The plan for this season was to accompany the KM Devy podcast with a regular article showing the latest 2021 Devy rankings at each position. Unfortunately, as Mike Tyson said “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
As COVID-19 continues to play havoc with the 2020 College Football season rankings may change more than anyone ever imagined, or they may not change at all. Only time will tell. For now, I’m pushing ahead with the plan.
Here then are my current 2021 devy rankings by position:
- Trevor Lawrence
Clemson QB Lawrence is a superior talent and now has a clear path to the number pick in the draft with Fields and Lance on the sideline all year. Barring a junior season implosion Lawrence is well on his way to the NFL. We can only hope he doesn’t land with the Jaguars.
- Justin Fields
There are now clear doubts over whether Fields will declare in 2021 or go back to school in the hope of locking down the top spot in 2022. For it’s worth (almost nothing), I guess he’ll still aim to enter the draft next year.
Fields could certainly have used another year to work through some of his ball placement and accuracy issues but he’s a superior talent and if he declares you have to think he’ll be the 2nd overall selection.
- Trey Lance
If Fields has a dilemma then Lance is lodged in an unsolvable riddle. A spectacular 2019 had him well placed to make a huge leap in 2020 into the top tier of QBs. Suddenly he won’t play before the 2021 draft and his status is in doubt. He’s only thrown 287 passes, a tiny number for player asking teams to bank their future on him.
Lance surely needs to find a way to put more play on film otherwise he could enter the draft as the first top tier QB to never throw an interception in college.
- JT Daniels
Daniels seemed well on his way to college stardom at USC before he was usurped by Kedon Slovis. An unsettled offseason finally ended when he entered the transfer portal and somehow emerged in the middle of Quarterback battle in Georgia.
It’s tough to believe that Daniels chose Georgia if they were totally sold on former Wake Forest signal caller Jamie Newman and I think he’ll win the job. If he does he could end up as the number one beneficiary of Fields and Lance’s misfortune.
- Brock Purdy
I think I like Purdy more than most. I like the fact that despite losing the starting spot at Iowa State he didn’t transfer but instead knuckled down and won the gig back. On recovering his slot he excelled last season throwing for nearly 4000 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Purdy lacks the elite arm talent that most teams want but if the Big 12 push ahead he has the chance to show that with his impressive accuracy he’s more Baker Mayfield than Jake Fromm.
- Travis Etienne
Etienne surprised a lot of people by deciding to skip the 2019 draft and instead return to Clemson for his senior season. I wonder if right now he thinks that was a mistake. He’s already spoken of the difficulty in deciding not to opt-out of the season.
When the draft rolls around in April I think Etienne will be a much sought after back, his impressive speed and athleticism will impress a lot of teams and there’s every chance that he’s the first back off the board. His production is incredible, in the last two season he ran for nearly 3300 yards and scored 49 touchdowns. He, simply put, has nothing left to prove.
2. Chuba Hubbard
If you love explosive running backs, next year is the draft for you. Like Etienne, Hubbard is lightening fast. His 2019 season was beyond impressive, with over 2000 yards and 21 touchdowns.
He’ll get knocks for being undersized but his skill set is exactly what the NFL wants and he’s exactly the kind of back who could sneak into the end of the 1st round.
3. Najee Harris
Harris is a fascinating runner. He has an impressive combination of size and speed and is always willing to put his head down and churn out yards. I think by the end of the season many devy analysts, and any number of NFL scouts will have Harris number one on their list.
4. Journey Brown
Oh Journey. With Penn State now unlikely to play any football until the Spring next year Brown’s momentum will be difficult to maintain. Any number of backs may slip past a dormant Brown but his talent is unquestionable. Whether he has shown enough already to get the kind of draft capital required to keep him high on this list is now highly doubtful.
5. Trey Sermon
If Brown’s status on this list is at risk then Sermon’s is at DEFCON 1. I had high hopes that his transfer form a crowded running back room in Oklahoma to Ohio State would propel his draft stock, but that’s now academic. I suspect this is the last time you’ll see him on this list.
- Ja’Marr Chase
I’m going back and forth between Chase and Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle as to who fills the number one receiver slot. Right now Chase’s outstanding 2019 season; he broke the SEC record for receiving yards and touchdowns, gives him the edge.
Chase has the all round game to be an outstanding NFL receiver but Waddle has an athletic upside that the LSU man doesn’t. If both teams play a full season I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if either is the first receiver off the board.
2. Jaylen Waddle
Waddle got lost in the shuffle of Alabama’s magnificent receiving core in 2019. His production dropped off from his excellent freshman year but his top end speed and explosiveness remained. With Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy out of town Waddle is likely to take a huge leap if the team plays this year.
3. Rondale Moore
These rankings were pre-opt out and pre-conference cancellations. Up until that point I was very bullish on Purdue wideout Moore and his outlook for 2020. Not only was he healthy but the emergence of David Bell meant Moore would likely find more space to show off his skill set this season. Alas, with Moore and his Purdue team mates on ice, he’ll now be facing a two year gap before he can play a snap in the NFL and it’s tough to see that not dropping his draft stock.
4. Rashod Bateman
Similar to Moore this rank was pre-Big Ten shutdown but my concerns around the Minnesota man predated that unprecedented action. There is no questioning Bateman’s receiving skills, he has demonstrated his route running and big play ability. My concerns come around his ability to replicate that as the next level while seemingly lacking elite speed or strength. The current NFL landscape doesn’t favour and may see him picked apart during the draft process.
In the end I have concerns that his draft stock will take a hit as a result and a host of more physically talented receivers may go past him by the time we arrive in Cleveland.
5. Chris Olave
Olave is another big loser from the Big Ten fallout as he entered the season on the verge of a breakout. His sudden explosion will perfectly fit the skill set of an NFL receiver and while his size may limit his chances outside he has every chance of being a highly productive fantasy asset.
Without that breakout season it’s tough to know where his draft stock will land. I’d expect him to fall off this list once teams start playing in other conferences.
- Brevin Jordan
It’s going to be a pick your poison kind of year at Tight End. Right now I prefer the athleticism and upside of Miami’s Brevin Jordan. In truth though there isn’t much in it. His Junior season promises much and if he can add twenty catches, two hundred yards and a few touchdowns to his sophomore stat line he’ll be well placed to be TE1 in 2021.
2. Kyle Pitts
Pitts is an exciting player and will appear at the top of a lot of rankings. He had an impressive 2019 on a fairly unimpressive Gators team. If he replicates that this season there is every chance that he leaves the other tight ends in his wake when draft season roles around.
He is, however, a pure receiving tight end. He’ll need to add some weight at the next level as right now he’ll offer little as an NFL blocker.
3. Pat Freiermuth
Penn State’s Freiermuth has probably already shown enough to be generate solid draft capital if he comes out at the end of the season. His all round game is impressive and he shows all the signs of being a consistent NFL tight end who is a weekly fantasy contributor.
That consistency though probably means he’ll fall behind Jordan and Pitts as a prospect as his upside is likely to be less than those two.
4. Jake Ferguson
Wisconsin Tight End Ferguson is a classic safety blanket player. Perfect to land in the NFL, catch a load of passes and move the chains regularly. His success with multiple Quarterbacks at Wisconsin bodes well for a lengthy NFL career.
He’ll need to improve as a blocker but there’s little reason to believe he can’t.
5. Jeremy Ruckert
Ruckert narrowly beats our Michigan’s Nick Eubanks but I could easily flip the two at some point. Paradoxically, if both don’t play this year I’ll have Eubanks higher. The Ohio State man’s lack of production is offset by his willingness to block and hints that he has more to offer as a receiver.
It’s tough to see him declaring next spring with only 15 catches and 155 yards on his resume.