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
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
As we highlighted in the Hot Press
, Waddle was a riser during the final rounds of team meetings. Sources from multiple teams picking in the top dozen believe Waddle is likely to be a top-10 pick and won't fall to the teens. Many think Waddle could go as high as No. 6 to Miami, could easily go to the Lions at pick No. 7, and won't fall lower than the Giants at No. 11. Teams love Waddle's game-breaking speed and playmaking ability, which reminds them of Tyreek Hill and Santana Moss. Waddle should hear his name called early in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama
While Waddle could go ahead of Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner is also rising, and team sources believe he will probably end up as a top-12 pick as well. Multiple sources think Smith will go after Waddle, but it isn't impossible that a team would prefer Smith and take him over Waddle. I know a team picking high in the first round that prefers Smith over Waddle. Overall, it is great news for Smith that NFL teams aren't holding his weight against him to the point that he won't be a high first-round pick.
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
I know multiple teams with top-25 picks that are high on Leatherwood. They have him in contention for their first-round picks, and Leatherwood has enjoyed a rise as coaches have gotten involved in the draft process. Leatherwood has good size, athleticism, and a lot of experience after being a multi-year starter at Alabama. With his late rise, I think Leatherwood stands a real shot at ending up as a top-25 selection despite not receiving a lot of media attention.
Shane McGough, C/G, Florida International
McGough is a sleeper guard/center who has enjoyed a late rise. There has been chatter that McGough worked out well recently and impressed some offensive line coaches. The 6-foot-2, 305-pounder could be a late-round pick who is a solid backup with the potential to grow into more.
D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
The 2021 NFL Draft is loaded at the wide receiver position, and Eskridge is a prospects who is going to be a nice value for some team after the first round. The speedster averaged a tremendous 23.1 yards per reception in 2020 with 784 yards and eight touchdowns over 34 catches. He also had large averages in 2018 - 20.4 - and 2017 - 16.9. Eskridge is in consideration for some teams' picks on the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Tre' McKitty, TE, Georgia
Over the weekend, a number of scouts told WalterFootball.com they believe the 2021 NFL Draft only has two mismatch receiving tight end prospects. One of those is Gators star Kyle Pitts, and the other is McKitty. For the NFL, McKitty is a solid receiving tight end who could be a valuable contributor and a mismatch problem for defense. The 6-foot-4, 247-pounder is a good athlete who has the speed to generate separation from coverage. He shows a nice burst out of his breaks to create space from defenders and get open for his quarterback. McKitty has nice twitch for a tight end of his size and second-gear quickness. He does a nice job of working the middle seam and slants, plus he is capable along the sideline. With his surprising speed, McKitty can challenge defenses vertically. If he gets to the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, he is going to be a steal, so it would not be surprising if he is a second-day pick.
Trey Smith, G, Tennessee
The most important part of the evaluation for Smith is his medical situation, and it sounds like there are enough teams that have received the thumbs up from team doctors to have Smith likely to go in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Smith dealt with pulmonary and blood clot issues during his career at Tennessee, but was able to manage it well enough to stay on the field to close out his time with the Volunteers. Smith has good tape starting with a fabulous freshman season and going through the next four years. He looks like a plug-and-play starter and could become an excellent NFL guard. It sounds like enough teams have received a positive medical outlook on Smith, which should give him a late boost up draft boards.
D'Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina
Smith needs to get stronger for the NFL, but he is a good athlete who has a lot of upside to develop. In speaking to some team sources over the weekend, Smith is in consideration for their picks on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft. He has the skill set that he could stay at tackle or move inside to guard if he adds strength for the NFL. Among the deep class of offensive tackles, Smith is viewed as one of those nice values for Day 2, and his quality tape impressed coaches after they got involved in the draft process.
2021 NFL Draft Stock Down
Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
Teams like that Carman has a good skill set with speed and athleticism to go along with good size. The 6-foot-5, 340-pounder is a smoother mover with a lot of upside, although teams feek he needs work with technique. Aside from that, Carman's stock has declined after not looking good at his pro day, and multiple teams have significant character concerns with Carman. Those issues could send Carman to the second day 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