The NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 29 as hundreds of players will see their dreams realized by being drafted into the NFL and beginning their professional careers. For the teams and fans, it brings the hope of landing some key pieces that can help take them to the next level, whatever that is.
Here at the Draft Good Players Scouting Agency, my colleague Bill DiFilippo and I believe it is our jobs to help teams that have gotten lost in the sauce and entered the over-analyzing portion of the Draft process. So often guys who have done nothing but produce at an elite level start to fall or get passed over for reaches on potential, and then a few years later we start looking back and wondering how the hell they went so low. We at the DGPSA are college football fans first and foremost, and we believe this is where our advantage lies. We don’t worry too much about trying to project potential, we just know who has proven to be really good football players because, at the end of the day, that’s often what it comes down to.
In this space, we’re going to take a look at 11 prospects who we feel are going to be those players that get looked back on as part of the “how’d he go so low” group. This is not a Big Board or Mock Draft, so please don’t take this as a Top 11 Players list. There are many good players in this Draft and many of them seem to be properly rated — i.e., Trevor Lawrence, Penei Sewell, Kyle Pitts, Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, etc. — but these are a few of the guys who we believe any fan base should be happy to see if their team calls their name over the weekend.
Let’s get to it.
Justin Fields, QB (Ohio State)
I really can’t believe we’ve had the discourse we have about Justin Fields over the past few months. He’s really, really good at playing the quarterback position and has done it against great competition. Any questions about work ethic or heart or ability to read a defense or literally anything else should be answered by popping in the Clemson tape [highlight cutup seen below] and watching him shred the Tigers with some busted ribs for much of the game.
I’d take him No. 2 if I were the Jets and that he’s not a lock to go top-3 is everything wrong with the NFL Draft process.
Zaven Collins, LB (Tulsa)
For those of you that follow just about any NFL Draft person on Twitter, you have surely heard about Zaven Collins because any time someone pops in his tape they can’t help but launch into a Twitter thread about how awesome he is. He is, indeed, awesome and shows up on just about every CFB stat leaderboard because he did a little bit of everything at Tulsa. He is a certified Good Football Player and our scouting service would recommend him very highly. I’m not even sure he’s being improperly rated, but given he’s likely to go mid-first round he’ll feel like a steal from that range. His speed and recognition are incredible — the sacks get lots of love, but check out the third play in this highlight reel below where he blows up a screen by himself.
Landon Dickerson, C (Alabama)
It baffles me that we apparently have to say this, but Landon Dickerson is quite good at football. After tearing his ACL in Alabama’s SEC title game win, he got to take the last snaps of the national title game before being helped back off the field in an emotional moment, and the injuries are certainly a concern. But when he’s on the field, he’s been an absolute monster and, I can assure you, is not “just a guy.”
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) April 24, 2021
There have been a lot of Alabama offensive linemen that have made the league and Dickerson is the guy Alabama coaches rave about as much as any of them, so, yeah I’ll happily take my chances on him.
Kadarious Toney, WR (Florida)
Toney made SEC defenders look slow regularly, and while Kyle Pitts rightfully gets the love for carrying the Florida offense, Toney is also a flat-out playmaker. He can absolutely fly, is ridiculously hard to bring down, has a lot of versatility with where you can line him up, and, like the next guy on the list, is someone that just makes good things happen when he has the ball in his hands.
Rondale Moore, WR (Purdue)
Step 1: Draft Rondale Moore. Step 2: Put the ball in Rondale Moore’s hands often. Step 3: Profit.
Rondale Moore made Purdue games must-watch when he was healthy, which, with all due respect to the Boilermakers, is an impressive task. He is, as Bill and I like to say, a football player, which is the highest compliment we can pay someone. Don’t worry about positional fit and size and any of that. Just get him on the field, get him the ball, and let him work.
Joseph Ossai, EDGE (Texas)
If you watched a Texas game at any point last season, you heard Ossai’s name. He lives in opposing backfields, using his terrific length and speed to get by opposing tackles and when he gets there, he makes plays (16 TFLs last year). I don’t want to have to find you on film if you’re an EDGE, I better see your presence often, and Ossai is that type of guy. He also has that uncanny ability to get his hands on the football to pry it loose as he brings guys down, whether on sacks or chasing down ball-carriers, and I love those instincts to try and turn a nice play into a massive play with a turnover.
Jamar Johnson, S (Indiana)
I like safeties who can do a little of everything, and Johnson fits the bill. He has that “nose for the ball” scouts always talk about, showed up in big games, isn’t afraid to step down and make a hit but also isn’t completely lost in coverage. The only thing you want Johnson to do sometimes is try to do a little less after interceptions as he is convinced he can house everything, but that is a good problem to have in my opinion. Just a ball player.
Brady Christensen, OT (BYU)
BYU’s offensive line was nasty last year and they’re a big reason Zach Wilson is likely going No. 2. They kept him clean and Christensen did the heavy lifting on the blindside of Wilson all year. Draft folks who watched Wilson regularly pointed out how good that line was and it’s giving the big fella some shine. He also blew BYU’s Pro Day out of the water with a record-setting 10’4 broad jump and answered a lot of questions about his athleticism. He still might end up moving to right tackle wherever he’s drafted but this is a kid who will go Day 2 or early Day 3 and I think make a positive impact on someone’s line.
Daviyon Nixon, DT (Iowa)
You know what I love? Defensive tackles who get busy in the backfield. Nixon had 13.5 tackles for loss last season for the Hawkeyes, popping in his junior season and I’m all in. There’s still work to do with him in terms of reaching his full potential, but I’ll take that aggression and power all day and bank on my staff to figure out how to maximize it. Even when he gets stood up, he does a great job of keeping eyes on the quarterback and maintaining control of the front of the pocket, quickly shedding opposing offensive lineman to make a play if the QB steps up to try and run.
Tarron Jackson, EDGE (Coastal Carolina)
The Chanticleers were everyone’s favorite team to watch last year and one of the big reasons why was Tarron Jackson. He’s been big time productive for the last two years and while I get competition questions, he’s a guy that seems likely to go Day 3 and I think he makes someone’s rotation as a rookie and immediately helps a team get in the backfield and disrupt things.
Jermar Jefferson, RB (Oregon St)
Everyone knew what Oregon State wanted to do, which was give the ball to Jermar Jefferson, and he still did his thing. He was 25th in the country in rushing yards and only played 6 games. He lit up Oregon and Cal this past season, and has some tremendous speed to go along with solid power at 5’10, 217. He’s almost assuredly going to end up being a Day 3 pick and whatever team that gets him is going to be delighted by that choice.