2021 NFL Draft: Scouting notes on final week of college football

01/04/2021
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Truly cannot believe that we’ve gotten through the final Saturday of the college football season. It’s a bittersweet day and despite all the hurdles on the season, we’re one step closer to the 2021 NFL Draft. To help you prepare, here are some of my scouting notes on the final week of the season.

Draft stock on Cornell Powell rising but the opposite can be said on Shaun Wade 

Should we start with the good or the bad? Let’s start with the bad. Before the season, Wade was being listed as a first round cornerback. You can include in me on that list. I thought Wade had the potential to be the top cornerback drafted and all he needed was a chance to be play on the outside for a season. This season has been less than ideal for him. Despite winning Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, he’s struggled against most of the competition he’s played against this season. That didn’t change against Clemson and in fact, it could have easily been his worst game of his career.

Like the play above, much of the night for Wade was spent slipping on the turf and turning inside-and-out guessing on what direction the wide receiver was going. There’s a chance that Wade still goes in the first round as he could have a valuable role closer to the box as a nickel back but it all depends on how an organization views the importance of that role. However, at this rate, he seems destined to be selected on the second day of the draft.

All of that being said, Powell has gone from being on nobody’s radar to being on everyone’s. Powell has emerged in a Clemson offense that needed a compliment to Amari Rodgers. Despite only being listed at 6-0 and 210 pounds, Powell plays a lot bigger than that with his athletic and muscular frame. He has shown his ability to high-point the football and create after the catch. So much so, he’s recorded 53 receptions for 882 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Now that the season is over, he’ll redirect his attention to the Senior Bowl and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have a strong week in Mobile. Outside of Devonta Smith from Alabama, nobody has helped their draft stock more at the wide receiver position than Cornell Powell.

Azeez Ojulari officially enters the 2021 NFL Draft

After an impressive showing against Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl, Ojulari officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. Rightfully so, Ojulari is one of the most intriguing and explosive edge rushers in this class. In a class that lacks a sure-thing at the EDGE position, Ojulari has an opportunity to separate himself now that he’s officially declared.

Going into the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati, Ojulari had 18 hurries and 29 pressures on the season. He finished the game against Cincinnati with four tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. Consistently on his tape, you can see him use his hands on just about every pass rush rep. Watch the play above how quickly he uses his hands, turns the corner and gets to the quarterback. This will certainly raise the eyebrows of scouts everywhere and there’s no reason to believe that he can’t be selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Rashawn Slater should move back to guard 

It’s a difficult year to evaluate prospects, there’s no doubt about it. Players that have opted-out, you have no idea how that player currently looks on a football field. Usually, you should never base your grade off just one season of tape, unless of course, that’s all the tape the player has.

For Slater, he’s got three years of it and it’s good enough for 37 starts and games of tape. This past weekend, I went back and watched some of his tape from 2018 (Ohio State and Michigan State) and 2019 (Ohio State and Purdue). No doubt, there’s plenty of quickness and lower body flexibility to make him in an intriguing option at offensive tackle for a team. After all, he’s got 26 starts at right tackle and 11 starts at left tackle. He made 30 consecutive starts for Northwestern before missing his first game due to injury (Nebraska in 2019).

That being said, I feel confident in saying that Slater should move back to guard. After watching those four games, I feel like he’s a much better suited to play inside at either guard spot. In high school, he was a three-star recruit and was ranked the 32nd best guard in the country by 24/7 Sports. There’s experience for him to play there, too and in fact, it seems like a much more natural fit for the 6-foot-3 and 305 pound offensive lineman. Teams could certainly roll the dice on him at offensive tackle but after watching his tape, he can be most successful on the interior.

 

 

National Scout for Cover 1. Host of Cover 1 | The NFL Draft Podcast. NFL Draft Enthusiast. X's and O's. Heard on ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio and CBS Sports Radio.

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