NFL Draft Central

2021 NFL Draft Steals: Defensive Line

Jordan is here with his final version of his 2021 NFL Draft Steals. If you’ve been here since this series began with the Quarterback position, then thank you! The following draft talents are intriguing names to keep an eye on during this weekend’s draft.

Cameron Sample, Tulane, Senior (6′ 3″, 274 lbs)

Cameron Sample has had to work hard to prove the doubters wrong. Sample didn’t have many scholarship offers coming out of high school. After landing at Tulane, he made sure eyes were on him. Although his length isn’t as high end as other edge rushers in the 2021 NFL Draft class, he makes up for that with his power and grip strength. These qualities really show up when he bull rushes opposition linemen. The power in his legs is extraordinary. Sample has also shown versatility along the defensive line and has a collection of pass rush moves. His explosiveness is inconsistent at times and he isn’t the most flexible of DEs.

Although Cameron Sample could have limitations as an edge rusher in the NFL, teams could kick him inside to get the ultimate reward from the top-level skills he has shown. He has all the tools to succeed at the next stage and a 3rd Round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is not out of the question.

Tyler Shelvin, LSU, RS Junior (6′ 3″, 362 lbs)

An immovable object at defensive tackle, Tyler Shelvin is an outstanding run blocker with limitations in the passing game. Shelvin is well-sized and strong. He combines his ideal size with his sharpness to get off at the snap, he is a nightmare to block. His hands are quick and strong, which enables him to disengage from opposition blockers in a relentless effort to find the ball. With Shelvin being such a problem, defences at the college level have resorted to double teaming him. He could line up in a 3-4 defence at the nose tackle position, or in a 4-3 defence as a 1-technique lineman.

One of the best run stoppers in the draft, NFL teams will know what they are getting with Tyler Shelvin. A team in need of an early down run defender could be picking up Shelvin earlier depending on the board. Even if he falls to Day Three, it’s a solid selection. Depending on landing spot, Tyler Shelvin could be one of the more memorable 2021 NFL Draft steals. 

Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh, RS Senior (6′ 4.5″, 264 lbs)

Patrick Jones II is one of two defensive ends entering the 2021 NFL Draft out of Pitt. Jones can be an explosive disruption to an opponent’s passing or run game. As a push rusher, Jones is explosive and powerful. Although most of his experience has been playing with his hand in the dirt, this has not stopped him from getting off the line regularly. Jones has a speedy burst and a great first step to get the upper hand against offensive linemen. His ability to change direction quickly helps him get to ball carriers in the run game. Although he can get himself into the backfield regularly, it would be even more beneficial to add more pass rush moves to his repertoire.

He has only played at defensive end in a 4-3 scheme at Pitt. That does not mean Patrick Jones is limited in talent, however. He has a few areas to address to improve at the next stage, but is not lacking in work rate. The 2021 NFL Draft defensive end class is very open after the first handful of players. Wherever Jones lands, he’s a potential Day 1 starter in the 2021 NFL season.

Jay Tufele, USC, RS Junior (6′ 3″, 315 lbs)

Jay Tufele has an all round solid game as a defensive tackle. Utilised mainly as a 3-technique DT, Tufele does have the ability to line up in other defensive alignments. The former Trojan is explosive and gets off the line quickly. In the passing game he showcases powerful hands. He manhandles single blockers with relative ease. Tufele is a big guy, but combines his size with nimble feet and plays with above average agility. Tufele has shown an ability to change direction quickly for a big defensive tackle. As a pass rusher, he could do with adding some more pass rush moves to his toolkit.

Jay Tufele will be a superb pick up for any NFL team looking to bolster their interior defensive line in the 2021 NFL Draft. He is a 3 down player which will prove attractive to NFL franchises seeking depth on their roster. A Day 2 selection for Jay Tufele is not a reach.

Shaka Toney, Penn State, RS Senior (6′ 3″, 238 lbs)

Shaka Toney is one of the bendiest players in the 2021 NFL Draft at his position. He possesses an array of moves to get himself past blockers and into the backfield. Toney has great speed and releases with explosion off the snap. His raw power is a real nightmare for less mobile offensive lineman. The big concern surrounding Toney is in the run game due to his size. His frame makes him easy to move, especially by stronger opponents. Toney can definitely put on some extra size in the NFL, and with that comes the possibility of affecting the upside you get from his rushing ability.

Shaka Toney is likely a late Day Three selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Whichever team selects him has questions to unpick. They can aim to put some weight on his frame in the hope that he becomes an every down player. Otherwise, they can develop his pass rushing skills further, and let him blossom on that side of the game. However a team utilises Toney, he has some intriguing potential heading into the 2021 NFL Draft.

We hope that you enjoyed this superb series from Jordan. Let him know your thoughts on his projected 2021 NFL Draft steals over on Twitter. While you’re there, follow us on Twitter @5yardcollege

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