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Best in their Class

During the draft process, there is almost a constant analysis being made to check if the player in question is who he is touted to be. While never a consensus, there is usually a player who is scrutinised and found to be the best in their Class. With this examination however, there comes a level of expectation and if the player does not live up to these lofty heights, they are condemned much quicker than any other player.

We see it year after year where players taken in later rounds, without the same fanfare, and manage to not only create their own legacy but become the best at their position. The player become known during the draft process; however they quicker get pushed to the side by their more highly touted colleagues. This is absolutely a blessing, but I want to talk about those players.

We are going to look at the quote on quote best player in their class, and we are going to find a player destined to outshine them.

Quarterbacks

Best in their Class – Trevor Lawrence

Without a doubt the highest rated Quarterback in a long time, Trevor Lawrence has been QB1 since high school. He entered college football with Clemson and from that day on, millions knew he would be number 1 it would just be when and where it happened, turns out that is 2021 in Cleveland. Trevor Lawrence has all the tools to be great, he has the look, is a born winner and he is NFL ready.

Outshined by – Mac Jones

Image Credit – Bears Wire – USA Today

Big Mac as he is now being affectionately known does not look like your typical NFL Quarterback. He does not have the elite physique, or the look of the franchise hero, but what he does have is excellent accuracy. He completed 77.4% of his throws this past season only throwing for 4 interceptions. In their final seasons in college Jones outperformed Lawrence in Completion percentage, touchdowns, average yards per completion, and passer rating. He also was sacked less and threw less interceptions.

Running Backs

Best in their Class – Najee Harris

Harris is huge, and he looks every bit the giant power back that the NFL is trending towards. He rushed for 1466 yards last season, converting 26 Touchdowns, the numbers are incredible. How then can he possibly be outshined; well you see for me it is all in the average yards per carry. On 251 attempts, Harris managed 5.8 yards per carry. Against NFL defenses this will naturally decline somewhat and while he will likely be productive, he might have some competition in his class.

Outshined by – Khalil Herbert

Image Credit – Virginia Tech Athletics

The polar opposite to Harris, Herbert is 5ft 8 to the big mans 6ft 2 and is 22 pounds lighter than him, however he does possess some elite speed. His average yards per carry were a massive 7.7 and on 97 less carries than Harris he was less than 300 total yards behind him. He found the endzone only 9 times, but on a team with others contributing Touchdowns, look for Herbert to scare defenses into planning for him.

Wide Receivers

Best in their Class – Ja’Marr Chase

Now, we didn’t see Chase in the 2020 season, however he has become the leader in the Wide Receiver class during this offseason. Looking at his production in 2019 for LSU, he led the nation in Touchdowns, and yards, by over a 100 yards. In the NFL 100 yards in a game is excellent, so Chase beating everyone by a whole games production is fantastic. He is a true number one Receiver ready to take on the next level, but competition is fierce.

Outshined by – Jaelon Darden

Image Credit – NFL Draft Diamonds

The NFL is all about production, and Darden will be extremely productive at the next level. He can work from the slot but can also work on screens and in the return game. From his Receiving statistics in 2020, we can see that he broke 1000 yards and managed to contribute 19 touchdowns. Those are only his receiving statistics too. While Chase spends his days double covered as the number 1 receiver, watch for Darden to live in the endzone.

Tight Ends

Best in their Class – Kyle Pitts

This one a bit of a difficult one to read, because Kyle Pitts is at this point seen a large Wide Receivers, however, is still a Tight End. His numbers show this with only 770 yards to his name in 2020 and while he did find the endzone 12 times, he has the overall production of as Tight End. He is a matchup nightmare with all the tools to be the best Tight End or Wide Receiver in the league, but it really needs a conscious conversion to either one or the other to thrive.

Outshined by – Tommy Tremble

Image Credit – Irish Sports Daily

With the best name in the draft Tremble is an old school Tight End ready to set the league alight. I think you will agree he is the definition of a smash mouth player, well known for his excellent run blocking. He ranked 411th in college football in yards last year with 218 yards total and zero Touchdowns, so how will he outshine Pitts. Well, because of his blocking, in which he ranked first in the league and is one of the best downhill blockers out of college in a long time. Drafting him basically gives you another lineman but one will smash Linebackers any chance he gets.

Offensive Linemen

Best in their Class – Penei Sewell

Easily a top ten pick last year, Sewell sat the 2020 season, but is still ranked above the rest in the league for his ability to do everything at the position. He is a great run blocker, capable of getting to the second level with ease and displays excellent quickness in pass blocking to maintain and finish what he starts. How then will he be outshined? Well he likely goes high in the draft and the spotlight is on for his to protect a team with a young Quarterback who recently got the keys to the franchise. Sewell is therefore tied to the success of that young signal caller.

Outshined by – Brady Christensen

Image Credit – With The First Pick

Sewell is the class of Offensive Tackles in this year’s draft. He is vicious at the point of attack and is NFL ready right now. Problem is, he will have the pressure of being the first Tackle off the board. You know who doesn’t have that pressure Brady Christensen. Everyone who listens knows how high I am on Christensen and for good reason, at 6ft 6 and 300 pounds, Christensen will thrive at the next level on an offensive line where he can learn the ropes without the spotlight.

Defensive Linemen

Best in their Class – Gregory Rousseau

Now, there is some debate in the Defensive End class this year to who is the actual best player, with most of them being elite athletes with need of some polish. Rousseau measured in at 6ft 6 and 260 pounds, so while he may need a little time to bring it all together, his sheer presence is a problem. He will hit the field early, and while he is the best in his class, he is still a big risk.

Outshined by – Patrick Johnson

Image Credit – Tulane University Athletics

The Tulane product knows where the Quarterback is and knows how to get to him. Contributing with 39 total tackles last year, Johnson ended up getting 10 sacks, with 2 pass defended and 2 forced fumbles. The NFL is a production league and easily with end rushers, you have to be able to locate the Quarterback. Early on as a situational pass rusher, watch while Johnson thrives.

Linebackers

Best in their Class – Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons is the best player in this draft, at least that is what all of the analysts say, without a doubt he is an incredible talent. He is extremely fast and is the definition of a three down Linebacker. Capable in run defense and able to run through blockers, Parsons with be a match up nightmare. He does however have limitations in coverage and with the league using the middle of the field more frequently, more eyes will be on him to watch him suffer.

Outshined by – Dylan Moses

Image Credit – ESPN

Seemingly in free fall at the moment, Moses looks set to be a late round pick if at all at this point. I can guarantee you now, that is a huge mistake. Moses can absolutely do it all but has been lost in the shuffle while we talk about all the other Alabama prospects. He will be one of the forgotten few who go late in the draft, with no pressure and change the game at the next level.

Defensive Backs

Best in their Class – Patrick Surtain II

Surtain is a special player, another Alabama product to make the list, he is a true number one Cornerback at the next level. I cannot find many holes in his game, but this in itself is the problem. He is absolutely a number one corner, which means he will be drafted very high. This means he likely goes to a team in need of good players and means he will jump straight into the lineup against seasoned number ones in his first season. If the spotlight shines too bright, his baptism into the league may be one of fire.

Outshined by – Shemar Jean-Charles

Image Credit – 247 Sports

Out of Appalachian State, Jean-Charles does not take too kindly to being thrown at. With 16 passes defended in the 2020 season to go with 1 interception, you aim at your own peril. Jean-Charles managed to force a fumble only adding to the tools he possesses. He has the chance to outshine his talented rival because he will be brought in to start on passing downs and as a rotation corner, playing against tired players. When on the field he won’t be in the crosshairs of the Quarterback, but the Quarterback will be in his.

With any year the NFL will throw out some surprises, and the Best in their Class rarely end up as the best at their position. Year and year, we have seen someone else thrive, and this year will be no different. Mac Jones, Khalil Herbert, Jaelon Darden, Tommy Tremble, Brady Christensen, Patrick Johnson, Dylan Moses and Shemar Jean-Charles, the floor is yours.

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