As with every NFL draft, there are some elite talents available for selection in just about every position. But only a select few will challenge for the 2021 Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year (ROTY) awards come the end of the season.
Those players who do mount a challenge for the OROTY and DROTY will need to have showcased incredible skill and poise in key moments of the biggest games, as did last year's winning pair: Washington DE Chase Young and Chargers QB Justin Herbert.
After scoping through footage of all of this year's draft prospects countless times, it's time to present the five talents Sportskeeda believes will have the best 2021 campaigns and go on to challenge for the individual -- and perhaps team -- honors come the curtain call of the 2021 NFL regular season.
Crack open a rootbeer and get ready for an epic 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday. But not before checking out our picks for the...
Top 5 players who will have the greatest impact in the NFL in 2021
To avoid upsetting offensive line aficionados, I'd like to preface by stating that the likes of Oregon's Penei Sewell and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater are most certainly set for big careers in the NFL -- I don't doubt that at all. But it's hard to compare pancakes and run blocking with a guy who runs 1,500-yards and scores ten TDs over the course of the season. Although Sewell is almost certain to improve the OL on whichever team he ends up representing (the Bengals, most likely), fans down in Cincinnati (for example) are unlikely to want to trade Sewell for QB Joe Burrow -- it's the playmakers who make the biggest difference, after all.
On that note, here are our picks for the five players we believe are set to light up the NFL come autumn of this year:
(In descending order)
1.QB Justin Fields (Ohio State Buckeyes)
Nope, it's not Trevor Lawrence.
Justin Fields is the best QB prospect at this year's draft, in my humble opinion.
The Ohio State product has all the tools needed to become a star in the NFL. Fields is a dual-threat; equally capable of slinging the ball deep on a dime or taking off downfield for crucial gains. In that sense, he reminds me of the Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, though Fields is taller and doesn't yet possess Wilson's game-intelligence or game management skills.
Reports emerged on Monday that suggested the San Francisco 49ers will not draft Fields with their No.3 overall pick in the draft on Thursday.
I, however, believe this to be a curveball (feel free to troll me if I'm wrong). But, in light of Kyle Shanahan's tendency to run play-action on offense, passing up on a dual-threat QB doesn't make sense to me.
If he makes it to San Francisco and manages to oust Jimmy Garoppolo, Justin Fields has all the potential required to win the ROTY trophy.
If Fields ends up at the Jets, or playing second fiddle somewhere else, however: okay, sure, Trevor Lawrence for ROTY.
2. RB Najee Harris (Alabama Crimson Tide)
I'm going to keep this one short because the stats tell you everything you need to know about Najee Harris.
Registering almost 1,900-yards from scrimmage and scoring an astonishing 26 TDs in his final year of college ball, the Alabama product has the types of numbers in college football that one would expect to translate well into the NFL.
Whether he ends up with the Steelers, Cardinals, Jets, Jaguars -- it doesn't matter: Harris looks nailed on to make a difference on offense.
Check out the video below for my evidence of his particular set of skills:
3. WR Rondale Moore (Purdue Boilermakers)
Likened to the San Francisco 49ers' battering-ram of a WR, Deebo Samuel, the Purdue Boilermakers Rondale Moore is the type of player who could come in and make an immediate impact on any offense.
Moore showcased his outstanding ability to make tough yards after the catch right throughout his college career, and Purdue fans grew to love his smash-mouth style.
Moore's PFF grade of 91.0 over the course of his college career may make him just the fifth-highest-grade receiver in this year's draft, but let's see how he does with Lamar Jackson or Jameis Winston throwing the ball to him before you write off his selection on this list.
Assuming Moore is now finally able to stay fit, he's all but guaranteed to make an impact at wideout in the NFL.
4. CB Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State Seminoles)
Samuel Jr. may be undersized for his position, but there really isn't much else to complain about in his game. Samuel Jr., the son of the former Patriot, Asante Samuel, Samuel Jr., has seen his coverage grade soar year on year since making his debut for the Seminoles as a freshman.
Not to mention that Samuel Jr. allowed just 179 yards to receivers in his coverage zone throughout the entirety of the 2020 season and has the best-forced incompletion percentage of all CBS players in this year's draft.
A player of proven pedigree, Samuel Jr. looks set to be a star in the making. Once he gets to the NFL, mind, he might find himself relegated to slot CB to avoid mismatches with the likes of Mike Williams and D.K. Metcalf.
5. EDGE Kwity Paye (Michigan Wolverines)
Judging solely by the tape, Kwity Paye looks -- to be -- the best pass-rusher in this year's draft. Paye had the highest pass-rush win percentage in college football last season, and it's this stat that's most likely to help him come in, suit up, and make an immediate impact in the NFL; no matter which team drafts him.