Category Archives: 2021

Jake Funk RB-Maryland: Special Value

Former Maryland running back Jake Funk brings a multitude of possibilities to an NFL team’s table this spring. The former Damascus High School (Md.) product ranks as our 16th-best all-purpose prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Find out why in our scouting report on Funk.

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Athletic bloodlines. Classroom warrior. As a RB, he cuts off of his inside foot to get outside in one motion. Plays fast on outside run schemes (4th QTR/3:38, TD, Minnesota ’20). Demonstrates positive vision in pass pro (4th QTR, Minnesota ’20). At his best on downhill gap-schemed runs. Translates speed-to-power on contact. Even though he has to chop his feet to get back vertical, he flashes an ability to maneuver his paths (2nd QTR/11:51, Penn State ’20). Catches the ball well on check down passes. He has returned kickoffs for the team (as an off kickoff returner). Gets downhill with good speed and a straight-ahead style in this aspect (Temple ’19, 1st KOR of game). Outstanding special teams player. Used as a hold-up player at RE on the punt return unit. When running down at the R3 position on the kickoff team, he measures up his tackling entries from 10-to-20 yards away and then sinks low to clip the legs of the KOR (tackle inside the -12-yd L, 3rd QTR, Temple ’19). Uses the wrap around technique to get back into his lane in KO cover. He also uses butt-and-press techniques to run through blockers. Gets excited to cover kicks!! The team even used him in motion on the punt team as a gunner-type (Temple ’19). As a tackle on the punt team, Funk uses a snatch-and-pull technique to get rid of hold-ups by the blockers. Served as a wing on the punt team as well. 28 career tackles.

Weaknesses: After making cuts to reach the edge, he has to chop his steps to make inside-out defenders miss (4th QTR/4:40, Minnesota ’20). After his straight-line speed, he lacks a defining trait as a running back. Longer ends on the punt team can get off of his hold-up attempts with their length (2nd QTR/12:05, Temple ’19). Major durability concerns. Had a wrist injury in 2018 that was followed by a torn ACL. He then tore his ACL in the same knee (left) vs. Temple early in 2019 covering a kick (in a game he was playing very well).

Other Notes: Attended Damascus HS (Md.) was ranked as a two-star recruit by some outlets despite rushing for 2,866 yards and 57 TDs while earning 2015 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year honors • Father, Jim, played at Penn State and his mother, A’Lisa, was a 22-time All-American swimmer at Clarion University • Grandfather, Walter, played basketball at Penn State and his older brother, Josh, was a captain of the Ohio State lacrosse team • 2015 Nike Sparq testing results: 4.63 40-yd, 4.19 20-yd SS, 37 1/2″ VJ • 2016 (13 gms): 29 rushes for 1136 yards (4.7 YPC) and one TD; 7 catches for 42 yards (6 YPR) and one TD; 16.3 yds/KR (three returns); 12 tackles, FF • 2017 (12 gms, Special Teams Player of the Year): 27 carries for 145 yards (5.4 YPC) and 4 TDs; One completion for three yards; One receiving TD; 18.4 yds/KR; 9 tackles • 2018 (3 gms): Two carries; One reception; 4 tackles • 2019 (3 gms): 17 carries for 173 yards (10.2 YPC) and 2 TDs; 4 receptions for 16 yards; One kickoff return; 3 tackles • 2020 (4 gms, 3rd Team All-Big Ten): 60 carries for 516 yards (8.6 YPC) and 3 TDs; 10 catches for 68 yards and one TD; 2 tackles • 2021 Maryland Pro Day: 9″ hands, 30 1/4″ arms, 72 1/2″ wingspan, 22 reps-225 lbs, 4.48 40-yd, 38″ VJ, 10’2″ BJ, 6.73 3-cone, 4.14 20-yd SS

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Since 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. Prior to the injury, he ranked as one of the top special teams players in this year’s draft class. Adding a breakout season at running back -something the team felt he was on his way to in 2019- is just adding icing on the cake. So can Funk stay healthy? This is the question for teams as they ponder whether to use a draft pick (perhaps late on Day 3) on a player who could immediately be one of your core special teams players while adding value as a runner with some home run capability. That capability would be maximized in a gap-schemed run game that features some man blocking and pulling offensive linemen. We have no issues with him being competent in pass protection. Funk, one of our favorite all-purpose prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, has Day 3 value and…..lots of it.

DN Grade: 5.29 (4th Round)

Big Board Rank: 301

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Davis Mills- Stanford QB (Free Preview)

15 Davis Mills

6’4 217 QB-Junior

Stanford

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


Tutu Atwell WR-Louisville: 2021 NFL Draft Preview

Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell had already left his mark with the Cardinals in just two seasons on campus. The speedy 5-foot-9 wideout is perhaps the ACC’s toughest one-on-one tackle in the open field. The former Miami Northwestern High School (Fla.) Miami-Dade County Player of the Year starred as a quarterback at the prep level. His on-field savvy is present when diagnosing either zone or man coverage. Atwell led the ACC in receiving yards in 2019 (1,276) and finished second in receiving touchdowns (12). While he didn’t repeat the success in 2020, he stills ranks as one of the more electrifying players in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Justus Reed 6’3 255 DE-Senior Virginia Tech: ‘Eight-Mile Road?’

Justus Reed (who now wears No. 9 for Virginia Tech) opened up the 2020 campaign with a solid outing against NC State’s veteran-laden offensive line. He was able to split two blockers (RT Justin Witt and RG Joe Sculthorpe) early in the contest versus turn protection to post the first of his two sacks on the evening. In addition, his right-handed pole move (from the LDE spot) long-armed Witt and got him off-balance a couple of times.

On the downside, he was inconsistent once staying frontal versus a gap-schemed run when having to spill the football versus the pulling guard (1st half, NC State ’20). Reed also lost contain on the quarterback during the first half of the contest.

Justus Reed (No. 97 pictured above at the six-technique DE spot vs. Michigan in the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl posting a tackle for loss on this play) got off to a huge start for Virginia Tech this past Saturday.

Nevertheless, his five-tackle, two-sack, two-tackle for loss performance versus the Wolfpack all started with a seventh year of eligibility.

Reed initially signed with Florida as the 285th-ranked player in the ESPN300 Class of 2014. The former Clearwater Central Catholic High School (Fla.) star posted two tackles for loss in 2015 for the Gators (see video above). The two tackles for loss in that season were sandwiched in-between a normal redshirt season in 2014 and a medical redshirt in 2016.

Injuries in Gainesville led him to leave the school for Youngstown State, where he was solid in 2017 (5 QB sacks, 6 TFLs) despite missing four games due to an arm injury (https://www.ysusports.com/sports/fball/2018-19/bios/reed_justus_swjx?view=bio). Reed finished his three-year run for the Penguins with 58 tackles, 17.5 quarterback sacks, 25 tackles for losses, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three pass break-ups.

VTScoop did a piece in April 2020 chronicling the cavernous journey of Reed’s career (https://247sports.com/college/virginia-tech/Article/Justus-Reeds-Perilous-Journey-leads-to-Virginia-Tech-146165755/), which included a medical redshirt for an Achilles injury in 2018.

Reed (who now wears No. 9 at Virginia Tech) played three seasons at both Florida and Youngstown State before arriving in Blacksburg, Virginia.

NFL scouts may be put off by the extensive injury history, but pass rushers find a way to get home. In Reed’s case, getting back on the field was home plate. He broke down his own personal satisfaction after the Penguins win over Illinois State on November 17, 2019:

“Worked really hard this offseason (2019). Shout out to Terry Grossetti (Youngstown State strength and conditioning coach),” Reed said with a smile. “Just came out and did everything I could do. So it feels good.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tb7Geymqq3I)

Now that Reed has gotten this far, the only question is whether or not he will stay on Virginia Tech’s campus for an unprecendented eighth year.

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, this season will not count against any player’s eligibility. Reed became just the fifth player to earn a seventh year of eligibility this century when he opened the 2020 season in the ACC. In 2021, he will have yet another opportunity to take advantage of that rare seventh year next fall.

So could the current Hokie actually add another mile to his seven-mile hike?

For now, the 24-year old is attempting to make another lengthy topic take over the headlines.

“I think I have pretty good length, my arms are pretty long. I can’t remember when, but we had scouts come, and they were freaking out because my arms are so long. I’ve been told I’ve been good with my hands. Converting speed to power using my long arms. Doing whatever I have to do to get back there,” Reed said in the aforementioned VTScoop piece (https://247sports.com/college/virginia-tech/Article/Justus-Reeds-Perilous-Journey-leads-to-Virginia-Tech-146165755/).

If he can continue to get to the quarterback in the ACC, then the former Florida Gator may not have to go down the eight-mile road.

2021 NFL Draft Preview: Travis Etienne 5’10 215 RB-Clemson

Etienne -the back-to-back ACC Player of the Year (2018-19)- began his senior campaign with a 17-carry, 102-yard performance versus Wake Forest (9-12-20). In typical fashion, the all-purpose playmaker added three receptions for 47 yards. His collegiate production has largely matched the Louisiana native’s high school resume’, when he accounted for 115 total touchdowns at Jennings High School (La.). We break down his versatile skill-set in our highlight feature on Etienne.

2021 NFL Draft Preview: Penei Sewell 6’6 330 OT-oregon

Sewell’s entry into the 2021 NFL Draft comes on the heels of a 2019 campaign at Oregon that saw him win the Pac-12’s Morris Trophy (top offensive lineman), earn unanimous All-American honors, the Outland Trophy and Polynesian College Football Co-Player of the Year honors. Perhaps the most dominant offensive lineman in all of college football, the American Samoan native earned Freshman All-American honors in 2018 despite missing six games due to injury. His rare combination of power and agility has been evident since his days as a U.S. Army All-American at Desert Hills High School (Utah).

Sewell earned Freshman All-American honors in 2018 despite missing six games due to an ankle injury.

2021 NFL Draft Preview: Reed Blankenship S-Middle Tennessee

We talked about Blankenship’s ability to disguise last season after he earned C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors following a two-interception performance against Tennessee State (see below). After a strong start to the 2019 campaign, the senior defensive back went down to an ankle injury in mid-October. Blankenship enters 2020 with over 200 tackles (233), 15.5 tackles for losses, eight interceptions, 18 passed defensed and two blocked kicks. The former West Limestone HS (Ala.) star has a chance to hear his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft.We break down his diverse, well-rounded game in our video feature.

2021 NFL Draft Preview: Thomas Graham, Jr. CB-Oregon

It didn’t take long for Graham, Jr. to make an impact on Oregon’s campus. The preseason 2020 All-Pac-12 corner has now made 39 consecutive starts due to a combination of agility, football smarts and toughness. We go inside the game of one of college football’s best perimeter defenders in our video spotlight. Heading into 2020, Graham was the active FBS leader in passes defensed (40) and has eight career interceptions. After opting out of the season, Graham participated in the 2021 Senior Bowl. He closed his postseason with fine individual workouts for NFL teams and should be a solid draft pick this spring.

Graham had four tackles, one interception and one pass break-up versus Auburn in the 2019 season opener.
Graham’s ability to maneuver his frame allows him to get in-and-out of his breaks quickly when playing either press-man or off-man coverage.

2021 NFL Draft Preview: Deommodore Lenoir CB-Oregon

Lenoir, a former four-star recruit as an athlete coming out of Salesian HS (Calif.), brings a fast aggressive approach to the cornerback spot. Not only does he support the run with an element of pizzazz, he works to disrupt the wide receiver’s release at the line of scrimmage. After making the numerical switch from No. 15 to No. 6 in 2019, the AP second-team All-Pac-12 corner finished with 47 tackles and nine passes defensed. In a conference loaded with solid players on the edges, the senior will look to take the next step in 2020 along with running mate Thomas Graham, Jr.

Lenoir (No. 15 pictured in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl) changed his number to six in the 2019 campaign. He went on to earn AP second-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Lenoir has started 27 consecutive games for the Ducks and registered 24 passes defensed (4 INTs, 20 PBUs) the last two seasons.

2021 NFL Draft Preview: K.J. Britt MLB-Auburn

Auburn senior LB K.J. Britt brings the thunder week-to-week in the SEC. In his first year as a starter, Britt earned All-SEC honors after breaking out as a junior with 10 tackles for loss. We take a quick peek at his game in our video spotlight.

Auburn senior linebacker K.J. Britt (No. 33 pictured) registered 69 tackles, 2.5 QB sacks, 10 TFLs, FF and one PBU as a junior.