NFL Draft By Position
2021 NFL Mock Draft Offensive Prospect Rankings:
Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Offensive Tackle | Offensive Guard | Center
2021 NFL Mock Draft Defensive Prospect Rankings
NFL Draft Prospects by Position – Position Notes
NFL Mock Draft – Running Back:
- How do they do in each of three major skills of being an NFL RB: running skill, passing ability, pass protection?
- Are they 220+ and considered a power back?
- “Vision” and seeing holes and good decision-making
- Ability to put foot in the dirt, make a cut and beat defenders
- After making a cut, can he accelerate quickly?
- Ability to make people miss in the open field.
- Open field “top gear” which allows them turn small runs into big plays.
- Hands and able to protect the ball.
- Experience. It is good for a RB to have enough experience to showcase their talents, but not too much where they already have absorbed a lot of hits.
NFL Mock Draft – Quarterback:
- What system are they in, and if in a spread does he have to read defenses, work through progressions, make adjustments at the line of scrimmage?
- Overall build. 6′-2″+, 215lbs.+ are good starting points, but not absolute.
- Hand size. If the QB has a small build it is paramount that they have big hands like Russel Wilson. This one has a strong amount of data behind it. If you lack height as a QB, you need big hands.
- Release point for smaller QB’s. Philip Rivers has a poor release point, but he is tall. Drew Brees is short, but has a perfect release point, needed as he is not tall.
- Number of starts.
- Accuracy… this is often different at short, medium, and long passes.
- Decision making… often linked to number of interceptions, but not always.
- Can he make all the NFL throws like deep outs?
- Leadership and maturity.
- Level of competition and winning big games.
- Pocket presence, and footwork in the process. Not panicking and escaping to run too often, but ability to be a threat in read-option is a bonus.
- Wind-up. Called many things, this needs to be efficient and compact. Long, loopy wind-ups for college QB’s get instantly exposed in the NFL.
NFL Mock Draft – Wide Receiver:
- Is he more of a vertical “go-route” “take the top off the defense” receiver, a slot guy, a “possession” receiver that is a bigger guy with sure hands, or a hybrid wr/rb type that is becoming popular.
- Speed… shiftiness and top end vertical speed are often two different things
- There are two ways a WR gets separation: physically separating through elite speed / shiftiness, and the ability to separate when having a defensive back right on him, such as with leaping ability.
- Ability to “high point” balls often referred to as “catching the ball at its highest point”… wherein he can time balls thrown to him, go up and get it over the defenders head.
- Strong hands and reliability of catching balls thrown to him.
- Able to beat press coverage at line of scrimmage.
- Willingness and toughness when going over the middle, catching balls and taking hits.
- Able to move all over the line of scrimmage, lining up in different wide receiver positions.
- Route running… very important. Able to run crisp routes and accelerate out of breaks.
- Some WR’s play in pro systems and have that advantage.
- Average Yards per catch… will be mentioned with some vertical receivers and stat will be something like % of catches over 20 yards.
- Number of touchdowns per year, indicating red zone threat.
- Number of years with productivity.
- Able to help in punt returns and kick off returns.
- Are they a true “X” receiver, which is very rare… Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones types.
NFL Mock Draft – Tight Ends:
- Pure blocking tight ends can be found later in the draft and don’t often get scouting profiles.
- Tight ends that are scouted get evaluated on two, two-part scales:
- Receiving Ability / Blocking Ability
- Able to line up outside / able to work inside routes
- “Catch Radius” is important… good with tall, big armed TE’s. Often refer to these guys as able to “post up” like an NBA power forward… running routes, turning around and having balls thrown to them where defenders don’t have a chance. Often offer little yards after catch, but dependable.
- “Seam Route” matchup nightmares. Some tight ends can make an NFL career out of this one skill.
- “Matchup Nightmare”… this is often used for a tight end that is basically a bit too big to be considered a WR, but still has speed. Too big to be covered by corner or safety, too quick to be covered by linebacker.
- Reliable hands.
- “H-Back” qualities… able to act as lead blocking fullback, or even ball carrier sometimes.
- Inline blocking skills… able to act as 6th offensive lineman in run game.
- Open field blocking skills.
- A “Move Tight End” is a tight end that can play both inside and outside wide receiver spots, all over offensive formations.
NFL Mock Draft Other Offensive Position Notes
NFL Mock Draft – Left Tackle / Right Tackle:
- “Length” is key component of left tackles. Height, arm length, hand size all super important.
- Footwork is very important, important for left tackles to handle speed.
- Hand placement is needed for locking onto defenders, especially against power.
- “Good overall technique” common trait for well coached, experienced tackles.
- Left tackle prospects need to have a lot of starts at left tackle and against top competition to generally be considered elite.
- Good “bend” and able to use “leverage”?
- How did they fared against top DE prospects also in the draft?
- Right Tackles may lack length, but need to be known as good run blockers.
- “Road Grader” is exceptional run blocker.
- “Ability to get to next level”… in run game or short passing game, able to beat a blocker, and move deeper into defense to block linebackers or other defenders.
- “Versatility” – able to play guard as well.
- Many tackles in college are best suited to move inside, but could be great guards in the NFL.
- Able to defend “speed” and “power”.
- Number of sacks allowed.
NFL Mock Draft – Guards:
- High level guard prospects normally have to have one of two qualities: Exceptional base and power- known as “mauler” or “road grader” in the run game, -or- a rare athletic freak that is versatile, able to play center or guard… sometimes even able to play any position on the line.
- Strong “base” or “Solid Anchor” good for ability to hold up against NFL pass rush.
- Hand placement and ability to “lock on” to defenders.
- Some guards are “pulling guards” but not too common in college, where they take a step back at the snap, slide down the other side of the line and become a lead blocker in the run game.
- Top guys are normally very physically gifted with big measurables. Mid round guys tend to be more typical build but often have a lot of experience and dependable.
- How many sacks did they give up?
- Did they or do they have a strong RB or overall running game behind him?
NFL Mock Draft – Centers:
- Can they and have they played guard?
- They are taller and bigger now because of the shotgun. Worth mentioning because the smaller centers in the draft will have issues with defensive tackles and will need help from a guard to block. Big, long armed centers don’t need help to double team defenders.
- Smaller centers are perhaps best suited for zone blocking NFL teams.
- Experience is very important.
- Did they call blocking assignments? Rare in college, but does happen and is a plus.
- Any experience snapping besides in the shotgun?
NFL Mock Draft – Fullbacks:
- Super big, pure blocking fullbacks, have a very small chance of making it to the NFL and at very least would have to be special team stars that can play on all 4 units.
- Guys that can actually run the ball, catch the ball, and pass protect have value in the NFL.
- Most fullbacks that get early attention in the draft process simply block for the best RB prospects. Finding the fullbacks with a diverse skillset is one of the last positions to define itself in terms of who are the best players during the draft process.
NFL Mock Draft Front Seven Position Notes
NFL Mock Draft – Defensive Tackle:
- Identify all guys as primarily “one gap” or “two gap” defenders. They are generally more of a one gap, penetrating guy, or a two gap, run defending guy.
- One gap skills is the single biggest booster of ranking in the draft. DT’s that get after the QB are super valuable.
- Number of sacks and Tackles for Loss
- Have multiple pass rush moves or just power?
- Long arms and able to be a two gap guy defending both gaps around him?
- Able to take on double teams allowing guys around him to make plays?
- Strength of base. Does he anchor well?
- The 3-4 nose tackle is not often clearly stated. But once a player is about 330lbs.+ it is worth mentioning he could possibly play nose in a 3-4. 350 is ideal weight there.
- Does he play hard every play and chase down plays?
- Ability to play a lot of plays and not get tired.
- A lot of DT’s in college are not asked to be one gap guys, but that is what they will be at the NFL, so sometimes have to qualify that skill without having stats like sacks to back it up.
NFL Mock Draft – Defensive Ends:
- Very tricky thing to do is first weed out guys that are defensive ends in college that will be 3-4 OLB’s in college. We first try to identify a position, but often list both possibilities. If it is close, for example if a defensive end is a bit undersized, but moves really well in space, they very well might be an OLB in the NFL.
- Most of the scouting reports we do on DE’s are for ends that have noticeable pass rush ability. There are some that are much more adept at stopping the run than getting into the offensive backfield, but that is not as much a premium type prospect trait.
- The frame of the player is important. Looking for height and arm length. Many players are slowly growing into their build. Player could be 6-5 and only 250, but was 6-1 and 185 as a freshman. In the NFL, that player could grow even more.
- How many sacks and TFL’s?
- Can he “convert speed to power”. It is like ability to quickly build momentum to knock blockers back.
- Long arms help with ability to defend against the run.
- Have an array of pass rush moves? Some players just bull rush, but it is very important to have some other moves that they are developing such as the speed rush, rip, swim, etc.
- Have some knocked down passes?
- Does his motor run hot and cold? – This indicator most of the time carries over to the NFL, rarely fixed.
- Able to chase down ball carriers?
- Able to drop back into coverage.
- For bigger guys, it is very valuable if they can move inside to tackle on 3rd down and obvious passing downs.
NFL Mock Draft – Inside Linebackers:
- Maybe the toughest scouting reports to make, because a lot of confusion:
- Inside linebackers in 3-4 aren’t generally premium players in the draft, but there is always a couple that have exceptionally well rounded skillsets that sneak into early rounds.
- The two inside linebacker positions in a 3-4 often have fairly varied responsibilities, one being the move-forward, run stopping, gap-filling player that needs to be a strong, reliable tackler, and the other being the playmaker that has more freedom to roam.
- The inside linebackers in the draft that more often get drafted high are really going to be Middle Linebackers in a 4-3.
- If a linebacker in college is a tackling machine, is big and strong, a violent tackler that wraps up well, and they seem to be much better moving forward than back, they are probably going to be an ILB in a 3-4 at the next level.
- The star Inside Linebackers are most often playing OLB in college, and need certain skills:
- Ability to diagnose plays quickly.
- Able to call defenses, so smarts and experience.
- Chase down running backs and wide receivers.
- Move forward to defend the run.
- Drop into coverage.
- Blitzing ability.
- Able to tackle.
- Loves football…this is mentioned for this position more than any other (referring to linebackers in general).
- Do they “wrap up” tacklers.
- Often referred to as “off-ball” linebackers, just another term for a guy suited for ILB in 3-4 or middle linebacker.
NFL Mock Draft – Outside Linebacker:
- First trick is determining the position in the NFL- if possibly a defensive end. Most 4-3 DE’s are fairly long and built, but some 4-3 DE’s in certain systems are “designated pass rushers” or “pass rush specialists”, that might come in on 3rd down or any obvious passing down. That is generally a smaller, speedier defensive end that could be a liability against the run.
- Primary skills to evaluate:
- Ability to drop into coverage (including covering matchup nightmares like speedy tight ends and running backs that move into the slot to receive).
- Run stopping ability.
- Blitzing ability (or general pass rush ability).
- “Sideline to sideline” agility and range.
- Can “break down”, which is a tackling technique of stopping before you tackle someone so you don’t get beat by last second moves.
- Number of sacks / INT’s, TFL’s
- Most of the OLB’s in the scouting reports are either middle linebackers in 4-3’s or OLB’s in 3-4… the skillset is often pretty close. Guys that are destined to play strongside or weakside in a 4-3 are generally a tier below and skew strongly to either better against the run, or better in coverage.
NFL Mock Draft Secondary Position Notes
NFL Mock Draft – Cornerback:
- First thing to notice is size. 5′-11″+ and 195lbs.+ would be considered the bigger size that NFL teams want. Bigger size than that is worth mentioning.
- Is he probably better as zone or press cover guy? Press guys generally are bigger and stronger, but not absolute.
- Long arms are a major plus, especially with outside corners.
- Ability to “locate the ball” quickly.
- Fights for contested balls.
- Sometimes they have “wide receiver mentality” wanting the ball.
- Can stay with fast receivers down the field.
- Can press receivers at the line.
- Strong against the run is important, good tackling ability.
- “Flips Hips” well allows to stay with receivers, especially in man coverage.
- Number of INT’s is important as well as pass break ups.
- Experience is important, number of starts at corner.
- Might they be a safety at next level? And general versatility to play in various positions.
- Is he more of an outside or inside corner?
- Can they cover tight ends as well as shifty RB’s?
- Can they contribute in punt return and kick return game?
NFL Mock Draft – Safeties:
- Can they cover deep, cover shallow routes, blitz, effective against the run in the box? If they can do all, they are super safety
- Some are just “centerfielders” or “cover the centerfield” and sort of a pure free safety.
- Some are very strong or tough but not great in coverage, and are better as “in the box” safeties.
- Tackling ability and willingness to tackle are key.
- Do they “break down” before a tackle or tackle without framing up to the ball carrier.
- Experience at the position.
- Can they play corner as well?
- Do they contribute in return game?
- Number of INT’s and sacks.