5) Christopher Allen, Edge, Alabama (6-4, 242)
Don’t let Allen’s four starts in 13 appearances for the national champions last season fool you: He’s no backup. The second-team All-SEC pick’s strength and flexibility make him an effective pass rusher (led the conference in 2020 with 13 tackles for loss, including six sacks), but he also moves well in space to handle zone-coverage responsibilities. Allen works out of a two- or three-point stance, making him a nice fit for teams using multiple fronts.
4) Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington (6-7, 310)
Kirkland got his first taste of left tackle last year after starting at right guard the previous two seasons. The way he dropped his hips and moved his feet in pass protection was a delight to watch. Kirkland’s work at guard also helped him become adept at hitting second-level targets in the run game. He’ll be a solid pro for years to come.
3) Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (6-6, 265)
Hutchinson is entering his fourth year with the Wolverines, though he missed all but three games of last season with a fractured right leg. His combination of size, strength, agility and a constantly running motor should make him highly valued in NFL circles, as long as he can stay healthy. Michigan coaches will again line up their star all along the front to take advantage of mismatches (and keep offenses from keying on him). Hutchinson could play 4-3 base power end or at five-technique in the NFL.
2) Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (6-1, 188)
It is fitting that Olave rhymes with the Spanish word “suave,” for which one definition is smooth. Whether he clocks an elite 40-yard dash time is immaterial. He is a smooth mover who presents the body control and late separation to win on the sideline. Olave is quick and slippery after the catch, as well, making him a likely No. 1 receiver at the next level.
1) Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (6-1, 225)
Willis looks to be the next transfer quarterback picked early in the draft, following in the footsteps of Cam Newton, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow and Justin Fields. After sitting for two years behind Jarrett Stidham and losing the 2019 preseason competition to then-freshman Bo Nix, Willis moved from Auburn to Liberty and proved himself a worthy starter in 2020 by leading the Flames to a 9-1 record. Willis has a whip of an arm, displaying pro velocity to all parts of the field, as well as good touch when needed and excellent speed and elusiveness as a runner. He’s a true playmaker with the potential to be a star at the next level as his consistency from the pocket improves.