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Prospect Declaration Deadline Coverage (2021 NFL Draft)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Jan 15, 2021

Keeping track of all of the juniors that have declared or have decided to return to school can sometimes be a cumbersome process. With that in mind, we have listed the juniors who have decided to declare by position.  Most juniors consult with the draft advisory committee before making their decision. This committee will provide these potential prospects with a draft round projection that is intended to help aid them in their decision making.

If they decide to declare, they hire an agent, which in turn ends their amateur status and college eligibility. 99 juniors were granted special eligibility in 2020, down some from the record 106 in 2018. It is also important to note that redshirt sophomores are able to declare for the NFL Draft and that seniors are eligible for an extra year of eligibility due to the havoc COVID-19 wreaked on college football as a whole. As long as a player is three years removed from high school, they are permitted to seek special eligibility to enter the draft. We will be updating this article up until the deadline, so be sure to check back for the latest updates.

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Quarterback

Mac Jones (QB – Alabama)
Zach Wilson (QB – BYU)
Trevor Lawrence (QB – Clemson)
Justin Fields (QB – Ohio State)
Trey Lance (QB – North Dakota State)
Davis Mills (QB – Stanford)

The quarterback class is expected to be one of the deeper ones in recent memory in terms of potential Day 1 prospects, with the bulk of the names likely to go in the first round being underclassmen. The biggest names have declared and we could very well see of the four names currently listed be drafted to become eventual starters. Trevor Lawrence is the toast of the class, but Justin Fields (still waiting on an official decision), Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Zach Wilson could all sneak their way into the top-10.

Running Back

Jarett Patterson (RB – Buffalo)
Stevie Scott (RB – Indiana)
Pooka Williams Jr. (RB – Kansas)
Javian Hawkins (RB – Louisville)
Kenneth Gainwell (RB – Memphis)
Brenden Knox (RB – Marshall)
Javonte Williams (RB – North Carolina)
Trey Sermon (RB – Ohio State)
Chuba Hubbard (RB – Oklahoma State)
Jemar Jefferson (RB – Oregon State)

The running back class took a hit with Journey Brown being forced to medically retire but there are still some noteworthy juniors who should be drafted by the end of Day 2. The seniors will get most of the love from draft analysts talking about the first round but players like Javonte Williams, Kenneth Gainwell, and Chuba Hubbard should all be gone by the end of the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The juniors will look to close the perception gap between them and names like Najee Harris and Travis Etienne over the coming months.

Wide Receiver

Jaylen Waddle (WR – Alabama)
Seth Williams (WR – Auburn)
Anthony Schwartz (WR – Auburn)
Dax Milne (WR – BYU)
Blake Proehl (WR – East Carolina)
Isaiah McKoy (WR – Kent State)
Tutu Atwell (WR – Louisville)
Ja’Marr Chase (WR – LSU)
Terrace Marshall (WR – LSU)
Rashod Bateman (WR – Minnesota)
Elijah Moore (WR – Mississippi)
Dyami Brown (WR – North Carolina)
Rondale Moore (WR – Purdue)
Semi Fehoko (WR – Stanford)
Brennan Eagles (WR – Texas)
Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – USC)
Sage Surratt (WR – Wake Forest)

The 2021 NFL Draft wide receiver class is shaping up to be one of the strongest ever, and we are still waiting on a couple of huge names. There are also some talented seniors like Devonta Smith with Day 1 upside. Due to the sheer volume of first round talents, some teams are going to get steals like the Cincinnati Bengals did when they found Tee Higgins still available at the top of the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Tight End

Hunter Long (TE – Boston College)
Kyle Pitts (TE – Florida)
Brevin Jordan (TE – Miami)
Pat Freiermuth (TE – Penn State)
Pro Wells (TE – TCU)

The juniors are why the draft community will be excited about the 2021 NFL tight end class. Kyle Pitts is of course the prize among the young talents, but Brevin Jordan and Pat Friermuth would both also push for first round consideration in most years. They may be pushed to Day 2 due to the insane depth at wide receiver, but make no mistake all three project as instant impact starters.

Offensive Line

Brady Christensen (OT – BYU)
James Hudson (OT – Cincinnati)
Jackson Carnan (OT – Clemson)
Calvin Ashley (OL – Florida A&M)
Trey Hill (C – Georgia)
Kendrick Green (G – Georgia)
Jalen Mayfield (OT – Michigan)
Larry Borom (OL – Missouri)
Aaron Banks (G – Notre Dame)
Creed Humphrey (C – Oklahoma)
Adrian Ealy (OT – Oklahoma)
Penei Sewell (OT – Oregon)
Drew Dalman (C – Stanford)
Samuel Cosmi (OT – Texas)
Jack Anderson (G – Texas Tech)
Alija Vera-Tucker (G – USC)
Christian Darrisaw (OT – Virginia Tech)

It’s Penei Sewell and then everybody else as far as the 2021 NFL Draft class is concerned. That is not a knock on consistent producers like Samuel Cosmi, Creed Humphrey, or any of the talented seniors, but is instead effusive praise for Sewell, who is seen as the first can’t miss talent to enter the draft as a blindside protector in recent memory. Think Quenton Nelson dominance and career track, but at what should be left tackle (unless he gets drafted to protect Tua Tagovailoa).

Defensive Line

Christian Barmore (DT – Alabama)
Chris Rumph II (DE – Duke)
Joshua Kaindoh (DE – Florida State)
Azeez Ojulari (Edge – Georgia)
Daviyon Nixon (DT – Iowa)
Wyatt Hubert (DE – Kansas State)
Tyler Shelvin (DT – LSU)
Gregory Rosseau (Edge – Miami)
Jaelan Phillips (Edge – Miami)
Alim McNeil (DT – N.C. State)
Ronnie Perkins (DE – Oklahoma)
Jayson Oweh (Edge – Penn State)
Jaylen Twyman (DT – Pittsburgh)
Joseph Ossai (Edge – Texas)
Bobby Brown III (DT – Texas A&M)
Jay Tufele (DT – USC)
Marlon Tuipulotu (DT – USC)
Joe Tyron (Edge – Washington)

There are several talented prospects for teams looking for defensive line help. Defensive tackle seems a little deeper than the edge, but the edge is where the top-end talent is, especially as far as the juniors are concerned. We should see at least four defensive linemen go in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and at least 60 percent of them should be juniors.

Linebacker

Isaiah McDuffie (LB – Boston College)
Jamin Davis (LB – Kentucky)
Cameron McGrone (LB – Michigan)
Nick Bolton (LB – Missouri)
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB – Notre Dame)
Baron Browning (LB – Ohio State)
Amen Ogbongberniga (LB – Oklahoma State)
Micah Parsons (LB – Penn State)
Ernest Jones (LB – South Carolina)
Anthony Hines (LB – Texas A&M)
Zaven Collins (LB – Tulsa)
Jordan Smith (LB – UAB)

This year’s linebacker group is certainly intriguing. There is some nice depth and there are also 2-3 names that could fight their way into the first round. Micah Parsons appears to be the only lock, but talented players like Zaven Collins should make their push this offseason.

Defensive Back

Patrick Surtain II (CB – Alabama)
Aashari Croswell (S – Arizona State)
Marco Wilson (CB – Florida)
Asante Samuel Jr. (CB – Florida State)
Tyson Campbell (CB – Georgia)
Eric Stokes (CB – Georgia)
Jamar Johnson (S – Indiana)
Kelvin Joseph (CB – Kentucky)
Shakur Brown (CB – Michigan State)
Benjamin St-Juste (CB – Minnesota)
Marcus Murphy (S – Mississippi State)
Greg Newsome (CB – Northwestern)
Shaun Wade (CB – Ohio State)
Tre Norwood (CB – Oklahoma)
Kolby Harvell-Peel (S- Oklahoma State)
Jevon Holland (S – Oregon)
Nahshon Wright (CB – Oregon State)
Lamont Wade (S – Penn State)
Paris Ford (S – Pittsburgh)
Darren Hall (CB – San Diego State)
Jaycee Horn (CB – South Carolina)
Israel Mukuamu (CB – South Carolina)
Paulson Adebo (CB – Stanford)
Andre Cisco (S – Syracuse)
Tre Williams (S – Syracuse)
Trevon Moehrig (S – TCU)
Ar’Darius Washington (S – TCU)
Bryce Thompson (CB – Tennessee)
Caden Sterns (S – Texas)
Rachad Wildgoose (CB – Wisconsin)
Olaijah Griffin (CB – USC)
Talanoa Hufanga (S – USC)
Caleb Farley (CB – Virginia Tech)

There are a number of highly intriguing junior defensive backs, that when combined with the senior talent make this yet another bad year to be a free agent. The safety market will take the biggest hit once again as there are some prospects that will slip to Day 3 who are capable of starting, similar to what we saw with Jordan Fuller for the Los Angeles Rams. There are also a number of talented corners who may slip to day three, despite being pegged with day two grades. With that said, some of these defensive backs received bad advice, as there is at least a handful of names listed that will sadly go undrafted.

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

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