2021 NFL Draft Stock – Week 8

This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2021 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

2021 NFL Draft Stock Up

Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh was blown out by Notre Dame, but Weaver had a good game for the Panthers and consistently made his way into the backfield. Weaver gave Notre Dame left tackle Liam Eichenberg, a second-day talent for the 2021 NFL Draft, all he could handle on a number of plays. Weaver collected tackles for a loss and a number of pressures on Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book.

Weaver (6-5, 270) has gotten his senior year off to a good start, collecting 19 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles so far. After an injury cost him the 2019 season, Weaver is helping himself in 2020 by staying healthy and producing for Pittsburgh.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, OLB, Notre Dame
ESPN’s Todd McShay called Owusu-Koramoah a top-20 talent in the mold of Patrick Willis and Roquan Smith. This analyst believes Owusu-Koramoah is a solid player, but not as good of a prospect as Smith or Willis, a potential Hall of Famer.

WalterFootball.com reached out to team sources over this, and a few of them said they had Owusu-Koramoah graded as a second-day player for the NFL Draft. One team said they thought he wasn’t as good as Willis or Smith, but they felt Owusu-Koramoah had a shot at going in the opening night of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Owusu-Koramoah played well last Saturday against Pittsburgh, managing to snag the first interception of his career. The senior is a fast linebacker with cover skills who some team sources have compared to former Jaguar Telvin Smith because they believe Owusu-Koramoah could weigh in the 215-220-pound range. That’s underweight for the modern NFL, so some teams won’t be high on him.

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Hutchinson had a fabulous season opener, having his way with the Minnesota offensive linemen all night. In the second quarter, Hutchinson bulled his way into the backfield and almost made a tackle for a loss, but his reach was too high and he ended up getting flagged for an inadvertent facemask penalty. Just before halftime Hutchinson bullrushed his way for a near sack, but his pressure forced an incompletion. He should have drawn a holding penalty, but the flag wasn’t thrown.

Hutchinson came close to another sack to open the third quarter, and a short time later, he made a touchdown-saving tackle inside the 10-yard line, tripping up the back before he could get free. On the next play, Hutchinson pushed the left tackle out of the way, swallowed up the back, and then slammed him into the turf. Those were two key plays for a four-down goal-line stand that sealed the win for Michigan.

Hutchinson could be a riser during the course of the season, and his opener was a great start. The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder is strong at the point of attack and is able to overpower offensive linemen. He does an excellent job of using his hands and upper body strength to get off blocks. On top of his size, length and strength, Hutchinson has a burst to close and shows an ability to bend that is not common for a defender of his size. Hutchinson could be store for a huge year that could send his draft stock skyrocketing.

Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
Paye dominated against Minnesota. He came close to a sack in the first quarter while lined up at defensive tackle, as he looped around the right tackle on a stunt. Paye showed his impressive speed to close on Tanner Morgan and force a third-down throwaway. Late in the fourth quarter, Paye started taking over and getting after Morgan. Pyae had a sack on which he tossed the tackle aside with his hands and then darted into the backfield to take down Morgan. Paye got another sack on the next play by using his speed to get past the right tackle and take down the quarterback.

Paye looks massively improved as a pass rusher this year. He is fast off the edge and is doing a better job of using his hands and feet at the same time. Beyond simply his size, Paye has surprising speed and athleticism. His performance against Minnesota will help his grade for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Jared Goldwire, DT, Louisville
Goldwire has played really well for Louisville this season, showing good ability to control his gap at the point of attack. He also has flashed some ability to contribute in the pass rush. Goldwire is significantly improved over his 2019 and 2018 performances, having almost matched those seasons of production after only five games this season. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder’s size gives his the versatility to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme or defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. With his skill set, Goldwire could have the potential for Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
Alabama was some of the toughest talent Smith will see all year, yet he played well. In the first quarter, Tennessee had a good run to get a first down after Smith moved D.J. Dale off the ball to open a hole for his back to get to the second level. In the third quarter, Alabama’s Christian Barmore, despite being blocked by Smith and the center, was able to tip a pass to force a third-down incompletion. Overall, Smith got the better of the Alabama defensive linemen, winning on the majority of his blocks.

Smith showed good strength and an ability to anchor while being able to slide with speed rushers. Smith did not dominate, but he was impressive and looks like he could be a plug-and-play competitor at the pro level. His outing against Alabama could help him to be an early-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft – as long as medical reports don’t cause him to slide.

2020 NFL Draft Stock Down

Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
I wrote in this section last week about how disappointing Wilson’s play has been this year, and I decided to reach out to team sources to see if they held the same perspective. They all agreed, and sources from five different teams said they had Wilson as a mid-rounder with a grade no higher than Round 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft. A couple of teams said they thought Wilson could still go in the early rounds based on his name, the hype, and his reputation of being a good player even though his performance in 2020 has been less than impressive. One team source said that Wilson is a locker room lawyer as well. Thus, it would not be surprising if Wilson ends up sliding during the leadup to the 2021 NFL Draft.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Waddle was on track to be a high first-round pick next April, but the outing versus Tennessee could have a big impact on where he goes in the 2021 NFL Draft. On the opening kickoff, Waddle suffered a leg injury that saw him getting helped off the field and then carted into the locker room. He was loaded into an ambulance before the first quarter was out, and by the second half, Alabama had announced that Waddle would be out the rest of the season. Head coach Nick Saban said the team thought Waddle could need ankle surgery.

Sources from seven different teams had said earlier they thought Waddle would go in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, with a few believing he would be a top-16 pick. His season-ending injury puts all of those estimations in doubt until the nature of the injury and the nature of the recovery process are made clear.

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