Marcus Mosher adds to his 2021 NFL Draft analysis with NFL Draft 2021 Sleepers: 5 Players Who Could Sneak Into Round 1.
We are under a month until the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and this expected to be one of the wilder drafts in recent memory. With so many players opting out of the 2020 college season and no NFL Combine, we could see several shocking selections in the first round. Today, we are taking a look at five players who could sneak into the 2021 NFL Draft’s first round.
5 NFL Draft 2021 Sleepers Who Could Sneak Into Round 1
1. Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame
Unless you are a huge Fighting Irish fan, you’ve probably have never heard of Tommy Tremble. And that’s okay because he wasn’t a huge producer in college. In two seasons at Notre Dame, he caught just 35 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. In 2020, he never even reached the end zone.
So what makes him a first-round-worthy pick? Well, he can thank George Kittle.
Coming out of Iowa, Kittle had similar stats as he wasn’t used much as a receiver. Instead, he was a dominating blocker with elite athleticism. The same is true from Tremble, but he might be an even more polished and dominating blocker.
Tremble can play on the line of scrimmage or line up in the backfield as an H-Back or a fullback. Now, fullbacks don’t get drafted in the first round anymore, but tight ends who can block and are athletic are hard to find.
The Buffalo Bills (Pick 30) or the Baltimore Ravens (27) could wind up snatching Tremble, who would fit perfectly in an offense that asks its tight ends to do a ton in space. Tremble seems like a lock to go inside the top 50 picks, but don’t be shocked if he goes much higher than that later this month.
2. Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
We know that at least one North Dakota State Bison will go in the first round; Trey Lance could be picked at No. 3. But where could his left tackle land in the draft?
Dillon Radunz has had quite the pre-draft process as he was invited to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and put on a clinic. He looked like the best offensive tackle during the practices by a mile. Then, he dominated his Pro Day, testing in the 99th percentile among all NFL tackles since 1999.
Small-school offensive linemen typically aren’t drafted high, but not many are as athletic and as smooth on tape as Radunz. With so many playoff teams from 2020 needing offensive line help, Radunz could jump into the mid-20s on the 2021 NFL Draft board. Though he wasn’t a big-name college player, but he is undoubtedly one of the best.
3. Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
For the most part, the top four wide receivers among big-name draft scouts are the same. It’s some combination of Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Rashod Bateman. Occasionally, you’ll see another name slipped into that group, such as Terrace Marshall (LSU), Rondale Moore (Purdue) or Kadarius Toney (Florida).
However, one player that isn’t getting enough national love is Elijah Moore from Ole Miss. During the 2020 season, he totaled 1,257 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. In fact, he averaged more receiving yards per game (149.1) than Heisman Trophy Winner DeVonta Smith (142.7).
Moore doesn’t have elite size (5-foot-9, 180 pounds), but all he does is produce. On top of that, he is incredibly fast, with an official 40 time of 4.35 at Ole Miss’ Pro Day to go along with elite agility drills. Moore is probably a slot-only receiver in the NFL, but he can add speed and playmaking to an offense in the back half of Round 1.
Don’t be surprised if a team like the New Orleans Saints (Pick 28) or Green Bay Packers (Pick 29) adds a player like Moore as an NFL Draft 2021 Sleeper. He should be a productive player right away with the potential to have a T.Y. Hilton-like career in the right offense.
4. Richie Grant, FS, UCF
The safety class has a lot of depth but lacks a lot of high-end talent. It’s doubtful we see a safety drafted inside of the top 20, but we could see a few selected in the last few picks of the first round. One player who could make his way into the first-round conversation is Central Florida’s Richie Grant.
Grant isn’t the biggest safety you’ll see, measuring in at just 6-foot, 194 pounds at the Senior Bowl. He’s also not the most athletic safety either, and that could knock him down some boards.
However, what he does at an elite level is cover. Since the 2018 season, he’s totaled 10 interceptions to go along with 5 forced fumbles. He is the best free safety in this class, and with so many teams playing Cover-1 and Cover-3 defenses, teams would love to have a player like Grant despite the athletic shortcomings.
Grant is a lock top-50 selection, but he could be the first safety off the board at the end of Round 1. He’s just too special in coverage to not get picked early.
5. Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
Until just a few days ago, Kentucky LB Jamin Davis was viewed as a borderline top-100 pick by the national media. Most mocks had him going in the early parts of the third round and a few had him sneaking into the second round. However, the hype has picked up in a significant way for Davis as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently listed him as his 14th-best player in this class. That is far higher than the consensus, but it’s not hard to understand why there is a lot of hype surrounding him.
Davis is a big, long linebacker with excellent athleticism. He graded out as one of the SEC’s best run defenders and also got above-average marks in coverage. He can run sideline to sideline and has a massive tackling radius that allows him to engulf ball carriers.
The biggest knock on Davis is the lack of experience. During his college career, he played a total of only 837 snaps on defense. Before the 2020 season, he played just 245 snaps for Kentucky. He is raw and needs some time to develop, but the tools and traits are there. Teams searching for their “Devin White" might be willing to gamble on Davis anytime after the top-20 picks
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