The falling draft stock of a once-elite prospect

Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, which starts April 29, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five for Nos. 100-51, followed by more in-depth reports on our top 50 players, with help from our scouting assistant, Liam Blutman. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.

t-100. Oregon State RB Jermar Jefferson

5-foot-10, 217 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.71 — starter potential

TL;DR scouting report: Nicely built back who lacks extra gear but consistently churned out long runs in impressive three-year career

Games watched: Hawaii (2019), Cal (2019), Cal (2020), Oregon (2020), Stanford (2020)

The skinny: A 3-star Rivals recruit, Jefferson started nine of 12 games as a true freshman in 2018 and was named Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year after setting the school mark for rushing yards by a true freshman (1,380). Suffering through a chronic ankle injury and splitting carries with Artavis Pierce in 2019, Jefferson’s production fell off (685 rush yards, eight rush TDs).

Jefferson finished his career with a brilliant 2020 season — 858 yards, seven TDs rushing in six games — before declaring early for the 2021 NFL draft.

Upside: Averaged 5.7 yards per carry and one rushing TD per game in his career, despite not playing behind overly talented offensive line. Collected 15 100-yard rushing efforts in 27 games (21 starts).

Good vision to anticipate and find holes — a run-to-daylight back. Excellent short-area quickness and fairly elusive for a back pushing 220 pounds. He can make defenders miss in tight quarters and does a great job of turning 3-yard losses into positive plays. Squeezes out extra yards with nice contact balance with a compact, sturdy frame and by keeping his feet alive.

Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson broke off several big runs the past few seasons. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)
Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson broke off several big runs the past few seasons. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

Collected 78 runs of 10-plus yards and seven runs of 45-plus in 514 career rushes. Low mileage with fewer than 600 carries and has shown to handle a medium-sized load (14 games with 20-plus carries).

Reliable safety-valve receiver who dropped one career pass, caught 43 of his 49 targets and averaged a healthy 9.3 yards per reception.

Downside: Ball security is concerning. He had six fumbles in 559 touches, including three in 144 touches in 2020. Bit of a singles hitter as a runner who pops an occasional home run.

Limited usage as receiver — asked to catch only screens, bubbles, swing routes, etc. Had one one career catch more than 10 yards downfield. Targeted only 25 times in final 17 college games.

Doesn’t possess breakaway speed despite penchant for big plays. Could stand to run with more force and pop behind his pads. He's not really a power back for his size. Lacks great open-field creativity as a runner.

His injury history must be vetted as Jefferson was plagued by ankle and foot injuries in 2019. Missed possible showcase game vs. Utah for COVID-related reasons. Might fall into the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none category.

Best-suited destination: Jefferson profiles as a change-of-pace runner who can develop his third-down ability over time.

Did you know: Jefferson’s father, Herb, was a 5-foot-7, 165-pound wide receiver at Sonoma State in the early 1990s (where he was a teammate of future Cowboy Larry Allen) who played semi-pro ball as a QB into his 40s.

Player comp: Jefferson is somewhere on the Joshua Kelley/Mike Davis spectrum

Expected draft range: Rounds 4-5

t-100. Kentucky LB Jamin Davis

6-foot-4, 236 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.71 — starter potential

TL;DR scouting report: Impressive athlete with untapped potential whose best football could be in front of him

Games watched: Auburn (2020), Mississippi State (2020), Tennessee (2020), Florida (2020)

The skinny: A 3-star Rivals recruit, Davis enrolled early in 2017 and redshirted that season, adding weight to his 190-pound frame. Davis spent most of the next two seasons as a reserve, starting one game as a sophomore and playing extensively on special teams. In his breakout season of 2020, Davis ranked in the top 20 nationally in tackles per game (10.2) and hauled in three interceptions before declaring early for the 2020 draft.

Upside: Nicely defined build with good length and movement. Good burst to shoot gaps quickly and close fast on ballcarriers. Expected to test very well. Fits profile and template of today's NFL linebacker with chiseled physique.

Plays with an edge. Unafraid to stick his nose in the trash and do the dirty work. Good run-diagnostic skills to disrupt blocking schemes and short-circuit ground games. Puts in the effort to hunt down the ball, even when he’s seemingly out of the play.

Kentucky LB Jamin Davis had three interceptions in his final college season. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Kentucky LB Jamin Davis had three interceptions in his final college season. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Made three timely interceptions in 2020 — TD-saving pick at end of the half vs. Mississippi State, 85-yard pick six at Tennessee and crucial fourth-quarter INT in bowl game win over North Carolina State.

He can operate as a blitzer, man all three LB spots and walk out to the slot on backs and tight ends. Good special teams experience (more than 450 snaps in final three seasons) on “big four” coverage and return units. Blocked FG try in 2020 vs. Georgia.

Stepped up into leadership role as unexpected starter in 2020 and was one of the faces of a Wildcats defense that was among nation’s better units.

Downside: Very inexperienced, playing about 800 defensive snaps over three seasons with only 11 starts. Earned a starting position only after the hospitalization of teammate Chris Oats. Davis doesn’t fully trust his instincts yet and might need time to soak up a complex NFL defensive playbook.

Coverage duties mainly relegated to spot drops in zones and man matchups with slower pass catchers. All three of his picks came on poor passes/tipped balls. Had only two passes defended the rest of his career. Can get nickel-and-dimed in coverage for chain-moving completions (see Mississippi State, N.C. State games).

Will come in a little hot and let tackles slip through him. Could use some technique refinement and more time developing his eyes.

Best-suited destination: Ideally, Davis can land with a team where his athleticism can be developed as a special teams performer and third or fourth linebacker early on before being given a starter’s role. Has the chance to be a breakout player early in his career with the right incubation period.

Did you know: Davis wore No. 22 against Mississippi State to honor his teammate, Oats, whose football career was halted indefinitely last spring because of an undisclosed medical emergency. The tribute was inspired, as Davis racked up 11 tackles and an interception in the win.

Player comp: Davis reminds me of 2016 Atlanta Falcons fourth-rounder De'Vondre Campbell and 2017 New Orleans Saints third-rounder Alex Anzalone.

Expected draft range: Day 2 (Rounds 2 or 3).

99. Texas A&M DT Bobby Brown III

6-foot-4, 325 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.72 — starter potential

TL;DR scouting report: Bull-strong nose tackle who flashes surprising athleticism and recognition, but he’s still raw.

Games watched: Alabama (2020), Florida (2020), South Carolina (2020), Tennessee (2020)

The skinny: Brown was a 4-star Rivals recruit (top 250 nationally). After making the All-SEC Freshman Team as a reserve in 2018, Brown’s snaps increased in 2019, when he made 11 starts in 13 games. His breakout season came in 2020 when Brown notched 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss and was named first-team all-conference.

Upside: Brown is all upside, dripping with athletic promise. Outstanding lower-body explosion. Great length and flexibility. Shocking lateral-movement skills that pop off the tape. Could test through the roof at his pro day.

Wide frame and well-developed body — carries his mass very well. Strong run defender who rarely gets moved off his spot. Reliable tackler — wraps his oak-branch arms around ball carriers and seldom lets them free.

Can bully guards and centers, shock blockers with his initial surge and also effortlessly slip off block attempts.

Texas A&M DT Bobby Brown III racked up some nice pressures such as this one vs. Florida in a good final season.
Texas A&M DT Bobby Brown III racked up some nice pressures such as this one vs. Florida in a good final season.

Had nice games against Tennessee guard Trey Smith, South Carolina guard Sadarius Hutcherson and Alabama’s talented line.

Can be seen on tape sniffing out screens (see Florida game) and reading blockers’ keys to disrupt timing and rhythm. Good eyes to locate the ball and read the flow of the play — not just a slobberknocker who worries about the man in front of him.

Quality short-yardage defender — will be a valuable piece on goal-line fronts. Nice effort to chase down plays and follow the ball, even if he can’t always arrive in time. Eats up space and frees up back-seven defenders to flow freely.

Downside: Production only so-so. Brown didn’t really dent the stat sheet until his final season and might never be close to a stat stuffer. Never had more than three tackles in a game. Zero career forced fumbles or recoveries. Late bloomer — had six career sacks, with 5.5 coming in 2020.

Must anticipate snaps better — often one of the last guys off the ball despite most often lining up right across from centers. Not terribly effective on stunts and twists — likely fits better in upfield scheme. Will get too high in his stance.

Still learning how best to take on double teams — will draw a lot of stalemates and is rarely seen disengaging or using one-knee technique. Limited positional value as he lined up almost exclusively as a nose tackle or on the guard’s inside shoulder.

More of a pusher and shover as a pass rusher — it’s a bull rush, arm-over move or bust most of the time. Hand-work development needed. Motor can run hot and cold, and stamina issues occasionally showed up late in games.

Best-suited destination: If your team’s defense runs an odd front and needs a space eater who can play over the nose and handle the dirty work that comes with that job, then Brown might be your man.

Did you know: Brown said that his mother has trained him for every sport he grew up playing — football, basketball, track, wrestling and baseball — since he was 3. Brown’s mother, Erica Kelley, played college basketball at Southern Miss and then professionally overseas for the Czech Republic All-Stars. Brown cited his mother’s health, having suffered from “brain injuries,” as the reason he declared early.

Player comp: Shades of New York Giants third-rounder B.J. Hill

Expected draft range: Rounds 3 or 4

98. Ohio State CB-S Shaun Wade

6-foot-1, 192 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.72 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Maddeningly inconsistent DB who thrived inside but struggled outside. Still has the athleticism to revive his path in the NFL

Games watched: Wisconsin (2019), Clemson (2019), Penn State (2020), Indiana (2020), Clemson (2020)

The skinny: A 5-star Rivals recruit, Wade was courted by nearly every major program in the country before picking the Buckeyes. After a redshirt season in 2017, Wade stood out the following season with a team-high three picks despite not starting. He earned a role as the nickel corner in 2019 and was named third-team all-Big Ten (media and coaches). Although Wade was named first-team preseason All-American by the Associated Press, he struggled after moving to outside corner.

Upside: Nicely sized defensive back with outstanding talent floor. He has great athleticism and length. Raw, twitchy athlete who can be even more explosive with a bit more added weight. Good agility to handle quickness.

Versatile defender who has lined up inside, outside and at safety. Has handled quick receivers deftly in the slot and shown enough in very limited reps at safety to give teams other options for his pro position. Has lined up inside and outside and been employed in multiple coverages and defensive concepts under coordinators Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison.

Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade had his ups and downs the past few seasons. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade had his ups and downs the past few seasons. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Nice ball skills — six career INTs and 17 PDs. Uses length well and times up the ball well at the catch point with coordination and body control. Instinctive in zone coverage — has a feel for route patterns in the middle of the field and will get aggressive to attack the ball. Playmaker’s DNA.

Possesses skills to be a jack-of-all-trades defender — covering a tight end one week, playing the slot the next, floating as a rover, etc. Showed some nice blitzing potential in 2019 but rarely asked to do it. Attacks what he sees in front of him well, strikes quickly on crossing routes and screens.

Is said to have matured from where he started his OSU career. Solid special teams experience earlier in his career (blocked punt vs. TCU 2018). Stayed in Columbus in 2020 despite receiving some top-50 draft grades.

Downside: Struggled mightily on the outside in 2020. Moved from the slot to the perimeter and was eaten alive in coverage some games. Wade allowed multiple TDs in games last season against Penn State and Clemson. Often overcompensating against top-tier receivers by sagging off too much in coverage.

Never looked comfortable outside despite coming back to school to prove he can man that spot. Might be an NFL nickel, but can he handle elite slot receiver quickness? Also could be tried at safety, but has fewer than 50 career snaps there. If an NFL team is going to let him develop as an outside corner, there could be some serious growing pains along the way.

Must be a far more disciplined player. Falls for double moves, gets fast and loose with his technique and will beat himself up for mistakes. Struggled to wrap up on some tackles — ankle diver who needs to alter his target zone at times.

Battled immaturity questions early in his college career. Declined a Senior Bowl invitation, which could have helped his flagging draft stock.

Best-suited destination: Whatever team drafts Wade will require patience and must have a plan for how and where it plans to engage him. Might the Jacksonville native be in play for the Jaguars now that his former head coach (Urban Meyer) is running the show there? If he does, it could reunite two figures in a controversial targeting call from the 2019 College Football Playoff semifinal when Wade hit assumed No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence with a blow that was deemed to be targeting. (Some disagreed with the call.)

Did you know: Wade was one of five OSU players who had an externship at the WWE Headquarters in Orlando, Florida to learn about the ins and outs of the business in the summer of 2019.

Player comp: Has some similarities to 2013 first-rounder D.J. Hayden and 2019 second-rounder Sean Murphy-Bunting, although Wade’s pro projection is tricky given his struggles outside.

Expected draft range: Wade might have been viewed as a first-round pick at one point, but that’s not happening now. Could he slide out of Day 2? We’d be surprised, but one respected NFL scout we spoke with says Wade could end up in Round 4.

97. LSU NT Tyler Shelvin

6-foot-3, 346 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.72 — starter potential

TL;DR scouting report: A fairly straightforward evaluation, Shelvin is a bull-strong nose tackle or 1-technique who can anchor a run defense but offers little against the pass

Games watched: Florida (2019), Auburn (2019), Alabama (2019), Clemson (2019)

The skinny: A 5-star Rivals recruit (No. 34 overall) in 2017, Shelvin redshirted his first year at LSU before seeing extensive time in five contests in 2018. Shelvin then broke out in 2019, starting all 15 games for the national champion Tigers. Following that season, Shelvin opted out in 2020 and declared for the draft.

Upside: Shockingly nimble and light on his feet for a man of his mass. Dancing bear who is urgent off the snap and will stress some slower interior blockers with his initial step.

Commands double teams. Outstanding strength and leverage in his play. He operates with brute power and rarely loses one-on-one battles when locking horns. Great length to lock out blockers, disengage and discard them. Shelvin put a lot of young men on the ground in 2019.

LSU nose tackle Tyler Shelvin can be a two-down run stuffer at the next level. (Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LSU nose tackle Tyler Shelvin can be a two-down run stuffer at the next level. (Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Appears to enjoy the dirty work, taking on double teams willingly and happy to muck up the middle of a line. Was asked to occupy blockers and let the linebackers clean up the mess and never turned down those chances.

Seeks contact and enjoys grinding his opponents down to the ground. Frustrated some smaller centers with constant pummeling. Good motor — gives effort on backside plays and still churns out reps in lopsided games.

Not a playmaker, but if a ballcarrier is in reach, he usually goes down. Can scrape off blocks to finish off runners inside.

Practiced daily against the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line in practice that featured multiple NFL prospects. Could be dominant if he could maintain his weight around the 330-pound range.

Downside: Two-down player, plain and simple.

Offers very little as a pass rusher — six total sacks/QB hits/hurries, per PFF, in 316 pass-rush snaps in 2019, and four of those six pressures came vs. Northwestern State and Vanderbilt. Shelvin doesn’t have the advanced rushing arsenal and burst to make much hay in obvious passing situations. Could do better job of getting his hands up and closing down passing lanes.

Conditioning a possible concern. Weighed more than his listed 346 pounds several times and was said to balloon up to the 370s this past season before enlisting the help of a nutritionist and refining his workout plan. Weighed 380 when he arrived at LSU.

Stamina a possible worry — played only three games with 50-plus snaps in 2019 and might be only a 30-35 snap-per-game performer in the NFL. Appeared to fade by the end of LSU’s national title season (15 games) and saw playing time reduced per game down the stretch.

Only one dominant season and limited tape. Still needs some technique cleanup and could use guidance from a veteran DL coach who can polish up his game and teach some of the finer points of the trade.

Best-suited destination: Ideally, Shelvin will land with a team that values size up front and needs to shore up its run defense with a massive nose tackle willing to take on the dirty work.

Did you know: Ed Orgeron was the Tigers’ DL coach when he first started recruiting Shelvin and advised his grandmother to limit the amount of gumbo she serves him — and to cut out the rice completely. “Coach, you're killing me,” Shelvin told Orgeron. “I need more rice.”

Player comp: 2016 fifth-rounder D.J. Reader

Expected draft range: Shelvin could crack the top 100 picks, although the league has trended away from players of his size as the passing game has grown in importance and frequency

96. Notre Dame OG Aaron Banks

6-foot-5, 338 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.72 — starter potential

TL;DR scouting report: Big, slightly stiff guard prospect who could be an asset in a power system

Games watched: Louisville (2019), Iowa State (2019), Duke (2020), Florida State (2020), Alabama (2020)

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (No. 121 overall) in 2017, Banks committed to the Irish over dozens of blue-blood programs. After redshirting his freshman year, Banks saw limited time early in the 2018 season before earning a starting job for the final six games. He then went on to start the final 31 games of his college career and earned first-team all-ACC honors, plus various All-America mentions.

Upside: Thick, wide and strong frame that’s tailor-made for the NFL. Hard to go around for interior pass rushers and can engulf smaller defensive tackles. Operates well in a phone booth and can unlock power in tight spaces. Quick and well-positioned hands to win advantage early off the snap. Decent arm length and good hand size.

Very technically sound in pass protection. Doesn’t allow athletic limitations to hurt him, showing nice savvy. Keeps elbows in tight and doesn’t make obvious holds that are easy calls for refs. Varies his approach and is well-schooled.

Competitive and tough. Looks for work and plays through the whistle. Operated well with a mobile, run-around QB (Ian Book) in a system that asked Banks to sustain blocks and adjust on the fly in pass protection.

Notre Dame offensive lineman Aaron Banks just cracked our top 100 prospects for the 2021 NFL draft. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Notre Dame offensive lineman Aaron Banks just cracked our top 100 prospects for the 2021 NFL draft. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Some positional versatility as Banks played predominantly at left guard the past few seasons and also was the backup left tackle (see 2019 UNC, 2020 FSU games), saw snaps at right tackle and also played right guard at the Senior Bowl.

Could have been Irish’s left tackle had he returned to school in 2021. Experienced as 2.5-year starter with high-profile program and should be ready to handle the rigors of NFL trench warfare from Jump Street.

Downside: Might be a guard-only projection, except in emergency situations. Lacks the quickness to handle edge speed. Doesn’t react well enough against stunts and twists (see 2020 Alabama game).

Sluggish on the move and feet can stay rooted. Didn’t shine in one-on-one pass-rush drills at the Senior Bowl. Not great in recovery.

Can get knocked back against stout nose tackles and will lose some bull-rush reps.

Don’t want to ask him to do too much outside-zone blocking — lacks range to hit desired landmarks for that type of system. Likely best in man/power run schemes.

Best-suited destination: Although his appeal might be limited to certain types of teams and offensive systems, Banks should make a gap-scheme team very happy with his very solid floor as a prospect. He could be a five-year starter for the right system.

Did you know: Banks helped start an Irish OL tradition — ”Pizza Night,” where the Notre Dame blockers get together on Thursdays to eat one of their favorite foods, blow off some steam and often record part of their festivities for social media.

Player comp: Reminiscent of 2020 fourth-rounder Solomon Kindley

Expected draft range: A likely Day 3 pick

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