2021 NFL Draft on KAPP-KVEW: Who are the top players in the draft class?

Familiarize yourself with top prospects in preparation of the First Round on Thursday night!

CLEVELAND — The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday night at 5:00 p.m. and you can watch it live on KAPP-KVEW. In the aftermath of an unusual 2020-21 NFL season, teams will enter their respective war rooms and select from the next generation of football players ecstatic to compete at the highest level.

It’s hard for many football fans to keep on top of what’s happening at the professional level and the collegiate level at the same time. With that in mind, we’re here to fill you in on some of the biggest names in the draft class starting at the top with the consensus No. 1 pick: Clemson Quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

For three years, Lawrence was a dominant force for one of the strongest programs in college athletics. He’s been considered an NFL talent since his freshman year, when he led the Clemson Tigers to a national championship in 2018. His quarterback rating (a statistic used to measure a quarterback’s ability to fulfill their duties) improved through all three of his collegiate seasons including a shortened year in 2020.

Lawrence is all but guaranteed to be the first quarterback and player off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’ll likely replace former Washington State QB Gardner Minshew in Jacksonville under famed head coach Urban Meyer, who made the leap from college to the pro coaching ranks this offseason.

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Though he’s the player that garners the most attention, Lawrence isn’t the only top-tier QB expected to be drafted in the first round of the draft. BYU QB Zach Wilson detonated in his junior season, throwing for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. Wilson is expected to go shortly after Lawrence in the first round, though anything is possible in the NFL Draft. One team may favor Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance or Alabama QB Mac Jones.

Needless to say, there are plenty of quarterbacks highlighting this draft class. But what about the other positions?

Florida Tight End Kyle Pitts is regarded by many as a generational tight end prospect. He’s a near-lock to get drafted in the first round, though he may be the only player at his position taken in the first round.

In terms of wide receiver talent, there’s plenty of interest league-wide. The three guys you’ll want to keep an eye out for in the first round are DeVonta Smith (Alabama), Ja’Marr Chase (LSU) and Jaylen Waddle (Alabama). Smith and Chase in particular are two highly-regarded players with differing skill-sets. Smith is the most recent recipient of the Heisman trophy and Chase set college football ablaze in his sophomore year before regressing a bit in a shortened ’20 season.

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One player is expected to represent the Pacific Northwest early in the first round. Offensive lineman Penei Sewell missed the entire 2020-21 season and remains one of the top prospects in the draft. At 6’6″, Sewell is a dominant interior force who’s sure to make the game easier for his teammates at the next level.

Offensive players are dominating headlines, but defense wins championships in pro football. One of the top defensive players to keep an eye out for in the first round is Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. His speed, instinct and ability to get to the quarterback as an edge rusher make him one of the more versatile prospects in the draft.

Another key defensive player to consider is Alabama’s Christian Barmore, who tallied 12 pressures during the course of the College Football Playoff. His postseason performance many have been the catalyst in getting him into the first round of the NFL Draft.

Be sure to tune into the 2021 NFL Draft on KAPP-KVEW this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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