This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to "Why Undrafted" and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series "Why the Slide?"
Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at email@example.com
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During the leadup to the 2021 NFL Draft, Daviyon Nixon (6-3, 305) was a consensus second-day prospect, but he ended up falling all the way to Round 5.
Nixon started out his career in the junior college ranks before landing at Iowa, and after some developmental time with the Hawkeyes, he grew into a force for them, fitting right in with the program's continued tradition of good defensive line prospects for the NFL. In 2019 as a rotational backup, Nixon made the most of his limited opportunities with three sacks and 29 tackles. He became a full-time starter for 2020 and produced an excellent season despite fewer games in which to impress. The junior totaled 45 tackles with 5.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and an interception returned 71 yards for a touchdown on the year. He then declared for the 2021 NFL Draft rather than return for his senior year.
In speaking to team sources, there were major character concerns with Nixon that sunk his draft grade. Some teams had dropped him from their boards because of his character issues, and the feedback from the Iowa staff was not positive. Nixon is going to have make some serious changes with his off-the-field habits in order to stick in the NFL and avoid suspensions.
The Panthers ended Nixon's fall in the fifth round, and they were a perfect landing spot for him. After releasing veteran Kawann Short this offseason, Carolina needed a three-technique and interior pass rusher to go next to powerful nose tackle Derrick Brown. The Panthers did not draft another player at the position or sign a veteran, so Nixon is in a prime position to receive early playing time and compete to be a starter immediately. With Brown on one side and dynamic edge rusher Brian Burns on the other, Nixon should see phenomenal looks with single-block situations from opponents sending double teams at Burns or Brown. If Nixon can get clean up his off-the-field life, and work hard to be a good pro, he has the potential to be a steal for the Panthers in the fifth round and the skill set to be a good starter in the NFL.
NFL Picks - Sept. 19
2022 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 15
NFL Power Rankings - Sept. 14
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 8