We are less than 48 hours away from the 2021 NFL Draft now, which makes it the perfect time for us to preview some of our own personal favorite players in the class.
My “type” when it comes to prospects tend to be high upside guys that might fit the “boom or bust” label. Here are three players that fit that bill.
At some point in this year’s draft, the Denver Broncos will have to draft someone who can eventually replace Kareem Jackson alongside Justin Simmons, and Hamsah Nasirildeen is the man for that job more so than any other in the class.
Concerns will be raised about Nasirildeen’s lack of ball skills, the torn ACL he suffered in 2019, and his fit in Vic Fangio’s defense considering his lack of experience operating as a safety in two-high looks, but those concerns are incredibly minor for a mid-to-late Day 2 player, especially one with such tremendous upside.
Nasirildeen’s greatest selling point is his high-end athleticism and the incredible versatility that athletic talent provides. Because of Nasirildeen’s natural ability to come downfield, thread the needle through blockers, and dismantle a running back with a crushing blow, he’s often viewed as a box defender, but he’s so much more than that.
He’s actually very reminiscent of Kareem Jackson — who he would be replacing eventually — with how talented and violent of a run defender he is, while still possessing excellent versatility and coverage ability.
At Florida State, he would line up as a slot cornerback at times and as single-high safety other times and performed both duties surprisingly well. He also spent a lot of time on special teams his first two seasons there, so he should be an instant impact player there for the Broncos. As a result, while he didn’t operate many of Fangio’s concepts in Tallahassee, there’s nothing on his tape that suggests he would be incapable of doing so, and he has also demonstrated incredible versatility.
He’s got serious coverage chops, though it is one of the areas most lacking in his game.
You can see him guessing on routes at times as opposed to having a natural feel like he’s normally able to do, and he also isn’t great at timing the ball to make as many big plays as his athleticism enables him to. However, he’s still very strong in coverage despite his few shortcomings and should be able to perform those duties fine after sitting behind Jackson for a season.
The Broncos shouldn’t need a receiver for the 2021 season, but the team could use some insurance behind Courtland Sutton as he returns from injury and as Tim Patrick plays out the final year of his contract. Meanwhile, while Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and Tyrie Cleveland are incredibly promising, they’re cases where Denver shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch.
Enter late-round receiving prospect Josh Imatorbhebhe.
Imatorbhebhe is an excellent jump-ball receiver who could replace Patrick after he likely leaves next offseason, contribute on special teams, and be a fixture of Denver’s wide receiver rotation.
From day one, he’ll provide the offense with a dangerous red-zone threat due to his deadly and ideal combination of size, verticality, ball skills and excellent hands. However, the other areas of his game are very unrefined and must be developed for him to have sustained success as a major contributor.
He has a strong enough foundation to contribute right away but he’ll have to polish his other impressive tools to become more than a devastating target in scoring range.
The case for Jabril Cox being an ideal target for Denver is an incredibly easy one to make.
Long have the members of Broncos Country pined for a high-end coverage linebacker, but to no avail, and from his first snap in the pros, Cox should be the best pure linebacker in coverage in this class.
Other linebackers have the traits to be as good as — if not better than — Cox one day, but that development isn’t guaranteed and Cox offers a lot of upside and room for development as well as his higher floor.
The only linebacker in the class who will enter the league with better skills in coverage is Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, but many wonder how he’ll be used as the next level, as he was almost more of a safety or slot cornerback at Notre Dame and his size is a bit of a concern.
You can also likely get Cox a round — and if you’re lucky, two rounds — later than where you will likely have to select Koramoah.
Cox will have to grow in his run defense in terms of his ability to shed blocks, consistently tackle (though this isn’t a large concern), and making the right read on what his assignment is and get there in time. He’s often relying on his athletic tools to help him make up ground, than have his brain put him in the right position for success from the jump.
Working under a legendary linebacking coach like Vic Fangio should do wonders for him in those facets though.