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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell
2021 NFL Draft Stock Up
Joseph Ossai, OLB, Texas
Ossai had a phenomenal performance against Oklahoma State and was a huge part of why the Longhorns were able to get an overtime victory. Early in the game, he made two good run tackles, flowing to the perimeter and making stops in the open field to set the tone for his outstanding afternoon. At the end of the first quarter, Ossai made a good read on a zone-read run, letting him get in position to wrestle the quarterback down for a loss. Just before halftime, Ossai lined up as an end and stunted to the inside before chasing down the quarterback for a strip-sack that set up the Longhorns deep in Oklahoma State territory. Ossai being around the ball paid off again, this time in the fourth quarter, when he scooped up a fumble to set up his offense just short of midfield. On the final play of the game, Oklahoma State needed a touchdown, but Ossai chased down the quarterback for a sack to clinch the road upset for Texas. He produced an insane stat line of 12 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble.
Ossai was superb against the Cowboys. He was tough at the point of attack, fighting off blocks and making tackles in the ground game. He used his speed and athleticism to fly around the field and stay around the ball to create some huge plays for his defense. On top of his good skill set, Ossai has an excellent motor and plays through the whistle. Team sources have told me that Ossai looks like a good fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker for the next level. His performance against Oklahoma State will really help his draft grade.
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Wilson has been dominating the competition this year and has earned praise from team sources. He has a quality arm, some athleticism, and an efficient style of play. This season, Wilson has been a confident and decisive passer who has shown big improvement from being a game manager to being a playmaker. He has a shot at being a late first-round pick or a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Wilson could rise from there because quarterbacks can rise through the draft process. There is no doubt that Wilson is one college player who is really helping himself this season.
Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Thus far in 2020, Tylan Wallace has given emphatic proof that he is back to his pre-injury form. On the opening drive against Texas, Wallace ran a slant and got open to catch a short touchdown for the Cowboys. He made a number of other receptions for chunk completions to move the chains. In the third quarter, Wallace made a leaping grab over a defender for another short touchdown reception. Wallace totaled 11 receptions for 187 yards and two touchdowns.
For the NFL, Wallace is a tough receiver who plays bigger than his size. He runs good routes and is dangerous after the catch. However, he does not have mismatch size or speed for the NFL and lacks explosion. Thus, he could be more of a second-day talent for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Rodarius Washington, CB, Oklahoma State
As we reported in the Hot Press last week, sources from multiple teams say that Williams' play has been massively improved and right now they think that he will be no worse than a second-day pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Williams has not produced a huge stat line in four games with seven tackles and five passes broken up, but scouts love the coverage ability he's shown this year. The 6-foot, 195-pound Williams has quality size and will enter the NFL with significant experience after playing all four years for the Cowboys. However in the past three years, teams threw at Williams and his play was that of a late-rounder, according to team evaluators.
A few team sources said they thought Williams could end up being a second-round pick. One team said they had him graded on the bubble between Round 2 and Round 3, and another team said he would be a second-round pick at worst. If Williams can close out the 2020 season well, his draft stock could continue to rise.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Smith continued his push for rewriting the Alabama record books with a dominating performance against Mississippi State. Smith made it look easy, catching 11 passes for 203 yards and four touchdowns. Evaluators love his polished and well-rounded play. Smith's refined route-running, reliable hands, yards-after-the-catch skills, and overall receiving ability have many calling him a natural football player. However, Smith being very thin-framed has some grading him as a late first-round or early second-round pick. Smith is listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, and that weight is very undersized for the NFL. Even though some have him on the bubble between Rounds 1 and 2, the expectation from seven different team sources is that Smith is more likely to be picked in the first round, and his tape against Mississippi State will help to make that a reality.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Jones has really improved his draft stock this season, and he continued to dominate against Mississippi State, completing 24-of-31 passes for 291 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. This season, Jones has been a decisive passer, throwing the ball accurately, on time, and with anticipation. He may not have the physical skill set of a high first-rounder, but Jones is definitely helping himself and could be a second-day or mid-round pick in 2021 NFL Draft.
2020 NFL Draft Stock Down
Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
This is a mild stock down, but Davis has allowed a sack in each contest so far while having yet to face a tough matchup. Davis has been a beast in the ground game in 2020, but he has shown that his pass protection needs work, which will hurt his changes of being a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Davis is going to have problems with NFL speed rushers, and improving his technique and reaction skills are important factors for Davis to be a dependable starter at protecting a franchise quarterback. If the pass-protection issues continue this season, that could make Davis more of a fringe first-rounder rather than a sure-fire Thursday night pick.
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Similar to Davis, this is a mild stock down, but for the third straight game, Etienne has fumbled, and that comes after having some ball-security issues in 2019. While Etienne looks like a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, his ball-security issues are going to sour some team evaluators, although others will feel that is something that can be improved upon for the next level. Etienne is a smaller back, so his size will reinforce some of the concern about his ability to hold onto the ball when taking hits from NFL defenders.
NFL Picks - Sept. 18
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 15
NFL Power Rankings - Sept. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8