The NFL draft scouting process is fluid. There are risers and fallers with every game being an opportunity for players to validate who they are as prospects. Our own Jordan Reid recently dropped a three-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft and after examining the selections, these five prospects stood out the most in terms of their ability to elevate their draft stock based on matchups this weekend in college football.
Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Mocked No. 37 to the Washington Football Team
After showing flashes mixed with inconsistency in 2019, Darrisaw is putting everything together in 2020 and playing at a high level. His ability to apply his length, mobility, technique, and power on the football field and deliver consistent results has been notable. While I’m encouraged to see Darrisaw land in the top 50 of Reid’s mock, his ceiling is definitely that of a first-round prospect. Facing talented Miami EDGE rushers Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche this weekend, Darrisaw has a big opportunity to continue proving himself and validating the belief he deserves to hear his name called on the first night of the draft.
Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
Mocked No. 51 to the Arizona Cardinals
The NFL is a passing league and defenders with the coverage skills of Samuel Jr. are valuable. He’s sticky in man coverage with his fluid hips, quick feet, and overall instincts. He’s answered questions about ball production so far this season and is truly an ascending talent. The biggest thing for Samuel Jr. is performing at a level that eases concerns about his 5-foot-10 and 184-pound frame. Despite the NFL game primarily being played in sub-packages with six-plus defensive backs on the field on the vast majority of plays, the league tends to discriminate against “slot-only corners”. The challenge for Samuel Jr. is proving he can play both inside and outside. His matchup with NC State wide receiver Emeka Emezie, who is a big and physical receiver with alpha ball skills, presents a strong showcase opportunity for Samuel Jr. to prove himself. Samuel Jr. has the ceiling to be picked 20 spots higher than Reid had him going in Mock 3.0.
Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Mocked No. 61 to the Buffalo Bills
In our TDN scouting meetings leading up the season, we identified Mayfield as a prospect who had a real chance to take another step forward and elevate his draft stock this season. His size, length, and mobility were all quality traits, but we were hoping to see a more powerful and physical blocker in 2020. Through two games, he’s shown that. Mayfield has a chance to continue showcasing his growth in a challenging conference matchup against Wisconsin where Michigan is looking for its first win of the season after a disappointing 0-2 start. Wisconsin is known for physical and technically-refined front-seven defenders, making this a terrific showcase opportunity for Mayfield on Saturday. Mayfield has the makeup of a first-round offensive tackle.
Bubba Bolden, S, Miami
Mocked No. 74 to the Atlanta Falcons
After a troubling start to his career at USC and limited to just five games in 2019 due to a dislocated ankle, Bolden’s 2020 campaign got off to a hot start. However, there has been a drop off in his performance over the last several weeks. His coverage instincts, size, and physicality helped reveal a dynamic defender over the first four games of the season but the last four have exposed inconsistency in coverage and far too many missed tackles. There’s no questioning Bolden’s talent, but he has to find consistency and expand his sample size of quality production. Facing Virginia Tech on Saturday provides him with a great opportunity to fly around the field and make plays against the run and pass. This safety class needs risers and there was a time where Bolden was shaping up to be just that. He needs to recapture his early-season momentum.
Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
Mocked No. 101 to the Tennessee Titans
Long leads all tight ends in the nation in receptions (43) and yards (500), showcasing exciting ball skills, route-running ability, and hands while racking up such impressive production. Long is heavily featured in the Boston College passing game, which isn’t often the case when it comes to college tight ends, but Long’s ability demands opportunities to make plays and he delivers. While the toast of this year’s tight end class is Kyle Pitts and Pat Freiermuth, Long is a terrific prospect in his own right. His ability to both block and catch makes him a complete player. While Reid has him barely getting picked on Day 2, Long has the makeup of a second-round pick. Facing an outstanding Notre Dame defense on Saturday should give him chances to make plays against top defenders in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Kyle Hamilton.