ESPN's best prospect-to-pro comps
The wait is almost over.
Draft week is here, meaning we are just days away from the start of the 2021 NFL Draft. All week, Giants.com will be bringing you extensive draft coverage.
Let's get started.
ESPN asked 10 of their NFL draft analysts for their single most favorite pro comparison for a prospect in this year's class. Here are some of the experts' comps, along with commentary from a few of the analysts:
Todd McShay: Alabama WR DeVonta Smith -- Marvin Harrison
"To start, both wide receivers have a lean frame yet know how to protect themselves and get open. But I really like this comp because of their savvy route running. Alabama's Smith knows how to get off press coverage, he's smooth in and out of his breaks, and he can find the soft spots in coverage. That's Harrison, who played with the Indianapolis Colts from 1996 to 2008 and is now in the Hall of Fame. And Smith also thinks about the game in the same way Harrison did -- the Heisman winner is a second quarterback on the field with excellent recall and a great understanding of defensive structures." -- McShay
Matt Bowen: Florida TE Kyle Pitts -- Plaxico Burress
"With his high-end traits, Florida's Pitts will create pass-game matchups from the tight end position in the NFL. But I like the comp to Burress -- a wideout who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and New York Jets from 2000 to 2012 -- here when Pitts is flexed outside as the boundary X receiver or aligned in the slot. I'm looking at the long, physical frame, along with the ability to outmuscle defenders on in-breakers or contested catches. And we know that Pitts can separate vertically while also bringing scoring upside on isolation throws inside the red zone." -- Bowen
Field Yates: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle -- Tyreek Hill
"While Kansas City Chiefs receiver Hill is thicker and has more power right now, Waddle's rare change-of-direction ability, speed and explosiveness invoke shades of Hill. Like Hill early in his career, the Alabama product has a chance to quickly emerge as a premier kick/punt returner in addition to sparking an offense. Waddle's field-flipping skill set is uncommon." -- Yates
Turron Davenport: George EDGE Azeez Ojulari -- Yannick Ngakoue
"Ojulari (6-foot-2, 249 pounds) and Ngakoue (6-foot-2, 246 pounds) are two similarly built edge defenders who come in what would be considered a small package. But don't let the size fool you. Like Ngakoue, the Georgia outside linebacker Ojulari is an aggressive edge setter against the run, especially when it comes to taking on and folding pulling offensive linemen. One of Ojulari's premier pass-rushing moves is the cross chop. That's a move that Ngakoue -- now with the Las Vegas Raiders after time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Ravens -- adopted as his signature move when he got to the NFL in 2016." -- Davenport
Jeff Legwold: Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh -- Danielle Hunter
"Penn State edge rusher Oweh is the classic potential-over-production player on this board. He absolutely dominated testing -- a hand-timed 40-yard dash in the high 4.3s at 257 pounds, a 39½-inch vertical jump and an 11-foot, 2-inch broad jump to go with off-the-chart performances in agility drills -- but he finished without a sack in the 2020 season. There are plenty of plays where he impacts what the opponent is trying to do, overwhelms the blocker in front of him or chases down the ball carrier from behind. But he had zero sacks. Likewise, Vikings pass-rusher Hunter ran in the 4.5s at the 2015 combine at 252 pounds after he had posted 1.5 sacks in his final season at LSU. But we saw a high-effort player with pursuit skills and an ability to win in the pass rush with some additional polish." -- Legwold
View photos of every player projected to the Giants in mock drafts just days ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
PFF draft board's most underrated draft prospects
Last week, The Athletic's Arif Hasan revealed his 2021 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board.
Hasan compiled a list of the top 300 prospects in this year's draft that represent a consensus of more than 50 draft big boards from media outlets across the country. As Hasan writes in the introduction, "we can further get a lay of the land by combining the rankings of a multitude of experts to see how players stack up in the eyes of the analyst community at large."
Here are the players who land notably higher on PFF's Big Board than the Consensus and their rankings on both boards, along with commentary from PFF's Michael Renner:
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU - PFF: 2, Consensus: 6
"This one is purely due to positional value. Wilson is certainly not as rare a prospect for his respective position as, say, Florida's Kyle Pitts is at tight end, but if a franchise needed every single position on a football field there is no way it would draft Pitts before Wilson. That's how we assemble the PFF board." -- Renner
Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama - PFF: 12, Consensus: 27
"He's big, long, explosive and uber-productive. Truthfully, this is a surprising discrepancy to me. Barmore earned a higher pass-rushing grade as a redshirt sophomore in 2020 than Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw did as seniors in 2019."
Walker Little, OT, Stanford - PFF: 26, Consensus: 94
"The reason for this difference is obvious, as Little has played 72 snaps over the past two seasons. He suffered a knee injury in Week 1 of the 2019 season that caused him to miss the rest of the year, and he opted out of 2020. While we haven't seen his development, that doesn't mean it wasn't coming. If you compare only his true sophomore tape to the sophomore tape of any tackle in the class not named Penei Sewell, Little stacks up favorably. He was already making big strides, allowing only one pressure in his final seven games. I'll bank on that development continuing, even though I haven't seen it happening."
Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana - PFF: 47, Consensus: 95
"Johnson simply hasn't put out a ton of tape, and he hasn't tackled particularly well on the tape he has produced. The Indiana product has played a grand total of 796 snaps in his career between slot corner and safety, or about one season's worth. He picked off seven passes, broke up six others and missed 18 of his 80 tackle attempts over those snaps. That's a roller coaster of a profile. However, we'll buy into that coverage prowess, as his tape is littered with special plays on the football."
And here are prospects who land relatively higher on PFF's Big Board than the Consensus, along with their rankings on each board:
Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern - PFF: 20, Consensus: 26
Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi - PFF: 22, Consensus: 35
Elijah Molden, DB, Washington - PFF: 35, Consensus: 57
Alim McNeil, DL, NC State - PFF: 54, Consensus: 77
Ar'Darius Washington, S, TCU - PFF: 57, Consensus: 117
Tay Gowan, CB, UCF - PFF: 69, Consensus: 211
Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech - PFF: 91, Consensus: 132
Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State - PFF: 77, Consensus: 134
Josh Palmer, WR, Tennnessee - PFF: 71, Consensus: 159
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.
13 prospects to attend 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 NFL Draft will fortunately revert back to one of the old traditions that the league was unable to do in 2020.
Unlike last year's festivities, this week's draft will have 13 high-profile prospects on-site in Cleveland to hear their names called by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The 13 prospects attending the draft are:
Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
In addition to the players that are attending the draft, 45 more prospects will be participating virtually in the draft. Some of those players include Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Penei Sewell, Jaycee Horn, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Jaelan Phillips, just to name a few.
The NFL has also decided to honor some of its current and past players during this year's big event.
Each team across the league will have one current or former player announce one of its selections on Day 2 of the draft.
For the Giants, that honor belongs to wide receiver Darius Slayton.
The 2021 NFL Draft begins Thursday with the first round (8 p.m. ET), followed by Rounds 2-3 on Friday, April 30 (7 p.m. ET) and finishing with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, May 1 (noon ET).
NFL hopefuls pose for their portraits ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, April 29.