The road to the NFL doesn’t always run smooth. Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon has taken a longer road than most, but he has emerged as one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft class.
Daviyon Nixon NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive Tackle
- School: Iowa
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 305 pounds
Daviyon Nixon started his path to the NFL Draft in familiar fashion. A four-year player at Indian Trail High School, Nixon saw time at both defensive tackle and defensive end. Indian Trail made it to the state playoffs in three straight years. However, it was as a junior that Nixon began to make a name for himself.
He was named to the All-Conference Second Team following a season where he racked up 10 tackles for loss, nine sacks, five forced fumbles, and six pass breakups in just nine games. Fast, strong, and productive, Nixon was just getting started.
During his senior season, Nixon once again showcased his disruptive defensive ability. He added another 45 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six sacks, four forced fumbles, and seven pass breakups. His performances earned him All-State and All-Conference honors.
Meanwhile, Nixon was garnering national attention. He received offers from Iowa and from Purdue, eventually choosing the Hawkeyes to pursue his college career. However, it wasn’t quite that straightforward. Having been diagnosed with a learning disability, Nixon failed to meet the academic requirement to enroll at Iowa.
Daviyon Nixon’s college football career
Instead, Daviyon Nixon would begin his college career — and the next step on the path to the NFL Draft — at the junior college level. In 2017, he played football for Iowa Western Community College as he worked to meet the academic level required to play FBS football.
Despite the setback, he soon established himself as a dominant player at the JUCO level. He logged 44 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and five sacks as Iowa Western went 11-1 in the 2017 season. Having seen success on the field and the classroom, Nixon was ready to hit the recruiting trail once more.
A three-star JUCO recruit, he was courted by Alabama but held firm with his commitment to Iowa
In the spring of 2018, Nixon enrolled with the Hawkeyes. Arriving into a crowded Iowa defensive tackle room, he redshirted his first season at Kinnick Stadium. Although he saw playing time in 2019, he was used more on a rotational basis. However, the signs were there of the disruptive defensive lineman he could be. Nixon accounted for 29 tackles, five and a half tackles for loss, three sacks in his debut playing season.
Despite a brief dalliance with the transfer portal, the Iowa defensive tackle exploded onto the scene as one of the top interior defensive linemen in the nation. He led the Big Ten conference with 13.5 tackles for loss, and his 5.5 sacks were second in the conference. Nixon secured his only career touchdown with a 71-yard pick six against Penn State.
His performances earned him national recognition. Nixon was a consensus All-American, voted the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and was a finalist for the Outland Trophy. With his draft stock high, Daviyon Nixon declared for the 2021 NFL Draft at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
Analyzing Daviyon Nixon’s NFL Draft Profile
In a relatively weak interior defensive line class, Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon figures to be a much sought after NFL Draft prospect. What are some of the attributes that have made him such hot property?
First, for a 305-pound defensive tackle, Nixon has excellent athletic attributes. He’s quick, strong, and exhibits an exceptional change of direction for a man of his size.
Take the interception against Penn State as an example. He outran Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford for 71 yards. He even fooled him with a little stutter step during the return. Men of his size are simply not meant to be able to do that.
That play also showcases his football instincts
Nixon dropped back into coverage after reading Clifford’s eyes and put himself in a position to snag an easy interception. Coaches and teammates rave about his football instincts.
Nixon also showcases strength in both his legs and hands. His leg strength allows him to keep on grinding, making him extremely difficult to stand up. His hand strength, combined with quickness and good arm length, allows him to be combative at the line of scrimmage.
The combination of his physical attributes makes him an explosive gap penetrator, leading to his reputation as a defensive disruptor in the backfield. He can be impactful as an interior pass rusher or run stopper.
What are the potential concerns with Daviyon Nixon?
I have very few concerns with Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, he may limit his stock based on being scheme dependant. He projects to be a traditional 3-tech defensive tackle in a four-man front. Other than that, he lacks any positional versatility which may restrict some teams from selecting him.
Additionally, he may need to add a little weight to ensure that he holds his own at the line of scrimmage against bigger NFL offensive linemen. However, this is less of a concern due to his overall strength and hand skills.
Daviyon Nixon’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
As alluded to above, Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft will be with a team that runs a 4-3 base defense. He can comfortably become a starting 3-tech in the NFL. There are multiple teams that fit that scheme and need, including the Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, and Dallas Cowboys.
In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline lists Daviyon Nixon as his 55th overall NFL Draft prospect, second-ranked defensive tackle, and gives him a second-round grade. With such a weak interior defensive line class, there’s every chance a team jumps early to secure a talent like Nixon.
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