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
Alihah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
Vera-Tucker was a standout guard for the Trojans in 2019, and he has performed well this season as the left tackle replacement for Austin Jackson. Vera-Tucker is not a bull at the point of attack in the ground game, but he is effective. He is more of a wall-off-and-position blocker who beats defenders to a spot to cover them up and keep them from making a tackle. He does a nice job of scrapping and keeping his hands fighting to sustain his blocks.It would help him to add strength if his frame isn't maxed out. For a pro rushing offense, Vera-Tucker might fit best in a zone blocking scheme.
For the NFL, there is a lot to like about Vera-Tucker in pass protection. He is an easy mover with athleticism, quickness and agility. Vera-Tucker can glide with speed rushers, showing an easy ability to play the typewriter with his feet. Vera-Tucker is also a natural knee bender who maintains good leverage while avoiding bending at the waist. Vera-Tucker looks like a starting left tackle or guard in the NFL and is worthy of being a first or second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Kyle Pitts was held out against LSU due to injury, but Toney stepped up with a monster game for Florida. He was fabulous, running routes to create separation and showing his tremendous yards-after-the-catch ability. In the second quarter against LSU, Toney showed quickness in and out of breaks and then fantastic balance to regain his feet after stumbling to rip off yards and dart by tacklers. In the fourth quarter, Toney showed his explosion with a 31-yard run on an end around, plus he caught another pass that set up a field goal for Florida. Toney totaled nine receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown, plus took three carries for 56 yards.
For the NFL, Toney is a weapon like Curtis Samuel or Deebo Samuel. He is an explosive and shifty receiver who creates separation and is phenomenal in the open field with the ball in his hands. Because of not being that big and having some injuries in his history, Toney will probably be a second-round pick, like those two receivers.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa
Smith-Marsette might get lost in the shuffle of the 2021 NFL Draft's deep receiver class, but he is a quality receiving weapon for the NFL, and he helped prove that with an excellent game against Wisconsin. It was a tight game outside of the score, and Smith-Marsette made some huge game-changing plays to lead the Hawkeyes to the win. He totaled seven receptions for 140 yards with two touchdowns.
In the third quarter, Smith-Marsette turned a defensive back around with a nice route, cutting back across the field to get open for a catch of 38 yards. It should have been a touchdown, but the ball was thrown too late, which forced Smith-Marsette to pull up and wait, allowing defensive backs to recover. To end the drive, he hauled in an over-the-shoulder catch on an end zone fade route for a 19-yard scoring strike.
Smith-Marsette scored again a short time later, running a corner post to get wide open before showing off his explosive athleticism with a flip into the end zone on his 53-yard touchdown. Smith-Marsette totaled seven receptions for 140 yards with two touchdowns.
Smith-Marsette's performance against the Badgers will really boost his draft stock, as he showed off good route-running skills, an ability to stretch defenses downfield, and soft hands to make a variety of catches. For the NFL, Smith-Marsette has the speed, build, and moves of a receiver who primarily works out of the slot. He has the ability to line up on the outside, but his shifty route-running and slim build could make him a better fit as a slot receiver in the mold of a Sterling Shepard or Dede Westbrook. Smith-Marsette could be a mid-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and end up being a nice value selection.
Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
Williams dominated the Miami Hurricanes to the tune of 236 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns. He trucked though tacklers, running over defenders downfield and showing serious power to pick up yards after contact.
For the NFL, Williams is an instinctive runner who has good bulk and power to pick up yards after contact. On top of his build and strength, Williams has vision that lets him find creases in defenses, and he fights hard for extra yardage. Passing-driven pro teams might prefer a running back who is shiftier and faster in the passing game, but Williams could be a power back who leads a ground-based offense as a workhorse runner. He could be a second-day pick in the 2021 NFL Draft who ends up being a three-down starter and the engine of a power rushing offense.
Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
Carter dominated the Hurricanes in prolific fashion. At the end of the first quarter, Carter exploded down the field for a 65-yard touchdown run. He dodged a defender at the hashes before veering to the sideline and racing away for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Carter juked two Miami tacklers on a 25-yard touchdown run. Carter continued to rip off yards in chunks, and the Miami defense was helpless to stop him. Carter totaled 308 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns.
Carter is a smaller and shifty back who has some speed to rip off yards in chunks. He is a nightmare in the open field thanks to his quick feet and elusiveness to dodge tacklers. He also has some receiving ability and could be a nice fit in a passing offense. Carter could be a second-day pick who is a solid rotational back for the next level.
Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
Jordan was one of the lone bright spots for the Hurricanes in their embarrassing loss to North Carolina last Saturday. In the third quarter, Jordan ran a great route with a jab step to the outside and then a slant to the middle. Jordan burned the defensive back to get open and then raced down the field for the 76-yard touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, Jordan made a nice play that saw him get open in the middle of the field and duck away from two tacklers to pick up another 10 yards. Jordan totaled 140 yards and a touchdown over six receptions.
For the NFL, Jordan could be a nice receiving tight end similar to the Titans' Jonnu Smith. Like Smith, Jordan is a smooth route-runner with quickness to separate. He also has a compact build that allows him to run through tackles and be tough for defensive backs to get on the ground. While Jordan will never be a devastating blocker, he can contribute some in the ground game and protect his quarterback. In the 2021 NFL Draft, Jordan could be a late second-round or early third-round pick.
Shawn Davis, S, Florida
Davis has played well overall for Florida in 2020 and has been a steady contributor in the deep middle of the field, including putting together a good game against Georgia. Beyond having added weight, The 6-foot, 206-pounder senior has improved his tackling while also putting together some splash plays in the clutch. Davis was a solid defender for the Gators in 2019, making some plays on the ball and contributing well in coverage downfield, totaling 51 tackles with three interceptions and three passes defended. He could be a sleeper free safety prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft.
2020 NFL Draft Stock Down
Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Bolton has gotten some media hype, but he has not played up to it this season. For the next level, Bolton looks like a backup middle linebacker who could contribute on special teams. He might eventually develop into a starter, but he lacks speed and explosion, and is just an average athlete, according to pro evaluators. Some team sources have said they graded Bolton in the mid-rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.
NFL Picks - Sept. 18
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 15
NFL Power Rankings - Sept. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8