Scouting reports for 2021 NFL Draft prospects from the Big Ten Conference from Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst and NFL 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 Big Ten Scouting Report:
Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, & Iowa Hawkeyes – Page 1
Maryland Terrapins, Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, & Minnesota Golden Gophers – Page 2
Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, & Penn State Nittany Lions – Page 3
Purdue Boilermakers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, & Wisconsin Badgers – Page 4
2021 NFL Draft | Big Ten Scouting Reports: Illinois Fighting Illini
Camilo Eifler NFL Draft Scouting Report | Linebacker
Positives: Two-down, run-defending linebacker with average size and speed. Fires up the field, squares into ball handlers, and gives effort defending the run. Fluid moving laterally, easily changes direction, and makes tackles in space. Easily redirects to the action and holds his ground against blocks from tight ends.
Negatives: Late reacting in coverage. Lacks great pursuit speed.
Analysis: Eifler was a solid linebacker for Illinois but has athletic and scheme limitations. He could back up on the inside of a 3-4 alignment but must really stand out on special teams to have any chance of making a roster at the next level.
Jacob Hansen NFL Draft Scouting Report | Linebacker
Positives: Smart, instinctive linebacker with limited physical skills. Quick to read and diagnose, flows well laterally, and is rarely off his feet. Disciplined, remains with assignments, and sells out to make plays. Fires upfield, gives effort defending the run, and sells out on the blitz. Agile, makes plays in space, and possesses a good head for the ball.
Negatives: Must improve his backpedal moving in reverse. Possesses average size and speed.
Analysis: Hansen is a terrific football player and has a great head for the game, but he comes with average size and limited speed. He makes more plays with his instincts and hustle than natural physical talents. Hansen will have an opportunity to make a roster as a seventh or eighth linebacker and special teams player.
Josh Imatorbhebhe NFL Draft Scouting Report | Wide Receiver
Positives: Large possession receiver who consistently wins out for the contested throw. Uses his hands to separate from defenders, gets vertical, and exposes himself to the big hit in order to come away with the catch. Plays to his size and turns upfield after the catch, working to pick up yardage. Tough to bring down in the open field. Adjusts to the errant throw and looks the pass into his hands.
Negatives: Does not possess naturally soft hands and needs to steady the ball rather than plucking it from the air. Lets catchable passes slip through his hands. Possesses marginal quickness as well as speed.
Analysis: Imatorbhebhe is an imposing target who makes some terrific receptions on occasion, but he lacks the quickness, play speed, and natural pass-catching ability to be anything other than a fifth receiver at the next level.
Nate Hobbs NFL Draft Scouting Report | Cornerback
Positives: Tough, explosive cornerback with solid ball skills. Quick flipping his hips in transition off the line, displays a burst to the ball out of his plant, and plays heads-up football. Aggressive, mixes it up with receivers, and chases the action hard. Quickly recognizes assignments and stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks. Throws his body around the field to make the tackle.
Negatives: Gets turned on occasion. Struggles in battles despite his size.
Analysis: After a terrific junior campaign, Hobbs was slightly disappointing last season, which likely knocked him out of consideration as a late-round pick. He possesses the size and ball skills to be used in man or zone coverage and the ability to line up in dime packages on Sundays.
2021 NFL Draft | Big Ten Scouting Reports: Indiana
Harry Crider NFL Draft Scouting Report | Offensive Line
Positives: Versatile lineman who was effective at center and guard. Bends his knees, blocks with leverage, and shows explosiveness at the point. Keeps his feet moving, keeps his head on a swivel, and works to finish blocks. Quickly gets his hands up, correctly places them, and displays strength at the point. Stays square, turns defenders off the line and blocks down on them, engulfing opponents altogether. Anchors in pass protection.
Negatives: Late getting into blocks, which puts him at a disadvantage. Lacks agility. Beaten by quick first-step opponents. Lacks footwork in space.
Analysis: Crider is a tough, hard-working offensive lineman who was not graded by scouts before the season. He’s not a great athlete, but the versatility to play any of the three interior positions on the offensive line will get him late-round consideration.
For information on Indiana safety Jamar Johnson, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.
Jerome Johnson NFL Draft Scouting Report | Defensive Line
Positives: Hard-working, wide-bodied interior defensive lineman who keeps his feet moving, works his hands throughout the action, and plays through the whistle. Explodes off the snap with a terrific first step and works his hands throughout the action. Fluid if asked to twist or stunt and flashes power.
Negatives: Plays way too tall and makes himself an easy target for opponents. Lumbers around the field and doesn’t make plays outside the box. Does not play with proper pad level.
Analysis: Johnson was a productive three-year starter for Indiana but comes with average measurables and does not play with leverage.
Stevie Scott III NFL Draft Scouting Report | Running Back
Positives: Large grind-it-out ball carrier who is best running downhill. Patient, waits for blocks to develop, and displays outstanding vision. Pounds it out on the inside, picks up yardage off initial contact, and falls forward when tackled. Keeps his feet moving, shows strength in his lower body, and effectively follows blocks on the field. Stays with blocking assignments and picks up the blitz. Squares into defenders and moves them from their angles of attack.
Negatives: Cannot evade defenders or create yardage. Gets into trouble when he tries to run east and west.
Analysis: Scott is a tough ball carrier, but he’s a one-dimensional prospect who is best running downhill in short-yardage situations.
Whop Philyor NFL Draft Scouting Report | Wide Receiver
Positives: Diminutive receiver who was also effective as a return specialist. Smooth and fluid, runs sharp routes, and separates from defenders. Tracks the pass in the air, gets vertical, and contorts to come away with the difficult catch. Easily adjusts and makes the reception in stride. Displays strong hands as well as the ability to pull the ball from the air.
Negatives: More quick than fast and lacks a second gear. Occasionally, takes his eyes off the ball, which results in dropped passes. Gives effort blocking but really doesn’t get results.
Analysis: Philyor is a quick, creative skill player who can be used as a slot receiver and punt returner. He must fine-tune his receiving skill, but his greatest value at the next level will be on special teams.
2021 NFL Draft | Big Ten Scouting Reports: Iowa
For information on Iowa offensive tackle Alaric Jackson, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.
For information on Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.
Cole Banwart NFL Draft Scouting Report | Offensive Line
Positives: Strong, hard-working blocker who is best in a small area. Sets with a wide base, keeps his feet moving, and stays square. Fires into blocks, anchors in pass protection, and controls opponents once engaged at the point.
Negatives: Ineffective pulling across the line of scrimmage and blocking in motion. Not a natural knee bender or leverage blocker and is more of an arm wrestler.
Analysis: Banwart possesses solid size as well as growth potential and has shown enough skill to get consideration for a practice squad this fall.
For information on Iowa EDGE Chauncey Golston, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.
Coy Cronk NFL Draft Scouting Report | Offensive Line
Positives: Indiana transfer who missed the majority of the past two seasons with injury. Fundamentally sound, displays solid footwork sliding off the edge in pass protection, and stays square. Patient, keeps his feet moving, and keeps the opponent in front of him. Fights with his hands throughout the action and makes great use of angles as well as body positioning to seal the edge.
Negatives: Does not come across as a top athlete. Average height for tackle. Not smooth or fluid blocking in motion.
Analysis: When he was starting at left tackle for Indiana early in his career, I graded Cronk as a potential late-round prospect. Beset with injuries the past two years, he must first pass medical exams, and even then it will be an uphill battle for him to make a next-level roster.
For information on Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.
For information on Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.
Jack Heflin NFL Draft Scouting Report | Defensive Tackle
Positives: Hard-working, first-step lineman with marginal athleticism. Fires off the snap, plays with terrific pad level, and effectively uses his hands to protect himself. Quickly locates the ball handler, slides off blocks laterally, and plays through the whistle.
Negatives: Lacks a great closing burst. Often controlled by a single blocker despite his size.
Analysis: Heflin gets the most from his ability but lacks great upside. His tenacity and fundamentally sound football could help him capture a roster spot as a backup defensive tackle.
Mekhi Sargent NFL Draft Scouting Report | Running Back
Positives: Underrated running back who consistently produces whenever he handles the ball. Patiently waits for blocks to develop, runs hard on the inside, and plays with resilience. Effectively follows blocks, has a burst through the hole, and beats defenders into the open field. Displays vision, quickness, and solid footwork.
Negatives: Watched his production fall off after a terrific sophomore season. Doesn’t pick up much yardage off initial contact. Plays to one speed.
Analysis: Sargent is a solid running back with next-level skills as a ball carrier, and he’s an undrafted free agent who could end up making a next-level roster as a fifth running back.
Nick Niemann NFL Draft Scouting Report | Linebacker
Positives: Tough, hard-working linebacker with an underrated game. Instinctive, stays with assignments, and breaks down well. Stout at the point, defeats blocks getting to the ball handler, and stacks well against the run. Solid open-field tackler who keeps the action in front of him and wraps up ball handlers. Flows well laterally to the play, shows patience, and possesses a burst of speed. Sells out on the blitz.
Negatives: Doesn’t get depth on pass drops and shows marginal ability in man coverage situations. Possesses average quickness and pursuit speed.
Analysis: Niemann is a tough run-defending linebacker with enough ability to back up on the inside of a 3-4 alignment.
Shaun Beyer NFL Draft Scouting Report | Tight End
Positives: Hard-working college tight end who does not project well to the next level. Extends his hands to make the reception away from his frame. Works blocks hard and displays solid strength at the point of attack. Keeps his feet moving and blocks with good knee bend.
Negatives: Does not finish blocks. Plays to one speed and doesn’t stretch the seam. Marginal pass-catching skills.
Analysis: Beyer was a solid complementary tight end at Iowa but possesses no outstanding physical characteristic to his game.