Trying to predict the 2021 NFL Draft with college football uncertainty.
At this point in time, there will be no Big Ten football in 2020. No PAC 12 football. In addition to those two power five conferences, there will be no football for a lot of other schools in 2020, and many top 2021 NFL Draft prospects are directly affected by these decisions.
Some big-name prospects have already opted out of the 2020 season. Players like Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley are no-doubt first-round picks who have already declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, and that was before any official decision came down from either the Big Ten, PAC 12, or any college football conference.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have players like projected top-five pick Justin Fields campaigning for the Big Ten to salvage their season, and reconsider the decision to cancel fall sports.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has also been vocal about wanting to play this season, and up to this point, the ACC appears on track to find a way to play as safely as possible.
How does all of this impact the 2021 NFL Draft? The reality is, nobody has a clue, but there are certain players who are probably not affected all that much and other players who are going to be substantially impacted by it.
Earlier in the football offseason, I took a look at a potential 2020 NFL Draft scenario where the 2019 college season wasn’t played. The impact one season can have on a player’s NFL Draft status is staggering.
Look no further than first-overall pick Joe Burrow out of LSU, who was an NFL Draft afterthought at this time a year ago. At this time last season, Burrow was a pro-style quarterback who couldn’t rise above the crop at Ohio State, and an average starter for LSU who maybe had mid-late round potential.
Then he absolutely destroyed all of college football to the tune of 60 touchdowns in a single season.
Even for any of Burrow’s most ardent supporters at this time a year ago, it would have been impossible to project a number one pick type of expectation on him based on his first three years of college football.
Had Burrow opted to return for the 2020 college season to prove himself, his draft stock would have taken a hit based simply on the fact that he would have been 24 at the time of his being drafted in the Spring of 2021. Not to mention the fact that circumstances with other players coming and going would have been vastly different.
Again, that’s just for one player. Think about the chunk of college football that presently won’t have the chance to put anything else on tape for NFL teams in 2020.
Even though many college programs won’t have football in 2020, there is still plenty of intrigue with the Big 12, ACC, and SEC along with some other programs around the country still planning to play.
We’ll see what happens with Justin Fields’ petition to the Big Ten, but for right now, how do we project the 2021 NFL Draft?
Here’s the latest two-round NFL mock draft using The Draft Network’s simulator.