College Football’s Need-to-Know 20: The most underrated NFL Draft prospects entering the 2021 season

My bosses right here at CBS Sports activities got here to me earlier this summer time with the concept to create a set of rankings much like our personal Pete Prisco’s Better-Than Team about college football gamers I like greater than the typical analyst or fan coming into the season. The concept is to establish 20 guys — in any case, I wore No. 20 with the Pittsburgh Steelers — who you have to watch past the extra notable names on Preseason All-America groups and early NFL Draft boards. 

The necessities I set had been selecting solely draft-eligible gamers (so I may examine my work subsequent spring) who usually are not projected first-round picks (on colleague Ryan Wilson’s way-too-early 2022 mock draft). That meant guys I initially recognized like Michigan defensive finish Aidan Hutchinson or Nevada quarterback Carson Robust had been scrapped. I additionally tried to keep away from gamers who had been incomes plenty of preseason love and first-team accolades, which meant the boot for Penn State vast receiver Jahan Dotson and TCU cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson. 

After calling coaches and contacts throughout the nation and watching a lot movie that my eyes harm, I’ve whittled down my inaugural Want-to-Know 20 for the 2021 school soccer season. I even ranked them so as of simply how good I really feel about these guys. (The rankings are in parenthesis subsequent to every prospect.)


QB — Michael Penix Jr., Indiana (1): One of the best quarterback within the Large Ten, Penix is a confirmed winner (12-2 as a starter) with unimaginable, pure arm expertise. He displayed nice anticipation in 2020, flashing a knack for throwing the ball earlier than his targets’ routes had been accomplished. Nice within the roll-out sport but in addition has easy pocket presence. Coming off his second ACL harm, well being is a priority for Penix, however he has the expertise to be an early NFL Draft choice. 

QB — Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA (8): A fringe five-star recruit, Thompson-Robinson has taken his lumps at occasions in Westwood (12 interceptions, seven misplaced fumbles in 2019) however is bettering yearly underneath Chip Kelly’s watch. With turnovers getting underneath management in 2020, this may very well be the breakout season. He is matured a lot in staying calm within the pocket when going through a free blitzer. I like his development reads, and he is not afraid to try exterior breaking routes. 

RB — Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky (2): One of the best SEC participant whose title you do not know, Rodriguez is taken into account an influence again however averaged over 6 yards per carry final season (785 yards and 11 touchdowns in 9 video games). At 5-foot-11 and 224 kilos, C-Rod’s bought sneaky quickness and pace. 

RB — Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama (9): It looks like Robinson has been in Tuscaloosa eternally, so you realize he is able to be the featured man after flashing in spurts. I like his burst and operating model; he runs with unhealthy intentions. His Faculty Soccer Playoff Nationwide Championship efficiency (69 yards on 10 carries) was an indication of issues to come back.

WR — David Bell, Purdue (10): Rondale Moore bought all the eye in West Lafayette the previous couple of seasons, however Bell’s been a monster who led the Boilermakers in each receiving class final season. He is a easy route-runner who performs by way of contact earlier than and after the catch. Questionable quarterback play hasn’t harm his manufacturing. Bell’s ball abilities and physique management is right. We’ll be speaking about this man come draft time.

WR — Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (14): Love this man: 6-foot-3, easy acceleration and misleading pace. Good start-stop capability and bursts outta his routes. Tolbert’s deep ball location permits him to safe and assault these alternatives. 

WR — Khalil Shakir, Boise State (16): Shakir led the Broncos final season with 52 catches for 719 yards and 6 receiving touchdowns. He is a savvy route-runner who makes use of his head and toes to control defensive backs whereas operating his routes. YAC must be his nickname as a result of, when the ball is in his arms, he is assured to make a defender miss. 

TE — Cole TurnerNevada (7): You might want to be watching Nevada. QB Carson Robust is getting buzz as a first-round choose in 2022, and he will get to unfold the like to guys like wideout Romeo Doubbs and Turner, a big-time purple zone/aim line menace (9 touchdowns in 2020). Extraordinarily mushy arms, environment friendly in his routes and would not thoughts blocking. Will most likely put up online game numbers once more this yr subsequent to Robust. 

TE — Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (13): Large play capability (20 yards per reception in 2020) is there. Possible is a former vast receiver who nonetheless has elite pace and competes within the run sport with good effort and power. He is one of many predominant attracts of the enjoyable Coastal Carolina offense, together with QB Grayson McCall. 

OL — Cain Madden, Notre Dame (4): A enormous switch win for Notre Dame after lots of people thought Madden was certain for Florida State when leaving Marshall. He is a technically sound participant who understands leverage and correct hand placement. He has what I name typewriter toes: They’re all the time transferring.

OL — Jamaree Salyer, Georgia (11): Perhaps we’re breaking our guidelines right here since Salyer has been a preseason first-team All-America choose for some publications, however he is nonetheless an offensive lineman — these guys all the time want pub! — and he is solely a preseason second-team choice on the All-SEC workforce. The previous five-star recruit has an enormous physique and performs with an angle. He is performed sort out and guard in his profession, so there’s loads to love when you think about his versatility, vast base and good lateral motion.

OL — Dylan Parham, Memphis (19): Three-year starter who profiles as a guard within the NFL. Good versatility. Exhibits stable hand placement when engaged with a defender. Good soccer participant who these within the know say is exceptionally coachable.


EDGE — Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati (3): A legit pace rusher with nice size. Fast first step with a relentless angle that retains him across the soccer. Greatest pass-rusher within the Group of 5. Cincinnati has some dudes on protection. 

EDGE — Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State (6): You understand I needed to get a ‘Nole on this record, and all people I converse with in Tallahassee is de facto excessive on this Georgia switch. Johnson’s a big-time athlete who performs with a pleasant bend when speeding the passer. May be efficient standing or along with his hand within the dust. I can see him being Florida State’s finest defensive participant.

EDGE — Keion White, Georgia Tech (17): An under-the-radar prospect who may take the ACC by storm after transferring in from Outdated Dominion. The Monarchs did not play final season, however in 2019, White had 19 tackles for loss after switching positions from tight finish. What I like is his spectacular first step. He has a motor that by no means turns off. Activate the tape and he jumps off; he is a pure soccer participant who will get after it. 

EDGE — Tyreke Smith, Ohio State (18): Smith’s sport is all about energy and pace. He is robust in opposition to the run and has the flexibility to play the 3- or 5-technique. The Buckeyes are all the time loaded on the defensive entrance, and Smith is a giant a part of that, however he is not getting as a lot acclaim as his teammates. Do not sleep on this man. 

LB — DeMarvion Overshown, Texas (15): Former five-star security prospect that has a nostril guard angle. He spun all the way down to linebacker final yr, and you would see him get extra snug on a weekly foundation. Strikes properly in house and performs with the correct hole integrity within the run sport. He is precisely what the NFL is on the lookout for in a linebacker. 

DB — Brandon Joseph, Northwestern (5): Nice ball abilities. A sideline-to-sideline kind of participant who must be a pilot for Delta as a result of he is all the time flying round. You will not query whether or not Joseph loves soccer since you see his love for the sport when he performs. The Wildcats despatched Greg Newsome off to the NFL as a first-rounder in 2021. Brandon’s bought subsequent. 

DB — Trent McDuffie, Washington (12): Say it with me: Huskies develop defensive backs, Huskies develop defensive backs. McDuffie is subsequent, and at 5-foot-11, he is extra within the prototype of a Budda Baker than a Kevin King. He is is an all-around participant who tackles, covers and understands angles. Those that knew him within the recruiting course of raved about his make-up. 

DB — Joey Porter Jr.Penn State (20): He is solely performed in 12 video games to this point, however his potential slaps you within the face if you watch him play. Ideally suited measurement (6-foot-2), pace and pedigree. I performed along with his dad within the league! Junior has an opportunity to be among the finest cornerbacks within the Large Ten and may very well be a family title by November. | Faculty Soccer’s Want-to-Know 20: Essentially the most underrated NFL Draft prospects coming into the 2021 season


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