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Big Ten Football: Top 25 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

Big Ten Football: Top 25 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

Big Ten Football: Top 25 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

The Big Ten continues to pump out NFL talent. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Big Ten had the second-most players drafted (48) with only the SEC having more (63). Ohio State continued to lead the way with a total of 10 players picked by NFL franchises. Looking forward a year from now, Ohio State could have another big year in the draft.

In fact, it could be a pretty lopsided year for the Big Ten East Division as a whole when the 2021 NFL Draft comes up. In addition to Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State should help fill some NFL rosters with their potential draft prospects. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the Big Ten West Division's standouts, because there are some truly special players that could electrify at the next level, such as Purdue's Rondale Moore.

2021 NFL Draft Prospects: Top 50 I ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC

Here is a list of the top 25 players from the Big Ten to watch for in the 2021 NFL Draft.

1. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

It should not be a surprise to see Ohio State's QB at the top of this list. After throwing for 41 touchdowns and just three interceptions in his first season with the Buckeyes, Fields should be in for another big year for a College Football Playoff contender.

2. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Perhaps the top defensive player in the Big Ten, Parsons will enter the 2020 season as one of the top linebackers in the nation to watch. The physical nature of Parsons will translate well at the next level.

3. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

With Jeff Okudah moving on, look for a breakout season from Wade. The rising Buckeye defensive back could skyrocket up the big board with a good season.

4. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

One of the most dynamic athletes in the Big Ten is coming off an injury-shortened season for the Boilermakers. If healthy, Moore will be the kind of multi-talented player NFL scouts will love as an offensive weapon and potential special teams contributor.

5. Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa

Jackson will be difficult for opposing defensive linemen to get around, and that ability to protect will be what NFL teams adore about Jackson. He will have some spotlight games to add to his film this season.

6. Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

Any NFL team needing a big tight end to get up for a ball and snag it with their reliable hands will fall in love with Freiermuth. Penn State's next NFL tight end may be the best to play for the Nittany Lions since Kyle Brady. He may be Penn State's top receiver this season too.

7. Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State

Ohio State will have a couple of offensive linemen drafted next season, beginning with Davis. Another steady year helping to protect Justin Fields will bode well for Davis leading up to the draft.

8. Thayer Munford, OT, Ohio State

The same is true for Munford, playing the tackle position. Expect Ohio State's top offensive linemen to shine on multiple occasions setting up highlights for Fields and the running game.

9. Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

Michigan will have another solid offensive lineman be drafted as well. Mayfield will be the top Wolverine on the big board next season, but a good showing in the 2020 season could see him rise even higher among the offensive linemen in the draft pool.

10. Lorenzo Neal, DT, Purdue

Neal will be one of the top defensive linemen in the Big Ten in 2020, as long as he is healthy. Neal can be a handle for opposing offensive lines and he could really benefit from a big year applying pressure in the backfield.

11. Dylan McCaffrey, QB, Michigan

Michigan's Shea Patterson was not drafted this year, but McCaffrey is already being projected to go as early as the first round next year by some analysts. Leading what could be a rejuvenated Michigan offense will help McCaffrey live up to some of that hype.

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12. Tuf Borland, LB, Ohio State

Borland will always find himself around the football, as is the Buckeyes linebacker tradition. Expect Borland to grab the spotlight plenty of times next fall.

13. Isaiahh Loudermilk, DE, Wisconsin

Loudermilk should be the first Badger off the board next fall. Where he falls in the draft remains to be seen, but the top Wisconsin defensive lineman should perform well at the NFL Scouting Combine to improve his stock.

14. Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State

Penn State's quarterback enters year two as the starter, and he'll do so with a new offensive coordinator and one of the top tight ends in the country. The production will be there, but better performances in the biggest games will help his cause.

15. Naquan Jones, DT, Michigan State

Michigan State may be in a bit of a transition, but the Spartans still have tough guys on the line of scrimmage. Jones should be a leader for new head coach Mel Tucker this season.

16. Tanner Morgan, QB, Minnesota

Last season's passing leader in yards per game, Morgan has proven to be efficient and productive with the football. Morgan averaged 10.2 yards per attempt last year and ended the season with 30 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions. Another year like that and Morgan will be a trendy name moving up some big boards.

17. Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern

Northwestern had a tough 2019 season but Fisher was a bright spot. Fisher had 89 tackles last season and should have similar numbers this season.

18. Nico Collins, WR, Michigan

Collins is coming off a season as one of Michigan’s top receivers with 729 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. Another year of solid numbers should easily have him being drafted by an NFL team next year.

19. Kevin Jarvis, OT, Michigan State

Michigan State's offense may not be the prettiest, but that shouldn't take away from Jarvis' draft appeal. He'll be a steady force on the line of scrimmage.

20. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

One of the Big Ten's top receivers should be in line for another solid year of production for the Gophers. And if Minnesota keeps winning games, Bateman will be a big reason why.

21. Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State

Ohio State's Ruckert was a good complementary piece in the loaded Ohio State offense last season. Will he be more of an involved part of the system this season?

22. Jordan Reid, OT, Michigan State

Another big force on the line of scrimmage in East Lansing, Reid should improve with his blocking and develop into a good pick-up in the draft next year.

23. Andrew Stueber, OT, Michigan

Michigan's second offensive lineman that could be drafted next season, Steuber will continue to grow as well and refine some of his skills to make the leap to the NFL.

24. Michael Menet, C, Penn State

Sticking with the theme of offensive lineman, Menet should also be ready to leave Penn State as a well-polished offensive line prospect.

25. Dicaprio Bootle, CB, Nebraska

Nebraska may not be loaded with NFL prospects, but Bootle could wiggle his way into the conversation. The two-time Nebraska defensive back of the year should be on NFL scouts' radar.

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Patreon, on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.