Considering we don’t know what will happen to the 2020 college football season, it’s foolish to put too much stock in predictions for the 2021 NFL draft. Previous wayyyyy-too-early mock drafts considered Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Miami’s Brad Kaaya as first-round picks; Fromm went in the fifth round this year, and Kaaya was a sixth-rounder in 2017.
So instead of making firm forecasts about next spring, here are five Florida college players who could — repeat, could — become top NFL prospects for 2021, plus a handful of wildcards.
Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson
Wilson probably would have been a first-round pick this spring, but he (surprisingly) decided to return to Tallahassee for his senior season. The former five-star recruit was an all-ACC pick last year and had 8 ½ tackles for a loss and five sacks, despite missing FSU’s final four games with a hand injury. Wilson is big and disruptive with the potential to be a top-10 pick.
Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau
Most of the insanely early mock drafts consider Rousseau a top-15, if not top-five, selection. That means he has a chance to end the Hurricanes’ two-year first-round drought. He’s big (6-foot-7, 253 pounds) and productive (an ACC-best 19 ½ tackles for a loss and 15 ½ sacks as a redshirt freshman). If he matches those numbers this season, the first-round buzz will grow.
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts
The 6-foot-6, 239-pound athlete is mismatch for defenders in college and should be one in the league, too. He’s too quick for most linebackers and too big for most defensive backs. His numbers back up the talent: 54 catches for 649 yards and five touchdowns during a breakout sophomore season. As good as UF’s receivers were last year (three were drafted), Pitts probably has the highest upside of them all.
Miami tight end Brevin Jordan
Although he didn’t match Pitts’ numbers, Jordan didn’t have the same kind of talent around him, either. Jordan was one of three finalists for the Mackey Award (nation’s top tight end) with 35 catches for 495 yards in only 10 games. He was the top recruit at his position in 2018, so the potential is there for even more —at Miami and at the next level.
Florida cornerback Marco Wilson
The Gators have had a defensive back picked in each of the last five drafts. Wilson is the best bet to make it six in a row. He rebounded well from a knee injury that ended his 2018 season and recorded three interceptions as a redshirt sophomore. Will he get drafted higher than his brother, Quincy, who went No. 46 overall to the Colts in 2017?
And five wildcards…
Florida State receiver Tamorrion Terry
Like Wilson, Terry somewhat surprisingly chose to return to FSU. Given how Mike Norvell has developed playmakers, one of the best big-play athletes in the country could see his draft stock rise.
Florida athlete Kadarius Toney
Whenever he touches the ball, something exciting happens; you just don’t know whether it will be good or bad for UF. If he can figure things out, his electric athleticism and versatility will make him a great fit in an evolving NFL.
Miami quarterback D’Eriq King
I expect the NFL to keep looking for the next Lamar Jackson (spoiler: Lamar Jacksons do not grow on trees). King isn’t as big (5-foot-11, 195 pounds), but he’s a dazzling athlete who set an AAC record with 50 touchdowns at Houston during a 2018 season he didn’t even complete due to injury. I’m fascinated to see what he’ll do with the Hurricanes and what that will mean for him in the league.
Florida State defensive back Hamsah Nasirildeen
He has led FSU in tackles each of the last two years and is coming off the Seminoles’ first 100-tackle season since 2014. But he’s also coming off a horrific leg injury he suffered at Florida, which is why I’m listing him as a wildcard for now.
Arkansas (and former Florida) quarterback Feleipe Franks
I thought Franks might have entered the draft this year. And maybe he would have, if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending ankle injury at Kentucky. Instead, he transferred to Arkansas. Assuming he’s healthy, his arm and size (6-6, 235) will make him an intriguing prospect — if his decision making improves.