All posts by Troy Jefferson

NBA Draft Prospect: N’Faly Dante C- Oregon

NBA Draft Prospect: N’Faly Dante C- Oregon, was one of the many athletes that the Ducks used.

Dante, a sophomore center for the Oregon Ducks, increased his production during his second season in Eugene. The NCAA cleared him late in the 2020 season after a knee injury. Dante’s minutes, points, steals, blocks and rebounds per game all increased in Year 2. A season ago (2019-20), the big man saw most of his offensive production come on lobs from Boston Celtics 2020 first round pick (26th overall) and Naismith Trophy award finalist Payton Pritchard. This year, Dante used his length and drop-step to average nine points per game on 65.6-percent shooting from the field. 

Dante is a force defensively, averaging 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Most players at the Oregon center’s size (6’11, 230) aren’t nimble enough to get down in a defensive stance. But Dante sits in the chair and moves laterally on the perimeter in pick and roll situations. 

Dante (pictured with Mokan Elite AAU squad back in 2018) has shot just 43-percent from the free throw line in 2020-21 (through six games).

Can he make it at the next level?

One question with modern bigs is can they do the little things to make it at the next level? Those include, but are not limited to: conditioning, defending without fouling and boxing out consistently. For example, look at how the Wizards use Daniel Gafford. These are some of the question marks NBA scouts will have when breaking down his game. His free throw inefficiency has also ranked as an area of concern. As well as his injury history.

NBA Draft Prospect N’Faly DanteUPDATE (5/18/21)

Unfortunately, Dante injured his ACL in late December 2020 versus San Francisco (12/17/20). He underwent surgery, was lost for the season and will return to the Ducks for the 2021-22 campaign.

2021 NFL Draft Recap: NFC North

The 2021 NFL Draft Recap: NFC North breaks down the selections of all the division teams. The Detroit Lions prioritized the trenches under new HC Dan Campbell. While, the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings look to the future at quarterback with Justin Fields and Kellen Mond. Can Eric Stokes (pictured) help the backend in Green Bay?

Detroit Lions     
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 7th overallDetroit LionsPenei Sewell6’5 331 OT-Oregon3/1st RoundSewell’s nastiness made him one of the best picks in this year’s draft and fits what the Lions are trying to do with a physical running game.
2nd round, 41st overallDetroit LionsLevi Onwuziurike6’3 297 DT-Senior41/2nd RoundDespite not being an elite interior pass rusher, there is room for Onwuzurike to develop into more in that facet of his game.
3rd round, 72nd overallDetroit LionsAlim McNeill6’2 317/DT-NG-NC State72/2nd RoundMcNeill has all of the tools to be a legitimate first and second down force as a zero-technique nose guard. His strength is sudden, particularly after establishing hand placement inside the numbers of centers or guards. The All-ACC defensive tackle can win laterally or to a spot, but there are questions about his ability to finish as a pass rusher.
3rd round, 101st overallDetroit LionsIfeatu Melifonwu6’3 213/CB-Syracuse187/3rd RoundHis tackling was solid for the most part, but he did not attack stalk blocks with a dominant mentality. Overall, Melifonwu played with awareness and attacked the three-step passing game. After a solid Senior Bowl week, he should hear his name called early on Day 3 of the draft process.
4th round, 112th overallDetroit LionsAmon-Ra St. Brown5’11 197/WR-USC21/2nd RoundTraffic. How do prospects play within the high traffic areas on the field? St. Brown attacks traffic as a route runner or blocker.
4th round, 113th overallDetroit Lions (from Carolina Panthers)Derrick Barnes6’0 245/LB-Purdue169/3rd RoundBarnes’ value depends on where a team decides to play him. In 2019, he was more than capable as a rush outside linebacker. We feel the former All-State running back’s feel for the game should be used in a multitude of roles. His experience on special teams helps his overall value.
7th round, 257th overallDetroit Lions (from Cleveland Browns)Jermar Jefferson5’10 206/RB-Oregon State222/4th RoundJefferson is a smooth effortless runner who is light on his feet with good contact balance. He squirts through holes, picks his feet up and uses subtle slide steps that cover distance going laterally.
Minnesota Vikings
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 23rd overallMinnesota Vikings (from New York Jets)Christian Darrisaw6’5 314 LT-Virginia Tech4/1st RoundThe Vikings get one of the draft’s best offensive line talents after sliding back in the first round. Good moves again by the Vikings front office.
3rd round, 66th overallMinnesota Vikings (from New York Jets)Kellen Mond6’3 211/QB-Texas A&M147/3rd RoundOverall, the Aggies’ all-time leader in total offense has a dual-threat game that largely translates to today’s NFL game. To put it all in perspective, he had 18 games with a rushing and passing touchdown in school.
3rd round, 78th overallMinnesota VikingsChazz Surratt6’2 227/LB-North Carolina132/3rd RoundSurratt is a converted QB and has limited reps as a linebacker although he did play safety in high school. The Tar Heels converted QB will be judged by his ability to learn the intricacies of the position, but in a short time he has shown the raw talent is there.
3rd round, 86th overallMinnesota Vikings (from New York Jets)Wyatt Davis6’3 315/OG-Ohio State63/2nd RoundThe Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year has paved the way for Ohio State’s running game and likely a spot for himself early in the 2021 NFL Draft. We were probably most impressed with his ability to re-anchor in the pass protection aspect of his game. His ability to play with a base gives him a chance versus some of the quicker leverage-based defensive tackles he will face at the next level.
3rd round, 90th overallMinnesota VikingsPatrick Jones II6’4 268/DE-Pittsburgh97/3rd RoundWe think the first-team All-American’s future in the NFL is as either a right defensive end or 30-front rush outside linebacker. As an outside linebacker, he will be able to operate with a little room to set up his pass rush moves. The former Virginia high school product has a game that blossomed the last two years
after serving an apprenticeship role back in 2018 (23 tackles, 4 QB sacks, 7.5 TFLs, FF).
4th round, 119th overallMinnesota VikingsKene Nwangwu6’0 212/RB-Iowa State171/3rd RoundNwangwu, a former prep level track and field star, has battled injuries while in school. He bounced back positively from an Achilles tendon injury in 2017 to embody what the Iowa State program currently represents from a leadership perspective. Even though he played second-fiddle to first-team All-American Breece Hall, it should not be a reflection of his own diverse talent.
4th round, 125th overallMinnesota Vikings (from Chicago Bears)Camryn Bynum6’0 198/CB-California236/4th RoundThere may be questions about Bynum’s flat-out speed, but we think those may concealed if used in a Vonn Bell-type roll at the next level.
4th round, 134th overallMinnesota Vikings (from Buffalo Bills; conditional)Janarius Robinson6'5 266/DE-FSU134/3rd RoundGames like the Clemson contest in 2019 display the potential of Robinson, who is a big defensive end with very good field speed. We even think he has the upside to potentially play an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. His quickness is tough to handle.
5th round, 157th overallMinnesota VikingsIhmir Smith-Marsette6'0 181/WR-Iowa146/3rd RoundHis foot speed is probably best represented with how well he carries his pads on Saturday afternoons. The instincts with the ball in his hands are first-rate, as is his peripheral vision to feel defenders around him in space.
5th round, 168th overallMinnesota Vikings (from Pittsburgh Steelers through Baltimore Ravens)Zach Davidson6'7 248/TE-Central Missouri250/4th RoundPlays TE and punts for the Mules. The team aligns him in the No. 2 slot, No. 3 slot, Y-TE and offset FB. If he can improve as an in-line blocker and eliminate the drops, his foot speed and athleticism gives him a chance to become even more.
6th round, 199th overallMinnesota VikingsJaylen Twyman6’2 301/DT-Pittsburgh316/4th RoundIt was impressive that he pumped out 40 repetitions at 225 pounds on his Pro Day in March. However, that really isn’t his game when you turn on the film. The 2019 second-team All-American has some lower body strength, but he is most satisfied winning with arm overs and swim moves.
Chicago Bears
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 11th overallChicago Bears (trade from New York Giants)Justin Fields6’3 227 QB-Ohio State31/2nd RoundFields goes to a football team where he can add arm strength to pierce balls through the wind and add diversity to the team’s running team.
2nd round, 39th overallChicago Bears (from Carolina Panthers)Tevin Jenkins6’6 317/OT-Oklahoma State20/2nd RoundJenkins needs more technique work, but he has improved for the most part during his career.
5th round, 151st overallChicago Bears (from Carolina Panthers)Larry Borom6’5 327/OL-Missouri183/3rd RoundHe should not have a problem with the power of the NFL game due to his wide base and strong trunk. Dealing with the speed of NFL pass rushers, however, could become an issue.
6th round, 217th overallChicago Bears (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers (compensatory selection)Khalil Herbert5’8 204 RB-Virginia Tech, Kansas203/4th RoundIt was a bit of a surprise that Herbert never returned kickoffs while at Kansas, but he became a hit at Virginia Tech in that regard.
In addition, his ball security ranks as a plus entering the NFL. Herbert never fumbled in the Big 12 or ACC. He may not have a dominant trait, but his smooth nature makes him difficult to get a grasp on down-to-down.
6th round, 221st overallChicago Bears (compensatory selection)Dazz Newsome5’10 190/All-purpose-North Carolina190/4th RoundHis 188 career receptions are supported by a nine yard per carry average and over 11 yards per punt return. Newsome is an all-purpose weapon with upside in the slot or the return game.
6th round, 228th overallChicago Bears (compensatory selection)Thomas Graham, Jr.5'10 193/CB-Oregon112/3rd RoundPrior to opting out of the 2020 season, he had already put together a full career’s worth of film for NFL teams to devour. He’s tough, competitive, sturdy and generally displayed good technique week-to-week in the Pac-12. He works to stay aligned in the team’s coverage concepts and is rarely out of position.
7th round, 250th overallChicago Bears (from Seattle Seahawks)Khyiris Tonga6’2 325/DT-BYU171/3rd RoundDid 35 bench press reps at 225 pounds. In today’s NFL, the splash interior defensive line prospects typically are able to work to half a man for quick penetration. This is not Tonga’s game. Where he does flash in the passing game revolves around his timing to cloud passing lanes. He finished his career with 12 pass deflections.
Green Bay Packers
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 29th overallGreen Bay PackersEric Stokes6’1 194/CB-Georgia35/2nd RoundStokes continued to get better year-to-year, but prior to 2020 he hadn’t finished on the ball. The 10.39 100-meter sprinter finished with four interceptions as a senior.
2nd round, 62nd overallGreen Bay PackersJosh Myers6’5 310/OC-Ohio State168/3rd Round10 1/2” hands. Myers is capable of getting to most of his spots but his hand placement is a question mark. He is a fit in a zone blocking scheme and it might be at a guard position as opposed to center.
3rd round, 85th overallGreen Bay Packers (from Tennessee Titans)Amari Rodgers5’9 212/WR-Clemson99/3rd RoundRodgers was just five months removed from a spring ACL tear (knee injury) in 2019, so did Tigers fans truly see the best he had to offer? If 2020 was any indication, then probably not. He looked stronger, more decisive and faster as a senior. In addition, his route-running savvy took another step forward. At 211 pounds, he is more than willing as a blocker, runs well after the catch and separates with timely cuts on option patterns.
4th round, 142nd overallGreen Bay Packers (compensatory selection)Royce Newman6’5 306/OL-Ole Miss234/4th RoundHe has started at OG (LG) and moved to RT in 2020. Allowed just one QB sack at OG in 2019. Plays with hot feet. We think he has positional versatility as a backup at three-to-four different line spots.
5th round, 173rd overallGreen Bay PackersTedarrell Slaton6’4 330/DT-Florida416/5th RoundHe seemed to get his weight down to around the 340-pound range in 2020 and it helped him play with more consistency. The projected two-down defender has upside as a zero-technique in three-man fronts and one-technique in four-man schemes.
5th round, 178th overallGreen Bay Packers (compensatory selection)Shemar Jean-Charles5'10 184/CB-Appalachian State171/3rd RoundTeam captain. One of the areas which stands out with Jean-Charles is his ability to accelerate in the move area (12-to-16 yards). Whether it is playing off-man or using a bail-and-run, he accelerates with energy once the receiver makes a decision to go vertical.
6th round, 214th overallGreen Bay PackersCole Van Lanen6’5 304/OT-Wisconsin156/3rd RoundVan Lanen has enough length to keep defenders at bay, but he is somewhat narrow overall. It will be import for him to unlock his hands with increased urgency to handle NFL-style pass rushers.
6th round, 220th overallGreen Bay Packers (compensatory selection)Isaiah McDuffie6'2 225/LB-Boston College248/4th RoundCollegiately, McDuffie was able to outrun a number of his mistakes. We don’t anticipate that remaining the same at the NFL level. The second-team All-ACC linebacker is a run-and-chase type who will need to be covered up as a Will linebacker.
7th round, 256th overallGreen Bay PackersKylin Hill5’10 214/Mississippi State83/3rd RoundHis low center of gravity allows him to slide and dart with square-stance cuts to get back north-south.
In 2020, no one was expecting to see Hill get 20 carries per game in first-year head coach Mike Leach’s air raid system. He never received more than seven (in a game).
Eric Stokes CB Green Bay Packers
2021 NFL Draft Recap: NFC North: Eric Stokes was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the 29th pick overall.

2021 NFL Draft Recap: NFC West

The 2021 NFL Draft Recap: NFC West edition featured more than a few diminutive but exciting all purpose receiver selections. The Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams had limited picks in this year’s draft but opted to select smaller receivers in D’Wayne Eskridge and Tutu Atwell. San Francisco had to figure out the quarterback position after years of injuries to their signal callers, with that said, they traded up for Trey Lance. However, as Arizona showed, defensive picks can still be worthy of a first round selection (Zaven Collins- 16th overall). But as the trend seems to be, the Cardinals like LA and Seattle, drafted a short receiver in Rondale Moore (pictured above).

San Francisco 49ers     
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 3rd overallSan Francisco 49ersTrey Lance6’4 226/QB-North Dakota State34/2nd RoundLance goes to an offense that should spotlight his ability to operate on the edges or from inside the pocket.
2nd round, 48th overallSan Francisco 49ers (from Las Vegas Raiders)Aaron Banks6’5 338/OG-Notre Dame177/3rd RoundInside, he can move bodies with thump at the point of attack. His base will get too wide in pass protection and the challenge for him surrounds improving hand placement. Pass rushers have a tough time moving him if he can form a lockout and sit down in the chair.
3rd round, 88th overallSan Francisco 49ers (from Los Angeles Rams)Trey Sermon6'0 216/RB-Ohio State, Oklahoma57/2nd RoundHis strength is very good, as is his ability to pick his feet up through trash around his ankles and feet. We expect him to improve in pass protection due to his natural lower body explosiveness. He has upside as a receiver out of the backfield because he can make the first tackler miss in space. Durability issues aside, Sermon has starting potential in the NFL as a Melvin Gordon III-type (Denver Broncos).
3rd round, 102nd overallSan Francisco 49ersAmbry Thomas6’0 187/CB-Michigan53/2nd RoundOn the outside, he needs to be technique-sound because he is not necessarily a long corner. Thomas has lost quite a bit of practice time over the past two seasons and the fact that he has been able to still perform at a high level bodes well for his future prospects.
5th round, 155th overallSan Francisco 49ersJaylon Moore6’4 311/OT-Western Michigan164/3rd RoundMoore is durable and strong. This is where you have to begin with him because he has the ability to sit in the chair and grapple with opponents. Overall, he provides the ability to potentially backup three-to-four line positions.
5th round, 172nd overallSan Francisco 49ers (from New Orleans Saints)Deommodore Lenoir5’10 199/CB-Oregon137/3rd RoundFinished his career with 34 straight starts.
Lenoir wore three different numbers during his career and the results were largely the same in each year.
We think he is physical enough as a tackler that he could possibly move inside to safety.
5th round, 180th overallSan Francisco 49ers (compensatory selection)Talanoa Hufanga6’1 215/S-USC182/3rd RoundHufanga is an intense junior-entry who flies all over the field and brings quite a bit of juice when he unloads on contact. It is a big reason he was able to force four fumbles in school. We think his best attribute is an ability to blitz off the edge, either by disguise or when coming down late off of movement by the offense
6th round, 194th overallSan Francisco 49ersElijah Mitchell5’10 215/RB-Louisiana-Lafayette143/3rd RoundHe runs with power, contains a vertical style and rarely is caught moving side-to-side if unnecessary. Every three-to-four carries, he will bust a long carry (see Georgia State ‘20) due to his churning style. He does not mind taking the three-or-four-yard runs to set up the bigger carries.
Arizona Cardinals
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 16th overallArizona CardinalsZaven Collins6’4 260 LB-Tulsa13/1st RoundCollins’ skills can now pair with Simmons to give the Cardinals defensive flexibility in spades. The team adds a player who creates difficult one-on-one matchups for teams on third down.
2nd round, 49th overallArizona CardinalsRondale Moore5’7 180/WR-Purdue40/2nd RoundStrong in the lower body. Squats over 600 pounds. His ability to track the football overcomes a somewhat limited catch radius. Overall, he is a first-round talent with enough durability question marks to last until Day 2.
4th round, 136th overallArizona Cardinals (from Baltimore Ravens via Kansas City Chiefs)Marco Wilson6'0 187 Nickel/Florida131/3rd RoundThe former Freshman All-SEC defender can cover multiple spots, play as a big nickel and even contribute outside at
corner. Injuries were an issue in school. 4.38 speed. 43 1/2” VJ.
6th round, 210th overallArizona Cardinals (from Baltimore Ravens)Victor Dimukeje6'2 262/DE-OLB-Duke259/4th RoundDimukeje is a leverage-based pass rusher with experience both standing up and playing with his hand in the dirt. His bend will be questioned by NFL teams, but he overcomes that by attempting to lean on the offensive tackle's upfield shoulder.
6th round, 223rd overallArizona Cardinals (from Minnesota Vikings; compensatory selection)Tay Gowan6’1 186 CB/UCF341/5th RoundGowan is a tall, angular cornerback with positive football instincts and very good length for the outside cornerback spot. We were impressed with his balance and footwork when using a bail-and-run technique.
7th round, 243rd overallArizona CardinalsJames Wiggins5’11 20926/2nd RoundHe has everything NFL teams desire in flex-safeties with his combination of foot speed, short-area quickness and explosiveness on contact. In addition, he has extensive experience covering slot receivers in school. If there is a question on Wiggins, it revolves around some tightness in the lower half. Despite first-round talent, can Wiggins stay healthy?
7th round, 247th overallArizona Cardinals (from Chicago Bears through Las Vegas Raiders)Michal Menet6’4 312/OC-Penn State207-4th RoundMenet is one of the more balanced centers in this year’s draft class. Rarely out of control, Menet’s overall football awareness for blitzes, stunts and line games is very sound.
Los Angeles Rams
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
2nd round, 57th overallLos Angeles RamsTutu Atwell5’9 155/WR-Louisville141/3rd RoundIf there is a more electric, elusive, fully-charged offensive player in the draft we haven’t found him. NFL teams just have to know what they’re purchasing.
Is it former Louisville wide receiver and two-time Pro Bowler Ernest Givens (Houston Oilers) or former West Virginia star Tavon Austin?
3rd round, 103rd overallLos Angeles RamsErnest Jones6'2 230/LB-South Carolina258/4th RoundJones, a junior-entry in the 2021 NFL Draft, has many tools worth taking a long look at for NFL teams. One of the things he has to improve at is getting offensive linemen off of his defensive linemen.
We think he would fit best as a run-and-chase Will linebacker at the next level because he still has to room to grow reading the triangle.
4th round, 117th overallLos Angeles Rams (from San Francisco 49ers)Bobby Brown III6'5 323/DT-Texas A&M96/3rd RoundThe first-team All-SEC defender contains lateral quickness, upper body strength and ankle flexibility. His inconsistent hand usage and up-and-down intensity are two drawbacks for teams looking for a consistent disruptor.
4th round, 130th overallLos Angeles RamsRobert Rochell6’0 195/CB-Central Arkansas129/3rd Round4.4 speed. 43 VJ. He tackles well enough and has thrown his body around with force and intent to clip the legs or wrap up ballcarriers. Rochell has all of the tools, but his technique simply has to get better for him to have a chance on Sunday afternoons.
4th round, 141st overallLos Angeles Rams (compensatory selection)Jacob Harris6'5 219/WR-UCF230/4th RoundIn watching and studying fellow receiver Gabriel Davis (Buffalo Bills) a season ago (2019), Harris kept showing up. The former soccer player’s stride sneaks up on unsuspecting cornerbacks and UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel often had problems keeping up with it.
5th round, 174th overallLos Angeles Rams (from Buffalo Bills)Earnest Brown IV6’4 1/2” 270/DL-Northwestern217/4th RoundBlessed with an 82 1/4-inch wingspan and 34 1/2" arms, Brown IV can keep blockers away from him. We were impressed that he was able to drop into zones effectively and consistently affected the three-step passing game.
7th round, 233rd overallLos Angeles Rams (via Houston Texans (rom Cincinnati Bengals)Jake Funk5’10 204/All-Purpose-Maryland301/4th RoundSince Funk came out of high school, he has gotten bigger, stronger and faster in school. All of this occurred while enduring two torn ACLs to the same knee in consecutive seasons. This speaks to his work ethic and overall football character. Despite playing RB and averaging 8-plus yards per carry, Funk had 28 tackles in school on special teams.
7th round, 249th overallLA Rams (via Jacksonville Jaguars from Tennessee Titans)Ben Skowronek6'2 211/WR-Notre Dame276-4th RoundSkowronek’s wasted movement has improved dramatically since his freshman year at Northwestern. He closes the cushion of defenders with an underrated stride off the ball.
Most Northwestern fans will remember his game-winning diving touchdown grab that put the Wildcats in the 2018 Big Ten title game. He beat Denver Broncos starting cornerback Michael Ojemudia on the play.
Seattle Seahawks
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
2nd round, 56th overallSeattle SeahawksD’Wayne Eskridge5’9 184/All-Purpose-Western Michigan115/3rd RoundDespite standing just 5-foot-9, he packs a solid 188 pounds on his frame. He breaks arm tackles and excels when he runs through the reception point, particularly on quick slants. His toughness is also exemplary, especially considering that he has played the cornerback position respectably and stood out crack blocking safeties. The 2020 MAC Special Teams Player of the Year fits the definition of an all-purpose prospect.
4th round, 137th overallSeattle SeahawksTre Brown5'9 184/CB-Oklahoma179/3rd RoundBrown is an ultra-quick cornerback with good transition ability to drop his weight on intermediate routes. Physically, he may have to deal with the physical rigors of a nickel position to secure a spot in a Seattle’s defensive back rotation.
6th round, 208th overallSeattle Seahawks (from Chicago Bears)Stone Forsythe6’8 307/OT-Florida452/6th RoundNFL bloodlines. Has started at RT and LT. Also has seen time at OG. Looks the part.
During the postseason, it was important for the former Gator to prove that his ability to hold down a starting spot on the blindside in the SEC had as much to do with his movement as it did his size. Mission accomplished.

2021 NFL Draft Recap: NFC South

The 2021 NFL Draft: NFC South recap features the selections of the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. As veteran quarterbacks age and retire in the case of Drew Brees, the division opted to bring in youthful talent on the offensive side of the ball like Kyle Pitts, Kyle Trask, Terrace Marshall Jr. and Ian Book. However, defense wasn’t ignored in the 2021 NFL: NFC South recap. A lot of the players selected by the division were already playing in the South: Houston’s Payton Turner and Grant Stuard, South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn and UCF’s Richie Grant won’t have to travel far to help out their new professional teams.

Atlanta Falcons     
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 4th overallAtlanta FalconsKyle Pitts6’6 245/TE-Florida10/1st RoundNew HC Arthur Smith adds to Ryan's vast array of weapons in hopes of recapturing MVP form.
2nd round, 40th overallAtlanta Falcons (from Denver Broncos)Richie Grant5’11 197/S-UCF23/2nd RoundGrant finished his career with 10 interceptions largely as a result of his ability to steal bases on the football field.
3rd round, 68th overallAtlanta FalconsJalen Mayfield6’5 326/OT-Michigan68/2nd RoundDespite limited film, Mayfield was solid in the games viewed. Like former Philadelphia Eagles first-round pick Andre Dillard coming out of school, he takes a lot of the heat but wins most of his matchups due to his footwork.
4th round, 108th overallAtlanta FalconsDarren Hall6’0 189/CB-San Diego State98/3rd RoundHall’s ball skills have improved each season. We’ve always felt that he contained a good pace for playing off-man coverage, but his press-man improved in 2020. He still has issues being comfortable locating the ball down the field versus bigger receivers, and this could be a problem versus some of the receivers he’ll face on Sundays.
4th round, 114th overallAtlanta Falcons (from Denver Broncos)Drew Dalman6’3 300/OC-Stanford119/3rd RoundDalman has seen time at guard and provides at least a viable backup at any interior line position. His home will be center and the challenge revolves around being able to occasionally handle interior defensive linemen with no help.
5th round, 148th overallAtlanta FalconsTa’Quon Graham6'3 290/DT-Texas113/3rd RoundThe Temple High School (Tex.) product is a burgeoning talent capable of winning with quickness versus interior defensive linemen. His pad level needs to straighten itself out.
5th round, 182nd overallAtlanta Falcons (compensatory selection)Adetokunbo Ogundeji6’4 256/DE-Notre Dame132/3rd RoundUp until 2020, he was a productive backup who had garnered significant playing time along the defensive line. This past season, he began to learn how to more effectively keep distance from opponents when setting up his pass rush moves off the edge. We still think he needs to fully grow into his frame.
5th round, 183rd overallAtlanta Falcons (compensatory selection)Avery Williams5'9 193/All-Purpose-Boise State252/3rd RoundThe former Bronco set the all-time record for combined punt and kickoff return touchdowns in a career (nine). Physical enough as a tackler, the former walk-on also found time to force five fumbles in his career.
6th round, 187th overallAtlanta FalconsFrank Darby6'0 194/WR-Arizona State303/4th RoundDarby did not run quite as fast as expected, but the charismatic former Sun Devil got behind plenty of defensive backs in school despite inconsistent hand-eye coordination.
Carolina Panthers
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 8th overallCarolina PanthersJaycee Horn6’1 205 CB-South Carolina19/2nd RoundThe Panthers needed a big corner and they took one of the draft’s longer ones in Horn.
2nd round, 59th overallCarolina Panthers (from Cleveland Browns)Terrace Marshall, Jr.6’3 205/WR-LSU29/2nd RoundSmart. Lines up at each of the receiver spots for the team. There are instances where he wins on the perimeter by not giving away catch indicators for the defensive back in man coverage (see Auburn 2019 vs. Igbinoghene).
Prior to fracturing his foot against Vanderbilt, Marshall led the nation with six touchdown receptions.
3rd round, 73rd overallCarolina Panthers (from Philadelphia Eagles)Brady Christensen6’5 302/OT-BYU115/3rd RoundFor the most part, Christensen has been steady. There are some occasions where players get the best of him due to a questionable anchor (see Boyles, USF ’19; Wiley, UTSA ’20). In those instances, he has even been knocked to the ground. Christensen plays more with his feet than with his hand placement, so his strong postseason helped his value.
3rd round, 83rd overallCarolina Panthers (from Chicago Bears)Tommy Tremble6'4 248/H-back-Notre Dame79/3rd RoundTremble’s tempo will catch the eye of an evaluator. Quite simply, he plays the game at the right clip. The team moved him around all over the place and probably could have used him much more in the passing game. He is fluid in-and-out of cuts and displays quickness to go along with very good foot speed. It will be interesting to see how Carolina decides to use his skill-set.
4th round, 126th overallCarolina Panthers (from Tennessee Titans)Chuba Hubbard6'0 210/RB-Oklahoma State95/3rd RoundIf the former world class youth sprinter can regain his 2019 form, the sky could be the limit. For that to happen, he has to hang on to the ball.
5th round, 158th overallCarolina Panthers (via Houston Texans (from New England Patriots)Daviyon Nixon6’3 304/DT-Iowa89/3rd RoundOperates as a one-technique DT, three-technique DT and DE on occasion. Positive foot speed. He’s fast enough to play behind the front side of the run-ning play and make plays in chase mode.
The slippery nature, however, will only be supported by better lower body synchronization at the next level.
5th round, 166th overallCarolina Panthers (via Tennessee Titans)Keith Taylor6’2 191/CB-Washington240/4th RoundThe smaller, savvy quicker receivers can still beat him to the spot on possession concepts when he doesn’t disrupt their releases at the line of scrimmage. We envision him getting looks from teams that like bigger corners capable of using press-man or bail techniques on the outside lanes.
6th round, 193rd overallCarolina PanthersDeonte Brown6’3 364/OG-Alabama286/4th RoundExperienced 26-game starter. Has started at both guard spots. Mammoth. Completely wins wrestling matches on man blocks. For a big man, he showcases decent footwork as a pulling guard.
6th round, 204th overallCarolina Panthers (from Chicago Bears)Shi Smith5’10 186/WR-South Carolina76/2nd RoundDuring his final campaign, he maintained his field speed and continued to improve as a route runner. He still left some catchable passes on the field from time-to-time and that will be a concern for a player who has to overcome questionable size.
6th round, 222nd overallCarolina Panthers (compensatory selection)Thomas Fletcher6’1 237/LS-Senior563/N/AStarted every game of his Alabama career. He’s capable of snapping at a 75-to-85-degree angle for directional kick purposes. Registers very good long snap times, ranging as low as 0.66 seconds (1st QTR/10:11, Citrus Bowl ‘20).
7th round, 232nd overallCarolina Panthers (from Tennessee Titans via Atlanta Falcons through Miami Dolphins)Phil Hoskins6’5 313/DL-Kentucky486/6th RoundHoskins -a sixth-year player- impressed with his movement for a longer, taller defender. We were surprised he didn’t control the action more with his hands. There were times when he wanted to get up the field. Perhaps it was a result of his initial production at Kentucky rushing the passer (2018).
New Orleans Saints
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 28th overallNew Orleans SaintsPayton Turner6’5 290/DE-Houston111/3rd RoundTurner impressed on his Pro Day with a 4.33 20-yard shuttle time at 290 pounds. Turner got better during his career week-to-week.
2nd round, 60th overallNew Orleans SaintsPete Werner6’2 240/LB-Ohio State103/3rd RoundWerner -a solid wrap tackler with range- offers NFL teams plenty of options. He can cover tight ends and line up as an off-or-on the ball linebacker. The former Buckeye contains comfort walking out over slot receivers (in zone or man). In fact, he was seen dropping into the deep middle one-third, as a two-deep safety and in a quasi robber position.
3rd round, 76th overallNew Orleans Saints (from New York Giants)Paulson Adebo6’1 198/CB-Stanford47/2nd RoundAdebo put together one season of production in his career (2018) that essentially matched the career totals of the other highly-ranked cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Aside from a Pro Day workout, he hadn’t been seen from NFL teams in person in over a year and a half.
Staying more square -in press or off-man coverage- could help Adebo develop into a front line starter.
4th round, 133rd overallNew Orleans SaintsIan Book6’0 210/QB-Notre Dame290/4th RoundSome of his fundamentals have to improve. He will drop his elbow and it severely affects his down-to-down accuracy. This is a big reason why he was inconsistent on out-breaking patterns. Interestingly, he actually was better on third down than first down as a senior.
6th round, 206th overallNew Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis Colts)Landon Young6'7 305/OT-Kentuccky218/4th RoundThe former state championship wrestler has no problem grinding it out on the perimeter. He is a solid run blocker and rarely did he struggle to finish blocking assignments in that regard. NFL evaluators will nitpick about his lack of elite foot speed, but it is satisfactory.
7th round, 255th overallNew Orleans SaintsKawaan Baker6’1 210/All-Purpose-South Alabama242/4th RoundSouth Alabama moved him into the slot, motioned him, aligned him outside and even used his skills at the quarterback position in Wildcat formations. His stride is easy and smooth. Although he plays the game in a very calm manner that allows him to make a number of difficult things look easy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 32nd overallTampa Bay BuccaneersJoe Tryon 6’5 252/DE-Washington69/2nd RoundTryon has played from a two-point stand-up OLB or with his hand in the dirt. This was a perfect scheme-fit for the Buccaneers.
2nd round, 64th overallTampa Bay BuccaneersKyle Trask6’5 236/QB-Florida158/3rd RoundTrask is solid on in-breaking throws to tight ends, slants to his wideouts and crossing patterns. His uptick in production in 2020 largely involved an increased efficiency on fades, posts and out-breaking patterns. Much of this revolved around enhanced timing and anticipation. His physical skills are solid, if unspectacular.
3rd round, 95th overallTampa Bay BuccaneersRobert Hainsey6’4 302/OG-Notre Dame127/3rd RoundDuring school, he often won with the shock in his punch on the perimeter. He would get into trouble with pad level (where he could get out-leveraged) or when he stopped his feet (forcing him to crossover in pass pro). Overall, his down-to-down consistency stood out in the film viewed.
4th round, 129th overallTampa Bay BuccaneeersJaelon Darden5'8 174/All-Purpose-North Texas262/4th RoundFormer North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden put in some serious work during school. He finished his career with a resounding 39 touchdowns (38 receiving, one punt return) and he mostly did it with flair. He’s fast, slippery and smooth.
5th round, 176th overallTampa Bay BuccaneersK.J. Britt6’0 239/LB-Auburn160/3rd RoundBritt is a true head banger with good feet, explosiveness through the hips and a high football IQ. We have seen him produce with violent collisions on special teams as well. Special teams may be where he initially makes his mark, but do not underestimate his potential impact on first and second down.
7th round, 251st overallTampa Bay Buccaneers (from Pittsburgh Steelers)Chris Wilcox6’2 198/CB-BYU372/5th RoundMuch like former BYU cornerback Michael Davis (Los Angeles Chargers), Wilcox is a height/weight/speed prospect who has flashed on video over the years. Like Davis, his length is what will intrigue NFL teams. There have been times that his confidence has been below average, yet it is not due to his physical skill-set. Wilcox has length, foot speed and decent footwork.
7th round, 259th overallTampa Bay BuccaneeersGrant Stuard5’11 230344/5th RoundStuard’s biggest challenge moving forward will be proving to NFL evaluators that he can break down to tackle versus runners with wiggle. In addition, he has to also show that his stiffness can be overcome in man coverage. Due to outstanding field speed, he often corrected his angles at the collegiate level. There is no doubt with his non-stop, energetic approach that he can most certainly add a physical special teams element.

2021 NFL Draft Recap: NFC East

As you will see in our 2021 NFL Draft Recap, each team selected at least one edge rusher. You could say, The NFC East got defensive in the 2021 NFL Draft! Philadelphia and New York used first round draft picks (DeVonta Smith and Kadarius Toney) to help their young quarterbacks. The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team already have veteran quarterbacks and they chose to add linebackers with versatility: Micah Parsons and Jamin Davis. However, there was more than just linebackers and receivers targeted, Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas selected offensive linemen. Will any of these players propel a division that didn’t have a team finish with over a .500 record in 2021?

Philadelphia Eagles     
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 10th overallPhiladelphia Eagles (From Dallas Cowboys)DeVonta Smith6’0 166 WR-Alabama1/1st RoundThe 2020 Heisman Trophy winner will get an opportunity to re-unite with his former QB too, just like Waddle and Chase earlier in the draft.
2nd round, 37th overallPhiladelphia EaglesLandon Dickerson6’6 326/C-Alabama56/2nd RoundDickerson presents a unique multiple skill-set for NFL teams, having started at four different offensive line positions. Availability has always been the concern for the former five-star recruit.
3rd round, 73rd overallPhiladelphia Eagles (From Carolina Panthers)Milton Williams6’3 284/DT-DE Louisiana Tech42/2nd RoundDue to Louisiana Tech’s lack of size on the three-man defensive front, he was used most frequently at the four-or-five-technique defensive end positions. He was also seen occasionally standing up to rush from an outside linebacker spot on third downs. There was a comfort level exhibited in his play to overpower some tackles and interior guards by dropping his shoulder, but he can play effectively with his hands to disengage.
4th round, 123rd overallPhiladelphia EaglesZech McPhearson5'11 195/CB-Texas Tech, Penn State152/3rd RoundMcPhearson, a former four-star recruit, was seen inside as a nickel. McPhearson displayed a good feel of reacting to motion, breaking downhill on the football and running with crossing routes.
5th round, 150th overallPhiladelphia EaglesKenneth Gainwell5’8 203 All-Purpose/Memphis125/3rd RoundGainwell is the mini-sized version of former Memphis running back/wide receiver Antonio Gibson (Washington Redskins). Whether he will have the type of impact at the next level is debatable, especially due to his relative lack of bulk.
6th round, 189th overallPhiladelphia EaglesMarlon Tuipulotu6'1 308/DT-USC320/4th RoundTuipulotu flashes in spots. Never was that more evident than in the first two games of the 2020 campaign, where he flashed improved quickness and burst getting off the snap. Too many times, however, he struggled to hold the point of attack versus double teams
6th round, 191th overallPhiladelphia EaglesTarron Jackson6'2 260/DE-Coastal Carolina124/3rd RoundJackson has a strong enough lower base and enough juice to handle run game assignments versus most tight ends and some offensive tackles. The All-Sun Belt defender contains enough length to jolt linemen with one-hand posts and uses those to set up his inside or outside arm-overs.
6th round, 224th overallPhiladelphia EaglesJaCoby Stevens6’2 216/S-LB-LSU266/4th RoundStevens, a former collegiate wide receiver, brings an intriguing skill-set to the NFL.
As a linebacker, he clearly is still learning the nuances of the position but -while doing so- can offer the ability to match tight ends. For that to happen, he has to attack run game concepts the same way he attacks blitz assignments.
7th round, 234th overallPhiladelphia EaglesPatrick Johnson6'2 240/OLB-Tulane251/4th RoundTulane’s all-time career sack leader does a fine job of creating angles and getting his feet pointed in a path towards the quarterback as a pass rusher. Offensive tackles have a tough time gaining an area on his frame to pin and prevent his upfield charge. 24.5 career QB sacks.
Dallas Cowboys
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 12th overallDallas Cowboys (from Philadelphia Eagles)Micah Parsons6’3 246 LB-Penn State2/1st RoundParsons’ speed goes with rare size at the position. He has a chance to develop in Dan Quinn’s system.
2nd round, 44th overallDallas CowboysKelvin Joseph5’11 1/2” 197/CB-Kentucky, LSU37/2nd RoundJoseph’s ability to squeeze routes from the outside-in in man or zone coverage is extremely impressive. There will be few cornerbacks in this year’s draft class with his level of fluidity. There were problems with communication in coverage.
3rd round, 75th overallDallas CowboysOsa Odighizuwa6’2 280/DT-UCLA106/3rd RoundHis feel for blocking schemes is inconsistent and he is still searching for secondary pass rush counters. Balance is something that needs to be monitored moving forward. At 280 pounds with 10 3/4-inch hands, it seems that he is destined for a role at defensive end in a three-man front.
3rd round, 84th overallDallas Cowboys (from Philadelphia Eagles)Chauncey Golston6’4 268/DE-Iowa74/3rd RoundGolston is easily one of the most valuable defensive lineman in this year’s draft. He can play the three-technique defensive tackle on passing downs, possible four-or-five-technique defensive end (three or four-man front) or rush as a stand-up outside linebacker. A veteran defensive coordinator may attempt to use the first-team All-Big Ten defender in all of the above-referenced roles.
3rd round, 99th overallDallas Cowboys (Compensatory Pick)Nahshon Wright6’4 188/CB-Oregon State357/5th RoundWright is a tall corner with good feet and a solid backpedal. His challenge will be to constrict his movements in tight areas when it is time to transition versus quicker receivers. For him to do that, he must find a happy medium between being comfortable and not playing too low. His feet don't always stay planted in the ground when flipping to open or break at 45-or-90-degree angles.
4th round, 115th overallDallas CowboysJabril Cox6’3 233/LB-LSU, North Dakota State46/2nd RoundHe has a number of similarities to former Washington LB Cory Littleton (Rams, Raiders) There were questions about Littleton’s pure physicality coming out of school. Cox’s size, body composition and pass coverage skills point to him being further advanced at this same stage.
4th round, 138th overallDallas Cowboys (Compensatory Pick)Josh Ball6’7 308/OT-Marshall, FSU215/4th RoundBall’s entire career has featured a number of up-and-downs, but his final two years at Marshall represented a modicum of consistency.
He is quick-footed, balanced and massive.
5th round, 178th overallDallas Cowboys (Compensatory Pick)Simi Fehoko6'4 224/WR-Stanford142/3rd RoundWe are impressed with how sudden Fehoko uses his stick moves to move the cornerback off the spot; particularly for a man of his size.
16 reps-225 lbs, 4.47 40-yd, 34 1/2” VJ
6th round, 192nd overallDallas Cowboys (from Detroit Lions)Quinton Bohanna6'4 345/DT-Kentucky262/4th RoundNFL bloodlines.
For a 350-pound defensive lineman, Bohanna will surprise with his quickness laterally to escape blockers. As a result, he has a tendency to get tied up leaning on interior offensive linemen due to inconsistent hand usage.
6th round, 227th overallDallas Cowboys (Compensatory Pick)Israel Mukuamu6'4 212/CB-South Carolina162/3rd RoundHas started at both safety and CB. Very good ball skills have shown up throughout his career.
7th round, 238th overallDallas CowboysMatt Farniok6’5 311/OL-Nebraska326/5th RoundIt was really no surprise that Farniok, a two-time team captain and four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, displayed positional versatility in 2020. The team’s 2019 Offensive Lineman of the Year had developed into at least a serviceable right tackle before making the switch to right guard full-time in 2020.
New York Giants
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 20th overallNew York Giants (from Chicago Bears)Kadarius Toney5’11 189 All-Purpose/Florida49/2nd RoundHis ability to get in-and-out of traffic with the ball in his hands makes him a threat as an all-purpose prospect and slot WR.
2nd round, 50th overallNew York Giants (from Miami Dolphins)Azeez Ojulari6’2 249/DE-OLB Georgia45/2nd RoundOjulari is a defensive end/outside linebacker with underrated strength and positive hand usage. There were occasions where his size created limitations, but he generally exhibited satisfactory upper body strength.
3rd round, 71st overallNew York Giants (from Denver Broncos)Aaron Robinson5’11 190/Nickel-UCF, Alabama58/2nd RoundRobinson fits the bill of what you need at the nickel back posi-tion in today’s NFL. Some of the most popular NFL route concepts feature crossers, in-breaking dig patterns. Of all the corners or nickel backs in this year’s draft class, he closes distance on these types of concepts with the most urgency.
4th round, 116th overallNew York GiantsElerson G. Smith6’6 262/DE-Northern Iowa107/3rd RoundWe feel he gives teams options because he may be able to slide inside on third downs and play some three-technique defensive tackle. A viable argument can be made that his skill-set could actually be best served as a stand-up rush outside linebacker for 3-4 teams.
6th round, 196th overallNew York GiantsGary Brightwell6’1 218/RB-Arizona413/5th RoundBrightwell brought attitude to the table as a runner at the collegiate level. He combines decent vision with enough awareness in pass protection.
6th round, 201st overallNew York Giants (from Arizona Cardinals)Rodarius Williams6'0 189/CB-Oklahoma State197/4th RoundPlaying off-man could be a bit of a challenge as he has to transition from the junction limit in college football to the NFL. A solid prospect with NFL bloodlines, he is following in the footsteps of his younger brother, ‘Greedy’ Williams (Cleveland Browns)
Washington Football Team
SelectionTeamPlayer SelectionPosition- SchoolDN Big Board Rank/ GradeNotes
1st round, 19th overallWashington Football TeamJamin Davis6’4 234 LB-Kentucky61/2nd RoundHC Ron Rivera finds a linebacker who has the traits to become like the LBs he had in Carolina.
2nd round, 51st overallWashington Football TeamSamuel Cosmi6’6 314/OT-Texas62/2nd RoundCosmi has reserved a spot in scouts’ attention for the better portion of a two-year period. He’s balanced, quick and fluid in his movements at the left tackle spot.
3rd round, 74th overallWashington Football TeamBenjamin St. Juste6’3 205/CB-Minnesota, Michigan192/4th RoundHis footwork is clean, and this is why he was able to defend so effectively in the Red Zone. Ball skills are important. St. Juste didn’t have any interceptions, but he played through his inside shoulder to stay in-phase with wideouts in this part of the field.
3rd round, 82nd overallWashington Football TeamDyami Brown6’1 189/WR-UNC86/3rd RoundThe former prep level 200-meter sprinter tracks the football over either shoulder and has shown good spatial awareness along the back end lines or sidelines. He has solid body control to adjust to poorly thrown passes. The biggest issue teams will have regarding the first-team All-ACC speedster revolves around the concentration lapses. They came in the form of penalties and dropped passes.
4th round, 124th overallWashington Football TeamJohn Bates6’5 259/TE-Boise State226/4th RoundBates is a smooth tight end with excellent size, deceptive stride length and good catch radius for the position. He has been used as an insert blocker in school, down tight end and occasional flexed-out slot receiver.
5th round, 163rd overallWashington Football TeamDarrick Forrest6'0 200/S-Cincinnati136/3rd RoundWhile teammate James Wiggins has received quite a bit of attention while in school, Forrest was a steady hand with the Bearcats. Forrest is instinctive, plays fast, disguises coverage and contributes on all four downs.
6th round, 225th overallWashington Football Team (from Philadelphia Eagles compensatory selection)Cameron Cheeseman6’4 237/LS-Michigan565/N/APosted a 0.69 second long snap on his first
snap of the 2020 Citrus Bowl (1st QTR/14:09). Posted a .72 long snap on his second punt (1st QTR/11:56, Alabama ‘20). Challenged by pure foot speed in coverage.
7th round, 240th overallWashington Football Team (from Philadelphia Eagles)William Bradley-King6’3 254/DE-OLB-Arkansas State161/3rd RoundOne of the things that Bradley-King will have to do better at the next level revolves around timing snap counts. This is something that we think he should be able to correct. We think his effort and tenacity have been first-rate dating back to his time at Arkansas State.
7th round, 246th overallWashington Football TeamShaka Toney6’3 238/DE-Penn State195/4th RoundThere is some polish to Toney's pass rushing skill-set, but his size gets him swallowed up by bigger tackles. The positive is that he has enough wingspan and length to go to pole moves from time-to-time and that may be able to set up some of his counters.
7th round, 258th overallWashington Football Team (from Miami Dolphins)Dax Milne6’0 193/WR-BYU266/4th RoundIn studying Milne, it is important to watch him as he gets into the fourth or fifth steps of his route. Often times, he begins to idle his stride to gauge the defensive back’s technique before re-accelerating.

“Climbing the Hill”: A Justin Hilliard story

How do you define impressive?

Is it recovering from an Achilles injury and multiple bicep tears to make it on the doorstep of professional football? Using your offseason to travel to Costa Rica and spend time with local youth imparting knowledge on sports and other life skills? Earning two degrees in six years?

All of the above. Most impressively, this is the resume of one person, Ohio State’s Justin Hilliard.

The beginning of the climb wasn’t as arduous for the Cincinnati native, who was a five-star recruit out of St. Xavier High School. ESPN ranked him the number one outside linebacker. He was also an Associated Press all-state selection and the publication’s Division I defensive player of the year in 2014.

However, a meniscus injury forced him to miss the 2015 U.S. Army All-American game and from there, the hits kept on coming.

During his first three seasons in Columbus, Hilliard suffered consecutive injuries to his bicep.

“I’ve had so many times where, like you said, I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to push through,” Hilliard told Spectrum News before the 2021 National Championship against Alabama. “The first three years here at Ohio State were probably the toughest because year after year I had a bicep tear in my left, a bicep tear in my right and then a bicep tear in my left again.”

During his first three seasons, Hilliard only played in 17 games total and compiled 18 tackles.

Justin Hilliard on the kickoff team versus Indiana in 2017
Former Ohio State linebacker Justin Hilliard (No. 47 pictured on the kickoff team vs. Indiana in 2017) was a significant factor on the Buckeyes kickoff team from the time he arrived on campus.

Long road back

Things started to look up in 2018 when he recovered from the biceps injuries and began to contribute as a backup and a special teamer. But like his fortunes up to that point, he dealt with another tough blow.

During spring practices in 2019, the former five-star recruit suffered another blow to morale when he tore his Achilles.

“The first thing that went through my head is that was probably my last practice and the last rep I’ll ever play football,” said Hilliard, when he reminisced about the injury.

“Climbing the hill”

If not for his father and a conversation with head coach Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, Hilliard would’ve put away his cleats… but he pressed on and as fate would have it, he would get another chance.

“It was some hard times, but we made it, we made it. There was times where Justin had to lift me up. There was a lot of times when I had to lift Justin up,” Carl Hilliard, Justin’s father said according to an article in Cleveland.com. “But when we look back at it overall — only thing I can say is, ‘God is Good.’ No weapon formed shall prosper.”

Despite the grueling rehab, Hilliard returned six months later and played 12 games in the 2019 season.

After the NCAA granted a sixth year of eligibility to Hilliard, it looked like he would be relegated to being a backup and a special teamer because the starting linebacker corps was manned by fellow NFL prospects Tuf Borland, Pete Werner and Baron Browning.

But once again, life had other plans. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Browning and Borland to miss time and Hilliard turned in career performances with his newfound opportunity.

Against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game, he had nine total tackles, two for loss, one interception and a fumble recovery. His interception stopped the Wildcats from taking a double digit lead in the third quarter and showed off the athleticism that helped him as a youth baseball player.

Justin Hilliard LB Ohio State
Hilliard finished with 25 tackles, five tackles for losses and an interception in his final three career games.

Ending strong

The storybook ending would not conclude there. Hilliard had back-to-back eight tackle games in the College Football Playoff semifinal and final, against Alabama and Ohio State.

“A lot of people hit me up, almost surprised that I can still play at that level,” He said. “I promised myself after I tore my Achilles that if I wasn’t feeling like I can still play at the level I wanted and achieve those high expectations (I set) for myself, I wasn’t going to keep playing.”

In the two combined contests, he finished with 16 tackles, three for loss and a fumble recovery.

And a month later, he put an exclamation point on his collegiate career. Hilliard had a standout performance during Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Alabama.

On the field, Hilliard catches the attention of scouts with his ability to contribute on special teams. They will also like that he played snaps at each linebacker position in college.

But the real value of Hilliard will be his ability to climb the hill and conquer adversity head on. A hill can have bumps and be rocky, but the former Buckeye is a walking testimony that reaching the top comes with appreciation and gratification.

“This whole journey, man, it’s been tough but it’s been such a blessing at the same time,” said Hilliard.

— Troy Jefferson, DraftNasty staff reports

2021 Seven-Round NFL Mock Draft

The 2021 NFL Draft is quickly approaching. Where will quarterbacks like Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence land? Do the Atlanta Falcons target a weapon for Matt Ryan? DraftNasty’s 2021 seven-round NFL Mock Draft will answer some of your questions about how we project each team will pick. In this mock draft, we used a variety of factors to determine who each team will pick including: past general manager selections, team needs, current roster after free agency and the impact a player could have immediately.

For example, does the Washington Football Team target a quarterback since they already signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and, if so, will they reach for a quarterback if the top four prospects at the position are taken? Scroll below to see but, unlike other Mock Drafts, we factor in the front offices. Remember, Washington has a unique conglomerate of GM-esque decision makers: HC Ron Rivera, GM Martin Mayhew and executive VP Marty Hurney.

Another important factor in our Mock Draft is the 2021 DraftNasty Big Board. There are more than 550 prospects on the Big Board this season. Note: the complete Big Board can be found in our 2021 NFL Draft Guide, which is available for purchase.

SelectionTeamPlayer selectionPositionSchoolNotes
1st Round
1st overallJacksonville JaguarsTrevor LawrenceQBClemsonLawrence's underrated athleticism works for an offense that already features a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers.
2nd overallNew York JetsZach WilsonQBBYUWilson could be a BYU mix of former Cougar standouts Jim McMahon and Steve Young.
3rd overallSan Francisco 49ersJustin FieldsQBOhio StateSan Francisco wouldn't trade up for anything other than a quarterback. Fields finds a home early in the draft.
4th overallAtlanta FalconsKyle PittsTEFloridaNew HC Arthur Smith adds to Ryan's vast array of weapons in hopes of recapturing MVP form.
5th overallCincinnati BengalsPenei SewellOTOregonThe Bengals get added protection for quarterback Joe Burrow.
6th overallMiami DolphinsJa'Marr ChaseWRLSUReuniting with former teammate D. Smith would have been nice, but Dolphins pick '19 Biketnikoff winner.
7th overallDetroit LionsMicah ParsonsLBPenn StateNew HC Dan Campbell drafts a talented linebacker he can build defense around.
8th overallCarolina PanthersRashawn SlaterOTNorthwesternNo matter who plays QB, the Panthers have to do a better job protecting the passer up front.
9th overallDenver BroncosChristian DarrisawOTVirginia TechThe Broncos spend a high pick on an insurance policy if Ja'Wuan James can't return to 2019 form after opting out of the 2020 campaign.
10th overallDallas CowboysPatrick Surtain IICBAlabamaCan you win with two Alabama CBs on the edges? We are about to find out.
11th overallNew York GiantsJeremiah Owusu- KoramoahLBNotre DameNew York targeted offensive weapons during free agency and now they add another piece to its improving defense.
12th overallPhiladelphia EaglesJaycee HornCBSouth CarolinaHowie Roseman takes one of the best corners off the board but in reality he may continue his trend of reaching for position players.
13th overallLos Angeles ChargersKwity PayeDE/LBMichiganLos Angeles bolsters its defensive front seven with a Melvin Ingram-clone.
14th overallMinnesota VikingsAlijah Vera-TuckerOG/OTUSCMinnesota adds to their offensive line with Vera-Tucker, who can play both guard and tackle.
15th overallNew England PatriotsDeVonta SmithWRAlabamaNew England could add Trey Lance here, but instead they opt for Smith, our number one overall prospect.
16th overallArizona CardinalsCaleb FarleyCBVirginia TechArizona brushes off injury concerns and picks arguably the draft's most talented corner.
17th overallLas Vegas RaidersZaven CollinsLBTulsaOakland gets some help at the linebacker position. Collins can help their pass rush and aid last year's back end selections.
18th overallMiami DolphinsTeven JenkinsOTOklahoma StateHC Brian Flores gets some help along the offensive line after drafting a receiver early in the proceedings.
19th overallWashington Football TeamTrey LanceQBNorth Dakota StateHC Ron Rivera gets his new-age version of former MVP Cam Newton.
20th overallChicago BearsJaylen WaddleWRAlabamaChicago spices up its offensive weapons, but can Waddle remain healthy?
21st overallIndianapolis ColtsGregory RousseauDEMiami (Fla.)Rousseau slides to the AFC South, where his size will mesh with fellow 6'7 stalwart DeForest Buckner
22nd overallTennessee TitansChristian BarmoreDTAlabamaTennessee went with Bud Dupree in free agency and now adds an interior disruptor to its defensive front seven.
23rd overallNew York JetsNajee HarrisRBAlabamaThe Jets get a power back to go with their power left tackle in Mekhi Becton.
24th overallPittsburgh SteelersTravis EtienneRBClemsonNow that the run on running backs has started, Pittsburgh gets a new featured back. Etienne's improved receiving skills help the room.
25th overallJacksonville JaguarsTrevon MoehrigSTCUThe Jim Thorpe Award winner adds stability in a division with plenty of big receiving threats.
26th overallCleveland BrownsJevon HollandS/ Nickel/ ReturnOregonCleveland opts not to reach for a linebacker but instead bring in a swiss army knife defender.
27th overallBaltimore RavensAzeez OjulariOLBGeorgiaThe Ravens go all-in on Ojulari, a burgeoning pass rusher and underrated run defender.
28th overallNew Orleans SaintsMac JonesQBAlabamaSean Payton gets an accurate signal caller, who will compete with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill for the starting job.
29th overallGreen Bay PackersRashod BatemanWRMinnesotaBateman is used to the cold and he'll find some more of it Wisconsin.
30th overallBuffalo BillsJaelan PhillipsDE/OLBMiami (Fla.)Phillips could be the steal of the first round, but can he remain healthy?
31st overallBaltimore RavensLiam EichenbergOTNotre DameSolid player who will pair with fellow Fighting Irish tackle on the other side.
32nd overallTampa Bay BuccaneersTerrace Marshall Jr.WRLSUTom Brady gets an outside weapon to replace Antonio Brown if he isn't retained.
2nd Round
33rd overallJacksonville JaguarsRichie GrantSUCFThe former UCF star can go right down the road to change addresses.
34th overallNew York JetsKelvin JosephCBKentucky/ LSUThe pick here will be between Joseph and Stokes. Or does Campbell usurp Stokes?
35th overallAtlanta FalconsEric StokesCBGeorgiaRead the above note.
36th overallMiami DolphinsMilton WilliamsDLLouisiana TechVersatile skill-set fits Flores' scheme. Offers outside/inside presence.
37th overallPhiladelphia EaglesBaron BrowningLBOhio StateBrowning could be an immediate Day 1 starter at OLB for a team that now has addressed its front seven and back end.
38th overallCincinnati BengalsTrey SmithOGTennesseeIf he can keep his weight at a balance under control, then Bengals secure potential Pro Bowl talent with swing versatility.
39th overallCarolina PanthersJabril CoxLBLSUA Shaq Thompson/ Jabril Cox pairing would draw similarities to fellow NFC South tandem Devin White and Lavonte David.
40th overallDenver BroncosLevi OnwuzurikeDLWashingtonTeam solves some of its depth issues with quick interior line disruptor.
41st overallDetroit LionsKadarius ToneyWR-RetFloridaThe Lions take a calculated gamble here, but the Florida receiver will slip no further.
42nd overallNew York GiantsGreg Newsome IICBNorthwesternNewsome II can become a starter, but health is the question mark.
43rd overallSan Francisco 49ersPaulson AdeboCBStanford49ers go right down Rte. 101 for a cornerback from Stanford.
44th overallDallas CowboysCarlos "Boogie" BashamDE/ DTWake ForestJerry Jones brings in the cousin of Tarell Basham to help with the departure of Aldon Smith.
45th overallJacksonville JaguarsDillon RadunzOTNorth Dakota StateRadunz brings an athletic presence to the edges and is insurance if Robinson doesn't regain form.
46th overallNew England PatriotsJamin DavisLBKentuckyBill Belichick brings in another linebacker who can contribute immediately for an unproven group sans Dont'a Hightower.
47th overallLos Angeles ChargersTyson CampbellCBGeorgiaTechnically, he's a work in progress, but Chargers bet on size, speed and SEC experience.
48th overallLas Vegas RaidersHamsah NasirildeenS/LBFSUNew DC Gus Bradley gets another athletic hybrid player in the second round.
49th overallArizona CardinalsJoe TryonDE-OLBWashingtonCardinals add an edge rusher with upside in Round 2.
50th overallMiami DolphinsJavonte WilliamsRBUNCWilliams adds some power to the backfield alongside Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.
51st overallWashington Football TeamRondale MooreWR-RetPurdueMoore opens up the offense with gadget possibilities alongside versatile Gibson.
52nd overallChicago BearsDavis MillsQBStanfordMills could see action in the middle of the season if things go south with Andy Dalton and Nick Foles.
53rd overallTennessee TitansDayo OdeyingboDEVanderbiltMuch like former first-round pick Simmons, Titans put injured Odeyingbo on ice.
54th overallIndianapolis ColtsElijah MooreWROle MissWe contemplated Elijah Moore here in the first round but the Colts get him a round later to be the successor to T.Y. Hilton.
55th overallPittsburgh SteelersWyatt DavisOGOhio StateSteelers seek to regain identity up front.
56th overallSeattle SeahawksAmbry ThomasCBMichiganThe Seahawks were 31st in pass defense last season, Thomas helps them.
57th overallLos Angeles RamsCaden SternsSTexasSterns' range could help alleviate the loss of Johnson in free agency.
58th overallKansas City ChiefsCam SampleDE/ OLBTulaneHC Andy Reid adds to his defense. The Buccaneers kept their defensive linemen fresh in the Super Bowl, now KC can do likewise.
59th overallCleveland BrownsNick BoltonLBMissouriThe Browns need a tone-setter in the middle of their defense. Bolton brings thump and leadership.
60th overallNew Orleans SaintsAlim McNeillDTNC StateThe Saints have to address their interior defensive line and McNeill is a solid remedy.
61st overallBuffalo BillsRonnie PerkinsDE-OLBOklahomaBuffalo brings in yet another pass rusher in the second round for the second year in a row.
62nd overallGreen Bay PackersAsante Samuel Jr.CBFSUJaire Alexander and Asante Samuel Jr. are two of the more competitive cornerbacks and will be needed as they battle for conference supremacy with the loaded Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
63rd overallKansas City ChiefsSamuel CosmiOTTexasThe pick here is either Cosmi or Michigan's Jalen Mayfield. The Chiefs go with the traits.
64th overallTampa Bay BuccaneersJay TufeleDTUSCTufele will learn from one of the league's better interior defenders of teh last decade in Ndamukong Suh.
3rd Round
65th overallJacksonville JaguarsMichael CarterRB-RetUNC
66th overallNew York JetsLandon DickersonOG/CAlabama
67th overallHouston TexansKellen MondQBTexas A&M
68th overallAtlanta FalconsTrey SermonRBOhio State, Oklahoma
69th overallCincinnati BengalsMalcolm KoonceDE-OLBBuffalo
70th overallPhiladelphia EaglesAmon-Ra St. BrownWRUSC
71st overallDenver BroncosChauncey GolstonDLIowa
72nd overallDetroit LionsElijah MoldenS-NickelWashington
73rd overallCarolina PanthersPat FreiermuthTEPenn State
74th overallWashington Football TeamBrevin JordanTE- H-BackMiami (Fla.)
75th overallDallas CowboysBen ClevelandOGGeorgia
76th overallNew York GiantsKenneth GainwellAll-PurposeMemphis
77th overallLos Angeles ChargersJalen MayfieldOTMichigan
78th overallMinnesota VikingsCreed HumphreyOGOklahoma
79th overallLas Vegas RaidersAaron RobinsonCBUCF
80th overallLas Vegas RaidersDaviyon NixonDTIowa
81st overallMiami DolphinsAlex LeatherwoodOTAlabama
82nd overallWashington Football TeamMonty RiceLBGeorgia
83rd overallChicago BearsJames HudsonOTCincinnati
84th overallPhiladelphia EaglesChazz SurrattLBUNC
85th overallTennessee TitansTommy TrembleTENotre Dame
86th overallNew York JetsJayson OwehDE-OLBPenn State
87th overallPittsburgh SteelersMarco WilsonCBFlorida
88th overallLos Angeles RamsBrady ChristensenOTBYU
89th overallCleveland BrownsShaun WadeCBOhio State
90th overallMinnesota VikingsKyle TraskQBFlorida
91st overallCleveland BrownsOsa OdighizuwaDTUCLA
92nd overallGreen Bay PackersSpencer BrownOTNorthern Iowa
93rd overallBuffalo BillsZech McPhearsonCBTexas Tech
94th overallBaltimore RavensDavid MooreOGGrambling State
95th overallTampa Bay BuccaneersQuincy RocheDE-OLBMiami (Fla.)
96th overallNew England PatriotsAdetokunbo OgundejiDENotre Dame
97th overallLos Angeles ChargersRobert JonesOLMiddle Tennessee
98th overallNew Orleans SaintsIhmir Smith-MarsetteAll-PurposeIowa
99th overallDallas CowboysPete WernerLBOhio State
100th overallTennessee TitansShi SmithWRSouth Carolina
101th overallDetroit LionsDyami BrownWRUNC
102nd overallMiami DolphinsNico CollinsWRMichigan
103rd overallLos Angeles RamsKendrick GreenOGIllinois
104th overallBaltimore RavensJosh PalmerWRTennessee
105th overallNew Orleans SaintsDylan MosesLBAlabama
4th Round
106th overallJacksonville JaguarsHunter LongTEBoston College
107th overallNew York JetsAndre CiscoSSyracuse
108th overallAtlanta FalconsPatrick Jones IIDE-OLBPittsburgh
109th overallHouston TexansMarvin WilsonDTFSU
110th overallCleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)Tyler ShelvinDTLSU
111th overallCincinnati BengalsTylan WallaceWROklahoma State
112th overallDetroit LionsBuddy JohnsonLBTexas A&M
113th overallCarolina PanthersD’Ante SmithOT-OGECU
114th overallDenver BroncosJoseph OssaiDE-OLBTexas
115th overallDallas CowboysCharles Snowden IIIDE-OLBVirginia
116th overallNew York GiantsChris Rumph IIOLBDuke
117th overallSan Francisco 49ersDivine DeabloS-LBVirginia Tech
118th overallLos Angeles ChargersElerson G. SmithDE-OLBNorthern Iowa
119th overallMinnesota VikingsAmari RodgersAll-PurposeClemson
120th overallNew England PatriotsTarron JacksonDECoastal Carolina
121st overallLas Vegas RaidersRobert HainseyOT-OGNotre Dame
122nd overallNew England Patriots (from Arizona Cardinals through Houston Texans)Seth WilliamsWRAuburn
123rd overallPhiladelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins)Kylin HillRBMississippi State
124th overallWashington Football TeamJackson CarmanOT-OGClemson
125th overallMinnesota Vikings (from Chicago Bears)Janarius RobinsonDE-OLBFlorida State
126th overallTennessee TitansDan MooreOTTexas A&M
127th overallIndianapolis ColtsJamar JohnsonSIndiana
128th overallPittsburgh SteelersJimmy MorrisseyOC-OGPittsburgh
129th overallSeattle SeahawksRobert RochellCBCentral Arkansas
130th overallJacksonville Jaguars (from Los Angeles Rams)Quinn MeinerzOC-OGWisconsin-Whitewater
131st overallBaltimore RavensIfeatu MelifonwuCBSyracuse
132nd overallCleveland BrownsD’Wayne EskridgeAll-PurposeWestern Michigan
133rd overallNew Orleans SaintsJames WigginsSCincinnati
134th overallMinnesota Vikings (from Buffalo Bills; conditional)Chatarius “TuTu” AtwellWRLouisville
135th overallGreen Bay PackersAmen OgbongbemigaLBOklahoma State
136th overallBaltimore Ravens (from Kansas City Chiefs)Darren HallCB-NickelSan Diego State
137th overallTampa Bay BuccaneersHamilcar Rashed, Jr. OLBOregon State
138th overallDallas Cowboys (compensatory selection)Rodarius WilliamsCBOklahoma State
139th overallNew England Patriots (compensatory selection)Cameron McGroneLBMichigan
140th overallPittsburgh Steelers (compensatory selection)Thomas Graham, Jr.CBOregon
141st overallLos Angeles Rams (compensatory selection)Derrick BarnesLBPurdue
142nd overallGreen Bay Packers (compensatory selection)Ta’Quon GrahamDE-DTTexas
143rd overallMinnesota Vikings (compensatory selection)Garret WallowLBTCU
144th overallKansas City Chiefs (compensatory selection)Sadarius HutchersonOG-OTSouth Carolina
5th Round
145th overallJacksonville JaguarsJosh MyersOC-OGOhio State
146th overallNew York JetsPressley Harvin IIIPGeorgia Tech
147th overallHouston TexansAntonio PhillipsCB-NickelBall State
148th overallAtlanta FalconsMichael MenetOC-OGPenn State
149th overallCincinnati BengalsChuba HubbardRBOklahoma State
150th overallPhiladelphia EaglesBobby Brown IIIDT-NGTexas A&M
151st overallCarolina PanthersFranklin “Mac” McCain IIICBNorth Carolina A&T
152nd overallDenver BroncosShemar Jean-CharlesCB-NickelAppalachian State
153rd overallDetroit LionsWilliam Bradley-KingDE-OLBBaylor, Arkansas State
154th overallNew York Jets (from New York Giants)Tre McKittyTE/H-backGeorgia, FSU
155th overallSan Francisco 49ersIsrael MukuamuCB-S-NickelSouth Carolina
156th overallMiami Dolphins (from Dallas Cowboys through Philadelphia Eagles)Drew DalmanOCStanford
157th overallMinnesota VikingsJonathan MarshallDT-NGArkansas
158th overallHouston Texans (from New England Patriots)Tamorrion TerryWRFSU
159th overallLos Angeles ChargersAaron BanksOGNotre Dame
160th overallArizona CardinalsJack AndersonOC-OGTexas Tech
161st overallBuffalo Bills (from Las Vegas Raiders)Brenden JaimesOT-OGNebraska
162nd overallLas Vegas Raiders (from Miami Dolphins)Jordan SmithDE-OLBUAB, Florida
163rd overallWashington Football TeamJaylon MooreOT-OGWestern Michigan
164th overallChicago BearsSimi FehokoWRStanford
165th overallIndianapolis ColtsDaelin HayesDE-OLBNotre Dame
166th overallTennessee TitansK.J. BrittLBAuburn
167th overallLas Vegas Raiders (from Seattle Seahawks)Talanoa HufangaS-LBUSC
168th overallMinnesota Vikings (from Pittsburgh Steelers through Baltimore Ravens)Jose BorregalesPKMiami (Fla.), FIU
169th overallCleveland Browns (from Los Angeles Rams)Riley PattersonPKMemphis
170th overallJacksonville Jaguars (from Cleveland Browns)Tedarrell “TJ” SlatonDT-NGFlorida
171st overallBaltimore RavensSam CooperOGMerrimack College, Maine
172nd overallSan Francisco 49ers (from New Orleans Saints)Jason PinnockCB-NickelPittsburgh
173rd overallGreen Bay PackersCole Van LanenOTWisconsin
174th overallBuffalo BillsForrest MerrillDT-NGArkansas State
175th overallKansas City ChiefsElijah MitchellRBLouisiana Lafayette
176th overallTampa Bay BuccaneersJamie NewmanQBWake Forest
177th overallNew England Patriots (compensatory selection)Quinton BohannaDT-NGKentucky
178th overallGreen Bay Packers (compensatory selection)Austin FaoliuDE-DTOregon
179th overallDallas Cowboys (compensatory selection)Tre BrownCB-NickelOklahoma
180th overallSan Francisco 49ers (compensatory selection)Isaiah McDuffieLBBoston College
181st overallKansas City Chiefs (compensatory selection)Brandon StephensCB-SSMU, UCLA
182nd overallAtlanta Falcons (compensatory selection)Shaka ToneyOLBPenn State
183rd overallAtlanta Falcons (compensatory selection)Patrick JohnsonOLBTulane
184th overallBaltimore Ravens (compensatory selection)Ernest JonesLBSouth Carolina
6th Round
185th overallLos Angeles Chargers (from Jacksonville Jaguars through Tennessee Titans)Evan McPhersonPKFlorida
186th overallNew York JetsTre NixonWRUCF
187th overallAtlanta FalconsTim JonesWRSouthern Miss
188th overallNew England Patriots (from Houston Texans)Jalen CampWRGeorgia Tech
189th overallPhiladelphia EaglesCornell PowellWRClemson
190th overallCincinnati BengalsQuintin MorrisTE/H-backBowling Green
191st overallDenver BroncosJaret PattersonRBBuffalo
192nd overallDallas Cowboys (from Detroit Lions)JaCoby StevensS-LBLSU
193rd overallCarolina PanthersKenny YeboahTE/H-backOle Miss, Temple
194th overallSan Francisco 49ersJaelon DardenAll-PurposeNorth Texas
195th overallHouston Texans (from Dallas Cowboys through New England Patriots)Marlon TuipulotuDT-NGUSC
196th overallNew York GiantsRashad WeaverDE-OLBPittsburgh
197th overallNew England PatriotsJoshua KaindohDEFlorida State
198th overallLos Angeles ChargersTommy DoyleOTMiami (OH.)
199th overallMinnesota VikingsAdrian EalyOTOklahoma
200th overallLas Vegas RaidersWalker LittleOTStanford
201st overallNew York Giants (from Arizona Cardinals)Benjamin St. JusteCBMinnesota, Michigan
202nd overallCincinnati Bengals (from Miami Dolphins through Houston Texans)Larry BoromOT-OGMissouri
203rd overallHouston Texans (from Washington Football Team through Las Vegas Raiders and Miami Dolphins)Marquiss SpencerDE-DTMississippi State
204th overallChicago BearsNate HobbsCBIllinois
205th overallTennessee TitansRichard LeCounte IIISGeorgia
206th overallIndianapolis ColtsAlaric JacksonOTIowa
207th overallKansas City Chiefs (from Pittsburgh Steelers through Miami Dolphins)Josh BallOTMarshall, FSU
208th overallChicago Bears (from Seattle Seahawks through Miami Dolphins; conditional)Mark GilbertCB-NickelDuke
209th overallLos Angeles RamsBrandin “Beezy” EcholsCB-NickelKentucky
210th overallBaltimore RavensTyree GillespieSMissouri
211th overallCleveland BrownsDarius HodgeOLBMarshall
212th overallHouston Texans (from New Orleans Saints)Harry CriderOCIndiana
213th overallBuffalo BillsTommy KraemerOG-OTNotre Dame
214th overallGreen Bay PackersDrue ChrismanPOhio State
215th overallTennessee Titans (from Kansas City Chiefs)Chris EvansRBMichigan
216th overallPittsburgh Steelers (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers)Wyatt HubertDE-OLBKansas State
217th overallTampa Bay Buccaneers (compensatory selection)Malik HerringDE-DTGeorgia
218th overallNew Orleans Saints (compensatory selection)Michael StrachanWR-H-backCharleston (W Va.)
219th overallAtlanta Falcons (compensatory selection)Feleipe FranksQBArkansas, Florida
220th overallGreen Bay Packers (compensatory selection)Shakur BrownCB-NickelMichigan State
221st overallChicago Bears (compensatory selection)Carson GreenOT-OGTexas A&M
222nd overallCarolina Panthers (compensatory selection)Gerrid DoaksRBCincinnati
223rd overallArizona Cardinals (from Minnesota Vikings; compensatory selection)DJ DanielCBGeorgia
224th overallPhiladelphia Eagles (compensatory selection)Jacob HarrisWRUCF, Western Kentucky
225th overallPhiladelphia Eagles (compensatory selection)Keith TaylorCBWashington
226th overallNew York Jets (from Carolina Panthers; compensatory selection)Payton TurnerDE-DTHouston
227th overallDallas Cowboys (compensatory selection)Ian BookQBNotre Dame
228th overallChicago Bears (compensatory selection)Kene NwangwuAll-PurposeIowa State
7th Round
229th overallNew Orleans Saints (from Jacksonville Jaguars)Justin HilliardLBOhio State
230th overallSan Francisco 49ers (from New York Jets)Camryn BynumCB-NickelCalifornia
231st overallMiami Dolphins (from Houston Texans)Darrick ForrestSCincinnati
232nd overallTennessee Titans (from Atlanta Falcons through Miami Dolphins)Damar HamlinSPittsburgh
233rd overallHouston Texans (from Cincinnati Bengals)Dez FitzpatrickWRLouisville
234th overallPhiladelphia EaglesJames SmithPCincinnati
235th overallCincinnati Bengals (from Detroit Lions through Seattle Seahawks)Jonathan AdamsWRArkansas State
236th overallBuffalo Bills (from Carolina Panthers)Chris WilcoxCBBYU
237th overallDenver BroncosRiley ColeLBSouth Alabama
238th overallDallas CowboysJerome JohnsonDT-DEIndiana
239th overallDenver Broncos (from New York Giants)Cameron MurrayDTOklahoma State
240th overallPhiladelphia Eagles (from San Francisco 49ers)Demetric FeltonAll-PurposeUCLA
241st overallLos Angeles ChargersJohn BatesTEBoise State
242nd overallNew England PatriotsBen MasonTE/H-backMichigan
243rd overallArizona CardinalsZach DavidsonTE-PunterCentral Missouri
244th overallWashington Football Team (from Las Vegas Raiders)Jake FunkAll-PurposeMaryland
245th overallPittsburgh Steelers (from Miami Dolphins)Isaiahh LoudermilkDE-DTWisconsin
246th overallWashington Football TeamJon RhattiganLBArmy
247th overallArizona Cardinals (from Chicago Bears through Las Vegas Raiders)Brady BreezeSOregon
248th overallIndianapolis ColtsAr’Darius WashingtonS-NickelTCU
249th overallJacksonville Jaguars (from Tennessee Titans)Roy LopezDT-NGArizona, New Mexico State
250th overallSeattle SeahawksLarnell ColemanOTUMass
251st overallTampa Bay Buccaneers (from Pittsburgh Steelers)Dicaprio BootleS-NickelNebraska
252nd overallLos Angeles RamsAnthony SchwartzAll-PurposeAuburn
253rd overallDenver Broncos (from Cleveland Browns)William ShermanOT-OGColorado
254th overallPittsburgh Steelers (from Baltimore Ravens)Nahshon WrightCBOregon State
255th overallNew Orleans SaintsTory CarterTE/H-backLSU
256th overallGreen Bay PackersRoyce NewmanOG-OTOle Miss
257th overallCleveland Browns (from Buffalo Bills)Alex KessmanPKPittsburgh
258th overallMiami Dolphins (from Kansas City Chiefs)Dai’Jean DixonWRNicholls State
259th overallTampa Bay BuccaneersEthan TuckyOLB-LSCincinnati

Running with the Bull: Jaret Patterson- Buffalo RB

26 Jaret Patterson

5’6 1/2″ 195 RB- Junior

Running with the Bull: Jaret Patterson Buffalo RB

The junior Buffalo Bull running back has made a mark with his elusive yet powerful running style. He currently ranks as the 212th best player on our Big Board.

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Built well. Outstanding boxer-like feet.  Can tap dance in the hole and make safeties miss (Wade, 1st QTR/14:48, Penn State ’19). Sticks his foot on inside spins to find room on the edges and will look to not go out of bounds.  Spins on first contact instinctively (3rd QTR, Bahamas ’19).  Four-or-five-yard runs turn into highlight film runs.  Shifty stop-and-start quickness is aided by acceleration (42-yd TD, Rutgers ’18).  Sticks his right foot in the ground, drops his right shoulder into tackler and leans forward for three or four yards (1st QTR, Penn State ’19).  Displays energy on his stiff-arms when bouncing runs (EMU ’18).  On gap-schemed runs to the right, he flashes quick burst.  On goal line runs, he lowers his pad level and runs through LBs with a low center of gravity (TD, Bahamas ’19).  Takes a hip away from LBs in the open field.  Lead blocks for fellow RBs with vengeance.  Translates speed-to-power along the sidelines vs. CBs who come up to tackle (runs over Castro-Fields, 2nd QTR, Penn State ’19).  He’s an instinctive open field runner in the screen game. 

Weaknesses:  Lacks a true home run gear once he gets into the open field.  Eighth men in the box surprise him at times and his reactions have been less than stellar (3rd QTR/8:01, Liberty ’19).   Can he get himself out of a mess (3rd QTR/6:33, big hit along sidelines, Liberty ’19)? Speed begins to die out at the 25-yard mark.  Struggled with injuries down the final back half of his junior campaign.  Injured his right leg in the 2020 MAC Championship game, left the game and came back with a brace on the leg.  Struggled in that game and did not play in the team’s bowl game.  Zero receptions in 2020. 

Other Notes: Attended Saint-Vincent Pallotti HS (Md.) and rushed for 2,045 yards and 23 TDs as a senior •  Accounted for 558 all-purpose yards in one high school contest (Riverdale Baptist) •  Twin brother, James, plays football for Buffalo • 2018 (14 gms, 6 sts, 2nd Team All-MAC, MAC Freshman of the Year): 183 carries for 1,013 yards (5.5 YPC) and 14 TDs; 7 receptions for 62 yards • 2018: Started 11 games at RT • Rushed for 298 yards and 6 TDs vs. Bowling Green on 11/29/19 •  2019 (1st Team All-MAC): 312 carries for 1,799 yards (5.8 YPC) and 19 TDs; 13 receptions for 209 yards (16.1 YPR) and TD •  31 carries for 301 yards and 4 TDs vs. Bowling Green on 11/17/20 • 36 carries for 409 yards and 8 TDs vs. Kent State on 11/28/20 • 2020 (6 gms, 1st Team All-MAC): 141 carries for 1,072 yards (7.6 YPC) and 19 TDs • Career Stats: 636 rushes for 3,884 yards (6.1 YPC) and 52 TDs; 20 receptions for 271 yards (13.6 YPR) and one TD • 2021 Buffalo Pro Day: 9 1/4″ hands, 28 3/4″ arms, 68 3/4″ wingspan, 19 reps-25 lbs, 4.57 40-yd, 30″ VJ, 9’9″ BJ, 7.03 3-cone, 4.35 20-yd SS

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):  One of the big things that Patterson has improved on is ball security.  After fumbling the football four times in 2018, he has put the ball on the ground just once the last two seasons.  He didn’t finish the 2020 season as strong as he did in 2019, when he finished the season with six straight 100-yard rushing games. He plays low, balanced and contains excellent vision to find cutback lanes.  While he doesn’t have blinding speed, Patterson gets to his top speed in a hurry and surprises opponents with his low center of gravity.  On top of that, he actually shows better receiving skills than one would imagine from a running back with zero receptions in 2020.  Much like former Buffalo running back Branden Oliver (Chargers), the wear-and-tear of so many carries began to add up for Patterson.  Backup running back Kevin Marks, arguably as good of an NFL prospect, carried the load for the Bulls much of the postseason in 2020.

Running with the Bull: Jaret Patterson Buffalo RB

Grade:                                                                                           5.33 (4th Round)

DraftNasty Big Board Rank:                                            212

Run-of-the-mill? Davis Mills- Stanford QB

15 Davis Mills

6’4 217 QB-Junior

Stanford

Davis Mills could be an intriguing middle round prospect. Can the Stanford Cardinal quarterback be as effective as former greats from Palo Alto like Jim Plunkett and Andrew Luck?

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths):  Good ball handler.  Smooth, compact delivery. Gets the ball out of his hand quickly on possession routes.  Forgets his mistakes within a game and bounces back (UCLA ’20).  Extends the ball away from his frame on ball fakes.  Exhibits relaxed quiet feet before throwing nine routes outside the numbers with touch.  From under center, he can turn his back to the defense on seven-step drops and fire deep comebacks accurately (3rd QTR/7:23, Northwestern ’19).  Keeps a shoulder-width base and can make these passes on his third hitch in the pocket. Places back-shoulder passes to his No. 2 slot WR (4th QTR, TD, UCLA ’20) or to the X-WR on fades vs. tight man coverage (3rd QTR, Northwestern ’19; OT, UCLA ’20).  Projects with touch throwing the ball in the middle of the field. Capable of making the free rusher miss and then scrambling for yardage (3rd and 10, 3rd QTR, California ’19).  Has good feet speed running to the corner to outrun defenses.  Projects with touch throwing the ball in the middle of the field. Described as “even-keeled” by coaches (https://www.stanforddaily.com/2019/11/14/mills-to-start-against-wazzu-as-injuries-continue-to-plague-cardinal/).  Led a game-winning drive vs. Oregon State in 2020 and also a fourth quarter comeback vs. UCLA in 2020. 

Weaknesses:  He has left some layups on the field (3rd and 5, 2nd QTR/5:01, California ’19).  Some of his double posts to the No. 1 WR don’t get up-and-down in the middle of the field (3rd QTR, Northwestern ’19).  Loses some passes on deep over (Dover) concepts (INT, 3rd QTR/11:08, California ’19).  Locks in on his targets and takes safeties to the ball (INT, 3rd QTR, California ’19).   Fooled by UCLA CB Jay Shaw in a two-deep trap coverage and threw a hitch (five-yard stop) into the trap (INT-TD, 4th QTR, UCLA ’20). Time management is still a work in progress.  Needs more reps. He had two delay of game penalties vs. California in 2019.  Eyes drop in the pocket too soon when reading through coverage (4th QTR, Northwestern ’19).  Knee injuries hampered Mills for most of his first two seasons at Stanford.  Also missed time after suffering an injury against Washington in 2019.  In high school, he did not play in the 2017 U.S. Army All-American game due to injury.

Other Notes:  Attended Greater Atlanta Christian HS (Ga.) and was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 QB ahead of Tua Tagovailloa and Jake Fromm in the 247Sports class of 2017 •  2016 Nike Sparq testing results: 4.32 20-yd SS, 33″ VJ • 2018: Appeared in two games • 2019 (8 gms): Completed 158-of-241 passes (66%) for 1,960 yards, 11 TDs and 5 INTs; 44 yards rushing; TD reception • 327 yards passing (55%), TD vs. Colorado on 11/14/20 • 2020 (5 gms): Completed 129-of-195 passes (66.2%) for 1,508 yards, 7 TDs and 3 INTs • Career Stats: Passed for 3,468 yards (65.5%), 18 TDs, 8 INTs; 86 yards rushing, 3 TDs • Stanford Pro Day: 9 1/2″ hands, 31 3/8″ arms, 77 3/4″ wingspan, 4.78 40-yd, 32″ VJ, 9’2″ BJ, 6.95 3-cone, 4.4 20-yd SS

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):  There was a reason that former Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello left the Cardinal program for Mississippi State.  Some people may point to injury, but in reality it was due to the emergence of Mills.  After Costello’s injury in 2019, Mills could not truly grab the job and he himself went down to injury.  The trend of injuries dates back to his high school days, where he was once ranked ahead of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in 247Sports’ 2017 rankings.  So what does he bring to the table?  Mills is an inexperienced quarterback with a smooth delivery, good mobility and an even-keeled nature.  That calm in the face of the storm helped him deliver after falling behind in games as a junior.

Grade                                       5.75 (3rd Round)

DN Big Board Rank:     168


Choosing a National Champion… with analytics

Once the 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket was released on Sunday, millions of people made their picks. Some made their picks based on their fan allegiance, some by choosing high seeds, others by picking upsets but did any of you look at the hidden figures?

For example, did you know over the past 20 years, 14 of the 20 champions have been one seeds? Or that only once in the last 20 years, has a champion with just one NBA prospect won the title. What about that most head coaches (18 of the last 20) have coached at least 10 seasons before winning a ring?

DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson invented a model and took a peek at the past 20 collegiate champions to see if the numbers could tell a story and to predict a champion and Final Four contenders.

In this analysis, we first sought to look at a college basketball team as a whole: offensive production, defensive production, impact of a head coach, scheduling impact, seed impact and the importance of talent (future NBA prospects).

As you can see by our rows (spreadsheet attached at the bottom), we measured these figures with points scored, points against, players experience, seeds that won the championship and future pros.

We found that a typical championship team over the past 20 years fits a certain profile:

  1. Usually a 1 seed
  2. An experienced head coach (coached 10 seasons before a title)
  3. A roster that has on average 1.65 years of exp.
  4. Around 4-5 future NBA players (players that play at least one game in the NBA)
  5. 4 players that average double figures
  6. Plays about a top 15 strength of schedule
  7. Is either top 50 nationally in points scored OR top 50 in points against… interestingly enough, rarely is a team dominant in both areas. The 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats and 2006-2007 Florida Gators were the only teams to rank top 25 in both and win a title.

Based on this criteria, here’s how the top seeds fared. (Note: red- means a team failed to meet a metric.)

Gonzaga

  1. A 1 seed
  2. Experience coach- Mark Few
  3. Roster has 1.6 years of exp. (just barely missed the cutoff)
  4. Corey Kispert, Drew Timme, Jalen Suggs and Andrew Nembhard could play at the next level
  5. Exactly 4 players that averaged double figures
  6. 107 in SOS
  7. No. 1 in points scored per game

Michigan

  1. A 1 seed
  2. First year head coach in Juwan Howard
  3. Roster has 2.2 years of exp.
  4. Hunter Dickinson, Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers could be future pros but after that do you think Eli Brooks and Mike Smith can make it as undersized guards?
  5. 3 players averaging double figures
  6. 12th in SOS
  7. Doesn’t rank in the top 50 in points scored or points against

Baylor

  1. A 1 seed
  2. Experience coach- Scott Drew
  3. Roster has 1.9 years of exp.
  4. Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua could become pros
  5. 3 players averaging double figures
  6. 87th in SOS
  7. Ranks 3rd in points scored per game

Illinois

  1. A 1 seed
  2. Brad Underwood has only been a head coach since 2013
  3. Roster has 1.6 years of exp.
  4. Kofi Cockburn, Ayo Dosunmu and possibly Adam Miller could become future pros but I struggle to see a fourth
  5. 3 players averaging double figures
  6. 9th in SOS
  7. Ranked 15th in points scored per game

By our criteria, Gonzaga and Baylor would be the favorite to win the title with five of the seven boxes checked. Again, Gonzaga was a fraction away from checking six of the seven boxes and remember they defeated Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa in the non conference but their conference hurt their overall SOS.

Interestingly enough though, West Virginia was a sleeper team we found. The Mountaineers have a veteran head coach in Bob Huggins, a trio of guards and Derek Culver, who not only average double figures but could crack a NBA roster and rank in the top 25 in SOS. As well as top 50 in points scored per game and a roster that returned 73 percent of last year’s production.

It’s important to remember that SOS is a skewed stat toward the Big Ten conference since the league was so dominant in 2020-2021, claiming 9 total tournament spots. And don’t forget outliers like the 2013-2014, UCONN Huskies can happen. However, do any of the teams have guards like Shabazz Napier or Kemba Walker that can take over the tournament? Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu and Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham can. If not, our metric says Gonzaga, West Virginia and Baylor are solid bets. While the East and Midwest region could claim a Cinderella spot.

WinnersConf.CoachesSeedPlayer yrs. of exp.NBA playersPlayers that avg. 10+ PPGPPG (rank)P-Against-PG (rank)SOS
VirginiaACCTony Bennett1- South1.633210123
VillanovaBig EastJay Wright1- East1.656111410
UNCACCRoy Williams1- South1.944121297
VillanovaBig EastJay Wright2- South1.746571517
DukeACCMike Krzyzewski1- South1.18461116
UCONNBig EastKevin Ollie7- East2131436314
LouisvilleBig EastRick Pitino1- Midwest1.742292110
KentuckySECJohn Calipari1- South0.875152518
UCONNBig EastJim Calhoun3- West0.93275846
DukeACCMike Krzyzewski1- South27328289
UNCACCRoy Williams1- South275228518
KansasBig 12Bill Self1- Midwest274132113
FloridaSECBilly Donovan1- Midwest1.965114338
FloridaSECBilly Donovan3- Midwest1.255225164
UNCACCRoy Williams1- Syracuse26512183
UCONNBig EastJim Calhoun2- Phoenix1.563175625
SyracuseBig EastJim Boeheim3- East1241416617
UMDACCGary Williams1- East2.244517614
DukeACCMike Krzyzewski1- East1.75521495
MSUBig TenTom Izzo1- Midwest2.2449089