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2021 NFL draft rankings: Top 25 prospects, best by position in Mel Kiper's preseason Big Board

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Mel Kiper reveals his biggest under-the-radar prospect for 2021 (1:01)

Mel Kiper Jr. explains why North Dakota State QB Trey Lance could be selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. (1:01)

Back in May, when I previously updated my top 25 prospects for the 2021 NFL draft, I wrote that the "coronavirus pandemic could affect the college football season." Well, yeah.

Now that we know the Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed their seasons and that several stars have opted out of playing, it's certainly going to be a strange season. Twelve of the 25 prospects on my Big Board won't play this fall. Another one is going to play only one game. That's going to make for one of the most interesting drafts ever.

A few notes on my updated 2021 Big Board and position rankings, which you can find at the bottom:

  • There is projection involved here. I haven't yet put together detailed scouting reports, and several of these prospects have started only one season. I still have a lot of work to do before April.

  • My pal Todd McShay suggested tweaking the draft calendar to help NFL teams better evaluate prospects ahead of the draft, and that could be a good way to get complete pictures on some of the prospects who won't play this season. For now, I'm preparing as if the draft calendar will remain the same.

  • Height and weight for each prospect are based on what we have from schools. We don't get official numbers until the 2021 NFL scouting combine.

Jump to: Position rankings

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

HT: 6-6 | WT: 220 | Class: Junior

First game: at Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 12

Lawrence remains atop my Big Board, was picked as college football's best overall player by our experts, and landed at No. 1 to the Jaguars in McShay's early 2021 Mock Draft. There should be no questions about his status heading into the season. He wasn't perfect in 2019, though; I'd love to see him dominate from the jump, keep his interceptions down -- he threw five in Clemson's first three games last season -- and, most of all, stay healthy. As I wrote in my early Big Board, Lawrence has elite traits, and there aren't many 6-foot-6 quarterbacks who have his arm talent and ability.


2. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

HT: 6-6 | WT: 330 | Class: Junior

Status: The Pac-12 postponed its fall football season.

Even if Sewell doesn't play another college snap, he could be a top-five pick next year. His tape over 20 starts at Oregon is that good. He started from Day 1 as a true freshman as the blindside protector for Justin Herbert in 2018, though an ankle injury limited him to just seven games. He dominated last season, winning the Outland Trophy as the college football's best lineman. Sewell has everything NFL teams look for in a left tackle prospect.