The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone. This year’s draft featured more Wildcats than anyone has seen in a long time. In fact, six Cats heard their name called this weekend becoming the second-most in Kentucky Football history. Now that the excitement has died down a little and players are making arrangements for their NFL Futures, here’s an early look at how each player best fits their new team.
Jamin Davis – Washington Football Team, pick No. 19: A+
Jamin Davis stepped into a dream situation in Washington. The Football Team has steadily built arguably the best defense in the NFL through the draft the last five years, and Davis will fit right into that mold. Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young helped Washington close the door on filling out that ferocious defensive front, and now Jamin Davis will fill out one of the remaining pieces in their front seven.
Jon Bostic was brutally bad for Jack Del Rio’s defense last year, with a PFF grade of 43.9 in the run defense. GM Martin Mayhew and Del Rio went with Davis’s athleticism and speed to help cover up a glaring hole in an otherwise stellar defense. Davis’s short-area quickness and 4.37 40-time helped him finish with an 87.5 run defense grade in college.
Seeing Miles Sanders, Saquon Barkley, and Ezekiel Elliot each twice a year will make any coordinator go and get a top-level run-stopper, and they did just that.
With limited pressure due to the star-studded defenders around him, expect a lot of opportunity from Davis in his rookie season.
Kelvin Joseph – Dallas Cowboys, pick No. 44: B-
After watching him for nine games in the blue and white, it’s still clear as mud as to what kind of NFL talent Kelvin Joseph will be. He certainly has all the tools–elite speed, length, and fluidity that could make Bossman Fat a legit corner in the NFL, however, his game still needs some fine-tuning.
Joseph was a sure-fire second-round talent from the jump, but he may want to send the Broncos and Panthers a thank you card for sniping Surtain and Horn off the board before the Cowboys filled out their secondary needs.
Consistency is the biggest problem with Joseph, and unfortunately, that’s the biggest problem with Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys organization in general. Quite frankly, the Cowboys just need everything, and that’s going to call for a lot of production from Joseph early in his career especially in a young secondary. Joseph is a true boom or just talent, and with Dan Quinn taking over the defensive reigns, Joseph might just boom.
He’s a perfect schematic fit for a Dan Quinn defense, and Quinn knows all about developing secondary talent with big personalities. Point to the Legion of Boom.
Joseph is also headed to a division that is pretty weak with its wide receivers. He may take his lumps early, but Bossman Fat could just be the play-making corner the Cowboys have been looking for.
Quinton Bohanna – Dallas Cowboys, pick No. 192: D+
Quinton Bohanna was the third Wildcat taken off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft, and rightfully so, it would’ve been nice to see Q go to a better situation. Or at least one with more opportunity for the former ‘Cat.
The Cowboys’ interior D-line play last year was pretty embarrassing, so much so that Jerry Jones went and loaded up on three D-linemen in this year’s draft class. That alone already eats a lot of opportunity for Bohanna, along with the rostered folks as well.
Fortunately for Bohanna, the strength of his game is exactly what the Cowboys or searching for. Last season, the ‘Boys were next to last in run defense in the NFL, and to use a cliche term, big men lead the way in Lexington. Bohanna’s 77.1 rush-defense grade was the fourth-best among SEC DTs.
— PFF DAL Cowboys (@PFF_Cowboys) May 1, 2021
Now for the bad part.
The Cowboys also took UCLA DT Osa Odighizuwa in the third round, which is basically a rich man’s Quinton Bohanna. Odighizuwa wowed people at this year’s Senior Bowl and graded out to a 78.4 run stop grade and a rush-stop rate of 7.4%, which is well above average. The best news for Bohanna is he’s built more like your typical NFL DT while Odighizuwa is a tweener at about 6’2 280.
Bohanna’s recent weight loss down into the 330-range is vital for him to see playing time in the league. Let’s hope competition brings the best out of Q.
Brandin Echols – New York Jets, pick No. 200: B
So, the Jets are basically starting from scratch. New quarterback, new coach, new GM, and a fresh start in the secondary.
Brandin Echols’ athleticism that he flashed from Kentucky’s Pro Day vaulted him into the draft, becoming the Jets’ final pick of the ’21 draft. The bad news is the Jets took four CBs and a safety before him on day three. The great news is that Echols’ athleticism will force new head coach Robert Saleh and new defensive coordinator, Jeff Ulbrich, to give the JUCO transfer a look.
Saleh has one of the best defensive resumes in the league and currently a secondary that is stripped to the bone. There will be plenty of opportunities for Echols to develop and hopefully produce at the next level.
Landon Young – New Orleans Saints, pick No. 206: B-
Quite frankly, Landon Young’s NFL outlook is going to be pretty hard to pinpoint, as is the case for any late-round offensive lineman, but this is especially true with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are already pretty solid at tackle, with all-pro Terron Armstead on one side of the line and former first-rounder Ryan Ramczyk on the other. But, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is coming to a close and it’s really unsure which direction Mickey Loomis and Sean Peyton are going to take this franchise in, especially with the Saints’ looming cap salary issues.
Sean Peyton has always been known as an offensive mastermind with a prolific passing attack, which of course was aided by Drew Brees. Now, with the uncertainty of Jameis Winston, the bonafide strength of the Saints should be Alvin Kamara and a short passing attack–something Landon Young knows all about.
Young’s strengths lie within the run-game as a left tackle, so I think Young going to the Saints could be a small sign of a philosophy change in New Orleans or a sign the Saints want to give Young time to develop under Armstead who is on the horizon of 30.
Either way, Young is in a great place to develop as an NFL lineman.
Phil Hoskins – Carolina Panthers, pick No. 232: C-
Phil Hoskins being taken off the board yesterday came as a surprise to a lot of folks, but that’s not to say he’s not talented. Hoskins was great against the pass as an interior DL and has the measurables to transform himself into a viable option in the league.
Unfortunately, it feels like the Panthers took him as a project more so than a sure-fire impactful player. The biggest plus here is Matt Rhule and the Panthers found a lot of diamonds in the rough last year, and it appears they’ve expedited their rebuild.
Hoskins will get his chances, let’s hope the Panthers found another good one here too.