AAC Scouting Reports for 2021 NFL Draft

Scouting reports for 2021 NFL Draft prospects from the American Athletic Conference (AAC) from Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network’s Chief NFL Draft Analyst and Insider. To view overall and positional rankings, visit and bookmark Pauline’s Draft Board. Please note that the links below will open in a new tab.

Teams covered in this 2021 AAC Scouting Report:

Central Florida Knights, Cincinnati Bearcats, Connecticut Huskies & East Carolina Pirates – Page 1
Houston Cougars & Memphis Tigers – Page 2
SMU Mustangs, South Florida Bulls & Temple Owls – Page 3
Tulane Green Wave & Tulsa Golden Hurricane- Page 4

2021 NFL Draft | AAC Scouting Reports: Central Florida Knights

For information on UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

Antwan Collier NFL Draft Scouting Report | Cornerback

Positives: Three-year starter who was dismissed from the Central Florida football program after being arrested for carrying a firearm. Nice-sized safety who is a forceful run defender. Explosive, hard-hitting, and drives his shoulders through ball handlers, forcing fumbles.

Breaks down well, wraps up ball carriers, and brings them down at the point of attack. Works well with cornerbacks to bracket receivers over the middle of the field. Keeps the action in front of him and takes good angles to the play. Physical and works to get involved in the action. Tracks the pass in the air and displays an explosive burst to the ball out of his plant.

Negatives: Plays to one speed and cannot recover. Struggles getting off blocks and easily gets taken from the action. Must improve his backpedal.

Analysis: Collier was a productive two-year starter who was not graded by scouts entering the season. He offers possibilities as a zone or strong safety but must get through legal issues before any team will consider him.

Greg McCrae NFL Draft Scouting Report | Running Back

Positives: Part-time starter who shared the ball at Central Florida. Patient, effectively follows blocks, and displays outstanding vision. Strong for his size, runs with lean, and keeps his feet moving. Quick-footed, sets up defenders, and makes them miss or creates yardage. Waits for blocks to develop and displays some swivel through the hole and the quickness necessary to bounce around piles or defenders.

Gets a lot of momentum going and falls forward when tackled. Keeps his head on a swivel, stays with blocking assignments, and squares into opponents or gets a shoulder on defenders picking up the blitz.

Negatives: Lacks true breakaway speed and cannot run to daylight. Does a bit of body catching and does not display himself as a natural pass catcher.

Analysis: McCrae was lowly rated by scouts, yet has the size, speed, and ball-carrying skills to be a situational runner at the next level if he improves his pass-catching skills.

Jacob Harris NFL Draft Scouting Report | Wide Receiver

Positives: Fifth-year senior coming off a career campaign after stepping into the starting lineup. Possesses a tall, gangly build, plays tough football, and takes a pounding yet holds onto the throw. Looks the pass into his hands, displays focus as well as concentration, and plays heads-up football.

Fights with his hands to separate from opponents, possesses strong hands, and plucks the ball from the air. Physically beats down opponents to come away with the catch. Solid downfield blocker who gets results.

Negatives: Only a short-to-intermediate-range target. Lacks quickness and overall playing speed. Timed 4.42 seconds in the forty at his pro day, but does not translate that speed onto the field. Shows stiffness in his game.

Analysis: Harris is a sure-handed possession receiver with a nice build as well as growth potential. He may be best served putting on 10 to 15 pounds and being used as a “move” tight end at the next level.

Jake Hescock NFL Draft Scouting Report | Tight End

Positives: Wisconsin transfer who flashed ability as a part-time starter the past two seasons. Tall, offers the quarterback a nice target, and adjusts to the errant throw, making the reception in stride. Shows excellent route discipline, stays with the action, and extends to make the reception away from his frame. Possesses strong hands with good eye/hand coordination and snatches the ball out of the air. Gives effort blocking and displays good blocking vision.

Negatives: One-speed tight end with almost no burst in his game. Occasionally slows into blocks or ducks his head.

Analysis: Hescock displayed consistent progress in his game, but the Central Florida offense was not best suited for his style. He has the size, pass-catching ability, and blocking skill to eventually develop into a third tight end at the next level.

Kenny Turnier NFL Draft Scouting Report | Defensive Line

Positives: Two-year starter who was released from the Central Florida program in November after an altercation with police. Quick, explosive defensive lineman who projects as a 3-technique tackle. Plays with terrific pad level, consistently gets leverage on opponents, and fluidly moves down the line of scrimmage pursuing the action. Penetrates the gaps with an explosive first step, works his hands throughout the action, and keeps his feet moving. Flashes power as well as playmaking ability.

Negatives: Undersized, controlled at the point, or easily out-positioned by opponents. Must get the first step on opponents.

Analysis: Turnier is an explosive first-step lineman with growth potential, and he’s a solid developmental prospect if he passes background checks.

For information on UCF wide receiver Marlon Williams, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

Otis Anderson NFL Draft Scouting Report | Running Back

Positives: Quick-footed ball carrier with the ability to create yardage. Runs low to the ground, keeps his feet moving, and immediately gets back to balance off the initial hit. Runs behind his pads and gets lost behind blockers. Displays terrific short-area quickness as well as footwork with the ability to cut back against the grain and make defenders miss.

Effectively uses blocks. Displays good route discipline as a receiver out of the backfield. Helps the quarterback sell ball fakes and remains disciplined with blocking assignments.

Negatives: Small, lacks strength in his running, and doesn’t break many tackles. Rarely used as a pass catcher out of the backfield.

Analysis: Anderson is a small but swift ball carrier who could be a situational back at the next level if he steps up his pass-catching production.

For information on UCF safety Richie Grant, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

Tay Gowan NFL Draft Scouting Report | Cornerback

Positives: Junior college transfer who started 12 games in 2019 before opting out last season. Nice-sized corner with next-level speed. Quick reacting to receivers’ moves off the line, smooth flipping his hips, and loses nothing in transition. Stays with receivers on crossing patterns and quickly closes to the action.

Displays a burst to the ball out of his plant, has a nice move to the throw, and shadows receivers downfield. Displays good hands for the interception and quickly makes his way up the field defending screen passes or the run.

Negatives: Slow getting his head back around to locate the pass. Loses receivers out of breaks and does not show great awareness. Often finds himself trailing in coverage.

Analysis: Gowan is a talented athlete with solid ball skills and a large upside, but he really needed to play last season and further develop his game. He possesses a good amount of upside and offers potential in dime packages.

Tre Nixon NFL Draft Scouting Report | Wide Receiver

Positives: Three-year starter who struggled with a shoulder injury as a redshirt senior. An explosive receiver who plays faster than his 40-time and presents himself as a legitimate downfield threat. Very quick, comes back to the ball out of breaks and immediately turns it upfield running after the catch. Displays terrific focus as well as concentration, extends his hands, and looks the pass into his hands.

Consistently comes away with the difficult catch. Sneaky fast, has opposing cornerbacks playing back on their heels, and makes the over-the-shoulder reception at full speed without breaking stride. Follows the quarterback across the field to make himself an available target and easily adjusts to the errant throw. Effective when he makes the reception away from his frame. Displays soft and strong hands. Plays smart, instinctive football.

Negatives: Occasionally lets the pass get inside him. Possesses better play speed than timed speed and lacks a true second gear. Coming off a shoulder injury.

Analysis: Nixon was a consistent threat for Central Florida as an underneath receiver who took it deep on occasion. Medical exams, as well as testing results, will dictate where he is eventually drafted, but Nixon possesses the ability to make a roster as a fourth receiver at the next level.

2021 NFL Draft | AAC Scouting Reports: Cincinnati Bearcats

For information on Cincinnati safety Darrick Forrest, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

Elijah Ponder NFL Draft Scouting Report | Defensive Tackle

Positives: Underrated defensive tackle who was a two-year starter. Quick off the snap, works his hands throughout the action, and keeps his feet moving. Plays with proper pad level, easily changes direction, and moves well about the field. Works hard, stays with assignments, and remains disciplined.

Negatives: Controlled at the point by a single blocker. More of a first-step lineman. Average pass rusher.

Analysis: Ponder was a good defensive tackle for Cincinnati the past two seasons. He projects to the 3-technique spot at the next level based on his quickness, ability to play with leverage, and movement skills.

Gerrid Doaks NFL Draft Scouting Report | Running Back

Positives: Hard-charging downhill ball carrier who led Cincinnati in rushing last season. Sees the field, finds the running lanes, and effectively uses blocks. Strong, picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact, and uses a powerful stiff arm to keep runs alive. Aggressively lays his shoulders into defenders and falls forward when tackled. Solid pass catcher who goes over the middle of the field, adjusts to the errant throw, then extends his hands and snatches the ball away from his frame.

Negatives: Plays to one speed and has a limited burst. Gets in trouble when he runs east and west. Lacks the quickness necessary to turn the corner.

Analysis: After a brilliant redshirt freshman season, Doaks struggled with injuries before getting his game back together in 2020. He’s a terrific short-yardage runner and an underrated pass catcher who probably won’t be drafted, but he could make a roster as a fifth running back.

For information on Cincinnati offensive tackle James Hudson, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

For information on Cincinnati punter James Smith, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

For information on Cincinnati safety James Wiggins, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

Jarell White NFL Draft Scouting Report | Linebacker

Positives: Undersized college linebacker who projects to safety. Quick to read and diagnose, instinctive, and breaks down well. Scrapes to the action laterally, displays a good head for the ball, and moves well to every area of the field. Remains disciplined with assignments, flashes athleticism, and covers a good amount of area on the field. Gives effort and works to make plays.

Negatives: Possesses poor size for a linebacker and lacks the speed for the secondary. Inefficient and overpursues plays. Easily slowed by blocks.

Analysis: White is a hard-working defender who was out of position at Cincinnati, but he offers possibilities as a traditional strong safety/special-teams player.

2021 NFL Draft | Connecticut

Kevin Mensah NFL Draft Scouting Report | Running Back

Positives: Two-year starter who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Patient, intelligent, and shows outstanding vision. Effectively uses blocks everywhere on the field, fluidly cuts back against the grain and keeps his feet moving. Works runs, breaks arm tackles, and picks up yardage off initial contact.

Negatives: Lacks a burst through the hole. Cannot beat defenders into the open field or run to daylight. Marginal production as a pass catcher.

Analysis: Mensah possesses the style and speed of a downhill ball carrier yet comes with scatback size. He offers limited upside, and his inability to catch the ball out of the backfield will result in a quick exit from camp this summer.

Ryan Van Demark NFL Draft Scouting Report | Offensive Tackle

Positives: Three-year starter primarily used at left tackle. Large offensive lineman with growth potential. Sets with a wide base, stays square, and strong. Turns defenders from the action and opens up running lanes.

Negatives: Lacks footwork off the edge and plays like an average athlete. Must do a better job sinking his butt at the line of scrimmage.

Analysis: Van Demark possesses next-level size as well as strength but is best in confined quarters and projects as a developmental right tackle.

2021 NFL Draft | East Carolina Pirates

For information on East Carolina offensive tackle D’Ante Smith, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

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