2021 NFL Draft Big Board: Ranking the Top 100 Prospects

2021 NFL Draft Big Board: Ranking the Top 100 Prospects article feature image
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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Pitts

For the past few years, I’ve done mock drafts and posted NFL draft prop betting content for The Action Network.

Last year, I went 124-88-1 (+26.2 units) betting the NFL draft and was the No. 6 mocker in the FantasyPros accuracy contest. In 2019, I was 54-29 (+17.7 units) on the draft and was also a top-20 mocker in the FantasyPros accuracy contest and Mock Draft Database contest.

If you want to see what I’m betting for the draft this year, check out the Action Labs NFL Draft Insider Props Tool.

I am obsessed with the NFL draft.

But I’ve never created a big board — until now.

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The idea to make one had never crossed my mind until recently, when I was talking with Scott Smith, who has probably been the best mock drafter in the world over the past three years.

In our conversation, Scott mentioned several big boards — including the excellent Consensus Big Board at The Athletic, curated by Arif Hasan — and I started thinking to myself: “If I were an NFL general manager, and I had no scouting department because I had fired all my scouts, how would I create a big board?”

I dug into some production statistics, I looked at some big boards, I consulted some historical and mock draft data — and a few hours later I have created a big board: My Top 100.

2021 NFL Draft Big Board

Big Board Methodology

For the most part, I’ve done little tinkering in creating the big board: I put data into spreadsheets, I weight different variables, then I let the algorithm do its work.

The top 100 players according to my super-advanced and proprietary (read: very basic) methodology are exactly the players who make up my final top 100 big board. I haven’t removed any players from the top 100 or substituted any players. I figure that the numbers driving my spreadsheets know more than I do.

But within the top 100 I have made some small tweaks.

Quarterback

Originally, Zach Wilson was one spot ahead of Fields. I flipped the order. I believe Fields should be the No. 2 quarterback selected in this class. I also moved both of them ahead of tackle Penei Sewell and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Quarterbacks dominate.

I bumped Trey Lance up from No. 11 to No. 8, ahead of wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. Quarterback is such an important position, and Lance has so much upside: He belongs in the top 10.

I also felt compelled to move Mac Jones up from No. 20 to No. 12, right after cornerback Patrick Surtain II.

Running Back

Travis Etienne and Najee Harris were originally ranked at the bottom of Round 1 — and I obviously couldn’t have that, so I bumped them down a few spots to the top of Round 2.

It’s worth nothing that the algorithm on its own had Etienne ahead of Harris — and that’s also how I have them ranked in my pre-draft top 40 dynasty rookie rankings.

There’s a very real chance that Etienne is selected ahead of Harris.

Wide Receiver

I moved Terrace Marshall Jr. up a few spots into Round 1: His talent warrants that kind of valuation, even with his injury history.

I also bumped Rondale Moore down one spot, which put him at No. 33, the first pick of Round 2. As much as I love Moore, I doubt strongly he will go in Round 1. But sign me up for Moore all day in Round 2.

In the original top 100, Kadarius Toney was one spot ahead of Rashod Bateman. I prefer Bateman, so I reversed the order. I think they are both coin flips to go in the second half of Round 1.

rashod bateman-draft profile-fantasy-dynasty-prop-bets-2021
Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Rashod Bateman

Tight End

Pat Freiermuth is the clear No. 2 tight end in the class. I doubt he goes in Round 1, but the Jaguars are rumored to love him, and it’s not unthinkable that they could reach for him at picks Nos. 25, 33 or 45. I bumped him up from the 50s into the 40s.

Offensive Tackle

I have Sewell ahead of Rashawn Slater, but the two are probably closer in quality than I originally surmised, so I bumped Slater ahead of Waddle and Smith.

I also moved Alex Leatherwood and Samuel Cosmi up from the 40s to the 30s. I had to put them ahead of Jalen Mayfield, who has fallen down mock draft boards over the past few months.

Center

Landon Dickerson belongs in Round 1. He has a lengthy injury history, but he’s the best center and maybe the best interior offensive lineman in the class. I moved him up to No. 31 from a spot in the 50s.

I know that’s a massive jump, but I don’t care. Dickerson might not go in Round 1, but that’s where I’d take him if I were a GM.

Edge Rusher

Gregory Rousseau and Jayson Oweh were originally near the top of Round 2, but I bumped them up to the bottom of Round 1. Based on everything I look at, I think both have better than a 50% chance of going in the top 32.

I also bumped Joe Tryon up about 10 spots. I doubt he goes in Round 1, but he has gotten some buzz, and I expect he’ll go in the top half of Round 2.

Linebacker

Jamin Davis was originally in the 40s, but with his athleticism and ability I had to move him up to No. 36, right behind Etienne and Harris.

Davis is very live to go in Round 1.

NFL Draft Big Board Utility

If I were you, I wouldn’t use this big board to inform your prop bet wagers: It wasn’t build with that purpose in mind.

Primarily, the board represents how I would value players in the 2021 NFL draft if I were an NFL decision maker. Secondarily, it roughly corresponds with how I think the top 100 picks will generally go.

Predictiveness isn’t my top priority here. But I do expect the big board to prove prognosticative.

Of the 100 players selected at the top of the NFL draft, I project that 75-90 will be on this list and taken in an order that correlates with how I have them ranked.

In a few hours work, that’s not bad.

In the words of Shakespeare, “The first thing we do, let’s fire all the scouts.” Most people don’t know that Billy was an analytics-friendly football fan, but he was.


2021 NFL Draft Big Board

Rank Player Position College
1 Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson
2 Kyle Pitts TE Florida
3 Justin Fields QB Ohio State
4 Zach Wilson QB BYU
5 Penei Sewell OT Oregon
6 Ja’Marr Chase WR LSU
7 Rashawn Slater OT Northwestern
8 Trey Lance QB North Dakota State
9 Jaylen Waddle WR Alabama
10 DeVonta Smith WR Alabama
11 Patrick Surtain II CB Alabama
12 Mac Jones QB Alabama
13 Micah Parsons LB Penn State
14 Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina
15 Kwity Paye EDGE Michigan
16 Alijah Vera-Tucker OG USC
17 Christian Darrisaw OT Virginia Tech
18 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB Notre Dame
19 Caleb Farley CB Virginia Tech
20 Jaelan Phillips EDGE Miami
21 Azeez Ojulari EDGE Georgia
22 Christian Barmore DT Alabama
23 Trevon Moehrig S TCU
24 Zaven Collins LB Tulsa
25 Greg Newsome II CB Northwestern
26 Teven Jenkins OT Oklahoma State
27 Rashod Bateman WR Minnesota
28 Kadarius Toney WR Florida
29 Gregory Rousseau EDGE Miami
30 Jayson Oweh EDGE Penn State
31 Landon Dickerson OC Alabama
32 Terrace Marshall Jr. WR LSU
33 Rondale Moore WR Purdue
34 Travis Etienne RB Clemson
35 Najee Harris RB Alabama
36 Jamin Davis LB Kentucky
37 Asante Samuel Jr. CB Florida State
38 Alex Leatherwood OT Alabama
39 Samuel Cosmi OT Texas
40 Jalen Mayfield OT Michigan
41 Elijah Moore WR Mississippi
42 Eric Stokes CB Georgia
43 Nick Bolton LB Missouri
44 Javonte Williams RB North Carolina
45 Joe Tryon EDGE Washington
46 Joseph Ossai EDGE Texas
47 Carlos Basham Jr. EDGE Wake Forest
48 Pat Freiermuth TE Penn State
49 Levi Onwuzurike DT Washington
50 Liam Eichenberg OT Notre Dame
51 Tyson Campbell CB Georgia
52 Dillon Radunz OT North Dakota State
53 Wyatt Davis OG Ohio State
54 Creed Humphrey OC Oklahoma
55 Richie Grant S UCF
56 Elijah Molden CB Washington
57 Jevon Holland S Oregon
58 Daviyon Nixon DT Iowa
59 Jabril Cox LB LSU
60 Ronnie Perkins EDGE Oklahoma
61 Amon-Ra St. Brown WR USC
62 Ifeatu Melifonwu CB Syracuse
63 Jay Tufele DT USC
64 Jackson Carman OT Clemson
65 Dyami Brown WR North Carolina
66 Kelvin Joseph CB Kentucky
67 Aaron Robinson CB UCF
68 Quinn Meinerz OC Wisconsin-Whitewater
69 Payton Turner EDGE Houston
70 Alim McNeill DT North Carolina State
71 D’Wayne Eskridge WR Western Michigan
72 Baron Browning LB Ohio State
73 Chazz Surratt LB North Carolina
74 Trey Smith OG Tennessee
75 Amari Rodgers WR Clemson
76 Pete Werner LB Ohio State
77 Michael Carter RB North Carolina
78 Tylan Wallace WR Oklahoma State
79 Andre Cisco S Syracuse
80 Quincy Roche EDGE Miami
81 Josh Myers OC Ohio State
82 Kyle Trask QB Florida
83 Walker Little OT Stanford
84 Kenneth Gainwell RB Memphis
85 Milton Williams DT Louisiana Tech
86 James Hudson OT Cincinnati
87 Brevin Jordan TE Miami (FL)
88 Hunter Long TE Boston College
89 Tommy Tremble TE Notre Dame
90 Paulson Adebo CB Stanford
91 Tutu Atwell WR Louisville
92 Patrick Jones II EDGE Pittsburgh
93 Hamsah Nasirildeen S Florida State
94 Tommy Togiai DT Ohio State
95 Aaron Banks OG Notre Dame
96 Dayo Odeyingbo DT Vanderbilt
97 Nico Collins WR Michigan
98 Brady Christensen OT BYU
99 Cameron McGrone LB Michigan
100 Kellen Mond QB Texas A&M

Matthew Freedman is 1,018-828-37 (55.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

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