FBS Independents Scouting Reports for 2021 NFL Draft

Scouting reports for 2021 NFL Draft prospects from the FBS Independents 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 FBS Independents Scouting Report:

BYU Cougars, Connecticut Huskies, & Liberty Flames – Page 1

Massachusetts Minutemen, New Mexico State Aggies, & Notre Dame Fighting Irish– Page 2

2021 NFL Draft | FBS Independents Scouting Reports: BYU Cougars

For information on BYU offensive lineman Brady Christensen, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

Chandon Herring NFL Draft Scouting Report | Offensive Line

Positives: Large, powerful blocker with the versatility to line up at tackle or guard. Displays terrific vision, keeps his head on a swivel, and always looks for someone to hit. Strong, turns defenders from the action and completely removes them from the play. Works to bend his knees and block with leverage, stays square, and seals defenders from the action.

[sv slug=”drizly”]

Negatives: Struggles adjusting or redirecting and cannot block on the move. Lacks footwork in space and often seems stuck in cement. Bends at the waist and overextends. Must be more consistent with his hands.

Analysis: Herring is a size prospect who flashed ability at multiple positions on the offensive line, but he must improve the details of his position. He comes with growth potential but is singularly a power gap lineman.

Chris Wilcox NFL Draft Scouting Report | Cornerback

Positives: Nice-sized corner who does a terrific job reading and diagnosing plays. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and quickly makes his way up the field defending the run and screen passes. Keeps the action in front of him, mixes it up with receivers throughout the route, and displays solid speed.

Negatives: Slow transitioning off the line in man coverage and is forced to play catch up. Marginally productive in a rotational role at BYU. Has an injury history. 

Analysis: Wilcox possesses the measurables to play at the next level and has flashed ability, but he was never a consistent starter or producer at the college level. He’s a developmental prospect who is likely to find his way onto a practice squad this fall.

Dax Milne NFL Draft Scouting Report | Wide Receiver

Positives: Dependable receiver coming off a sensational campaign. Displays great awareness, uses the sidelines well, and battles to come away with the reception. Tracks the ball in the air, displays outstanding eye/hand coordination, and consistently makes the reception away from his frame. Comes back to the ball, uses his hands to separate from defenders, and displays great short-area quickness. Adjusts to the errant throw and nicely makes the reception in stride. Keeps the play in bounds and follows blocks after the catch. Quickly gets in and out of breaks and is a sharp route runner.

Negatives: Lazily comes off the line of scrimmage. Unnecessarily lets the pass get inside him on occasion. Plays to one speed and lacks a deep burst.

Analysis: After two marginally productive seasons, Milne had a breakout campaign last year and was tough for opponents to stop. He comes with average size and speed, but his reliability and sense of what’s happening on the field could help Milne grab hold of a roster spot as a fifth receiver.

Isaiah Kaufusi NFL Draft Scouting Report | Linebacker

Positives: Instinctive, fierce linebacker with average size and speed. Quick to read and diagnose, takes proper angles to the action, and willingly throws his pads into the pile. Keeps the play in front of him, stacks well against the run, and plays with balance. Remains disciplined with assignments.

Negatives: Not smooth or fluid pedaling in reverse. Possesses average speed and isn’t quick or sudden. Lacks a closing burst bearing down on the action.

Analysis: Kaufusi is the latest member from the Kaufusi family to play football at BYU, and he’s an intense, instinctive defender with marginal upside. He has a great approach to the game but must earn his wage on special teams.

Kavika Fonua NFL Draft Scouting Report | Safety

Positives: Large, hard-hitting safety who is best defending the run. Quick to read and diagnose, disciplined with assignments, and flows well to the action. Fires upfield, gives effort, and squares into ball handlers. Uses his hands to protect himself and shows ability in space.

Negatives: Late reacting to receivers’ moves playing over the slot wideout. Lacks a burst to the ball out of his plant.

Analysis: Fonua was a solid nickel back for BYU but comes with limitations. He possesses the size and style to be a traditional strong safety and run defender, but he’s not a rangy defensive back with next-level ball skills.

For information on BYU defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

Matt Bushman NFL Draft Scouting Report | Tight End

Positives: Dependable pass catcher with average size and speed for the next level. Quickly releases off the line into pass routes, adjusts to the errant throw, and extends his hands to snatch the ball away from his frame. Consistently finds the open spot in the defense, displays outstanding awareness, and works to separate from defenders. Tracks the pass in the air, possesses outstanding focus as well as concentration, and makes some impressive receptions in a crowd. Possesses soft and strong hands.

Negatives: One-speed tight end who lacks any sort of burst. Lacks strength at the point as a blocker. Has an injury history.

Analysis: Bushman was productive as a sophomore and junior for BYU and planned to return for his senior season before getting injured. He’s a good football player, but he’s an average athlete and must show no effects from the injury that sidelined him last season to make a roster as a move tight end.

Tristen Hoge NFL Draft Scouting Report | Offensive Line

Positives: Nasty, powerful blocker who is best in a small area. Explodes off the snap, shows strength at the point, and buries opponents as a run blocker. Stays square, blocks with proper lean, and easily controls opponents once engaged at the point. Works his hands throughout the action. Keeps his head on a swivel and plays heads-up football.

Negatives: Not nimble and heavy-footed. Ducks his head and gets exploited by speed rushers. Struggles sliding in space.

Analysis: Hoge is a strong run blocker but comes with limited upside. His tenacity and power would be appealing in a power gap offense.

Troy Warner NFL Draft Scouting Report | Safety

Positives: Nice-sized safety prospect who plays with instincts and intensity. Tracks the pass in the air, gets a bead on the throw, and possesses good hands for the interception. Quick to read and diagnose, fires up the field defending the run, and viciously goes after opponents. Keeps the action in front of him and stays with responsibilities. Wraps up tackling.

Negatives: Possesses an average closing burst. Long speed is a concern.

Analysis: Warner was a smart, hard-working safety who comes with less-than-desirable speed. He offers possibilities as a traditional strong safety or zone defensive back, and Warner plays with a special-teams mentality.

Zac Dawe NFL Draft Scouting Report | Defensive Tackle

Positives: Resilient defender who makes plays with instinct and hustle. Remains disciplined with assignments, quickly diagnoses plays, and is very effective with his hands. Breaks down well, is rarely off his feet, and gets into space to make plays on the ball handler. Attracts double-team blocks and gives effort defending the run.

Negatives: Does not display himself to be a great edge rusher or show much speed up the field. Handled at the point and struggles getting off blocks.

Analysis: Dawe is a hard-working lineman with solid size and speed, but he’s consistently handled by opponents. He offers an upside but must improve his playing strength.

For information on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, check out his 2021 NFL Draft Profile.

Zayne Anderson NFL Draft Scouting Report | Safety

Positives: Instinctive safety who flashes athleticism. Quick to read and diagnose, moves well laterally to make plays on the ball, and possesses a sense of timing on pass defenses. Aggressive, shows a closing burst to the action, and quickly makes his way up the field defending the run. Keeps the action in front of him, plays heads-up football, and picks up coverage assignments.

Negatives: Not a sure-handed tackler and has tackles broken. Rarely brings ball handlers down at the point of attack. Possesses average ball skills. Doesn’t get great depth on drops in deep center field.

Analysis: Anderson possesses the size and instincts to play at the next level but must elevate almost every aspect of his game. He’s a strong safety or zone safety who must improve his tackling as well as his ball skills.

2021 NFL Draft | FBS Independents Scouting Reports: Connecticut Huskies

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 scat-back 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 Line

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 | FBS Independents Scouting Reports: Liberty Flames

Chris Ferguson NFL Draft Scouting Report | Quarterback

Positives: Nice-sized pocket passer with next-level physical skills. Senses the rush, steps up to avoid defenders, and is relatively accurate. Displays a sense of timing on throws and does not have receivers waiting for the ball or working hard to come away with receptions. Possesses a strong arm, puts air under deep passes, and delivers the ball into the receiver’s hands downfield.

Negatives: Stares down primary targets and is slow moving his head. Often seems to predetermine where he’ll throw the ball and forces passes into covered targets. Not an overly nimble quarterback.

Analysis: Ferguson is a traditional pocket passer with next-level arm strength, and he’s a solid developmental prospect who should get practice-squad consideration.

RELATED ARTICLES

FEATURED

RELATED