Kyle Yates’ Top-10 2021 NFL Draft Bold Predictions
Is it just me or have the “takes” this draft cycle been especially bonkers? I’m not sure what the deal is, but there are some truly wild predictions floating out there on the internet and television that have me cringing every time I see them.
With that in mind, I thought it would be beneficial – and therapeutic – to sit down and offer my Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft. This is not an attempt to add to the fire that’s burning down the building, but an attempt to restore order and sanity to the Draft world. There are some predictions below that push back on the narrative that we’re being fed, while also incorporating some of my own takes that I believe stand a very good chance of hitting.
All rationale and reasoning will be explained below the predictions, so make sure to read those and become informed of why I believe them. All in all, this is simply a therapy session for me to get some things off my chest and I invite you to come along for the journey.
Let’s restore some order, shall we?
10. Chatarius Atwell Isn’t Drafted Until The 5th Round
There are NFL Draft analysts that have Tutu Atwell ranked ahead of Rashod Bateman and nothing has baffled or confused me more throughout this pre-draft cycle. There are certain takes and rankings from other people that I can understand how they got to that conclusion. However, that perspective simply leaves me in utter disbelief because I can’t see how those dots connect. Atwell’s electric when he has the ball in his hands and when he can find the open field, but the issue is him finding said open field. Listed at 155 pounds – now 149 pounds, per his official weigh in – he’s not shifty enough side-to-side to create on his own and he is so small in stature that when a NFL defender gets their hands on him, he’s completely eliminated from the play. Atwell never should have been in the first or second round conversation to begin with and I’m trusting that the NFL realizes this fact.
9. Baron Browning Will Be A Top-40 Pick
Not many NFL Draft fans know the name Baron Browning, but they need to become familiar with it. Browning’s a LB prospect out of Ohio State that absolutely has not gotten the hype he’s deserved. He’s a force against the run, is smooth dropping back into coverage with good technique, and has the athleticism that NFL teams are going to love. You might be surprised when your team picks Browning early, but you need to know that you’re getting a very good football player.
8. Amon-Ra St. Brown Gets Drafted By The Indianapolis Colts At Pick No. 54 Overall
Let’s call our shot, why don’t we? The Colts went with a USC WR in the second round last year and they could absolutely do the same thing again in 2021. St. Brown would be a perfect slot replacement for Parris Campbell, who the Colts would love to rely on but simply can’t due to his injury history, and then could kick outside and be the eventual T.Y. Hilton successor. He’d be a perfect fit for this offense and simply seems like a guy Chris Ballard will be pounding the table for in this draft.
— Receiver School (@ReceiverSchool) November 20, 2019
7. Joe Tryon Will Be A Top-25 Pick
Back in February, I scouted Tryon and came away extremely impressed. He’s an explosive and powerful EDGE rusher with excellent hand technique already. He opted out of the 2020 season, which took him off of the national radar, but he’s too talented to fall outside this range. With the EDGE class having the lack of top-tier guys, it’s going to come down to team preference for which order these players go off the board. The league is very high on Tryon and there’s a very good chance he goes off the board even earlier than this prediction.
6. The Chicago Bears Make A Big Trade Up For A QB
There’s enough smoke around this one that I’ll call my shot and predict that the Bears make a desperation move up. If one of the top-5 QBs starts to fall outside of the top-7 picks, I could easily see Chicago sending away a plethora of picks to come up and get their QB of the future. Matt Nagy hasn’t been able to hand-pick a QB and if the buzz is correct, he’ll get his chance on draft night.
The league values speed at the WR position. While Marshall certainly has enough speed, Toney brings explosive plays and is more refined of a route-runner at this point of his development. Marshall has the same athletic testing numbers as Denzel Mims, who we saw drop to the middle of the second round in 2020, and there’s a very good chance Marshall has a similar “fall”. Toney’s rumored to go off the board very early on draft night because of his explosiveness and it wouldn’t shock me to see a big difference in overall draft spots between these two wideouts.
4. D’Wayne Eskridge Will Be Drafted Inside The Top-55 Picks
There are some people in my camp that think that Eskridge is a very talented football player. However, the vast majority seems to not be in on the talented wideout from Western Michigan. With Eskridge’s speed, twitch at the line of scrimmage, and start/stop ability, it’s unlikely that he falls very far in this draft. NFL teams are going to love what they see on tape and there’s a very good chance we see Eskridge go off the board earlier than a lot of people think.
D'Wayne Eskridge is going to skyrocket up draft boards by the time we get to Draft Night.
His footwork at the line of scrimmage is outstanding. pic.twitter.com/4qsYfjAURy
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 25, 2021
3. Kenneth Gainwell Works His Way Into The Top-64 Picks
As NFL offenses become more diverse, having playmakers at every level of the field is essential. Even out of the backfield, having a receiving option that can take a two-yard pass and turn it into a 15-yard gain is something every NFL offense wants. Gainwell brings this explosiveness to the table and much more. He’s a dynamic receiver that can run option routes out of the backfield or he can line up out wide and catch back shoulder throws. With the lack of depth in this RB class, Gainwell absolutely has the chance to be drafted before the end of round 2.
2. Davis Mills Will Be Drafted Outside Of The Top-100 Picks
Alright, the gloves are coming off at this point of the list. Every single year, we hear NFL Draft analysts hype up QBs that have absolutely no reason to be talked about in the first round discussion. Players like Kyle Lauletta, Mason Rudolph, Will Grier, etc. always receive this late push from the media that drums up interest heading into the NFL Draft. People are going to tell you that Mills’ tape is worthy of him going in the first round. Spoiler alert, it’s not. He received one of the worst grades in the entire class for me in regards to his mechanics, his arm strength isn’t that impressive, and he has a lengthy injury history. If a NFL team drafts Mills in the first round, they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing.
1. Mac Jones Will “Fall” Outside Of The Top-15 Picks
Last year, I was very high on QB prospects like Jake Fromm and Anthony Gordon. The traits that they excelled in were ones that were very attractive to me. Things like their accuracy, decision-making, and mental processing were all above average. However, both of these players went outside of the top-4 rounds and are now backups in the league. Because of that, I sat down and re-evaluated how I scout the QB position. I placed more of an emphasis on arm strength, mobility, and improvisation due to how the league was trending and how they’ve told us they value QBs. This year, there are four incredible QBs who bring those main traits to the table: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Zach Wilson. However, Jones has somehow risen above two of these other QBs, despite not having the tape or athletic traits that would qualify him to do so. Jones is very accurate, he has good decision-making skills, and he can process quickly. However, he has inconsistent mechanics, his arm strength pales in comparison to the other top-4 QBs, and he offers little mobility and improvisation. The national media has propped up a lower level starting QB in the NFL and has put him way above where he deserves to be drafted in the NFL. All of this chatter is simply a way to elevate Jones to a status that he shouldn’t be and then have something to discuss on draft night when Jones will be drafted right around where he should have been all along.