RiseNDraft Mailbag: First Round QBs On The Uptick; An In-Depth Look At Safeties & The Hokies Are Loaded

By Ryan Roberts | @RiseNDraft

Did someone order a second round of draft questions for the week? At the NFL Draft Bible, we aim to please! Here’s another round of questions, and the answers we need to find a comprehensive understanding of what the 2021 NFL Draft might bring!

WILL THERE BE ANOTHER QUARTERBACK OTHER THAN THE BIG THREE TAKEN IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE 2021 NFL DRAFT?

Yes. There seems to be more teams than originally anticipated that may be in the quarterback market this offseason. The trio of Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Trey Lance (North Dakota State) are pretty safe bets for the top half of the first round. The question is who will be the fourth signal-caller potentially off the board?

Zach Wilson from BYU seems to be the quarterback that everyone wants to talk about. Even though Boise State is not a premier team defensively right now, it will be a huge indicator for just how real the Zach Wilson hype truly is.

Kyle Trask (Florida), Mac Jones (Alabama and even Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati) are players coined as huge risers within the scouting community. Ultimately, neither of the trio figures to be in that first round conversation.

A couple dark horses to keep an eye on are Carson Strong (Nevada) and Davis Mills (Stanford). Both are more likely to enter the 2022 NFL Draft but don’t rule them out entirely for this year’s draft, as they both offer intriguing skill-sets and could be big risers as the season wears on.

WHO IS THE BEST WIDE RECEIVER IN THE COUNTRY NOT NAMED JA’MARR CHASE?

This one is really tough, it comes down to team preference and flavor at the position. You have your sleek pass catchers with some length in the vein of Rashod Bateman (Minnesota), DeVonta Smith (Alabama) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU). You have your super-explosive slot types like Rondale Moore (Purdue), Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) and Amon-Ra St.Brown.

It is not hyperbole to say that this class may be stronger than the one we just saw in 2020. Minus the health concerns, Rondale Moore seems to have the greatest upside. He has been the best athlete on the field every Saturday he’s suited up since he was a freshman. For what he lacks in length, he makes up for with ridiculous play strength and insane long speed/acceleration. That young man is special!

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SAMUEL COSMI AS A PROSPECT?

He is firmly in the conversation as the second offensive tackle off the board behind Penei Sewell (Oregon). Blessed with a prototypical build and premier athleticism, Cosmi looks the part of high upside blindside protector. He is coordinated, an easy mover and has notable mirror and match ability in the pass game.

The question is going to be power… specifically in his lower half. He has a hard time dealing with stronger edge rushers, lacking the ability to sit down and anchor. That can fly in the Big 12 but it may cause great issues transitioning to the next level. Still, that is something that can be easily improved. Traits like athleticism and size, however, can not. Cosmi clearly has the building blocks to work with.

WHO ARE SOME SAFETIES WHO COULD BE IN THE FIRST ROUND CONVERSATION?

The 2021 safety class is a really interesting one… one with a ton of depth with a bunch of varying styles. From your preferred center fielders, in the box strong safety types, slot defenders and a mix of everything else, this class has a lot to offer NFL teams on the backend.

At this point, there may not be a safety that is chosen in the top half of the first round but the latter half of round one could be a completely different conversation. Syracuse defender Andre Cisco has been a polarizing prospect. His playmaking ability and range on the backend are appealing. He recorded 13 interceptions in just 24 career games, which is highly impressive. Cisco’s ball skills will be one of the elite on the NFL level the moment he steps onto the field. A season ending knee injury may cloud that outlook for Cisco being selected early on and cost him the ability to test athletically prior to the draft, something he was expected to ace with flying colors.

After Cisco, there is a phenomenal amount of depth. Players like Trevon Moehrig (TCU), Paris Ford (Pittsburgh), Richard LeCounte III (Georgia), Jevon Holland (Oregon), Ar’Darius Washington (TCU) and Caden Sterns (Texas) have their fair share of fans up until this point. While some of these prospects figure to be taken inside the top 50 overall selection, the first round may be a bit rich at this point in time. However, there are two players specifically who could be players to keep a close eye on.

Florida State defensive back Hamsah Nasirildeen came into the season with some notable hype. A supersized safety, he has spent most of 2020 recovering from a lower body injury that cost him the latter part of the 2019 season. If he is able to get back to his old self in time for the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine, Nasirildeen is expected to test at a high level for a player his size. Even with a lot of missed opportunities in 2020, don’t count out the skill set of Nasirildeen making a rise during the final stages of the draft cycle.

Now a long shot… Miami’s Bubba Bolden is the type of versatile defender who is sure to capture a lot of attention, especially after his play in 2020, which has been phenomenal up until this point. So will there be more than one safety selected in 2021? Don’t bet the ranch on it. As was true of the 2020 NFL Draft cycle, this year’s safety group has a ton of depth but doesn’t necessarily have the talent to claim a lot of first round selections up top.

THERE WAS A RECENT MOCK DRAFT THAT HAD AT LEAST TWO VIRGINIA TECH PLAYERS GOING ROUND ONE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE HOKIES REBUILDING INTO THE CONSISTENT NFL DRAFT PROSPECT PRODUCER FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE FRANK BEAMER HAS BEEN GONE?

It’s tough to determine long term outlook to this degree. It is certainly a strong season for Virginia Tech in terms of potential NFL Draft prospects. There might not be a larger riser amongst the 2021 offensive tackle group than left tackle Christian Darrisaw. The talent was easy to see from his 2019 film but he was extremely raw, winning more off of pure athleticism than anything else. The 2020 season has been a completely different story. He appears much more balanced and technically refined, and reminded me of former Hokies star Duane Brown in a lot of ways.

The other first round caliber player is cornerback Caleb Farley, who chose to opt out of the season. He currently projects as a first round pick, especially if he tests to the level that is currently being talked about.

Outside of the first round, Virginia Tech has several other talented players who should hear their name called, specifically wide receiver Tré Turner, safety Divine Deablo, linebacker Rayshard Ashby and running back Khalil Herbert. Is this just an unusually strong year for Virginia Tech prospects in recent years, or the start of a trend? It’s way too early to answer that question.

In the NFL Draft landscape that is constantly changing seemingly week-to-week, clarity is needed. Now entering Week Ten of the college football season, prospects are running out of game opportunities to impress. Let’s see what this week is going to bring! Until then, we will see you again next week… same time, same place.

TUNE-IN: The NFL Draft Tailgate Show With Ryan Roberts airs live every Saturday 10:00-11:00am eastern time, along with co-hosts Ric Serritella, John Murphy & David Turner!

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ARCHIVES

11/05/20 – RiseNDraft Mailbag: The Pac is Back, A Look At Surratt & JOC, Plus Sewell Makes Scouts Drool

10/29/20 – RiseNDraft Mailbag: Trevor Lawrence Is All The Buzz, An Ace Emerges In Nevada & The Schiano Effect Is Real