While delving into the 2021 draft class, a couple of things have become clear:
1. Early in the process, this appears to be a top-heavy class with a handful of ‘elite’ prospects who are seemingly already destined to go in the top-five.
2. The depth, at the moment, is slightly concerning — and we’re seeing a lot of players who won’t be first round picks appear on early watch-lists.
This is particularly interesting this year. While the NFL is pretty confident they’ll be able to host a full 2020 season, there’s at least a little bit more concern for college football. There’s been some positive noises recently — such as Notre Dame saying they believe there will be a full season. But there’s obviously a big difference between paid professionals and student athletes competing during a global pandemic.
I do wonder if contenders in the NFL who are expected to be picking later in each round will consider using some of their 2021 draft stock for veteran trades — either just before or during the NFL season. If it’s a lot harder to scout this class — and if it continues to look like a top-heavy class — that might be a consideration.
It’s something to at least consider when we get towards August and September.
If there is a fully functioning college football season, Penn State’s Jayson Oweh is one player to keep an eye on.
He’s slated to replace Yetur Gross-Matos in 2021 having previously operated as a rotational pass rusher. Even so, he had five sacks last season and is well sized at 6-5 and 255lbs. He also forced a couple of fumbles and had five TFL’s.
He’s clearly a very accomplished athlete and the first thing that stands out is his ability to burst off the edge, round the arc and get to the quarterback. That’s what you want to see when a player is listed at his size. Has he got a speed rush? Oweh answers that question positively and that’s a good starting point.
Purdue can’t handle the Wild Dogs
Jayson Oweh gets the seventh first half sack for Penn State pic.twitter.com/Ry8gppZTP3
— Ben Ferree (@BFerree_) October 5, 2019
He had a particularly good performance against Michigan State in 2019. He had five pressures on just 19 pass rush snaps per PFF and collected two sacks.
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) October 28, 2019
What he’ll need to prove as a starter is an ability to win in different ways and contain his side of the field. He’s not too bad at stunting inside and bulldozing his way through a crowd to reach the QB. That at least hints at some strength. What we don’t have enough evidence of so far is an ability to convert speed-to-power and win by connecting and forcing the tackle backwards. We also need to see more evidence of hand-use and can he engage at the POA with a straight arm, keeping his frame free to read and react against the run.
These are all basic things that’ll become clear very quickly if/when the new season begins.
So what kind of potential does he have?
Reportedly he’s been clocked running a 4.33 at Penn State. This is clearly a highly wind-assisted time if it’s even true at all. At SPARQ he ran a 4.63 which is perfectly fine and acceptable for a man his size. If he can get that into the 4.5’s with a 1.5 10-yard split then certainly that would be ideal. He doesn’t have to run a ridiculous 4.3 to boost his stock at the combine.
His body fat has also been measured at 4.9%. He’s been jumping in the 35-36 inch range in the vertical and reportedly he can manage a 10-7 broad. He can bench 380lbs and clean 365lbs.
Most importantly though he can supposedly run a 4.46 short shuttle. That’s about in the range he needs to be. It’s not a spectacular time (Alton Robinson ran a 4.32) but if he combines it with explosive testing and a fast forty and split — then it’s where he needs to be physically.
You always need a college season to really get to grips with a class. Players emerge. Nobody was predicting Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray or Cam Newton to be Heisman winners and #1 overall picks a year out. Generally you can get a sense though what are going to be the strong positions.
This year you’ve got the star names — Trevor Lawrence, Penei Sewell, Ja’Marr Chase and Micah Parsons. You’ve got another rich looking receiver class and some tight ends with exciting potential. So far I can’t get excited about the D-line options. It’s an area where players like Oweh will have an opportunity to emerge and earn a lot of money. I’m not sure why, suddenly, college football is having a D-line lull. We’re only a year removed from a draft known for it’s defensive line depth.
For that reason the Seahawks probably made a good call moving up for Darrell Taylor. He has as much potential as anyone this year or next to turn into a quality, dynamic EDGE. His main issues were injuries and inconsistency. He’s been given the #58 jersey today. Not sure whether he chose that or the team — but the thinking and the aim is clear. Von Miller wears #58.
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