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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: IDL Daviyon Nixon

  • The Draft Network
  • December 29, 2020
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Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon projects as a prototypical 3T even front defender at the next level. Nixon has very good spring and burst out of his stance to shoot gaps and create havoc in the backfield. In a class that is sorely lacking in potential splash defenders along the defensive interior, Nixon may well be a prospect that is in high demand this April. Enjoying a booming season in 2020, Nixon burst onto the scene as an NFL draft prospect after a relatively quiet redshirt sophomore season with the Hawkeyes in 2019. A JUCO transfer, Nixon is a third-year Hawkeye who has left a significant mark on the 2020 season against every team he crossed. Nixon has good length, violent and urgent hands, and the athletic ability to parlay his strong season into a starting role at the NFL level; although he may require some patience to reach that same level of impact as he’s only now starting to put it all together in the college ranks. This is a high ceiling prospect, but I wouldn’t consider him anything close to a finished product yet. 

Ideal Role: Penetration style 3-technique.

Scheme Fit: Even front, single-gap front.


Written by Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: Northwestern (2020), Michigan State (2020), Nebraska (2020), Penn State (2020), Wisconsin (2020)

Best Game Studied: Nebraska (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Michigan State (2020) 

First-Step Explosiveness: Nixon has very good burst and release out of his stance. On reps where he is committed to attacking the backfield, he’ll generate significant push and force in short spaces. He’s capable of queueing up the snap effectively and winning pass rush reps in the first two to three steps thanks to his twitch. 

Flexibility: Nixon offers above-average flexibility throughout his hips when looking to corner or work over top of blocks. His body mobility and flexibility shines best in linear stacking of blocks at the point of attack and also throughout his torso with how dynamic some of his rush counters are. He’s capable of driving with suddenness thanks to a dynamic lower half—his feet aren’t codependent on his hips to play with balance and burst. 

Hand Counters: He’s equally urgent as he is effective. There are times when his pronounced chops and swims could be classified as ergonomically inefficient, but he produces so much force that when his strikes land, he does very well to detach. He’s snatched blockers off their set as well when he catches them leaning. His shucking skills are effective when he produces a stack, but he can be prone at times to giving up his chest and losing separation. 

Hand Power: Nixon is a forcible player who clearly jolts the frame of blockers when he attacks them head on. His counters carry ample force as well and he’s got the raw upper-body power needed to bench press blockers off his chest and recover late into reps. 

Run Defending: Nixon was a terror in all phases in 2020 but created a ton of production crashing the mesh point and bubbling the point of attack. His short-area mobility allows him to dart off of blocks quickly. Nixon can be prone to letting reach blocks and pin blocks get the best of him and he needs to become more aware of fighting through the upfield shoulder to avoid getting completely walled off. This showed up in several games in the perimeter run game to the backside. 

Effort: Nixon has a high motor and illustrates the willingness to scrape down the line of scrimmage in pursuit of plays. His finishing skills in the phone booth are impressive and he’ll make some plays with blockers draped on him laterally. You can tell when he’s “feeling it”, too—he’s capable of elevating his game to a higher level as he smells blood in the water. 

Football IQ: For all the flashes and the clear physical talent, he has not necessarily put it all together with consistency on a rep by rep basis just yet. Some of the Big Ten competition this season was able to put him on skates near the end zone and on short-yardage runs, so staying committed to pad levels being down will go a long way in increasing snap to snap results. He’s also been guilty of taking some eye candy in the offensive backfield as compared to keying his block, which has pulled him into unfavorable positioning along the front. 

Lateral Mobility: He’s twitchy here and can flip the switch from a square to the LOS positioning in a hurry. That said, he’s also shown competency in slingshotting himself past blockers at the point of attack to jump down and win gaps. When he’s in penetration mode, he can be guilty of overrunning opportunities, but that feels like a simple fix. His range as a defender should be considered a plus all around. 

Core/Functional Strength: Nixon offers ample strength and has the core stability to push through lateral contact when he’s shooting gaps. His bull rushes are complemented by hand power and subsequent leg drive. Negotiating double teams will need continued focus—he’s been had a number of times with two blockers in one shot. 

Versatility: The good news is Nixon is a three-down defender with his explosiveness and penetration skills. There’s zero doubt on that front. But playing him in odd fronts or asking him to stack up blocks feels like a waste of his talents. He’s best and most ideally served working in a true attack 3T role to make the most of his functional athleticism. 


TDN Consensus: 79.38/100

Joe Marino: 79.50/100

Kyle Crabbs: 79.00/100

Jordan Reid: 80.00/100

Drae Harris: 79.00/100

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