2021 NFL Draft Second-Day Values: Defense

2021 NFL Draft Second-Day Values: Defense
2021 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2021 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2021 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Offense | 2021 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Defense
2021 NFL Draft Day-Three Sleepers

Published April 28, 2021.
By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

There have been a lot of questions about who are my value picks in the 2021 NFL Draft class. A value or sleeper prospect is basically a player who gets drafted after the first round and proves to be a steal. The second day of an NFL Draft is where the men are separated from the boys among NFL general managers. All the players have strengths and flaws, but the top evaluators find future starters and team building blocks on Day 2.

Every year, I pick my favorite value for Day 2. In order to hold myself more accountable, I started putting in a runner-up in case the first choice is a surprise first-round pick. If a player goes in the first round, I should not get credit calling them a second-day value pick if they pan out. Here is my track record over the last decade, going back to my time with Pewter Report.

2008: Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
2009: Mike Wallace, WR, Ole Miss
2010: Brian Price, DT, UCLA and Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
2011: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
2012: Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati

2013: Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
2014: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
2015: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M, and Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
2016: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame and Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
2017: Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama (runner-up: Akhello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado)

2018: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech (runner-up: Arden Key, DE, LSU)
2019: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland (runner-up: Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina)
2020: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State (runner-up: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech)
2021: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (runners-up: Aaron Robinson, CB, Central Florida and Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt)

A top offensive value player was difficult to select this year, but I feel Travis Etienne could turn out to be one of the steals of the 2021 NFL Draft. Etienne won out over Aaron Robinson because I think Etienne has real boom potential for the NFL. Etienne has a first-round skill set, and I believe could be selected to the Pro Bowl during his rookie contract. I think Robinson is a safe pick to develop into a very good NFL cornerback. There is an outside chance, however, that Etienne and Robinson both get selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, so I picked a third player, second runner-up this year: Dayo Odeyingbo.

Overall, this list is very strong, with a few exceptions. I definitely hit on Brandon Flowers, Mike Wallace, Justin Houston, Derek Wolfe, Larry Warford, Jaylon Smith, Darnell Savage and Deebo Samuel. Here is a breakdown of a top second-day value prospect at each position for the 2021 NFL Draft. All the players will be prospects who are likely going during Rounds 2 and 3. If a player is a possible late first-round pick, I generally don’t include them as an option.

Dayo Odeyingbo, DE/DT, Vanderbilt
Odeyingbo brings an excellent skill set to develop for the NFL that includes a rare combination of height, length, speed and athleticism. With his long frame and wingspan, Odeyingbo is able to keep blockers away from him, and he then uses his speed to close. He is a penetrating presence to get upfield and cause disruption. With speed to close, Odeyingbo shows versatility to be a pass-rushing defensive end while also being a dynamic interior rusher. Odeyingbo’s solid first-step and second gear to get upfield gives him the quickness to get after the quarterback as a speed rusher. I think Odeyingbo (6-6, 280) will grow into being a full-time defensive tackle and could become a dynamite three-technique who is an excellent interior pass rusher and tough run defender.

2020: Jason Strowbridge
2019: Zach Allen
2018: Arden Key
2017: Malik McDowell
2016: Sheldon Day
2015: Michael Bennett
2014: Dominique Easley and Taylor Hart

Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
I gave serious consideration to making Cox one of my finalists, as I love him as a pick on the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft. I have the same conviction about Cox as I did about Darius Leonard and Zach Cunningham years ago, and both of them have turned into excellent pros.

In the passing-driven NFL, a linebacker with Cox coverage skills is going to be in demand and have plenty of teams hoping to land him. Cox is an excellent zone-coverage linebacker with good instincts that lead him to glide around the field, and he does an excellent job of reading routes while spying the eyes of the quarterback to disrupt passing lanes. His tremendous career total of 23 passes broken up was no fluke, as he shows phenomenal ball skills to break up passes and is a threat to pick them off. Cox has soft hands for a linebacker and uses his size to win 50-50 passes.

Cox (6-3, 233) is a solid defender in the ground game as well. He is willing to take on blocks and is not afraid of sticking his nose in the scrum. He will need to improve at taking on and shedding blocks, and getting more physical, but he has the potential to do that. I think Cox is going to become a really good NFL starter.

2020: Jordyn Brooks
2019: Mack Wilson
2018: Darius Leonard
2017: Zach Cunningham
2016: Jaylon Smith
2015: Denzel Perryman
2014: Kyle Van Noy

Aaron Robinson, CB, Central Florida
I love Robinson and think he will be a huge steal if he makes it to the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-1, 193-pounder looks like a smooth cover corner for the next level and possesses good size, length, speed and athleticism. Many big cornerbacks can’t run as fast as Robinson and lack his fluid athleticism. Robinson, on the other hand, is a loose athlete with the agility to flip his hips. His quick feet and smooth movement skills allow him to run the route and prevent separation. He has the ability to play off-man coverage and press-man coverage. Robinson’s long frame makes him dangerous on 50-50 passes, and he is capable of blanketing big receivers.

Unless he goes to a team that plays predominantly man coverage, Robinson needs to improve in zone coverage for the NFL. He has vision issues with some paralysis by analysis. While he improves his ability to play zone, it would help Robinson make the transition to the NFL by keeping things simple for him to diagnosis and read one receiver only.

Robinson is a willing defender in the ground game, willingly lowering his shoulder to make the tackle. He gives a good effort and will run across the field to chase down a back.

I think Robinson is going to be come a good starting cornerback who is a pure man-cover corner to run the route and prevent separation. He has the potential to be one of the best values of the 2021 NFL Draft. 2020: Damon Arnette
2019: Julian Love
2018: Isaiah Oliver
2017: Akhello Witherspoon
2016: Kendall Fuller
2015: Ronald Darby
2014: Marcus Roberson

Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
If it weren’t for medical concerns real off a torn ACL, Cisco would have a real shot at being first-round pick. He is a true ballhawk in pass coverage, and his 13 career interceptions in just over two seasons of play were no fluke, as he is a dynamic turnover machine. Cisco is superb at snatching passes away with his soft hands and is able to make diving catches to produce big plays for his defense. Thanks to his excellent instincts, Cisco is a dangerous threat to create interceptions and throwing his direction is very risky for a quarterback.

Aside from his interceptions, Cisco is always going for the strip on tackles and when breaking up passes. He is at his best in zone coverage in the middle of the field when he can keep plays in front of him. He shows very good instincts and is fast to read offenses to get in position to make plays on the ball. While Cisco is not the biggest of safeties, he is a willing tackler. He flies downhill and doesn’t seem to fear dishing out a hard hit or crashing into the tackle box.

If Cisco returns to his pre-injury form, and there’s no reason to believe that he can’t, Cisco could be a second=day steal and turn into an impactful safety in the NFL.

2020: Kyle Dugger
2019: Darnell Savage
2018: Terrell Edmunds
2017: Marcus Maye
2016: Keanu Neal
2015: Damarious Randall
2014: Dion Bailey

2021 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2021 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2021 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Offense | 2021 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Defense
2021 NFL Draft Day-Three Sleepers

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 9

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12