Grading the Early Entrants to the 2021 NFL Draft

After two months of inactivity, I am ready to make my triumphant return to posting at Deep Fried Draft.

The weird COVID influenced season is underway. However, the ramifications of the Big Ten, Pac 12, MWC, MAC, and the majority of the FCS level deciding to delay their seasons to the spring have been felt with multiple players deciding to forego their remaining eligibility and start preparations for the 2021 NFL Draft.

As of the time of me writing this, 33 players have placed their names into the draft hat. Due to a new rule, the NCAA passed last month; the 2020-2021 season is basically a free season. So, every single player, seniors, and underclassmen alike, will have to declare for the draft. Some, as noted have already done so. It is going to make the jobs harder for NFL scouts and amateur draft writers like myself. Seniors we are currently watching may not even declare.

Having to grade based on 2019 tape (and 2018 tape in the case of a few prospects) is not an ideal situation. But nothing about 2020 has been an ideal situation, has it?

Below I will break down each that has declared that I have watched and graded to this point. I will also list each player that has declared that I haven’t graded yet.

SENIORS WHO HAVE DECLARED

CB/Camryn Bynum/Cal/6’0/190

DFD Tape Grade: 8.42

Bynum is one of the best tackling corners I have seen in the last few seasons. He has good recovery speed. He is a solid cover man. Bynum should firmly be in my Top 100.

G/Rashawn Slater/Northwestern/6’3/314

DFD Tape Grade: 8.33

Slater started at tackle for Northwestern but his lack of length is noticeable. Most project him to play guard at the next level. Slater certainly has the traits to make the move inside.

OT/Tommy Doyle/Miami (OH)/6’8/315

DFD Tape Grade: 8.25

Doyle popped on my radar after his dominant performance against Louisiana in the Lending Tree Bowl. After watching him handle Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa in 2019, I felt even better about Doyle. I am higher on Doyle than most. A round three selection would not surprise me.

OT/Spencer Brown/Northern Iowa/6’9/321

DFD Tape Grade: 7.87

Spencer Brown is a great story. He has tremendous size and length. However, his handling of speed off of the edge raised some concerns for me. With that being said, if Brown ended up in the 2nd-3rd round area, I wouldn’t be shocked.

CB/Kary Vincent/LSU/5’10/185

DFD Tape Grade: 7.75

Vincent is a nickel back at the next level. He is undersized for an outside corner. Vincent has good instincts but was beaten too much for my tastes.

QB/Jamie Newman/Georgia/6’4/230

DFD Tape Grade: 7.67

Newman entered the season with a lot of hype after his last season at Wake Forest. Newman grad transferred to Georgia in the offseason. Many wanted to see how he fared in the Bulldogs pro-style offense. Now we won’t get that chance. In the three games I watched, Newman seemed to run more than he threw. His passing mechanics are inconsistent at best. As of today, I see a 4th– round pick at best. If anyone needs a dominant Senior Bowl performance, its Newman.

CB/Ambry Thomas/Michigan/5’11/182

DFD Tape Grade: 7.58

Thomas is another nickel corner. I liked him slightly less than Vincent. He doesn’t seem to be the best athlete but he has decent ball skills.

C/Danny Godlevske/Miami (OH)/6’1/300

DFD Tape Grade: 7.5

Godlevske is strong at the point and moves well. But he struggled in the game I watched against Ohio State. He should be a solid day three option.

WR/Corey Sutton/Appalachian State/6’2/200

DFD Tape Grade: 7.5

Sutton lacks big play speed. However, he has consistent hands and is a solid route runner. Could be a decent addition to the back of a receiver room.

WR/Warren Jackson/Colorado State/6’5/219

DFD Tape Grade: 7.2

Jackson has excellent size. He lacks breakaway speed and drops the occasional easy pass.

UNDERCLASSMEN WHO HAVE DECLARED

WR/Ja’Marr Chase/LSU/Jr/6’1/200

DFD Tape Grade: 9

Chase has good speed, is a tremendous route technician, and rarely drops the balls. His 2019 production was off the charts. A potential top-ten pick.

DL/Tyler Shelvin/LSU/Jr/6’3/346

DFD Tape Grade: 8.42

Shelvin is an athletic nose tackle prospect. He is an interior disruptor not usually seen with a man of his size.

RB/Kenneth Gainwell/Memphis/Jr/5’11/190

DFD Tape Grade: 8.6

Where does Memphis keep finding these freak athlete backs? Gainwell was the more productive Tigers RB in 2019. I loved Antonio Gibson (he was ranked 41 in my final rankings). Gainwell is as explosive as Gibson albeit less as a receiver.

EDGE/Gregory Rousseau/Miami (FL)/rSo/6’7/253

DFD Tape Grade: 9

Rousseau is an unrefined prospect. However, his explosion and pass rush skills make him very intriguing. Rousseau is not going to be the final product that Chase Young or the Bosa brothers were. However, I think he could find as much success as them.

OT/Jalen Mayfield/Michigan/rSo/6’5/319

DFD Tape Grade: 8.25

Mayfield has the size and athletic ability you have in a bookend. He is mechanically flawed at this stage of his career. Mayfield will need time to develop for his drafting team to reap the rewards.

WR/Rashod Bateman/Minnesota/Jr/6’2/209

DFD Tape Grade: 8.4

Bateman is a big and fast receiver. He isn’t a nuanced route specialist by any means. Like his teammate, Tyler Johnson a year ago, Bateman’s production is top flight. His Combine timing will be equally as important.

RB/Kennedy Brooks/Oklahoma/Jr/5’11/205

DFD Tape Grade: 7.87

Brooks has excellent burst and can grind out the tough yardage. His usage in the passing game hurts his value for me.

OT/Penei Sewell/Oregon/Jr/6’6/325

DFD Tape Grade: 9.42

Sometimes when you turn on the tape, you just know about a prospect. For me, it didn’t take many plays to know that Sewell was a bonafide stud. He has everything you want in a franchise left tackle. Sewell should be a top-five lock.

LB/Micah Parsons/Penn State/Jr/6’3/245

DFD Tape Grade: 9

Parsons is a heck of an athlete. He is a sideline-to-sideline demon. Parsons has the versatility to cover backs and tight ends. Then he can get after the QB. Another virtual lock for the Top Ten.

DL/Jaylen Twyman/Pittsburgh/Jr/6’2/290

DFD Tape Grade: 8.58

I was surprised by how much I liked Twyman. He is a high upside interior pass rusher. Twyman has an array of moves to get after the QB.

WR/Rondale Moore/Purdue/Jr/5’9/181

DFD Tape Grade: 8.2

Moore is going to be an interesting evaluation. He only played four games in 2019. As a true freshman in 2018, Moore was one of the most exciting players in the nation. If you just watched the 2018 Ohio State game, he would be a top 10 prospect. How will teams view his lack of recency? One thing is for sure, Moore is electric with the ball in his hands.

DL/Jay Tufele/Southern Cal/Jr/6’3/315

DFD Tape Grade: 8.25

I watched Tufele after I watched Twyman. Their games are similar but Twyman just does everything a hair faster. Tufele is still a potential starter, however.

CB/Caleb Farley/Virginia Tech/Jr/6’2/207

DFD Tape Grade: 8.5

Farley is a potential lockdown corner prospect. He is fast and long. Farley has the ball skills to be successful at the next level.

WR/Sage Surratt/Wake Forest/Jr/6’3/224

DFD Tape Grade: 7.93

Surratt is a huge target. He runs good routes and has nice hands. Surratt doesn’t have the speed to take the top off of the defense.

DECLARED SENIORS WITHOUT DFD GRADES

6/CB/Deommodore Lenoir/Oregon/Sr/5’10/204

4/CB/Thomas Graham/Oregon/Sr/5’11/197

72/OT/Walker Little/Stanford/Sr/6’6/313

WR/Jhamon Ausbon/Texas A&M/6’2/209

DECLARED UNDERCLASSMEN WITHOUT DFD GRADES

OT/Calvin Ashley/Florida A&M/Jr/6’7/330

G/Wyatt Davis/Ohio State/Jr/6’4/313

TE/Pat Freiermuth/Penn State/Jr/6’5/256

G/Alijah Vera-Tucker/Southern Cal/Jr/6’4/315

EDGE/Joe Tryon/Washington/Jr/6’4/263

Going forward, I am going to try to be more active in posting draft updates. Hopefully, at least once a week. Stay tuned to DFD for that.

Image courtesy of Getty Images