2021 NFL Draft Stock – Late Bowl Games II

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

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Smith cemented himself as one of the greatest wide receivers in the history of college football with his dominance of Ohio State to lead the Crimson Tide to another National Championship. All year, Smith and quarterback Mac Jones dominated the competition, and Ohio State also proved no contest for the duo. Smith had put Alabama in firm control by the end of the first half, already recording 12 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns.

Smith went out with a hand injury after a hard hit early in the third quarter, and after an extended stay in the injury tent, he was taken into the locker room. Alabama didn’t need Smith to close out the win as the Ohio State defense was no match for the Crimson Tide.

Smith showed off why he is an elite receiving prospect for the NFL, displaying his amazing route-running, speed, yards-afte-the-catch skills, great hands, and killer instinct that dominates man coverage. Smith looks destined to be a top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
In the early going has first-round potential because he has proven to be a dangerous interior pass rusher over the past two seasons. A lack of run defense and well-rounded play kept teams from projecting him high in the first round, but over the last few games of the 2020 season, Barmore really looked improved with his run defense, including against Ohio State in the National Championship.

Barmore made a good tackle near the line of scrimmage early on against Ohio State, shedding a guard and ripping down the back. A little bit later, Barmore came close to a sack, got upfield to tip a pass, and blew up a screen with a lightning rush into the backfield. At the end of the third quarter, Barmore made two tackles in a short-yardage situation, including a fourth-and-1 on which he shot through a gap to notch a tackle for a loss that essentially secured the Alabama victory. Barmore came close to sacks all evening, and when Ohio State blew the blocking assignments in the fourth quarter, he ran free for an easy sack.

Barmore’s performance against the Buckeyes will help him because it showed that he is improving his run defense. NFL scouts had been raving about Barmore’s pass-rush ability over the past two seasons, but they felt he needed to become a better run defender, tougher at the point of attack to hold his ground, and more well-rounded overall. Some scouts said that if Barmore did improve his run defense, he could be a high first-rounder.

If Barmore goes back to school, he has high first-round potential for the 2022 NFL Draft. If he enters the 2021 NFL Draft, Barmore has a ceiling of the back half of the first round and a floor of being selected on Day 2. Given that interior pass rushers are difficult to find, I think Barmore would go in the first round if he enters the 2021 NFL Draft.

Ben Skowronek, WR, Notre Dame
Skowronek (6-3, 224) was a solid receiver at Northwestern before transferring to Notre Dame for his final season. With good height and a solid build, Skowronek has the size to make catches over defenders, but he could struggle with achieving separation as a pro. Skowronek made some clutch plays for the Fighting Irish in 2020 and earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl. If he can create separation from the cornerbacks in Mobile, he could really rise, but as it stands, he looks like a solid backup receiver and potential special teams contributor.

Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
Palmer was a solid receiver for Tennessee who could have produced more the past two years if he had more consistent quarterback play. As a senior, Palmer notched 33 receptions for 475 yards and four touchdowns. That mirrored his junior year of 34 catches for 457 yards and a score. Palmer (6-2, 210) has quality size, and showing the speed to separate from cornerbacks will be important for Palmer in Mobile.

Racy McMath, WR, LSU
McMath never produced much thanks to being on a crowded depth chart for the past few seasons. Even after Justin Jefferson went to the NFL and Ja’Marr Chase sat out the 2020 season, LSU had another good talent to feature as the No. 1 in Terrace Marshall. Thus, McMath had a hard time getting targets, but he flashed enough of a skill set to earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl. In 2020, he made 14 catches for 195 yards and a score. He totaled 17 catches for 285 yards and three touchdowns in 2019. The 6-foot-3, 224-pound McMath has very good size alongside height and strength.

Tre McKitty, TE, Georgia
McKitty made only six receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown in 2020, but he still earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl. McKitty put up better receiving production in 2019 (23-241-0) and 2018 (26-256-2) with Jake Fromm at quarterback. McKitty contributed as a blocker for the tough Georgia ground attack over the past few seasons. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder is a well-rounded player who could be a sleeper prospect who is a nice value from in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Ifeatu Melifonwu, S, Syracuse
Melifonwu’s name probably sounds familiar because he is the younger brother Obi Melifonwu, who was a second-round pick of the Raiders in the 2017 NFL Draft. Ifeatu Melifonwu had a solid 2020 season, recording 55 tackles, one sack, one interception and eight passes defended. That was a big jump from his production levels in 2019 and 2018, and his 2020 season was good enough to earn him a Senior Bowl invitation. Obi Melifonwu was a bust in the NFL in part because of bad influences, so it will be interesting to see if his younger brother can avoid those mistakes.

Jack Anderson, G, Texas Tech
Anderson is an odd case in that he could be listed as a stock up and a stock down. He could have been a mid-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he went back to Texas Tech. While Anderson played well enough in 2020 to earn a Senior Bowl invitation, team sources say that Anderson played soft as a senior. That is about the worst adjective a scout could use for an offensive lineman. Thus, Anderson needs a strong week of practice in Mobile.

Peyton Ramsey, QB, Northwestern
Ramsey was a gutsy signal-caller who pushed his team to the Big Ten Championship in 2020. He flashed a quality arm with passing ability, completing 61 percent of his passes as a senior for 1,733 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Ramsey also threw the ball well as a sophomore and a junior. Over the past three seasons, he was held back by a lack of talent at receiver, but he was a steadily productive player for the Wildcats. Ramsey could be a solid third-day pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and quality backup quarterback at the next level.

2020 NFL Draft Stock Down

Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Wade had problems this season, so it looks like his transition to outside corner is a real work in progress. After struggling against Indiana and Penn State during the regular season, Wade gave up a number of big plays in the playoffs, with both Clemson’s and Alabama’s receivers able to separate from him. Wade was slow to react on some plays, and on others, receivers just flat out ran by him. Wade would benefit from more development as a football player, and the best thing for him would be to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility to return to Ohio State for the 2021 season. Wade did not play like an early-round pick in 2020, and he could have a significant slide if he enters the 2021 NFL Draft.

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