College Football Preview: Prospects to Watch in 2021

11 August 2021 Eagles News

As the NFL season approaches, the anticipation only grows as we see a sneak peak of what is to come this year. We see rookies making an impact in camp and are reminded that the players who have become cornerstones to these franchises all started from the bottom floor and built their way up. That is why the NFL Draft and keeping track of college prospects have become so popular.

Eagles fan’s were watching the National Championship game last year and all wishing they could land a player like DeVonta Smith as he scorched the Ohio State defense. Months later, Smith is holding up a midnight green jersey and on his way to Philadelphia. As the 2021 college football season approaches, let’s take a look ahead at some of the top prospects at each position and what looks to be an insanely talented draft class.


In college football, we all know that the race for the playoff has been quite top heavy; however, some of the best players in the NFL today come from the teams who aren’t even in the conversation all year. There is top talent all over the country and even overseas. Just look at the Philadelphia Eagles, starting left tackle Jordan Mailata; who started as a rugby player, and is now protecting Jalen Hurt’s blindside.

Overall, there is tons of time until the draft next April and things will obviously change. However, it is good to have some names in mind heading into the season so that you can keep an eye on their progress or even their regression. Scouting players is not an easy process. You cannot observe these players in a vacuum where you control all of the variables (whether that be pertaining to opponents, weather, health, coaching, etc.), it’s a imperfect process and that’s the hard truth.

All of the draft eligable players listed below (in no order of rank) are the best of the best and even so, they more than likely will not all pan out. Some players need to fail or have a change of scenery before they truly discover their role in the NFL and how to be a professional athlete on and off the field. That being said, these prospects are all talented in their own rights and look to be the key guys talked about all season. I could list hundreds of guys but we’ll keep it short and sweet this time.


Spencer Rattler|Oklahoma|6’1 205 Pounds

2020 Stats: 3,031 Passing Yards|68Comp%|28TDs-7INTs|6RushTDs

Oklahoma has been blessed with Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, and now Spencer Rattler all in a row. Rattler has great arm talent and makes plays out of nothing with his improvisation skills. He looks to continue his upward trajectory and be the top QB selected this April.

Sam Howell|North Carolina|6’1 220 Pounds

2020 Stats: 3,586 Passing Yards|68Comp%|30TDs-7INTs|1RushTDs

People automatically think of Mitch Trubisky when you reference UNC QBs, but Howell really has done well to separate himself from the Trubisky. First off, Howell has had two extremely productive years compared to Trubisky’s lone 2016 season that landed him as a top pick. Howell reminds me and a few other of Baker Mayfield. Howell was recently named the preseason ACC Player of the Year and All-ACC First-Team QB.

Honorable Mentions:

Matt Corral|Ole Miss|6’1 205

Malik Willis|Liberty|6’2 220

Tyler Shough|Texas Tech|6’5 221

Grayson McCall|Coastal Carolina|6’3 200

Desmond Ridder|Cincinatti|6’4 215

D’Eriq King|Miami|5’11 195

Running Backs:

Isaiah Spiller|Texas A&M|6’1 225

2020 Stats: 1,035 RYards|9 RTDs| 5.5 YPC|20 REC|193 RecYards

Spiller has the frame, speed, and overall skillset to be an NFL starter. He needs to polish certain skills such as interior running; however, he is a solid pass catcher and has good burst on the outside.

Breece Hall|Iowa State|6’1 220

2020 Stats: 1,572 RYards|21 RTDs|5.6 YPC|23 Rec|180 RecYards|2 RecTDs

Vision and explosiveness are two things that make Hall special. He is the do it all back that today’s GMs dream of. He was insanely productive in 2020 and looks to continue this trend in 2021.

Honorable Mentions:

CJ Verdell|Oregon|5’10 210

Eric Gray|Oklahoma|5’10 205

Kyren Williams|Notre Dame|5’9 180

Zamir White|Georgia|6’1 220

Jerrion Ealy|Mississippi|5’9 220

Cam’Ron Harris|Miami|5’9 200

Kennedy Brooks|Oklahoma|5’11 215

Ja’Maine Martin|North Carolina A&T|5’10 214

Wide Receivers:

Garrett Wilson|Ohio State|6′ 195

2020 Stats: 43 Rec|723 RecYards|6 TDs

Watching Wilson is like what it would be to watch Russell Westbrook play WR in the NFL. He is an extremely twitched up and violent player who can jump out of the building and just plays with an incredible intensity. He should join the long line of Ohio State WRs who have made an immediate impact in the league.

Chris Olave|Ohio State|6’1 190

2020 Stats: 70 Rec|729 RecYards|7 TDs

Chris Olave is a smooth criminal on the football field. Regularly and with ease, he leaves DBs searching for him, their lost cleats, and you’d even think they’re looking for their souls with the way they react when he leaves them with his elite route running. Olave is always open and has extremely reliable hands. He will be a QBs best friend at the next level.

Honorable Mentions:

John Metchie III|Alabama|6′ 195

George Pickens|Georgia|6’3 205

Justyn Ross|Clemson|6’4 200

Treylon Burks|Arkansas|6’3 225

Drake London|USC|6’5 210

Reggie Roberson Jr.|SMU|6′ 200

Romeo Doubs|Nevada|6’2 200

Ty Fryfogle|Indiana|6’2 215

Tight Ends:

Jalen Wydermyer|Texas A&M|6’5 260

2020 Stats: 46 Rec|506 RecYards|6 TDs

Jalen has the size and frame to be a 3-down TE in the NFL, but he also has the speed and athleticism to follow. He’s had two nice back-to-back seasons and looks to solidify himself as TE in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Charlie Kolar|Iowa State|6’6 252

Like Jalen, Kolar has a solid NFL frame and has put together solid performances to make him a relatively high floor TE teams will favor. He is a solid route runner and has has good hands as well.

Honorable Mentions:

Jeremy Ruckert|Ohio State|6’5 250

Will Mallory|Miami|6’5 245

Jake Ferguson|Wisconsin|6’4 244

Cade Otton|Washington|6’5 238

Isaiah Likely|Coastal Carolina|6’2 240

Offensive Tackles:

Evan Neal|Alabama|6’7 360

Neal started as a five-star recruit rated in the top 10 nationally in 2019. He is in tremendous shape after losing 15+ pound this offseason and even at his previous weight, he was incredibly athletic for his size. He looks to join a long list of BAMA LTs who go on to be top-10 picks.

Zion Nelson|Miami|6’5 312

As a true freshman, Nelson started all 13 games at LT for the U and has not looked back since. He looks to solidify his stock and be one of the top LTs taken in the draft.

Honorable Mentions:

Trevor Penning|Northern Iowa|6’7 329

Daniel Faalele|Minnesota|6’8 379

Darian Kinnard|Kentucky|6’5 342

Abraham Lucas|Washington State|6’7 318

Rasheed Walker|Penn State|6’6 310

Wanya Morris|Tennessee|6’5 315

Offensive Guards:

Chasen Hines|LSU|6’3 323

LSU and the SEC are always producing NFL ready linemen and that’s a trend that Hines plans to continue. He is very athletic and a force in the middle of that Tiger line.

Kenyon Green|Texas A&M|6’4 325

They say the best ability is availability and Green has now started 2 straight years and looks to make it 3 in 2021. He is versatile and stable force on that line.

Honorable Mentions:

Marquis Hayes|Oklahoma|6’4 328

Zion Johnson|Boston College|6’2 315

Ed Ingram|LSU|6’3 310

Logan Bruss|Wisconsin|6’5 315

Jamaree Salyer|Georgia|6’3 340


Alec Lindstrom|Boston College|6’3 302

Alec looks to follow in his brother Chris’ footsteps and be an impact player in the NFL year 1. He was stabilizing force for the BC offensive line and has a great support system to help him transition into the league.

Dawson Deaton|Texas Tech|6’5 300

Deaton has a ton of game experience and solid tape to make him a top center selected in next years draft. He has great size and the level of athleticism necessary to play at a high level in the NFL.

Honorable Mentions:

Luke Matthews|Texas A&M|6’4 315

Nick Ford|Utah|6’3 303

Ben Brown|Ole Miss|6’4 318

Derek Kerstetter|Texas|6’4 299

Matt Allen|Michigan State|6’2 311

Doug Kramer|Illinois|6’2 306


Kayvon Thibodeaux|Oregon|6’4 250

Kayvon has the build and athleticism to be an ELITE edge rusher in the NFL. If he adds some strength and maintains his twitch, he is going to be a problem for years to come.

Adam Anderson|Georgia|6’4 226

First step quickness is Anderson’s bread and butter, and exactly what will get him paid at the next level. He needs to add some strength and improve as a run stopper but his talents to get to the QB are just about second to none.

Honorable Mentions:

Drake Jackson|USC|6’4 275

Aidan Hutchinson|Michigan|6’6 261

Ali Gaye|LSU|6’6 258

George Karlaftis|Purdue|6’4 265

Amaré Barno|Virginia Tech|6’4 237

Brenton Cox|Florida|6’4 247

Isaiah Thomas|Oklahoma|6’4 268

Defensive Tackles:

Perrion Winfrey|Oklahoma|6-3 298

The former JUCO transfer now has a full offseason at Oklahoma and looks to continue his breakout campaign and be the first DT off the board next April. He has a combination of size, speed, and twitch that allows him to get into the backfield early and often.

DeMarvin Leal|Texas A&M|6-4 290

Leal has been productive for two straight years against SEC competition and started to get really hot at the end of the 2020 season. He is a consistent run stopper and is progressing as a rusher.

Honorable Mentions:

Jordan Davis|Georgia|6’6 330

Phidarian Mathis|Alabama|6’4 320

LaBryan Ray|Alabama|6’3 279

Zachary Carter|Florida|6’3 285

John Ridgeway|Illinois State|6’5 320

Devonte Wyatt|Georgia|6’2 313


Christian Harris|Alabama|6’2 244

Alabama continues to produce top tier LBs as Harris looks to be the alpha of this group. He is a heat seeking missile against the run and stick in coverage as well. He has elite athleticism and instincts that make him special.

Terrell Bernard|Texas|6’0 223

In 2019, Bernard racked up 112 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one interception, two passes defended and three fumble recoveries. He was also very productive in a Covid-shortened 2020 season. He is a true 3-down LB.

Honorable Mentions:

Brandon Smith|Penn State|6’3 240

Owen Pappoe|Auburn|6’1 220

Devin Lloyd|Utah|6’3 230

Nick Bonitto|Oklahoma|6’3 240

Henry To’o To’o|Tennessee|6’2 225

Zakoby McClain|Auburn|6’0 220


Derek Stingley|LSU|6’1 190

Stingley has been the consensus CB1 for nearly 2 years now and it doesn’t seem like that will change anytime soon. He has the frame, instincts, and overall versatile skill set to be an elite CB in the NFL.

Kaiir Elam|Florida|6’1 190

Super high energy player with terrific ball skills, awareness, and twitch to cover any type of WR. Elam is all over the place on the field and can play man or zone.

Honorable Mentions:

Sevyn Banks|Ohio State|6’1 197

Derion Kendrick|Clemson|6’0 190

Noah Daniels|TCU|6’0 194

Ahmad Gardner|Cincinatti|6’2 190

Montaric Brown|Arkansas|6’0 190

Alontae Taylor|Tennessee|6’0 192

Trent McDuffie|Washington|5’11 195

Josh Jobe|Alabama|5’11 188


Kyle Hamilton|Notre Dame|6’4 210

Kyle Hamilton is an alpha on the field. He has a unique combination of size, speed, and ball skills to be an elite safety and center fielder for any NFL defense.

Marcus Hooker|Ohio State|5’11 200

Hooker is twitched up and able to close fast in zone coverage and plays physical at the line in man. Great in run support and doesn’t arm tackle.

Honorable Mentions:

Jaquan Brisker|Penn State|6’1 203

Isaiah Pola-Moa|USC|6’3 198

Jordan Battle|Alabama|6’1 210

Bubba Bolden|Miami|6’2 202

Smoke Monday|Auburn|6’1 204

Christopher Smith|Georgia|5’10 185

Jalen Pitre|Baylor|5’11 193

Photo Credit:  (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

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