Which 2021 NFL draft prospects do not have a track record of production that matches their projected draft stock?
Projecting how college players will perform in the NFL is an extremely difficult task. Some players are highly productive in college, but lack traits that suggest their success will translate to the next level. On the other hand, there are plenty of players who weren’t necessarily dominant in college but possess traits that suggest they have a strong chance of progressing over time and eventually developing into a good pro.
Today, we’re going to be looking at players who fit the latter category. Which prospects have a track record of production that pales in comparison to the level of their draft stock?
The goal here is not to knock these prospects, but to identify them as players who fall under the “projection” umbrella – their stock is based more so around what they could be than what they are.
Here we go: some of the prospects who have the biggest disparities between their numbers and their projected draft position.
IOL Wyatt Davis (Ohio St.)
Widely considered a second-round prospect, Buckeyes right guard Wyatt Davis had a rough redshirt junior season that represented a huge step back from the heights he reached as a sophomore.
In 2020, Davis earned a run blocking grade of 66.4 at Pro Football Focus that ranked at the 61st percentile among qualified FBS guards. That’s a disappointing ranking for an NFL prospect – out of 15 top offensive line prospects in the 2021 class whose numbers I broke down, 10 of them placed above the 90th percentile in this category and 13 of them placed above the 75th percentile.
Davis allowed 11 pressures over 260 snaps in pass protection, a 4.23% rate that ranked way down at the 39th percentile among qualified FBS guards. Most prospects in this class placed above the 80th percentile, so that’s a ghastly mark for Davis.
An excellent redshirt sophomore season in 2019 is what catapulted Davis into the draft spotlight. That year, Davis posted an 82.4 overall grade at PFF that ranked fourth-best among all qualified FBS guards, including tops in the Big Ten and second in the Power-5.
Davis boasts a strong pedigree, as he was ranked by 247Sports as the country’s No. 1 guard in the 2017 recruiting class.
Clearly, the talent is there for Davis. Teams appear to be confident enough in the promise of his high school career and 2019 season to overlook the big-time struggles that he had in 2020.
IOL Josh Myers (Ohio St.)
Interestingly enough, Davis is not the only redshirt junior interior offensive lineman from Ohio State who put up disappointing numbers in 2020. Buckeyes center Josh Myers, generally projected to be a third-round prospect, posted even worse numbers than the man to his right.
Myers surrendered 11 pressures on 248 protection snaps this past season, a 4.44% rate that ranked at the 16th percentile among qualified FBS centers. He posted a 63.9 run blocking grade that was barely above average for a collegiate center, ranking at the 53rd percentile.
Like Davis, Myers had a better season in 2019. That year, he posted an overall PFF grade of 72.5 that ranked at the 81st percentile among centers. In 2020, his 65.4 grade ranked at the 57th percentile.
Davis and Myers are two examples of prospects whose stock is based upon their success prior to a downturn in their most recent season. It’s also worth noting that, in a season where most schools played fewer games, NFL teams will likely place a larger premium than usual on what prospects did prior to their most recent season if there is a large disparity in the number of games they played. That was the case for Ohio State, which played only seven games compared to 13 in 2019. That’s nearly twice as much tape to evaluate.