Picking up where we left off from part one, so let’s jump right back into this list! If you haven’t checked out my Rad Report on my Top 25 2021 rookies part one, don’t miss that one either. Enough talk, let’s go!
13. Trey Sermon, RB Ohio State (Round 3, #88 overall to SF)
Sermon to the 49ers could turn out to be a steal. He will have a chance to succeed, as the 49ers run based offense is tailored to his strengths. Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Wayne Gallman and Jamychal Hasty all figure to challenge him for carries but Sermon was a standout at OSU and should snatch away the lead spot before long.
12. Rondale Moore, WR Purdue (Round 2, #49 overall to ARI)
Larry Fitzgerald is on his last hall of fame leg as an aging receiver and Christian Kirk, while a nice player is inconsistent as a #2 to DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals addressed a need for Kyler Murray with the small but shifty Moore who can impact both as a receiver and return specialist.
11. Justin Fields, QB Ohio State (Round 1, #11 overall to CHI)
Fields talent alone should be enough to help him as a fantasy contributor early in his career. He has solid weapons in Allen Robinson (for now) and David Montgomery with second year breakout candidate Cole Kmet. Head coach Matt Nagy is on the hot seat in Chi-town so he will need Fields to show promise sooner rather than later to ensure that he will be his coach beyond 2021.
10. Javonte Williams, RB North Carolina (Round 2, #35 overall to DEN)
I had Williams as the 3rd best rookie RB in this class and if things shape up a certain way, he could end up being the best rookie in 2021. The only obstacle in his way is Melvin Gordon, who is a good but not great player. Even if Gordon does ply well in 2021, Williams has the tools to carve out a significant niche on a Broncos offense that is a quarterback away from realizing their full potential. Williams can be drafted in the middle rounds that has RB1 potential if he can overtake Gordon.
9. Kyle Pitts, TE Florida (Round 1, #4 overall to ATL)
By far the best Tight End in the draft (and dare I say, in some circles the best player) Pitts has the making of a generational tight end that will dominate his position for the next decade to come. He is a matchup nightmare and if Julio Jones stays in Atlanta that will only help his cause, as defenses will not be able to cover him, JJ and Calvin Ridley one on one. My only concern with Pitts is that rookie Tight Ends usually need a season or two to adjust to NFL schemes and refine their blocking skills. But Pitts is too talented for the Falcons to not involve him heavily from week 1 onward. Look for new coach Arthur Smith to get him on the field right away, and don’t be fooled by his last name; He will be anything but the Pitts as his NFL career takes off.
8. Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama (Round 1, #8 overall to MIA)
Tua Tagovailoa will no doubt be happy to see his Crimson Tide homie join him in South Beach. Waddle is a home run hitter and will give the receiver unit an injection of speed and big play capabilities as the Dolphins look to take the next step in the AFC East.
7. Terrace Marshall, WR LSU (Round 2, #59 overall)
Marshall is a big bodied receiver that scored 13 touchdowns for the historic 2019 LSU Tigers Championship season – as a #3 receiver. He may not be as celebrated as teammates Justin Jefferson or Jamarr Chase but Marshall is capable of holding his own and the Panthers will look to him as a receiver for still young QB Sam Darnold to grow with. Marshall is a fringe flex option right now but he will be counted on quite a bit as the season wears on.
6. Trey Lance, QB North Dakota State (Round 1, #3 overall to SF)
Lance is probably the most fascinating rookie QB in this draft. Anyone who goes an entire season without throwing an interception is going to be noticed, no matter how bad or inferior the competition is. That’s exactly what Lance did and it vaulted him up draft boards and into the 49ers lap at 3. It remains to be seen what will happen with Jimmy Garappolo but Lance has major upside as a big, athletic dual threat quarterback. Reports say that he is a film room junkie, a gym rat and has the maturity to match despite being the youngest of all QBs in this draft. If he gets the job sooner rather than later, he will challenge for rookie of the year honors all the way to the bitter end.
5. Devonta Smith, WR Alabama (Round 1, #10 overall to PHI)
As an Eagles fan, I was very happy with this pick. It’s not everyday that a WR wins the Heisman trophy, nor the fact that he falls to #10 in the draft. Both happened to Smith in 2021. Smith is easily the best receiver on the Eagles team and should blow away the 100 target range in his rookie year. Questions will always surround his small frame (6’1” 175 lbs.) but the kid can play. He is a master route runner, has exceptional hands and proficient speed in the open field. Not only that, but he reunites with his old Alabama teammate Jalen Hurts. (Both played on Alabama in 2017.) Alabama is almost like an unofficial 33rd NFL team so Smith will be fine in the NFL, as most Alabama players have been. Treat Smith as a fringe WR3 that is good for 75-85 receptions and close to 1000 yards, but the touchdown count could be modest in an Eagles offense that needs time to grow under first year head coach Nick Sirianni.
4. Jamarr Chase, WR LSU (Round 1, #4 overall to CIN)
It is true that Devonta Smith was the best receiver over the course of his college career but Chase was head and shoulders the best receiver in 2019. He was a man amongst young men for the Tigers and routinely dominated secondary’s from Week 1 all the way to the National Title game. Now he reunites with his BFF Joe Burrow, not to mention 2nd year player Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Chase is the best receiver of the three and it should not be long before he leads this Bengals team in targets, receptions and touchdowns. This team has the look of a squad that will help many fantasy teams win championships for years to come. Chase will start his career as WR3 in deeper leagues that will only get better.
3. Travis Etienne, RB Clemson (Round 1, #25 overall to JAX)
Every time I saw Etienne play I kept getting reminded of former Chiefs great Jamaal Charles. Etienne can do it all; run with speed, run with power, catch and turn it into a big play and pass block. It helps that he will be joining his college QB teammate (more on him in a minute) so he should have no problem getting a chance to contribute significantly to the Jaguars even as he joins undrafted surprise 1000+ yard rusher James Robinson. New Head coach Urban Meyer is looking to turn things around in Duval in a hurry and Etienne is a great player to help in his efforts. Etienne should flirt with 1000+ scrimmage yards himself with 7-10 touchdowns and start the season as a low-end RB2 with upside.
2. Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson (Round 1, #1 overall to JAX)
Everyone saw this pick coming back as soon as Jacksonville locked up the first overall. Lawrence will start Day 1. He probably started as soon as his last game against Ohio State ended. He also joins a team that has a number of young emerging prospects: the aforementioned Travis Etienne and James Robinson; a wideout core that includes DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones, and fellow rookie tight end Luke Farrell. Lawrence will thrive in the always fluid AFC south division and he should be treated as an upside QB2 that can be used as a bye week filler as the season progresses. Lawrence will be in talks for rookie of the year all season long.
1. Najee Harris, RB Alabama (Round 1, #22 to PIT)
I couldn’t think of a better landing spot for the best RB in the draft than the place where great running backs are born and bred. The Steelers have not had the proud tradition of great running back play since the days of Bill Cowher and Jerome Bettis. James Conner was a nice player with an even better story that made him a fan favorite across the country but on the field it was time for a fresh start for both sides. His departure for the Cardinals leaves 200+ carries open for the Steelers backfield and Benny Snell has not shown enough to prove that he can fill the lead back role.
Enter Harris, a 6’2, 230 lbs. bulldozer of a running back that is surprisingly nimble, has receiving chops and can do things like this. Harris is in position to be the best fantasy rookie this year. Ben Roethlisberger will certainly appreciate him as he now has a legitimate feature back that can take the pressure off of his aging and battered body. Harris should be a shoe in for 1200+ scrimmage yards and double digit scores as he begins his NFL career. Look for him to be drafted between starting as early as round 4 as a super high RB2 with no ceiling on his potential.
BEST OF THE REST
Kenneth Gainwell RB, Memphis (Round 5, #150 overall to PHI)
Gainwell had a fine career at Memphis but he joins a suddenly crowded Eagles room with Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Boston Scott and newly signed Kerryon Johnson. Gainwell should be able to carve out a spot but he will need to earn it in camp.
Rhamondre Stevenson RB, Oklahoma (Round 4, #120 overall to NE)
This is a true dart throw. Fantasy footballers know that Belichick probably has a raffle drawing every week to see who will lead his backfield in carries so Stevenson may not even see the field this year. But at 6’0, 250 lbs. he can serve as a goal line back at the very worst. Don’t count on it though.
Davis Mills QB, Stanford (Round 3, Pick #67 to HOU)
The uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson grows more by the day and with the Texans drafting a Quarterback so high, it all but signals the end of the Watson era in Houston. Of course, Mills will have very limited value even if he does start as Houston has more than a problem at the Quarterback position; They have no offensive talent currently on the roster to support it.