Colorado’s main contributions to the NFL Draft since 2014 have been primarily receivers and defensive backs, with many ending up on Day 2. Both of those streaks will be broken next April.
One of my favorite teams to watch since I was young, Colorado is a program in flux after they were blindsided on the coaching front earlier this season.
Related | Valdovinos’ 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
Linebacker Nate Landman is the team’s top prospect, and he grades as a mid-Day 3 pick. Landman is incredibly instinctive and tough, and he’s been very productive his entire college career. He has the innate ability to anticipate the play before it happens and consistently puts himself in the right spot to make plays on the ball. Landman has speed and quickness limitations, which will depress his draft stock.
Sophomore Jalen Sami displayed flashes of bigtime ability last season. He’s an athletic big man in the middle of the defensive line who occupies blockers and gets outside the box in pursuit of the play. Sami must do better bending his knees and consistently playing with leverage.
The Ducks are a program that impacts the Pac-12 and the NFL Draft. The conference champions in 2019 also boast the sixth pick of last April’s draft, and there’s a very good chance they match that in 2021.
Scouts who grade underclassmen presently list Penei Sewell as the third-best prospect in the nation. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase are the only two players ranked higher.
Sewell is a fluid, strong left tackle who easily slides out in pass protections and shows a lot of ability blocking in motion. He’s fundamentally sound, strong and has upside.
If there is one red flag in Sewell’s game, it’s that he doesn’t block with a nasty attitude. Unlike many other top-rated offensive linemen, I don’t see Sewell working to bury opponents into the ground. Otherwise, he’s a sensational left tackle prospect for the next level.
Safety Jevon Holland is someone I really like. He combines terrific size, athleticism and explosion. Holland is a fierce run defender who also displays solid ball skills and makes a lot of game-impacting plays. Holland is another who possesses big upside, and I’m told at this point he’s leaning towards entering the 2021 NFL Draft.
CJ Verdell is like many of his predecessors from Oregon — he’s fast with the ability to score from any point on the field whenever the ball is in his hands. He possesses the agility and quickness necessary to turn the corner, beats defenders into the open field and can run to daylight. He’s also a terrific pass catcher out of the backfield and projects nicely as a third-down back on Sundays.
I grade Jordon Scott anywhere about 2-3 rounds higher than scouts. He’s not a playmaker, but he’s a powerful, wide-bodied defensive tackle who is natural on the nose. Scott attracts double-team blocks, but he easily holds his ground and collapses the pocket.
Reminder: To view my grades and projected draft rounds for Big 12 draft-eligible prospects, scroll to the end of the article.
Oregon State Beavers
After two years of not having a player selected in the draft, Oregon State had three taken last April, all in the sixth round. Next time around, there is only one Beavers prospect of mention, although he’s a good one.
There was some thought that Hamilcar Rashed Jr. would enter last April’s draft, but he bypassed the event. Then there was talk that he should have entered the supplemental draft in July, but that was canceled. So here we are.
Rashed’s gaudy stats last season included 22.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks, and on film they were well-earned. Rashed is a good football player with nice length, movement skills and athleticism. He’s fluid, easily moves about the field and makes a lot of plays in space.
He does more than pin his ears back and rush up the field, as Rashed shows a lot of discipline in his game and the ability to make plays in coverage. He’s got to add a bit more bulk and strength to his game, but in the end, Rashed is a terrific 3-4 OLB for the next level.
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