By: Mike Colaianne | @FF_MikeC
Year after year, the B1G produces some of the top devy prospects in the country. Looking at this past year, Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins and K.J. Hamler were just a few of the devy prospects to make an impact in the NFL already. This trend looks to continue in 2021 and beyond. There are a ton of talented prospects in the B1G East that should have the opportunity to produce in the NFL one day.
The five players featured in this article have been chosen with consideration to their performance during the 2020 college football season and their potential impact in the NFL.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Despite ending the 2020 season with two of his worst performances of his career, Justin Fields is still one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Fields completed 72% of his passes in six games for 1,521 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. Fields also added 67 carries for 274 yards and five rushing touchdowns. When looking at Fields as a prospect, he has the arm talent, athleticism and intangibles to be an NFL team’s franchise quarterback. Fields still needs to continue developing the mental side of the position but that’s expected for a player that has only made 20 starts at the college level.
Fields is expected to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft and be taken in the top 10 picks. His landing spot is going to be critical for his early success and overall development. In a system that utilizes spread concepts and his mobility, Fields’ potential is through the roof.
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Indiana
One of the most significant contributors to Indiana’s success in 2020 was the play of Michael Penix Jr. The redshirt sophomore received his chance to be the starting quarterback in 2020 and excelled. Penix Jr . threw for 1645 yards, 16 total touchdowns and four interceptions in six games. He was getting the most out of the Indiana playmakers before suffering a season-ending ACL injury against Maryland. As he recovers and prepares for 2021, there is a lot of optimism and excitement for Penix Jr. as a devy asset.
In terms of his future outlook, Penix Jr. took a massive leap in 2020. Considered as an afterthought in NFL circles before the 2020 season, Penix Jr. is a serious NFL prospect going into 2021. With a full recovery, continued development and more film, Penix Jr. has the opportunity to continue increasing his draft and devy stock.
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Between Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin and K.J. Hamler, Penn State has been getting their premier wide receivers prepared for the NFL. After an impressive 2020 season, Jahan Dotson looks like he is next in line. In nine games, Dotson had 52 catches for 884 yards and eight touchdowns. The highlight of Dotson’s season was against Ohio State, where he excelled in a matchup against highly touted cornerback Shaun Wade. Dotson has shown reliable hands, very good body positioning and an ability to win at each level of the field.
Dotson’s devy outlook will depend on if he decides to stay at Penn State for another season or declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. If he were to stay in school, Dotson would have a tremendous opportunity to continue improving and show that his production in 2020 wasn’t a fluke. If he declares for the 2021 NFL Draft, expect Dotson to be a mid-late round pick that may take a year or two to get his opportunity to produce.
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
When talking about the top wide receivers in the 2021 class, Chris Olave is usually an afterthought or completely omitted from the conversation. However, Olave’s tape and production prove that he deserves to be considered one of the top wide receiver prospects. After a breakout season in 2019, Olave had 36 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns in five games in 2020. Olave showed that he has what it takes to be a high-powered offense’s primary target. Olave can win at each level of the field with excellent body control, smooth routes and consistent hands.
In terms of his outlook, be prepared to see Olave be taken in the top 50 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Olave has a very well-rounded skill set that should allow him to produce early on in the NFL. With a good landing spot, Olave should be able to return great value right away.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
With multiple departures at the wide receiver position in 2019, the expectation was for Garrett Wilson to step up and take on a larger role in 2020. Not only did Wilson step up and produce but he showed that he has what it takes to be one of the best wide receivers in the country. In six games, Wilson had 38 catches for 621 yards and five touchdowns. Wilson has the chance to be special because he can produce in multiple ways. He can win with his route running and body control in tight spaces or win with speed and athleticism in space.
As it stands now, Wilson has to be considered a top-five wide receiver prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. He provides a versatile skill-set that will allow him to flourish in nearly any offensive scheme. In terms of devy value, Wilson should be considered a top 15 devy asset. With Olave projected to leave for the NFL, Wilson will have the opportunity to keep increasing his value in 2021.