It seems like the 2020 NFL Draft just happened, but we move fast here at The Draft Network.
Currently going through summer evaluations for the 2021 NFL Draft class, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts. New to TDN is a daily scouting roundtable where we go through and identify the most important points of conversation from that day’s meeting.
On Monday, we talked about numerous players, concepts, and draft-related concepts. Here are my three main takeaways from the meeting.
1. Texas A&M has some dudes
Given our scouting staff is mostly taking specific regions during summer scouting, Reid has been assigned essentially all the Texas schools. After reviewing what Jimbo Fisher and company have going on down at Texas A&M, he’s been quite impressed with the Aggies.
“I knew they had players, but not to that extent,” Reid noted.
Reid brought three Texas A&M defenders to the table today (Micheal Clemons, Tyree Johnson, and Bobby Brown III), giving each draftable grades heading into 2020. Impressed with Clemons the most, Reid made sure to note that the dangly edge rusher was thin-limbed and underdeveloped, but strong as an ox when asked to set the edge in the run game. Playing extremely hard with a non-stop motor, Reid also stated that Clemons lacked true bend as a rusher, but could develop into a starting strong-side edge in time.
With Johnson, meanwhile, Reid made sure to discuss his athleticism and explosiveness, two strong traits that helped him garner four sacks a season ago. Playing with solid, low leverage, Johnson has quite a few issues, but it’s that raw frame that will likely appeal to a team wanting a 3-4 OLB in the later rounds.
Saving the biggest for last, Reid described the 6-foot-4, 325-pound Brown III as a “super stout defender who eats up double teams.” No, he’s not a pressure generator, but the big defensive tackle can be a prime pocket pusher, similar to Daylon Mack—another Texas A&M prospect—who was drafted in the fifth round a few years ago.
2. Senior QB class is weak
It seems like each year senior quarterback classes are getting weaker and weaker. Unfortunately, 2021 doesn’t seem to be an exception to this disappointing trend. Lacking a true star and any potential first-round selection, the class—barring anyone rising in a Joe Burrow-like fashion—is straight up dreadful.
Highlighting the group are names like Kellen Mond, Kellen Trask, and K.J. Costello, but none are truly proven at this point. Maybe the most productive prospect in this regard is SMU’s Shane Buechele, a flashy passer who Marino discussed in-depth today.
A Texas transfer, Buechele “quickly mastered SMU’s air raid system,” performing exceptionally down the field on vertical shots. Able to feel the rush and step up when appropriate, he has the anticipation and nuance to succeed, particularly in a Senior Bowl setting. Unfortunately, as Marino made sure to point out, his physical traits are very underwhelming, leaving his upside as virtually non-existent.
He’s a nice player who Marino currently gives a late-round grade, but if he’s the best—or at least close to the best—this senior class has, we’re in for some trouble.
3. Farley can challenge for CB1
The CB1 debate in 2020 wasn’t an overly interesting one, with Jeff Okudah claiming that spot on nearly every board. Although it's extremely early, 2021 looks like it’ll be a lot closer, with (familiar) names like Patrick Surtain II, Shaun Wade, and Asante Samuel Jr. leading the way. Although he doesn’t play at a powerhouse, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley more than deserves to be in the same discussion, however, as was made very clear in today’s meeting.
A former high school QB and starting his VT career at wideout, Farley, as Marino notes, “doesn’t look new to the position at all.” Sticky in coverage and displaying exceptional click and close ability, Farley is the definition of a physical, press-man corner. He’s able to use his movement skills and frame to his advantage, but Marino does mention that he could improve a bit in zone coverage (and also stay healthier) but is simply a stud in nearly every other aspect.
With Wade having yet to play outside, Samuel still developing, and Surtain struggling a bit with contact, it’s more than fair to assume Farley could claim the 2021 CB1 title. Giving him a top-32 grade, it seems Marino may already agree.