Every year in the NFL Draft there is a lot of media talk and discussion about “generational talents”, and it seems every year a handful of guys (usually way too many) are picked and identified as a generational talent. Well what even is a generational talent? A generational talent has to be a highly regarded player heading into the draft and they have to have a unique skillset that projects out to being at least an all-pro level player for the next 10 years. Most drafts probably have between 1-3 players who are true “generational talents”. In this article I will point out 5 guys from the 2021 draft that I believe are generational talents, and explain why I think they can all have hall of fame careers.
QB: Trevor Lawrence:
The generational quarterback discussion is one that it seems like we have every year leading up to the draft. But, since 2010 the #1 ranked quarterback from their high school class has only gone on to be a top 10 pick twice (Jameis Winston and Josh Rosen). Lawrence has your prototypical NFL build and has been the favorite to go #1 in this draft since his junior year of high school. Lawrence has never shied away from the pressure or tried to fabricate his way into being the underdog. He knows he’s the best and is willing to go and back that up every single day. On the field, Lawrence’s massive arm and athleticism shine. In college his arm strength was on display as he was dominate in the red zone, and targeted his outside wide receivers more than any of the other top quarter backs. Lawrence took 100% of his snaps out of the shotgun/pistol last season and seems like an ideal fit for an Urban Meyer led offense. Lawrence is set up to step right into the NFL and throw for 4,000 yards on a Jacksonville team that’s ready to get back in the hunt.
WR: Ja’Marr Chase
After seeing what Justin Jefferson did his rookie season in Minnesota it is impossible not to mention Ja’Marr Chase. Jefferson lit up the NFL in his rookie year, but in his Junior year at LSU Jefferson shared the field with sophomore Ja’Marr Chase, and while it was clear that Jefferson was very talented, it was also obvious that Chase was better. Now that Jefferson has gone to the NFL and posted 1400 yards in his rookie season just what can we expect from Chase? Ja’Marr sat out last fall to prepare for the draft, but in his sophomore season he spearheaded Joe Burrow’s heisman campaign and destroyed the NCAA to the tune of 1780 yards and 20 touchdowns. If what our eyes are telling us is true and Chase is a more complete prospect than Jefferson, Ja’Marr could be breaking records in his rookie season.
OT: Penei Sewell
Penei Sewell is a monster of a left tackle who quite simply never loses a rep. As a 2 year starter at Oregon (sat out the 2020 season) Sewell had a total of 678 total pass blocking snaps. He allowed 1 sack. In 2019 Sewell allowed only 7 pressures in 491 pass blocking snaps and never allowed 2 pressures in the same game. Simply put you aren’t getting past this guy more than once in a game. Some people are worried about his short arms, but there’s plenty of track record that shows short armed left tackles can still dominate in the NFL. Draft Penei Sewell and your blindside is solidified for the next decade.
CB: Patrick Surtain II
This might be one that I’m on an island for, but I think Patrick Surtain is the best defensive player in this draft. I have heard coaches say after the game that they had chosen to stay away from a certain corner back, or even reveal in the days leading up to the game that part of their game plan is to avoid targeting a certain player. I had never heard a coach come out an entire week before a game and say that they would avoid targeting a defensive player at all costs. But this is exactly what Brian Kelly did with Patrick Surtain, citing that Kelly and his staff thought Surtain was the cornerback in the country. “Earlier in the game, ESPN’s Todd Blackledge told viewers that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly acknowledged to the broadcast crew during the middle of the week that the Irish weren’t planning on throwing in Surtain’s way during the game. Book tossed it toward Surtain with three minutes to play and the cornerback picked it off just out of play.” (https://247sports.com/Article/Alabama-football-Patrick-Surtain-2021-NFL-Draft-Todd-McShay-Notre-Dame-Playoff-158270534/) Surtain backed up his praises, dominating Notre Dame and winning defensive player of the game. Surtain doesn’t have the craziest size, but he has unique instincts and traits that will propel him into being a shutdown corner at the next level.
TE: Kyle Pitts
First team All American tight end Kyle Pitts is a downright unfair matchup in the red zone. The fact that he is being discussed going ahead of such complete prospects like Sewell and Chase shows how highly NFL evaluators view his upside. In 8 games last year Pitts had 770 yards and 12 touchdowns, including a dominate 129 yard game against Alabama in the SEC championship. His height and size (6-6 246 lb) combined with his shiftiness and jump ball ability makes Pitts one of the most fun prospects in this draft. In the last 20 years a couple tight ends have gone in the 6-10 range (shoutout to the Detroit Lions) but a tight end hasn’t gone in the top 5 since Mike Ditka in 1961. Pitts is being mocked as high as #4 overall to Atlanta. Sounds pretty generational to me.