This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2021 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2021 NFL Draft Stock Up
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Florida enjoyed the return of superstar tight end Kyle Pitts against Kentucky, and it didn't take long for Pitts to make his presence felt. On the Gators' opening possession, Pitts ran down the seam, juked a cornerback to get open running vertically, and Kyle Trask led him downfield with the ball. Pitts did the rest, accelerating to cover the remaining 30 yards for a 56-yard touchdown reception. It was a very impressive play because he showed the speed to run away from defensive backs in the open field and not get caught from behind. He added two more short touchdown catches from running great routes to generate separation. Against Kentucky, Pitts totaled five receptions for 99 yards and three touchdowns.
Pitts' performance against Kentucky will serve to confirm him as a top-16 pick next April. He has dynamic mismatch receiving potential for the NFL. With his speed, route-running, size and athleticism, Pitts is nearly impossible to run with and prevent separation against. It is a rare sight to see a tight end who has the speed and agility to generate separation from defensive backs, but that is what makes Pitts such a rare and impressive prospect. Pitts is a better prospect than other recent first-rounders at his position, including T.J. Hockenson and O.J. Howard. Teams are going to have a hard time passing on such a dynamic receiving weapon like Pitts in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
Kolar helped his draft grade againast Texas. In the third quarter, he got open along the sideline for a gain of 31 yards. A few plays later, Kolar made a leaping grab down the seam, finding a soft spot in coverage for a gain of about 20. Iowa State continued to utilize Kolar, finding him open on a crossing route, and from there he turned to run vertically for a gain of 44 yards. Those three receptions were huge, clutch plays in leading Iowa State to a narrow victory. Against Texas, Kolar totaled six receptions for 131 yards.
Kolar runs quality routes and has solid hands and an NFL build. He has some yards-after-the-catch ability and could be a quality backup, rotational tight end at the pro level. In the 2021 NFL Draft, Kolar could be a solid mid-round pick.
Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt
As we reported in the Hot Press last week
, sources from four different teams said they were grading Odeyingbo in the second round, and one source said they believe that Odeyingbo will go in the top 50. The 6-foot-6, 276-pounder is impressing evaluators with improved pass-rushing skills in 2020. The senior has good size and speed for NFL to project as a 4-3 base end or a 3-4 five-technique. If Odeyingbo works out well in the lead up to the 2021 NFL Draft, he could continue to rise.
Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
The heavy nose tackle Slaton was a force last Saturday against a tough Kentucky offensive line. In the early going, he made a few impressive plays in the ground game that negated runs at the line of scrimmage and created a push in the middle of the line. Late in the third quarter on a third-and-2, Slaton held his ground against a double team and pushed the pile to stuff the hole for the Gators.
For the NFL, Slaton could be an excellent nose tackle in a 3-4 defense and could also be a one-gap or two-gap nose tackle in a 4-3. As a pro, Slaton will be an excellent run defender and will probably rotate out of the game a fair amount in the sub package. Slaton can get some push to help collapse the pocket on passing downs, and he can line up over the guard and center to eat them up, making it harder to double team the three-technique. Slaton could be a second-day pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and I think he could be apro comparable to former Texans and Bengals standout nose tackle D.J. Reader.
Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh
Weaver has been excellent in 2020 putting a lot of heat on the quarterback and that continued against Clemson although there were limited in opportunities because of Pittsburgh's offense committed a bunch of turnovers that set up some short easy touchdowns and allowed Clemson to build a big lead. Late in the first half Weaver went around the right tackle to take down Trevor Lawrence for a sack. On the first play of the third quarter, Weaver ran the loop around the tackle to chase down Lawrence from behind as he stepped up in the pocket to get a strip-sack that was recovered by Pittsburgh.
Weaver has a stronger build with quality size on the edge, but also is quick off the edge with some variety in pass rushing moves. After losing 2018 to injury, Weaver has looked excellent this year and this analyst sees him as a first- or second-round talent for the 2021 NFL Draft, but his medical issues might cause him to slide.
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
With Ja'Marr Chase sitting out and Justin Jefferson in the NFL, Marshall is taking advantage of being LSU's featured receiver and showing a lot of skill for the NFL. He has good size, length, quickness, and mismatch ability. If Marshall were receiving more help from his quarterbacks and offensive line, he could be producing a massive season. As it stands, team sources said they've been impressed with Marshall, and he has solidified his early-round standing.
2020 NFL Draft Stock Down
Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
Williams has had a disappointing season that only got worse against Alabama. In the second quarter, Josh Jobe forced an incompletion while blanketing Williams down the seam and preventing separation. At the end of the first half, Williams got wide open in busted coverage down the seam. The pass was laid out perfectly for him, but he dropped what should have been a 58-yard touchdown. Williams totaled three passes for 17 yards in the Iron Bowl. This has been an ugly year for Williams, and he should return to Auburn for 2021 to get better before departing to the NFL. If he were to enter the 2021 NFL Draft, Williams would probably be a third-day pick.
NFL Picks - Sept. 18
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 15
NFL Power Rankings - Sept. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8