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Bucky Brooks' top five non-QB draft prospects

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For the fourth consecutive year, it appears likely that a quarterback will be selected with the first overall pick in the draft.

In fact, at least two quarterbacks have been selected in the Top 10 in each of the last six NFL drafts. With the Giants selecting 11th overall this year, the more quarterbacks taken in the top 10 will mean more top options for Big Blue when they get on the clock.

This year's crop of draft prospects appears to be quite deep at several positions, some of which the Giants could be looking to add to this offseason.

NFL Network's Bucky Brooks broke down his top five non-quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, with each one looking likely to be Day 1 contributors.

Coming in at No. 5 on Brooks' list is Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater.

Slater opted-out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 6-foot-3, 305-pound tackle put together an impressive resume in his first three seasons at Northwestern.

As a true freshman in 2017, Slater started 12 games at right tackle and graded as the No. 1 freshman offensive lineman in the country by Pro Football Focus. He was named to the Freshman All-Big Ten Team by the Big Ten Network and helped running back Justin Jackson rush for 1,000 yards.

The following season, Slater started all 14 games at right tackle and was named third team All-Big Ten. As a junior in 2019, he started 11 games at left tackle and allowed zero sacks, one QB hit, and five QB hurries. He was a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten selection.

"He's a technician," Brooks said. "He's everything you want at the tackle position, except maybe his arms are short. But he makes up for that with his ability to play and stalemate edge defenders. His footwork, his technique is outstanding. He is a guy that is going to be a starter from day one."

The next prospect in Brooks' rankings is Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons who, similar to Slater, also opted out of the 2020 season.

Parsons' sophomore season in 2019 was truly remarkable. He played in 13 games with 12 starts and finished with 109 tackles (52 solo), five sacks, 14 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and five passes defensed.

Parsons collected an impressive list of accolades that season. He was selected as First-Team All-Big Ten in addition to being named a consensus All-American. Parsons was also named the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year in the Big Ten. He also earned the Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP award following Penn State's big win over Memphis.

As a true freshman in 2018, Parsons played in 13 games with just one start, but racked up 82 total tackles (47 solo), 1.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection while also selected as Freshman All-American by numerous media outlets.

"He is a blitzing machine," the NFL Network analyst said. "This guy is big, he's fast, he's athletic, he has great instincts. He does a great job at snuffing out plays. Look, when he's laser focused, he is a destroyer of blocking schemes. If you put this guy in the right system, if he's matured and focused, he is going to be a superstar at the next level."

Brooks went Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell as the No. 3 non-quarterback prospect this year.

Sewell was another top prospect who opted out heading into the 2020 season. Similar to the other players already mentioned, the former Ducks star put more than enough on tape in his first two seasons to prove his status as one of the top players in the draft.

The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder could not have put together a more dominant sophomore campaign in 2019. Sewell started 13 games at left tackle and did not allow a sack across 926 snaps. He finished the season as the top-graded offensive lineman in PFF history, and became the first Oregon player to win the Outland Trophy as the nation's top interior lineman.

Sewell earned numerous honors that year. He won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12's top offensive lineman as well as being named the AP Pac-12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year and PFF's Pac-12 Player of the Year. He was a unanimous First-Team All-American and First-Team All-Pac-12 selection. Sewell's long list of accolades goes on and on.

Sewell's domination goes back to his true freshman season when he started seven games and was rated the top freshman offensive lineman and the No. 7 overall tackle in the nation by PFF. He became the first offensive lineman in Oregon history to earn All-Pac-12 honors as a true freshman (honorable mention).

"You're talking about a very young guy," Brooks said about the 20-year-old tackle. "But when you watch him play, the footwork, the hand placement is everything that you look for. But then his ability to move and climb and get to the next level. Regardless of scheme, if it's pin-and-pull, if it's a zone-based scheme, he is going to be able to thrive in it."

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft for the final time before the start of the draft.

The first offensive playmaker Brooks talks about is LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, who lands at No. 2.

Chase sat out the 2020 season after putting up historic numbers the year before. In 14 games in 2019, Chase registered 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, which stood for a year as the SEC record for most TD receptions in a season until DeVonta Smith broke that mark with 23.

The LSU receiver was selected as First-Team All-SEC and unanimous All-American, and also took home the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top wide receiver.

In 13 games (seven starts) as a freshman, Chase recorded 23 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns.

"I think it's a case of out of sight, out of mind," Brooks said about the talented receiver out of LSU. "But last year, this guy won the Biletnikoff Award. He is fantastic on the perimeter, can run routes, can catch and run, he can do those things you like to see. But really his best trait is his ability to win these 50-50 balls down the field…

"This is a fantastic player. A guy who should step in and immediately upgrade a wide receiver core as a No. 1 guy."

According to Brooks, the top non-quarterback prospect in this year's draft class is Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.

Pitts finished his collegiate career with a stellar performance this past season. Playing in eight games, the tight end registered 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. He earned selections as both unanimous All-American and First-Team All-SEC, and was the recipient of the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end.

This was the second consecutive season Pitts was named First-Team All-SEC. As a sophomore in 2019, he caught 54 passes for 649 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games after taking over as the starting tight end.

"Kyle Pitts is kind of in the mold of the Travis Kelces, the Darren Wallers, where you call them tight ends but these are jumbo wide receivers with playmaking ability," the NFL Network analyst said. "He has the ability to create mismatches all over the field - in the slot, out wide. You can put him in-line, but what his value to a team is as a playmaker in the passing game.

"As we've seen teams begin to use the tight end position as a mismatch option, Kyle Pitts is someone who is fantastic. A creative offensive mind can take Kyle Pitts, put him in a bunch of different situations where he can feast off linebackers and safeties. He is a big-time playmaker, someone we should be excited to see on Sundays next year."

Photos of 2021 NFL Draft prospect, Florida TE Kyle Pitts.


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