27. Greg Newsome II, CB – Northwestern
28. Elijah Moore, WR – Ole Miss
29. Jamin Davis, LB – Kentucky
30. Teven Jenkins, OT – Oklahoma State
31. Azeez Ojulari, OLB/Edge – Georgia
32. Terrace Marshall Jr, WR – LSU
33. Pat Freiermuth, TE – Penn State
34. Javonte Williams, RB – North Carolina
35. Nick Bolton, LB – Missouri
36. Levi Onwuzurike, DT – Washington
37. Jalen Mayfield, OT – Michigan
38. Asante Samuel Jr., CB – Florida State
39. Christian Barmore, DT – Alabama
40. Jayson Oweh, DE/OLB – Penn State
Other players who I really like….
1. Rashod Bateman, WR - Minnesota
2. Joe Tryon, DE – Washington
3. Dillon Radunz, OT – North Dakota State
5. Tutu Atwell, WR – Lousiville
6. Quinn Meinerz, C – Wisconsin
7. Rondale Moore, WR – Purdue
7. Samuel Cosmi, OT – Texas
8. Richie Grant, S – UCF
9. D’Wayne Eskridge, WR – Westerm Michigan
10. Joseph Ossai, OLB – Texas
11. Malcolm Koonce, DE/OLB – Buffalo
Follow Robert Garcia on Twitter @draftcheese