Top Risers in the 2021 NFL Draft Class

Through this tumultuous offseason many prospects have endured ups and downs unlike any other year. With such limited interaction, due to the cancellation of the combine and live interviews, we are relying on film and pro days more than ever. Below I have outlined several players that have really impressed through extra due diligence this spring and flown up my draft board since watching them live in the fall.

Anthony Schwartz | Auburn, WR

Schwartz wasn’t a big timer producer by any means at Auburn, but he was certainly always amongst the elite when it came to big time plays. He had just 6 receiving TDs in his three years, but added another 7 on the ground with 5 of those coming as a true freshman. He was never your prototypical receiver, but was an impact player that Malzahn prioritized getting the ball to in one way or another. He made huge leaps and by his junior year looked like a legit receiver and not just the gadget player he once was early in his career. He clocked an amazing 4.26s 40 yard dash, which incredible for a 6′ 186 lbs receiver. Schwartz has elevated his stock into being a legit 2nd round pick and right now sits at 43 on our big board.

Jamin Davis | Kentucky, LB

Davis was a relative unknown before having a massive breakout season and becoming one of the top LBs in the country. To add to his incredible tape he put on a show at his pro day and put an exclamation point on his draft stock. The Jamin Davis hype is real and he has gone from a 3rd round prospect to a 1st round lock for us and he is now number 13 on our big board.

Gregory Newsome II | Northwestern, CB

Newsome is a quiet prospect, but is so technically sound and plays the ball as well as anyone. His length and reach is perfect when you are looking for a corner to takeover as your go to shadower. He isn’t flashy like many corners are, which is somewhat of an underrated quality to have. Newsome may not lead the league in interceptions, but also there is a big reason why he isn’t being targeted. He currently sits at 19 on our big board and is a guy we think deserves to be picked in the 1st round.

Kelvin Joseph | Kentucky, CB

Kelvin Joseph was one of the top CBs out of high school in 2018 and spent his first season at LSU where he produced a decent amount of tape for a true freshman. He then transferred and unfortunately had to sit out the 2019 year, but broke out in 2020 and finished the season as an all SEC defensive back. He film shows flashes of elite ability and especially gifted hips and ball skills, but where he really legitimizes his stock was at his pro day where he ran a 4.34 s 40 yard dash. Joseph is a late addition to our top 50, but currently sits at 46th overall and 5th among CBs.

Tutu Atwell | Louisville, WR

Tutu Atwell hasn’t been in any of my mock drafts, but his blazing speed alone has his stock universally high. As of now, he sits at 61st overall and 12th among WRs, but we feel like he has the skillset to be in the day 2 lock category. Atwell ran a 4.42 s 40 yard dash at his pro day and we certainly would’ve loved that to have been in the 4.3s or below. At 155 lbs the track record isn’t great for success in the NFL, but we think his skillset alone keeps him as a late 2nd round pick.

Davis Mills | Stanford, QB

Mills was a big time QB coming out of high school, but never really got it going at the next level. He sufficed as an above average QB in the PAC12, but injuries limited his true potential. This season he only started 5 games due to a limited schedule and threw just 7 TDs with just one game that he threw for multiple. Mills has the tools, but will he convince teams to take a shot on him to develop instead of taking a proven vet like Kyle Trask or Kellen Mond? I’ve heard rumblings that Mills is a Day 2 QB, but through history QBs outside of the elite tier usually slide to the later rounds (Jarret Stidham, Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason). He’s got a 4th round grade from us and he isn’t in our top 100, but he certainly has earned himself a draftable grade through the draft process.

Kwity Paye | Michigan, Edge

We were late to board the Kwity Paye bandwagon, but in mid April he ranks as our top edge rusher. Paye sits atop the rest of the group, however, he is 21st overall on our Big Board, which is relatively low for the top edge in the class. We had Paye as low as the 5th rated edge, but the more tape I’ve watched the more I can see him fitting the mold as a tradition defensive end due to his versatile skill package. He isn’t a pure pass rusher, but has elite bend and can still get to the QBs face.

Jabril Cox | LSU, LB

I’ve loved Cox since the fall, but it wasn’t until late March to where I started legitimizing him as an early second round prospect. Originially I thought of him as a S/LB hybrid, but now I legitimately think he would comfortably fit in any outside backer position. He isn’t a pure pass rusher, but is one of the most skilled LBs against the pass. Cox currently sits 48th overall and is neck and neck with Nick Bolton as our LB5/6.

Elijah Molden | Washington, CB

Molden is another CB who has seen his stock soar. Molden likely won’t go in the 1st, but he is an elite slot corner prospect who will fit the mold for any team. Molden currently sits as our 50th overall prospect and CB6, but in terms of a pure nickel corner he ranks as the top guy.

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