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Sports

Top prospects, value picks in the NFL Draft: Offense edition

| Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Today we’re breaking down my top five players and value pick at each offensive position for the upcoming NFL Draft.

Offensive Line

  1. Penei Sewell, Oregon
  2. Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
  3. Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
  4. Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
  5. Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech

Value Pick: Aaron Banks, Notre Dame

Sewell is the #1 offensive lineman and should be a top-five pick, that is unquestionable — he’s got the chance to make a Quentin Nelson-type impact on whoever selects him. Slater is, in my opinion, the clear second-best option, as he had a monster season for Northwestern. After that, spots 3-5 are somewhat up in the air for me, although I think Darrisaw gets a little too much love as the second-ranked O-lineman by CBS.

Give me Notre Dame’s own Aaron Banks as the value pick here; Banks may be a Day 3 selection, but this guy was an integral part of one of the best offensive lines in college football and doesn’t get his due. At 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds, Banks is an imposing figure in the trenches and a nice mid-draft pickup for some NFL squad.

Tight End

  1. Kyle Pitts, Florida
  2. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
  3. Brevin Jordan, Miami
  4. Hunter Long, Boston College
  5. Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame

Value Pick: Noah Gray, Duke

I’m not straying too much from the pundits here — the tight end position is pretty clear cut. I could be convinced to flip Freiermuth or Jordan, but both are solid playmakers who should be second or early third-round picks. Hunter Long is similar but a step below, and then Tremble, who made his name as a blocker but has underrated receiving skills, slots in as the no. 5 tight end in this year’s draft.

For the value pick, I’m going with a potentially undrafted senior in Gray, who I saw play live in South Bend. Gray is a fundamental route-runner with good hands, and he’s a decent blocker. He maybe isn’t exceptional in any one area, but he’s a pretty great option in the seventh round or undrafted free agency.

Wide Receiver

  1. DeVonta Smith, Alabama
  2. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
  3. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
  4. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
  5. Rondale Moore, Purdue

Value Pick: Seth Williams, Auburn

There’s my answer to the heated WR 1 debate — I just like Smith more. Smith has electric speed, he dominated college football even more after his best fellow receiver was sidelined, and he’s an absolute playmaker. Chase is a great player, but he had one great season with a generational talent at QB and fellow first-round pick Justin Jefferson also lining up as a receiver. After those two, give me Waddle as the clear no. 3. Then, I personally love Bateman and have since his breakout season with the Gophers, so I’ll go with the Minnesota product followed the by the short but incredibly talented Moore at no. 5.

For my value pick, I’m taking Seth Williams, who is incredibly physical at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds. He had inconsistent production due to a poor system and inconsistent quarterbacking, but I think Williams is a great guy to grab if he’s still available late in Rounds 3 or 4.

Running Back

  1. Travis Etienne, Clemson
  2. Javonte Williams , North Carolina
  3. Najee Harris, Alabama
  4. Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis
  5. Trey Sermon, Ohio State

Value Pick: Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

First off, I’m adding a caveat to my no. 1 ranking. Etienne is my no. 1, but I think he needs to be taken by a team in win-now mode. He’s exceptionally talented, but after three years as the no. 1 back for Clemson, how many miles does he have left in his legs? If I’m a team like the Jets, I’m staying away, but if I’m the Buffalo Bills? All day. After that, I love Javonte Williams more than I like Najee Harris, who I think is an intriguing prospect but not as dynamic as the top two. After that, give me Gainwell out of a sneaky RB factory in Memphis and then the late breakout star in Trey Sermon, who has plenty of gas left in the tank and is still undervalued after only seeing the field as an RB #1 late in the season.

My value pick has to be Hubbard, who is currently a projected fifth-round pick just a year removed from being one of the best backs in CFB. He’s not a great pass-catcher, which limits his value, but the talent is unmistakable. If available by round 5, that’s an easy pick in my mind.

Quarterback

  1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
  2. Zach Wilson, BYU
  3. Trey Lance, North Dakota State
  4. Justin Fields, Ohio State
  5. Mac Jones, Alabama

Value Pick: Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

Lawrence is no. 1 easily, and Mac Jones represents a clear drop-off at no. 5 in my opinion. Spots 2-4 is where there’s plenty of controversy, but I love Zach Wilson and think this guy could be playing at an MVP level within three to four years in the league, even if he takes some time to adjust, so long as he survives the Jets. Then give me Trey Lance, simply because I think Lance has the highest ceiling in the draft, but the concerns about having only one truly good year against FCS competition keep him at no. 3. And yes, Fields is my QB4, simply because I have my doubts. He’s a leader and an athlete, but, outside the CFP semis this year, he’s struggled in big games throughout his career, torching overmatched defenses for most of his big numbers. I’m not sold on Fields as a franchise guy, but he’s undoubtedly an exciting prospect.

Mond has done nothing but raise his draft stock in the last year. He’s gotten better each year, led a fantastic Aggies’ team this season and has performed well in the Senior Bowl and Pro Day events. He’s a great fourth or fifth round pick for a team that doesn’t need a QB right away but has time to develop the SEC product.

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About Aidan Thomas

A junior marketing and ACMS major at Notre Dame, I've countered the success I've enjoyed as a New England sports fan with the painful existence of a Notre Dame football fan.

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