That is the eighth installment of our 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings sequence, following quarterbacks, working backs, a two-parter on extensive receivers (WR1-9 right here, WR10-50 right here), tight ends, offensive tackles, inside OL, inside DL, EDGE, linebackers and cornerbacks.
Test again subsequent week for our remaining installment, a deep-dive into the security class. Additionally coming subsequent week: My full place rankings, in addition to the Thor500, my 500-player large board with 500 participant comps.
1. Trevon Moehrig (TCU) | 6’1/202
Comp: Harrison Smith
TCU discovered Moehrig, a three-star cornerback from Spring Department, Tex. (close to San Antonio), early in his recruiting course of, incomes his verbal within the months following his junior season. As Moehrig’s course of picked up, the Horned Frogs needed to fend off a bevy of suitors — together with Georgia, Stanford, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Minnesota and Baylor — to get to the end line of his signature.
Moehrig appeared in 12 video games as a part-timer his true freshman season in 2018, flashing on particular groups (TCU particular groups MVP). Elevated to the beginning lineup the following yr, Moehrig took dwelling 2019 First-Group All-Massive 12 honors. In 2020 he repeated the trick, and in addition received the Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s greatest DB) whereas being named a Second-Group All-American.
Throughout 22 begins two seasons, Moehrig defended 26 passes and picked off six extra — mind-boggling ball manufacturing. A two-way participant in highschool that starred at extensive receiver along with defensive again, the rangy Moehrig obtained to the catch level greater than any security in faculty soccer the final two years and performed the ball like a wideout as soon as there. Per PFF, Moehrig led all FBS safeties in breakups in each 2019 (12) and 2020 (eight).
Constructed lengthy and wiry, Moehrig comes with greasy hips, fast toes and explosive lower-half horsepower. Not a sprinter however oh-so-bursty. Moehrig gets-going any route downhill fast and arrives on the doorstep freaky-fast like Jimmy John’s, detonating an H-bomb of speed-to-power pressure as he drives his shoulder pads via the goal’s hips.
Again deep at security, Moehrig sees play growth so clearly. Not often fooled. Usually environment friendly paths. Unimaginable closing pace. Neck-snapping, crash-test dummy hits, particularly on the finish of a runway. Beneath is an instance with out one, close to the objective line. Moehrig not solely saves the landing, however offers his workforce the ball again.
In entrance of a crowd that included Panthers HC Matt Rhule, Saints HC Sean Payton and Vikings GM Rick Spielman at TCU’s well-attended professional day on March 19, Moehrig determined to check regardless of struggling a again flare-up within the week main up. He ran a robust 4.50 40-yard sprint (77th RAS percentile) with a 4.19 short-shuttle (72nd).
Moehrig’s splits supplied proof of idea of his closing potential (93rd-percentile 2.57 20-yard cut up). However Moehrig bombed the vertical with a Thirtieth-percentile and skipped the broad and 3-cone. Sage enterprise selections.
Imagine him concerning the again or not, however athleticism ain’t a query for this Feldman Freak’s alum. We obtained loads of probabilities to see Moehrig in house towards athleticism in man protection lined up nearer to the ball. Practically half of Moehrig’s defensive snaps at TCU got here within the slot (796; the others have been distributed virtually evenly between free security and field work).
Moehrig’s swivel hips and squirrel-quick toes maintain him on prime of tight ends and most receivers out of breaks. Ball abilities translate along with his again to the motion. Let’s receiver inform him when it is time to discover the ball. Picks it up and makes aggressive receiver-like performs on it.
Twitchy movers and expert route-runners within the Massive 12 have been in a position to win separation out of breaks on Moehrig. Together with his 20-yard burst downhill from centerfield not out there to him right here, Moehrig can have a tough time recovering the step. Can get nicked by quick-hitters on this manner.
And although typically strong in run protection, that space of his sport additionally has a quirk. Moehrig’s imaginative and prescient accentuates and multiplies his athleticism generally. Reverse phenomena when Moehrig’s imaginative and prescient is compromised, as may be the case when he is lined up nearer to the ball.
Within the clip beneath, you will see an instance of the purpose I’m making, a rarer instance of a imaginative and prescient glitch from a two-deep look. Moehrig takes a couple of steps down because the run begins to develop, however appears to get confused by info overload amid the push of our bodies coming upfield.
The very same second a cut-back lane opens for the working again on the line of scrimmage, Moehrig loses his place eight yards upfield. Moehrig turns his head left, away from the ball, briefly preoccupied with the surface receiver getting into the body (who’s engaged blocking a TCU nook).
Moehrig takes two full shuffles in the direction of the receiver — because the runner accelerates via the lane — and, peaking again, realizes in horror that the ball-carrier is about to dash via the spot he vacated a split-second earlier than.
You may see Moehrig’s shocked response in his legs, which jellify. His eyes so not often fail him. What ought to have been a two- or three-yard run ending in a Moehrig mega-hit as a substitute grew to become a 40-yard explosive jaunt due to Moehrig’s psychological error.
As an all-purpose, scheme-versatile security that hits like a truck and contests oodles of balls, there are parts of Harrison Smith in Moehrig’s sport. Smith may be very harmful in protection as a result of he reads quarterback intention like a ebook and has all of the athleticism wanted to crash catch-point events he wasn’t invited to with the delicate arms to steal the ball.
So very related with Moehrig. I really like safeties like this, as a result of they don’t take performs off, they don’t botch routine assignments, they defend the run and move with equal vigor and ability, and, along with growing the effectivity of the protection they play for, in addition they improve its explosiveness.
Due to Moehrig’s potential to deal with virtually any task you hand him from quite a lot of alignments, he’s really a match for any scheme. His abilities play up most in split-safety seems to be, the place you get the downhill, intelligent menace in protection and towards the run located from a vantage level the place he can see the entire area with out leaving your self bare within the back-end in these random glitchy performs the place he reacts to a ghost and removes himself from the play.
Moehrig will provide your particular groups coach a core participant from the soar whereas providing your defensive coordinator in-game versatility to shift into the slot from his split-safety base on a matchup foundation. Moehrig’s one of many most secure gamers in your entire class. He could by no means be one of many sport’s top-3 safeties, however Professional Bowls are virtually assuredly in his future.
2. Jamar Johnson (Indiana) | 6’0/205
Comp: John Johnson III
Johnson was a do-it-all, three-way stud in highschool in Sarasota, Fla. (Riverview), starring at receiver on offense, nook/security on protection, and as a returner on particular groups. He fell via the cracks of the recruiting companies, a three-star cornerback that checked into the 247Sports composite exterior the top-1,100 prospects within the nation.
However in a small-scale harbinger to his meteoric rise this NFL Draft course of, Johnson began out missed however grew to become the bell-of-the-ball within the lead-up to signing day, with roughly one-fifth of the FBS’ 130 groups providing formally. A litany of G5 packages vying to steal Johnson obtained their gives trumped by Indiana, Iowa State, Virginia Tech and Washington State, 4 P5 packages that do an excellent job evaluating the place on the prep degree.
When new faculty coaches get employed, you’ll typically hear that they’ve “recruiting connections” in Space X. Johnson’s story is an effective instance of how “recruiting connections” manifest within the faculty soccer ecosphere. Indiana HC Tom Allen obtained his teaching begin in 1992 as defensive coordinator at a Florida highschool — he and his spouse had moved to the Sunshine State to start educating careers.
Over the following 5 years, Allen proved a natura; educating on the soccer area, and a brand new full-time profession path emerged. Off the Allens went across the nation, climbing the stretching-to-heaven teaching ladder. Allen reached the rung of his first FBS coordinator job in lower than a decade, returning to the state all of it started as Willie Taggart’s DC at South Florida in 2015.
One dominant defensive season complimenting Taggart’s “Gulf Coast Offense” (again when that wasn’t a joke) satisfied Indiana, Allen’s alma mater, to poach him as DC. Allen’s “recruiting ties in Florida” have been oft-cited in tales concerning the hiring, fleshing out the “returning dwelling” narrative. When Allen changed the ousted Kevin Wilson — underneath fireplace amid allegations of participant mistreatment — as Indiana HC a yr later, much more so.
Allen, a two-year DC who seems to be like what would occur should you mixed the DNA of James Woods and Jim Tressel, wasn’t the simplest promote because the everlasting HC option to those that remained Hoosier soccer followers. Some noticed it as a rent missing in creativeness and guts, like when West Virginia elevated profession assistant Invoice Stewart to interchange the wildly profitable Wealthy Rodriguez (I promise you this analogy works on scale — Wilson’s Hoosiers certified for bowls his final two seasons, the primary time this system had gone bowling in back-to-back years since 1990-91).
However by 2020, Allen’s fourth season accountable for the Indiana program, he’d constructed the Hoosiers from perennial laughingstock to the doorstep of the Massive 10 championship sport (and they might have made it had the B1G not modified its guidelines last-minute to permit Ohio State, beforehand disqualified after crossing the two-game COVID cancelation threshold, to hop Indiana within the methodology).
Final season was the primary time Allen had a full roster of hand-picked prospects he’d developed himself. The roster was identical to Allen himself. Roughly half was native to Indiana. Many of the relaxation was fleshed out with Floridans — 22 Sunshine Staters, together with a piece of the workforce’s greatest gamers, like QB Michael Penix and WR Whop Philyor. And, in fact, Jamar Johnson.
School soccer’s Lord Varys of Florida, Allen’s little birdies tipped him off to alternatives to get in early on potential P5 gems who for one motive or one other hadn’t drawn curiosity from the bluebloods. In a lovely little bit of symmetry, Allen’s fastidious educating model proved simplest mining untapped ceiling out of those toolsy, high-variance initiatives teeming in athleticism however needing to study bodily approach and place task.
That was the story of how boring outdated Tom Allen rebuilt Indiana right into a Massive 10 participant in simply 4 years’ time. It’s additionally very a lot the story of Jamar Johnson himself. Allen didn’t see a tweener within the missed cornerback/security — he noticed the ever-rare starter-kit instruments to construct an uber-valuable nickel/security hybrid defender.
Johnson’s schooling started his true freshman yr in 2018, spent as a core special-teamer (solely 15 rubbish snaps on protection). As a sophomore in 2019, Johnson had not totally graduated from Allen’s apprentice program however had confirmed prepared for matchup-specific slot duties, getting loads of snaps (232 within the slot) regardless of beginning just one sport.
Allen additionally tossed Johnson some field snaps as a zippy fourth linebacker in apparent run conditions. Johnson confirmed promise, posting ridiculous per-snap havoc numbers (4.5 TFL, three sacks, two interceptions, one in every of which he returned for a tuddy, and 4 extra passes defended). Allen spoon-fed him particularly and intentionally. Johnson took solely three snaps as a deep security in 2019, per PFF.
Allen meant to alter that in 2020. However plans modified once more roughly one month earlier than the Oct. 24 opener towards Penn State following the ACL tear of standout redshirt senior Marcelino Ball. Ball was the slot-defending beginning “Husky” in Allen’s 4-2-5 (a 3rd security/fifth DB that takes the third LB off the sector whereas hopefully not neutering your run protection).
Johnson was Ball’s backup at Husky in 2019. Following Ball’s season-ending harm this previous September, Sports activities Illustrated Indiana famous Johnson “certainly [would have] been the primary alternative for Ball” had Allen not first shifted Johnson full-time to security throughout spring ball to interchange graduated free security Khalil Bryant within the beginning lineup. In an accompanying house-keeping depth transfer, Allen shifted junior S Bryant Fitzgerald to Husky, filling Johnson’s vacated spot on the two-deep as Ball’s backup.
In a hubbub with the media following information of Ball’s season-ending harm, Allen introduced Fitzgerald would assume Ball’s beginning Husky gig. Apparently, Allen wasn’t achieved speaking about his plans for the place, including: “We even have Jamar Johnson, who performed there final yr because the backup to Marcelino. Jamar is a particularly proficient soccer participant and has the flexibility to play there.”
If Marcelino Ball hadn’t gotten harm, Johnson would have been a beginning deep security in 2020 — and certain not moved round a ton. Instead, Allen was pressured by circumstance to roll out his pet hybrid venture from Florida in all his glory a yr earlier than he in any other case would have, giving Johnson 93 slot snaps, 141 field snaps and 236 security snaps from a split-field alignment in 2020.
In eight video games, Johnson exploded for 3.5 TFL, 4 interceptions and 4 breakups passes to earn second-team All-Massive Ten honors. Half of these interceptions got here in Johnson’s nationwide coming-out get together, a ruckus late-November Indiana upset bid that fell simply quick.
He wrote Justin Fields’ Heisman concession speech with two interceptions. Fields entered that sport finishing 87% of his passes with zero interceptions (having thrown solely three profession INT previous to that sport).
Test absolutely the fantastic thing about a rep beneath. Watch how ridiculously easy that backpedal is as he enters Fields’ mind like Magneto Man. Watch how excellent the depth is all through. The final line of protection within the 1-high look, Johnson’s preliminary actions take away any ideas Fields has of throwing to the receiver on the best boundary.
Two defenders on the opposite facet have taken care of the left boundary receiver, and three linebackers are standing 5 yards upfield from Fields’ solely dump-off possibility within the flat — these choices are off the desk, too.
At this level, Fields has solely two choices: Drive the ball into the receiver up the seam who seems to be the open man, or take off. Johnson, watching him like a hawk, is enjoying an angle sport, scurrying laterally like a spider. Earlier than Fields has even begun his throwing movement, watch how shortly Johnson swivels his hips from the best boundary receiver to the seam receiver.
He is aware of. He is aware of that Fields can solely throw to at least one participant. And dang if Johnson did not know the way interesting that proposition is to Fields generally — he was going to aim this throw. Watch how shortly and seamlessly he turns 180-degrees.
And — you might have to go frame-by-frame to catch this one — notice that Johnson already taken a full step towards the slot receiver earlier than Fields has raised the ball, and has pushed three full steps in the direction of the slot receiver earlier than the ball is launched. Fields thought this was a straightforward downfield completion. As a substitute, it was a straightforward interception.
Excessive-level stuff. Excessive, high-level stuff. Fields solely focused Johnson twice that afternoon — each have been picked. And it wasn’t simply the interceptions. Watch the tenaciousness of the blitz beneath from the slot on a clutch sack of Fields simply exterior the pink zone. Johnson offers a couple of pitter-patter steps on method to RB Grasp Teague, the poor again on the sector that play tasked with choosing up the free blitzer.
As a substitute of going proper or left, watch how a lot energy Johnson generates in sending Teague sprawling into the left sort out’s legs. A 3-car pile up in his wake, Johnson snatched Fields and ripped him to the bottom. Johnson piled up 11 profession pressures in solely 33 pass-rushing alternatives — that is an unimaginable charge. He should be despatched extra typically within the execs.
In his slot snaps final season, Johnson confirmed the flexibility to reflect in man protection that flashed in his 2019 platoon snaps. Snug along with his again to the ball, Johnson has a great sniffer for when the ball’s coming and he tends to select it up instantly with out slowing, placing himself in higher conditions to make performs on it.
Eye-opening in 2020 have been Johnson’s split-safety protection snaps, a brand new position for him. Sees area like he’s watching All-22 on half-speed. Intelligent, instinctive night time stalker presence in zone. Fealty to his space with flash-bang downhill burst to shut on balls in entrance of him. Conviction in his reads for instantaneous set off ignition. Adaptive and reactive to altering info. Doesn’t put teammates in danger.
Johnson has flashes towards the run, fast and enthusiastic to set off downhill, arriving shortly with jarring hits when he’s in a position to attain the ball-carrier. Project-minded play when he can’t, setting outer-edges to funnel runners inside to assist, minding his gaps. However tackling stays caught within the neophyte growth stage.
He botched 18 makes an attempt during the last two years for a red-flag 22.5% missed sort out charge. Beautiful for a participant that made such huge developmental leaps in each different class over three years at Indiana, Johnson’s lust for collision affect can overpower his good senses. Flies in scorching with head down, leaves toes like a battering ram, solely passing ideas to wrapping.
At Indiana’s Professional Day on April 2, Johnson ran a 4.58 forty that may’ve ranked top-12 amongst safeties finally yr’s mix. Explosion seen on tape displayed in 35-inch vertical soar (Sixty fourth-percentile RAS) and 10’02” broad soar (76th).
Johnson was having one heck of a day till he bombed the agility drills, with a Twenty first-percentile shuttle and Thirtieth-percentile 3-cone. I used to be stunned by the agility occasions, as I noticed an athlete not with Barry Sanders jukes, however actually sufficient purposeful agility to remain on prime of route breaks, sufficient lateral quickness to wreak havoc in zone.
Increasingly more, prospects, particularly these ranked as Day 1 or Day 2 prospects, are skipping the agility drills. That Johnson didn’t with these occasions signifies he thought he was going to do higher, most likely due to coaching occasions. I belief the purposeful agility I noticed on the sector.
Johnson declared for the NFL Draft early, following his true junior season, with solely 9 profession begins underneath his belt. Throughout his 2020 metamorphosis, we noticed the tip of the spear of what he may grow to be as a nickel/security hybrid providing effectivity, explosion and mismatch-nullification.
The NFL has been obsessed for nearly a decade with figuring out safeties with LB/CB traits to make use of as nickel hybrids within the warfare towards unfold offenses. These offenses not solely pressure defenses to skinny the field for working, however put athletes in house exterior, together with, in fact, offensive hybrid gamers (assume: Kyle Pitts).
In opposition to opponents that recurrently used a move-TE along side an inline tight finish — 12 personnel — hybrid nickels are totally important except you need to watch your undersized slot nook get posterized downfield all afternoon.
Johnson, Tom Allen’s most prized pupil and a driving pressure behind Indiana soccer’s renaissance regardless of beginning lower than 10 collegiate video games, is getting into the league at simply the best time.
He seems to be like he’s solely getting began as a ballhawking goblin in protection deployed across the formation. Johnson’s solely barrier of entry to NFL stardom is enhancing his tackling from poor to common. The protection chops are going to play.
3. Jevon Holland (Oregon) | 6’1/207
Comp: Xavier McKinney
A two-year starter that entered the lineup instantly after signing as a four-star recruit in 2018, Holland bounced between a standard security position and slot duties in Eugene. Flashing ball abilities from his days as a receiver in highschool, Holland piled up 9 interceptions and 11 breakups over two seasons earlier than opting-out in 2020.
Not solely lively and productive in protection, Holland can be extraordinarily dependable. In 109 profession targets, Holland allowed a 61.1 passer ranking towards whereas drawing just one penalty. Yahoo’s Eric Edholm reported Holland hammered nook drills throughout his 2020 opt-out. Holland believes he may stick there within the execs. Many agree with him, together with PFF.
A well-built security with lengthy arms, Holland is a easy mover on the sector. Extra fluid and environment friendly in his maneuverings than a herky-jerky, north-south explosive athlete, ala a prospect like Andre Cisco (talked about beneath).
Holland’s 9.54 RAS rating is legit — he competed in each athletic check apart from the 3-cone. Since he posted a 78th-percentile shuttle, and since he has exact toes with hips that swivel like an workplace chair, agility isn’t in query.
There have been questions on Holland’s pace — notably, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein reported earlier within the course of that NFL scouts had “issues about [Holland’s] lengthy pace” — so the prospect did effectively to run a 4.47 forty (88th percentile) with sturdy splits and effectively above-average jumps, together with a ten’06” broad soar (86th percentile).
To my eyes, Holland’s on-field pace was greater than sufficient for security duties (in addition to punt-return duties, a job Holland held at Oregon that he’s been doing since highschool). However in man protection out of the slot, there have been cases of pace gamers getting a step on him and turning the lead into two or three steps by the point they have been within the deep sector.
That is exactly the realm the place Holland’s concept of doubtless with the ability to swing full-time nook duties on the subsequent degree falls aside for me. Holland had all the scale, size and ball abilities wanted to take care of many of the athletes and routes he noticed out of that publish within the Pac-12.
However in the identical manner NBA defenses can sell-out to crowd shooters who haven’t confirmed they’ll create off the dribble, NFL groups will check Holland’s potential to hold a route downfield early and infrequently if his drafting workforce offers him man-coverage nook assignments. It’s not only a pace factor. For all his pure really feel seeing and enjoying the ball with the motion in entrance of him, Holland has an ungainly relationship with the ball along with his again to it in man assignments.
A superb illustration of every of those weaknesses, in addition to an instance of Holland’s occasional susceptibility in biting on double-moves, may be seen beneath on a 57-yard landing move ceded to Arizona State WR Frank Darby. On this case, Holland was lined up as a security, with the nook, in zone, passing Darby off to him.
Holland’s job of not letting Darby get behind him ought to have been greater than doable. However Darby not solely froze Holland with only a trace of a route break, however he ran previous him and added distance. Darby’s no burner. Even when Holland had by some means caught him by the point the ball obtained there, this nonetheless could have been a landing — the WR-like ball abilities Holland has coming ahead don’t translate along with his again to the ball.
However mixing in nickel work primarily based on matchups stays greater than viable within the NFL — it’s how he ought to be used. Holland will get after his run-game assignments, crashing down with authority and bringing the hit keep on with him. Like to see each the willingness to scrap and the team-oriented small issues he’ll do on this space, a compete-until-the-whistle sort keen to sacrifice his physique.
Holland missed 9 sort out makes an attempt in every of his two beginning seasons for a middling 14.0% missed sort out charge. Greater than half of the misses occurred by person error, typically when Holland realized a step or too earlier than the collision he’d are available in too scorching, main him to depart his toes for an opportunity at a kill shot or get out over his skis along with his head right down to barrel via.
Exterior of those cases, he’s extraordinarily dependable on this space, together with corralling in house. Wouldn’t have stated that previous to 2019, however Holland made an enormous lead ahead on this space in 2019, chopping his missed sort out proportion by 7.1%. PFF charted Holland with 24 “stops” (tackles constituting a failure for the offense) that season, up from six as a real freshman.
Holland’s confirmed protection chops and ball abilities from his security publish will play within the NFL in any scheme. He provides extra worth with slot versatility (matchup-dependent) and punt returning. Excessive-floor value reliability for a workforce needing speedy security assist and hoping to enhance its move protection.
4. Richie Grant (UCF) | 6’0/197
Comp: Justin Reid
An ignored two-star receiver recruit out of highschool, Grant was found by former HC George O’Leary, who got here via with Grant’s solely FBS scholarship provide. However Grant needed to sweat via O’Leary’s firing and Scott Frost’s hiring earlier than studying that, certainly, Frost was honoring the scholarship provide.
Then Grant needed to hope Frost would maintain his phrase for nearly a yr — and he did. Changed into one in every of Frost’s greatest recruiting selections in Orlando. Grant began 33 video games, incomes First Group All-AAC honors all three years he began. In 2020, Grant was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (nation’s prime defensive again).
As a real freshman, Grant was a key reserve and full-time special-teamer that seemingly would have began for many another program within the nation, together with within the P5 — UCF’s secondary on the time simply so occurred to boast Shaqem Griffin and Mike Hughes. Final sport of that season, Grant made 5 tackles within the Sugar Bowl as UCF upset Auburn 34-27 within the Sugar Bowl.
He remained a core particular teamer the following three years, taking up 500 particular workforce snaps (3,000-plus snaps whole if you toss within the defensive work). Grant’s affect on UCF was simple. George O’Leary’s final workforce, in 2015, went 0-12, with Frost going 6-7 the following yr. Grant arrived in 2017. In his 4 years on campus, underneath two totally different staffs, the Knights went 41-8.
In three seasons as starter, Grant collected 10 interceptions, 16 passes defended, seven pressured fumbles and two recoveries. An enormous plus in run protection that brings his lunch pail. Grant missed 20 makes an attempt between 2018-2019, however solely 6-of-78 (7.7%) makes an attempt in 2020, per PFF.
Grant’s obtained the vary of a shortstop, and his receiving background is clear on the catch level. He naturally performs the ball and is diligent within the split-seconds earlier than it arrives to place himself right into a place to get arms on it. Deceiving size, a sub-6 footer with a 77-inch wingspan.
A sub 200-pounder standing a hair underneath six toes, Grant is a brief, lean, last-guy-off-the-bus man if such a factor existed. However he’s obtained a Bradley Cooper-in-Limitless cheat code of a thoughts, processing knowledge in hyper pace and reacting instantly to all actionable knowledge.
A ubiquitously-mentioned-by-broadcasters presence throughout UCF’s resurgence, Grant was productive and dependable within the take-out-the-trash assignments — main the Knights in tackles twice — whereas altering the course of a number of video games per yr with well timed interceptions or third-down breakups.
Grant prefers an all-22 take a look at the sector and units up very deep. Intelligent groups prevented testing him downfield however made positive to kick Grant within the shins a couple of occasions a sport with fast beneath throws he had no probability of contesting in an try to benefit from just a little additional intermediate house.
At his professional day, Grant nullified false narratives about his athleticism (Grant was a highschool observe star, virtually assuredly the rationale O’Leary and Frost took the developmental stab no one else would). His 7.8 RAS rating was in reality much more spectacular than many guys who left the method with 8s or 9s.
Grant competed in all of the assessments — changing into extra of a rarity amongst top-100 drafted gamers — and was principally dinged by the size-adjusted system for his top and weight, poor bench exhibiting, and middle-of-the-road vertical. Grant ran a 4.57 40-yard sprint with Ninetieth-plus percentile showings within the 10- and 20-yard splits, broad soar and 3-cone.
I wouldn’t name Grant explosive, however he arrives in a short time when driving right down to contest from centerfield. Commendable dichotomy of quick-trigger aggression with out getting toasted deep.
Various skillet that UCF moved round to nullify matchups, bringing Grant into the slot for larger matchups like tight ends and into the field as an additional linebacker for apparent run conditions. Arduous to slide with motion.
Already 23 along with his twenty fourth birthday looming in November, Grant has undergone extra growth than most on this class and could also be extra tapped-out in that division than others.
However he’s already a super-reliable deep security with special-sauce playmaking abilities, add-on matchup versatility, and among the most dependable particular groups work seen wherever within the 2021 class. Day 1 starter with a really excessive ground.
5. Hamsah Nasirildeen (Florida State) | 6’3/215
Comp: George Iloka
Over his three-year stint as starter after signing as a top-100 general recruit, Nasirildeen functioned as Florida State’s free security with a twist. Along with centerfield duties, the Seminoles weaponized Nasirildeen’s size, measurement, motion and love for contact in assignment-specific roles nearer to the ball, shifted into the slot for particular protection matchups and close to the road for off-ball LB snaps.
A workforce chief at FSU, with an method and work ethic that Seminoles’ coaches rave about, Nasirildeen can be a special-teams ace that took practically 500 particular groups snaps in faculty. A plus athlete at a shade over 6’3 and 215 kilos, Nasirildeen additionally boasts an eagle’s wingspan (81 7/8 inches). Florida State coaches imagine he may have performed receiver, tight finish, linebacker or security in faculty.
He’s a great instance of why on-field versatility will not be a cliche, however a mineable on-field useful resource. Nasirildeen’s potential to carry out disparate duties across the area means that you can squeeze additional worth out of him by enjoying matchups. Nasirildeen as an example changing a height-challenged nickel nook with move-TEs within the slot. In that case, your greatest protection security off the bench takes Nasirildeen’s centerfield spot.
On this manner, gamers with legit versatility mean you can use your bench in situation-specific platoons catered to their strengths, versus letting them rot ready for an harm or extra conventional substitution patterns, ie by sequence, or in generalized sport conditions (ie nickel/dime packages, goalline D, and many others).
With a chesspiece within the beginning lineup, a bench with a participant or two in any respect three ranges with a currently-playable ability towards both the run or the move, and a artistic, advantage-obsessed defensive coordinator, you retain all people recent whereas concurrently catering everybody’s utilization to their abilities, in impact enjoying all of them up.
The quarterback is seeing new personnel packages throughout the road every play — the chesspiece shifting round and a small group of situation-specific reserves shuffling in-and-out round him — permitting elite coordinators to amp issues up even additional within the title of confusion and havoc, Replacer blitzes — made well-known by Clemson DC Brent Venables — the place you ship guys from everywhere in the area and have one other participant drop again to “change” him, are a great instance.
Nasirildeen is simply as versatile as Carolina’s Jeremy Chinn and New England’s Kyle Dugger, final yr’s Spherical 2 hybrid safeties — and longer than each. Nonetheless, whereas Chinn and Dugger every had 4.5 forties and 40-plus inch verticals, Nasirildeen managed a mere 32 inches at his professional day exercise earlier than pulling out of the 40, citing a hamstring harm from coaching.
Nasirildeen’s 59th-percentile showings in every of the agility assessments grow to be extra spectacular if he was combating via a balky hamstring. It’s additionally doable that harm didn’t grow to be a factor till after Nasirildeen’s cringe-inducing vertical. Both manner, ballparking from remark, he is extra of a high-4.5s or low-4.6s man.
When Nasirildeen was at his greatest at FSU, he seemed extra like a new-agey undersized off-ball linebacker than a free security, a fearless downhill attacker with a knack for attending to the goal with out getting touched by blockers, an space of his sport clearly honed on particular groups.
He’s a hard-hitter that makes use of his enormous tackling radius for money-in-the-bank reliability (22 misses on 233 makes an attempt). Extraordinarily lively, Nasirildeen led the Seminoles in tackles as a sophomore and junior and would have once more in 2020 had he been wholesome.
Regardless of Nasirildeen’s expertise in protection each deep and within the slot, he stays very a lot a work-in-progress in that space. To his credit score, he improved dramatically on this space between 2018 (73.3% completions, 4 TD allowed) and 2019 (47.6% completions, zero touchdowns), giving hope that extra ceiling is left to be uncovered.
Nasirildeen is a easy, agile athlete in house, and he makes use of his size and ball abilities carried over from his highschool receiving days to pile up manufacturing (13 passes defended and 4 INT in 19 begins). However Nasirildeen lacks wheels, and his really feel is enhancing however a work-in-progress space.
He cedes separation within the intermediate with torpid transitions, and may get beat excessive by lengthy pace if he is not cautious. Dangerous behavior of taking pictures himself within the foot by extra peaking over his shoulder for info from the quarterback.
Nasirildeen tore an ACL in 2019, the rehab of which didn’t enable his 2020 season to start till Florida State’s final two video games. After which he struggled on the Senior Bowl and had a nondescript professional day which will or could not have included a phantom harm to skip the 40, an space he wasn’t going to shine in.
If Nasirildeen can enhance his diagnostic abilities to the diploma it mitigates the pace difficulty, he’ll grow to be a long-term chesspiece starter. On the lower-end of the qualitative scale for what that’s, however a particularly invaluable piece nonetheless. A base sturdy security that may deal with slot, field or deep duties.
That utilization in a zone scheme particularly would masks quite a lot of his protection weaknesses whereas enjoying up his strengths. If his instincts by no means enhance, he’ll turns into a backup LB/S with sufficient usable traits to see the sector situationally in service of one other chesspiece’s machinations.
Both manner, he’ll be a special-teams ace from Day 1 that will probably be on all of your core models. These latter two information mitigate his danger profile and lift his ground such that I see a top-75 prospect general along side the ceiling.
6. Ar’Darius Washington (TCU) | 5’8/176
Comp: Lamarcus Joyner
Two-year starter throughout from S1 Trevon Moehrig in Gary Patterson’s hyper-aggressive 4-2-5 scheme. After a redshirt marketing campaign, Washington earned Freshman All-American honors and received the Massive 12’s Defensive Freshman of the 12 months award in 2019. He was an honorable point out All-Massive 12 choice in 2020.
Patterson ended up stealing Washington, a three-star recruit, out of Louisiana’s Evangel Christian Academy. And it’s not even as a result of close by LSU missed — the Tigers have been Washington’s first provide, one he instantly accepted verbally earlier than finally flipping when TCU obtained concerned late (UTSA was the one different FBS college to supply).
A tiny ball of muscle that performs ticked-off, Washington’s non-athlete comp can be a pitbull. Those that like him most liken Washington to Tyrann Mathieu as an undersized do-it-all playmaker that competes each play such as you stole cash out of his pockets and insulted his mom. Washington has a tattoo on his hand with a world with a crown on it, identical to Matthieu’s.
At Washington’s professional day exercise, he ran a disappointing 4.62 40-yard sprint. His measurements would make him one of many smallest safeties to play within the NFL during the last 30 years, it’s not like he has lengthy arms (29.25”) to compensate within the size division.
Summing up Washington’s profession to reporters afterwards, HC Gary Patterson stated: “He wasn’t as large as I needed him to be. He wasn’t as quick as I needed him to be. All of the above. However on the finish of the day, he’s a man who has quite a lot of ardour for the sport and he makes quite a lot of performs.”
We knew he was small and missing sprinter wheels. The place Washington did effectively on the exercise was posting size-adjusted 83rd-percentile or above finishes within the broad soar, vertical soar and shuttle. In some ways, this was additionally affirmation of his on-field profile.
Free-hipped. Not going to run guys down from behind. However boasts unimaginable bang-bang vary to become involved in performs he has no enterprise making — 40-time be damned. Washington reads the sector so effectively that, like my S1 from final name, Antoine Winfield Jr., he can anticipate the seconds to return and makes calculated dangers with supreme confidence.
For all he lacks in measurement and pace, Washington is wealthy in athletic explosion. No one at TCU who’d witnessed Washington’s weight-room exploits — together with a 370-pound bench and 640-pound squat — was a lot stunned by Washington’s professional day leaps.
The diagnostics/short-area explosion areas are so elite — quick-trigger fuse, shot-from-cannon preliminary actions — that Washington may be five-or-more yards upfield closing as a few of his contemporaries in the identical circumstance can be taking their first step ahead.
After an objectively elite yr in protection in 2019 (11.6 passer ranking on targets, zero TD, 5 INT), Washington fell off barely on this space in 2020 (99.6 passer ranking on targets, three TD, zero INT). Even so, over two years as a starter, he coughed up solely 157 yards in protection.
Washington has zero regard for his personal physique towards the run, an space he legitimately appears to like. Significantly out of the slot, near the ball, he shines, with the identical hair-trigger and short-area explosion, his agility and want serving to him work via site visitors alongside the way in which (in fact, if a blocker can get his arms on Washington, it is normally night-night for Washington on the rep).
Washington’s a bodily form-tackler, making an attempt to drive your chest pads via your again for a hug. Washington’s missed-tackle charge additionally greater than doubled from 6.3% to 17.8% between 2019 and 2020. If there’s excellent news, it’s that the change was principally circumstantial (which, not like waning effort or depreciating play, is one thing we are able to work with).
When he’s charging upfield from deep to assist with the run, Washington’s eyes can get large as saucers, taking hyper-aggressive routes to the ball, placing him at risk of over-pursuit, getting taken out of the play by a directional change of the ball-carrier, or getting worn out by a blocker.
However when he did get dwelling final yr, he blew a number of tackles, by no means from a scarcity of effort or energy (he cooks up speed-to-power like a tini microwave), however from a mixture of off-angle makes an attempt and a tiny tackling radius. Washington has little or no margin for error — if he doesn’t clear up the angles and arrive on the doorstep flush along with his toes underneath him, he’s at large danger for dropping fish out of the boat due to a brief web thrown haphazardly.
Of the three spots Washington performed 200-plus snaps at in faculty — slot, field, free security — the slot appeared to swimsuit him greatest general partly due to this. Washington has proven that he has the footwork, fluidity and ball abilities to deal with most protection assignments out of the publish — simply must be protected against large/sturdy receivers.
However due to Washington’s high-octane Mighty Mouse mix of area imaginative and prescient and downhill thunder, there are additionally circumstances the place I’ll need him assigned to free security duties.
When requested what place he’d play on the subsequent degree Washington stated: “The place do I see myself? Wherever the ball is to be trustworthy.” With nickel/free security play-to-play matchup-based versatility, and the will and athletic explosion to beat his lack of measurement or lengthy pace, Washington may provide 85% of the Honey Badger at a middle-round worth low cost.
Absolute worst-case situation, he’s a robust particular groups participant that’s the primary DB off your bench used for particular conditions.
7. Divine Deablo (Virginia Tech) | 6’3/226
Comp: Kyzir White
A observe and soccer star at Mount Tabor Excessive Faculty (N.C.), Deablo determined to ditch a dedication to his native Tar Heels for the Hokies after consuming at Beamer’s 25, Frank Beamer’s barbecue joint in Roanoke (web site: “pleasant service and a culinary ardour for good meals intercepts the memorabilia of a legendary coach”).
As a substitute of asking why the great meals was intercepting Beamer’s memorabilia as a substitute of complimenting it, or asking if the menu author meant to make use of the phrase “intersects”, Deablo merely threw up his arms and dedicated to Beamer on the spot. Turned out Beamer was on his manner out. Deablo caught with the dedication after Justin Fuente’s hiring.
Deablo drew extra curiosity than his three-star billing might need prompt — Florida and Clemson have been amongst his bundle of gives — due to his tantalizing measurement/size/athleticism mixture.
The Hokies shifted Deablo from receiver to the defensive backfield after his redshirt season. Virginia Tech would do the identical to a younger receiver named Caleb Farley two years later. Partly-time work as a redshirt freshman in 2017, Deablo flashed in protection, breaking apart three balls and intercepting one other in solely 62 protection snaps.
Deablo began the following three seasons. From the beginning, he was an lively run defender, finally wracking up 63 profession stops (tackles constituting an offensive failure), as charted by PFF. However in these first two years as a starter, 2018-2019, Deablo was ceaselessly focused in protection.
He coughed up 920 protection yards over these two campaigns. Extremely, over 816 protection snaps between 2018-19, Deablo intercepted (1) and broke up (3) the very same quantity of passes that he did in solely 62 protection snaps as a little-used redshirt freshman!
Not solely was Deablo extraordinarily mistake-prone, uncertain of himself, however, maybe extra troubling, his ball abilities had up and disappeared. Had that been the case in 2020, Deablo can be ranked 10 or extra slots decrease on this record.
As a substitute, the sunshine flicked on, with Deablo choosing off 4 passes whereas holding opponents to a 56.3 NFL passer ranking on targets en path to first-team All-ACC honors. His PFF protection grade leapt from 69.6 to 84.4. This wasn’t towards a procession of bums, both. Certainly one of Trevor Lawrence’s 5 interceptions got here at Deablo’s arms. Not solely that, however it ocurred in the long run zone.
The confirmed run defender improved for the third-straight season in tackling — uncooked and all-limbs at first, he’s now very dependable. Standing 6’3 ⅜, 226 kilos with a condor’s 78’ ⅞ wingspan, Deablo is a tank of a security, with eerily related dimensions to Kam Chancellor.
At his professional day exercise, Deablo accomplished each check and posted a legit Eightieth-percentile size-adjusted athletic composite. Compared to Chancellor’s greatest exhibiting in every check between his professional day and NFL Mix exercises, Deablo ran quicker (4.42 to 4.59) with a greater vertical (34” to 32″), broad soar (126” to 116″) and 3-cone (7.01 to 7.36).
Right here’s a snippet of a randomly-selected Chancellor scouting report popping out of Virginia Tech: “Elite measurement and energy. A really bodily defender. At his greatest in run assist; acts as an additional linebacker. Protection abilities are missing. Doesn’t look fluid when he wants to show and run with a receiver. Pace is marginal. Primarily performed free security in faculty however might want to transfer to sturdy security on the subsequent degree as a result of his measurement and lack of protection abilities.”
This scouting report might be copy/pasted for Deablo. He’s struggled in man protection prior to now, particularly with staying shut out of transitions, showing to lack consolation and twitchy change-of-direction mirroring abilities in house. He ought to most likely be saved out of that, and Deablo’s free security days are virtually assuredly over.
He’s following the Kam Chancellor path out of legendary DC Bud Foster’s scheme to a robust security position within the NFL. Deablo took 865 snaps within the slot, 907 snaps within the field and 424 snaps deep as a free security in faculty. Solely prompt modification to his utilization within the NFL is redistributing these 424 deep-safety snaps to the slot or field.
In some methods, Kam Chancellor lucked out by getting drafted by the Seahawks, which ran a Cowl-3 system tailored for his skillet. Deablo must cross his fingers for a similar good lucky the final weekend of April — his greatest shot within the NFL is as a Cowl-3 sturdy security.
Matt Bowen known as the Cowl-3 “a protection taught at the highschool degree that’s nonetheless prevalent on Sundays.” This method requires an LB/S hybrid sort at SS.* The crux of the Cowl-3 technique is to pack the field on the snap and fan out for passes.
*(Cowl-3 actually weaponizes guys like Diablo, however I ought to be clear that each one NFL defensive schemes have their makes use of for gamers like him. Right here’s what an AFC personnel government instructed NFL.com’s Lance Zielein on the subject of Deablo: “Each workforce goes to want a matchup man who’s a giant security or a small linebacker who can play the run and canopy tight ends. All of us want them with how the league goes and he is that form of participant.”)
Chancellor was ceaselessly introduced right down to create eight-man containers on the snap. On run performs, he was actually an additional linebacker, not only a diagnose-and-trigger downhill man, however with extra duties like setting a tough edge to funnel runners again inside to a gang of teammates.
Deablo virtually assuredly isn’t Kam Chancellor, however neither was Kam Chancellor. That is his bonanza ceiling if Deablo’s tackling and protection proceed to enhance and he finds a Cowl-3 system that weaponizes him.
There’s danger within the profile, in fact. If Deablo’s 2020 level-up in protection was a mirage as a substitute of a harbinger of issues to return, he’s going to go from potential hybrid matchup piece to backup linebacker duties in a short time.
Deablo’s going to be a special-teams satan (sorry) from the soar (739 profession particular groups snaps in one in every of faculty soccer’s most vaunted particular groups models). The ceiling right here may be very, very actual, and the special-teams chops and LB/S tweener traits assure a long-term NFL future even when he by no means reaches it.
I feel Deablo’s being slept on.
8. Andre Cisco (Syracuse) | 6’1/216
Comp: Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
Popping out of IMG Academy, Cisco was a three-star recruit exterior Florida’s top-125 prospects with just one yr of prep beginning varsity expertise. What Cisco lacked in expertise he supplied again double in projectable instruments.
Ignored by schools for many of his highschool profession, Cisco drew 5 Energy 5 gives, together with Nebraska and Northwestern, close to the tip of his senior season. Syracuse satisfied Cisco, Queens-born and a local of Valley Stream — Cisco transferred to IMG as a junior with zero varsity soccer begins — to return dwelling. Dino Babers and crew have been keen to danger a roster spot on the developmental shot.
Cisco vindicated the choice instantly, choosing off seven balls his first yr on campus to grow to be the primary true freshman to steer the nation in interceptions since 1951 (Oregon’s George Shaw). He defended a further 18 passes en path to third-team AP All-American and ACC Defensive Rookie of the 12 months honors.
Cisco missed three video games to a lower-body harm in 2019 however intercepted 5 extra passes anyway, incomes second-team All-ACC lodging. A torn ACL in Syracuse’s second sport of 2020 ended his season early.
Cisco elected to declare early for the NFL Draft. Nonetheless recovering from the knee harm, Cisco didn’t check at his professional day exercise. For Cisco, his NFL Draft course of should really feel very like his recruiting course of: As a substitute of being a uncooked, boom-or-bust three-star recruit, he’s a uncooked, boom-or-bust tier-three NFL Draft prospect.
Cisco and Stanford CB Paulson Adebo are the dueling Spiderman GIF of defensive again prospects on this class. Each are well-built, stud athletes that imagine they’ll intercept each ball within the air. And each arguably could have picked up a nasty behavior or two by dominating within the particular manner they did as freshmen.
Cisco’s an unapologetic, YOLO risk-taker. Whereas a man like Richie Grant makes calculated dangers by primarily based on shortly extrapolating info, Cisco simply guesses hope hopes.
After permitting two TD and 264 yards in protection whereas getting his arms on 15 passes as a real freshman in 2018 (56.1 NFL passer ranking on targets), Cisco allowed six TD and 376 yards in protection whereas getting his arms on 10 passes in 2019 (105.8 NFL passer ranking on targets.
I’m not even positive he performed worse. Similar play model, simply no changes as opponents focused his behavior of biting laborious on double strikes and pump fakes. Desperation is a pungent cologne, and quarterbacks may scent it wafting off him, in a position to management Cisco like a marionette with their eyes.
When one thing occurs in entrance of Cisco, when he’s allowed to scream downhill with a play on the road and the prospect to make it, he’s very efficient, seen in each run protection and the field-flipping interceptions. Hair-trigger, quick as a bullet as soon as he decides. Hits targets like one fired out of a gold gun in Golden Eye as soon as he arrives.
A lot energy at collision factors on the finish of a runway. Vaunted ACC over-the-middle hitman who pressured incompletions early in video games and left an imprint on receivers who may alligator-arm a ball later.
However Cisco’s aggression and preoccupation with trying to find stadium-roaring play alternatives is a double-edged sword. He flies downhill like a bat out of hell with blinders on, a ball-magnet in each sense of the phrase, at all times shifting to it with out considered the rest. Doesn’t see blockers effectively on the hunt and may get de-cleated.
Extra he has to maneuver off his straight-line path, much less of an opportunity he’s going to issue right into a play. Psychological agility underneath as a lot suspicion as bodily agility. Dies on sword via contact (or whiff), coming in scorching and leaving toes. Extra involved in pressure of hit than wrapping. Missed 27 tackles over 24 video games.
Cisco simply turned 21 final month. He has high-end bodily and athletic packages, and he’s a confirmed playmaker towards each the move and run. However the identical model resulting in all all of the flash performs offers practically as many again to the offense. He gave up receptions on 36-of-41 targets and missed 15 tackles — about 15% of his makes an attempt — over just a little greater than 750 snaps between 2019-2020.
The knee harm complicates issues additional. Traditional boom-or-bust prospect — if all the pieces comes collectively, he’s a two-way menace. If he would not discover the best stability between self-discipline and aggression, he may flame out shortly.
Better of the remaining…
9. Shawn Davis (Florida) | 5’11/202| RAS: N/A
10. James Wiggins (Cincinnati) | 5’11/209 | RAS: 9.7
11. Caden Sterns (Texas) | 6’0/202| RAS: 9.59
12. Tyree Gillespie (Missouri) | 6’0/207 | RAS: 6.01
13. Talanoa Hufanga (USC) | 6’0/199 | RAS: 5.74
14. Damar Hamlin (Pitt) | 6’1/200 | RAS: 6.98
15. Darrick Forrest (Cincinnati) | 5’11/206 | RAS: 9.69
16. Christian Uphoff (Illinois State) | 6’2/209 | RAS: 6.25
17. Joshuah Bledsoe (Missouri) | 5’11/204 | RAS: N/A
18. JaCoby Stevens (LSU) | 6’2/230 | RAS: 7.82
19. Tyler Coyle (Purdue) | 6’1/209 | RAS: 9.83
20. Jamien Sherwood (Auburn) | 6’2/216 | RAS: 4.24
21. Richard LeCounte (Georgia) | 5’10/196 | RAS: 0.65
22. Brady Breeze (Oregon) | 6’0/197 | RAS: 6.67
23. Mark Webb (Georgia) | 6’1/207 | RAS: N/A
24. Aashari Crosswell (Arizona State) | 6’0/202 | RAS: N/A
25. Tre Norwood (Oklahoma) | 6’0/192 | RAS: 2.69
26. Paris Ford (Pittsburg) | 6’1/197 | RAS: 1.03
27. Zayne Anderson (BYU) | 6’2/206 | RAS: 8.24
28. Donovan Stiner (Florida) | 6’1/205 | RAS: 7.72
29. Tariq Thompson (San Diego State) | 5’11/204 | RAS: 0.33
30. Marcus Murphy (Mississippi State) | 5’11/198 | RAS: 4.97
Take a look at the remainder of our 2021 NFL Draft breakdowns right here: