10 B1G things to watch during the 2021 NFL Draft
The NFL Draft is here.
From Thursday night through Saturday evening, several college football players will achieve of a lifelong dream of hearing their name called and begin their journey at the professional level. It’s one of the things that makes the NFL Draft such a special event.
Each year, there are always some unique storylines heading into each draft. We’re taking a look at 10 B1G-related things to keep an eye on during this year’s NFL Draft.
ESPN BET is now live in 17 states
Use promo code SATURDAY to get your $250 bonus
Where does Justin Fields actually end up?
This is undoubtedly the most interesting question heading into the NFL Draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. still has Fields listed as the No. 2 quarterback in this draft class, but there seems to be a consensus that he’ll be the fifth QB off the board Thursday night. Will the New England Patriots make some sort of deal to land him? Do the Atlanta Falcons take a chance on the hometown kid? What about the Denver Broncos? All of those could wind up being really good destinations for Fields.
Rashawn Slater, Greg Newsome II could make Northwestern history
Northwestern has never had two players selected in the first round of the same draft. That could change Thursday night. Slater is projected as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the class (behind Oregon’s Penei Sewell) and could be a Top 10 pick. Newsome is projected to be taken a little later, somewhere in the mid-20 range. If both are selected in the opening round, it’ll be another great promotional tool for Wildcats leader Pat Fitzgerald.
Indiana could have its most productive draft since 1988
The last time Indiana had four players selected in a single draft was in 1988. There’s a chance — although slim — that it could happen again this year. According to CBS Sports, three Hoosiers are expected to be taken at some point during the three-day event. Defensive back Jamar Johnson, defensive lineman Jerome Johnson and offensive lineman Harry Crider are the most-likely former Hoosiers to be taken during the NFL Draft. Though they’re both currently pegged as undrafted free agents, wide receiver Whop Philyor or running back Stevie Scott could wiggle into the late rounds and give IU its best draft in over three decades.
The B1G’s two longest-running draft streaks should continue
Michigan and Michigan State have two of the longest draft streaks in college football, with the Wolverines producing at least one pick in each NFL Draft for the past 82 years while the Spartans’ streak sits at 80. Multiple players out of Michigan are expected to be selected this year, so it really comes down to Michigan State. Defensive back Shakur Brown is projected to be taken in the fourth round currently, which means both streaks should add another year to the running total.
Does Rashod Bateman or Rondale Moore get selected first?
Since the college football season ended, there seems to be some separation between Bateman and Moore in terms of draft status. Both will likely be taken in the second round, but it’ll be interesting to see what teams need from the wide receiver position. Bateman is capable of doing everything at the receiver position at a high level while Moore is more of a slot guy, but could also be useful in the return game and could potentially be used in some running situations.
Josh Imatorbhebhe could be Illinois’ first skill position player picked in nearly a decade
Will the skill position drought end for Illinois this year? Wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe has a chance to put an end to it if a team takes a chance on him at some point in the draft. If it happens, he’ll be the first Illini offensive skill player taken in an NFL Draft since wide receiver A.J. Jenkins was picked in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Make it eight straight years Ohio State has had a cornerback picked
A program that refers to its secondary as B.I.A (Best in America) will live up to the title again in this year’s draft. While he may not be the first-round pick most expected before the 2020 college football season kicked off, Shaun Wade will undoubtedly be selected in this year’s draft. That makes eight straight years an Ohio State cornerback has been selected in the draft. That’s a really impressive streak for one position.
Will Micah Parsons actually fall that much?
Parsons is considered the top defensive player in this year’s class and potentially one of the best linebacker prospects in quite some time. But ESPN’s Todd McShay has heard whispers that some “off-the-field” issues and “past character stuff” could slightly impact the linebacker’s draft status. Will teams actually pass on Parsons? Or is he still going to be a Top 15 selection on Thursday night? It might be an interesting story to follow.
Rutgers may not have a player selected in back-to-back drafts since 2005-06
This isn’t exactly the kind of note Rutgers wants to read about, but it could happen. If no Scarlet Knights are selected this weekend, it will be the second-straight year that the program didn’t produce any draft picks. While Rutgers has endured years when it didn’t have a player taken, it’s been awhile since it’s happened in consecutive years.
There’s a chance Kwity Paye is the highest-drafted DL from Michigan since 1980
Paye has firmly been a first-round pick and has made a late surge as a potential Top 15 selection in this year’s NFL Draft. It might be a longshot, but if he’s taken at No. 11, Paye would become the highest-draft defensive lineman from Michigan since Curtis Greer in 1980. In 2019, Rashan Gary was taken by the Green Bay Packers at the No. 12 spot.
Cover photo via @NFLDraft.