This is one of my favorite pieces all year. This is where I told you Aaron Donald was the best player in his class. This is also where I told you Justin Blackmon would dominate the NFL. On the lighter note, last year I focused my lens on kicker Rodrigo Blankenship – because he was ridiculous looking – and he was a terrific rookie for the Indianapolis Colts.
So who are my five this season?
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama.
I don’t get it.
I’m sure there are scouty/personnel types who will quibble at Smith’s measureables (oh no, he doesn’t weigh enough!) but when you watch him on the field, which is where he actually plays football, you see an NFL star.
In the modern NFL there are very few line-em-up-and-beat-the-corner wide receivers. The game is about matchups and Smith is a matchup nightmare. He’s the best wide receiver in this draft. He’s the best return man in this draft. He’s the best player in this draft.
Pressley Harvin III, Punter, Georgia Tech
Have you seen this kid?
He’s 260 pounds. And he throws dimes.
Someone is going to draft this kid. And the fans of that team are going to absolutely love him. (God I hope that team plays in a city with several Billy Goat Taverns.) Harvin isn’t just a novelty act. He won the Ray Guy Award for top punter in college football for 2020. He’s going to kick at the next level.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
All the talk will be about Kyle Pitts, the unquestioned top tight end in the draft. But so often these impactful tight ends don’t come from the first round. Gronk. Kittle. Waller. Value, and often stars, are consistently found later in the draft. Freiermuth has all the traits – size, hands, speed – and all the tape that lead me to believe he’ll be a steal for someone either late Friday night or early Saturday.
(Surgery in November is why he’s not being discussed in the first round.)
Azeez Ojulari, Edge, Georgia
When I watched Ojulari play, I saw a more polished/direct Leonard Floyd. And at only 20 years old currently, it may take him the same amount of time to grow into the professional game. But in the right system, with the right coaches, Ojulari looks every bit like a ten sack guy.
When you watch the highlight reel below, notice how Ojulari doesn’t try to fool or outrun the tackle in front of him. He embraces confrontation. That projects to the next level, especially when he adds some technique.
Dazz Newsome, WR/KR, North Carolina
Let’s be honest. I expect to be back in Josie Woods watching the Bears this season. I expect the Bears to draft Dazz Newsome. And I expect that every time he scores a touchdown, I’ll stand on the bar and sing “All That Dazz“.
Blankenship made the list in 2020 because of his spectacles. Dazz makes the list in 2021 because of his name.
(From a football perspective, Dazz is Diet DaVonta. Good solid receiving threat and dynamic kick returner. Someone is going to get this kid in the middle rounds and have themselves serious production early in his career.)