The 2021 NFL draft is still 11 months away, and the 2020 draftees haven't played a pro down yet. But it's never too early to start looking ahead, and I'm getting a head start on film for next year's class.
And what a class it has the potential to be. Three quarterbacks went in the first six picks this year, and I have three ranked in my top five already for next season. Six wide receivers were chosen on opening night last month, and now I have eight in my preliminary top-32 ranking for 2021. A handful of massive offensive tackles show a lot of promise, and teams seeking defense will have plenty of options come next spring.
Keep in mind that there is a ton of work to do on this class. I normally don't even put out a ranking this early (my annual way-too-early mock is coming soon). We're not sure what the future holds amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the college season (or a lack thereof) could change a lot for all of these prospects, as could the rest of the pre-draft process. With that said, this is how I see the class at this point in the process.
Here is my way-too-early top-32 prospect ranking for the 2021 NFL draft.
1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
HT: 6-6 | WT: 220 | Class: Junior
We just watched two very special quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa go in the top five picks of the 2020 draft -- and Lawrence might be a better pro prospect than both of them. His intangibles are high-end, and I love his huge arm and the mobility he brings at his size. He'll need a little refining with his pocket presence, but this kid is the real deal. Over two seasons, Lawrence has 58 touchdown passes and just 12 interceptions while leading the Tigers to back-to-back national title game appearances (and one championship).
2. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
HT: 6-1 | WT: 200 | Class: Junior
The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner set SEC records in receiving yards and touchdowns last season, tallying 1,780 yards and 20 scores through the air for LSU. His ability was on full display during a nine-catch, 221-yard, two-touchdown performance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. He is a lot of fun to watch and headlines yet another talented wide receiver class.
3. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
HT: 6-6 | WT: 330 | Class: Junior
Sewell has allowed just one sack over the past two seasons, starting 20 games along the way. The only sophomore offensive lineman ever to win the Outland Trophy, Sewell is massive in pass protection and plays a disciplined game.