McShay’s NFL draft rankings: Five quarterbacks in the top 32

  • ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
  • Joined ESPN in 2006
  • Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.

College football’s conference championship week has arrived. Bowl season is around the corner, and the College Football Playoff national title game is in under a month. It’s been a very different season, but we’re nearing the end. And that means the 2021 NFL draft is drawing closer.

With shortened seasons and multiple player opt-outs, it hasn’t been the easiest year to evaluate prospects. But we’ve started to get a clearer picture of the 2021 class. Of course, plenty still lies ahead, including the Senior Bowl and NFL combine. There is more than enough time for prospects to climb up — or fall down — draft boards.

Here is my most recent evaluation of the top 32 players in the class, updated from my Nov. 9 edition. Rankings will continue to be updated right through draft time.

Note: Underclassmen are marked with an asterisk, and grades are from Scouts Inc.


1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson*

HT: 6-foot-6 | WT: 220
Grade: 97 | Previous rank: 1

Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect I’ve seen come out of college since Andrew Luck was drafted by the Colts in 2012. Lawrence’s intangibles are high-end, and I love his huge arm and the mobility he brings at his size. He’ll need a little refining with his pocket presence, and his footwork is still progressing, but this kid is the real deal. The junior has already amassed 20 passing touchdowns, 2,431 yards through the air and a 69.2% completion percentage while throwing only three interceptions in eight games this season, all wins. He also has another six scores on the ground.

2. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State*

HT: 6-3 | WT: 228
Grade: 93 | Previous rank: 2

Fields starred in 2019 with 41 touchdown passes and only three interceptions, and he has really progressed under Buckeyes coach Ryan Day. So far in 2020, he has 15 passing touchdowns, a 78.1% completion rate (best in the FBS) and 1,407 passing yards in five games. He is very accurate throwing downfield and throws effectively off-schedule and off-platform. There is some zip on his ball, too, and he displays a quick release. Fields is mobile in the pocket and has already rushed for five scores this season. The Indiana game raised some eyebrows — he completed 18 of 30 passes and tossed three interceptions — but he is dynamic and grades out as a good NFL starting QB, as his 94.8 Total QBR (second in the nation) might suggest.

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