In last week’s edition, I talked a bit about how some of the 2020 NFL Draft prospects from Alabama may not be selected as early as some think. In the second edition of Monday NFL Draft Musings, I look at some underrated prospects from the SEC and, in one particular case, touch on the 2021 NFL Draft.
Derrick Brown an elite prospect?
The more I watched defensive tackle Derrick Brown of Auburn, the more I liked the guy. Someone I projected as a potential top-10 pick last year before he announced his return to school, Brown is a three-down lineman with terrific size and athleticism. It was unreal watching the way opponents focused on Brown, consistently double and triple-teaming him to no avail.
And more than that, he was someone who showed up on every down; think Christian Wilkins with a motor that doesn’t stop. In the fierce rivalry between Alabama and Auburn, War Eagle comes out on top here.
Andrew Thomas a top 6 pick?
I had a similar experience watching offensive tackle Andrew Thomas of Georgia – the more I watched him, the more I liked him. I’m getting a Clelin Ferrell feeling about Thomas. He’s a player many will mock in the middle of round one and then be shocked when he ends up in the top half-dozen picks.
Thomas is athletic, dominant, and effective as a run blocker and in pass protection. He drives opponents off the line on running downs, quickly gets out to the second level and slides off the edge in pass protection. He needs a little polish and must learn to anchor better in pass protection, but I see nothing but upside.
I expect the Florida Gators to have six players drafted in April, with cornerback C.J. Henderson potentially ending up in the first round. But the player who impressed me the most on an every-down basis is not even draft-eligible.
Tight end Kyle Pitts, a true sophomore, was a force who could not be stopped on the Gators offense. He’s a tremendous pass catcher who easily splits the seam, and he plays the position like a big-bodied receiver. He’s a tall target with consistent hands, and I expect him to go very early once he declares for the draft.
How will Combine testing impact draft stock for these prospects?
It will be interesting to see how LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire tests at the NFL Combine and where he ends up in the draft.
On film, he has all the makings of a feature runner. He has the size and strength to grind it out on the inside and the speed to turn the corner, and he’s a terrific pass catcher out of the backfield. But I wonder if he will be downgraded if he doesn’t test well or run fast in the 40. At that point in time, teams will have to ask themselves if they are looking for a good football player or a good athlete.
Much the same can be said about South Carolina linebacker T.J. Brunson. He won’t “wow” anyone with his computer numbers or measurables, but he presents himself as a three-down defender on film.
He’s a vicious run defender who shows force on the blitz and gets depth on pass drops. Brunson plays with great instincts and intensity, and he’ll be a steal on Day 3.
Finally, Gamecocks receiver Bryan Edwards was someone who really stood out to me on film, which should come as no surprise. He’s not the fastest guy, but he’s a tough, sure-handed wideout who does the little things well.
Go back and watch the Florida film, as Edwards got the better of C.J. Henderson and beat him badly on a number of occasions.