“Super” wildcard weekend is in the books for the NFL and we get another step closer to the 2021 NFL Draft! It’ll be interesting to see how the Washington Football Team and Chicago Bears address their issues at quarterback. They both aren’t in a position to draft one of the top tier quarterbacks in the draft unless they trade up. If they don’t, they might have to settle for quarterbacks such as Mac Jones from Alabama or Kyle Trask from Florida.
As of now, the draft order is set from the first overall pick to the 22nd overall pick. Before we get into another week of playoff action, here are some of my scouting notes on the 2021 NFL Draft from “super” wildcard weekend in the NFL!
North Carolina WR Dyami Brown is worth keeping tabs on
It’s been no secret that I love the North Carolina backfield. Javonte Williams and Michael Carter are a ton of fun out of the backfield for the Tar Heels. Both of them should be on the consensus top-five board for running backs in the draft. Also, I think their draft projection could be similar to what we saw a few years ago with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb out of Georgia. But enough on the running backs, let’s talk about Brown at receiver.
🔊🚨audio breakdown on North Carolina WR Dyami Brown. Virginia runs Cover 3 "Buzz" against UNC but Brown sells a double move to get vertical for the TD. I'm not a pro comp guy but with that being said, I can see flashes of Stefon Diggs when I watch Brown. #CarolinaFootball pic.twitter.com/76Rju1QmBP— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 10, 2021
As of right now, he’s not in the same tier as wide receivers like Devonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle. In fact, there’s some that would rank his teammate Dazz Newsome as the better wide receiver. However, Brown has been impressive from every game I’ve watched.
During his career at North Carolina, he has caught 21 touchdowns and has produced 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive seasons. Just watching my audio breakdown from the play above, I think there’s some similarities from Browns’ game to what we see on a weekly basis from Stefon Diggs.
Brown has to sharpen some of his route running to be on the same level as Diggs, but they’ve got a similar running style, body size is comparable at 6-0 and 185 pounds and the fluidity with their lower body are similar. When a team drafts Brown, you can see him play in a variety of spots. He can play in the slot, on the outside as an ‘X’ receiver but can also be utilized in jet and orbit motions. He’s probably best suited for a quick passing game but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him become an even better wide receiver once he’s in the NFL.
Pittsburgh EDGE Rashad Weaver could quickly start moving up boards
Maybe this one won’t be as surprising due to the fact that this class of edge rushers is fairly wide open. At the top of my board, it’s Kwity Paye from Michigan and Azeez Ojulari from Georgia. But there’s no reason for Weaver to not be in the conversation as the third or fourth best edge rusher in this class.
🔊🚨Audio Breakdown!!🚨🔊Rashad Weaver out of Pitt has impressed me every time I put on the tape. Had 48 pressures per @PFF and 7.5 sacks. Not bad for missing all of 2019 due to a torn ACL. Weaver has an intriguing blend of power and speed at 6-5 and 270 pounds. pic.twitter.com/GNo5I6dJ7f— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 6, 2021
Weaver is listed at 6-5 and 270 pounds and his length stands out immediately when you put the tape on. Aside from his length, he has a nice blend of power and speed to his game. He went from missing all of 2019 due to a torn ACL, and in 2020 it looked better than ever.
By using his length, Weaver creates plenty of separation against offensive tackles but some of his hand speed could improve. He can win by using techniques such as the double swipe (see above), long-arm technique and a bull-rush. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Weaver get some first-round buzz by the time we get to the April 29. Some teams that make sense for him in the first round would be the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills.
Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood is extremely overlooked
The consensus top offensive tackle for the 2021 NFL Draft is Penei Sewell from Oregon. Rightfully so, he’s that good. But it truly is an open race for the other offensive tackles in this class. Liam Eichenberg and Christian Darrisaw will get some love but why not Leatherwood? Going into this season, he had first round buzz and now it’s gone. Why is that? Sure, this Alabama offensive line won the Joe Moore Award (nation’s top offensive line unit) but Leatherwood did win the Outland Trophy (nation’s top lineman).
Going into the year, he had some first round buzz. Feels like that evaporated. It shouldn’t. Leatherwood is one of the best OL in the class and quite possibly one of the most overlooked players in the draft. https://t.co/R4gFEF4qF0— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 8, 2021
I’ll get the bad out of the way right now because I’m sure it will be brought up. Leatherwood has allowed three sacks and four QB hits this season. That earned him 66.8 pass-blocking grade on the year from Pro Football Focus. Some of these are lost reps due to slow footwork but honestly, it’s fixable. He’s a long offensive tackle at 6-6 and 312 pounds but he really excels in the run game. His pad level is fairly consistent but he understands hand placement and how to continue to drive his feet after contact.
By drafting him, you get experience and versatility, too. The offensive tackle has played 47 career games with 40 consecutive starts. He’s been primarily used as a left tackle but during the 2018 season, he was the starting right guard for the Crimson Tide. He’s played almost 1,700 snaps at left tackle, 936 snaps at right guard and 13 snaps at right tackle.
According to the Alabama team site, Leatherwood has only given up five sacks in his career. That would be the same number as Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater. Regardless, Leatherwood is a solid offensive tackle that should get more attention in this draft class. If he does gain some first round attention, teams such as Indianapolis and Pittsburgh would make a ton of sense for him.