2021 NFL Draft Top Prospects 9-16
16. DE Xavier Thomas, Clemson (Jr.)
At 6-2, he doesn’t have the height or the frame NFL teams might not like, but at 265 pounds he’s got the bulk. How much will you really care that he’s not 6-5 when he’s as quick as he is? The production has to crank up – he only came up with 1.5 sacks last season with 27 tackles and eight tackles for loss – but he missed a few games with concussion issues.
15. OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
Notre Dame has turned into a factory for the lines under Brian Kelly, and the 6-6, 305-pound Eichenberg is the next one up as a true left tackle at the next level. He’s not as massive as some might like, and he’ll likely be just behind the prototype-looking tackles at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft, but he can move. He’s going into his third year as a starter on the left side.
14. RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
And he’s not off to the NFL getting paid lots and lots of money for his services, why?
An all-around flash of a running back – who can bring a little power, too – he ran for close to 2,100 yards with 21 touchdowns last season, and caught 45 passes over his last two years.
Tough enough to handle the ball over 350 times last season and hold up well, and blazing enough to show off his 4.3 speed when needed, the 6-0, 201-pound Canada native has all the NFL tools in the bag.
13. DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
A perfect-sized defensive tackle, the 6-5, 310-pound Wilson came back after missing the last part of season with a hand injury. Before getting knocked out, he made 44 tackles and became more of a playmaker in the backfield, coming up with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. He’ll be a leader and anchor of any NFL D line.
12. LB Micah Parsons, Penn State (Jr.)
The former superstar recruit has easily lived up to the hype and billing. 6-3 and 244 pounds, he’s got the size to work on the inside – he led the team in tackles with 109 – with the pass rushing skills to work on the outside. He came up with five sacks and 14 tackles for loss as he turned into a forced fumble machine and more of a playmaker in the backfield.
11. CB Patrick Surtain, Alabama (Jr.)
The 6-2, 203-pound son of the former NFL star by the same name, Surtain came into college with tremendous prep hype and the pressure to be a star right away. Strong in the rotation as a freshman, he became more of a factor as a sophomore with 42 tackles, two picks, and eight broken up passes. He doesn’t have elite wheels, and he might project to be a killer of a safety, but he’s a top starting NFL defensive back wherever he ends up.
10. CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
The Stanford veteran has 6-1, 192-pound size and the wheels to be a starting NFL corner right out of the box. A projected late first rounder had he come out, he suffered an injury late last year and chose to come back after making 33 tackles with four picks and ten broken up passes in his nine games. While he might not be a killer of a tackler, he’ll be someone’s No. 1 cover-corner.
9. QB KJ Costello, Mississippi State
When it comes to draft stock, no one needs the 2020 college football season to happen more than Costello. The 6-5, 222-pounder pounder has the size, the arm, the Stanford smarts, and the NFL tools, but he’s coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued season.
Now he’s at Mississippi State running the Mike Leach offense – it’s not a stretch to call him the most NFL-talented quarterback Leach has had as a head man. Combine the tools with the stats, and he’ll be one of the rising superstars in the draft world as long as he gets to show what he can do.